Morning headlines: Mo. House gives first-round approval for local control of the STL police, Francis Howell to cut 100 jobs, Il trooper workers comp denied, 5th mountain lion sighting confirmed

Feb 18, 2011
  • The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the city. The department has been under state control since the Civil War. Last year, the bill fell 12 votes short of first-round approval, but this year it passed overwhelmingly, with more than 75 percent of lawmakers voting yes. Supporters added a new argument this year: that it doesn't make sense to subsidize the St. Louis Police Department while having to cut the state budget in other areas. Those voting "no" cited opposition from St. Louis police officers and concerns over police pensions. The bill needs one more House vote before moving over to the Missouri Senate.
  • According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Francis Howell School District Board voted unanimously last night for budget cuts that would leave nearly 100 district employees out of jobs at the end of the school year. The cuts are part of an effort by school officials to head off an expected $10.3 million shortfall for the 2011-2012 school year. The crowd at last night's meeting mostly spoke out against the plan to cut 95 jobs, which includes dozens of teaching positions. The Post-Dispatch reports the teacher layoffs for Francis Howell are among the most sizable in the St. Louis region since the economic crisis of the past few years.
  • A workers' compensation claim by a former Illinois state trooper involved in a 2007 crash that killed two teenage sisters has been denied. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that an Illinois workers' compensation arbitrator rejected Matt Mitchell's claim for benefits. Authorities say Mitchell was traveling 126 mph on Interstate 64 when his police cruiser crossed the median and hit the oncoming car of sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl of Collinsville. Mitchell pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide and received probation.
  • The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed another mountain lion sighting in the state. The latest sighting was in southern Linn County, located in north-central Missouri. The department says a landowner contacted the department Tuesday with two photos of a mountain lion taken Dec. 29 by a trail camera. The Linn County site is about 25 miles from where a mountain lion was shot and killed in Macon County last month. The last sightings brings to five the number of confirmed reports of mountain lions in Missouri since November. Conservation Department officials say the lions appear to be young males searching for territory.