Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Stephanie Lecci

Newscast Producer

Stephanie Lecci comes to St. Louis Public Radio from WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, where she was coordinating and web producer of the news magazine show, "Lake Effect."

Her previous radio experience includes freelance producing and reporting for WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and serving as associate producer for the nationally syndicated political radio show, "Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont." Stephanie hails from Long Island, N.Y., and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Union membership in Missouri has dropped to its lowest rate in 26 years, according to new numbers released earlier this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The Fashions R Boutique was one of 13 businesses in Dellwood that burned down during Monday's riots following the announcement of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The United Way of Greater St. Louis is hoping to provide basic assistance to employees who lost work when businesses in Ferguson and Dellwood were looted or burned in November. But the agency is struggling to locate qualified individuals. 

Displaced employees who qualify for the assistance would have had to have lost their jobs or had their hours significantly reduced, by more than 40 hours a week, said the organization's vice president of community response Regina Greer.

The city of Quincy, Ill., is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, which will include concerts at its riverfront park on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
Lpangelrob, via Wikipedia

After holding a kick-off event Tuesday evening, Quincy, Ill., is launching a yearlong series of events to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

Quincy's Mayor Kyle Moore said various community events and concerts will round out the festivities throughout the year. An anniversary bash in May during the city's dogwood celebration will feature a parade with a #Quincy175 theme and a Saturday night street concert. Four regional acts will perform. 

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Updated at 9 p.m. with deceased's name.

A 23-year-old black man was killed by police Tuesday in a shooting involving two white officers in St. Louis' Dutchtown neighborhood, according to St. Louis Metropolitan Police.

Police have identified the deceased as Ledarius D. Williams of the 1000 block of Durness Drive. His next of kin have been notified.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

With hundreds of people in the greater St. Louis region dying each year from heroin overdoses, the St. Louis County Police Department is launching a new education initiative to raise public awareness of the drug's dangers.

The department's new heroin initiative Detective Casey Lambert said her role is to talk to people across the county, of all ages, about heroin - what it does to the body, why it's so dangerous, and how to recognize signs of addiction.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse – St. Louis is airing an anti-heroin ad (still shot shown) locally during the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Courtesy National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse – St. Louis Area

Among the much-anticipated Super Bowl commercials airing Sunday will be an anti-heroin ad created by a St. Louis area non-profit and a local ad agency.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse–St. Louis Area created the ad with the help of Schupp Consulting and local director Scott Ferguson to bring attention the region's growing heroin problem.

Tax season is underway. So is a program that helps low- to moderate-income St. Louis families prepare their taxes for free.
401(K) 2012, via Flickr

A program that helps thousands of low- to moderate-income families prepare their taxes for free is underway across the St. Louis region.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis and four local tax coalitions are offering the service throughout tax season, including taking walk-in service at 20 sites Saturday.

St. Louis County  Police have released this still image from surveillance footage at Mickey's Shop N Gas during looting the night the Darren Wilson grand jury was announced.
Courtesy St. Louis County Police

According to St. Louis County Police, tips from the public have helped identify seven looting suspects from the night of the Darren Wilson grand jury announcement.

Those individuals are wanted for questioning, according to media relations Officer Shawn McGuire. 

"it's just a matter of time before they get picked up by police" or detectives locate the suspects, he said.

A new report shows Missouri's unintended pregnancy rate has dropped. Some researchers say it could be due to increased usage of long-lasting contraceptives like IUDs.
(Via Wikimedia Commons/Victor byckttor)

A new study released Monday shows Missouri saw a significant decrease in unintended pregnancies in recently measured years.

New numbers show Missouri's women who worked full-time earned about 78 percent of men's earnings in 2013.
(via Flickr/Tax Credits)

New numbers show women working full-time in Missouri made 78.1 percent of what men did in 2013.

According to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Show-Me State's women earned a median wage of $665 per week, compared to men's $852 in 2013. The state's women's-to-men's earnings ratio dropped slightly from 2012.

Egbe Omo Yoruba of Greater St. Louis held a "Bring Back Our Girls" peace rally at the downtown Central Library last May, after the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 200 girls in Nigeria.
Courtesy St. Louis County

A St. Louis-based group of Nigerians is condemning recent terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria not through public demonstrations here, but by encouraging voting there.

Students at Saint Raphael the Archangel School prepare to leave Wednesday for the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy Saint Raphael, via Twitter

The St. Louis Archdiocese is sending a record number of young people to Thursday's annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., since it first began its coordinated "Generation Life" pilgrimage to the event three years ago.

AIA website

Updated after the St. Louis Society vote -- In what one member called a “hotly divided” decision, the Archeological Institute of America - St. Louis Society narrowly voted Tuesday night to retain its board, even though that could allow the national organization to revoke the chapter’s charter.

The controversy stems from the local group’s sale of items it had owned for decades.

Construction around the Poplar Street Bridge will lead to closures on much of the interstates downtown this weekend. MoDOT suggests using detours.
Courtesy MoDOT

The Missouri Department of Transportation is urging drivers to avoid the area around the Poplar Street Bridge this weekend because portions of Interstates 44 and 55 will be closed downtown.

From Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m., lanes in both directions will be closed from 7th and Park to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. One ramp off eastbound I-44 near the Old Cathedral downtown will stay closed until January 21. 

St. Louis County Police officers unload a truck of food donations at the St. Louis Area Foodbank on Monday.
Courtesy St. Louis County Police

The St. Louis County Police Department donated its remaining cache of more than a ton of nonperishable food items it received from supporters during the unrest in Ferguson to the St. Louis Area Foodbank on Monday.

Back in November, county police put out a call for donations of grab-and-go, hand-held snacks that officers could easily take with them to eat during long shifts. The department said people from across the St. Louis area and the country sent in hundreds of pounds of food.

Aerial View Looking Southwest Toward Downtown.
HOK | 360 Architecture

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

A 64,000-seat open-air NFL stadium constructed on St. Louis' riverfront could be the new home of the Rams -- or another NFL team -- by 2020, according to preliminary plans announced Friday.

First responders throughout St. Charles County will now use one emergency radio communications system, allowing them to talk to each other when responding to events.
Courtesy St. Charles County Police Department Facebook

Nearly all first responders throughout St. Charles County are now able to talk to one another.

That's because the county has finished building a new, $34 million emergency radio communications system. Before the new system was recently put in place, municipalities throughout the county had their own, separate radio systems.

Some residents of Town and Country are protesting the city's approach to deer overpopulation in the suburb.
Alvin Trusty, via Flickr

Some residents of Town and Country plan to hold a vigil for deer Thursday night in an unusual protest against what they call the city's costly and ineffective approach to managing the animal population. 

Police chief Sam Dotson addresses Tower Grove South residents at a community meeting on December 12, 2014.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated January 6, 2015, at 1:15 PM:

A federal judge is extending a court order that requires police to provide sufficient warning before using tear gas to give lawful protesters a chance to leave.

U.S. District Court Judge Carol Jackson on Tuesday gave attorneys representing protesters and police 45 days to continue what one lawyer called “good faith” settlement discussions on policy changes regarding the use of tear gas. Both sides met on Monday and participated in a conference call, and agreed more time was needed.

Residents using many of the state's unstaffed shooting ranges will be asked to take a voluntary exit survey throughout 2015.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Missourians going to practice shooting or sight their rifles at many of the state's public shooting ranges throughout 2015 now will be asked to take a brief exit survey.

It's part of a year-long effort by the Missouri Department of Conservation to collect public input on usage and needs for its 70 unstaffed shooting ranges. The department also runs 5 staffed shooting ranges.

WWII veteran Paul Tell shows a couple of volunteers with Greater St. Louis Honor Flight a book of photographs he took as a young soldier in Europe, after a special film screening hosted by the organization.
Karl Lund | Greater St. Louis Honor Flight

The Greater St. Louis Honor Flight closed out its year of veteran visits to the war memorials in Washington, D.C., by taking them on one more special trip – to a Chesterfield movie theater.

From  left, Stephanie Lecci, Willis Ryder Arnold, Emanuele Berry, Durrie Bouscaren. Wayne Pratt was not available for this photo.
St. Louis Public Radio

This summer, the newsroom of St. Louis Public Radio hired five people who had never lived in St. Louis. As 2014 draws to a close, we asked each to reflect on what they've discovered in their five months here.

A new program at St. Louis County Library will give as many as 8,000 babies born in 2015 books to encourage early childhood literacy.
June Hymas, via Flickr

A new program aimed at promoting early childhood literacy is giving free books to newborns, starting in January.

Through its "Born to Read" program, St. Louis County Library plans to give the new parents of as many as 8,000 babies born at four participating hospitals in 2015 a gift bag, including: a board book, a bath toy, a milestone marker describing where children should be developmentally, instructions on how to get a library card,  and a calendar of literacy activities. 

The original Yacovelli's opened in 1919, but the restaurant has been in its current Florissant location since 1965.
Stephanie Lecci

After 95 years in business, thousands of customers, and hundreds of employees, the well-known Yacovelli's Restaurant in Florissant will close its doors Jan. 1.

The Italian restaurant and banquet center has been in the Yacovelli family since 1919. But owners Jack and Jan Yacovelli decided in September that it was time to close the iconic eatery.

"We’re tired, we want to have more time," Jan said. "We both have our health. It’s time to enjoy life. We’ve worked really hard our whole life."

Offenders harvest fresh fruits and vegetables at gardens located at Missouri Department of Corrections' institutions to donate to the needy.
Missouri Department of Corrections

A record donation of produce to more than 80 food pantries and other sites around the state is coming from an unlikely source: the Missouri Department of Corrections.

For the third year in a row, prisoners in the Department's Restorative Justice Garden Program have harvested and donated a record haul of fresh fruits and vegetables to pantries, churches, nursing homes and school districts throughout Missouri.  This year, the offender-grown produce weighed in at 178 tons, topping last year's donation of 163 tons.

Eastern Missouri and southern Illinois saw the unemployment rate drop significantly to 6.3 percent - the lowest level since mid-2008.
BLS, courtesy of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows two-thirds of businesses surveyed are moderately optimistic about the St. Louis region's economic outlook in 2015.

The Missouri Agriculture Department is hoping Farm-to-School value-added grants will bring more locally produced food into schools.
Stephanie Lecci

The Missouri Department of Agriculture will soon announce the winners of competitive grants aimed at increasing the amount of locally produced foods in school, while growing local businesses.

The Farm-to-School Value-Added grants will go to businesses that either buy or process foods from local farmers, or are food producers themselves. The applicants must already have a relationship with schools, either directly or through a distributor. 

Police say Seherzada Dzanic fabricated a story about being attacked for being Bosnian.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

A Bosnian woman who told St. Louis police that she was the victim of a hate crime is being charged with making a false report.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Seherzada Dzanic reported she was the victim of a "fairly violent assault" involving a crowbar for being Bosnian. But as police investigated, Dotson said they found her story did not add up.

A St. Louis police officer will be disciplined for wearing a "Wilson" patch on his uniform, Chief Sam Dotson said Friday.
Rebecca Smith

A St. Louis police officer will face discipline for wearing a patch on his uniform seemingly in support of former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, during a downtown protest Friday.

An officer with the last name of Coats was seen wearing an arm patch that read "Wilson" during a protest against the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson for August's fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Rosebud bills its downtown as a "magnificent mile" full of antique shops, restaurants and other stores.
Stephanie Lecci

The city of Rosebud, a small town about 70 miles southwest from St. Louis, is trying to reclaim its image after NAACP protesters were met there with aracially charged counter-protest.

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