12 Top Stories of 2010 on KFVS12 - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

12 Top Stories of 2010 on KFVS12

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By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

(KFVS) - 2010 proved to be a tough year for one Heartland town, but a great year for another. 

We saw high-profile arrests and family tragedies, we cast our ballots, and cheered for the underdog.

Here's a look back at the top 12 stories of the year.


In 2010, many Heartland towns decided to pull a key meth-making ingredient off store shelves. From Poplar Bluff, Kennett, Dexter and Malden to Cape, Jackson, Scott City and Sikeston, city councils made medicines containing pseudoephedrine prescription-only.

"I think this is one direction we should go," said SEMO Drug Task Force Head Sergeant Kevin Glaser.


Two Heartland school districts saw hopes of a peaceful school year go up in smoke. In April, fire destroyed the Fredericktown Middle School. "It's pretty sad," a young student said. Police took two teens into custody.

At Delta High School, someone set fire to the principal's and counselor's office in August. The search for a suspect continues.


A house fire in Obion County Tennessee makes national headlines when firefighters let it burn after the owners did not pay the $75 fee for rural coverage.

"Let me say we regret what happened but the fault is not that of the South Fulton Department," said Hornbeak Chief Bob Reavis, speaking on behalf of South Fulton.

Next summer, people living in all rural areas of the county can pay that fee to receive fire protection.


Residents in Cairo could only watch as more of that crumbling city went down in flames. Suspicious fires seemed to target much bigger structures in 2010, including a former car dealership, historic hotel, and three buildings across from the courthouse. "We would ask that all of the citizens in town, if they see anything suspicious in their area to please, please call the police station," said Fire Chief John Meyer.


A series of strange text messages leads to terror in Bonne Terre. Police say Nathan Fortner killed four people, his son's mother Danielle Bement, her mother Christine Snider, Snider's boyfriend Derek Nash, and high school classmate Ericka Wade, before killing himself. Family members believe Wade was lured to her death by a text message. Steven Ward says he and other family members received strange texts before his sister and niece were killed. "I was shocked because Nathan and me were good friends. My niece was my best friend," Ward said.


Two criminal cases seemed to shock at every turn, especially when authorities looked to the victims' family ties as they searched for suspects. First in July, the bodies of an elderly couple are exhumed from the grave, after the suspects in a bizarrely similar case turn out to be related. "I can't understand. I just do not understand," said Irene Piatt's daughter Linda Mabary. David and Melissa Youngblood, their daughter Chantale, and her boyfriend Keith Boyles, all face charges in the murders of Ed Atkinson and Bonnie Chase. They remain suspects in the deaths of David's aunt and uncle, Lloyd and Irene Piatt.

That same month, authorities in Pinckneyville announce charges against three teens, accused of kidnapping and killing 15 year old Sidnee Stephens, then dumping her body in a local creek. "He intended to kill Sidnee Stephens by choking or strangling her," Sheriff Keith Kellerman said of one of the young suspects.

Stephens' 18-year-old sister, Dakota Wall, is charged with obstruction of justice.


Two high-profile community leaders found themselves under arrest in the summer of 2010. Bill Vandergraph, 72, a church pastor, community leader, and school bus driver, is accused of molesting a young child.

"There are a lot of things that happen in the community that we'd all rather not happen," Union Count State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds said of Vandergraph's arrest.

In August, then Saline County Chief Deputy and Harrisburg School Board President Todd Fort is accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage intern. While Fort's victim speaks to us on his behalf, her mother has a much different take. "He has took and twisted that baby so much and for so long," Karla Carrigan said.


It wouldn't be the Heartland without our share of wild weather. Between 5 and 7 inches of rain fell across western Kentucky and West Tennessee in one Spring weekend. "We woke up to a big mess," one homeowner said.

In the Summer, we suffered through 67 days of 90+ degree weather. The heat turned tragic in June when twin girls from Portageville died after locking themselves in a hot car. "Those are some precious little girls. It just hit the whole neighborhood," one woman said. And all that heat left the Heartland dry and dangerous. Authorities issued burn bans as crews fought field fires well into the fall.


We found Gulf Coast concern across the Heartland, following BP's huge oil spill. "Nobody wants an oil spill," said Elastec American Marine Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bohleber. You donated time and effort, and Bohleber's business went to work.


On November 2, you cast your ballots, making your vote count. We saw control of Congress shift, new leaders take over locally, and watched a tight vote take a well-known local daughter to the Illinois capitol.

"The Governor said I'll be his point person on education, and I'm looking forward to that," said Lieutenant Governor-Elect Sheila Simon.


2010 saw the Southeast Redhawks fly on the football field, landing their first-ever OVC win and playoff appearance, with Coach Tony Samuel crowned OVC Coach of the Year. "They just played really well," Samuel said of his guys.


Cape Girardeau's casino gamble paid off in December with a crucial vote by the MO Gaming Commission. "That ten minutes took two hours," businessman David Knight said of the vote he witnessed. "It was agony!"

The commission unanimously chose Isle of Capri to build a huge casino on the Cape riverfront. Construction is set to begin in the new year.

Thank you for watching Heartland News in 2010. We look forward to bringing you more live, local, and late-breaking stories in 2011.

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