Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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Twan Robinson's house during the flooding
Provided by Debra Tarver

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - For the residents of Pinhook, Mo., the aerial pictures of their flooded village are as unreal today as they were in May 2011 after the Mississippi River gushed through the breached levee into the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The countryside seems to get emptier every time Debra Tarver visits Pinhook, the tiny village in Missouri’s Mississippi County that was her family’s home until the Army Corps of Engineers blew a big hole in the levee on May 2, 2011, allowing the rampaging Mississippi River to storm the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

“I don’t come down often,” said Tarver, 55, as she surveyed acres and acres of floodway from the car window. “It’s just painful. There used to be houses all along here. They’re gone. The people are gone.”

The remains of the gazebo that memorializes Jim Robinson Jr.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The countryside seems to get emptier every time Debra Tarver visits Pinhook, the tiny village in Missouri’s Mississippi County that was her family’s home until the Army Corps of Engineers blew a big hole in the levee on May 2, 2011, allowing the rampaging Mississippi River to storm the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis: As St. Louis grapples with its urban revival, the focus should be on building a sustainable city for tomorrow and not about recapturing the past, suggests a researcher at the Brookings Institution who will speak at a symposium Friday sponsored by the Saint Louis University Law School.

"One of the things St. Louis has to do is have a serious conversation that recognizes that it will be a smaller city with a demographic mix that is different than it was originally built to accommodate,’’ said Alan Mallach, a non-resident senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The Gateway Arch, a biography by Tracy Campbell
Book cover

At first glance, a new history of the Gateway Arch that promises to “dispel long-held myths” and cast a “provocative new light” might appear an epic attempt to throw a wet blanket over our town’s shiny national monument on the riverfront.

But even as historian Tracy Campbell weaves his thorough and often unflattering story of the city politics and private-interest ambitions that played heavily in the Arch’s formative years, he can’t help but admire the 630-foot architectural marvel that is recognized by people all over the world.

t-001 hybrid electric van
Emerald Automotive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With 1,000 or so job applications already on file, the leadership team of a startup that wants to assemble “green” delivery vans in Hazelwood understands the first question many have about Emerald Automotive: When will the hiring begin?

The short answer: not yet.

One of the Hoffmans' granddaughters looks across their yard toward their house.
Jaime Salas, daughter of Rick and Karen Hoffman | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 3: For Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters, foreclosure salvation came in an unlikely, roundabout way, beginning with yet another letter they didn’t understand from a government agency they had never heard of.

One of the Hoffmans' granddaughters looks across their yard toward their house.
Jaime Salas, daughter of Rick and Karen Hoffman | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 1: The story of how Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters saved their two-story American dream from foreclosure began during the nation’s financial crisis and stretched into this summer — a period roughly bookended by the 2008 presidential election and the coming one in November.

Rick Hoffman carries one of his granddaughters outside his home.
Jaime Salas, the Hoffmans' daughter | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 2: Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters, who fended off foreclosure for three years, say they are relieved they were finally able to secure an affordable mortgage modification, but they have lingering questions about the process that is intended to help struggling homeowners.

A family photo made by Charles Guggenheim: P. [Philip] Davis Guggenheim, Marion Streett Guggenheim, Grace Guggenheim, Jonathan Guggenheim
Provided by Grace Guggenheim

“Monument to the Dream” -- documentarian Charles Guggenheim’s masterful 1960s tribute to the builders of the Gateway Arch -- is undergoing a “facelift” to bring it into the digital age.

His daughter Grace Guggenheim, who is overseeing the digitization, acknowledges that it is a heavy responsibility.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Are you sick of those sometimes daily phone calls from "Rachel from Cardholder Services" promising lower rates on your credit card — especially if you've already signed up on the national Do Not Call registry? If so, you're not alone. The Federal Trade Commission is trying to crack down on these telemarketers. In the meantime, one Beacon reporter has a message for Rachel: Stop calling.

Dear Rachel from Cardholder Services:

Stop calling me.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Milus and Wanda Wallace can't move heaven, but they are moving tons of earth to live once again on their "slice of heaven" in the southern section of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

The Wallaces' Mississippi County farm was among the 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland inundated by floodwater in May after the Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the levee in three places to alleviate flooding in Cairo, Ill., and other towns along the Mississippi River.

Members of Missouri Task Force 1 along with members of the New York City Fire Department and other first responders search through rubble at Ground Zero.
Provided by Steve Mossotti

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Firefighter Steve Mossotti deployed to New York City with Missouri Task Force 1 to assist in search and rescue at the World Trade Center.

Even 10 years later, firefighter Steve Mossotti's pictures of ground zero are difficult to look at — and impossible not to.

300 pixels only Beacon's summer interns, 2011. Front, from left: Claudia Rechtien, Connie McCollom, Abby Spudich. Back: Ryan Schuessler, Allison Prang, Ray Carter and Jonathan Ernst.
Nicole Hollway | St. Louis Beacon file photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For college student Ryan Schuessler who was a fourth-grader on Sept. 11, 2001, that day is a collection of odd memories with few specific recollections about the historic event itself.

Schuessler, then a student at Keysor Elementary School in Kirkwood, remembers his teacher playing the song "I'm Proud to Be An American" and handing out American flag cookies. He recalls a woman he didn't know hugging him and his mother.

"God bless you," the woman told them.

Kevin and Linda Boyer with their grandson Trenton.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Ten years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Kevin Boyer of Maryland Heights still remembers vividly the moment he thought he was going to die.

Boyer and a co-worker had stood staring up at the raging fires and black smoke billowing from the top floors of the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center, about two blocks away. They had made it down safely from the 70th floor of the north tower -- a slow but orderly ordeal down a stairwell jammed with tense office workers on one side and anxious emergency workers in full gear dutifully trudging up the other.

"You would stand in one section for what seemed forever," he said.

Capt. Steve Mossotti of the Mehlville Fire Department
Mary Delach Leonard | 2010 St. Louis Beacon photo

St. Louis veterans joined with area residents Saturday morning to honor and remember the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during a reflective walk and patriotic ceremony at Jefferson Barracks Park.

The Federal Reserve reported economic growth at a "modest pace" in its five western districts since mid-July, including St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco, according to the Fed's Beige Book released Wednesday.

The Fed said that reports from all 12 districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity, but noted mixed conditions or "a deceleration" compared with previous periods in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and Atlanta.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Since his election in 2005, Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer has helped steer his community of about 30,000 through some trying times.

In July 2006, severe storms battered Granite City, downing trees and power lines and leaving hundreds of residents without electricity for a week. An ice storm the following November again left many in the community in the dark. But no one was injured or killed, and the city worked with Granite City Township officials to set up emergency generators in cooling and heating shelters.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Dan Simmons, president of Local 1899 of the United Steelworkers, said he never forgets his own mantra -- to buy American-made products -- even when it turns out to be a real challenge.

Simmons said that he and a fellow union official spent hours scouring the warehouse of a St. Louis candy wholesaler recently searching for union-made -- or even American-made -- candy to toss to kids at Monday's annual Labor Day parade in Granite City.

"We had to really work at it," Simmons said. "We spent way longer than we should have to make sure it was American-made."

Granite City used TIF funds to build a new movie theater.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

There is a glowing sign of changing times in downtown Granite City: a stylish marquee on a just-completed state-of-the-art cinema, within eyeshot of an old landmark steel mill that's up and running again.

Granite City used $4.6 million in tax-increment financing funds to pay for the theater, in hopes that it will draw people downtown.

If current political advertising is a sign of the finger-pointing to come, it appears that some candidates -- most notably the non-incumbents -- are taking a page from Bill Clinton's now infamous campaign dogma about the importance of the ailing economy, but with a twist.

With all due respect, it's the bailout, stupid.

Does the figure $700 billion come to mind?

Author Sara Paretsky will be in town for a book signing at the St. Louis County Public Library on Aug. 31, the day "Body Work," her 14th novel featuring the exploits of private eye V.I. Warshawski, officially reaches the nation's bookstores.

Two local Illinois state representatives have issued their reactions to Tuesday's verdict in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jay Hoffman is known as a longtime ally of Blagojevich; Ron Stephens is a longtime critic. Both voted to impeach Blagojevich in January 2009.

Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville:

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's one-count conviction Tuesday could reinforce the state's "cynicism virus" -- or galvanize voters to take action in the November elections, says the head of a watchdog group that pushes for political reform in the state.

Author Eric Jerome Dickey, who will be speaking at the St. Louis County Library Saturday, would probably take exception to this description promoting his appearance that appears on the library's website:

"Described as 'the king of African-American fiction' by Entertainment Weekly, Eric Jerome Dickey discusses his highly anticipated new novel 'Tempted by Trouble' -- a flaming-hot story set in the world of conmen and thieves."

Dickey says he prefers to be known simply as "author" -- no racial or ethnic description necessary.

Just as there is no magic pill to cure a hangover, it will take time -- at least two more years -- for the United States to recover from the economic binging of the last decade, says a local economist who was sounding the alarm about over-leveraging and cash-out home refinancing, even while the housing market was still bubbling along in 2005 and 2006.

new look for thomas coffee on right
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | 2010

The morning's last batch of coffee beans was out of the roaster and still cooling, as Bob Betz, the president and CEO of Thomas Coffee, guided visitors through his refurbished plant at 922 South Boyle Ave.

Betz and his partners cut the ribbon in April on a new beginning for an old St. Louis brand, known for the little Scottish terrier on the bright blue can. They bought the plant for $1.2 million and spent 14 months putting their new business in order.

While Cardinals fans waited to get their first look at Jim Edmonds in a Cincy uniform, second-baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds couldn’t contain his disgust for Edmonds’ old team.

Phillips, who fouled a ball off his shin Saturday in Chicago, missed Sunday’s game but was apparently feeling well enough to spout off to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News that there was no way he’d miss Monday night’s game.

Kent D. Syverud
Washington University photo

Kent D. Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law, has been appointed as one of two independent trustees of the $20 billion Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust fund established by BP to settle claims for damages from the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an interview with the Beacon Monday, Syverud said he understands the importance of the position.

“It is a public responsibility, and I care about it and understand the importance of it,’’ he said. “I will do my best.’’

Friday's employment news from the U.S. Department of Labor was sobering: Even though the nation's unemployment rate for July remained unchanged at 9.5 percent, the nation gained just 12,000 jobs overall for the month -- a drop in the economic recovery bucket.

According to the report, private employers added a net total of 71,000 jobs in July, but that was offset by government cuts at the local, state and federal levels, analysts said.