Educators in Poplar Bluff to receive higher pay

Saturday, July 20, 2002

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- R-1 School District employees will be getting a surprise - a raise. The board of education approved a $350 raise on the base salary for certified teachers and an additional 10 cents on the base salary for others.

Superintendent Randy Winston said there was $600,000 in the balance that could be used to give raises. That money was saved from a move to put all students in a centralized kindergarten center.

"Right now, it looks like a win, win, win," said Winston. He said the kindergarten center move was successful financially and educationally. Test scores for the first group of students are not in yet, but Winston said the students seem to be doing very well. The teachers have been happy with the situation and results from a community survey show that the parents have been very happy with the move.

Ernie Lawson, deputy superintendent, said the starting salary is low in comparison to other districts in Southeast Missouri but is very competitive by the time a teacher is at the master's degree level. He said the starting salary "is the very best we can do for them at this time."

Loss from Bagnell Dam fish kill at $3.2 million

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A month-long fish kill at the Bagnell Dam on the Lake of the Ozarks was one of the worst in the state's history, claiming over 43,000 fish valued at $3.2 million, the Missouri Department of Conservation said Friday.

The dead fish began surfacing on the lake and the Osage River on May 23. Twenty-three different species were affected, but the greatest impact was on paddlefish -- with more than 4,300 killed, some 15 to 20 years of age, said Bill Turner, policy coordinator for the conservation department.

Paddlefish are found only in the Mississippi River Valley and the Yangtze Valley in China. Missouri's paddlefish population is stocked by the conservation department because dams on the Osage River prevent them from spawning.

"This fish kill will have a serious, long-term effect on the paddlefish population," Turner said in a news release. "It will take many years to restore the large number of fish killed over the last few weeks."

The problems began after heavy spring rain raised lake levels, causing utility company AmerenUE to release large volumes of water from the lake into the Osage River.

Fish were chopped up in turbines, swept through spillways and pounded by the falling water.

Man gets two years prison for child porn

ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis man was sentenced to two years in prison Friday for possessing child pornography.

Michael Williams pleaded guilty to three counts on May 2. He was sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

U.S. Attorney Ray Gruender said that in May 2001, in connection with a statutory sodomy investigation at Williams' home, authorities found images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct on computers and compact disks.

Meth charges brought against Bernie couple

BERNIE, Mo. -- Complaints about heavy traffic at a Stoddard County residence lead to a search this week that resulted in drug possession charges for a Bernie couple.

Tony Wade Zimmerman and Sherry Diane Zimmerman were charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. They are being held in the Stoddard County Jail on $25,000 cash bond.

During a search, officers found about 4 grams of suspected methamphetamine, a misdemeanor amount of suspected marijuana, pseudoephedrine, Coleman fuel and other alleged items believed to be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, Graves said.

The items were allegedly in Zimmermans' master bedroom, police reported.

Since a juvenile was present at the residence, a Stoddard County juvenile officer arrived at the scene to assist.

--From staff, wire reports

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