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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — A St. Charles woman accused of blackmailing her boyfriend over child sex abuse allegations has been sentenced to five years' probation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 34-year-old Jennifer Callaway was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to concealing a felony. She was also ordered to undergo psychological and alcohol abuse evaluations and must have no unsupervised contact with minors.

Callaway was accused of coercing 45-year-old Raymond David Avett into giving her his home, SUV, boat and life insurance in exchange for not reporting the alleged abuse of a 6-year-old.

Avett's also charged with concealing a felony. St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar says Avett hasn't been charged with a sex crime because Callaway's failure to report the crime took away his office's ability to properly investigate the case.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 09:33
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A private education reform group is preparing to release its recommendations for turning around Missouri's unaccredited school systems, even as debate continues over whether the consultant was appropriately awarded the contract.

The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust, or CEE-Trust, has been hired to come up with ideas that could be implemented in the Kansas City school district and potentially also in Normandy, Riverview Gardens or any other districts that become unaccredited. The Indianapolis firm will release its draft recommendations Monday to the State Board of Education.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has been criticized by some teachers' unions and Democratic lawmakers for the way the consulting contract was awarded. One of the main complaints is that CEE-Trust's bid was nearly three times higher than the closest competitor.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 09:29
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Openings for the top job at Missouri state agencies no longer could mean an extended reign by a temporary leader under legislation proposed in the state Senate.

Missouri department directors chosen by the governor require Senate confirmation, but acting leaders do not. Two state agencies currently are led by acting chiefs, and Governor Jay Nixon this past week announced he was elevating two other acting directors to permanent positions.

Under the Senate legislation, state department directors would file a designation with the governor and the Legislature naming a deputy director who has the authority to exercise the director's powers during a vacancy. Acting directors could serve for 120 days.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 09:28
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Lottery has provided a larger-than-usual payment to public education because of stronger-than-usual sales.

The Lottery transferred $29.2 million to a state education fund Friday. That's the third largest monthly transfer in the Lottery's 28-year history.

Lottery officials cited strong Mega Millions sales in December for a $648 million jackpot. The Lottery also set a weekly record for distributed Scratchers tickets in December.

About one-quarter of every dollar of Lottery sales goes to public education programs. Slightly less than two-thirds of the proceeds go toward prizes.

The Missouri Lottery's largest monthly transfer to education was $30.4 million in April 2012, followed by $30.3 million in June 2013. In both instances, there were large jackpots in nationwide lottery games and strong sales for Missouri Scratchers tickets.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:42
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) —Governor Jay Nixon is making a trip to Detroit for an auto show that will feature a new Missouri-made product.

Nixon plans to be on hand Sunday when the new GMC Canyon is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. The small pickup truck will be assembled at a General Motors plant in Wentzville.

Nixon also plans to attend a Monday news conference with officials from Ford Motor Co. before returning to Missouri later in the day.

The governor's office says Nixon's schedule will include business meetings with leaders at automotive manufacturers and suppliers that already are expanding in Missouri or are considering doing so.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:41
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ANDERSON, Mo. (AP) — Police in far southwest Missouri have issued an Amber Alert for a 6-month-old boy missing for more than a week.

The Anderson Police Department issued the alert Friday evening for Mitchell Farris, who has been missing since January 2nd from an apartment in the McDonald County town.

The alert identified two adults being sought as 34-year-old Preston Farris, described as a 5-foot-10 white male weighing 230 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes; and 30-year-old Anastasia McDaniel, a 5-foot-8, blue-eyed white female weighing 172 pounds.

The alert did not describe the relationship, if any, between baby Mitchell Farris and Preston Farris, and a call to police was not immediately returned.

The alert said the adults may be driving a red 2004 Ford Freestar with the Missouri license plate UH7D2R.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:39
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new audit says Missouri has too many vacancies on several advisory and regulatory boards.
 
Friday's report from State Auditor Tom Schweich says 27 percent of seats on boards overseen by the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration were vacant as of June 2013. Vacancies are filled by the governor, an insurance department official or the board itself.
 
Five of the 37 boards examined lacked enough appointed members to make a quorum during meetings. The report also found 63 percent of the appointed board members served beyond their term expiration date.
 
In a response included with the audit, the department says it will continue to work at filling vacancies.
 
Overall, the department received a "fair" rating, the second lowest on the auditor's four-part scale.
Friday, 10 January 2014 16:51
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The chairman of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus is stepping down.
 
   Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, of St. Louis, said Friday that she decided to resign because some members of the 16-member group were upset about her appearance with Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder at a news conference in December.
 
   Nasheed and Kinder were criticizing the decision of a state commission to delay low-income housing tax credits, as part of an informal deal to pass new tax incentives for Boeing.
 
   She became the chairwoman in 2013, after her election to the state Senate. She previously served six years in the House.
 
   Nasheed says the group's vice-chairman - Democratic Rep. Brandon Ellington, of Kansas City - will take over her duties until the caucus elects a successor.
Friday, 10 January 2014 16:50
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Influenza cases are rising sharply in Missouri, with nine deaths reported so far this season at one St. Louis hospital alone.
 
All nine deaths at Barnes-Jewish Hospital involved people in their mid-20s to mid-60s, hospital officials said Friday. That's unusual because flu deaths are more typical among the very young and the very old. Another 35 patients were sick enough to be treated in the Barnes-Jewish intensive care unit.
 
Officially, Missouri has reported more than 6,700 confirmed flu cases this season. Most cases in Missouri involve the H1N1, or swine flu, strain. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services lumps flu and pneumonia deaths together so the number of statewide flu deaths wasn't known.
Friday, 10 January 2014 16:45
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CHICAGO (AP) - Three more health insurance carriers are giving Illinois customers who signed up in December more time to make their first payments.
 
   Land of Lincoln Health has extended its payment deadline to Jan. 31 for people signed up for plans with coverage effective Jan. 1.
 
   Aetna customers now have until Jan. 14 to pay their first premium for January coverage. Coventry customers have until Jan. 17.
 
   Earlier this week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois extended its deadline to Jan. 30 and Humana pushed its cutoff to Jan. 31.
 
   It's the latest in a string of deadline extensions for people buying insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law. An original New Year's Eve payment deadline fell by the wayside after the technical problems of the federal insurance shopping website HealthCare.gov.
 
Friday, 10 January 2014 14:34
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