Looking back on 2019 in the Heartland

Published: Dec. 31, 2019 at 2:48 PM CST
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(KFVS) - From historic flooding, to teacher strikes and helping neighbors through hard times, the Heartland has gone through a lot in 2019.

As the year comes to a close, we take a look back at just some of the major events that impacted us all.

Here are a few of the stories highlighted in “Looking Back on 2019 in the Heartland”:

  • Members of the Marshall County, Ky. community held a candlelight vigil to remember and honor the two students killed and others injured when a gunman opened fire at the high school on Jan. 23, 2018.
  • In one of his last acts as Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner cleared Grover Thompson of a crime he did not commit.  Thompson, known as Timothy Krajcir’s 10th victim, was wrongfully convicted for the attempted murder of a Mt. Vernon woman in 1981.  Krajcir confessed to the crime in 2007.  Thompson died while serving a 40-year sentence.  The Illinois Innocence Project said Thompson received the first posthumous exoneration in state history.
  • All murder charges were dropped against Gaege Bethune in the death of SIU student Pravin Varughese.
  • A Missouri man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the killings of two couples in Ripley County nearly a decade ago.  Keith Boyles was convicted of the shooting deaths of Gladys Irene Piatt and her husband Loyd and Edgar Atkinson and Bonnie Chase.  Their homes were burned down after the shootings.
  • Police boarded up a building in Poplar Bluff after they found 27 people living inside. Police said the living conditions were horrifying.
  • Illinois State Police is cracking down on drivers who violate the state’s “Move Over” law after two troopers were hit and killed. In 2019, 27 ISP troopers were hit while on the job.
  • Extreme wind and heavy rain led to a train derailment in Dexter.  A total of 13 cars were knocked off the tracks at One Mile Rd.
  • Hundreds lined the streets of Pinckneyville, Ill. to honor the memory and family of Sgt. Holli Bolinkski.  Sgt. Bolinski was killed when the vehicle she was traveling in collided with a water truck in Kuwait.
  • Longest serving Illinois mayor, Bob Butler passed away at the age of 92.  Butler was the second longest-serving mayor in the United States.
  • The Missouri National Veterans Memorial opened to the public in Perryville, Mo.  The site features a full-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • An EF2 tornado hit parts of western Kentucky, leaving a trail of destruction.  The tornado ripped off the roof of a church in McCracken County where dozens of children were riding out the storm.  No one was hurt.
  • While searching for a missing woman, Graves County officials found a fugitive hiding in an underground bunker.
  • Historic 2019 flooding closed major routes, bridges and communities in the Heartland.
  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.  Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
  • Dozens lined the streets of Mountain View to welcome home a Carter County Sheriff’s deputy.  Deputy Brigg Pierson returned home after he was shot while serving an eviction notice.
  • Prayers were answered after a 7-year-old girl went missing in Carbondale.  A city worker looking for Patrice Dotson and he found the girl alive and in good health.
  • A disturbing discovery at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau had many asking “Why?”  Four paring knives were found buried in the sand of a volleyball court.  Two teens made the discovery.  One received a cut on her foot from one of the knives.
  • For the first time in more than 50 years, the Sikeston School District opens a brand new elementary school.
  • Murphysboro teachers returned to the classroom after five days on the picket line. 
  • The state of Missouri executed death row inmate Russell Bucklew after the United States Supreme Court cleared the way for the sentence.  Bucklew was executed by lethal injection for a 1996 murder in Cape Girardeau County.
  • Voters elected Andy Beshear as Kentucky’s next Governor.  Beshear beat Republican Matt Bevin in a close race.
  • A Mt. Vernon daycare was forced to pick-up the pieces before it could reopen after the building was badly vandalized.  Someone broke into the Kingdom Kids smashed cribs, spray painted walls and caused other extensive damage.
  • A $1,000 reward is being offered for information after a number of dogs and cats had been found dead in Caruthersville.
  • A report from the Missouri Auditor shows nearly $300,000, designated for public projects in Van Buren, was used by former Black Mountain CID board members to pay private debts and business upgrades.
  • Paducah firefighters handed out nearly 200 winter coats to students. This is part of the department’s annual coat drive called “Operations Warm.

All of us at Heartland News wish you a Happy New Year. May your 2020 be wonderful and full of good cheer.

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