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Morning headlines: Monday, August 29, 2011

(via Flickr/CrashTestAddict)

Town Hall tonight on heroin epidemic

Tonight, law enforcement, social workers and drug counselors will hold a third Town Hall meeting on the epidemic of heroin and prescription pain killer use among teens in St. Louis County. Speakers will be on hand to talk about police enforcement strategies and signs of heroin addiction.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says last year there were 60 heroin deaths in the county and he expects that number to double in 2011. Fitch says the southern and western areas of St. Louis County are ground zero for heroin deaths in the community.

" It's not the like seventies, the heroin dens you used to see on TV you know with people with needles in their arms," said Fitch. It really is, at least, in our community, suburban, mostly Caucasian users that we're seeing as deaths. That's what you're seeing. It's the kid next door, it's the brother, it's the sister. It's people that you know that are involved in this."

Tonight's town hall meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Oakville High School.

Judges to draw Mo. legislative districts

A commission of appellate judges will draw the state's new legislative districts after a pair of bipartisan commissions could not agree on new maps. It's the same outcome that occurred 10 years ago, when Missouri last redrew its legislative districts.

Missouri redraws the 34 Senate districts and 163 House districts every 10 years after the census. The result can be significant by setting the framework for a decade's worth of contests between Republicans and Democrats for control of the Legislature.

In each decade since Missouri began using its current system in 1971, a judicial commission has had to draw the districts for at least one chamber.

Diocese of Belleville considers closing parishes

The Catholic Diocese of Belleville is considering closing up to 20 of its 121 parishes because of the loss of population in some areas and the advanced age of some priests. Bishop Edward Braxton said in a recent letter on the diocese's website that parishes will be asked to evaluate their viability.

Town hall meetings will also be held to gather input. The diocese covers 28 southern Illinois counties. The Belleville News-Democrat  reports that decisions will be made sometime after February 2013. The Rev. John Myler is pastor at St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville and a spokesman for the diocese. He said plans to close some churches are not related to the recent $6.33 million settlement of a sexual abuse case against a priest.

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