Maria Altman

Reporter

Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.

Maria has won numerous awards, including from the Illinois Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and the Missouri State Teachers Association.

She came to St. Louis from Dallas, where she worked at KERA. Maria has also worked at WUIS in Springfield, and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In her spare time she serves as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband and two kids.

Ways to Connect

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

GreenLeaf Market, ZOOM Store
(courtesy Northside Regeneration)

Northside Regeneration developer Paul McKee’s plan for a nearly two-square mile area of north St. Louis, has had many false starts.

"This is the most difficult urban project in the country, and it’s taken me years to assemble the land," McKee said Wednesday.

Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory
Maria Altman |St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Osher can’t imagine how anyone could think of tearing his building down.

"You see that piece of wood?" he asks pointing to a massive rafter. "That’s old growth Douglas fir. You can’t get that anymore."

courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The city of St. Louis’ work to gain control 100 acres of the north side is not over yet.

This week the city amended its eminent domain lawsuit, adding 13 more properties. The original suit, filed late last year, included 31 parcels.

(Peabody Energy, via Wikipedia Commons)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in far southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

Peabody Energy
(St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy says it may have to file for bankruptcy.

The St. Louis-based coal company filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson.

A few months later a groundbreaking on the site of the former burned-out QuikTrip on W. Florissant Ave. drew a big crowd. What had become a central place for protests in the days after Michael Brown’s death would soon be a “phoenix rising,” officials said.

Peabody Energy
(courtesy Peabody Energy)

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy could be headed for bankruptcy court.

In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week Peabody said some of the company’s senior lenders are pushing the coal giant toward in-court restructuring. That comes as Peabody is trying to sell three mines to Bowie Resource Partners in a deal worth $463 million.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and Congressman William Lacy Clay, as well as other state and city officials, worked together on north St. Louis' pitch as the NGA's relocation site.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he got a small reaction from Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, when he told him that the city was offering a 100-acre site at no cost.

"Although he’s got a good poker face, I thought I saw him crack a smile," Slay said.

LockerDome Downtown Office
LockerDome

The Missouri Technology Corporation gets lots of praise for helping boost business creation in Missouri. But it’s not clear whether the legislature will reward it with more funding.

The nonprofit, funded partially by the state, helps promote entrepreneurship. It has provided $24 million in equity investments to 70 startups in the state since 2010.

Plant Science Innovation District
(Courtesy St. Louis Economic Development Partnership)

St. Louis is attracting more life science companies and startups.

Now planning is underway for a 575-acre innovation district that will be anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, and Helix Center Biotech Incubator.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

In a letter to the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a north St. Louis resident is urging the agency make a final decision on its relocation, citing "lives in limbo."

Gustavo Rendon and his wife, Sheila, live within St. Louis’ proposed site and are facing eminent domain proceedings brought by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

In the letter to NGA director Robert Cardillo, Rendon said he plans to fast and pray until the decision is made.

(Courtesy GlobalHack)

GlobalHack VI will likely get attention in the computer programming world.

The St. Louis-based hackathon is offering a total of $1 million in cash prizes, making it one of the few hackathons in the U.S. to put up that kind of money.

"There have only been two hackathons in the history of hackathons that have put on an event with $1 million in cash," said Global Hack executive director Matt Menietti. "Those were by Salesforce a couple years ago, so we’re certainly in a different league now."

The owner of Bob’s Quality Market, at 2708 N. Florissant Aven., has reached an agreement to sell the store to Family Dollar. Alderwoman Tammika Hubbar opposes the discount chain's move into the neighborhood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis officials often cite “decades of disinvestment” in their bid to get the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to move to the north side.

Just a few blocks away from the proposed site, Family Dollar is proposing a store on North Florissant Avenue.

coal
(flickr, Atze van Dijk)

Bob Sandidge has been in the coal industry for 40 years.

But he’s never seen it this bad.

"You turn around and one company lays off people, and another company just filed for bankruptcy and another company is cutting way back,"” he said.

The co-owner of S & L Industries in Saline County, Illinois, Sandidge does contract work in coal mines. He said even small business owners in the area are beginning to feel the effects of coal’s downturn.

"It’s been pretty quiet around here," he said.

barge shipping, Mississippi River
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A barge and transportation industry group is sharply criticizing the president’s budget request for river infrastructure and upkeep.

Waterways Council Inc. called President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps the "most disappointing to date." The budget proposes $4.6 billion for the Corps’ civil works program, nearly 30 percent less than the current appropriation by Congress.

(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-time, St. Louis-based corporation and a local startup accelerator are teaming up.

Maritz and Capital Innovators announced Monday that they will co-lease space in the innovation district Cortex as part of a four-year partnership.

Cue the theme music from The Odd Couple.

Maritz is a 125-year-old sales and marketing services company, while Capital Innovators is a tech accelerator founded in 2010. Officials with each organization said they’ll gain from the other’s knowledge and exchange best practices.

Grace Baptist Church, on Cass Avenue, as seen from the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee has held a $1 million option to buy the former Pruitt-Igoe site from the city of St. Louis for three years.

That option was set to expire later this month.

But the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority extended McKee’s option for the second time in three years during a closed meeting. It was part of an agreement the city made with McKee to buy land he owns within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on St. Louis’ north side.

1. Northside developer McKee leaves city taxes unpaid.

Northside Regeneration owns 15-hundred acres in St. Louis.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman discovered... developer Paul McKee’s company has not paid property taxes on most of that land since 2012.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, took a House colleague and local media members for a bus tour of St. Louis’ proposed site for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Just a few hours before, the city moved a sign protesting the NGA and police arrested two protesters.

The original Monsanto was founded in St. Louis in 1901.
Monsanto

On the same day the company paid out dividends to shareholders of 54 cents, Monsanto held its annual meeting.

Shareholders elected 13 members of the board of directors to one-year terms. They also approved the company’s executive compensation plan, ratified the hiring of accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, and approved the company’s performance goals.

Three shareowner proposals failed.

Updated 2:30 p.m.,  Jan. 29, to include court hearing information - Several property owners were in St. Louis Circuit Court Friday regarding land they own within a proposed site for a federal spy agency.

The city of St. Louis has been able to reach agreement with owners for nearly all the land it needs for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. But for 31 parcels, there’s still no resolution and the city has taken those property owners to court in condemnation proceedings.

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.

Monsanto Sign
Provided by Monsanto

Monsanto Co. filed suit against a California state agency Thursday to keep it from including glyphosate on a list of cancer-causing chemicals.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said in September it planned to put the herbicide on its Proposition 65 list. That list, created in 1986, includes chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that St. Louis-based Monsanto patented in the 1970s under the RoundUp label.

Courtesy | Ameren Corporation

Promoting diversity within a corporation is nothing new.

But Ameren Corporation announced Thursday it will make its new "Discussion Across Differences" videos and materials available to other groups, free of charge.

(courtesy NGA)

Mayor Francis Slay tweeted on Tuesday that he’s “knocking on doors” in Washington, D.C., regarding the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The mayor is in the nation’s capital for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. In an interview Tuesday, he said he often uses the opportunity to check in with Missouri’s congressional delegation, and this time is no different.

Sam Sextro lights candles across the street from the Edward Jones Dome while mourning the city's loss of the Rams. Sextro and a friend, who ran a St. Louis University High Rams fan club, met outside the stadium Wednesday for a "final tailgate."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This commentary was originally posted on St. Louis Public Radio reporter Maria Altman’s Facebook page on January 14, 2016. It was recorded for “St. Louis on the Air” on January 19, 2016. Listen to the radio commentary here:

Some thought on the Rams leaving for L.A.:

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Saint Louis University’s Shared Use Kitchen is helping food entrepreneurs take a crack at starting their own businesses.

Housed in the basement of the Salus Center, the 6,000 square foot kitchen is used by culinary students and staffers who make breakfast and lunch for six area schools. The university in 2011 opened the kitchen to people looking to start a food-based business.

Mike Mozart | Flickr

Save-A-Lot, the discount grocery chain headquartered in Earth City, could soon be publicly traded as a stand-alone company.

Minneapolis-based SuperValu filed paperwork this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission to spin off its subsidiary.

Its shareholders will own about 80.1 percent of Save-A-Lot, which will be publicly traded. SuperValu will retain 19.9 percent ownership. 

A view of the outside of the Peabody Energy building in St. Louis.
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:30 a.m., Jan. 5 with details of new agreement - A health fund for retired miners will stay solvent for at least 10 more months.

Peabody Energy and the United Mine Workers of America have reached an agreement. The company will pay $75 million into the health fund this year, but will not have to pay $70 million next year.

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