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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois State Police will have more details for the public on what's expected as Illinois implements the concealed carry of firearms.
 Authorities have planned a news conference for Monday in Chicago. They're expected to outline the application process for a concealed carry license. The application will be available on January 5.
ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond says officials will address questions the public has had about the process.
Earlier this year, Illinois became the last state nationwide to approve a law allowing the public possession of a concealed weapon.
Governor Pat Quinn last week named a panel that'll review applications for permits to carry concealed firearms. It's called the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board. Members will consider any objections of an applicant's eligibility for a permit filed by authorities.
Monday, 30 December 2013 10:26
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A Republican lawmaker says he's ready to push legislation expediting the process to terminate state-funded pensions for public official convicted of corruption.
State Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon tells the Belleville News-Democrat he was moved to co-sponsor legislation in part because of a former county treasurer who was convicted of rigging tax liens.
The newspaper reported in October that ex-Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon was still collecting a $90,000 pension. It was halted this month.
The law says public officials found guilty of corruption can collect pensions until sentencing. Kay's bill would allow termination at a guilty plea or conviction. Lawmakers return to Springfield in late January.
 
Monday, 30 December 2013 10:20
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   Two people are dead and five others injured after a series of shootings in North St. Louis Sunday afternoon.
   St. Louis Police say 32 year old Robert Parker and two other people had been sitting in car in the 4000 block of Peck Avenue around 1:45 p.m., when someone in a dark sedan pulled alongside and began shooting.  Parker was killed.  A 24 year old man is in critical and unstable condition with a gunshot wounds to the head and back.  A 24 year old woman was grazed by a bullet.  
   Police say a stray bullet struck 51 year old Clara Walker inside her apartment.  She was also killed.   
   About 15 minutes later, one person was wounded in second shooting at Interstate 70 and Kingshighway.
   Moments later, a third shooting injured two in the 5300 block of North Euclid.  
   Police say they don't believe the incidents are related, but are still investigating all three.
Monday, 30 December 2013 03:57
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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers plan to make another attempt at cutting income taxes during their 2014 session.
   Democratic Governor Jay Nixon vetoed an income tax cut bill passed earlier this year, and majority party Republicans were unable to override it.
   House and Senate leaders say an income tax cut will be an early priority when lawmakers convene January 8th.
   Representative T.J. Berry, who sponsored the vetoed bill, says next year's version will leave out some of the provisions to which Nixon objected. One of those dropped sections would have automatically cut state income tax rates even further if Congress enacted a law making it easier for states to collect taxes on sales made over the Internet.
   Bill sponsor Senator Will Kraus says lawmakers want to simplify the legislation and lower its cost.
 
Monday, 30 December 2013 03:36
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   Officials in the City of St. Louis are putting impaired drivers on notice.  

   Beginning Monday, St. Louis is a "No Refusal Zone."  That means that police will automatically seek a search warrant allowing blood-alcohol tests for suspected drunk drivers who refuse to take a breath test.

   Susan Ryan, a spokesperson for the circuit attorney's office said in a statement that "too many impaired drivers have learned how to game the legal system by refusing to submit to field sobriety tests."  Ryan says In St. Louis, the refusal rate is over 50 percent.  

   Ryan says the ultimate goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of DWI fatalities and injuries.

Monday, 30 December 2013 02:42
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   ST. LOUIS (AP) - In days gone by, a knock on the door by a teacher or school official used to mean a child was in trouble. Not anymore, at least for parents and students at Clay Elementary School.
   The urban public school is one of more than 30 in the St. Louis area that sends teachers on home visits several times a year. Unlike home visit programs that focus on truants and troublemakers, or efforts aimed exclusively at early childhood, the newer wave seeks to narrow the teacher-parent divide while providing glimpses at the factors that shape student learning before and after the school bells ring.
   "I wish they had this when I had children in school," said Elmira Warren, a teacher's aide at Clay who has made home visits to her students and their parents. "I was fearful of what the teachers thought, and of not knowing enough."
   The nonprofit HOME WORKS!  program is modeled after one in Sacramento, Calif. that over the past decade has since spread to more than 300 schools in 13 states, with active programs in Washington, Denver, Seattle and St. Paul, Minn. Program leaders say participation leads to better attendance, higher test scores, greater parental involvement and fewer suspensions and expulsions, citing preliminary research of the newer program by the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a series of external reviews in Sacramento over the past decade. Participation is voluntary, and teachers are paid for their extra time.
   "We've figured out a way for people to sit down outside the regular school and have the most important conversation that needs to happen," said Carrie Rose, executive director of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project in the California capital.
   The K-12 program began in 1999 as a faith-based community effort but quickly found support not only in the Sacramento school district but also with local teachers unions.  The National Education Association has also endorsed teacher home visits, citing a "critical mass of research evidence" connecting high student achievement with involved parents.
   No longer do parents only here from teachers when there's a problem, or during brief school conferences that leave little time to go beyond the surface.
   "She knows how much the teachers care when she sees them at her home," said Mark Brown, whose 6-year-old daughter Unafay attends Clay Elementary in north St. Louis.
   A decade ago, Clay principal Donna Owens could barely attract 25 parents to meet their children's teachers even once at a school with more than 320 students, with one notable exception:  the Halloween candy giveaway.  A recent HOME WORKS! event at the 191-student school drew close to double that number of parents.
   "Our parents feel much more comfortable coming to the school, and being a part of it," Owens said.
   The Missouri program, which began in St. Louis but now includes several schools 120 miles away in the college town of Columbia, follows a template common to the other efforts. Participating schools must agree to involve at least half of their teachers, and the educators work in pairs to ensure safety.
   Program costs are often covered by foundation grants or borne by nonprofit supporters such as the Flamboyan Foundation, which paid for the program in the District of Columbia.  Rose estimated the program cost at $10,000 annually for elementary schools, and $15,000 to $20,000 for high schools.
   In Missouri, the first teacher visit comes in late summer, with the second session in the fall. While the follow-up session focuses on academics, the initial meeting is all about building a rapport, said Karen Kalish, a St. Louis philanthropist who founded HOME WORKS! in 2006.
   "They go in as listeners and learners the first time," she said. "Just to get (parents) to start talking, to build their relationship."
   Each session is followed by an invitation to continue the conversation at school over a communal meal.  Busy parents who can't find the time or energy for such visits are told the school will also provide childcare and transportation, if needed. Teachers must spend at least 30 minutes on the first visit and 45 minutes the second time, though often those minimums are exceeded.
   "We want to do whatever we can to get them to come to school," Kalish said. "Something happens when parents see their kids' school for the first time."
   Selling overworked teachers on the benefits isn't always easy. At Flynn Park Elementary in the St. Louis suburb of University City, teacher participation is actually down in the program's second year, said kindergarten teacher Debbie Kuster.
   Some are simply too busy outside of school with their own families, she said. Others work second or even third jobs. And some teachers - Kuster included - prefer to keep their professional distance, she said.
   "I'm uncomfortable going to the house," she said. "For certain people, they're more comfortable in their own territory."
   Those who do connect with their students' families away from school describe a more collaborative approach to learning, an environment of mutual respect and appreciation rather than top-down communication.
   "A lot of parents were willing to share with us," Warren said. "They saw we were parents ourselves. They let down their guard."
   Fourth-grade teacher Cynthia Williams said her Clay Elementary Students learned to view her as more than just a two-dimensional authority figure.
   "For some students, school and home are two different worlds," she said. "When you create that bridge, it becomes cohesive."
   Kalish said the program also fosters parental accountability rather than a reliance on schools to essentially serve as surrogate parents for six or seven hours each day.
   While the Missouri program and affiliated efforts nationwide remain relatively small, she hopes to build enough momentum to take the effort statewide, and envisions a broader effort that would elevate teacher home visits alongside such programs as Teach for America or Parents as Teachers, which focuses on increasing child-rearing skills through home visits for newborns and toddlers.
   "We've got the secret sauce," Kalish said. "We know what works."
   ---
   Online:  HOME WORKS!, www.teacherhomevisit.org
   Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, www.pthvp.org
   ---
 
Monday, 30 December 2013 01:29
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CHICAGO (AP) — Drivers in St. Louis southern Illinois suburbs will soon see their top speed limit increased to 70 miles per hour.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says about 87 percent of interstate highways and 98 percent of rural interstates under its jurisdiction will be increased to 70 under the new law taking effect January 1st.

IDOT officials say crews will start installing 70 mph signs and removing 65 mph signs in early January.

Transportation officials urge motorists to obey posted speed limits. They say the 70 mile per hour speed limit will be in effect on segments of Illinois interstates that can accommodate the higher speed while maintaining safety.

About 28 percent of the Illinois Tollway's 286-mile system will be increased to 70 miles per hour.

Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:49
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ST. CLAIR, Mo. (AP) — A Franklin County judge has ordered animals seized from a home to be returned to the owner.

The animals — 192 rabbits, 25 goats, 10 cats, 21 chickens, four dogs and a duck — were removed from 75-year-old Velma Muessemeyer's property near St. Clair, Mo., on Nov. 12. It was the second animal seizure there in less than four years.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that so far, the animals have not been returned.

Humane Society officials said at the time of the seizure that the animals lived in dirty and dangerous conditions. Muessemeyer was charged with 21 misdemeanor animal abuse counts.

Franklin County Associate Circuit Judge David Tobben said in a ruling last week that there was no evidence that most of the animals were in danger.

Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:47
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PLATTE WOODS, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Lottery says a Powerball ticket worth $71.5 million was sold at a Kansas City-area convenience store.

Lottery officials said Friday a ticket sold at the Autobahn BP store in Platte Woods matched all six numbers drawn Christmas night. The store will get a $50,000 bonus for selling the prize. And the winner can either collect the full jackpot in 30 annuity payments, or take the one-lump payment of $39.8 million before taxes.

Lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde says the winner will be announced in the next few days through a news release or news conference.

The winning numbers are 23, 28, 38, 39, 56 and the Powerball number is 32.

Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:46
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The crowded situation in the inmate intake center near Joliet has become the latest focus in the ongoing dispute over whether Illinois' prisons are too crowded.
The Associated Press has learned hundreds of inmates are sleeping in a gym, a health care unit and "staging areas" next to garages at the Illinois prison system's principal intake facility.
 
Ralph Portwood is president of the employees' union at Stateville prison, which oversees the reception center. He says the situation poses a security concern because inmates there are being held in groups instead of two per cell.
 
Illinois Department of Corrections officials say the setup isn't the most desirable but that the facility is secure, with extra guards available.  Corrections Director S.A. "Tony" Godinez says the prisons are run safely and humanely.
 
Friday, 27 December 2013 14:27
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