Region News

After eight months, Mississippi River flood repair continues

BUFFALO, Ill. (AP) — Ron Brougham, 59, didn't know where to start.

It was July and, sitting on a bench outside the converted doctor's office he calls home in Buffalo, he stared at the big pile of debris in his yard.

Before unprecedented flooding on the Mississippi River last spring, that debris had been the drywall, insulation, flooring, furniture and other accoutrements that made up his home. Although he and others had sandbagged his house just off Front Street, they finally conceded it to the rising river.

Brougham found temporary housing and, in June, a group of volunteers from a Baptist church in Kentucky cleaned out his home, removing all the drywall and insulation from four feet down and hauling it and everything else out to the yard. The group also did mold remediation.

But then the debris just sat.

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Region News

Post offices serve critical roll in central Illinois towns

ELWIN, Ill. (AP) — ZIP code 62532 appears in blue numerals on the front of the Elwin post office, a shack-like structure on South Taylor Road with 52 neat P.O. boxes behind a worn front door.

Even though the tiny space — the public area is maybe the size of a freight elevator — is open from 7:15 to 11 a.m. weekdays, it's an important linchpin in this unincorporated Macon County area south of Decatur.

“I think they really, really appreciate it,” said 40-year resident Kathy Isome. “There’s just something about having a small town post office.”

For far-flung communities and rural areas, these humble government buildings remain an essential communal link in an otherwise distant world of email and social media, a quaint part of the American landscape facing rapid changes from technology and e-commerce.

Region News

Missouri man sentenced for killing witness in a murder case

A 28-year-old man was sentenced to 34 years in prison for killing a woman who was a witness in a murder case against him

Region News

Indiana agency denies emergency request over beach erosion

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has declined to declare an emergency at Lake Michigan beaches that have been eroded by high water levels and storms. Agency director Stephen Cox said in a Wednesday letter to concerned lawmakers this week that there isn’t enough damage to public resources in Porter and LaPorte counties to require the use of federal disaster funds

Region News

Man sentenced for collecting missing wife's benefits

A Missouri man whose wife has been missing since September 2017 has been sentenced to two years years in prison for collecting her Social Security disability benefits after her disappearance

Region News

Man sentenced to 5 years for Missouri post office heist

A man has been sentenced to five years in prison for robbing a suburban St. Louis post office

Region News

Man serving life sentence in 1979 killing dies in prison

A 75-year-old man serving a life sentence for killing another man more than four decades ago in southwest Missouri has died in prison

Region News

A St. Louis housing startup matches seniors with millennials

WENTZVILLE, Mo. (AP) — When her husband died in a car accident, Karen Krienke, 65, found herself unexpectedly alone. Her home in Wentzville — once crowded with children — felt big and empty. Moreover, a bad back was slowing her down.

Her daughter, who lives in Washington, D.C. worried.

“She’s so social,” Jane Krienke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t want her to be by herself.”

Then, this summer, she found a St. Louis startup that matches older adults who have room to spare with millennials — often graduate students — who need a reasonably priced place to live.

Odd Couples Housing, which made its first match in late 2018, taps into a market driven by unprecedented growth in the over-65 population, baby boomers who want to remain in their homes but may be cash-strapped or could use help with household chores. So far, the company has made about 20 matches; it hopes to increase that tenfold by the end of this year.

Region News

Freeman Hospital launches cuddler program for NICU babies

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Seated in a rocking chair, Sarah Wall took 4-day-old Lucas Wooten into her arms and began to sing quietly to him.

As the tune ended, she was handed a picture book to read to the infant nestled in the crook of her elbow, swaddled in a blanket and wearing a gray stocking cap on his head for warmth.

"We'll read about Snoopy today," she murmured. The newborn cooed in response.

Wall is a member of a new team of volunteers who make up Freeman Health System's cuddlers program, The Joplin Globe reported. The volunteers have undergone extensive screening and training to be able to spend time with the hospital's most vulnerable patients — the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Region News

Missouri farmer ran one of the biggest frauds in US history

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. (AP) — Like all the best con artists, Randy Constant was a charmer, hard not to like.

Big hearted. Good listener. You’d never have guessed that the father of three, grandfather of five was a liar, cheat and serial philanderer who masterminded one of the biggest and longest-running frauds in the history of American agriculture.

“He was a wonderful person,” an old friend told The Kansas City Star. “He just had that other side to him.”

And then some.

“What he done shocked me to death,” said Stoutsville, Missouri, farmer John Heinecke, who did business with Constant for years. “I didn’t know he was that kind of corrupt.”

Church-going family man. School board president. Agribusiness entrepreneur. That’s the caring, accomplished Randy Constant people knew in Chillicothe, Missouri, which advertises itself on road signs as the “Home of Sliced Bread.”