When it’s “last call” on weekends for St. Louis bars and clubs, East St. Louis’ nightlife is just getting started. The city’s slack liquor laws allow nightclubs and liquor stores to operate well into the morning. Many critics say the laws are the root of the city’s chronic violent crime.
The problem poses a delicate balancing act for Mayor Alvin Parks who says East St. Louis’ late-night entertainment industry is keeping the city alive.
East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.
Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.
“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”
A U.S. senator is stepping up his efforts to limit nightclub hours in East St. Louis.
Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that earlier closing times for nightclubs and liquor stores would improve safety for city residents. The Illinois Democrat specifically challenged Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. to do his part in reducing crime rates. (Read the full letter from Durbin to Parks).
Sleet and freezing rain is causing numerous accidents this morning, including one involving multiple vehicles. The ice storm began just before 5 a.m. and caused accidents throughout the region. The worst was on Interstate 64 near downtown St. Louis, where more than 20 cars and a couple of semis slid on ice. Ambulances and fire trucks responding to the scene were involved in the accident. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Fire Capt. Dan Sutter says 21 people were injured in the accident, one critically. Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Jeff Wilson said troopers responded to up to 60 accidents in St. Charles, Lincoln and St. Louis counties. Officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation says the icy conditions caught them a bit off guard. Assistant district engineer Tom Blair says crews were out patching potholes when they received word that freezing rain could be moving into the area.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is receiving about $216,000 from the federal government to study the condition of old, closed landfills in rural communities. The agency says many older landfills did not have to meet modern environmental standards, and many were not closed properly. The Department of Natural Resources says it will use the findings to train cities on how to maintain the closed dumps or buy and sell properties with landfills on them. The department wants to make sure the landfills don't pollute nearby water resources or otherwise harm the environment.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. and three others will face off April 5 in the general election after last night's mayoral primary. Parks received 47 percent of the vote. Councilman Delbert Marion was second with 25 percent and former Mayor Carl Edward Officer finished third with 24 percent. The Post-Dispatch reports that voter turnout was about 25 percent. The election comes as layoffs burden the city's police and the murder rate continues to rise.