Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Wayne Pratt

Reporter / Newscaster

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was Assistant Managing Editor at www.insideindianabusiness.com. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.

James Hodgkinson of Belleville protests outside of the United States Post Office in downtown Belleville in this file photo from 2012.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News Democrat

 

Updated June 14 at 1:10 p.m. with comment from lifelong acquaintance -  Metro East residents are coming to terms with the notion that one of their neighbors has been identified as the shooter at a Congressional Republican baseball practice Wednesday morning in suburban Washington, D.C.  

Many national media outlets are quoting unnamed federal law enforcement officials as saying the gunman was James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger take questions after announcing their support for a task force to examine government spending.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Top elected officials in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis itself pledged Monday to cooperate on several issues, but stopped short of suggesting a full-fledged merger of governments. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Steve Stenger said they support establishing a task force that will be charged with finding ways to make area governments operate more efficiently. The task force will be part of Better Together, a nonprofit organization supported by financier Rex Sinquefield that focuses on examining whether the city and county should combine areas of government.

The summit gives entrepreneurs with big ideas to chance to connect directly to advisers who have been through the startup process and investors who are looking for the next big thing. This discussion took place at the 2016 event.
Missouri Venture Forum

Investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the region are gathering in St. Louis today for what organizers are describing as a "boot camp" for startups. The Missouri Venture Forum is organizing the summit designed to help people who have an idea, but no concept of how to launch a company. The group’s president says it helps strengthen the region’s startup sector and emulate some hotbeds that took years to develop.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts has announced a new initiative to combat opioid abuse. June 7, 2017
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based pharmacy benefits management company Express Scripts is tackling the opioid crisis.
 
The company announced an initiative Wednesday to more than 600 clients gathered in Dallas for an annual Express Scripts conference. The program focuses on limiting exposure to the painkillers and gives patients access to specialty-pharmacists to make sure the drugs are used properly. 

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though the Missouri legislature has passed a bill that essentially blocks the city of St. Louis from raising its minimum wage, economists are weighing in on how the region could be affected by increasing that rate to $10 an hour.

The legislation is awaiting Gov. Eric Greitens signature and St. Louis Federal Reserve Regional Economist Charles Gascon has co-written a research paper in an attempt to examine several questions, including exactly how many city residents would be directly affected by allowing the city's minimum wage to go up.

House for sale
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The St. Louis County Assessor's office has started informal conferences with property owners concerned their taxes are too high.

Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the average county property value has gone up roughly 7 percent, compared to the last review a couple of years ago. He attributes the increase, in part, to a hotter real estate market, with properties selling faster and for more money.  

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson answers questions during a news conference following the filing of a lawsuit against the city's so-called abortion sanctuary ordinance.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and the city are in a legal showdown over new provisions in St. Louis' anti-discrimination law regarding women's reproductive decisions. The archdiocese's schools and a private company, O'Brien Industrial Holdings, on Monday in federal court filed a lawsuit challenging a St. Louis ordinance that they say adds abortion rights supporters to a protected class, while discriminating those who are against abortions.

Crews remove hundreds of sandbags Sunday morning at the Steak 'n Shake in Valley Park. The city's mayor tells St. Louis Public Radio the sand wall at the fastfood restaurant near I-44 and Route 141 did not hold during last week's flood.
Wayne Pratt| St. Louis Public Radio

"I'm just happy the residents are back in their homes."

That is how Valley Park Mayor Mike Pennise summed up several days of battling the rising Meramec River, west of St. Louis. He issued a mandatory evacuation order for part of the city of roughly 7,000 last week as residents and emergency officials prepared for a second round of major flooding in roughly a year and a half.

Waters continue to rise around I-55 near Butler Hill on Wednesday morning. May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 4 at 7 p.m. with information about West Alton — Officials with the Rivers Pointe Fire Protection District are urging residents east of Highway 67 in West Alton who plan to evacuate, particularly those who are elderly or have a disability, to do so immediately. Those planning to ride out the flooding, officials said in a Facebook post, should secure provisions.

Arnold residents pile sandbags over a manhole to try to prevent sewage from mixing with floodwater. May 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A second round of heavy rain rolled through the already soaked and flooded St. Louis metro area Wednesday, leading to longer school closures and heightened worries among affected residents.

Up to 4 inches of rain is expected through Thursday evening, further frustrating travelers who rely on two major interstates in the area. Even so, rivers in the area are forecast to crest Wednesday.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with city of St. Louis' statement and state legislation status:

 

The city of St. Louis expects to increase its minimum wage within the next few days. It is waiting for an injunction to be lifted now that the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed the city to establish a higher rate that the state of Missouri. In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the decision is a "win for our city's working families."

Centene groundbreaking, Clayton, April 21, 2017
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Centene has taken another big step in expanding its downtown Clayton headquarters. The managed care company for Medicaid recipients held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the $770 million project.

The event featured officials from throughout the region, including new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and Missouri Gov. Eric Grietens. While preliminary work on the project has been underway for months, Friday marked the ceremonial start of construction.

Consumer groups claim measures of the Illinois Statehouse could mean the end of traditional landline service. AT&T says it's part of the ongoing shift to modern technology, which is reliable.
tylerdurden1 | Flickr

Consumer rights groups in Illinois are leading the opposition to proposals before the state legislature that they say could end traditional landline phone service. They claim AT&T wants to shift customers to more expensive plans. But the telecommunications company says that conclusion is not accurate.

LED light beside a decades old bulb-based streetlight fixture.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

An initiative to update streetlights could save the City of St. Louis more than $150,000 a year. Installation of new LED technology is already underway and the city says the effort should improve lighting, especially in some dark areas on local roads.

The initial phase involves nearly 5,000 LED fixtures that will replace current high-pressure sodium light bulbs on major routes like Grand Boulevard and Kingshighway.

new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture

The saga of the Rams' decision to leave St. Louis is not over. The city, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are suing the National Football League and all of its member teams over the Rams' move to Los Angeles.

The suit was filed Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court. It accuses the NFL and Rams' officials of violating the league's relocation guidelines. The relocation guidelines, according to the lawsuit, "bind the NFL, NFL team owners, and NFL teams to follow certain procedures before allowing them to relocate."

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

Peabody Energy has emerged from bankruptcy with less debt and a shift in focus. The St. Louis-based coal company spent roughly a year under Chapter 11 protection and some of the same industry-wide challenges remain – government regulation and cheaper energy producing options, such as natural gas.

In a release when Peabody emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow sounded upbeat.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2 p.m. with NAACP comment — Ferguson officials say they have not been notified by federal authorities about a potential review of the city's agreement with the Justice Department involving local police and municipal court reforms.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all consent decrees to be reviewed, including agreements in Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago.

The industrial park in Illinois covers 2,300 acres. Developers say it is within 1,500 miles of 90 percent of the people in North America.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders in a Metro East County are taking a proactive approach to anticipated changes by the new administration in Washington, D.C. Massive infrastructure investments and re-working international trade deals are key parts of President Donald Trump’s blueprint and Madison County officials are trying position the area for growth under the potential new economic realities.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On behalf of several farmers in 10 states, including Missouri and Illinois, a law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Monsanto.

The main allegation is that the agriculture company knowingly sold a crop that did not have any approved herbicide to go along with it in 2015 and 2016. As a result, farmers who planted Monsanto’s Xtend cotton and soybean seed used dicamba, an illegal herbicide, to avoid damage to the crops.

The project calls for a tower to go up beside Centene's headquarters in Clayton and in front of The Crescent condominiums.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 15 with city's rejection of petition - A group of Clayton citizens is dealing with a setback in its effort to bring a massive expansion project directly to voters. The city has rejected a petition essentially calling for the more than $770-million Centene headquarters expansion to be put on the ballot.

Stones used by the St. Louis Curling Club during matches at the Creve Coeur Ice Arena. Each could weigh as much as 44 pounds.
St. Louis Curling Club

The first stand-alone curling facility in Missouri could be operating by the end of the year. Members of the St. Louis Curling Club have made an offer on property at the St. Louis Mills outlet mall. They are also having preliminary discussions with the city of Hazelwood about a possible tax abatement.

St. Louis Public Library
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A so-called "ransomware attack" is causing problems at all St. Louis Public Library branches.

Library system spokeswoman Jen Hatton says one of the system's servers is being blocked by an outsider who is asking for money in exchange for returning control of the server back to the library. The amount of the ransom being demanded is not being released.  

Hatton says the FBI has been contacted and is investigating the attack. The library's own technology employees are also working on repairing the server.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with comments from Bayer, Monsanto and Trump administration - More details are emerging about Bayer's possible acquisition of St. Louis-based Monsanto. The companies and the incoming Trump administration on Tuesday provided some specifics about job numbers and investment levels.

In a joint statement, Bayer and Monsanto said there are plans to invest $16 billion in agricultural research and development over six years, with at least $8 billion of that in the United States.

The Fashion Incubator takes up 7,500 square-feet of a Washington Avenue building on what used to be known as Shoe Street USA.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A member of the St. Louis Fashion Incubator's first class is counting on several factors to help his business grow, compared to its previous base in New York City: lower operating costs, cheaper cost of living and industry guidance.

The field at Busch Stadium had a music theme to mark the Winter Classic between the Blues and Blackhawks on Jan. 2, 2017.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

It was a celebration of hockey between two rivals and a chess match with Mother Nature.

The St. Louis Blues won both.

The 1972 St. Louis Stars played in the North American Soccer League championship, losing to New York.
Jan Reinertsen | nasljerseys.com|

The effort by backers of a potential Major League Soccer expansion franchise for St. Louis has some fans reflecting on the history of the sport in the region. That includes memories of a top-level professional team in late 1960s through the mid-1970s called the St. Louis Stars.

Kirkwood officials say there have been years where more than 540,000 visitors have gone through the station.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County community is launching an effort to pay for massive renovation of a prominent landmark. The Kirkwood Train Station Foundation wants to bring in money to fix up the structure, which was originally built in 1893.

The goal is to raise $3 million.

Peabody describes itself as the world's largest private-sector coal company
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy is mapping out its plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection next spring.

The coal company has filed a financial reorganization proposal with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis that calls for shedding more than $5 billion in debt and eventually issuing new common stock. Current shareholders would not receive anything and might oppose the plan.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated  at 3 p.m. Dec. 19  with news of the bill signing — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for 2,000 laid-off Granite City steelworkers.

The legislature this month approved the proposal that will provide 52 weeks of benefits, instead of the current 26 for eligible workers.

“This legislation will help the hard working families of the Metro East who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Rauner said, in a statement. 

The pilot program only covers the City of East St. Louis, not unincorporated areas.
Heather Anne Campbell | Flickr

A pilot program between East St. Louis and the state of Illinois is expected to streamline the inspection process for more than 50 retailers in the city who hold liquor licenses. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission is training local officials to make sure the businesses are following state and local laws.

Pages