Liz Schlemmer | St. Louis Public Radio

Liz Schlemmer

Liz Schlemmer is St. Louis Public Radio’s 2016 summer news intern. She is a master’s student in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, Schlemmer has reported with Carolina Connection radio and North Carolina Health News. As an Indiana native, she is excited to be back in the Midwest and working with her first NPR member station.

Mariana Flores holds her son, Jitzak Mejia, 4, outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis this past April. Immigration reform supporters gathered in cities across the country as the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Texas on April 18.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Naomi Carranza and Mariana Flores are sitting at a kitchen table while Flores’ five sons run around the room playing. While the youngest boy tugs his mom’s shirtsleeve, Carranza says that she thinks of the boys as her own kids.

The two women met less than a year ago and are nine years apart in age, but they act as though they have known each other forever. They tease each other like sisters and often finish each other’s sentences. They can share knowing glances from across a room.

Steve Roberts Jr.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Liz Schlemmer welcome Democrat Steve Roberts Jr. to the program for the first time.

Roberts recently won a contested primary for the 77th District Missouri House seat, which takes in portions of central and north St. Louis. The seat became open after state Rep. Kim Gardner, D-St. Louis, decided to run for St. Louis circuit attorney, a contest that she won by a comfortable margin.

Karen Downey as Betsy Boss, left, and Allison Harris as Emily Lickinson, right, speed through a quick arm wrestling match during a dress rehearsal at the Heavy Anchor bar.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the lights dim, wrestler Hulk Hogan’s theme song will rise and Betsy Boss will strut onstage in her American flag bikini. Her biceps flexed, and with a sewing kit tucked under her arm, the newest St. Louis Lady Arm Wrestler will be ready to rumble.

Her motto: She leaves you red, white and boo hoo.

Betsy Boss — local fitness instructor Karen Downey — makes her debut tonight at the group’s latest Grease-themed bout — “Summer Shovin.”

The St. Louis Lady Arm Wrestlers — also known as SLLAW — describe themselves as "a philanthropic conglomerate of awesome," with a mission to “empower women and strengthen the community through theatre, philanthropy and the pure power of ladyhood.”

Thirteen St. Louis County cities were hit with a lawsuit this week, accusing them of violating the constitutional rights of people who broke local ordinances. The suit is seeking monetary damages and changes to how the cities operate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Quinton Thomas saw firsthand what the criminal justice system looked like in St. Louis County municipalities. And what he witnessed wasn’t pretty.

The 28-year-old said he was fined by a number of county municipalities for what he deemed to be minor traffic offenses. When he couldn’t pay, Thomas said he was sent to a jail in deplorable conditions.

Thomas decided to fight back earlier this week. He’s part of a federal lawsuit against 13 St. Louis County cities. 

Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

For five minutes audience members at Greater St. Mark’s Church in Ferguson stood up one by one to speak the names of people of color killed by police or community violence.

Among the crowd were the family members of six of those whose names were called out, including their younger brothers and sisters.

The siblings and children of victims are not often in the limelight. But on Friday night, the stories and experiences of those young family members had the floor.

Sign post for blood drive.
Shizzyo | Flickr

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently it is re-evaluating its ban against accepting blood donations from gay men. 

The FDA is now seeking ways to assess a potential donor's individual HIV risk as opposed to a general ban on a population. The agency is currently seeking public comment on the policy.  

Members of the Missouri House have a different perspective than Missouri senators on ethics.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Many districts in St. Louis and St. Louis County are drawn to be heavily Democratic or Republican. Thus, when a seat opens up, the August primary can be most competitive election for eight years.

The victors in these “primary-are-the-election” races will face different realities in Jefferson City, depending on their political parties. Republicans could get a chance to handle big-ticket legislation and move up in leadership. Since they’re a super-minority, Democratic winners will have fewer opportunities to influence the legislative process. But often times, they can provide a counterpoint to the GOP supermajority.

Ballwin Police officer Mike Flamion
Ballwin Police press release

Updated July 18 with news on Flamion's condition — The Ballwin police officer shot during a traffic stop on July 8 is paralyzed from the neck down.

The bullet that struck 31-year-old Michael Flamion caused "catastrophic damage" to the spinal cord, Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott said on Monday. Flamion remains on a ventilator to help him breathe.

Left to right. Top, Vernon Betts, Joe Vaccaro, Charley "Big Will" Williams, Bottom: Johnnie M. Chester, Jimmie Matthews
Liz Schlemmer and provided photos

Several candidates are vying to replace long-time St. Louis Sheriff Jim Murphy, who is retiring after holding the office since 1989.

The St. Louis sheriff's office is responsible for the security of the 31 courtrooms of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit Court. The office also serves court papers and eviction notices.

illustration of the St. Louis Swap Meet
Provided by St. Louis Swap Meet

The St. Louis Swap Meet is having a grand opening of its riverfront location below the Gateway Arch this weekend. The new monthly event is a partnership of the St Louis Swap Meet and Great Rivers Greenway

The vendors' fair will continue to meet every first and last Sunday of the month on Cherokee Street, where it started last year. It will be on the riverfront the third Saturday and Sunday through October.

trolley missouri history museum
Rachel Heidenry | 2009

Construction of the Loop Trolley is causing roads to close at the edge of St. Louis and University City.

The intersection of DeBaliviere and Forest Park Parkway is now closed. Traffic will be rerouted around Forest Park for the next three weeks.

A voter enters Our Lady of Guadalupe School on election day in Ferguson.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Updated with new comments - The deadline to register to vote for Missouri’s Aug. 2 primary election is Wednesday, July 6.

You can register in person at your city or county board of election office, a local library or the Department of Motor Vehicles. To register online, submit your application through the Missouri Secretary of State’s website GoVoteMissouri.com by 5 p.m.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The United States is welcoming about 7,000 new citizens this holiday weekend, including a number of St. Louis area residents. 

Twenty-four St. Louisans took the oath of citizenship in the rotunda of the old courthouse in downtown St. Louis in a special Independence Day ceremony Friday afternoon.

Fireworks, fourth of july, reflected, horizontal, arch
Rachel Heidenry | 2008

Despite what you may have heard in your backyard this past week, setting off fireworks is illegal in St. Louis and much of the metro area.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says it’s for a good reason—more than a quarter of all house fires that occur in the area over Independence Day weekend are started by fireworks.

Volunteer Alane Antoine next to a four-foot foam bow-tie for a giant bunny rabbit.
Liz Schlemmer

The annual VP Parade is returning to downtown St. Louis this year, after relocating to Forest Park two years ago to make way for construction near the Gateway Arch.

The parade begins at 9:30 Saturday morning at the intersection of Seventh and Market streets. Parade-goers can view the floats as they travel west on Market Street.

Gustavo Valdez, an insurance navigator with the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County helps Charles Niemeyer enroll in health insurance through the healthcare.gov website.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it is trying new ways to market health insurance to uninsured millennials.

In a press conference Tuesday, officials announced several strategies to target young, healthy adults to balance the risk pool of the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

traffic barriers
Flickr | Alexander Svensson

Drivers should avoid Interstate-44 near the Midtown area of city of St. Louis this weekend. All lanes of the interstate between Vandeventer and Jefferson avenues will be closed while the overpass at Grand Boulevard is demolished.

Lane closures will begin 8 p.m. Friday. Transportation officials say drivers should use I-70, I-64 or I-55, instead, to travel through the city.

picture of glaring sun
Flickr | Username psd

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat advisory for the St. Louis area until 7 p.m. Thursday. Temperatures are expected in the mid-to-upper 90's, with high humidity levels, on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Those who need relief from the heat can seek shelter at cooling stations across the area.

The Salvation Army routinely responds to heat advisories by opening cooling centers where people can rest in air conditioned rooms and receive cold water. The cooling centers will remain open during their individually posted hours until the heat advisory is lifted.

Chad Sabora of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform & Recovery watches as the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approve the Good Samaritan bill he supported.
Liz Schlemmer | St. Louis Public Radio intern

A bill that aims to reduce fatal heroin overdoses is on its way to Mayor Francis Slay’s desk.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved the so-called Good Samaritan bill. It offers immunity from drug possession charges for those who seek medical help for someone experiencing an overdose.

Individuals could still be arrested for other crimes, or if they have outstanding warrants.

Missouri Department of Transportation

A bicycle and pedestrian trail crossing the Missouri River on the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge opened Thursday. The path connects the Monarch Levee Trail in St. Louis County to the Katy Trail in St. Charles County.

Executive Director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation Brent Hugh says the path will bring more trail users into riverside communities.

Inside Amazon fulfillment center
Amazon.com

Amazon has announced plans to open two distribution centers in Edwardsville.

The company says the facilities are expected to eventually employ more than 1,000 full-time workers.