■ Richard E. Gamache Jr. of House Springs was sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison on Dec. 27 in the May 2017 death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter, Adelaide Chaney. Gamache admitted to playing roughly with the victim, including using professional wrestling moves on her, according to the probable-cause statement in the case. Medical experts said the child displayed bruises of various sizes and colors covering her body, as well as significant head trauma. Gamache pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to the class A felony of abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death and to the class B felony of abuse or neglect of a child causing serious emotional or physical injury. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Brenda Stacey sentenced Gamache to life in prison for the first count and 10 years on the second. She ruled that the sentences are to run consecutively, meaning that if Gamache, now 26, gained parole for the life sentence, he would still face the 10-year-sentence. “You tortured a little girl to death,” Stacey said after announcing the life sentence for the class A felony. See Kevin Carbery’s Page 1 story.
■ While other local schools have been installing (or planning to install) new, state-of-the-art theaters, one Jefferson County school has gone the opposite way. Crystal City School District has chosen to update its historic Depression-era high school auditorium the old-fashioned way – by hand, one wooden seat at a time. The auditorium is part of the original school structure, built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal organization designed to put the unemployed to work on infrastructure projects. See Laura Marlow’s Page 1 story.
■ Jefferson County will soon take a major step forward in official recycling efforts with the establishment of a new recycling drop-off facility in Hillsboro. The new center will be staffed and open to all county residents, funded through a $100,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District. Located on Elm Street, a stone’s throw north of the historic Gov. Thomas Fletcher House and within blocks of the county government offices, the center will stand on a concrete foundation left over from a former county automotive fleet facility. On Dec. 23, the Jefferson County Council voted 6-0 to approve an expenditure of up to $13,541 for a recycling center garage to be supplied by Tuff Shed of St. Louis, the lowest of six bidders on the project. See Gordon Bess’ Page 1 story.
■ Hundreds of people converged on the Mississippi River Eagles hall in Crystal City on Dec. 22 for the annual food, clothing and toy distribution organized by Jefferson County Toys and More, which has spent more than three decades collecting and distributing items to help make a better holiday for families in need all across Jefferson County. “We had close to 800 families sign up, and we had 557 who showed up on (Dec. 22),” said Kathy Ogle, 69, of Bloomsdale, who started the group in 1983. “That first year, we served about 25 families,” she said. “So, yeah, it has really grown.” More than 200 volunteers worked for weeks to gather, sort and display the mountains of toys and clothing, both donated and purchased, that was made available. See Laura Marlow’s feature story.
■ Marijuana grown for medical purposes will not be a cash crop in Jefferson County. However, one marijuana transportation business has received a license to set up shop in Festus, joining another business that will be allowed to open a marijuana testing facility in Herculaneum. See Tony Krausz’s story.
■ See Peggy Bess’ column on the opioid crisis in the Jan. 2 Editorial section. Plus, there are lots of SHORT letters. Congratulations, letter writers, on being so succinct.
■ See the SPORTS section for Russ Korando’s column on Jake Schlereth, a 2019 Northwest graduate from Fenton who competed for the U.S. ice hockey team in the 19th Winter Deaflympics in the town of Chiavenna, Italy. The Americans beat Canada 7-3 on Dec. 21 to capture the gold medal.
*** Happy New Year – Happy New Decade.