Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

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

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

There are 20 charter schools in the city of St. Louis, and when classes start Monday, four more will open their doors.

Charters get public funding, but they have more autonomy from the state.

The free schools are a draw for parents who want to avoid the unaccredited St. Louis Public Schools system.

But some charters are performing far below state standards.

And as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports in the second of a two-part series, no one is holding them accountable.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Classes begin Monday in the St. Louis Public School District.

But four new charter schools also will be opening their doors.

Charters receive public funding but have more freedom with their budgets, staff, and curriculum than traditional public schools.

Many parents in St. Louis welcome the charter alternative and more than a quarter of the city’s students attend charter schools.

As part of a two-part series on charters, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman looks at how that trend is affecting the city’s public school district.

(via Flickr/Jo Naylor)

"It's not the large, organized, and, later in the war, the drafted armies that you see on the East Coast. This is very personal. You know, you better know who your neighbor is, and where their sympathies lie, or they're going to be turning you in, so to speak."

- Connie Langum, National Park historian on the nature of Civil War battles in Missouri

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Mo.

It was the second major battle of the Civil War, after Bull Run, and the first major battle to take place west of the Mississippi River.

About 2,500 men died or were wounded at the site, which is now known as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman spoke with National Park historian Connie Langum about what happened on that day a century and a half ago, and how it will be remembered this week.

Listen to their conversation above.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will have four new charter schools when school begins in a few weeks.

The mayor was on hand when the latest school, Better Learning Communities Academy, announced Wednesday it’s enrolling students.

Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed all four of the charters opening this year.

At the same time he says some of the St. Louis Public Schools are working. 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 2:05 p.m. with comment from Nixon.

Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from Planned Parenthood and Rep. Tim Jones.

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon says he will let a controversial measure that puts further restrictions on abortions performed after 20 weeks become law without his signature.

The state already bans late-term abortions unless the life or health of the mother is in danger. That includes mental health.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

The Millennium Hotel St. Louis signed a code Tuesday to help prevent the sex trafficking of children.

The move came as nearly 900 Sisters of St. Joseph gathered for a three-day event at the Millennium.

Executive director of the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph in the U.S., Kathy McCluskey, says they’re working to inform Americans about the issue of child sex trafficking.

"What we’ve discovered is when you do that people will recognize the horror of it and immediately want to learn what can be done to prevent it at every level," McCluskey said.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Amtrak is extending the suspension of one its two daily round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City because of continued flooding along the Missouri River.

The suspension took effect July 2 and had been scheduled to expire at midweek. But the passenger train service said Wednesday the change remains in effect at least through Saturday.

(via Flickr/Digital Sextant)

Kiener Plaza is likely to be the first portion of the Gateway Arch project to be completed.

Those familiar with the project say it's slated for completion in the fall of 2013.

The plan for the Plaza includes a performance pavilion, an eating venue, seating, and water features.

Walter Metcalfe with the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, the group that sponsored the design competition, said work on Kiener Plaza can move forward more quickly because it's not part of the National Park.

(Robert Altman)

Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and horse tracks used to be the only options for legal gambling.

Then came riverboat casinos.

For years race track owners  in Illinois have asked lawmakers to allow slot machines at their tracks, creating so-called "racinos."

Now all it will take is a signature from Governor Pat Quinn.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports, it’s not a sure thing.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Thousands of spectators are expected in Boonville, Mo. this weekend for the 150th anniversary of one of the Civil War’s first battles.

The Battle of Boonville took place June 17, 1861 as Confederate-leaning Missouri Guard members met Union troops.

Boonville, a town of about 6,400 is expecting 700 re-enactors and 10,000 to 20,000 visitors.

Bill Greenblatt / UPI

Missouri’s budget for next fiscal year includes $1.1 million more for oversight of dog breeders.

Governor Jay Nixon highlighted the funding at a press conference Tuesday at the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis.

The move comes after the governor helped craft a compromise bill this spring that toughened state oversight of dog breeders but scaled back some provisions of the voter-approved initiative Prop B.

Humane Society of Missouri president Kathy Warnick says the group has no regrets about the compromise.  

Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs

Minor Flooding Expected this Week in Mo.

Minor flooding is expected along the Mississippi River in Missouri this week. In St. Louis, the river is slightly above flood stage at 30.5- feet, and expected to stay that way for the next four days.

There is a flood warning in effect towns from Quincy, Mo., down to Chester, Ill. until Sunday. National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye says the flooding is expected to remain minor, barring significant rainfall.

(via Flickr/Paul Sableman)

The Board of Trustees for the Metropolitan Sewer District gave its initial approval last night to a multi-billion dollar plan to settle a Clean War Act lawsuit.

The state of Missouri and the EPA filed the suit in 2007, which the Missouri Coalition for the Environment later joined. It alleged, among other things that

(Missouri Department of Transportation)

Missouri transportation officials have approved a plan to cut positions, close facilities and sell equipment to bolster money for road and bridge projects.

The Highways and Transportation Commission approved the proposal today.

Under the plan, about 1,200 positions will be cut, 131 facilities will be closed and 740 pieces of equipment will be sold.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Carondelet Park Grand Stand burned to the ground today. A spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says it’s considered a total loss.

Built in 1898, the stand was used for Sunday concerts and rented out for picnics.

Firefighters got the call shortly after 2 p.m. There’s no word on the cause of the fire.

Updated 3:30 p.m. June 3 to include comment from MSD.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. June 3 to reflect that the State of Missouri has not signed on to the consent decree.

A lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Agency against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District back in June 2007 could soon be resolved.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Police Department is sending 60 police officers down to Joplin to help as the city recovers.

The officers leave Wednesday and will be there for a week.

They’ll be working 12-hour shifts dealing with traffic control, check points, and manning squad patrols through the impacted area.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Tim Reagan says the officers all volunteered for the work.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Raising chickens has become a bit of a trend in urban and suburban areas.

But one St. Louis area school is embracing the so-called backyard chicken movement as a teaching tool.

The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District has 16 chickens, and the group of students who care for them has now written a guide to help others raise hens.

They’ll be signing "Chickenology: The Art & Science of Keeping Chickens" at 2 p.m. Sunday at Left Bank Books’ Downtown.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman met the school’s “chickenologists” just before the school year draws to a close Thursday.

(KCUR/Dan Verbeck)

Updated at 8:20 a.m. May 24:

According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, 117 people are now confirmed dead. The latest information from DPS is available here.

Updated at 7:19 a.m. May 24:

Joplin Asst. City Manager Sam Anselm says rescuers found no new victims or survivors as they worked through the night. The death toll remains at 116.

So far, 17 people have been rescued from debris left across the city.

Missouri could get more severe weather through mid-week.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kramper says a slow-moving system is working its way from the Rockies.

Kramper says as cool dry air from the north collides with warm humid air from the south, there could be more tornadoes.

In the first weeks of the Civil War Missouri tried to remain neutral.

But May 10, 1861 was the tipping point.

In what came to be known as the Camp Jackson Affair, federal troops captured members of Missouri’s militia and killed 28 civilians in the chaos that followed.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports on what happened that day 150 years ago and how it forced Missouri into the war.

SLPRnews

On Second Anniversary of Murders, Coleman Jury Deliberates

The jurors in the Christopher Coleman triple murder trial will begin a second day of deliberations. Coleman, a former Marine, is accused of strangling his wife and two sons in order to advance a love affair and protect his job working for Joyce Meyer Ministries.

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday, Day 8 of the trial. The defense opened their case Wednesday morning and called two witnesses: a handwriting expert and a forensic linguist.

(via Butler Miller)

Updated 10:30 p.m. May 2:

Around 10:15, the Army Corps of Engineers posted to its Facebook page that the first section of the levee had been breached.

Updated 5:58 p.m. May 2 with information that levee will be broken and additional information:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to detonate the Birds Point levee in southern Missouri tonight.

Officials announced the decision this evening.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday on workplace discrimination laws, saying it would scale back protections that took decades to gain.

The Democrat took the action outside St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was tried.

The bill requires workers who claim discrimination in wrongful firing lawsuits to prove that bias was a "motivating" factor, not just a "contributing" factor as the law now states.

Nixon said it would be a step backwards.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Jurors heard testimony Thursday from the mistress of Chris Coleman, the Metro East man accused of killing his wife and two young sons.

Tara Lintz of St. Petersburg, Florida had gone to high school with Coleman’s wife, Sheri.

In the Monroe County courtroom Thursday Lintz testified that she and Chris Coleman began a relationship in December 2009 and that they had exchanged promise rings. She indicated that she was wearing hers in court today.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 1:51 p.m. April 28:

Via the Associated Press:

The Black River is receding at Poplar Bluff, Mo., and some 1,000 evacuees are now allowed to go home.

Officials in the southeast Missouri community of 17,000 residents on Thursday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for a large section of town, where river water has been pouring over the top of the levee.

Residents in the impacted area can return home whenever they choose.

Many will find a mess left behind by the murky water. Officials don't yet know how many homes were damaged in Poplar Bluff and in a rural area of Butler County also protected by the levee.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that after a crest of 21.4 feet on Tuesday, the Black River at Poplar Bluff was down to 19.1 feet.

Updated 11:14 a.m. April 27:

Via the Associated Press:

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will wait until this weekend to decide whether to intentionally break a southeastern Missouri levee along the Mississippi River.

The Corps has said it may have to blow holes in the Birds Point levee to ease rising waters near the Illinois town of Cairo which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri has sued (see 12:58 update) to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

But Corps spokesman Bob Anderson tells The Associated Press that even if a judge gives the go-ahead, the agency will wait until it gets a better forecast of the river crests to see if the breach is necessary. That decision isn't likely to come until at least this weekend.

Updated 5:06 p.m. April 26:

Via the Associated Press:

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is defending the idea of intentionally breaching a Missouri levee to reduce flooding in Cairo.

Missouri officials object to the plan, saying it would endanger 130,000 acres of prime farmland.

But Simon told The Associated Press on Tuesday that farmers will be compensated for their losses and will be able to use the land next year. On the other hand, flooding could devastate the poor town of Cairo.

She noted an Illinois levee was intentionally breached during 1993 flooding.

Simon also says the Army Corps of Engineers would not break the Birds Point levee until water had already topped the levee.

The Corps of Engineers says it will put off a decision until at least Wednesday.

Updated 4:20 p.m. April 26:

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says she has concerns about the intentional breaching of the levee at Birds Point (via a press release):

“While emergency responders and volunteers work to save lives and protect property as best they can, the Army Corps of Engineers are working to find a solution to alleviate the stress from our levees.  I have grave concerns about the plan to intentionally breach Bird’s Point Levee that is being considered. In the effort to prevent more damage, we may do additional significant harm to the agricultural economy of the region that will last well after the flood waters recede.”

The release says McCaskill has already communicated her concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers' leadership.

(Wikimedia Commons/Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city and county split in 1876 in what has come to be called “The Great Divorce.”

There have been several efforts to reunite the two, but voters, whether in the city or the county, have rejected them time and again.

In the last year there’s been renewed talk of St. Louis re-entering the county, but leaders in the city and county say they’re exploring a slower approach.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed the murder conviction for Gregory Bowman, but reversed the sentence that put him on death row.

The court ruled today that St. Louis County jurors should not have heard about Bowman's two prior murder convictions during sentencing because those convictions were overturned.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation is trying to raise money for a driving trail exploring Ulysses S. Grant's path through the state in the first year of the Civil War.

The group is hosting a fundraising dinner next Wednesday at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.

Foundation president Gregory Wolk says they're working on a segment of the Grant Trail in St. Louis County and in talks with other counties about future projects. 

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