Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gas prices rise as Ike hits Gulf Coast

A Hurricane Ike related story for St. Joseph.

St. Joseph News-Press

Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas, the effects on fuel prices could be felt throughout St. Joseph. On Friday, most gas stations across the city had prices ranging from $3.50 to $3.53 per gallon for unleaded. Overnight, that price jumped by as much as 15 cents at some stations.

On Saturday, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt directed Attorney General Jay Nixon to investigate gasoline suppliers and stations for potential evidence of price gouging in response to Hurricane Ike.
The Gulf of Mexico coast along Louisiana and Texas is home to 42 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Many refineries located along the gulf were either shut down or without power due to Ike, according to Mr. Blunt’s office.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the state took legal action against 10 stations relating to gas prices.
While many gas stations in St. Joseph along the Belt Highway, Frederick Boulevard and in Downtown listed prices in the lower $3.60 range, two stations in St. Joseph’s South Side had gas for $3.49.
Some people took advantage of prices in the $3.50 range at the Sam’s Club-Wal-Mart station, which had gas at $3.50 for members and $3.55 for nonmembers.
Debbie Scherer, from Atchison, Kan., said Saturday that she didn’t really notice an effect from Hurricane Ike.
“The gas prices go up anyway,” Ms. Scherer said. “The hurricane is just another excuse.”
Ms. Scherer said she tries to keep an eye on prices, regardless of the weather.
Michelle Nelson of St. Joseph took advantage of the member benefits and got her gas for $3.50 a gallon.
“I don’t think we needed the hurricane to affect the already high gas prices,” Ms. Nelson said.
Hurricane Ike was downgraded to a tropical storm around 2 p.m. Saturday and looks to affect more than just gas prices in the area.
Officials from the National Weather Service say Tropical Storm Ike will continue to make its way into Arkansas and Southeast Missouri today, bringing heavy rain to areas south of Kansas City.
Rain from Ike will also make its way into our area, where flood watches and warnings have remained in effect for more than 24 hours and will continue to remain in effect through much of today.

Accident kills teen, injures his brother

This was from the first and only fatal wreck that I covered as a Police Reporter.

St. Joseph News-Press

WINTHROP, Mo. — A highway wreck ended the life of a 19-year-old from Overland Park, Kan., Wednesday evening.
Joshua Groshong died after the 1997 Chevrolet Camaro he was riding in collided nearly head on with a Dodge truck just before 6:30 p.m.
The driver of the Camaro, his brother, Danny Groshong, 18, was headed west on U.S. Highway 59 three miles east of the Amelia Earhart bridge when he apparently tried to pass several vehicles, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Sheldon Lyon.
The Camaro then traveled along the eastbound shoulder trying to avoid the oncoming Dodge. The Dodge, driven by Jacob Stutz, 18, of Rushville, Mo., also entered the shoulder, where they collided. Both vehicles ended up in the ditch along the south side of the roadway.
Danny Groshong was transported by ambulance to Atchison Hospital, and was later taken by LifeNet to the University of Kansas Hospital with what Mr. Lyon called critical injuries.
Mr. Stutz was transported with non-life threatening injuries to Atchison Hospital where a spokeswoman said he was not a patient late Wednesday.
Citations are still pending as the investigation of the accident continues by the Highway Patrol. Mr. Lyon said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.
“Right now all we have is a statement from the driver of the truck as to what happened, but what we would really like is for anyone who was maybe getting passed or a witness to the accident to call and give a statement just to help the investigation along,” said Mr. Lyon.
The Highway Patrol is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident to call Troop H headquarters at 387-2345.
The highway was partially reopened about an hour after the accident happened.

Hidden treasures abound

This was an interesting little event.

St. Joseph News-Press

SPARKS, Kan. — Nestled deeply between tall corn fields located about 25 miles just northwest of St. Joseph, the unincorporated town of Sparks has one of the state’s hidden gems.
Tightly packed on about 25 acres of what used to be a booming railroad town sits hundreds of tents and tables filled with most items imaginable.
The Sparks Flea Market began Thursday and will end tonight.
A reminder of what the town used to be like sticks out among the plastic tents in the form of a dance hall or church.
Tom Winters and his two brothers, along with Ray Tackett, have organized the event since its beginning in 1982.
They reminisce about the old town and share stories from past markets with anyone willing to listen. Between the foursome they can locate in the flea market tents where the old school buildings, banks and houses used to be. The men, all in or near their 60s, own or lease much of the land that is used to host the flea market.
Although they anticipate 40,000 to 50,000 people will come to Sparks throughout the weekend, this year isn’t their biggest because of a poor economy.
“Vendors are what bring the people back,” Mr. Tackett said.
“And how do we get the vendors? We take good care of them,” Mr. Winters added.
Next year the men plan to team up with the Great U.S. Highway 36 Treasure Hunt, which will mean an additional market. This weekend’s flea market was the second one this year.
Dan and Sue Cooksey have been at the flea market since the early 1990s. They spend the weekend selling almost 300 pounds of kettle corn and pork rinds.
“We enjoy seeing old faces,” Mr. Cooksey said.
The two, from Laredo, Mo., said they meet all kinds of people looking for different items among the hundreds of booths.
“There was a guy the other day looking for tack or horse riding supplies,” Mr. Cooksey said. “Then someone else comes looking for marbles.”
A majority of the vendors are selling antiques but others have clothing, board games, car parts and much more — even just mason jars full of buttons.
Howard Engelbrecht with the ex-officers of the American Legion were selling items for a good cause. Mr. Engelbrecht was selling blue and white bath towels.
The towels came from Heartland Regional Medical Center’s surgical wing and have been laundered and sanitized.
Proceeds from the towels go toward scholarships from the Bill and Mary Russell Scholarship Foundation for nursing students in the St. Joseph area.
“I like to do things that make you feel good in here,” Mr. Engelbrecht said, tapping on his chest.
Another flea market can be found just 10 miles up the road in White Cloud, Kan.