Region/state digest 05/19/04

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Deadline today to sign up for youth tournament

The Deborah McBride Youth Basketball Tournament will be held June 4, 5 and 6 at Indian Park in Cape Girardeau. Participants must register by today. First-, second-, third- and fourth-place trophies will be awarded. Children 5 to 12 are encouraged to sign up. Call 382-4092 or 204-7778 for registration place and time.

Fire destroys mobile home in Whitewater

A mobile home was destroyed by fire around 6 p.m. Monday on County Road 382 near Whitewater. Whitewater fire chief Garry Moore said that by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the home was engulfed in flames. The occupant, Tina Sanders, and her two children were outside when the fire started, apparently the result of a malfunctioning window air conditioner. Firefighter Bud Brombert of Burfordville was overcome by heat and treated at the scene.

Columbia taxpayers win appeal on school levy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- School districts cannot set property tax levies to raise more local revenue than required by their budgets, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in a case from Boone County. The decision -- if it stands -- means that the eight taxpayers who brought the case are due a collective refund of $77.52 on the taxes they paid to the Columbia School District for the 2001-2002 budget year. Lead plaintiff Henry G. Lane, a retired federal auditor, said the 53-cent refund he would receive was not the point, but to show that the Columbia district violated a Missouri law requiring school districts to set tax rates "calculated to produce substantially the same revenues as required in the annual budget." Alex Bartlett, who represented the Columbia district in the case, said he could not comment until he had read the opinion.

Judge lets more districts join school funding suit

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A judge has ruled that dozens of school districts can join in a lawsuit challenging the state's school funding formula, to ensure their perspective isn't overlooked. More than 240 of the state's 524 school districts filed a lawsuit in January claiming the state does not spend enough money on public schools and does not distribute what it does spend fairly. A few weeks later, about 70 districts said they wanted to join the case as a third party. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan, who held two hearings on the districts' motion to intervene, decided Friday to let that group join the lawsuit.

Agencies find no arsenic hazard in Herculaneum

HERCULANEUM, Mo. -- Health investigators found that residents of Herculaneum are not exposed to dangerous levels of cadmium and arsenic, nor have their homegrown fruits and vegetables been contaminated with high levels of those two elements and lead. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry last summer tested selected residents for exposure to cadmium and arsenic. They tested for all three substances in the town's fruit and vegetable gardens. Results of the investigation were released at a meeting Tuesday night in Herculaneum, about 30 miles southeast of St. Louis in the state's lead belt. The study was restricted to residents and gardens within a half-mile of the town's lead smelter.

-- From staff, wire reports

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