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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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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri basketball player Zach Price is suspended from the team after being arrested twice for allegedly assaulting his roommate and a woman.
 
Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard says the victims reported that Price rammed their car Wednesday afternoon. That investigation was ongoing when Price was arrested on another alleged encounter with the same victims Thursday morning. Police say he hit his male roommate in the face then pushed the woman to the ground.
 
Missouri Coach Frank Haith said after the first arrest that he was "very disappointed" with Price and will discipline him accordingly.
 
Price sat out last season after transferring from Louisville.
 
Online records did not include a phone number for Price or indicate if he had an attorney.
Friday, 04 April 2014 13:27
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed the city of Columbia from a lawsuit filed by a man who spent more than 10 years in prison for murder before his convictions were vacated.
 
U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued an order last week dismissing the city from a lawsuit filed by Ryan Ferguson. The city was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be added to the lawsuit again in the future.
 
The city was one of 13 defendants in the lawsuit filed by Ferguson, who was convicted in the 2001 killing Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. He was released in November after his convictions were vacated.
 
The Tribune reports the dismissal is contingent upon it having no effect on Ferguson's remaining claims against the other defendants.
Friday, 04 April 2014 10:52
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri basketball player Zach Price is suspended from the team after being arrested twice for allegedly assaulting his roommate and a woman.
 
Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard says the victims reported that Price rammed their car Wednesday afternoon.
That investigation was ongoing when Price was arrested on another alleged encounter with the same victims Thursday morning. Police say he hit his male roommate in the face then pushed the woman to the ground.
 
Missouri Coach Frank Haith said after the first arrest that he was "very disappointed" with Price and will discipline him accordingly. Price sat out last season after transferring from Louisville.
 
Friday, 04 April 2014 10:29
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri sheriff says he will reopen an investigation into a 1997 Springfield girl's death that is linked to a man who was executed Thursday in Texas.
   
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott announced Thursday he will reopen the case of Stephanie Mahaney, a 13-year-old who disappeared from her Springfield apartment in 1997.  Her body was found in a Greene County pond a month later.
   
Arnott, who investigated Mahaney's death at the time, says he interviewed Tommy Lynn Sells this week on death row in Texas. Sells was indicted in Mahaney's death, one of three cases prosecutors linked to the killer.
 
The Springfield News-Leader reports that Arnott isn't less confident that Sells killed Mahaney but the interview prompted him to review some facts in the case.
Friday, 04 April 2014 10:25
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ST. LOUIS, MO  --  A crane accident in St. Charles has forced the closure of all lanes of Eastbound I-64 at Route K.  The Missouri Department of Transportation has also closed the entrance ramps from Route 94, Route K and Research Park to eastbound I-64. 
 
Crews must remove a crane that broke free on the Missouri River.  The crane is currently resting on the eastbound truss of the Daniel Boone  Bridge. The bridge and the interstate will remain closed until crews can remove the crane and inspect the bridge for damage. 
 
Motorists should use Interstate 70, Route 364/Page and Route 94 as alternate routes. 
Friday, 04 April 2014 09:23
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis police have identified two people killed in a shooting on the city's north side.
 
The shooting happened Wednesday afternoon, near Langston Middle School. The victims are identified as 35-year-old Michael Hennings and 27-year-old Ashley Townsend. Both were shot while inside a parked car and were pronounced dead at the scene.
 
Witnesses told police that the shooter gout out of a car and opened fire. Police are looking for the gunman.
Friday, 04 April 2014 08:03
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