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

(via St. Louis County website)

Committee to meet today to review St. Louis County's controversial proposed budget

County Executive Charlie Dooley wants to cut $10 million in spending in part by closing 23 parks and laying off 175 employees. During a public hearing last week on the budget the council chambers was filled with residents, mostly opposed to closing parks. Several of the council members, including Mike O'Mara, the chairman of the special budget committee, suggested the cuts can be avoided.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

This is a developing story. We will update it with more information as we know it.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. with quotes from Elliott and march organizer.

Update 5:05 p.m.: Among those arrested this afternoon was Gary Elliott, president of LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) Local 110, according to a press release distributed by Progress Missouri.

In an interview during the march, Elliott said it was time for him to put his words into action.

"It's one thing to say you feel sorry for people," Elliott said. "It's another thing to actually go out and actually take a little bit of risk to get the things that this country needs."

The march route took protestors past the local headquarters of Bank of America and the Federal Reserve. Johnathan McFarland, an Occupy St. Louis organizer, called it symbolic of America's misplaced priorities.

"We need to rebuild our infrastructure," he said. "And people need jobs rebuilding the infrastructure as opposed to bailing out banks that don't really provide jobs."

Most marchers returned to Kiener Plaza after the arrests, though a few continued on toward the City Justice Center, where the arrested protesters were taken.

Update 4:42 p.m.: Via our reporter Rachel Lippmann:

14 people have been arrested this afternoon and the march of Occupy St. Louis protesters is making its way back to Kiener Plaza.

Update: 4:36 p.m. via the Associated Press: At least a dozen Occupy St. Louis protesters were arrested after their attempt to block the entrance to a Mississippi River bridge on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy movement.

Police were waiting on several hundred protesters when the throng arrived at the Martin Luther King Bridge shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday. About 15 to 20 protesters then sat down cross-legged, with their arms locked.

Officers moved in and arrested them when they refused to move.

They offered no resistance.

The crowd of protesters included labor unions and other sympathizers who marched from Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to the bridge.

Members of Occupy St. Louis had camped in the plaza for several weeks before early Saturday, when police took down the tents and arrested demonstrators for curfew violations.

Via our reporter Rachel Lippmann:

About a dozen Occupy St. Louis protesters have sat down at the entrance to the MLK bridge.

St. Louis police are moving in now to arrest them and telling those nearby to move away or they’ll face arrest as well.

Hundreds more protesters are nearby.

They marched from Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to the bridge, as part of a nationwide effort to mark the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement.

(via St. Louis County Police Department)

Update 5:26 p.m. (adds more information, replaces 3:27 p.m. update):

Just a little over 24 hours after reporting her son missing an Affton woman has been charged in the child’s death.

Twenty-year-old Shelby Dasher faces a second-degree murder charge.

She’s accused of killing her 13-month-old son Tyler Dasher, then disposing of his body near a cemetery.

St. Louis County Police chief Tim Fitch says skilled investigators and interviewers helped bring the case to a head quickly.

“One of our first supervisors on the scene yesterday was a very experienced lieutenant who used to for most of his career handle child abuse cases,” Fitch said. “So he recognized rather quickly that this wasn’t just a missing person. That there was a lot more to this than just a baby missing out of his bed.”

(via Facebook)

One person in custody in connection to 1-year-old Tyler Dasher's murder

St. Louis County police detectives have taken one person into custody in connection to the death of 1-year-old Tyler Dasher. The death has been ruled a homicide. St. Louis County spokesman Rick Eckhard says the person has not yet been formally booked or processed.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has resolved a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency with promises to fix its aging system.

But the consent decree, which still must be signed off on by a federal judge, comes with a huge price tag, an estimated $4.7 billion over 23 years.

In the second of a two-part series on the overhaul of the sewer district, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman explains MSD’s rate payers will be picking up the tab.

(The Midland Montly Magazine, 1865)

The Missouri History Museum is opening a new exhibit Saturday called “The Civil War in Missouri.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in a state that was bitterly divided by the war and saw more than 1,200 battles and skirmishes.

But the museum, founded just one year after the Civil War ended, has a treasure trove of artifacts from the era that bring the conflict to life.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman got a sneak peak.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

While in the St. Louis region Tuesday for a press conference on the Share the Harvest program (which you can learn more about below) Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon called his trade trip to China productive - however, he had little to say about whether he wants to renew efforts to get tax credits for a China hub.

The Democrat said his week-long trip resulted in $4.6 billion in export agreements between Missouri and China.

The 2011 World Series followed the tradition of turning the water red at The Runner's fountain.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

In Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis Friday afternoon locals mixed with out-of-towners taking pictures of the red fountain.

Those on their lunch break, including Missi Wood and Kerry Anne, admitted they were a bit tired from the late night Game 6 World Series win over the Texas Rangers.

But Anne says she never doubted the Cardinals would pull it off.

“I was calm the whole game,” Anne said. “They were like, ‘last out’, and I was like, ‘we’re going to win.’”

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Our own Maria Altman did a story for NPR's Morning Edition on the economic impact of the World Series on St. Louis. Here's the summary of her story as stated on NPR.org (below) and, of course, you can listen to her story here.

Summary:

The Texas Rangers are leading the World Series 3 games to 2 going into Game 6 Wednesday in St. Louis. The fact that the Cardinals will be playing at home is good for both the team and the town. The game will bring a welcome infusion of cash. As St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports, the unexpected sales tax revenues have already allowed the city to cancel expected furloughs for its employees.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Nixon to announce details of China trip

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says state officials expect to finalize billions of dollars of export agreements during an upcoming trade trip to China. Nixon plans to announce more details of the trip today during a visit to a Cargill soybean processing facility in Kansas City.

The governor said Monday the trip will allow the state to sign export agreements with Chinese agencies and provide a chance for numerous Missouri businesses to close deals with Chinese customers.

(Robert Altman)

Fairmount Park Racetrack in the Metro East is getting 67 race days next year.

The Illinois Racing Board approved the race dates Tuesday.

This year Fairmount was awarded 75 days and raced 69.

But both the track and horsemen say they’re happy with next year’s 67-day schedule, which they requested.

Fairmount will be offering bigger purses for winner horses next year, and spokesman Jon Sloane says that’s good for the track.

Flickr/GoTRISI

Wentzville Mayor: news couldn't be better

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring more than 1,800 jobs to its Wentzville plant as part of a proposed contract with the union.

Mayor Paul Lambi says he's hoping the union will ratify the contract on Monday.

"The announcement made by the UAW seems to be a positive indication that contract negotiations went well," said Lambi. " And it seems to me that I would expect that contract to be approved and ratified."

(Robert Altman)

$2.6 million dollars is waiting to be distributed to Illinois’ horse racing industry but the law’s wording is keeping that from happening.

More than a decade ago Illinois legislators promised horse tracks 15 percent of the tenth casino’s gross revenue receipts.

That license was caught up in the courts for years.

Finally a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state’s Gaming Fund.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Senator Claire McCaskill says after a month of traveling to Missouri businesses she’ll introduce legislation to better enforce U.S. trade laws.

The Democrat says too many foreign companies are engaging in unfair trading practices, such as mislabeling products to avoid paying duties.

McCaskill says her bill will require all importers to have a physical address to ensure easier tracking and new shippers will be required to pay cash for duties instead of posting bonds that sometimes go unpaid.

(via Flickr/Meagan)

Updated at 3:47 p.m. following a press conference with McCaskill

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says federal funding for Joplin is not in jeopardy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said last week that funding for some long-term projects in the tornado-ravaged town would be put on hold because of Hurricane Irene.

McCaskill said she was worried initially (see earlier story below) but says she got a better explanation over the weekend.

(via Flickr/srqpix)

This summer, fewer young people in the U.S. are employed than at any time since the government began keeping track.

On Wednesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that found just 48.8 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds had jobs in July.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman spoke with Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, about what the numbers mean.

(via Flickr/number657)

Officials with Wehrenberg Theatres say when the announcement was made Friday some movie goers actually applauded.

The St. Charles-based company says as cell phone screens have gotten bigger, they’ve gotten more complaints.

Instead of blocking phone signals as some movie chains have done, Wehrenberg is asking patrons to put their phones on vibrate.

If they’re caught talking or texting, they’ll be asked to leave without a refund.

Spokeswoman Kelly Hoskins says they’re stepping up monitoring, and so are other movie goers.

(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.

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