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   A school bus driver in St. Charles County caught texting while driving is now out of work.  

   Officials with the Francis Howell School District tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a middle-school student had taken a video of the driver texting with kids on board Thursday.  Parents contacted the district about the incident.  

   Francis Howell spokeswoman Jennifer Henry tells the paper that the company the driver worked for fired the driver as a result of the incident.  

   The driver isn't likely to face a citation since Missouri law only bars texting while driving for drivers age 21 and under.

Monday, 07 April 2014 02:55
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   Cleanup and repairs are still going on five months after tornadoes struck two central Illinois towns.

   Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Kendra Cray says debris removal has been the biggest challenge in Brownstown and St. Elmo after last November's tornadoes.  

   Cray tells the Effingham Daily News that her office has been working to educate residents as tornado seasons returns. She says they're starting efforts with children because "if we can prepare them, they prepare the parents."  

   St. Elmo has about 1,400 residents and Brownstown has about 750. The towns are about 80 miles east of St. Louis.

Monday, 07 April 2014 02:45
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   Police are asking for the public's help in finding a missing Jefferson City toddler.  They've issued an Endangered Person Advisory for 23 month old Jack M. Randolph, who was last seen about 12:30 Sunday afternoon.  
   Police say this may be a parental kidnapping.  The boy's 36 year old father, Kerry Randolph reportedly sent a text to the child's mother and asked if he and a friend could take him to Atlanta, Georgia.  
   Police say it's possible that Kerry Randolph is under the influence of alcohol, and has a mental disorder.  He's described as 6' tall with a thin build, brown hair, and brown eyes.  He was last seen wearing a black and orange hoodie and jeans.
   Randolph may be traveling with 26 year old Luca Diehl, who's described as a white man, 5''7", 150 lbs, with an unknown hair color and blue eyes.  
   The two men were last seen in the 1100 block of West Main Street in Jefferson City and were driving a white 1996 Cadillac Eldorado with Missouri license plate WB7X6A.  
   Anyone with information is urged to call their local police as soon as possible.  Or call the Jefferson City Police Department at 1-573-634-6400.
Monday, 07 April 2014 02:18
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WOOD RIVER, Ill. (AP) — The former riverboat that once served as the Casino Queen along East St. Louis' riverfront is under new ownership.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that federal marshals on Friday auctioned off the vessel called White Star One for $600,000.

There were 14 bids during the sale that lasted just five minutes and opened with a $200,000 bid.

Gerald Smallwood was one of the three bidders and represented a Florida man who had the winning offer. It's not immediately clear what that buyer — a former shipyard owner who owns riverfront properties in Kentucky — plans to do with the vessel.

The White Star has languished since the Casino Queen operation moved inland a few years ago.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 08:10
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JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A recently released report says Joplin's former city manager did not get along with other city leaders before he was fired in February.

Joplin City administrators on Friday released supporting documents and full copies of the 31-page report by special investigator Thomas Loraine, an Osage Beach attorney.

The special report focuses on former City Manager Mark Rohr. The Joplin Globe and its parent company, Community Newspaper Holdings Incorporated sought the report's release after Rohr was fired on February 4th. The report said Rohr tried to use divisions in the city council to his benefit.

The Joplin Globe reports that Rohr denies the allegations and says the divide in the Joplin city council made his job much more difficult.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 08:09
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are advocating for more restrictions on welfare recipients after a state audit raised questions over whether benefits are being used properly.

The report identified more than 300 cases in which Missouri welfare recipients spent their benefits exclusively outside the state during a three-month period.

Under legislation passed by the House, recipients would be kicked off the program if they don't spend their benefits within Missouri once every 90 days.

Lawmakers are also debating whether to loosen restrictions on where welfare money can be spent and who qualifies for assistance.

The House measure would allow people to use welfare dollars to buy food at liquor stores. A Senate bill would open the federal food stamps program to some drug felons.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 08:09
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MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) — The Air Force says roughly 100 jobs are being phased out in a unit that provides technical services at an Illinois air base in suburban St. Louis.

The Air Force Network Integration Center cuts at Scott Air Force Base involve 99 positions. Fifty-three of them are civilian jobs.

Air Force spokesman Andy Roake says the eliminations expected to take place through 2015 are due to budget constraints.

The jobs include middle-level management, staff and policy consultation positions.

The Air Force recently announced plans to cut 22,500 positions this year.

The Scott base is about 25 miles east of St. Louis.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 08:07
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The vast majority of the country's 32 death penalty states refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs.

A review by The Associated Press has found that the states cloaked in secrecy include some with the most active death chambers. Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri are among them.

The secrecy comes as most states now rely on loosely regulated "compounding pharmacies" for execution drugs but refuse to name them. They cite concerns about backlash that could endanger the supplier's safety.

Defense attorneys question how an inmate's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment can be guaranteed if nothing is known about the drug being used to kill him.

Proponents say forcing states to reveal their drug source can amount to obstruction of justice by delaying executions.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 08:05
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Often criticized as advocating for the coal industry, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is launching reforms meant to help repair the agency's image and make it more responsive to the public.
 
The changes range from closer inspection of coal-ash ponds to stronger ethics rules and better communication with the public during the coal mine permit process.
 
The moves also come as the agency deals with other embarrassing missteps. Those include a department administrator's departure after reports that he attended professional fishing tournaments while on sick leave. And there were recent revelations that two mine-safety regulators accepted political contributions from a coal-mine operator.
 
Neither environmentalists nor the industry believe the reforms are tied to Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election bid.
 
But the sides disagree over whether the permit-process changes are necessary.
Friday, 04 April 2014 15:40
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A teenage serial bank robber the FBI dubbed the "I-55 Bandit" for a series of crimes in five states has been ordered to spend five years in federal prison.
 
Nineteen-year-old Andrew Maberry of O'Fallon, Ill., was sentenced Friday in St. Louis.
 
Maberry pleaded guilty in December to one of the robberies - a heist in July of last year involving a bank in Arnold, Mo., just south of St. Louis.
 
Federal prosecutors say Maberry robbed 10 banks in Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland from May of last year to the end of August.
 
Some of the early robberies in Missouri and Illinois were near Interstate 55, prompting the nickname.
 
The FBI says that in each holdup, Maberry didn't show a weapon, and no one was harmed.
 
Friday, 04 April 2014 15:39
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