News | St. Louis Public Radio

News

Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Crumbling roads and old bridges have long been something lawmakers say they should work on.

Now, a task force created to study Missouri's transportation system will begin holding public meetings this week.

Volunteers clear brush from a community garden in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood June 24, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

At a community garden half a mile north of Powell Hall, Marcia Martin spent Saturday dragging branch trimmings into piles to clear out the greenery that had overrun the garden. Martin and her husband were joined by about a dozen other volunteers working on the lot at the corner of Montgomery and Coleman in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.

“When we started on this project you couldn’t see the grass,” said Martin, 60, of St. Louis. “There were four of us down here working, and then all of these other people showed up. It was just amazing.”

Missouri union members at an anti-right to work rally in St. Charles on Oct. 4, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:15 a.m. June 26 with comment from Ashcroft — Missouri’s top labor group says the union effort to go to the ballot box next year to block “right to work’’ remains on course, despite a judge’s ruling Thursday that changes the ballot language.

The state AFL-CIO already has collected “tens of thousands of signatures,’’ said spokeswoman Laura Swinford. But those signatures were on petitions that contained the original summary ballot language that had been approved by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

A comparison of what flames look like on Earth versus in zero gravity.
NASA video screenshot

Despite how long ago humans began using fire, the substance is still a mystery to scientists. Researchers at Washington University are hoping to answer some fundamental questions about it by studying flames in space. Earlier this month, they launched an experiment to do this to the International Space Station.

When a flame burns on Earth, gravity pulls cold, dense air to the base of it, causing hot air to rise. The upward flow of air is what gives flames the familiar teardrop shape. However, a flame acts differently in space.

Kathy Favazza (L) and Nika Leoni (R) are the co-founders of Make Music St. Louis, the organization responsible for bringing Make Music Day to St. Louis.
Alicia Lee | St. Louis Public Radio

If you happened to be in the Delmar Loop on Wednesday or in a number of other places in the St. Louis area, it’s likely you heard live music.

Those sounds were part of Make Music Day, an international holiday that’s celebrated in more than 750 cities worldwide including more than 50 in the United States. 

Opera singers Nika Leoni and Kathy Favazza are co-founders of the event in St. Louis.

Planning for this year’s St. Louis Pride has been marked by some disagremeents.
Provided | St. Louis Pride

Over the decades, St. Louis’ PrideFest has grown from a few dozen people daring to come out for a day, to 200,000 community members and supporters gathering to celebrate.

Now, as St. Louis gets ready for its 36th PrideFest, the annual event is experiencing some growing pains. Planning for this year’s gathering has been marked by conflict. For Pride St. Louis President Matt Harper, it’s been a period of trying to balance the contradictory opinions of a disparate community.

“You just can’t please everyone,” Harper said.

Patrons sit on Iowa Street outside Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On April 30, Francis Rodriguez, the owner of Yaquis on Cherokee, was drawn to his apartment window by a commotion outside on Cherokee Street. Rodriguez lives above the pizza parlor and, as shots rang out, he and his wife dropped to the floor. After a pause, he ran downstairs to check on the restaurant, where people didn’t immediately recognize the sound of gunfire.

“They're still playing music in here. They didn't hear the shots upstairs that are right outside the door,” he said. “But just as I open up the back door from our apartment and hear people start raising the alarm in here [Yaquis] and so people started screaming and falling onto the floor.”

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Jude Volek, center, listens to activists in the Ferguson community June 22, 2017 after an update on the progress Ferguson is making on mandated changes to its police and courts.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time since it was adopted, Ferguson residents and activists got a chance Thursday to give their take on how the city is doing at making federally mandated changes to its municipal court and police department.

Everyone who spoke appreciated the opportunity to weigh in, but the reviews given to U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry were decidedly mixed. 

Gov. Eric Greitens signs the Foster Care Bill of Rights into law. (June 22, 2017)
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday signed into law a bill designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system.

 

At the heart of the measure is the Foster Care Bill of Rights, which begins by stating the “best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division” of the Department of Social Services.

Painkiller
Tom Walker | Flickr | http://bit.ly/22McgqC

Last year set a record for the number of drug overdose deaths in the St. Louis region, most of them opioid-related. Gun violence has also long been a problem in St. Louis. Although there’s no evidence to prove the rise in the prevalence of both issues is related, the solution to them is interconnected, advocates say.

St. Louis County officers join Clayton police in Februrary at a protest outside of Sen. Roy Blunt's office in downtown Clayton.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Officers with the St. Louis County Police Department will see, on average, a 30 percent pay raise on Jan. 1, 2018,  thanks to revenue from a new sales tax that voters approved in April.

The news, announced Thursday by St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, puts even more pressure on officials in the city of St. Louis to find money for their own police pay raises.

Logan Ely is the chef behind Square 1 Project, a pop-up restaurant concept.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Sound Bites is produced in partnership with Sauce Magazine, our monthly installment exploring cuisine in the St. Louis area.

Chef Logan Ely has been around the globe and back a few times since growing up in St. Louis. He spent time at Chicago’s North Pond Restaurant after graduating Forest Park Community College’s culinary program and from there went to Hong Kong and New York.

Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, talk with St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies at Picasso's coffeehouse in St. Charles. June 21, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast team of Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies were on the road again Wednesday, this time to Picasso’s coffeehouse in the historic downtown of St. Charles. The two welcomed state Sens. Bob Onder and Bill Eigel, Republicans who represent much of St. Charles County.

Onder, of Lake St. Louis, and Eigel, of Weldon Spring, focused on a variety issues and fielded a number of tough questions from the audience. Each praised Gov. Eric Greitens for calling a special legislative session, now underway, to deal with the abortion issue. Both are outspoken opponents of abortion.

A statue of former U.S. House Speaker Champ Clark stands before the Pike County Courthouse. Democrats like Clark controlled most of northeast Missouri's offices for decades. Now, the GOP rules the roost.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — For decades, as other parts of rural Missouri turned red, voters in northeast Missouri sent Democrats to Jefferson City and backed Democratic statewide candidates.

That changed starting in 2010, though Republicans and Democrats said the most marked shift was in November 2016, as then-candidate Donald Trump touched a nerve with residents who’d seen jobs leave and economic fortunes sour. 

On Chess: Super-GM event has surprising result

Jun 22, 2017
Grandmaster Hikiaru Nakamura at the Super GM event in Norway in June, 2017. Nakamura got second place in the event.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The annual Super-GM event in Norway began in 2013 and continues to get stronger each year. This year’s edition held June 6 -16, had 10 players, including the “Big 3” American players: St. Louis resident Fabiano Caruana; 2017 PRO Chess League Champion with the Saint Louis Arch Bishops and reigning U.S. Champion Wesley So; and several time U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura.

 

The event was played in a round-robin format, where each player plays all other participants. With 10 participants, each player plays nine rounds, hoping to score the most points to win the tournament.

Today is the first day of summer and that means it’s the start of the busy season for Lise Bernstein. As the president of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, Bernstein is working her organization’s campaign to distribute free gun locks all summer.

Since the Lock It For Love program began in the spring of 2015, more than 1,800 gun locks have been handed out across St. Louis and St. Louis County. Organizers try to pass out gun locks in St. Louis zip codes where the risk for youth violence is high. That’s according the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force Community Plan,  which was released in 2013.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The state of Missouri filed suit Wednesday against three major drug companies, alleging they fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic with a campaign of false advertising and fake claims.

On the steps of St. Louis Circuit Court, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said he would seek “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damages against Purdue Pharma L.P., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

What summer reads should be on our list? You tell us.
meg | Flickr

Well, it’s officially summer now – and with that comes time spent by the pool, on vacation or maybe even a few “sick days” spent at home. With that in mind, we brought in three local book experts to give us suggestions of their top summer reads.

We’re focusing on books for adults this time around but, in a few weeks, we’ll also discuss children’s book recommendations.

You can find links to each book discussed below, but our guest from Left Bank Books made this handy list as well. 

James T. Hodgkinson appears in a St. Clair County Sheriff's Department booking photo on Dec. 31, 1992.
St. Clair County Sheriff's Department

James Hodgkinson, the Belleville, Illinois, man who shot and wounded a Republican congressman and four others June 14 at a Congressional baseball practice acted alone, investigators said Wednesday.

"The FBI is investigating this shooting as an assault on a member of Congress, and an assault on a federal officer," said Andrew Vale, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office. "We also assessed that there is no nexus to terrorism." In this context, terrorism means international groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Players on the Arch Rival All Stars roller derby team run drills during practice on Monday, June 12, 2017, ahead of the Sibling Rivalry invitational.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

As of 9 p.m. on a Monday earlier this month,  the temperature had not sunk below 90 degrees all day. Despite the lethargic heat, the St. Louis Skatium, an un-air-conditioned, no-frills skating rink in south city, was bustling with action.

For two hours, the Arch Rival All Stars, 20 of the best women’s flat track roller derby players in St. Louis, have been running drills and scrimmaging.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Next year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City will leave the individual health care marketplace in Missouri that was set up under the Affordable Care Act. And when it does, about 18,000 patients in 25 western Missouri counties will lose their health insurance. If those enrollees sign on to Healthcare.gov this fall to buy a replacement plan, they may have no options to choose from.

That's because those 25 counties could become "bare."

June 12, 2017 photo. Patty Prewitt (right) and Amy Sherrill perform a scene from "Run-On Sentence" in the Prison Performing Arts production at the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center
Provided | Prison Performing Arts

A St. Louis-based organization called Prison Performing Arts (PPA) is taking a fresh approach in its 27-year-old effort to turn inmates into actors.

The program is known for the “thees,” “thous” and “forswears” of Shakespeare’s scripts. But a contemporary play on stage Thursday at the Women’s Eastern, Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia expands PPA beyond The Bard.

“Run-On Sentence” is based on interviews done with those inside the institution. Inmate Patty Prewitt said the playwright Stacie Lents took time to really understand their world.

Saint Louis University Robert Pasken and his graduate student Melissa Mainhart perform a test run of a weather balloon that they plan to launch during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

It's not just astronomy nerds who are preparing for the total solar eclipse in August. Scientists are also using the event, which has not occurred in Missouri since 1442, as an opportunity to gather data. 

St. Louis is one of 30 locations across the U.S. where scientists will launch large balloons into the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse, as a part of the NASA and NSF-sponsored Eclipse Ballooning Project. On Tuesday afternoon, Saint Louis University and Jefferson College researchers performed a test-run of their balloon, which will carry a radiosonde, an instrument that measures wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure and other conditions of the atmosphere. They will also be using Ameren Missouri's network of weather monitoring stations, called Quantum Weather

The final tally of the house vote during special session on June 20, 2017.
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

A much larger abortion bill is on its way back to the Missouri Senate, after the House loaded it up with more regulations Tuesday.

It’s the exact opposite approach the upper chamber took last week, which removed several items as a means of keeping Democrats from blocking it via filibuster. The bill passed 110-38 along party lines after four hours of debate.

Michael Brown Sr. stands at the back of the Ferguson Community Center's event space during the public comment portion of a 2016 Ferguson city council meeting.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of Ferguson has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Michael Brown.

Federal district Judge Richard Webber accepted the settlement on Tuesday. The amount that Michael Brown Sr., and Lezley McSpadden will receive from the city, former police chief Tom Jackson, and former police officer Darren Wilson will remain confidential.

Philando Castile's sister, Allysza Castile, speaks outside the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul, Minn. after a not guilty verdict was delivered in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez on June 16, 2017.
Lorie Shaull | Flickr

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis American.

Philando Castile’s family in St. Louis was watching on June 16 as a Minnesota jury acquitted the police officer who fatally shot Castile, a 32-year-old black man, during a traffic stop last year in suburb of St. Paul, Minn.

“Everyone’s heart fell to the ground,” said Stacy Castile, Philando Castile's uncle who lives in St. Louis. “We just lost him all over again.”

Areli Muñoz Reyes, who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, attends St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and is studying to be a teacher
Jenny Simeone-Casas | St. Louis Public Radio

Young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and received temporary Social Security numbers and work permits under an Obama-era program can keep their protections — for now.

 

Breaking a promise made on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump announced last week that he would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but hasn’t said for how long. Missouri is home to almost 4,000 DACA permit holders.

Alderwoman Megan Green, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Megan Ellyia Green joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a second time on the Politically Speaking podcast.

Green has represented the city’s 15th Ward, which is just south of Tower Grove Park, since her special-election victory in 2014. She first was elected as an independent, rankling some Democrats, but now is a bona fide Democrat and holds state and national party posts.

Nedim Ramic and Anna Crosslin discussed the issues refugees face today in light of World Refugee Day on June 20.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday marks World Refugee Day, a designation made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of refugees and displaced persons in the world is higher than it has ever been since World War II, with some 65.5 million people displaced throughout the world right now.

(via Flickr/wild_turkey5300)

Facts and fiction continue to swirl about mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika and West Nile viruses. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed what you need to know about such illnesses and how to prevent them.

Saint Louis University is currently at the forefront of trying to develop a Zika vaccine. Sarah George, a researcher with the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, joined the program on Tuesday to discuss her research and prevention tips.

Pages