Ameren to use old standards at Lake of the Ozarks

Saturday, April 1, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- AmerenUE said Friday that it is immediately returning to its old standards in evaluating docks at Lake of the Ozarks. As part of its license renewal plan to run Bagnell Dam filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, AmerenUE had proposed creating "impact minimization zones" along some lake property -- affecting about 200 of the lake's total of 1,100 miles of shoreline. In those areas, owners faced additional restrictions, including not building docks closer than 150 feet apart and keeping them 900 square feet or less. The utility said the zones are in undeveloped areas and are needed to protect environmental and historic resources along the lake.

Southwest Mo. man found dead in bed after house fire

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A man was found dead Thursday night after firefighters responded to a a blaze at his home, officials said. Ronald Bryant, 56, was found in his bed, and an autopsy has been scheduled for Saturday to determine how he died, said Bill Arrington of the Springfield Fire Department. Arrington said the fire started in Bryant's bedroom just before 9:45 p.m., and firefighters who arrived on the scene found smoke pouring from the windows and doors. Officials found a smoke alarm in the house but are unsure whether it was working. Fire investigators say the fire was caused by smoking in bed and Bryant died of smoke inhalation.

H&R Block restates 2005, 2004 earnings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- H&R Block Inc. on Friday said it was restating earnings for 2005 and 2004 to reflect previously reported mistakes on its own income taxes and lowering its third-quarter earnings because of added legal expenses. In a series of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Kansas City-based tax preparer said it underreported its state income tax liability by $30.5 million through April 30, requiring the company to lower 2005 per share earnings by 3 cents, 2004 earnings by 4 cents and earnings prior to May 1, 2003 by 1 cent. In February, the company said it had missed its tax liability by $32 million and planned to reduce 2005 earnings by 7 cents and 2004 earnings by 2 cents. The company also said Friday that correcting the tax mistakes actually reduced its first quarter and second quarter 2006 losses. H&R Block now has a first-quarter loss of 8 cents per share, compared to the previously reported 9 cents, and a second-quarter loss of 25 cents per share, compared to 26 cents.

Federal agency investigating Praxair explosion

ST. LOUIS -- A federal agency investigating a fire and explosion at the Praxair industrial plant in St. Louis has found similarities to four other industrial fires that were later traced to leaking gas containers. The investigation into the fire June 24 at Praxair Inc.'s facility west of downtown St. Louis continues, said Robert Hall, lead investigator for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. The board is expected to issue a safety bulletin covering pressure-relief valve standards, as well as the safe storage and handling of gas cylinders, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Judge upholds sexy billboards law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge has upheld a Missouri state law banning sexually suggestive billboards within one mile of highways. U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner denied claims by the owner of a string of adult businesses that the law, passed by the General Assembly two years ago, is unconstitutional. The law, which took effect in August 2004, prohibits most signs for sexually oriented businesses along state highways and gives businesses three years to bring existing billboards into compliance. Eventually, an adult-oriented business within a mile of a highway could have just two signs -- one showing the business' name and operating hours, the other noting it is off-limits to minors. The billboard law applies to strip clubs and businesses that devote more than 10 percent of their display space to sexually oriented merchandise. Business owners who violate the law can be punished by up to 30 days in jail.

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