St. Charles County can ban members of the Westboro Baptist Church and others from protesting outside of funerals. That was the finding of the US District Court in St. Louis Tuesday, which dismissed a lawsuit filed by members of the controversial Kansas Church.
The county ordinance prohibits picketing an hour before or an hour after, at or near funerals violated in unincorporated areas. The ordinance defines picketing at a funeral as “Protest activities engaged in by a person or persons located within three hundred (300) feet of the premises of a cemetery, mortuary, church or other place of worship or other location during, and which target, a funeral.” Those who do not follow the ordinance will be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, the individual(s) will be charged with a maximum $1,000 fine.
Shirley Phelps-Roper and Megan Phelps-Roper had sued shortly after the ordinance was passed in Dec. 2010, claiming that enforcement of the ordinance violated their First Amendment free speech, religious liberty and assembly rights. They also claimed that the ordinance violates Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. According to the judgment, the plaintiffs assert that “they picket near certain funerals, including those of American soldiers, to publish their beliefs that God is punishing America for its failure to obey God’s Word...”
On Aug. 20, the United States District Court in St. Louis granted a motion dismissing the lawsuit.
St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil was the original sponsor of the ordinance. “I think it is a great victory for us,” said Brazil. “Families deserve privacy and the right to grieve the loss of their loved one without having hateful and disrespectful protest activities nearby.”
The ruling in favor of St. Charles County came after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld similar funeral restrictions for the city of Manchester and the state of Missouri.
“Families have the right to mourn their loved ones peacefully and privately,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann. “I hope this ruling sends a message and helps to set more precedents.”
A new outlet mall opens Thursday in Chesterfield.
St. Louis Premium Outlets will be home to 90 stores and restaurants. The mall will celebrate it's grand opening over four days (Thurs-Sun) with free concerts, Cardinal's autograph sessions, contests and give-aways.
It's the second outlet mall to open in Chesterfield this month. Taubman Prestige Outlets held its grand opening a few weeks ago, reporting more than 135,000 shoppers its first weekend.
More information about Premium Outlets' grand opening events can be found on their website.
A body was found Wednesday in the search for a kidnapped 12 year old Missouri girl, although authorities say a positive identification had not been made.
Adriaunna Horton's father, James Horton, told KMBC-TV that his daughter's body had been found.
A spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol declined to disclose where the body was found, KMBC reported, but confirmed the search effort for Horton has been suspended.
Bobby Bourne Jr., 34, of Lamar, Mo., was charged with kidnapping Tuesday in the disappearance of Horton, who was last seen Monday afternoon getting into a vehicle around 5 p.m. in Golden City, Mo.
James Horton told ABC News affiliate KODE-TV that the suspect was known to his family.
"He worked for me last summer on a job, a construction job. He was a neighbor. He lived less than a block behind us for a year," Horton said.
On Tuesday, searchers used horses, all-terrain vehicles, dogs and a patrol helicopter to scour the small town.
"We are going to exhaust every lead that comes in," said Troop D Public Information Officer Sgt. Jason Pace of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.
Horton was at the park with her sister and friends celebrating the end of her first day of the new school year when witnesses reported seeing her get into an SUV.
The girl's father said he was told the driver of the SUV was asking children at the park for help.
"He was whining he couldn't find his daughter. He had a missing child. He asked the girls in the park to help him," Horton said. "My oldest daughter walked up to his vehicle. That's when she was abducted."
Police said they stopped a similar vehicle 90 minutes later and arrested Bourne, who was driving alone.
Bourne was being held in the Barton County Jail on a $1 million bond. He had not entered a plea.
The development of a new Walmart in Ellisville will move forward despite the developer's failure to win a permit extension from the city council.
Walmart’s director of public affairs Chris Neeley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the extension was sought to give the builders breathing room, but that the company will continue to work to see the project through.
The Ellisville City Council voted 3-3 Wednesday night to deny Sansone Group's request for a 180 day extension of a conditional use permit for construction of the project.
The Post reports that Mayor Adam Paul, whose campaign for office was based on his opposition the tax-supported project, and Aldermen Linda Reel and Mick Cahill rejected the request.
Aldermen Matt Pirrello, Cindy Pool and Roz Acup backed the extension.
Alderman Gary Voss was absent.
Federal investigators are turning up the heat as they look into a subcontract issued to a company owned by a member of the Police Board.
County police say they have received a federal subpoena for all information relating to the contract. Chief Tim Fitch has also reached out to all employees asking that forward any information. The controversy stems from a $3.7 million contract for work on a new crime lab that was given to a company owned by Gregory Sansone.
County Executive Charlie Dooley has denied any conflict of interest and says his county counselor signed off on the decision to make Sanson's company the subcontractor.
A private jet company's plans to move onto Lambert Airport's grounds could create as many as 100 jobs.
Jet Linx plans to operate out of a private terminal and hangar that had been used by the Missouri Air National Guard. The company will pay $1 million to lease the land. Jet Linx officials also plan to invest another $1 million into renovations and will buy $3 million in jet fuel every year. The new jobs will range from construction to pilots.
Airport officials say the partnership has been 2 years in the making.
Governor Jay Nixon spoke at the St. Louis City Police Department, defending his veto of a Missouri House Bill.
The legislation, House Bill 301 would have removed hundreds of criminals who committed sex crimes when they were under the age of 18 from online sex offender registries. The proposal would allow sex offenders to petition the court for removal from the registry. Nixon said the bill is flawed because it does not consider the seriousness of the criminal's offenses.
The legislation would remove around 870 people from the registry.
St. Louis County Police have officially charged a South County school teacher with sexual assault.
Forty seven year old James Wilder III was arrested at Sperreng Middle School on Tuesday and charged Wednesday with six counts of second-degree sodomy for crimes that prosecutors say occurred between August 1996 and September 1997.
The alleged victim, who was 16 years old at the time, came forward this summer with the allegations. In Missouri, if a victim of a sexual crime is younger than 18, prosecution must start within 30 years after the victim reaches age 18. Wilder is being held in the St. Louis County jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - An agricultural economics research company says last summer's low water on the Mississippi River cut the cash price farmers received for their corn by an average of 45 cents a bushel.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board said Tuesday the study by Informa Economics of Memphis, Tenn., found that shipping corn by rail rather than barge cost an extra 45 cents a bushel. The board said money collected from farmers in Illinois and other states helped pay for the study.
Corn Marketing Board Chairman Larry Hasheider said last year's strong corn prices helped cushion farmers against the extra cost. He said that in another year the expense might have been more painful.
The 2012 drought lowered river levels and hindered shipping for an extended period.
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is building an 800-person army of temporary workers to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
The "in-person counselor" jobs are located in every corner of the state, and range from a $9-an-hour part-time evening job in Clinton County to a $45,000-a-year project coordinator position in Chicago.
The workers will help consumers apply for coverage, answer questions and explain differences between the insurance policies offered on the new online marketplace.
Applications for the jobs are being collected online and anyone hired will get three days of training about health insurance, enrollment rules and other complicated aspects of the health law. Illinois must act quickly to be ready for Oct. 1, the first day of enrollment for the law's new insurance opportunities.