A Maryland-based foundation has awarded Joplin a $200,000 grant to build a butterfly garden to help tornado survivors. The goal of the project is to create natural settings to help people cope with the aftermath of disasters. The 2011 Joplin twister destroyed the park where the garden will be built.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois transportation officials say they're gearing up for busy roadways this Memorial Day weekend and have a plan to reduce congestion.
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced Thursday that non-emergency roadwork will be suspended to improve traffic flow at the unofficial start of summer.
Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider says the move helps ensure safety with the increase of motorists expected on the roads.
The suspension starts 3 p.m. on Friday through midnight Monday.
Transportation officials are urging motorists to obey posted speed limits and that posted limits are still in effect for construction zones even if there's no construction in the works.
The Illinois State Board of Education has released the state's first set of math courses under the new common core standards.
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon and the board announced the curriculum for 6th through 12th grade classes on Thursday. The package of coursework is aimed at reducing remedial math needs for college-bound students and better preparing students for the workforce.
State officials say the new courses will be available this fall and teachers can adapt the units as needed.
Missouri education officials have also signed on to the common core standards, Republican state lawmakers want to rescind that decision.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A metro-east judge's docket of hundreds of cases has been reassigned after the county's top prosecutor revealed that the judge is under federal investigation.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelley didn't detail the reason for the investigation. But he said he filed a complaint Thursday against Circuit Judge Michael Cook with state judicial discipline regulators.
Kelly and the county's chief judge, John Baricevic, says they've been cooperating with federal authorities.
Kelly says he has "actively assisted in and advanced a federal investigation" of the judge. He says that aid resulted in law-enforcement searches of Cook's Belleville home and his hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County.
The investigation has raised new questions about the death of 49 year old Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who died in March while at Cook's Pike County hunting cabin.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House is expected to vote Friday on legislation allowing public possession of concealed guns. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee Thursday. It was a compromise backed by Speaker Michael Madigan.
The measure was endorsed Thursday 13-3 and goes to the full House Friday. It comes two weeks before a June 9 deadline set by a federal appeals court for Illinois to abandon its prohibition on the public possession of weapons.
The legislation would require the Illinois State Police to issue concealed carry permits to qualified gun owners. It's patterned on a bill introduced by gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat.
But Madigan's version significantly adds places that would be off limits to guns. Those include mass transit - a must for violence-weary Chicago Democrats.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would create a state-governed "insurance exchange" so individuals and small businesses can shop for health care coverage as required by President Obama's health law.
Lawmakers voted Thursday 37-19 to send the House a bill establishing the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.
The exchange will guide people through the purchase of health and dental plans. It will also help qualified businesses enroll employees in health insurance plans.
The Affordable Care Act requires that nearly all Americans have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty. New marketplaces are scheduled to be operating by October.
Illinois will begin an exchange this year through a federal partnership. Gov. Pat Quinn hopes to establish a state-run marketplace for 2015.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a plan that would ban the use of cell phones while driving.
Senators voted 34-20 Thursday, sending the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn. His spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. The House approved it in March.
The proposal says drivers have to use hands-free devices or use speakerphone features for calls.
Police would be able to ticket drivers holding a cell phone except during emergency situations. Roughly 75 Illinois communities, including Chicago, already ban talking on cell phones while driving.
Bill sponsor Sen. John Mulroe says the bill makes roads safer.
Opponents say the bill is unfair to individual rights and for those who can't afford high-tech phones.
Texting while driving is already illegal in Illinois.
Police are asking for help to find the suspects who robbed a Cahokia gas station overnight.
The Midwest Petroleum convenience store was robbed around 2:30 AM. Three suspects smashed the front windows of the store. The suspects drove off in a blue Chevy truck with an American flag rear window cover. Police say there is damage to the right rear corner of the truck.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Cahokia Police department at (618)337-9505.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Columbia lawyer says a local ordinance that treats marijuana possession as a municipal violation isn't being followed by Boone County sheriff's deputies patrolling within city limits.
The Columbia-based Missouri Civil Liberties Association says the sheriff and the county prosecutor are disregarding the intent of city voters who approved the change in 2004.
Columbia's ordinance treats possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana as a misdemeanor. Violators are usually released with a summons to appear in court rather than placed under arrest.
Columbia attorney Dan Viets says sheriff's officers are instead arresting pot users in the city under more stringent state laws, and Knight is not downgrading those cases to municipal status.
The sheriff and prosecutor did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
A suspect is in custody after allegedly shooting into a South St. Louis home.
Police were on the scene when they saw the suspect fire several shots into a home near the intersection of Nebraska and Cherokee. Officers chased the man and caught him just a few blocks away.
No one was injured in the home and it is not known why he shot at the house.