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Top Of The Morning News: Friday, December 30, 2011

* New Leader For Missouri Business Jobs Growth
* Landmark Kansas City Church Burns, Service Programs Survive
* Funds Tallied To Defend Kansas Abortion Laws

New Leader For Missouri Business-Jobs Growth

Governor Jay Nixon is preparing to name a new director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Nixon planned to announce his choice this morning during a speech in Kansas City.

The appointee will be Missouri's third economic development director since Nixon took office in January 2009. The incumbent, David Kerr, announced last month he would step down at the end of the year.

St. Louis attorney Linda Martinez held the job before Kerr, but resigned after apparent disagreements with Nixon.

Nixon's appointee will require confirmation by the state Senate when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.

Landmark Kansas City Church Burns, Service Programs Survive

A landmark church that's home to one of Kansas City's oldest congregations has been destroyed by  fire.

Firefighters responded around 5:30 yesterday  afternoon to the massive blaze at the 107-year-old Westport Presbyterian Church between Main Street and Broadway at the eastern end of the Westport neighborhood.

Church members told reporters  it seemed the fire started in the back of the church, where the kitchen and meeting rooms are located.

The stone church was built in 1904, although the congregation has been in existence since the days of Westport as a commercial hub for settlers  going  West.

The Westport Cooperative Services offices were housed at thechurch and were destroyed as were all their records, according to   Director Pam Seymour. WCS provides social services to homebound elderly and disabled in Jackson County. Programs offered thru WCS are Meals on Wheels (serving 40 meals daily), Senior Companion Program (serving about 120 elderly daily) and Medicare Assistance.  Seymour  says clients  who receive meals on wheels from WCS  will have regular service today.

Funds Tallied To Defend Kansas Abortion Laws

The Kansas attorney general's office has paid outside lawyers $476,000 in defending abortion laws enacted this year.

The office says it has paid nearly $258,000 to a Wichita law firm involved in defending a provision of the state budget that denied federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood. The group is challenging the provision in a federal lawsuit.

The attorney general's office has paid $138,000 to a Lawrence firm helping the state defend new health and safety regulations for abortion providers. Two Kansas City-area physicians are challenging the rules in both state and federal court.

The same firm also received $80,000 for work in a federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against a law restricting private insurance coverage elective abortions.


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