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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A disease that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States has been detected in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that two laboratories confirmed the presence of the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.

The disease was found in bats from four counties: LaSalle in north-central Illinois, Monroe in southwestern Illinois and Hardin and Pope in the far southern part of the state.

Researchers are especially concerned about the disease because bats play a crucial role in the environment.

In particular, they devour agricultural pests, saving that industry billions of dollars a year.

There is no known way to prevent the disease, which has now been detected in 20 states, most of them in the eastern U.S.

It affects seven hibernating bat species.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:44
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators have passed legislation scaling back tax breaks for developers and offering new incentives for high-tech businesses and world trade.

The Senate's 27-7 vote Thursday sends the bill to the House, where it already faces some opposition.

House Speaker Tim Jones has said senators "over-reached" by significantly lowering the amount of tax credits available for the construction of low-income housing and the renovation of historic buildings. But Jones likes provisions in the Senate bill that create new tax credits for air cargo exports, computer data centers and investors in high-tech, start-up businesses.

Gov. Jay Nixon praised the bill Thursday for containing "long-overdue reforms" to tax credits.

A similar proposal to overhaul Missouri's tax credits failed during a 2011 special session.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:39
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former southwest Missouri lawmaker has been chosen as executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. Former state Rep. Shane Schoeller, of Willard, was selected Thursday to oversee the daily operations of the Republican Party. Schoeller lost an election last November for secretary of state and previously served six years in the House, rising to the number two spot as House speaker pro tem. He succeeds Lloyd Smith, who resigned last month as executive director to make an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Missouri Republicans have revamped their leadership since the 2012 elections, when they lost five out of six statewide races but gained a supermajority in the state House. Ed Martin, who lost a bid for attorney general in November, was selected last month as party chairman.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:56
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A milestone day in the construction of the new Mississippi River Bridge. At some point Thursday morning, contractors plan to 'touch land' on the Missouri side of the river for the first time. A MoDOT spokesman tells KTRS news the bridge won't meet over the water until late June or early July, depending on how the river cooperates. The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic early next year.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:14
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Suspended Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul speaks out about a move by city council members to kick him permanently out of office. Calling it a bad parody of the Last Supper, the 32-year-old Mayor tells McGraw in the Morning he's been falsely accused of disclosing confidential information and drinking on the job.

"That's the most below the belt claim on there," Paul said.

Last April, Paul ran on a platform opposing a TIF for a new Walmart on behalf of hundreds of residents many of whom showed up Wednesday night on his behalf.

A hearing was scheduled for March 20th to decide whether Paul should be permanently removed from office. Mayor Paul tells McGraw he expects to be impeached and then plans to ask the courts to intervene. Paul is also considering another run for Mayor.

Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:07
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Two Cardinals with St. Louis connections were center stage this morning as Pope Benedict said his final farewell. The Pope says he will pray for his cardinals as they choose his successor.  

Cardinal-Emeritus Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, the former and  7th Archbishop of St, Louis, joined Ballwin native Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." 

George Stephanopoulos asked Rigali about speculation Dolan could be chosen to succeed Pope Benedict XVI:

"Stephanopoulos: He's on everyone's short list just about to be the pope. Rigali Well I think (Dolan laughs) we'll have to let the Holy Spirit decide that (Dolan laughs) You can see he has many virtues."

Benedict met with the cardinals as part of his final day as pontiff before retiring. Benedict promised "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013 07:43
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Emergency crews have cleared a two vehicle accident on westbound Interstate 44 near Six Flags. The crash happened just before 5 a.m.

All lanes have now reopened along westbound I-44 just past the Allenton/Six Flags exit. The intestate had been closed completely earlier this morning.

Traffic should return to normal quickly.

There's also no word on any injuries or what may have caused the accident.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 05:11
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On the same day that St. Louis University's embattled president issued a letter offering a conciliatory tone, some university alumni expressed their disapproval of Father Lawrence Biondi at the Billiken's basketball game.

At the start of the game, a group raised a banner that read "Alums for No Confidence," a reference to the no confidence votes issued by the university faculty and student government late last year.

In Biondi's 20 page report to campus yesterday, he acknowledged the criticism against him. He said that although he didn't agree with all of it, he's "committed to being part of the solution; to working more closely with those...who say that their voices are not being heard.”
Thursday, 28 February 2013 04:40
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Three public schools and more than 130 staff members, including 82 teachers, are facing the budget ax in the cash-strapped St. Louis public school district.

At Wednesday night's school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams recommended closing Sherman Elementary, L’Ouverture Middle School, and the Cleveland NJROTC Academy. Scores of students and parents attended the meeting in support of the military magnet school.

Adams also proposed increasing class sizes at the remaining schools.

The proposed cuts would trim $14 million from the district's budget.

The Special Administrative Board will vote next month on the recommendations.

District officials will gather feedback on the proposals at two forums this Saturday. The first will be from 10 a.m. to noon at Vashon High School, 3035 Cass Avenue. The second will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Central Visual Performing Arts High School, 3125 South Kingshighway.
Thursday, 28 February 2013 03:34
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Washington University officials say members of a campus fraternity crossed a line Tuesday when they allegedly hurled racial slurs at a group of African-American students. The incident reportedly involved students pledging the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Washington University’s Student Life newspaper reports that a group of African-American students were having dinner in the Bear’s Den dining facility when a few students approached and took a photo of them. The fraternity pledges then returned with a larger group of people, and began reciting the words to a rap song that contained repeated use of the "N-word."

University officials have suspended the fraternity while they investigate the incident.

Mike Zissman, president of the Wash U chapter of SAE apologized on Facebook for the incident, calling it "detestable" and "completely unacceptable."
Thursday, 28 February 2013 01:13
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