Cape city council tackles big issues - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau city council tackles big issues

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The Cape Girardeau City Council met Monday night to discuss multiple hot topics.

During the 7 p.m. city council meeting, the council voted 4 to 3 to not repeal the ordinance allowing urban deer hunting. The Cape Girardeau Friends of Wildlife said they collected 4,000 signatures urging the council to repeal the ordinance. Now, the issue will go to voters in a special election in April.

People from the community expressed their feelings on two important issues during the 5 p.m. study session: scooter safety and enhanced alcohol enforcement. The council did not make any decisions on the issue, only heard comments in the session.

Southeast Missouri State President Ken Dobbins said scooter safety is an issue they have been concerned about for awhile.

Doug Richards, the director of Southeast Missouri State Department of Public Safety, said scooter safety isn't just a problem in Cape Girardeau. He said it's a national and statewide issue.

Richards said in recent years, they've seen a huge increase of scooters on campus. He said in the 2010-2011 school year, there were 51 scooters registered. In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 189 scooters registered, and by week 7 of the 2012-2013 school year, there were 352 scooters registered.

Community members tossed out ideas to include in a city ordinance. Some were requirements for: helmets, protective eyewear, a license, insurance, limited number of passengers, and educational classes.

Some people agree with the potential requirements for safety.

"I did break my leg in two places, ruptured my spleen, punctured my lung, and broke six ribs, my helmet was destroyed, but I didn't get a scratch and I lived," said Belinda Schaerf, a local motorcycle rider, as she described a wreck while she was only going 5 mph, and said the helmet saved her life.

"I have seen where a helmet has helped people and probably the difference between life and death," said Marlene Cloude.

"You know if you wear a full face helmet you don't have as good of a chance of having your face degloved a brain injury, and it saves lives," said Schearf.

Others, think the ideas are taking their rights.

"The scooter is such a convenience and it's actually helping the university, it's helping the city it's helping with congestion and it seems like they're cresting only issues to make us not want to ride them, and to make it harder for us to ride them. Because I know so many people if they have to get a helmet if they have to get insurance, if they have to do all this stuff, I've considered it I'm probably not going to own one in December and I think that's what they want," said Mitchell Brenner, a Junior at Southeast Missouri State and scooter rider.

"I wouldn't be opposed to the eyewear, and helmet," said Sean Whyte. "I personally have insurance on my scooter, that wasn't my call it was my mother's, but I think insurance should be your own call."

"If you look at a scooter you can tell if you get hit, it's probably going to hurt, and a helmet will help a little bit but I also think it should be my choice," said Brenner.

But, it seems everyone liked the idea of education for both scooter riders, and other motorists on the road.

"Motorists awareness is a huge part, education of the driving public to know and watch for us," said Cloude.

Scooter riders like Cloude said a big problem can be when scooters go below the speed limit. She said other drivers on the road need to look out for the slower moving scooters.

"The point made that the speed limit out there is a speed limit not a speed minimum, and I think that as long as everyone appreciates the fact that if you come up on a motorcyclist or a bicyclist or a car that's not going 30 mph then you've got to be aware and drive aware."

Cloude also wanted people to be aware it's not only students riding the scooters, she said other people in the community use the form of transportation too.

Southeast Missouri State students expressed a concern with parking, saying where they are required to park their scooters increases the danger of walking to class by having to cross busy roads.

One woman asked if a scooter hit her car, who would pay for damage since the scooter drivers are not required to get insurance.

Another concerned citizen said the lighting on scooters needs to be better so other cars can see them more easily.

Everyone seemed to agree the problem is new, and needs attention to prevent any future crashes.

The community also shared thoughts on an enhanced alcohol enforcement.

Cape Girardeau Police Department Interim Chief of Police Roger Fields said the department does three things through grants:

1. Compliance Checks---during a recent check they checked 35 businesses and 4 of them failed (meaning they served/sold to minors)

2. Server training---servers go through a training to learn to recognize underage drinkers, and when people have had too much to drink

3. Check points----they try to have two a year----during a recent check point, 251 cars went through, they issued 2 DWIs and 1 MIP

He said the officers also try to do things without official funding like bar walk throughs and saturation control.

President Dobbins said the issue is an important safety concern of the community. They want to prevent tragedies.

One of the suggestions for an ordinance the council will have to consider is one that would require people under 21 years old to leave a bar after 10 p.m. unless accompanied by an adult.

Some say this would decrease the amount of time 18 to 20-year-olds are allowed near alcohol, and hopefully decrease the number of underage drinking incidents.

Some business owners say they don't want the ordinance to be too strict and punish businesses who take it very seriously to not serve minors.

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