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 ST. LOUIS (AP) - Documentary filmmakers A.J. Schnack and David Wilson knew it would be easy to make fun of Branson, middle America's flag-waving, family-friendly celebration of musical variety shows and early-bird dinner specials.
The Midwest natives felt a stronger obligation to dig beneath the surface and portray local performers and town leaders as more than aw-shucks Ozark hillbillies.
 
The result is "We Always Lie to Strangers," a new film that tells a more nuanced story of how the southwest Missouri resort is dealing with the aftermath of an economic recession, an aging audience and performance troupes whose gay cast members live a version of "don't ask, don't tell" among their conservative Christian neighbors.
 
The documentary will be distributed nationally in 2014. It kicked off the annual St. Louis International Film Festival in November.
   
 
Friday, 27 December 2013 14:17
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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The company owned by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill's husband has bought an airplane the Missouri senator could occasionally use.  McCaskill's office disclosed the purchase Friday by Joseph Shepard's company, which took possession of the plane a week ago. The plane will be used primarily for Shepard's business.
 
 
In 2011, McCaskill, a Democrat, sold a plane for which she and Shepard had an ownership stake. Before that, McCaskill reimbursed the federal treasury $88,000 for taxpayer funded travel and paid St. Louis County about $320,000 in back property taxes, interest and penalties related to that plane.
 
   McCaskill's office said Friday no taxpayer dollars will be used when she flies on this airplane. An independent company is managing compliance with tax and financial reporting. A property declaration is to be filed Jan. 2.
Friday, 27 December 2013 14:14
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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by a Guatemalan woman seeking to overturn the adoption of her biological child by a Carthage couple. Encarnacion Romero sought to challenge a Missouri Court of Appeals decision terminating her parental rights to the child who was adopted by Seth and Melinda Moser. The Mosers have raised the child, who is now 7, since he was 1 year old. Legal battles have gone on since 2008.

Friday, 27 December 2013 13:54
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Many low-wage workers in Missouri will make a little more money next year.  Starting January 1st, Missouri's minimum wage will go up 15-cents to $7.50 an hour.  The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase 12-cents to $3.75 an hour.  Missouri's minimum wage automatically rises to keep pace with increases in the cost of living thanks to a law approved by voters in 2006.  The rate hike is expected to benefit about 104-thousand low-wage workers in the state.  An analysis by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute estimates the increase will boost economic growth in Missouri by about 11-million dollars. 
 
 
Friday, 27 December 2013 13:46
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   Friends of a murdered metro-east woman are hoping a memorial fund can raise enough money to cover funeral expenses and a grave marker.  Friends of 30 year old Courtney Coats are hoping to raise about 15-thousand dollars through online donations.  
   Coats' was reported missing November 25th.  Her dismembered body was found last week along the Illinois River near East Hardin, IL. 
   Madison County prosecutors have charged 28 year old Patrick Chase of Alton and 30 year old Brandon Chittum of Collinsville with first-degree murder.  
   Both men are held on $1 million bail. 
   The memorial fund is based online at www.GoFundMe.com. Donations also may be dropped off or mailed to the Jerseyville Banking Center in Jerseyville.
 
Friday, 27 December 2013 03:09
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   Students who've graduated from Missouri high schools, but who can't prove their U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status, will soon pay less to enroll in community college classes in St. Louis.  
   Until now, undocumented students have paid the international student rate of $204 per credit hour at all St. Louis Community College campuses.  
   Starting with the semester that begins in January, their tuition rates will be based on where they live.  Those who live in district will pay $98.00 per credit hour -- cutting their tuition bills in half.   
   At least 18 states around the nation, including Illinois, offer similar benefits as a matter of state law.  Missouri does not.
 
Friday, 27 December 2013 02:15
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   Police are yet not sure what led to a crash on Interstate 170 that killed a DirecTV serviceman Thursday.  

   The crash happened on northbound 170 near Page Boulevard just before noon.  The Missouri Highway Patrol says a DirecTV service van rear-ended a semi trailer.  

   Overland Police say the van's driver 35 year old Anthony Graciani of St. Louis was extricated from the wreck and taken to a hospital where he later died.  No one else was injured.  

Friday, 27 December 2013 01:19
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A boost in funding will clear the way for some road repairs in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn announced a capital investment of more than $15.3 million on Thursday to fund a bridge repair project in St. Clair County. It is all a part of the Governor's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program aimed at creating jobs and boosting llinois' economy.
Bridge repairs and resurfacing are planned along Interstate 64 from 18th Street to the Illinois Route 111 interchange in Washington Park.  
The $31-billion Illinois Jobs Now! project is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history.The project will support nearly 440-thousand jobs over a six year span.
Thursday, 26 December 2013 15:37
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An apartment fire in Worden, Illinois has claimed the life of a disabled man. Authorities say 45 year old Robert Blotevogel was found by firefighters on the living room floor of his apartment. The Belleville News Democrat reports that the victim used a wheelchair and was unable to escape the blaze..  
The Worden Fire Department was called to the scene at about 7:15 Thursday morning.  The newspaper reports that a retired firefighter and a former firefighter who live in the area were helping people out of their apartments.  
Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Steinmeyer said, "Without the help of those two people, it could have been a lot worse." All other residents were safely evacuated and none had to be treated for injuries. Approximately seven to ten people are temporarily displaced by the fire.  The Madison County Sheriff's Department and Illinois State Fire Marshal are investigating the cause of the fire. The cause of death will not be released until toxicology results are completed.

 

 
 
 
Thursday, 26 December 2013 14:33
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That dried out, old Christmas tree is good for more than firewood.  It can become a home for fish.  The Missouri Department of Conservation is accepting donated natural trees to establish fish habitats in two St. Louis-area lakes. Officials say man-made lakes don't have much fish habitat, and the trees provide a woody sanctuary. 

Conservation crews tie the Christmas trees to concrete blocks and sink them in 4 to 7 feet of water where the trees attract invertebrates -- a good food source for small fish, which then attract larger fish. Young fish also can hide among the trees.  

Donated trees will be accepted until January 13th at Creve Coeur Lake and at Lake 34 in the August A. Busch Conservation Area.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 13:29
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