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Former Alton Mayor Don Sandidge has died.

Sandidge served three terms as mayor of the metro-east city, from 1997 to 2009. He spent 27 years on the Alton police force before that, including three years as chief.

Sandidge died early Sunday morning following a battle with cancer. He was 75.

Funeral arrangements are pending.
Monday, 18 February 2013 00:25
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Conventional wisdom holds that no one from the United States could be elected pope, that the superpower has more than enough worldly influence without an American in the seat of St. Peter. But after Pope Benedict XVI's extraordinary abdication, church analysts are wondering whether old assumptions still apply, including whether the idea of a U.S. pontiff remains off the table. Benedict himself has set a tone for change with his dramatic personal example. He is the first pontiff in six centuries to step down. Church leaders and canon lawyers are scrambling to resolve a litany of dilemmas they had never anticipated, such as scheduling a conclave without a funeral first and choosing a title for a former pope. The conclaves that created the last two pontificates had already upended one tradition: Polish-born Pope John Paul II ended 455 years of Italian papacies with his surprise selection in 1978. Benedict, born in Bavaria, was the first German pope since the 11th century. "With the election of John Paul, with the election of Benedict, one wonders if the former boundaries seem not to have any more credibility," New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, discussing Benedict's decision this week at SiriusXM's "The Catholic Channel." The election also follows a pontificate that featured Americans in unusually prominent roles. Cardinal William Levada, the former San Francisco archbishop, was the first U.S. prelate to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's powerful guardian of doctrine. Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis archbishop, is the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court. And Benedict appointed others from the U.S. to handle some of his most pressing concerns, including rebuilding ties with breakaway Catholic traditionalists and overseeing the church's response to clergy abuse cases worldwide. But as Christopher Bellitto, a historian at Kean University in New Jersey who studies the papacy, said, "There's a big difference between letting somebody borrow the car and handing them the keys." "The American church," he said, "comes with a lot of baggage." Among the negatives is the clergy sex abuse scandal, which has affected every U.S. diocese and bishop. The 11 U.S. cardinals expected to vote in the conclave will include Cardinal Roger Mahony, the former Los Angeles archbishop who was recently stripped of public duties by his successor over his record on handling abuse cases. Also attending will be Cardinal Justin Rigali, who stepped down as Philadelphia archbishop after a landmark indictment of priests revealed he had kept several clergy on assignment despite claims they molested children. The cardinals are also struggling against the perception, held particularly by Europeans, that most Americans aren't sophisticated enough to handle the papacy. In a faith 2,000 years old, the United States is considered relatively new ground. Europe was still sending missionaries to the U.S. to create the church through the early 1900s. Popes are also expected to be multilingual, or to at minimum speak Italian fluently. Dolan, considered to have one of the highest profiles in the U.S. church, speaks only halting Italian and a little Spanish, but no French or Latin. He led the North American Seminary in Rome, a kind of West Point for American priests, but has never worked in a Vatican office. "There really never has been any American who rises above his American-ness and holds the esteem of the international group of cardinals because of his service, because of what he's done for the church," said Brother Charles Hilken, a historian at Saint Mary's College of California, who has studied the papacy. Beyond the qualities of individual candidates, the cardinals take church history into account. The church has tried to keep the papacy separate from a reigning superpower for centuries, whether the Holy Roman Empire, France or Spain, according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church." When France captured the papacy, the nation moved the seat to Avignon in 1309 and kept it there for seven decades. But the role of the United States in the world today is what weighs most heavily against a American pope. The Vatican navigates complex diplomatic relations within the Muslim world, in China over the state-backed church, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beyond. An American pope could be perceived as acting in the interests of the United States instead of Catholics. "That would be enough of a concern for enough cardinals to make them leery about voting for an otherwise good American candidate," Hilken said. "These men come from places. They're citizens of other countries of the world." Despite all these factors, Dolan is being mentioned in some church circles as a potential - albeit longshot - choice. Round and quick to joke about his size, he is an ebullient and approachable representative of the church who is a strong speaker and is known in Rome. "He's the bear-hug bishop," Bellitto said. Dolan already was part of one upset election: In a surprise 2010 vote, his fellow church leaders chose him over the expected victor as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was the first time in the history of the conference that the man serving as sitting vice president was on the ballot for president and lost.
Sunday, 17 February 2013 08:26
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) -- Democratic Party leaders from southeast Missouri picked state Rep. Steve Hodges on Saturday to run in a special election to replace resigned U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in the GOP-leaning 8th District.

The Southeast Missourian reported that he earned 39 votes during his party's meeting in Poplar Bluff. De Soto funeral home director Todd Mahn got 27 votes, and former Blodgett mayor Markel Fitchpatrick earned only two votes.

Hodges, 64, of East Prairie, is a former grocery store owner and high school sports referee who spent a dozen years on a local school board and first won election to the Missouri House in 2006. Only after other likely candidates bowed out did he belatedly enter the race Wednesday night to run in a June 4 special election against Republican state Rep. Jason Smith, who was nominated by his party last weekend.

In accepting the nomination, Hodges recalled his son Andrew's valedictorian address at West Point. "He said opportunities sometimes only come along once in your life," Hodges said. "And he said it's your choice to decide whether to accept that opportunity or let it pass. I thought about it a great deal for several days this week and I thought I think God is presenting this as an opportunity for me. So I need to decide whether this is something I should take advantage of or let pass by because it's not going to happen again."

Missouri's 8th District stretches across 30 counties, from the outer suburbs of St. Louis south to the agricultural-base of the Missouri Bootheel and west to the rolling Ozark hills. The district's residents are the poorest and least educated in Missouri, with a median household income of less than $36,000 and more than 85 percent lacking bachelor's degrees. For 32 years, much of the area had been represented by either Bill Emerson or Jo Ann Emerson, who succeeded her husband after he died in 1996. Jo Ann Emerson resigned Jan. 22 to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Although of opposite political parties, Hodges praised the Emersons and vowed to continue their legacies of supporting labor and agriculture. He also stressed the need to balance the budget.

Hodges described Smith, the Republican nominee, as a friend and said he hoped to conduct the campaign as friends. "That was the way I was reared," he said. "But in politics as Gov. (Jay) Nixon has said, `There is no second place.' There are only winners and losers, and I hope to give you a winner."

Smith, an attorney, farmer and real estate partner, won a special election to the Missouri House of Representatives in November 2005. Because of term limits, Smith, 32, is now one of the most senior members of the chamber. After serving as majority party whip, his colleagues elected him in January as House speaker pro tem - the No. 2 ranking position.
Sunday, 17 February 2013 08:23
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A state Supreme Court decision and a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon have cost Missouri cities and counties at least $43 million in lost tax revenues that they otherwise could have collected from the sale of cars, trucks and boats, according to figures compiled by a state senator.

The estimate of lost tax revenues is being used by Sen. Mike Kehoe as one of his main arguments why lawmakers should enact a measure reinstating local taxes on vehicles bought from other states or sold in private deals between Missouri residents. The bill, which already has won initial Senate approval, is expected to receive a second vote this week that would send it to the House.

The legislation was prompted by a Missouri Supreme Court decision last year that said local sales taxes cannot be levied when vehicle purchases are made in another state. The ruling also applied to cars sold by one person to another, because sales taxes only can be collected from retail businesses. The court said a local "use tax" could be charged on such vehicles, but only if approved by local voters.

Almost all counties and municipalities had been collecting the tax on out-of-state vehicle sales before the Supreme Court's decision, but less than half had a voter-approved "use tax" and so have been unable to keep collecting the revenue.

State lawmakers reacted to the Supreme Court decision by passing a bill last May that would have allowed local governments to collect the tax. But Nixon vetoed the measure and said voters should have a say in whether the tax should be imposed. Some lawmakers launched an effort to override Nixon's veto over concerns that Missouri car dealers were at a competitive disadvantage, because customers were going out of state to avoid paying local vehicle taxes. The veto-override attempt ultimately failed.

Now lawmakers are trying again to re-instate the local taxes. "Who in their right mind would think it is right for the state of Missouri that we would tax our own local businesses, but not those out-of-state," said Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa.

This year's Senate bill would try to alleviate the governor's concerns. Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, a former Jefferson City car dealership owner, said it's a "new version for the same conversation."

The bill would allow local governments to start collecting the sales tax immediately after Nixon's signature. But it would also require local governments to put a "repeal" vote on the ballot sometime between November 2014 and November 2016 in which voters would be asked whether they want to keep the local tax.

Kehoe said he thought his bill would be a "bit more palatable" to Nixon than the version he vetoed, because it lets voters decide whether to keep the tax.

One Senator said she was "a little nervous" about how the bill would allow taxes to be collected immediately without voter approval. But Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said she still wants the bill's end result.

Since the issue has been unresolved, counties and municipalities lost $43 million in revenue between April and December 2012, according to figures compiled by Kehoe's office. During that period, $1.4 billion in motor vehicle sales were not subject to local sales taxes. Missouri dealers sold $5.1 billion worth of vehicles, which were subject to local taxes.

At the time of Nixon's veto, just 43 of Missouri's 114 counties and more than 90 of the roughly 950 municipalities had the ability to continue to collect a sales tax on cars not bought at Missouri dealers. Under the Senate bill, these local governments would not have to hold a "repeal" vote and currently can collect taxes on motor vehicles not purchased from Missouri car dealers. With Kehoe's bill still in the legislative process, some counties are looking to fix the problem on their own. At least 18 counties or municipalities have placed "use taxes" on the April ballot that would apply to vehicles sold in other states or between individuals, according to Americans for Prosperity, a group that advocates for lower taxes and limited government.
Sunday, 17 February 2013 08:19
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A St. Charles County Deputy pulled a woman from the Mississippi River Friday night.

Fox 2 reports that the woman drove her car into the river near the Clark Bridge. The deputy saw the woman's car heading straight for the water. He stopped his car and dove into the water to help the driver. Authorities say both the woman and deputy are okay.

Police believe the woman may have been suicidal.
Saturday, 16 February 2013 08:24
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Officials in Columbia say no injuries were reported after a car plowed into the wall of a restaurant and entertainment center for children.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the car ended up several feet inside the business, called Going Bonkers, after hitting a front wall around 10:20 a.m. Friday.

Columbia schools were closed Friday, and officials said about 100 children were inside Going Bonkers. The business has a large indoor playground, arcade and other attractions.

Police were investigating the cause of the crash but say the driver may have had a medical emergency. She and a boy in the car with her were both unhurt.a
Saturday, 16 February 2013 08:23
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IRONTON, Mo. (AP) -- A southeast Missouri woman will be sentenced in May for the 2009 death of an infant at her home babysitting business.

Martha Farris, of Pilot Knob, entered an Alford plea Wednesday to first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of 3-month-old Sam Pratt. The plea is not an admission of guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have sufficient evidence to gain a conviction. Attorney General Chris Koster's office prosecuted the case in Iron County. Koster's office says an autopsy showed that Sam died of non-accidental head trauma.

The attorney general says Farris told investigators she swung the baby, "plunked" him down hard on a couch and elbowed him in the head. The case prompted legislation limiting the ability of Missouri child care centers to continue operating while charges are pending.
Saturday, 16 February 2013 08:21
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Prosecutors are calling a case of molestation involving a Belleville martial arts instructor shocking and horrific.

20-year-old Christopher Horton allegedly video taped himself sexually assaulting at least two minors. There are few specifics in the crime, but the incidents occurred in the last 7 months. Horton faces federal and state charges and he is being held without bond. If convicted on the Federal charges, he could spend up to 60 years in prison.
Friday, 15 February 2013 17:37
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A Webster Groves bank robbery suspect remains on the loose today.

Police say the suspect robbed a Commerce Bank Thursday afternoon around two in the afternoon and got away with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspect is described as a black male standing 6'0" tall with a slender build. He appears to be between 30 and 40-years-old with a dark complexion.

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect should call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Friday, 15 February 2013 16:01
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A southern Missouri school district is ending a policy prohibiting same-sex couples from attending prom, a day after a national anti-discrimination group threatened to sue.

Scott County Central School District superintendent Alvin McFerren told The Associated Press Friday that the school board has agreed to revise a handbook policy that prohibits same-sex dates at school dances. McFerren says the policy was adopted 10-15 years ago because students were attending prom as couples simply to save money - the couples price was cheaper than the individual cost.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday threatened legal action on behalf of Stacy Dawson, a male student who wanted to attend prom with his boyfriend. McFerren says Dawson can attend the dance on April 20 with whomever he chooses.
Friday, 15 February 2013 14:27
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