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   Several brides will have to find new venues for their upcoming wedding receptions, but they will be getting their deposits back after a St. Charles banquet center closed suddenly this week.  The Spirited Heart Banquet Center closed Monday after twelve years of operations.  

   The business owner, Kimberley Saguto tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she had to close after she was unable to resolve a dispute with her landlord. Saguto says there were eight couples who had scheduled upcoming wedding receptions at the hall.  But she says there wasn't enough other business to keep the business operating.

   Saguto tells the paper that she plans to refund deposits and help find new reception venues for couples.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 03:47
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   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State Police say an East St. Louis man used a safety vest and hardhat bearing a construction firm's name in a ruse to steal galvanized steel posts from the state Transportation Department.
   Soloman Craighead is being held in the Madison County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond on a felony theft charge.
   Authorities say the 61 year old Craighead took 400 posts between Jan. 4 and Sunday from a construction zone on Interstate 270 near Granite City.
   State Police Master Sgt. Mark Doiron says it is believed Craighead sold the posts, used to secure guard rails, to a scrapyard.
   Craighead was arrested Sunday as he and a woman was loading posts into a pickup truck. Police say the woman was released for lack of evidence to charge her with a crime.
 
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 03:26
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   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pressing for a final rush of health care enrollees, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that about 4 million people have signed up for health insurance through federal or state marketplaces set up under his health care law.
   But with a key deadline approaching fast, he urged some of his most steadfast backers to help sign up millions more by then.
   "We've only got a few weeks left. March 31st, that's the last call," Obama said, explaining that anyone not signed up by that date will have to wait until open enrollment begins anew in the fall. In the meantime, they risk being fined for not having coverage.
   The White House has set an unofficial goal of 7 million enrollees by the end of March.
   Nearly 3.3 million people, or less than half the total, had enrolled through the end of January.
   Enrollment was slowed at the start of the sign-up period last October by numerous glitches in the health care website the administration created to help people find coverage. Some states running their own websites encountered problems, too.
   Obama blamed the depressed enrollment on the bungled website and on an "implacable opposition" that he said has spent hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars to oppose the signature domestic policy accomplishment of his presidency.
   The president promised a "big push these last few weeks" to sign people up. Already, he and first lady Michelle Obama have talked up the health care law in interviews with radio and TV stations that reach largely black and Latino audiences. Vice President Joe Biden appeared Tuesday on "The View" to encourage its largely female viewership to help get people to buy coverage.
   "If they want health insurance now, they need to sign up now," Obama said.
   Besides the 4 million enrollees, Obama said millions more Americans were benefiting from the health care law's expansion of Medicaid as well as a provision that allows young people to stay on their parents' plans until they turned 26.
   Signing up enough people, particularly those who are young and healthy, is critical for the insurance pool at the heart of the law to function properly by keeping premiums low for everyone.
   Obama spoke to more than 300 activists at an Organizing for America summit at a Washington hotel. He later delivered a shortened version of his remarks to about 60 supporters at a by-invitation-only dinner in a nearby room.
   Organizing for Action is an advocacy group founded by former Obama campaign aides and supporters.
   Obama also sought his supporters' help to pressure Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers. The president noted his recent action to raise the hourly minimum to $10.10 an hour for people working on federal contracts. But that will make a difference for just a few hundred thousand workers and not until the government awards new contracts or existing ones are renewed.
   Obama said a majority of Americans of all political persuasions support a higher minimum wage.
   "Let's get that minimum wage done and give America a raise," he said.
   Two hours before the president spoke, his former Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, was seen in the hotel lobby. A Romney adviser said the former Massachusetts governor was in Washington to deliver a speech and was staying at the hotel by coincidence.
 
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Charles Mann can now see a bright side to Georgia's rough start to the season.
 
"We knew we were a great team," he said. "People didn't believe that, but we believed in each other and in the system. We wanted to come out and play hard just to win this year."
 
Mann scored 19 points, Marcus Thornton added 15 and Georgia won its second straight game with a 71-56 victory over Missouri on Tuesday night.
 
The Bulldogs (16-11, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) have won six of seven to strengthen their hold on third place in the league.
 
Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson each finished with 17 points for Missouri (19-9, 7-8 SEC).
 
The Tigers, coming off Saturday's dispirited loss at Alabama, might have hurt their chance of making a sixth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
 
"No, we're just trying to win," Brown said. "We're not trying to put extra pressure on ourselves. We've got to have faith in our team and each other."
 
Georgia, which went just 6-6 in nonconference play, began the SEC schedule by snapping Missouri's 26-game home winning streak on Jan. 8. Only No. 1 Florida and No. 17 Kentucky have performed better.
 
But Thornton said the Bulldogs aren't discussing their postseason prospects. They still have a lot of work to do to earn an NCAA bid.
 
Georgia closes the regular season with games at Arkansas, against Mississippi State and at LSU.
 
"We're not necessarily worried about that," Thornton said. "So focus on the next game and try to put ourselves in position to win."
 
Missouri dropped into a two-way tie for 10th place with Vanderbilt.
 
The Tigers' last lead came on Brown's layup midway through the first half. Missouri was outscored 16-6 over the final 9:12 before intermission.
 
Mann opened up the second half with a straightaway 3, and Juwan Parker's three-point play a couple of minutes later gave Georgia its first double-digit lead at 37-26.
 
Despite outrebounding the Bulldogs, Missouri struggled in nearly every other facet of the game, missing 15 of its first 16 attempts beyond the arc, getting outscored 38-18 in the paint and 11-2 on fast breaks.
 
"Shots weren't falling," Tigers coach Frank Haith said. "Georgia is a good defensive team, but I thought we had a lot of good looks."
 
Georgia's Kenny Gaines, coming off career-high 27 points at South Carolina, finished with 10 points.
 
The Tigers dropped to 2-6 in SEC road games. They finished 2-7 on the road in their first SEC season last year.
 
Missouri's defense has really struggled in the last two games. Georgia, which began the night with the SEC's worst field-goal shooting percentage in league games, shot 52.1 percent from the field.
 
The Tigers let Alabama shoot 54.7 percent last weekend — the Crimson Tide's highest percentage against a Division I team in five years.
 
Missouri's last three games are against Mississippi State and Texas A&M and at LSU. Haith isn't concerned about a lack of effort.
 
"I was happy with our guys," Haith said. "I thought they competed. Ryan Rosburg got 12 rebounds. We outrebounded them. I think we completed pretty hard tonight."
 
Georgia began the game averaging 28 free throws per game, but was 0 for 6 from the foul line in the first half. The Bulldogs missed the front end of three straight one-and-one chances before Nemanja Djurisic had two attempts hit hard off the rim.
 
Djurisic redeemed himself, though, by closing the first half with two 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater that made it 31-22.
 
"Yeah, I felt like we were right around there and then (Djurisic) hit those two 3s," Brown said. "That was kind of a momentum booster for them."
 
The Bulldogs finished the game 16 for 26 from the foul line.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:46
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