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CHICAGO (AP) - The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state's unemployment rate dropped in November for a fourth straight month. But the 8.6 percent rate is still one of the highest in the country.
 
The department said Friday that the state lost a net 3,200 jobs in December. Officials blamed brutal cold for decreases in, among other areas, construction jobs.
 
But Department Director Jay Rowell says Illinois' economy remains on track for moderate expansion.
 
The unemployment rate fell from 8.7 percent in November. The national unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent. That's the lowest figure since late 2008.
 
Construction jobs were reduced by 4,500 in December. Government, labor and hospitality and educational and health services employers also all cut jobs.
 
Trade, transportation and utilities firms added a net 4,500 jobs.
Friday, 24 January 2014 13:30
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks prep for their showdown in the Super Bowl, a legal fight is playing out over the turf installed last summer at the NFL title game's venue.
Missouri-based Taylor Turf Installation Inc. is suing the MetLife Stadium's operators over $292,000 the St. Louis-area company says it is still owed for installing the stadium's playing surface.
Taylor Turf's suit in New Jersey names New Meadowlands Stadium Co. LLC and Georgia-based Turf Industry Inc., the company that hired Taylor for the job.
Taylor's president, Kelly Taylor, says his crew took special pride in hustling to complete what he said was a $417,000 job, only to be paid $125,000 so far.
   
 
Friday, 24 January 2014 11:31
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - A man and woman will serve time in federal prison after a racially motivated arson attempt on a black family's home in Independence.  

The Independence Examiner reports that a federal judge on Thursday sentenced 34-year-old Victoria A. Cheek-Herrera to more than six years in prison. And 25-year-old old Logan J. Smith was sentenced to more than five years in prison for violating the family's civil rights in June 2008.  

During their plea hearing in August, Smith and Cheek-Herrera admitted discussing their desire to set fire to the couple's home. They also drew a swastika and wrote "White Power" on the driveway, and threw a Molotov cocktail at the couple's home, causing minor damage. No one was injured.

Friday, 24 January 2014 11:23
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Ongoing repairs of damage caused by a burst water pipe will postpone the opening of the old Historic Courthouse in downtown St. Charles until the end of March.
County officials announced Thursday that a planned reopening by the end of this month has been delayed.
The water pipe burst on September 8, affecting three floors.
Employees returned to work two days later but the public has not been allowed back into the building, which is now called the Executive Office Building.
A damage estimate has not been released. The building house offices for the county council, executive, legal staff and others.
Friday, 24 January 2014 11:15
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Columbia man has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for setting fires at two college campuses.
The U.S. attorney's office says 28-year-old Christopher Curtis Kelley also was ordered Thursday to pay over $590-thousand in restitution. Kelly was found guilty of two counts of arson last year for setting fires in 2011 at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Stephens College.
Federal prosecutors accused Kelley of starting fires at 10 locations at the university's Ellis Library. That disrupted library services for a couple of days. Water damage also forced the temporary closure of the Missouri State Historical Society, which is located at the library.
Damage was less extensive from the fire that Kelly was convicted of setting at the Audrey Webb Child Study Center at Stephens College.
Friday, 24 January 2014 11:12
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri senator is proposing to curb governors' authority to make budget cuts affecting education.
The Missouri Constitution allows the governor to control the rate appropriations are spent and to reduce spending when state revenues are less than the estimate upon which the budget is based.
Republican Sen. Ryan Silvey, of Kansas City, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would exclude spending through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from that budget-trimming authority. A constitutional amendment would require a statewide vote if it passes the Legislature.
Some funding for K-12 schools was included in Gov. Jay Nixon's spending freeze last year because of concerns the Legislature would override his veto of a tax cut. That funding has since been restored.
Friday, 24 January 2014 11:00
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond has been hired by a state business association to lobby his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature in support of a Medicaid expansion.
Bond's lobbying firm is being paid by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Chamber President Dan Mehan says the group hopes to capitalize on Bond's reputation and political connections to persuade reluctant Republican lawmakers that Medicaid expansion is a good idea.
Missouri's Republican-led Legislature has repeatedly rejected calls to extend Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 300,000 additional lower-income adults.
The expansion has been backed by Gov. Jay Nixon and his fellow Democratic lawmakers.
States that expand Medicaid eligibility can receive enhanced federal payments under the terms of President Barack Obama's health care law.
Friday, 24 January 2014 10:35
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The sale of "I'm Pet Friendly" license plates has raised more than $100,000 since 2009 for a pet spay and neuter program in Missouri.  
Through each specialty plate that is sold, $20 is donated to the program. The Missouri Department of Agriculture says that last year, the program provided $20,000 worth of grants for animal shelters, humane societies and non-profit rescue groups.
The money is used to spay and neuter pets before they are adopted or to help low-income owners who can't afford to fix their animals.
The department is accepting grant applications through the end of February. Last year's recipients include organizations located in Ava, Fenton, Cadet, Sedalia, Ray County, Richmond, Kansas City, Perryville and Rolla.
Friday, 24 January 2014 10:26
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   The St. Louis Art Museum is well managed and fiscally sound.  That's what auditors are reporting to the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District, the body that oversees property tax disbursements to five, regional cultural institutions.  
   The results of the Art Museum audit are a far cry from the last two audits commissioned by the District.  A 2011 audit of the St. Louis Science Center pointed out five-figure executive bonuses and too many vice presidents.  A 2012 audit of the History Museum raised concerns over a questionable land deal and vacation buy-back for the former museum president.
   By contrast, auditors found no major problems with the way the Art Museum is run. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the examination of the Art Museum revealed an institution with a clear chain of command among its several boards, a litany of policies to account for sales and donations, and enough cash in the bank to pay its bills 16 times over.  
   The Zoo-Museum District oversees the disbursement of about $70 million in property taxes to the Missouri Botanical Garden, History Museum, St. Louis Science Center, Zoo and Art Museum. 
 
 
Friday, 24 January 2014 03:53
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   Another business is closing up shop in the St. Louis Area.  KSDK-TV reports that the Coca-Cola production facility in Maryland Heights will close permanently March 28th.  

   Maryland Heights Mayor Mike Moeller tells the station the closure will affect about 100 employees.  Most of them are production workers and maintenance mechanics.  

   Moeller says Coke is indicating the displaced workers will be offered jobs at other facilities, training for new positions, or a severance package. 

Friday, 24 January 2014 03:48
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