East St. Louis

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Services are scheduled for two East St. Louis children whose mother is facing charges that accuse her of killing them with a shotgun.

Twenty-five-year-old Yokeia Smith is charged in St. Clair County with first-degree murder in the deaths last Wednesday of 5-year-old Levada Brown and 4-year-old Yokela Smith.

The mother is jailed in St. Louis, where she was arrested after police say she hit two pedestrians near St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

(Photo Courtesy St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

Updated at 3:20 pm with information from  the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Updated with comments from Yokeia Smith's family and officials

Updated at 1:15 pm to correct amount of bail and add information on father of the slain son.

A 25-year-old East St. Louis woman faces first degree murder charges for allegedly shooting two of her children in the head with a shotgun.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Illinois' board of education says a former top federal prosecutor will head a probe it has launched into spending by East St. Louis' cash-strapped public school system.

Friday's announcement of the probe comes as the 7,500-student district is under state control and beset by questions about its paying millions on consultants and conventions.

The state board says the probe will be headed by A. Courtney Cox, southern Illinois' former U.S. attorney. His firm will be paid up to $100,000 a year to do the investigation, at the district's expense.

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East St. Louis is weighing whether to appeal a federal jury's verdict in favor of two former city officials who claimed they were fired because they spoke out about racial discrimination in the city's hiring process.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that jurors in Benton deliberated about four hours before ruling Wednesday in favor of former police and fire commissioners Della Murphy and Wyatt Frazer.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A yearly effort by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to clean up discarded tires is underway in the Metro East.

Front loaders were hard at work at a city-owned lot in East St. Louis Wednesday afternoon dropping tires into tractor trailers. The contractors, which will haul away the old tires to be reused, are funded with a fee that customers pay on new tires.

(via Flickr/RealEstateZebra)

The East St. Louis Fire Department will soon be able to bolster their efforts and staffing with a federal grant, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Illinois' education chief is giving East St. Louis' school district an ultimatum - fix the way it deals with some 1,500 special-education students or face "aggressive actions," including having the school system dissolved.

The ongoing process in East St. Louis concerning 16 police officer layoffs has gone back and forth, but the discussion between police union leaders and city officials seems to have made some significant progress.

(Flickr Creative Commons User conner395)
  • If you thought your neighborhood was like a skating rink this morning, you certainly were not alone. Freezing rain coated the St. Louis area with a nasty glaze of ice, causing trouble on the roads. It was worse in rural areas and the Missouri Department of Transportation continues to treat streets with salt, and, believe it or not, beet juice.
  • Sheriff's deputies in St. Clair county got some bad news on Tuesday - 13 of the 46 deputies will be losing their jobs effective Jan. 15. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that this comes after the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police union rejected a proposal by the county to increase their wages by 1 percent, a margin deemed too small by the union compared to similar-sized departments in Illinois, including Madison County the paper reports. Also in St. Clair county,  the East St. Louis city council is scheduled to vote on Friday on a proposal to layoff 26 city employees, including 19 police officers effective Jan. 1.  Laying off 19 police officers means that the police department will be left with 43 police officers -- the department had more than 70 officers just a few years ago. With a reduced force it will be tougher to police an area that, so far, has seen 25 homicides this year.
  • The U.S. Senate is debating President Obama's top foreign policy priority, a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty. Democrats prevailed in a test vote Wednesday after Republicans threatened to delay work on the pact, known as the START treaty. Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill emphasized that the treaty with Russia is vital for the success of American troops fighting in Afghanistan:

"It is a very important treaty for our troops in Afghanistan because the supply lines for our troops in Afghanistan go through Russia and our relationship with Russia is very, very important, especially as you look at our plans on missile defense." - Claire McCaskill