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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   Strong storms swept though the metro St. Louis area Friday evening, bringing strong winds, lightning, heavy rain and even some unconfirmed reports of tornadoes.

   One metro-east town is heartbroken after the storm did serious damage to a structure with historic and sentimental significance.

   Gillespie High School sustained heavy damage in the storms.  The concession stand along the athletic fields was wiped out.  The roof was peeled back on the building housing the weight room.  But most upsetting was the damage to the school's historic gymnasium.  The building was heavily damaged in the storm, one brick wall crumbling when part of the roof was ripped away.

   The Macoupin County emergency manager is reporting that 25 to 30 homes in the Gillespie area sustained roof damage.  Several large trees were knocked down, taking many power lines with them. 

   Power is out to the entire town of Gillespie and much of the area surrounding the town about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis.

   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Waves of violent weather spawning high winds and tornado have torn through the St. Louis area, downing trees and power lines and sending gamblers rushing from a casino floor. There were no immediate, confirmed reports of injuries.

   The storms that began pounding the region around 6:30 p.m. prompted numerous tornado warnings, with at least a few confirmed sightings from Montgomery County about 70 miles west of St. Louis into St. Louis County itself. Many homes were damaged in St. Charles County, specifically at Whitmoor Country Club and other nearby subdivisions.

   Emergency management officials say the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights lost its roof.  Investigators did find the building structurally safe.  The casino is set to reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.

   Rich Gordon, of Jefferson City, says he was on the casino floor when he heard a loud "boom" and officials evacuated the floor. Windows were blown out of the casino and metal power poles outside were snapped off at the base.

    Audience members at Friday night's Circus Flora performance were moved from under the big top to the nearby VA shelter during intermission in the city's Grand Center Theater District. 

   BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The mother of a metro-east teenager killed a car crash is free on bond after being accused of giving her son beer and whiskey before the accident.

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports 39 year old Ginger Zehner-Denton of Mascoutah surrendered this week on a charge filed earlier this month that accuses her of unlawful delivery of alcohol.

   Her 18 year old son, Stephen Zehner, died in a Jan. 26 crash. He was a senior at Belleville West High School.

   A 16 year old passenger in the car he was driving was seriously injured and hospitalized for three months.

   Zehner-Denton's attorney says he's not commenting publicly about the case.

   The felony is punishable by up to three years in prison.

 

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