If you have a question, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"
Q: Why do people walk in the middle of the street rather than on the sidewalks?
A: There are undoubtedly many different reasons some people walk in the street rather than on sidewalks. But I did stop and ask three women who were walking in the middle of Frederick Street near William Street last week why they preferred the road rather than the nearby sidewalk.
"The sidewalks are too small, and I'm scared of dogs," said Tiana Fleming of Cape Girardeau. "At night, I'm also scared that I won't be seen. There's more light on the streets."
Candace Smith, also of Cape, said: "The sidewalks are too raggedy. Too many holes and cracks."
"The majority of areas don't have sidewalks," said Chetiqua Poindexter of Chicago. "And I don't want to walk on someone's property."
Q: Is it true that Cape Girardeau is getting an Olive Garden restaurant and a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop? I have been hearing these rumors for over a year now.
A: I put your question to Southeast Missourian business editor Tony Rehagan, who keeps track of such things for his excellent business column.
"Just got off the phone with Olive Garden corporate, and they say they have no plans to build or start up in Cape," said Tony. "I call Krispy Kreme at least once a month to address that omnipresent rumor, and they again say no dice. My real estate people also say they don't know of anything tangible, and unless the deal was closed, they wouldn't tell me anyway.
"These corporate things are tricky. The corporate offices are always the last to let it fly, and they won't unless the local agent or franchisee gives the go ahead. Like the Sears Grand and Kohls stuff, we knew long before we had anything official."
Q: Do you know when the nature center at North County Park will be finished? I am looking forward to it.
A: In an August story, the Southeast Missourian reported that the nature center is scheduled for a public opening in spring 2005.
Q: Is it true that there is less deviation from marching in lockstep with the Republican party line in the content of Southeast Missourian editorials than in the one-time, state-controlled Soviet communist publications Pravda and Izvestia?
A: There is a distinction between Southeast Missourian editorials and columns. Newspaper editorials rarely focus on national and international events. When they have, though, the lens has tended to be -- although is not exclusively -- idealistically conservative. This perspective grows out of a world-view rather than partisanship, so likening it to party affiliation would be inaccurate. There are many other perspectives that are included on the editorial page through letters to the editor, Speak Out, guest columns and a relatively new feature: editorials from other papers. The current roster of columnists reflect the community in that they are generally, but certainly not exclusively, conservative. Our hope is that the page is informative, entertaining and a good medium for community discourse.
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com or by calling 573-335-6611.