COTTLEVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A panel of Missouri lawmakers came to suburban St. Louis on Monday for some firsthand testimony about the challenges of the state's school transfer rules.
Several area superintendents asked the interim House Committee on Education to seek a long-term fix to what they called a short-term solution to the problem of relocating students from failing school districts to better-performing ones.
The public hearing at St. Charles Community College came just weeks after hundreds of students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens began the fall semester riding buses to schools up to 20 to 30 miles away, with their former districts absorbing the added costs.
A second meeting is planned Monday night in St. Louis. Additional sessions are planned Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Branson and Joplin.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield utility is planning to partner with two companies to build what would be the largest solar farm in Missouri.
City Utilities says it will work with Solexus Development in St. Louis and Strata Solar of North Carolina to build the 4.95 megawatt system, with construction to begin next spring.
The Springfield News-Leader reports the companies expect to finalize a contract Monday. The system will be built on 57 acres next to an existing City Utilities generation station near Springfield.
Under the 25-year agreement, Solexus will develop the project and Strata Solar will build, finance and operate it. City Utilities' will connect the system to existing infrastructure, then buy the solar power the system produces.
The system is expected to produce about 9.6 million kilowatt hours per year.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Fees will be rising on some consumer loans under a law enacted when Missouri legislators overrode a veto by Governor Jay Nixon.
The fee increase will primarily affect smaller loans that are repaid over several months or years. It's not meant to affect payday loans, which can last no more than 31 days.
The measure doubles the origination fee that lenders can charge from 5 percent to 10 percent of the principal. But it leaves in place a $75 fee ceiling. The means lenders can charge the full 10 percent fee only on loans of up to $750 and can collect a few more dollars on loans of up to $1,500.
Lending industry lobbyists describe it as a minor change. But some consumer advocates don't like the new law.
CHILICOTHE, Mo. (AP) — A 60-year-old woman has been arrested in the almost 13-year-old abduction of a child in Florida.
The Kansas City Star reports that Sandy Hatte is being held on $25,000 bond in the Daviess/DeKalb County Regional Jail in Pattonsburg. She was arraigned Friday on a charge of felony child abduction. No attorney is listed for her in online court records.
Authorities took custody of the child Wednesday after a school official raised concerns. The biological father traveled to Chillicothe this week to be reunited with his child.
A Livingston County's sheriff's office news release described Hatte as being "somehow related to the family" of the child. Hatte and the child had only lived in Livingston County for about a month.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri legislators who favor relaxing the state's marijuana laws are weighing a renewed push for reforms.
House Democrats Chris Kelly of Columbia and Rory Ellinger, of University City were among the speakers Thursday at a Columbia forum on marijuana policy.
Kelly and Ellinger backed legislation this year that would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana a low-level misdemeanor with no jail time, similar to a traffic ticket. Columbia and St. Louis already have such laws.
The Columbia Missourian reports Kelly says he would favor pursuing full legalization of marijuana only if there were enough organizational support from pro-legalization groups.
Kelly's also uncertain whether it would be wiser to seek legislative approval of lower penalties for marijuana possession or to put any proposed reforms on a statewide ballot.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - New U.S. census data shows that Missouri is one of just two states where median incomes fell in 2012 from the previous year, as many residents continue to grapple with a slow-to- recover economy.
Median household income in the state was $45, 321 last year. That's a 1.6 percent decline from 2011. Nationally, the median income for U.S. households in 2012 was $51, 017. That figure remained flat after two previous annual declines.
The federal Census Bureau also reported a statewide poverty rate of 11.7 percent. But for single mothers with dependent children, the poverty level hovers around 44 percent.
Statewide, nearly 270,000 of the 1.5 million families who participated in the annual American Community Survey reported household incomes under $24,999.
BUCKHORN, Mo. (AP) - A south-central Missouri man who died after falling into a sinkhole was a Marine from Fort Leonard Wood who lived in a rural area near the fort.
Pulaski County authorities say 31-year-old Curtis Powelson died after he fell into the sinkhole Monday evening in the backyard of his home near Buckhorn. He was searching for a deer that he shot when he disappeared. Emergency personnel and neighbors spent hours looking for Powelson before discovering his body early Tuesday in the sinkhole, which was an estimated 70 feet deep.
Sheriff Ron Long told KSPR that the sinkhole was covered by foliage and debris, and some firefighters almost fell into it because it was so hard to see. Several people had to rappel into the sinkhole to recover Powelson's body.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri education officials are seeking an additional $6.8 million to help an unaccredited school district in the St. Louis area.
The State Board of Education approved the budget request Tuesday for the Normandy district. That's the first step in a process that ultimately requires the support of the governor and Legislature to become a reality.
Students started transferring out of the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts this year under a state law that requires unaccredited districts to pay the costs for students who want to attend other public schools.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says Normandy is projected to run out of money in March.
The additional funding recommended Tuesday would come as a supplemental state budget item to be considered after lawmakers convene in January.
NEW MADRID, Mo. (AP) - The family of an 83-year-old southeast Missouri woman missing since late August is offering a $25,000 reward in hopes of her safe return.
The Sikeston Standard Democrat reports the reward was announced Monday following another intensive search for Barbara Stoffer, of New Madrid.
Stoffer was last seen on the afternoon of Aug. 20. She drove a green 1993 Volvo, and friends said she visited the nearby Mississippi River daily.
Assistant New Madrid Police Chief Joey Higgerson says the reward is being offered for Stoffer's return or for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in her disappearance.
Dozens of volunteers joined law enforcement officers from Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois in a renewed search Saturday. An earlier search included dive teams from the Missouri Highway Patrol.
A water main break in O'Fallon, Missouri has forced the closure of Main Street.
Crews are on the scene, but is is uncertain as to how long drivers will be detoured. Officials hope the road will be re-opened for this afternoon's rush hour. Main Street is currently closed from Civic Park Drive to Elm Street.
Drivers are encouraged to take an alternate route.