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.

Ways to Connect

Historical papers and religious items dated back to 1896 filled the time capsule found under the Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel. Photo from March 28, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

A hobby preservationist cracked open a time capsule from 1896 this morning to find a well-preserved collection of Catholic religious items and historic papers.

Jim Meiners found the copper box in the foundation of the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel, which was demolished with the Clemens House after the property caught fire last year.

“It would’ve been put there when the building was built, and we don’t know what’s in it,” he said before cutting into the lead seal on the box.

Maplewood Richmond Heights students honor victims killed at a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month during a walkout Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Thousands of people are expected to march through downtown St. Louis to protest gun violence on Saturday. They’ll walk a 2-mile route with March for Our Lives STL, one of hundreds of student-led rallies planned for this weekend.

Student organizers, survivors of gun violence and local leaders, including Rep. Bruce Franks, will speak at the event. City officials say they’re prepared to accommodate up to 10,000 marchers.

What is March for Our Lives?

The Rev. Starsky Wilson spoke at the Parents United for Change meeting Wednesday March 14, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Low-income families who live in public housing in East St. Louis are burdened by hidden fees that keep them trapped in debt, according to a survey conducted by the Stepping Out of Poverty campaign.

To help families escape the escalating debts, a group of East St. Louis parents is fighting the housing authority fees they say prevent families from moving and keep people impoverished. Parents United for Change have met with the East St. Louis Housing Authority to negotiate new policies that would limit the fees.

A child looks at one of two grizzly bear cubs at the St. Louis Zoo in September 2017.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with additional information — The St. Louis Zoo Association is buying a 425-acre complex in north St. Louis County to breed endangered and at-risk animals, officials announced today.

The zoo is obtaining the land from the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 for $7.1 million. The purchase is funded through donations from two undisclosed philanthropists.

A portrait of Will Jordan, the executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council. February 2016.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s ability to investigate housing discrimination and enforce fair housing laws in rural areas could be at risk.

Donna Kaucic started the Secret Challenge to collect sanitary pads and tampons for donations to food pantries and homeless shelters in Jefferson and Franklin counties. Feb. 20, 2018
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Imagine that first you can’t afford to keep your water on, or your electricity. You’re already struggling to find or keep a job.

Every month, you have menstrual periods. One or more of your children might, too.

Where do you find room for sanitary pads and tampons in the budget? How do you focus on taking care of yourself, getting a new job or a more stable home? If you’re homeless, how do you find a way to get hygiene products without money?

That’s what Donna Kaucic started wondering as she worked with families at Jefferson Franklin Community Action Corporation, a non-profit agency that offers services to address poverty in Jefferson and Franklin counties.

A boutique apartment tower going up at Euclid and West Pine avenues received tax increment financing in 2015. It sits across from a Whole Foods, which is housed on the lower level of another apartment building that received TIF. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition critical of the tax relief St. Louis awards developers wants lawmakers to make processes to grant tax incentives more transparent and more equitable.

When it started in 2016, Team TIF focused on education. But now that the public is more aware of how the city grants developers incentives, the coalition is pushing for policy changes, volunteer Molly Metzger said.

“The problems that we see in St. Louis and other cities — of racial segregation, of stark inequality — these are not created by markets alone. They are created by markets that were structured by governments,” said Metzger, a professor who studies housing policy at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday, a St. Louis grand jury indicted Gov. Eric Greitens for felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman without her permission. Greitens was arrested Thursday afternoon, but was released without having to post bond.

Here’s a roundup of what’s happened so far and what’s ahead:

Gov. Greitens' booking photo from Feb. 22
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Feb. 22, 2018

Updated Feb. 23 at 9:10 a.m. with  additional comments from Kim Gardner — A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Gov. Eric Greitens for felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman without her permission. Greitens was arrested Thursday afternoon, but was released without having to post bond. 

One of his attorneys, Edward Dowd, said in a statement that he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges.

“In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this. The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent,” he said.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 could bring big infrastructure changes to Missouri, but local engineering and commerce experts say it could be hard for the state to compete for federal dollars.

The budget promises to “generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment” by dedicating $200 billion over 10 years to projects like improving roads, expanding internet access in rural areas, and developing creative approaches to transit, energy, water and building. Of that, $100 billion would be awarded as competitive grants to states and local governments who pursue projects “demonstrating innovative approaches” to infrastructure.

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

Updated March 5 with new public comments deadline  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

Updated on March 5 to note new deadline for public comments  — 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.

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