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Missouri News

Two St. Louis police officers whose racist social media posts were exposed by an advocacy group in June are no longer with the department.

Brian Millikan, an attorney for Ronald Hasty and Thomas Mabrey, confirmed Monday the two were fired Nov. 27. He said that decision has been appealed.

The cold and flu season is just beginning, but the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says three deaths are already blamed on the flu. The health department on Monday did not release any information about the victims but said the total number of influenza cases in the state has topped 1,500. 

The department urged people to get vaccinated and to take other precautions, such as avoiding close contact with sick people, washing hands often and thoroughly, and staying home when sick to keep others from getting infected.

Concerns are being raised about a rural Missouri county jail where inmates say they are denied basic necessities like soap, shampoo and even feminine hygiene products. Inmates entering the Scott County Jail in Benton are supposed to get a bag filled with deodorant, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, two bars of soap and a comb. Reports say, until Friday, the jail had been out of those products for more than two weeks. Female inmates said they were denied feminine hygiene products. One said she had to use toilet paper instead.

Authorities say a man has drowned in northwest Missouri while attempting to retrieve a boat that was adrift on the Missouri River. The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the victim as 30-year-old Benjamin Hirner, of Mokane. The patrol says he went into the water Friday just north of where the Nishnabotna River flows into the Missouri River in Atchison County. A Nebraska Air National Guard helicopter flew him to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was pronounced dead. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also assisted at the scene.

Missouri will have to overhaul how it monitors foster children on psychotropic drugs as part of a new legal settlement. A federal judge this past week gave the settlement agreement final approval. Children's Rights and other advocacy groups last year filed a class-action lawsuit against the state. They alleged that Missouri overmedicated children in foster care with psychotropic drugs.

Jessica Hentoff is quick to insist that the primary focus of Circus Harmony, the St. Louis-based organization she heads up, isn’t to turn kids into top-notch circus professionals. And yet the program has a track record of doing just that — even as it changes lives in other ways, too.

This fall, a total of four Circus Harmony alumni are touring with Cirque du Soleil, the largest circus company in the world. They include St. Louis natives Melvin Diggs, Sidney "Iking" Bateman, Terrance "T-Roc" Robinson and Chauncey Kroner.

Hentoff couldn’t be more proud of them — and just returned from Vancouver and Chicago this past weekend where she watched them perform. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Hentoff about the success the program and its participants have seen. The conversation included comments from Bateman and Diggs.

EAST ST. LOUIS — A new weekly tour in the city aims to bring its cultural and historical ties to the fine arts to life. 

Starting Friday, up to 10 participants move through three well-known establishments in East St. Louis, with Miles Davis’ childhood home as the focal point. The Historic Jazz and Poetry Excursion starts at the Culture Cafe restaurant, then heads to House of Miles East St. Louis and finishes at the Local Legends Listening Lounge.  

GRANITE CITY — Another lawsuit has been filed in the wake of August’s flash floods in Granite City — this one aimed at the city itself.

The Metro East Sanitary District is suing Granite City in answer to a similar lawsuit filed by city taxpayers last week.

The suits stem from flash flooding in Granite City in August, which left some residents’ homes, businesses and cars damaged or destroyed after 9 ½ inches of rain fell over the city in a short period.

A global company that opened an office in Lee’s Summit a year and a half ago to much fanfare is shutting down its roadside assistance operation, affecting 82 positions.

ExlService.com notified Missouri economic development officials last week that it will cease the operation effective Jan. 31 and would lay off 31 Exl employees. Another 51 employees of two recruiting firms, Allied Global Services and Aerotek Inc., that contracted with Exl will also lose their jobs, but those workers will be reassigned.  

Nathan Ross on Friday told the leaders of Kansas child advocacy groups the story of watching his mother kill two brothers, then urged the groups to work together to avoid subjecting more kids to deadly conditions.

In a nondescript, off-white room on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Innovation Campus, Paul Black shows off what look like a series of water-filled glass hamster tubes in brilliant red, fuchsia, and green hues.

“What we’re testing here is wavelength… we’re testing a combination of red light, blue light, blue and red together, and then plain white light. What we’re trying to do is maximize growth,” Black explained.

What Black is growing is algae -- the slimy green stuff that grows in ponds, fed by runoff of nitrogen fertilizer from farm fields and other sources.

Raul Banasco has dealt with a host of vexing challenges during his 32-year tenure as a corrections officer, including prisoners dying by suicide and others escaping. 

Those experiences may be some of the reasons he felt ready to take on the high-pressure task of becoming director of the St. Louis County Department of Justice Services.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page hired Banasco last month. The New York native is the department’s first permanent director in nearly two years. His tenure begins months after several inmates died in the county jail.

People in rural areas have more unnecessary hospital visits and are more likely to die from chronic conditions than people in cities because they have little access to specialists, according to a study by St. Louis researchers.

Researchers from St. Louis University, Washington University and Harvard studied nationwide survey and claims data from thousands of Medicare patients with chronic conditions.

The Prospect Avenue MAX bus line that begins running on Monday will charge no fares for the first three months. The $56 million system built with federal grants and local matching funds features faster, more comfortable buses with wifi, and heated concrete benches at the stops.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said making the service available at no charge is a step toward zero fare transit city-wide.

Gift-giving can be challenging enough when you're human. But when you're a mouse, it's really tough. Kansas City artist Charlie Mylie has just released his first children's book about this difficulty.

"Something for You" is about a mouse who delivers a cake to a friend and finds her unwell, not in cake-eating spirits at all. He must find something to cheer her up, so he takes to the surrounding streets, meadows and mountains.

The St. Louis Area Regional Commission on Homelessness found homes for hundreds of veterans this year. Now, the local homeless agencies that comprise the commission are using what they’ve learned to improve how they serve the region.

The commission, a partnership between St. Louis-area counties in Missouri and Illinois, aimed to house every homeless veteran in the region this year. By Nov. 11, it helped find homes for 93% of the 217 vets it found homeless in February. 

People treated for drug-resistant MRSA often develop infections again and again — even multiple times in a single year.

Part of the problem is the hardiness of the bacteria responsible, which can live on household surfaces for months.

Washington University researchers report family members who share specific items, including towels and bedsheets, are more likely to pass the bacteria to each other. The team, which spent a year collecting bacteria samples from St. Louis families, also found that children who attend day care were often the ones who brought MRSA bacteria home. 

The massive guns on board the U.S.S. Missouri are a sight-to-see, but it wasn't the ship's weaponry garnering all the attention on a late summer night in 1989.

The U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association is preparing to commemorate 75 years since the end of World War II, which is a good time remember the battleship is famous for more than just its massive 16", .50 caliber guns and its role in the war. A concert on the ship created its own shock and awe.

St. Louis County plans to launch a six-month pilot program in January that tracks people accused of crimes by using a smartphone app. 

County Executive Sam Page told the County Council in a letter Monday that his administration plans to hire eHawk Solutions, based near Kansas City, to provide the software. 

The county’s smartphone monitoring program could be the biggest one of its kind in the U.S., according to the company. County officials are hoping such a program could reduce the local jail population. 

The massive guns on board the U.S.S. Missouri are a sight-to-see, but it wasn't the ship's weaponry garnering all the attention on a late summer night in 1989.

The U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association is preparing to commemorate 75 years since the end of World War II, which is a good time remember the battleship is famous for more than just its massive, 16" guns and its role in the war. A concert on the ship created its own shock and awe.

Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, returned to Jefferson City on Friday. The 1,400-pound statue normally sits atop the Capitol dome but was taken down for restoration for the first time in almost 100 years. 

“Hopefully the public will get to see a part of history here,” said Gov. Mike Parson at the public unveiling of the statue. 

Bob Priddy, past president of the State Historical Society of Missouri, said this will likely be the only time visitors will see the statue up close before it’s hoisted 240 feet in the air. 

A lawsuit filed Friday aims to open closed-door meetings and obtain documents held by a city working group considering leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The plaintiffs allege members of the Airport Advisory Working Group knowingly violated the Missouri Sunshine Act in eight instances.

While “the cyclical nature of generational denigration is embedded in our history,” generational labels like “baby boomer” and “millennial” are artificial and wrong, says St. Louis University associate professor Cort Rudolph.

Rudolph recently wrote about the topic in his campus editorial “OK Boomer Not OK, Nor Backed by Research.” Mostly, he is concerned that routinely categorizing people of different ages by generation leads to ageism.

Missouri's Republican attorney general is defending a local high school football coach who is under fire for allegedly leading students in prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against the Cameron R-1 School District. The National Association of Atheists and Agnostics claims that the coach violated the U.S. Constitution by leading students in prayer before and after games.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt says the First Amendment protects students' right to pray. 

Former Columbia Police Chief Pleads Guilty to Excessive Blood Alcohol

Dec 6, 2019

The former chief of the Columbia Police Department pleaded guilty Friday morning to driving with excessive blood-alcohol content.

Ken Burton didn't appear in municipal court at the hearing, but was represented by his attorney Andrew Popplewell. Burton was originally charged with a DWI and failure to yield.

The prosecutor decided to drop the failure to yield charge. Burton pleaded guilty to the class B misdemeanor charge of driving with excessive blood-alcohol content.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 17-year-old died in a crash while fleeing police.

The patrol says Hayden Holt, of Hallsville, died in the wreck early Friday in Columbia.

Holt was fleeing from police when his car went off a city street, hit a utility pole and overturned. He died at the scene.

Columbia police spokesman Jeff Pitts says the chase began after Holt committed a traffic violation. 

City, County Announce Fairgrounds Pact

Dec 6, 2019

Boone County and the city of Columbia have come to a memorandum of understanding regarding the redevelopment of the former Boone County Fairgrounds as a recreation complex.

Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said at a Thursday afternoon news conference at the Daniel Boone City Building that the center will be for the benefit of all county residents.

Three finalists for a job as Columbia’s Fire Chief heard from residents Thursday night at a meet and greet session. Maria Beermann-Foat, Christopher Riley and Andy Woody said they were gathering community input on what residents would like to see in their next fire chief.

Beermann-Foat has worked in Johnson County, Kansas, for 20 years as a battalion chief of operations for the county’s emergency medical services. Riley serves as a member of the U.S. Branch Council with the Institute of Fire Engineers, and Woody currently serves as the fire chief in Searcy, Arkansas.

TOPEKA, Kansas — One solution to Kansas prisons’ woes could come with a $35 million price tag for three new specialty prisons.

The state’s corrections system only treats half of its inmates who struggle with substance abuse. And as some people serve decades-long sentences, the system finds itself home to more elderly prisoners who need special care as they age.

Actress and singer Debra Bluford, known for her work in comedies and musicals, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer. She had been diagnosed three weeks ago, according to a friend.

A regular on many Kansas City stages, Bluford performed in nearly 20 shows at the American Heartland Theatre before it closed in 2013. She had also acted with Kansas City Actors Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage, New Theatre & Restaurant and Quality Hill Playhouse.