WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - State officials say federal disaster assessment workers are expected to arrive in Washington and other areas hit by Sunday's tornadoes starting today.
And state spokesman Brian Williamsen said Thursday that Washington Community High School was open for the first time since one of those tornadoes tore through the central Illinois town.
Washington was hit hardest with hundreds of homes destroyed and one local resident killed. Five people died elsewhere in Illinois.
Williamsen said Federal Emergency Management Agency workers were expected to start assessing damage in some areas around the state Thursday afternoon.
Those assessments are part of the process of applying for federal disaster relief.
Williamsen said Washington residents whose homes can't be lived in are being kept out of their neighborhoods Thursday as large-scale debris removal continues.
KTRS, St. Louis - A pair of former Rams players are on the shortlist for the hall of Fame.
Cornerback Aeneas Williams and running back Jerome Bettis are both semifinalists for the hall of fame. The list is pared down to 15 names in January before the class of 2014 is announced the day before the Super Bowl.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri will allow health insurance companies to continue offering policies that otherwise would have been cancelled under the terms of the new federal health care law.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the state will let insurers sell individual and small-group policies in 2014 that were to be canceled because they didn't meet federal coverage requirements taking effect next year.
Nationwide, more than 4 million people who buy their own insurance have gotten received notices because their plans didn't meet the requirements of the federal law.
Missouri's decision comes after President Barack Obama recently proposed to allow those customers to keep their existing insurance policies for another year.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis County mother is charged with stealing more than $6,000 from an elementary school parent-teacher organization to pay her rent and other bills.
Thirty-seven-year-old Toni Taylor of St. Ann faces 14 counts of forgery for allegedly falsifying checks from the PTO account at Drummond Elementary School over a three-month period.
Police say that Taylor, the group's treasurer, forged the PTO president's signature.
KSDK-TV reports that Taylor's scheme unraveled after her landlord contacted the school about a suspicious $4,000 check to him from the PTO account.
Bail for Taylor was set at $25,000. She was expected to surrender on Wednesday, accompanied by her lawyer.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A U.S. Army veteran from St. Louis who lost a leg and suffered severe brain damage when a routine surgical procedure at the John Cochran VA Medical Center went bad has been awarded $8.3 million in a medical negligence lawsuit
Forty-three-year-old postal worker Dirk Askew had a cardiac stent inserted at the veterans' hospital in February 2009 after complaining of chest pain. He returned one week later after developing an infection in his right leg, which was later amputated. His lawyers said surgeons improperly used infected tissue to repair the damage.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/1ffSniw ) reports that the settlement will pay $6.8 million to Askew and $1.5 million to his wife.
The case marks the latest negligence claim at Cochran after years of problems with staffing and sterilization.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois state senator says he wants to end a long-standing ban on Sunday automobile sales.
Sugar Grove Republican Jim Oberweis tells the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers that he wants to introduce legislation next year allowing Sunday vehicle sales.
The law requiring dealerships to close on Sundays went into effect in 1983. It was supported by car sellers, who said it would cut overhead, level the playing field and give employees a day off.
Violators can face a $1,500 fine. Oberweis says the policy is "anti-consumer," and adds "it doesn't make a lot of sense." But the president of Illinois Automobile Dealers Association says "the majority" of the industry wants the law to remain on the books.
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is about to join the ranks of states allowing same-sex marriage.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill Wednesday making Illinois the 16th state to legalize gay marriage. The event will be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011. But it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.
The Illinois Senate approved the measure in February, but the House sponsor said he didn't have the votes. It wasn't called until this month and passed by a close margin.
Those who opposed the measure included some of Illinois most well-recognized religious leaders.
Same-sex couples will be allowed to wed starting in June.
Confessed white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been executed after two federal stays were vacated just after midnight Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughery ruled late Tuesday afternoon that a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 21 other death-row inmates challenging Missouri's execution protocol must first be resolved.
Later in the day, a second federal judge stayed the execution, saying a defense appeal over Franklin's mental competency needs more review.
After an appeal by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the 8th circuit U.S. District Court vacated both stays.
Only the U.S. Supreme Court can intervene to stop Franklin's execution now.
It was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980.
EB I-70 is shut down at St. Louis Avenue near downtown as police investigate a shooting. Officials didn't say when they expect the highway to reopen, but advise drivers to use an alternate route. Police say a 26 year old man was shot by someone in a passing car near Cass and North 13th. The victim is in stable condition. Police are searching for suspects.
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it is launching an investigation into the St. Louis County Family Court.
The Justice Department is looking into whether the court is depriving juveniles of their constitutional rights.
The department says the focus will be on whether the court provides the required due process for all children appearing for delinquency proceedings, and whether the court provides juveniles equal protection regardless of race.
In a statement released Monday, Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said, “Protecting the constitutional rights of all children appearing in court is critical to achieving our goals of improving juvenile courts, increasing the public’s confidence in the juvenile justice system and maintaining public safety.”