PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A court hearing for a northwest Missouri man accused of killing a female co-worker with a hatchet and disemboweling another woman with a razor has been delayed.  Platte County Judge Thomas Fincham continued a court hearing for 22-year-old Quintin O’Dell until Feb. 28.  O’Dell is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action. Prosecutors say O’Dell killed 22-year-old Alissa Shippert with a hatchet last May. He’s also accused of cutting 21-year-old Brittany Costello in the abdomen in December. She survived the attack.

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — CertainTeed Corp. says it will close its vinyl-siding plant in Joplin, costing about 90 employees their jobs.  The company told employees yesterday that the plant will close on March 30.  Officials say the closing was prompted by a continued slow housing market, which led to an oversupply of siding products.  The employees were told the company would help them find jobs in its other plants or Joplin businesses.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri has the nation’s highest black homicide rate for the second straight year, according to newly-released data.  The Washington-based Violence Policy Center today released FBI data for 2009 showing that Missouri’s black homicide rate of 34.72 per 100,000 black residents was seven times the national overall homicide rate of 4.76 per 100,000 residents. Michigan was second, followed by Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says strong farm income in Midwest and Western states improved agricultural banks’ balance sheets but reduced demand for new loans.  The Fed released a new report on agricultural credit conditions today.  The Fed said bank profits in the region improved in the third quarter of 2011 because many borrowers paid down some of their farm debts.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stifel Nicolaus & Co. will pay $1.1 million to settle state allegations that the St. Louis-based investment brokerage inadequately supervised a stockbroker who defrauded clients through a pyramid scheme.  The settlement, announced by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, calls for Stifel to pay restitution and interest of more than 531-thousand dollars to 10 investors from Missouri and three other states. Former stockbroker Kenneth Neely was convicted of federal mail fraud charges in 2010. He is serving a 37-month sentence at a prison in Indiana.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — An airport industry analyst says Southwest Airlines could significantly improve the financial shape of the Branson Airport.  According to reports, the airport in Branson had a net loss of $12 million through the third quarter of 2011.  Jack Penning, an airline analyst from Oregon, says Southwest Airlines has a history of improving business at its airports. He says Branson Airport’s passenger numbers could nearly double within a year of Southwest providing full service.  Penning predicted Southwest could eventually increase traffic to 400,000 passengers a year.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A proposed compromise to expand Missouri’s texting-while-driving law appears to have fallen flat in a Senate committee.  The Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony today on a bill that would prohibit all drivers — not just those 21 and younger — from texting while driving. Because similar bills have failed in the past, Democratic Sen. Robin Wright-Jones of St. Louis proposed making texting a secondary offense — meaning police would have to pull motorists over for something else before they could write a ticket for texting.  But the Missouri State Highway Patrol said it prefer to make texting a primary offense.