Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 21 with email from principal on investigation into the incident Earlier this week, Kirkwood High School families and community members received an email from head principal Michael Havener, explaining the conclusion of an investigation into an apparent use of blackface on campus earlier that month. The letter essentially invalidates the claims of students who called out the incident.

A view looking out on the rotunda from the second floor of St. Louis city hall.
File photo| St. Louis Public Radio

The financing package for part of Paul McKee's massive Northside Regeneration Project has gotten the first of two rounds of approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen on Friday finalized the language for bills authorizing $2.8 million in tax increment financing incentives, and the creation of a new community improvement district, funded through a 1 percent sales tax. A final vote could come next week.

Marjorie Owens is The Prima Donna/Ariadne in Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne on Naxos at Opera Theatre” presented by Opera Theatre St.  Louis during 2016, its 41st season.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre St. Louis

Opera Theatre St. Louis is celebrating important gains in financial support and audience growth.

On Friday, the company released numbers for record-breaking fundraising as well as increases in diversity and opera-goers under the age of 50. Luring younger audiences is a crucial component for a successful future, according to general director Timothy O’Leary.

Juxtaposing "the talk" given to white children versus black children is just one example of the types of illustrations on the plates at a Dysfunctionware dinner. Oct. 20, 2016 file photo.
Aaron McMullin | Dysfunctionalware

A few days after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown in 2014, Tara O’Nay’s family sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. For the first time the St. Louis interdisciplinary artist could remember, her relatives talked about race over a meal.

Curtis Faulkner
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Republican Curtis Faulkner to the program.

Faulkner is the Republican nominee for the 4th District St. Louis County Council seat. He’s running against state Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, a Blackjack Democrat who trounced incumbent Councilman Mike O’Mara earlier this summer. Walton Gray appeared on the podcast after her August primary victory.

Tovah Feldshuh, Broadway and popular television star, will bring her cabaret act to St. Louis. The act features this scene from "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," titled "Where's the bathroom?"
The CW

Tovah Feldshuh may not completely own up to her “legend” status, but take one look at her impressive artistic CV and you may think otherwise.

Reporter Rachel Lippmann recently went on a fellowship to Europe. Pictured here, a view from Dresden, from the dome of the Frauenkirche.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann's recent return to the office after time spent away on a fellowship to Europe.

A team competes during GlobalHack IV in June 2015. GlobalHack VI takes will take place at Chaifetz Arena over three days. More than 1,200 people are expected to take part.
courtesy GlobalHack

GlobalHack VI is all about solving a software problem and bringing attention to St. Louis’ tech scene.

This software competition is focused on helping the St. Patrick Center, a local non-profit that serves the homeless.

The $1 million in cash prizes is helping attract software engineers, graphic designers and other technologists from a wide area. GlobalHack executive director Matt Menietti said earlier this week that 1,200 people had signed up from 33 states and five countries.

He said he hopes they’ll get to know St. Louis a bit more.

College of St. Louis community college meramec, umsl and washington university
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

As faculty members at the University of Missouri-St. Louis continue talking about forming a union, part-time teachers at Washington University are working under the first semester of their union contract.

And though some Washington U. adjuncts have questions about how much benefit the union will actually provide, organizers say the contract is working well, though they acknowledge that a period of adjustment is normal when conditions change.

St. Louis rapper and producer Muhammad Austing poses with a picture of himself on his laptop.
Provided by Muhammad Austin

Muhammad Austin doesn’t have top of the line equipment or a world-class studio. He records most of his music in the basement of his parents Spanish Lake home. But that hasn’t stopped him from making some of the most innovative hip-hop in St. Louis — and people are starting to notice.

Over the past two years Austin, who goes by the stage name Mvstermind, has risen through the St. Louis music scene to become one of the dominant voices in the young hip-hop community. Today, he performs at Delmar Hall in support of his new album, “The Cusp.”

The major party candidates for secretary of state are Robin Smith, a Drmocrat, and Jay Ashcroft, a Republican.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photos

Missouri will have a new secretary of state in January, because incumbent Democrat Jason Kander is running for the U.S. Senate. Barring a third-party upset, his successor will be a Republican with a last name very familiar to Missourians, or a Democrat known mainly to St. Louis-area TV viewers. 

An "out of order" sign hangs from the pipes of a water fountain at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Of the 88 drinking water sources shut off at St. Louis Public Schools due to elevated lead levels in August, 30 sinks and eight fountains have been repaired.

But the district is still trying to locate the source of the problem in 10 sinks, and custom-made fountains had to be ordered so that 40 water fountains could be replaced.

Cortex Innovation Community

The Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis’ Central West End will undergo a major expansion over the next two years.

Developers announced plans Thursday for the district’s first hotel which will include a restaurant, apartments with over 200 studio, one and two bedroom units, approximately 20,000 square feet of street level retail, a new technology and lab building and an innovation hall to be used as a meeting space.

An artist's rendering of the Green Leaf Market and ZOOM Store to be built at Tucker Boulevard and 13th Street. April 2016
courtesy Northside Regeneration

The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment will allow the release of a $2.8 million tax increment financing note for developer Paul McKee’s planned grocery store and gas station.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy professor Amy Tiemeier demonstrates how to use a medication disposal pouch to promote National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. (Oct. 20, 2016)
Durrie Bouscaren| St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments, recreation centers and a handful of grocery stores will accept and dispose of unused medications in the St. Louis region as part of a semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.

Public health officials recommend that people dispose of unused medications to prevent accidental poisoning or addiction. While flushing pills down the toilet may be effective, it can contaminate the water system. With that in mind, a growing fixture at the take-back days are plastic disposal pouches, filled with a carbon compound. They can hold up to 45 pills, and a once cup of water is added, the mixture breaks down into a substance that is safe for a landfill.

Bill Otto
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Bill Otto the program.

The Maryland Heights Democrat is running against U.S. Rep.Ann Wagner in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District. Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, is slated to record an episode of the podcast next week.

Jay Ashcroft
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from Jay Ashcroft, the Republican nominee for Missouri secretary of state.

The Democratic candidate, Robin Smith, joined us on the show earlier this month, and her interview can be heard here.

A photo of ramen noodles.
sharyn morrow | Flickr

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Gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster became the first Democrat endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau for a statewide office.
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Nine years ago, Chris Koster was a state senator, a former Cass County prosecutor and a rising star within the Missouri Republican Party. Many speculated he would eventually run for governor.

And now he is running for governor, but as a Democrat.

Koster switched parties in 2007,  a stunning move that has set the course for his unusual political career.  He remains the highest-profile politician in Missouri, at least in modern times, to have made such a move

An underground fire has been smoldering in the southern part of the Bridgeton Landfill for more than four years. Now the state is concerned the north quarry may also be heating up.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

This story was updated Oct. 20 with a response from Republic Services — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has ordered Bridgeton Landfill LLC owner Republic Services to study the increased groundwater contamination detected at the site.

In a letter addressed to Republic Services engineer Erin Fanning last Friday, MDNR engineer Charlene Fitch provided a detailed review of groundwater sampling reports that span from October 2014 to April 2016. The sampling was conducted by a contractor hired by Republic Services. It noted increasing levels of hazardous substances that exceed federal levels, particularly benzene, which can increase the risk of cancer to those exposed to it.

The endangered running buffalo clover.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Outdoor activities like hiking and camping can help people appreciate nature and encourage public support for conservation, but a new study finds that such recreation can also be harmful to the environment. 

In the most comprehensive survey of threats to rare plants conducted in 20 years, researchers from the Missouri Botanical Garden and the University of Missouri-St. Louis analyzed data on threats to nearly 3,000 rare plants in the United States. As scientists report in the journal Biological Conservation, they discovered that outdoor recreation was the most common threat to plants, above residential development and agriculture.

Local community leaders say a new website devoted to the Mississippi River will boost tourism up and down the river.

They gathered Wednesday at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton to celebrate the launch of the Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide, a website that highlights river towns, attractions and businesses. The project, which took more than two years to complete, is a partnership between National Geographic Maps, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and regional organizations like the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation.

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

In a sign of how competitive Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest has become, the two major candidates – Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander – held dueling roundtables with area military veterans.

Wednesday’s events were intended to underscore how both men are highlighting their armed services credentials, and emphasizing their concern about the problems facing the nation’s military.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Two years ago BioSTL set out to put St. Louis on Israel’s radar.

The non-profit, founded in 2001, helped develop the support system for St. Louis bioscience startups. Then, a few years ago, president and CEO Donn Rubin started hearing that Israeli startups were expanding into other U.S. cities.

On Chess: Caruana thrives in St. Louis

Oct 19, 2016
Fabiano Caruana is now based in St. Louis. Here is playing during the 2016 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana decided to move to St. Louis in late August 2015, local chess enthusiasts rejoiced and looked forward to meeting the then world’s No. 5 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Caruana chose the U.S. chess capital as it proved to provide the best conditions for the Miami-born superstar to improve his skills and eventually challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Even more important, the U.S. Chess Federation hoped that Caruana, the American No. 1, would successfully lead his countrymen at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. Well, Fabiano Caruana’s first year as a St. Louis resident is over and he satisfied everyone.

Voting booths
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

The Ferguson-Florissant School District wants a federal judge to approve an election system he ruled unconstitutional in August because it diluted the power of black voters.

Despite that ruling, Ferguson-Florissant attorney Cindy Ormsby said there’s still a possibility that the judge will decide the original at-large system is best.

Live fact check asset
Courtesy NPR

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton face off in the final presidential debate Wednesday night at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is live annotating the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are highlighted, followed by context and fact check from NPR reporters and editors.

The chlamydia bacteria, stained and viewed at 500 times.
National Cancer Institute | Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory

Rates of three common sexually transmitted diseases have risen to a record high level nationwide, and St. Louis continues to rank high among cities, according to federal data released Wednesday.

The St. Louis region recorded 14,961 cases of chlamydia in 2015, the 17th highest per-capita rate in the country. Rates of syphyllis stayed relatively steady at just over 400 cases in the metro area. The city of St. Louis, however, measured the highest rate of both chlamydia and gonorrhea among counties and independent cities. 

“We’ve seen closures of publicly funded STD clinics around the country, and St. Louis is similar in that we have very few options for people to get tested and treated,” said Dr. Brad Stoner, medical director of the St. Louis STD/HIV Prevention Training Center.

Jacqueline Thompson and Terry Weiss
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The Civic Arts Company’s mission is to use arts and education to encourage conversations about race and social injustice, as well as opportunities to remedy those injustices.

The company was founded late last year by Richard Shaw and Terry Weiss. For its first production, the organization chose Jamie Pachino’s theatrical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s book “Race,” which will debut at 3 p.m., Saturday, in the Missouri History Museum’s Lee Auditorium.

The back of the Smithey's container home with new sod and patio. Click on slideshow to see the front.
Zack Smithey

A proposed amendment to St. Charles' building codes would make shipping-container homes blend in with more typical houses in the city.

A new home on Elm Street sparked the debate that led to the regulations, introduced at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The amendment would require shipping-container homes to be fully sided and have a pitched roof.