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Morning Headlines: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

We recognize today as the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Please see our resources for stories related to that commemoration here.

Mo. judge to hear case against worship disruption law

A federal judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit over Missouri's new law making it a crime to disturb a worship service.

Attorneys for the ACLU are seeking a temporary injunction to block the law that took effect last month.

The law makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb or interrupt a "house of worship" with profane language, rude or indecent behavior or noise that breaks the solemnity of the service.

The lawsuit was brought by two individuals and two groups that picket outside churches over allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Durbin hesitant to endorse Pat Quinn

Illinois' U.S. Senator Dick Durbin was among the first to support Barack Obama's bid for President. However, he is waiting to back Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for reelection.

Durbin said he found himself "jumping into races that never materialize" and will wait to endorse Quinn until he officially announces that he will be running in 2014.

Quinn said he is currently focusing on the elections in November and has neither confirmed nor denied plans to run in 2014.

Ameristar files suit to keep smoking ban question off ballot

Last night, representatives for Ameristar Casino told the St. Charles County Council that they will take legal action to prevent a question on whether or not to ban smoking from appearing on the November ballot.

Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for Ameristar, Troy Stremming, said the council violated the county's charter by not making the bill to create the ballot question publicly available at least 36 hours before its introduction.

He said the ban could make Ameristar the only casino in the state where smoking is not permitted and therefore cut into the casino's bottom line and cost the county tax dollars and jobs.

"Owners of business who have invested their money, in our case $700 to $800 million in our facility in St. Charles, should have the opportunity to operate that facility in a manner that they see fit,” Stremming said.

Council Chairperson Nancy Matheny said she should not comment due to pending litigation.

Councilman Joe Cronin sponsored the bill, but was not present at last night's council meeting.

MoDOT prepares for closure of westbound Blanchette Bridge

Commuters can expect lane closures in each direction of highway 70 starting this weekend as MoDOT makes preparations for the lengthy closure of the westbound Blanchette Bridge.

Beginning at 8 p.m. this Friday, both directions of highway 70 will have closures between the Earth City Expressway and Fifth Street exits.

These closures will allow MoDOT to construct a route to cross traffic from one side of the highway to the other when the westbound side of the Blanchette Bridge closes in the first weekend of November for up to a year.

Tom Evers, a MoDot Engineer for the St. Charles area, said he doesn’t anticipate the road work to affect traffic heavily but suggests drivers begin planning alternative routes now if they often use highway 70 during rush hour.

These include Route 370, which can connect drivers from I-270 to I-70 in St. Charles while avoiding the bridge. Route 364, or the Page Avenue Extension, serves drivers commuting from the mid-section of St. Charles County.

The Blanchette Bridge preparatory work will end by October 9.

Funeral for girls killed in Mo. murder-suicide

Funeral services will be Thursday for three girls killed by their mother in a murder-suicide last week in rural De Soto, near Washington County.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the funeral for 11-year-old Alyssa Cochran, 10-year-old Autumn Cochran and 22-month-old Faith Ehlen will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Heiligtag-Lang-Fendler Funeral Home in Arnold. The girls will be buried next to each other.

Funeral information for the mother, 32-year-old Lisa Cochran, is not yet available.

The bodies of all four were found early Thursday at the home of Lisa Cochran's ex-boyfriend. Authorities say she had purchased a shotgun days earlier and sent a goodbye email to her former boyfriend hours before the bodies were found.

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