Tuesday, December 31, 2013
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Legal complaint filed over prayer in Fayette school FAYETTE, Mo. (AP) — A mid-Missouri high school continues to allow prayer sessions on school grounds despite a legal complaint that claims the gatherings are unconstitutional. Fayette Schools Superintendent Tamara Kimball said district administrators haven’t considered ending the Friday morning sessions since the American Humanist Association filed a complaint in November. The district doesn’t believe it has done anything wrong by allowing the Fellowship of Christian Students to conduct the sessions, she said. “The question would be, ‘Why?’” she said. “If we’ve done something wrong and we need to do something different, we would certainly be open to that. But to end something for the sake of ending something with no real reason is not how we operate.” The complaint was filed by the humanist association, a student and a parent of a former Fayette student. It seeks to end the prayer sessions and “any similar ille-
gal activity,” as well as damages from the defendants. When the complaint was filed in November, Monica Miller, a legal consultant for the humanist association, said the meetings took place during school hours and were promoted by a math teacher, Gwen Pope. In an answer filed Dec. 23 by attorney Duane Martin, the school district, Pope and former Fayette High School Principal Darren Rapert said the sessions were held after school doors were unlocked but before classes began. While acknowledging that Pope sometimes would say ‘amen’ at the end of the student-led prayers and occasionally bowed her head and closed her eyes during the prayers, the defendants said Pope’s participation constituted “private speech” on her part. She also made flyers for the group and was given a religious book by the Fellowship of Christian Students, but the defendants denied that Pope refused to promote other clubs or displayed the book in her classroom.
Late afternoon rollover
JIM FALL/DAILY FORUM
The Nodaway County Sheriff’s office was alerted to a one-vehicle accident at the intersection of Route V and Hallmark Road west of Maryville late Monday afternoon. According to Sheriff Darren White, the driver of the Ford Ranger, Jim Blessington, failed to navigate a curve in the roadway, losing control and then rolling as he attempted to correct his path and passing through a barbed-wire fence on the opposite side of the roadway. Sheriff White did not believe there were any serious injuries, but said the driver suffered minor facial lacerations during the accident. A passenger in the pickup truck, Blessington’s wife, Lindy, was transported to St. Francis Hospital by Nodaway County Ambulance.
Shutdown unsettling FARMERSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Just days before Christmas, Jeremy Jones was out of work — along with nearly 200 of his co-workers at a central Illinois coal mine. The timing was made even worse when they learned that the basic health insurance they expected through next year also was gone. Operators of the Crown III mine just south of Springfield pulled the plug on the site December 20, making good on their October notice that the closure was unavoidable after the mine lost its biggest customer. But with only a few days’ notice, workers got word about their health insurance, especially bad news for one miner who said his wife was undergoing cancer treatment. As Illinois wrestles an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, one of the nation’s highest, the affected know they’ll have to scramble to replace jobs that often paid more than $60,000 a year. Crown III was the last mine in Illinois with organized labor, union officials said. Coal mining workers fear a future of such layoffs due to enhanced federal regulation and environmental pressures that many in the industry derisively cast as a “war on coal.” But Crown III’s shutdown was based on more local circumstances, underscoring the vulnerability of smaller producers who rely on one big customer — in this case, agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Company, which did not renew a contract.
Early morning fender bender
KEVIN BIRDSELL/DAILY FORUM
Maryville Public Safety officers worked a two-car non-injury accident Monday morning. The collision took place at approximately 10 a.m. at the intersection of South Main and the Highway 71 bypass. Officers arrived on the scene to find that a red Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV had been struck from behind by a gray Pontiac sedan while waiting to make a left turn. Both vehicles contained a driver and one passenger. The drivers’ identities were not immediately available. The Trailblazer appeared to have sustained minor damage. The Pontiac sustained major damage to the hood and front quarter panels.
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Published on Dec 31, 2013