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Two more districts have joined the growing list of metro-east school districts that plan to lay off teachers and other staff. Belleville District 118 and Highland Community Unit District 5 both announced staff layoffs Tuesday due to the state's budget shortfall.

District 118 will lay off six teachers and 20 staff members. The state of Illinois owes the district nearly two-million dollars.

In Highland, several teachers are being let go, but the specifics haven't been released.

Earlier this week, officials with Belleville District 201 and the Collinsville School District announced layoffs.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 02:24
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — James Frost is already serving 40 years in prison for four St. Louis-area rapes. Now, he is getting more prison time for a fifth.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that all the crimes occurred in 2006 in St. Louis city and county. The fifth case was brought by prosecutors in September on the basis of further DNA testing. Prosecutors say Frost assaulted the victim at gunpoint.

As part of a plea deal, Frost on Monday was sentenced to 30 years plus 10 on charges of forced rape, forced sodomy and sexual abuse. The latest sentence will run concurrently with the time already being served on the other attacks.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:34
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PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A judge has issued an order blocking a newspaper's request for documents about the resignation of the police chief in southeast Missouri.

Perryville Police Chief Keith Tarrillion submitted his resignation last week amid allegations that he falsified a police report in a personal insurance claim two years ago.

Perryville city officials alleged that Tarrillion used another officer's name to create a police report about vandalism at his home. Tarrillion later received nearly $5,700 from his insurance company. Tarrillion denied the allegations when he resigned Wednesday.

The Southeast Missourian reports that Circuit Judge Ben Lewis has issued an order that blocks the city from responding to the newspaper's records request for documents about the case.

Tarrillion's lawyer says the records constitute a "closed record" under the Sunshine Law.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:32
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis County is revising its outdoor warning siren tests.

The St. Louis County Emergency Communications Commission said Tuesday that based on feedback from the public it will reduce the duration of the monthly warning siren test to one minute from three minutes effective with the test on April 1. In the event of an actual tornado, the sirens will sound for a full three minutes.

The commission says the warning system is intended for outdoor notification only and the sirens are not designed to alert people inside of buildings.

The county also announced the installation of two additional sirens last week — in Bridgeton and Kirkwood — bringing the total number of sirens to 199.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:30
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Preliminary reassessment figures show that the median value of a residential property in St. Louis County declined 7 percent over the last two years.

County Assessor Jake Zimmerman released the figures Monday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that many properties in areas with high levels of foreclosure sales are down 12 percent or more.

St. Louis County reassesses property every odd-numbered year.

Assessments increased for residential properties in only one school district — 0.4 percent in Clayton. The biggest drop was in the Riverview Gardens School District — 24 percent.

Zimmerman says sales volumes are picking up and the real estate market appears to be recovering.

The values are preliminary and could be changed by the assessor's office until July 1.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:30
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich is questioning millions of dollars of welfare payments made to low-income residents.

Schweich released an annual audit Tuesday examining Missouri's use of $12.7 billion of federal funds during the 2012 budget. He raised concerns about $68 million of expenses, mainly through programs run by the Department of Social Services.

As he has in the past, Schweich questioned whether some of Missouri's payments under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program were allowed under federal law. The department has said that they are.

Among other things, the audit also cited improper payments to some child care providers and noted that the state failed to perform annual eligibility verifications for some senior and elderly residents receiving home-based services.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:26
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A sheriff says a woman who disappeared for four days with her 4-year-old daughter spent that time smoking synthetic pot with her ex-husband in a low-rent suburban Kansas City motel.

Authorities feared 28-year-old Rachel Koechner had been abducted, but Chariton County Sheriff Chris Hughes says she spent much of that time with her ex and their child in the motel. Koechner has not been charged.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:57
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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — Police say an intoxicated man who broke into a St. Louis-area church might have gotten away with it if not for a case of the munchies.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 24-year-old Andrew Jung of St. Charles is charged with three felonies and jailed on $30,000 bond following the March 8 break-in of the St. Peters Catholic Church in St. Charles.

Responding officers found that a deep freezer had been damaged, and ice cream had been taken.

Jung was spotted walking about three blocks from the church — intoxicated and with ice cream on his face and clothing.

Court documents show that Jung is on probation for burglarizing another church nearby.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 13:48
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon says Missouri has signed off on deals to sell $700 million of products to Taiwanese consumers over the next four years.

Nixon made the announcement Tuesday while on a trade trip that also includes a visit to South Korea.

The governor said his administration signed a $500 million agreement with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and a $200 million agreement with the Taiwan Feed Industry Association. He also met with government officials and Taiwanese importers of Missouri products.

As an example of the business agreements reached on the trip, Nixon said that Garden City-based NeCo Seeds had closed deals to supply soybean products to two major Taiwanese food distributors.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 13:38
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Hundreds of protesting coal miners have returned to downtown St. Louis for a third time this year.They were marching from Peabody headquarters to U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Patriot Coal Corp. has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to modify collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America, allowing the coal company to cut health care coverage for retired miners.

St. Louis-based Patriot said in the filing the action is necessary to save more than 4,000 jobs. Patriot also seeks to change wages, benefits and work rules for existing workers in an effort to make the company more competitive.

Union leaders have been anticipating the move for some time, holding protests in St. Louis last month that drew more than 1,000 people. UMWA President Cecil Roberts says the loss of benefits would cause financial ruin and threaten the health for thousands of retirees.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 11:20
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