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LED light beside a decades old bulb-based streetlight fixture.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

An initiative to update streetlights could save the City of St. Louis more than $150,000 a year. Installation of new LED technology is already underway and the city says the effort should improve lighting, especially in some dark areas on local roads.

The initial phase involves nearly 5,000 LED fixtures that will replace current high-pressure sodium light bulbs on major routes like Grand Boulevard and Kingshighway.

St. Louis Public Schools elected board president Susan Jones speaks during a meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ elected school board waited until after this month’s election to start clamoring to resume talks over regaining control of the city’s public schools. They’ll have to wait a bit longer, though, the state says.

Elected board President Susan Jones said the election of two new members is a proof enough that its reputation of dysfunction and mismanagement, which led to losing control a decade ago, is a thing of the past.

Courtesy of Planned Parenthood Great Plains

The law signed on Thursday by President Trump allowing states to cut off family-planning funding to Planned Parenthood won’t have an immediate effect on the organization’s affiliates in Missouri and Kansas.

That’s because Kansas barred Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X family planning funds several years ago — a move later upheld by a federal appeals court.

On April 7, the world lost Patricia McKissack, a famed children’s book author who made her home in St. Louis. She died of a heart attack at age 72.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we  took an in-depth look at one of the top news stories of the week.

On this week’s program, St. Louis Public Radio Statehouse Reporter Marshall Griffin joined us to give us an update on the political happenings Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. No Missouri budget has yet been passed, but the the General Assembly has been busy passing other bills.

Read more of Marshall's reporting this week here

File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio / Uber, MTC

Updated at 1:35 p.m. with bill passing — The three-year battle to get a ride-hailing bill to the governor’s desk is finally over.

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed HB 130 on Thursday by a 144-7 vote, which would craft statewide regulations for Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies to operate anywhere in the state.

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of church bells of the St. Louis Archdiocese and other local congregations have hung silent since Holy Thursday, but will sound again, as is tradition, for Easter Vigil on Saturday. For generations, the handmade metal signals have called on local communities to mark the significant moments of life.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

After hours of debate Thursday evening, the Missouri Senate passed the bill that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program by a 22-9 vote. But opponents added language that could be problematic when the bill returns to the House in the final weeks of the 2017 session. 

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program, and Gov. Eric Greitens has said he backs the creation of one.

Cedric Deshay and Jeavon Gill walk into the mayor's office to receive their high school diplomas on April 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Just four months after the launch of a new, 24-hour high school for students in danger of dropping out, two young men from St. Louis received their diplomas Thursday.

Forest Park Trolleys will operate on two routes beginning Saturday, April 13 2017.
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

Beginning Saturday, the Forest Park bus trolley will have two routes instead of one. The blue route and green route will serve attractions in the western and eastern parts of the park separately.

 

The two different routes will help with passenger convenience and easier navigation through the park, said Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit.

 

Today marks the 274th anniversary of the birth of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Rembrandt Peele | Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 13, 2017 marked the 274th anniversary of the birth of American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

On St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh looked back on the complicated legacy of the United States' third president and explored the impact of his presidency regionally with Washington University professor Peter Kastor.

Julie Russell, Dayna Stock and Mark Tranel joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss a new report from the United Way and UMSL.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A recent report by the United Way and the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis found that 43 percent of all St. Louis metropolitan area households (encompassing 16 counties) do not have the monthly income to meet their basic living expenses. Basic living expenses include housing, food, transportation, taxes, health care and child care.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:30 p.m. with specific date by which federal crime victims money must be used — Missouri legislators have three weeks left to get the state’s $27.8 billion budget for the next fiscal year across the finish line, and aren’t moving as quickly as they did in 2016.

The 13 budget bills currently reside in the Senate’s budget committee, which worked on several of them in the past week. Here’s the breakdown of the changes they’ve made compared to the House budget and what they’ll look to finish next week:

A media advocacy group and the ACLU are asking Missouri's highest court to settle whether the state's prison officials must publicly reveal the source of the drug used to execute prisoners.

The nonprofit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs wrote in a filing Wednesday with the Missouri Supreme Court that that court can resolve the issue that's produced conflicting rulings.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials Friday morning at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. (March 31, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been more than a week since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wanted to review all agreements between the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and local police departments — a move that could have a major impact in Ferguson.

If the consent decree that came after the August 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown goes away, there would be no independent monitor to oversee the significant changes to the police department’s training and operations, including a new use-of-force policy. It’s not clear who would pick up the accountability baton.

Kat Reynolds is pictured in a file photo of a self-portrait shown recently at The Militzer Art Gallery in St. Louis.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Photographer Kat Reynolds is having a moment.

In the past few months, Reynolds has exhibited at five St. Louis venues. She was named this year’s Emerging Artist by the local Visionary Awards, a prize she’ll accept April 24 at the Sun Theater in Grand Center. She’s also wrapping up a residency program at Paul Artspace, north of Florissant. Her work primarily features young people of color, friends, people she encounters on the street, or people she finds through social media.

Reynolds works all these activities around a full-time customer relations job. In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we catch up with this busy artist, who strives to genuinely connect with her subjects.

Lethal doeses of heroin, left, and fentanyl, right. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller, is up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
provided by the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller, made up almost half of drug overdose deaths in parts of the St. Louis region last year, according to county coroners in Missouri and Illinois.

The drug is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and inhaling just a few grains can be lethal.

“If I can be blunt, it’s scary as hell,” said Brandon Costerison, a spokesperson for the anti-addiction group NCADA's St. Louis chapter. “And we don’t really have anything to indicate it’s subsiding yet.”

Gene Jackson started his professional performing  career at 15 when his mom signed a waiver allowing him to perform at the Midnight Lounge on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the mid-1970s.

Older musicians took him under their wings, showing him the ins and outs of St. Louis’ rhythm and blues, and initiating him into a fellowship of performing musicians determined to keep soul music alive.

Roland Johnson entered the scene years earlier, started his career singing with groups at sock hops and youth dances before entering the realms of bars and clubs.

2017 U.S. Chess Championship winner Wesley So and 2017 U.S. women's champion, Sabina Foisor.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Between March 29 and April 10, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, two of the most exciting events in the American circuit. This year, the events were stronger than ever, with three players out of the world’s top 10 participating in the open section, making it the strongest national championship in the world.

U.S. Championship

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The leaders of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County say they are working with law enforcement to make it safer to ride MetroLink.

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill to create a buyout program for homes near the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton has been overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate. 

Under the proposal, residents of the Spanish Village subdivision near the site could apply to sell their homes to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. As many as 91 families could have the option to move away from the World War II-era radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill, which sits about 600 feet from the underground smoldering fire at the Bridgeton Landfill. Many residents have expressed concern about the potential health risks of living there.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions after the Democrat held a town hall event Wednesday in Jefferson County.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was prepared Wednesday for a repeat of the hostile reception she received at her last town hall in politically volatile Jefferson County in 2009.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to Republican supporters in East Alton on April 12, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stop Wednesday in East Alton as part of a statewide push against the state’s epic budget impasse, which has led to underfunding of social services in the Metro East.

 

The Republican’s re-election campaign paid for the tour, which comes more than a year before he’s up for another term in 2018. He expressed frustration to the crowd of primarily GOP activists about how he hasn’t been able to reach a budget deal with Democratic-controlled legislature for nearly two years.

David Carson, photojournalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss drone journalism.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Last month, with the launch of the aptly-titled “Weatherbird One,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made a foray into a new newsgathering realm: drone journalism.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the ethics of drone journalism with David Carson, photographer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).

Here’s a glance at what that looks like: 

Esther Shin, the new president of Urban Strategies, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss what the non-profit is working on in neighborhood revitalization.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded a $29.5 million grant to a team of developers to revitalize and transform the Near North Side neighborhood, which encompasses an area directly north of downtown St. Louis. The area runs from the riverfront to Jefferson Avenue on the west side and Washington Avenue on the south side to St. Louis Avenue near the Old North neighborhood on the north side.

new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture

The saga of the Rams' decision to leave St. Louis is not over. The city, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are suing the National Football League and all of its member teams over the Rams' move to Los Angeles.

The suit was filed Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court. It accuses the NFL and Rams' officials of violating the league's relocation guidelines. The relocation guidelines, according to the lawsuit, "bind the NFL, NFL team owners, and NFL teams to follow certain procedures before allowing them to relocate."

Patricia McKissack
Photo provided | The St. Louis American

With the death of Patricia McKissack on Friday, the world lost the surviving partner of one of the most prolific duos in literature.

McKissack suffered a heart attack and was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 72.

Patricia McKissack and her husband, Fredrick McKissack embarked on their collaborative literary lives nearly 35 years ago, with the intention of being the change they wanted to see. The couple decided that little black boys and girls deserved positive images of themselves and a broad scope of their people’s rich history as they turned the pages of books.

Travis Fitzwater, April 2017
Marshall Griffin 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 state Rep. Travis Fitzwater to the program for the first time.

 

The Holts Summit Republican represents the 49th House District, which covers parts of Callaway and Cole counties in central Missouri. Before running for office, Fitzwater worked for the Missouri Pharmacy Association, first as the marketing coordinator, and, later, chief operating officer.  

 

 

 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with Greitens' office comment Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has set up a task force that’s meant to examine which of the state’s hundreds of boards and commissions are necessary and which ones are not.

Last week, ProPublica and Consumer Reports released a first-of-its-kind analysis of car insurance premiums in California, Illinois, Texas & Missouri showing some minority neighborhoods pay higher auto insurance premiums than white areas with similar risk.
Gateway Streets | Flickr

Last week, ProPublica and Consumer Reports released a first-of-its-kind analysis of car insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri. Following a nearly year and a half investigation into premiums in those states, ProPublica found that residents of minority neighborhoods, on the whole, had to pay more for their car insurance premiums compared with white areas with similar “riskiness.”

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