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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - U.S. attorneys have filed a lawsuit against the Missouri National Guard alleging it shortchanges civilian employees when they are called to active duty.
   The lawsuit announced Monday says the Missouri National Guard has been requiring civilian employees to resign before allowing them to go on active duty.
   The lawsuit says that effectively denies the employees 15 days of annual paid military leave that they are entitled to under federal law. The civilian employees could receive the benefits if they were allowed to take a leave of absence or go on furlough for active duty.
   U.S. attorneys are asking a judge to retroactively order benefits for the employees.
   A Missouri National Guard spokeswoman referred questions to the state attorney general's office, which had no immediate comment.
Published in Local News
   CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Restaurants closed their doors, groceries stores sold out of bottled water and thousands of children got an extra day off from school as residents were told to not bathe, brush their teeth, or wash their clothes following a chemical spill that may have contaminated tap water in nine West Virginia counties.
   Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency Thursday after a spill from Freedom Industries inundated the river and a nearby water treatment plant.
   Customers of West Virginia American Water in the affected areas got the order from Tomblin on Thursday night: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
   The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries, overran a containment area and went into the river earlier Thursday.
   Officials say the orders — which the water company also delivered to residents via automated telephone messages — were issued as a precaution, as they are still not sure exactly what hazard the spill posed to residents. It also was not immediately clear how much of the chemical spilled into the river and at what concentration.
   "I don't know if the water is not safe," said water company president Jeff McIntyre. "Until we get out and flush the actual system and do more testing, we can't say how long this (advisory) will last at this time."
   McIntyre said the chemical isn't lethal in its strongest form. Kanawha County emergency officials said the chemical is called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. Freedom Industries officials were unavailable for comment.
   According to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific, the chemical is harmful if swallowed and causes eye and skin irritation and could be harmful if inhaled.
   The emergency declaration involves customers in all or parts of the counties of Kanawha, Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane. In the capital city of Charleston, a smell similar to licorice or cough syrup was evident in the air both outdoors and in areas where it had already reached the water supply.
   The smell was especially strong at the Charleston Marriott hotel a few blocks from the Elk River, which flows into the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston. The Marriott shut off all water to rooms, and then turned it back on so guests could flush toilets. Each guest was given two 16.9-ounce bottles of spring water upon returning to the hotel.
   The West Virginia National Guard planned to mobilize at an air base at Charleston's Yeager Airport on Friday to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine counties, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina told The Associated Press.
   "They're committing all necessary resources to help with this," Messina said Thursday night.
   Messina said the drinking water will come from several different suppliers. After distribution, the various county agencies "will use their own game plans to distribute it, with hospitals and nursing homes getting priority," Messina said.
   Most people weren't waiting for outside help.
   Once word got out about the governor's declaration Thursday, customers stripped store shelves in many areas of items such as bottled water, paper cups and bowls. As many as 50 customers had lined up to buy water at a convenience store near the state Capitol in Charleston.
   "It was chaos, that's what it was," cashier Danny Cardwell said.
   Tomblin said the advisory also extends to restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and other establishments that use tap water.
   At the Little India restaurant in Charleston, about 12 customers were asked to leave when bar manager Bill LaCourse learned about the shutdown notice.
   West Virginia lawmakers who just started their session this week won't conduct business on Friday because of the problem and State Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said schools in at least five of the counties will be closed.
   Karlee Bolen, 16, of Charleston, said her family, including her parents, two sisters and brother, were considering the possibility of heading to her grandmother's home in Braxton County, where tap water was unaffected, an hour to the northeast.
   "I kind of want to shower and brush my teeth," she said.
Published in National News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri National Guard is processing requests from same-sex partners for military ID cards.

A Pentagon policy taking effect in early September makes same-sex spouses of gay military members eligible for health care and other benefits that also are available to opposite-sex partners. The decision does not apply to unmarried gay partners.

Missouri National Guard spokeswoman Major Tammy Spicer says the guard is following the Department of Defense's policy and processes requests for those who can provide proof of marriage. She says ID cards have been issued to same-sex partners but that the exact number of couples who received the IDs was not available this weekend.

Officials in other states have refused to issue the ID cards at their facilities.

Published in Local News

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas National Guard is refusing to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits, and Mississippi won't issue applications from state-owned offices, because of the states' gay-marriage bans.

Tuesday is the first working day that gays in the military may apply for benefits after the Pentagon announced it would recognize same-sex marriages.

In Texas, gay and lesbian couples are being told to go to federal military bases to get ID cards and apply for health coverage. Mississippi officials say same-sex couples can apply on federally owned National Guard bases, but not on state property.

Both states cited their bans on gay marriage. But numerous other states that also ban gay marriage are following the Pentagon's directive.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the National Guard must follow the state's constitutional ban.

Published in National News

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Jay Nixon today ordered the deployment of 50 military policemen of the Missouri National Guard to assist local civil authorities in protecting lives and property threatened by flash floods in areas of southern Missouri impacted by flooding from recent heavy rain. 

“The Citizen-Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard are one of our most valuable assets in helping Missourians during and after natural disasters, and their skill and training will greatly assist state and local emergency responders in taking necessary action to save lives,” Gov. Nixon said.

This morning, Gov. Nixon spoke to elected officials in Laclede, Miller, Phelps and Pulaski counties about the situation in each of those counties, and about the ongoing assistance from the state.

Yesterday, the Governor declared a state of emergency after heavy rains caused flash flooding and at least one confirmed death in the Waynesville area. That executive order activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services. 

In addition to the deployment of the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has deployed additional marine operations troopers, a rescue helicopter and associated assets to the region to assist local emergency responders. At the Governor’s direction, those resources will remain in place until the threat has passed. The State Emergency Management Agency is actively monitoring conditions and will continue to work with local response agencies to provide additional support as needed.

The Governor urged residents of flood-affected areas of southern Missouri to pay close attention to weather warnings and follow the safety instructions of local officials as the potential for additional dangerous flooding continues. Missourians, especially motorists, are encouraged to remember these important safety tips on flooding and high water:

Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. 

Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. 

A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pick-ups. Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don’t try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water. Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath. 

 
Published in Local News
Monday, 04 March 2013 01:35

New IL National Guard leader takes over

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Brig. Gen. Daniel Krumrei has assumed command of the Illinois National Guard.

Krumrei takes over for Congressman William Enyart, a retired major general who was elected to Congress as a Democrat last November. He had been in command of the Illinois National Guard since 2007.

Krumrei was command staff chaplain for the Illinois National Guard since 2005. Gov. Pat Quinn in December appointed him to take over for Enyart.

Krumrei assumed command in a ceremony over the weekend at a high school in the central Illinoi community of Chatham.

Roughly 13,000 people serve in the Illinois National Guard.
Published in Local News

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