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Morning headlines: Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial could change to the Gateway Arch National Park by July 2018.
The St. Louis Arch.

Gateway Arch project may not be finished by anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch is three years away, but the project to improve and expand the grounds by then may not be finished on time.

Walter Metcalfe, director of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which is leading the effort, says it's more important to get it right than to get it done in time for the anniversary.

"We've got deadlines: October 28th, 2015," said Metcalfe. " If it's not all done by then, I yield. But that's okay too, because we've got to do this responsibly. This arch is us. This is our treasure; this is our identity."

The first phase of the more than half-billion dollar project includes building a park over a section of Interstate 70, to connect the Arch grounds to downtown's historic Old Courthouse.

The Missouri Department of Transportation district engineer involved with the project says he expects work to begin by early 2014.

Dooley announces St. Louis County layoffs

Twenty-six St. Louis County employees will be losing their jobs as the county continues to deal with a difficult budget environment. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that County Executive Charlie Dooley announced Wednesday that 20 full-time employees in the Parks Department and six in Public Works will be laid off.

Other cutbacks will include closing the county's three public swimming pools two weeks earlier this summer.

The moves are part of an effort to trim $3.6 million out of the Parks Department. But they also angered some, including County Council Chairman Mike O'Mara, who said Dooley promised there would be no layoffs this year. Dooley says he never made such a promise.

Mo. Senator wants State Attorney General to sue federal government over illegal immigration

A Republican state senator wants Missouri's attorney general to sue the federal government, accusing it of not adequately enforcing immigration laws.

The bill by Sen. Will Kraus, of Lee's Summit, would have the Missouri auditor calculate how much illegal immigrants cost local and state agencies. The measure would allow the attorney general to sue the federal government for those costs.

Kraus told a Senate panel Wednesday he wants to send the federal government a message that illegal immigrants are costing the state taxpayer dollars. His proposal would have to be approved by voters if it passes the General Assembly.

Immigrant rights groups say immigration authorities have stepped up enforcement significantly over the last three years and that a lawsuit would be unnecessary.