Joseph Leahy

Reporter and afternoon newscaster

Joseph Leahy began his career in broadcast journalism at St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. He moved to Delaware in 2012 to help launch the state’s first NPR station, 91.1 FM WDDE, as a general assignment reporter, afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to Missouri in 2013 to anchor St. Louis Public Radio’s local newscasts during NPR’s All Thing’s Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. His education includes a master’s degree in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He graduated high school at Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge, California and grew up migrating almost annually with his family between rural Missouri and sprawling Los Angeles. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1982. 

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Time is running out for a bipartisan commission tasked with agreeing on a new Missouri Senate district map. The filing period for senate candidates begins next week, but without definitive district boundaries, they won't know exactly which district they would be running to represent. 

The commission's chairman Doug Harpool says if seven of the ten commission members fail to agree on a map, a federal judge will be appointed to determine the district boundaries.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public)

Lambert Airport is honoring African American pilots who broke color barriers in the sky with a re-dedication of its mural “Black Americans in Flight.”

Solomon Thurman, one of the mural's co-artists, said the five-panel mural depicts the aviation achievements of African Americans from WWI to the NASA shuttle mission. 

"St. Louis is the only place where you can see an encapsulated story of the Tuskegee Airmen," he said. "There are many Tuskegee paintings around the country and perhaps around the world, but none tell the cohesive story."

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County is considering changing farmers’ markets ordinances to make it easier for food venders to do business. Instead of a $35 permit which lasts two weeks, the new permits would last seven-months, and cost $75. 

St. Louis County Health Department Director Dolores Gunn says the seven-month length – as opposed to a year – is intended to prevent abuses of the system.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Some residents in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill are fighting to save the historic church their town is named after. The Rock Hill Presbyterian Church on the corner of McKnight and Manchester Roads is slated for demolition to make way for a gas station this spring.

Linda Lemen is among a group of citizens seeking to relocate the limestone structure. 

“It may be radical," she said, "but you have to choose your battles in life and you have to choose what is important.”

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Governor Jay Nixon is putting Missouri's athletic organizations to work in helping to rebuild Joplin.

Teaming with the Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, Nixon is challenging members from the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals among other teams across the state to build 35 houses by June.

 "When people know that these sports teams are coming, and when they see the players and the other folks, it really really helps," said Nixon.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Troubled Missouri home owners can expect a degree of relief from a national mortgage settlement that has been reached with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.

The Show-Me State is being awarded more than $196 million of a $25 billion settlement with banks -- including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase -- over allegations of lending abuses and improper foreclosure procedures.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the settlement does not close the door on possible criminal charges against mortgage lenders.

via Flickr/Michael R. Allen

Some passengers at Lambert Airport will be allowed to keep their belts and shoes on while passing through security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration is including St. Louis in a program to make check-in more convenient for frequent fliers. The TSA says the program, which has been tested at seven major airports, will expand to 28 others, including Lambert, this year. 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and other local leaders are endorsing Susan Montee in her campaign for Lieutenant Governor. None of the four Democrats in the race for the office are from St. Louis -- Missouri's largest voting bloc. Thus, Montee's endorsement from St. Louis city officials gives her a strong lead as she seeks the nomination.

Montee, the former state auditor, kicked off her campaign at St. Louis City Hall Tuesday saying she knows how to fight for veterans and seniors.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

America’s obsession with chop suey may have ended almost a century ago, but in St. Louis chop suey shops remain in large numbers.  As St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy reports, the city is just one of three where this food fad continues to hang on.

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron)

Updated 5:08 p.m.

Ameren Missouri is seeking approval from state regulators to raise electricity rates by almost 15 percent. Ameren President and CEO Warner Baxter said the company needs the additional $376 million to cover infrastructure upgrades and higher fuel costs. 

"With this electric rate increase filing," he said, "we are simply seeking to recover the costs and investments we have made to meet our customers' expectations for a safe and reliable clean energy." 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson says some schools in the archdiocese will have to close in the years ahead to sustain Missouri's oldest and largest school system.

"I just think it's inevitable when you look at the number of children families are having," he said.

The Archbishop said school consolidations are also likely to play a bigger part in addressing shrinking enrollment and tuition revenue, as when three south county elementary schools consolidated last year to create Holy Cross Academy. 

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and the St. Louis Police Officers Association are throwing their support behind a voter's initiative proposal that would give St. Louis direct control of its police department.

The Safer Missouri Citizens Coalition is seeking 100,000 signatures by May sixth to put the proposal on this November's ballot. Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said opponents who argue the bill would limit public oversight and access to records are misleading the public.

(file photo)

Anti-smoking advocates want more smoking bans

Groups against smoking are urging the St. Louis County Council to make changes to the smoking ban that went into effect last year.

Currently, businesses whose food sales result in 25 percent of gross sales including food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are eligible for an exemption from the smoking ban. There are 145 businesses that currently allow smoking in the county.

Flickr/jdnx

Gateway Arch project may not be finished by anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch is three years away, but the project to improve and expand the grounds by then may not be finished on time.

Walter Metcalfe, director of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which is leading the effort, says it's more important to get it right than to get it done in time for the anniversary.

Ten grants are up for grabs for new businesses that set up shop in St. Louis. A local non-profit, Arch Grants, says it will award the $50,000 grants this May in an effort to bring innovative businesses to the city.

Arch Grants Co-founder Joe Schlafly said the for-profit start-ups that are selected will be required to stay for at least one year.

“St. Louis is not a dog-meat, down place," Schlafly said. "It is a place where things are happening. We’re open for business. We want to be on the short list, not just [on] no list.”

(via Flickr/peter.a_photography)

A Missouri marijuana advocacy group is protesting the citation of two petition gatherers in St. Charles over the weekend.  The volunteers for Show-Me Cannabis Regulation say they were detained by police shortly after midnight while collecting signatures. 

Dave Roland, an attorney representing the two, says no ordinance was violated because collecting signatures is a First Amendment right. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 5:43 p.m. to include comments from Chief Isom and correction in data.

There's more good news on crime today in the St. Louis area.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is pushing his jobs creation strategy as the path to improving the state's economy this year.

Speaking at Jost Chemical Co. in St. Louis Friday, Nixon detailed his multi-pronged proposal which includes opening state export offices in Asia and South America and funding training for high-tech jobs.

"We'll work to make sure we attract next-generation automotive suppliers to Missouri," said Nixon.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

An Illinois Congressman and US transportation officials are talking up a Granite City river port to a Chinese delegation exploring new trade routes to the American market.

Congressman Jerry Costello touted the access America's Central Port has to railroads and highways during a visit from China's Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs, Xu Zuyuan.

Costello said a harbor to be completed next year will give a strategic advantage in moving imports and exports.

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St. Louis County Police are filling a law enforcement gap in Dellwood as efforts continue to disband the suburb's municipal police force. 

Dellwood's Mayor, Loretta Johnson, requested the county's help while eight of Dellwood's 16 police department positions remain vacant.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri is challenging language on a ballot initiative that would transfer control of the St. Louis Police Department from the state to the city.

ACLU Regional Program Director John Chasnoff says the initiative's summary, as it would appear on the ballot, fails to explain how the new law would restrict public oversight and access to records.

(via Flickr/photoactionusa)

Choosing the next Pope in Rome will be among a St. Louis native's new responsibilities when he is elevated to Cardinal next month.  New York's Archbishop, Timothy Dolan, is among 22 new Cardinals being appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Dolan grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and attended high school at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South. In the early 90s Dolan became vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

He said he is used to the color red.

Joseph Leahy

A year after one of the worst winters in decades, emergency officials say St. Louis is prepared for more severe weather. City and county officials were briefed Thursday on the American Red Cross's preparations at its national disaster warehouse in north St. Louis.

Mary Anderson, the Red Cross' regional director of disaster services says since last year's devastating tornados that struck Missouri, the Red Cross is making space in the 100,000 square-foot facility for more supplies.

(via Flickr/nan palmero)

Updated 5:05 p.m. with more information, comment

Schlafly Beer's parent company, St. Louis Brewing Inc., is selling 60 percent of its ownership interest to the local investor group Sage Capital.

Joseph Leahy

The director of a sexual abuse support group is denying that he helped violate a gag order in a lawsuit against a Catholic priest in Kansas City.

SLPRnews

In the year since St. Louis City and County banned smoking in most bars and restaurants, some business owners say that exemptions to the ban have hurt their bottom line more than the ban itself.

Marty Ginsburg, owners of the Sports Page Bar in Chesterfield, says bars where smoking is permitted have an unfair advantage.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

One year ago tomorrow a rare winter tornado tore through the St. Louis County suburb of Sunset Hills. Since then residents who could repair their homes have moved on, but as St. Louis Public Radio’s Joseph Leahy reports, those who lost everything are still battling city hall for the future of the neighborhood.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)

Spray painted threats against St. Louis Police have the department on alert in north city where an officer killed a man Tuesday.

Police shot the man in his car after he allegedly resisted arrest. Graffiti found later on the wall of a nearby restaurant said an officer would be next.

Police Chief Dan Isom says the department is taking extra precautions in the district where the shooting occurred.

(St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County goes on holiday recess with approved budget

The St. Louis County Council has approved a 2012 budget after a contentious season of fiscal wrangling with County Executive Charlie Dooley. Early this fall Dooley's county budget estimates convinced him to propose drastic cuts. Dooley drew sharp criticism for his proposal to shut down 23 county parks and lay off almost 200 county employees.   

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