Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Kae M. Petrin

Digital Reporter

Kae M. Petrin joined St. Louis Public Radio as a Digital Reporter in 2017; they write multimedia and web-based stories, with a sprinkle of radio. Previously, they worked for St. Louis Magazine and freelanced around Missouri and Illinois. Kae has reported on real life cyborgs, shady landlords, premiere tattoo artists, and the complications of everyday life. In their free time, they bake, play roller derby, game, and ride motorcycles.

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The West Lake Landfill, seen from St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 11 with story audio and additional details on EPA rationale for cleanup plan  The Environmental Protection Agency has released the full details of its proposal to remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill. The agency will make a final decision after a public comment period.

A group gathers to watch horror film commercials before Late Nite Grindhouse's January 20 showing.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Once a month, the Moolah Theatre and Lounge in Midtown St. Louis slowly fills with moviegoers wearing punk gear and movie poster T-shirts. Screams ring out past the theater doors, and the screen casts neon green light on the seats.

The words “Late Nite Grindhouse,” written in font that looks like oozing snot, splash across the screen.

After a year of box-office wins and award nominations, horror films are receiving more mainstream recognition. But the Late Nite Grindhouse film series has honored the genre for years, taking people back to the gorey worlds of midcentury horror films — some classic, others forgotten.

The West Lake Landfill, in the distance, sits adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its plan for cleaning up radioactive waste at West Lake Landfill.

But officials say they still want to hear from community members on all the proposed remedies, not just the one the agency selected.

The EPA asked for feedback on three elements of its plan: Does the EPA’s proposed excavation plan address public concerns regarding the thoroughness of the removal? How should excavation differ between waste areas? And, where should the radioactive material go after it’s removed? Access all the plan’s documents on the EPA’s website.

Residents who live near West Lake Landfill gathered at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton after the EPA announced its remediation plan. (Feb 1, 2018)
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

When the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced its plan to remove much of the radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill, some activists and residents celebrated.

But many residents expressed frustration and disappointment that only some of the waste would be removed before the site is covered. They said they’re still concerned about groundwater contamination, which might not be prevented by a partial removal, and worried that they might not be able to move away if the government doesn’t come up with a buyout plan. Some still don’t trust that the EPA can deliver on its promises.

The West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, seen from St. Charles Rock Road.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. to clarify how much waste would be removed and with additional reaction  — The Environmental Protection Agency has decided on a partial removal of World War II-era radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill, in northwest St. Louis County.

The EPA proposed a remedy that would remove “the majority of the radioactive material” and construct a cover system to “best protect the community of Bridgeton over the long term,” the agency said today in a news release.

Every day is an exercise in tight decisions for Corey Robinson. “If you only make $8.50, you gotta use your money wisely,” he said. “Do you feel like eating today, or do you feel like getting on the bus?”
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On his first job out of college as a corrections officer for St. Louis County in 1984, Perez Maxwell noticed that no black men had social work roles. When he sought a promotion to social worker two years later — a position he said he had the education and training to win — he hit a wall.

That was just the first of several jobs where Maxwell observed that he and his black colleagues lost out on leadership roles that went to white counterparts with similar education.  

He can’t help but think that helps explain why many black people in St. Louis continue to be paid much less than white people. Black households made 49 percent of what white households made in St. Louis, based on median incomes in the most recently available census data, which detailed how the nation changed in 2016.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
File Photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to soon announce its plans to clean up the waste in West Lake Landfill. For people who live near the landfill in north St. Louis County, the decision couldn’t come soon enough, as the waste sits approximately 600 feet from an underground smoldering fire.

The landfill has been on the EPA’s National Priorities List since 1990. Eighteen years later, the EPA under the administration of President George W. Bush recommended capping the landfill. The waste has sat at the site since its former owner, Cotter Corporation, dumped it there in 1973.

EPA officials may decide to remove the waste entirely, remove it in part, or cap the site.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 22 — Federal employees will return to work Tuesday, after hundreds of thousands of federal workers were not on the job because of a government shutdown.

Congress on Monday passed a stopgap spending bill and sent it to President Donald Trump.

The shutdown occurred after Republican lawmakers in Washington failed to pass a short-term spending Friday and continued to disagree over the weekend on funding for immigration proposals, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, natural disasters and other priorities.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner met with business owners in Edwardsville, Illinois on January 16.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged Tuesday to help small business owners by addressing “punishing” high property taxes and “too many” regulations.

Calling taxes and regulations burdens that drive small businesses to the neighboring states of Missouri and Indiana, Rauner said he wants to curtail them to bring businesses back.

“Every challenge we face in Illinois could be overcome if we have faster economic growth,” Rauner said after speaking to business owners in Edwardsville.

27% of individual Missouri tax refunds were late in 2016
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Thousands of Missourians could receive their income tax refunds late in 2018, if past years are any indication. Based on the Department of Revenue’s current interpretation of state law, taxpayers will receive little if any interest on the delayed payments.

And Missourians have been waiting longer for their refunds each year, according to report by state Auditor Nicole Galloway.

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
File photo | Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Local community organizations are teaming up to collect and distribute donated items for homeless people who’re suffering in the dangerous cold.

A Winter Homeless Outreach event coordinated through Facebook has attracted more than 4,000 interested users. It’s a collaboration between Let’s Help The Homeless, CDDB Community Charity and Just For Kidz. Outreach services for veterans will also join the event. 

via Flickr/pasa

After a week of below-zero temperatures, with some nights hitting lower than zero, people in the St. Louis region are struggling to keep warm.

For some, that’s because they just can’t afford the cost of heat.

“We thought this was going to be a normal, quiet Christmas,” said Heatupstlouis.org founder Gentry W. Trotter, whose organization helps pay utility bills of people in 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois. But the temperature dropped, and since Christmas Day, more than 900 people have asked the organization for help.

At each of six intersections along Compton Avenue in south St. Louis, 16 of these balls now sit in the road, narrowing lanes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Some south St. Louis residents have encountered a new obstacle on their morning commute: concrete balls.

The spherical barriers were installed last month at the corners of intersections along Compton Avenue to calm traffic and increase public safety. But some residents are worried they’re causing more problems than they will solve.

John Hayden was picked on Dec. 28, 2017, to be St. Louis' next police chief. Hayden is a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Dec. 28 at 2:45 p.m. with additional comments on Hayden's promotion — St. Louis Police Maj. John Hayden is the next chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

People gather in the Central West End to protest the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley in September.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the last week of 2017, St. Louis Public Radio is looking back at more than 1,500 stories that the newsroom covered over the past 12 months.

It was a year of big changes: a new president, a new governor and a new mayor in St. Louis. Our reporters reflected on those transitions and explored how national news was relevant to the St. Louis region.

Our readers certainly don’t have tunnel vision: The stories they shared covered science, legislature, race, the death penalty, and mental health. Readers saw our reporters follow unions as they mobilized to block a state law, travel to the southern Illinois towns at the Dakota Access Pipeline’s conclusion, and observe the Stockley protests that unsettled the region.

Paul's Market

It can seem daunting to find the ultimate gift that captures St. Louis’ charm and convinces your family to explore the region.

Whether you’re showing loved ones around the city or just bringing the Midwest back home, here are five ways to bring the food, pastimes and St. Louis pride to Christmas with you.

Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The owners of Reedy Press are fighting to recover from a Nov. 15 fire that gutted the warehouse containing all the publisher’s printed books.

An estimated 200,000 books burned, nearly all the unsold copies. The publisher is coordinating with dozens of authors to reprint the books.

“The misery of this — if you want to go that far — is having to do everything over again,” Co-owner and Publisher Josh Stevens said. “I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a more permanent warehouse, buying warehouse equipment that I already bought once upon a time. I joke to people that it’s like groundhog day.”

Emily Hall helps a patron at her St. Charles bookstore. She's concerned that a repeal of net neutrality could hurt her ability to reach patrons and event-goers. (Nov. 8, 2017)
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On a recent morning, Emily Hall filled two online orders at Main Street Books, the St. Charles shop her family has owned for four years. As she worked, customers came to buy books and chat about upcoming author events they’d heard about or seen on the store’s website.

But Hall fears that her bustling store could see a drop in business if the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday votes to repeal net neutrality, landmark rules that guarantee an open internet.

Sarah Durrett - Combat Sexual Harassment
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sarah Durrett’s car broke down in 2013, she started walking and taking public transportation for daily tasks in St. Louis — and was surprised to find herself experiencing regular sexual harassment for the first time in her life.

Some men followed her home, and others whispered lewd comments. One man tried to grab her feet and kiss them. Durrett worried that even an off-kilter look could escalate to something scarier. “You don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “You just become afraid.”

So Durrett began considering ways to challenge sexual harassment in St. Louis. After living elsewhere for a few years, she moved back to St. Louis in 2017 and decided to forgo her car, only to once again experience harassment. That’s when she focused on her ideas to start Combat Sexual Harassment, a network to help women and men who have had similar experiences.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his remarks to a crowd of invited guests in St. Charles, Missouri on November 29, 2017.
Kae Petrin I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump made grand promises Wednesday that a pending federal tax overhaul will bring jobs back to "Main Street America'' by revamping a "dysfunctional'' tax system and providing tax cuts for working families.

He told a packed audience at the St. Charles Convention Center that only Democrats like Missouri's U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill stood in the way of a more prosperous future.  The president portrayed McCaskill, a former prosecutor, as a tax-cut opponent who is "weak on crime,  weak on the border, weak on the military."

Frankie Freeman, family, and bronze statue. November 2017.
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

More than half a century ago, civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At that point, she’d already opened her own private legal practice and helped end legal segregation of public housing in St. Louis.

Since that momentous day in 1964, she has continued to fight for civil and human rights. At 100, she’s still active in civic affairs.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People dedicated a bronze statue in her honor at Broadway and Chestnut Street, near the Old Courthouse.

Katelyn Mae Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

A group of skaters screeched, weaving circles around the rink. Dozens of booths sat in the rink’s center. Artists sat at the booths, selling their work to the crowd that milled through the rink. The skaters flew past T-shirts printed with crass but clever jokes, collages of old pinups, fanarts of popular comics.

Katelyn Mae Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

Bicycles streamed through the streets Friday as people observed National Bike to Work Day. It's something St. Louis bicycle advocacy groups would like people to do more than just once a year. So, they are working to make the local bike commutes safer and easier.

Javier Mendoza
File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates this weekend because lots of festivals are planned — as well as opera al fresco.

Madison County Transit

Madison County, Illinois, bus riders will soon start seeing some changes in service.  

Starting next Sunday, Madison County Transit will bring an entirely new bus route to areas popular with the Highland community, and add evening and weekend service elsewhere.

The expanded services will not be offered on all routes. Instead, according to SJ Morrison, Director of Marketing and Planning for Madison County’s transit system, the department evaluated holes in service and community demands, then chose to expand bus routes that demonstrated the most need.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

When Star Clipper closed this March, some people cried, others Tweeted their frustration. In its 26 years in business, the store had become a beloved cultural center, event space and small press distributor for lovers of comics, graphic novels and collectibles.

Steve Unverferth and Tony Favello responded in a different way. They took on the store’s name, bought its shelves and hired its staff.

The Chesterfield amphitheater
www.chesterfieldamphitheater.com

As the weather turns warm, free outdoor concerts light up all over St. Louis.

This summer concert season has a few changes to its lineup. Clayton has added “May Musical Mondays” to its previous events; St. Peters has replaced its “Summer Concert Series” with a much larger “Lakeside Series” at a Lakeside Park.

BJC Healthcare is in middle of a large construction project employing a lot of workers.
file photo | Provided by BJC HealthCare

Unemployed minorities and females looking to enter the construction industry in the St. Louis region now have a new training option.

Katelyn Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

A new ship bearing the name USS St. Louis will soon be present in American harbors.  

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the name of the ship in front of the St. Louis Soldiers’ Memorial Museum on Friday.  

The new ship, LCS 19, belongs to one of two “littoral combat ship” lines, the Freedom variant. The ship is designed to stay close to the shore and target threats like mines, submarines, and surface craft. Mabus said that the ship can do “almost anything” and that at over forty knots, the St. Louis is amongst the fastest ships in the Navy. 

Katelyn Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis protesters joined thousands of others across the nation on Wednesday to push for a $15 minimum wage. Demonstrations occurred at various locations, including a walk-out strike at the McDonald's on South Broadway and a rally at Washington University in St. Louis.

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