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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to help veterans and service members get jobs as police officers, emergency medical technicians and commercial vehicle drivers.

Quinn signed the bills Thursday before marching in the July Fourth parade in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

One measure allows service members and veterans who have at least two years of experience operating a military vehicle to bypass the state skills test when applying for a commercial driver's license. Another eliminates the college degree requirement for veterans who've earned certain medals and want to become Illinois State Police officers.

Quinn says veterans are "some of the best-trained men and women in the world." He says anyone who performs those jobs in Iraq or Afghanistan should be qualified to do them in Illinois.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:42
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois high school juniors will be tested on writing skills for the first time in years during standardized tests next spring.

But lawmakers haven't given the state board of education extra money to pay for the 30-minute essay test. Board officials tell The Associated Press they've been given the same $27 million to spend on assessments next year. That budget includes the same testing requirements as last year, along with an additional writing test estimated to cost $2.5 million. The board may ask lawmakers to approve additional funding.

Proponents of the addition say writing is more important than ever as the state prepares for tougher assessments in 2014-15. Last year, less than one-third of high schools met federal education law benchmarks.

Others criticize lawmakers' spending money the state doesn't have.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:41
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri's first year as the northernmost outpost of the Southeastern Conference cost the school an extra $1 million in unanticipated travel expenses.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Missouri spent $7.1 million on travel in the 2012-13 academic year. That's $1 million more than what athletics officials expected and nearly $2 million more than travel costs during the school's final season in the Big 12 Conference.

Missouri shared the top spot for SEC travel costs with fellow Big 12 exile Texas A&M among the seven SEC public schools that provided data to the Tribune.

Commercial flights from Columbia to most SEC campuses are limited, and the move from the Big 12 eliminated games at three schools within driving distance: Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:39
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new report from a libertarian-leaning think tank rates Missouri's highway system eighth in the nation for overall condition and cost-effectiveness.

The annual survey by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation was based on data from 2009, the latest year with full spending statistics available.

With about 34,000 miles of highway under state control, Missouri's is the seventh largest state-administered system in the country.

The report ranked Missouri first in the nation for the condition of rural interstate pavement, but 18th for urban interstate pavement condition. The study also ranks Missouri 16th in urban interstate congestion, 28th in fatality rates and 37th in deficient bridges.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:32
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Two O'Fallon, Missouri men face murder charges for their role in a fatal hit-and-run.

Prosecutors say Kevin Labraido Jr and Robert Bathe were involved in a busted drug deal that led to the accident in St. Charles County yesterday. The Police report says the two were trying to buy drugs from someone at the home to Tyler Pinner.

When Bathe and Labraido refused to pay for the drugs, Pinner tried to stop their vehicle. Pinner was dragged a short distance and then run over. Both men are charged with second-degree murder.

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:08
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Two suspects are awaiting charges after a brief standoff last night.

The incident started just north of highway 70 in Jennings around 7 PM on Wednesday. Police say the suspects drove by a house and fired several shots into the home. Officers tracked the car to a home in Country Club Hills. The SWAT team was called out after the two suspects barricaded themselves in the house.

Those suspects surrendered a short time later and could face charges before the end of the week.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 14:43
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 Activities are hitting full swing in downtown at the fair St. Louis. The first of five airshows just started.

There is another show this afternoon at 4PM, then two on Friday, and the final show on Saturday. At 6:30 PM John Henry takes the stage to open for Trace Adkins. Adkins takes the main stage under the Arch at 8 PM. Fireworks follow the show at about 9:20. 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 12:03
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The 4th of July in St. Louis means it's time for the VP parade, which kicks off this morning. The parade steps off at 9:30 from 14th and Olive, that's just west of the newly renovated central library. From there, the parade heads north on Tucker, east down Washington Avenue, south on 4th street, then East on Market, where it wraps up at City Garden. Two air shows are also scheduled for today, both at noon and at 4pm. Trace Atkins takes to the stage at 8:00, and once he wraps up, the fireworks are set to begin. 9:20 is the estimated start-time for the fireworks show...

Thursday, 04 July 2013 06:37
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois has suspended non-emergency roadwork to help keep traffic moving over the July Fourth holiday weekend, the most heavily traveled summer holiday.

   The Illinois Department of Transportation says the halt to construction began Wednesday afternoon and will continue through Sunday.

   Thousands of motorists are expected to travel on state roadways during the holiday period.

   Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider says the construction freeze will also improve safety.

   Motorists planning their trips will be able to see a list of construction-related lane closures on the department's website.

   It is also reminding drivers that work zone speed limits remain in effect even when workers are not present.

 
Thursday, 04 July 2013 04:02
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   ELDORADO, Ill. (AP) - Peabody Energy is identifying a miner killed in an underground coal mine in southern Illinois as a 35-year-old Galatia man.

   KFVS-TV reports St. Louis-based Peabody says Nathan Clarida died in the accident Tuesday afternoon in the Wildcat Hills Mine near Eldorado in Illinois' Saline County.

   The Mine Safety and Health Administration says Clarida was hit by a ram car that was moving through a ventilation curtain

   The 7-year-old Peabody mine, which employs 200 workers, is closed while authorities investigate the man's death.

   Peabody said in a statement the accident was a "coal haulage incident."

   An autopsy is planned to determine the exact cause of death.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 03:50
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