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MISSOURI FOOTBALL PRAYER

Missouri attorney general backs high school football prayer

CAMERON, Mo. (AP) — 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 POLICE CHIEF-PLEA

Ex-Columbia police chief pleads to lesser charge in DWI case

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Former Columbia police chief Ken Burton has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after originally being charged with driving while intoxicated.  Burton's attorney on Friday entered a guilty plea for Burton to driving with excessive blood-alcohol content, a misdemeanor. A failure to yield charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement. Burton was ordered to pay a $500 fine. He was charged after being stopped near his home in May. He resigned in December 2018 after being placed on leave during a dispute over proposed changes at the police department.

MISSOURI TOWN-SINKHOLES

Flooding leaves small Missouri city with dozens of sinkholes

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Dozens of sinkholes, some up to 12 feet deep, are dotting the landscape in the small southeastern Missouri city of Caruthersville, forcing road detours, swallowing portions of yards and leaving city leaders scrambling to make repairs. Months of flooding along the Mississippi River earlier this year is to blame for the problems in the city of 6,000 people. The nearly four dozen sinkholes have already caused an estimated $4.5 million in damage, and that could get worse. State and federal funds will pay for much of the damage, but city officials still must come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MINIMUM WAGE-MISSOURI

Missouri minimum wage set to increase

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s minimum wage rate is set to go up again soon. The state minimum wage will increase to $9.45 an hour beginning Jan. 1. The current minimum wage is $8.60. The hike is part of a voter-approved plan to gradually raise the minimum wage. The 2018 plan calls for minimum wages to go up by 85 cents an hour every year until the rate hits $12 an hour in 2023.

ST. LOUIS-TROLLEY

St. Louis-area streetcar to close soon but might reopen

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nonprofit company that operates a financially strapped St. Louis-area streetcar says the 2.2-mile line will shut down Dec. 29. But Loop Trolley Co. president John Meyer said Thursday that backers ‘’hope a plan will come to fruition that may allow the trolley to resume operating at some point in the near future.”  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Bi-State Development Agency, which operates MetroLink and the Metro bus system, is the most likely savior of the 2.2 miles (3.54 kilometers) system. It began operation in November 2018 after years of delays, but ridership has been low.

MISSING MOTHER-MISSOURI

Missing Missouri woman's phone, shoes found during search

RICH HILL, Mo. (AP) — Relatives of a missing Missouri mother say they are growing increasingly concerned after deputies found the woman's phone, backpack and shoes. The items were discovered Thursday within 100 yards of the Bates County home of 36-year-old Nicole Mallatt, who went missing two days before Thanksgiving. Her mother, Debbie Lewis, said her daughter had been planning a big meal. Sheriff Chad Anderson told KCTV that the discovery of Mallat's personal items “does not necessarily mean that there is foul play,”although he described it as ‘’suspicious in nature.'' Nearly a dozen agencies are aiding in the search, which has expanded from Mallatt's home to neighboring farms.

LYFT DRIVER-RAPE

Lyft driver charged with raping rider in June

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A driver for a the ride-hailing company Lyft has been charged with raping an intoxicated woman after picking her up in downtown St. Louis. Fifty-three-year-old Larry Donnell Ward, of St. Peters, was charged Thursday with first-degree rape and kidnapping. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. His bond is set at $100,000 cash. Court documents say Ward sexually assaulted the woman in June after turning off off his ride-sharing location software and deviating from the route to the woman's requested destination. A rape kit was tested and the results matched Ward's DNA. He no longer works for Lyft.

GIRLFRIEND STABBED-INMATE DEATH

Kansas City area man sentenced in girlfriend's killing

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City area man has been sentenced to life in prison plus 107 years for killing his girlfriend and is awaiting trial on charges that he strangled a fellow inmate. The Kansas City Star reports that 36-year-old Marcus Simms was sentenced Thursday for first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with a vehicle in the 2014 death of Michele Boldridge. Police found her body while responding to reports that a bloody, naked man was running around an apartment complex. Simms is scheduled to be tried in June in the 2017 strangulation death of 26-year-old Brian Parisi, who was killed while jailed in Clay County.