Audio Features | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Features

Feature-length audio news reports from St. Louis Public Radio reporters.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

39-year-old Bobby Bostic was 16 in 1995 when he committed several felonies during an armed robbery. He got a 241-year sentence despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says juveniles should not be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide crimes.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Bobby Bostic was 16 when he committed several felonies in the course of an armed robbery. Two years later, he was sentenced to 241 years in prison.

Advocates for juvenile sentencing reform say that runs contrary to earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting how harshly the courts can punish young defendants who have not killed anyone, and they are now asking the justices to weigh in.

Kelsey Thomas started the #314DayAccentChallenge to celebrate and highlight the St. Louis accent. 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Kelsey Thomas celebrates 314 Day the way many St. Louisans do: she puts on a Cardinals shirt and orders some Imo’s Pizza. If she’s feeling nostalgic, she’ll tune in to Hot 104.1.

But a few years ago, she started a new tradition for March 14. To show off her city’s accent, she curated a list of words that end with an “R” sound — chair, hair, millionaire — and posted them on Twitter with the hashtag #314DayAccentChallenge. The words highlight a unique feature of a local accent that has been celebrated by St. Louis rappers and studied by linguists.

Captain Perri Johnson of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department discusses cultural diversity with participants in the Ethical Society of Police pre-academy recruitment program at the Urban League on March 6, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months ago, the acquittal of a white police officer charged with the murder of an African-American man sparked widespread protests in St. Louis and put a spotlight on racial disparities in the police department.

About 47 percent of city residents are black, but just over 32 percent of city officers are non-white.

Recently appointed St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the department, said it’s obvious they need to do more to increase minority recruitment. He’s now partnering with the Ethical Society of Police, a mostly African-American police association, to support their pre-academy recruitment program.

 

 


A volunteer greets Chico, one of the six St. Louis steers who escaped the slaughterhouse and now live at The Gentle Barn. March 3, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Michelle Robertson unlocked the gate to a 15-acre pasture at The Gentle Barn in Dittmer, Missouri, where the St. Louis Six now spend their days. A year after they made headlines for escaping from a slaughterhouse and romping through city streets in north St. Louis, the steers are free to roam.

“There’s lots of rolling hills for them to run up and down and play,’’ said Robertson, cheerfully. She manages the animal sanctuary in Jefferson County, about 40 miles from St. Louis. “There’s beautiful trees for them to scratch on. They’ve got a big, beautiful barn filled with fresh straw that they can sleep in — although they do like to sleep outside.”

A boy named LaRon enjoys a class at the former Intersect Arts Center building, before the organization moved into its new renovated space.
Intersect Arts Center

St. Louis artist Sarah Bernhardt had no idea she’d be teaching children when she first moved into her Gravois Park studio. But that changed after a rock sailed through her window and she invited a teenager with a good throwing arm to come inside for an art project.

That was five years ago, in the early days of her Intersect Arts Center, 3636 Texas Ave. A $3 million renovation recently transformed the center, but the commitment to free art classes for local kids remains a cornerstone.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens greets his fellow elected officials during the 2018 State of the State speech. Later that night, KMOV reported that Greitens acknowledged an extramarital affair.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

With Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens promising to fight for his job, members of both political parties already are focusing on how the governor’s woes — whether he stays or goes — could affect this fall’s elections.

The question, eight months out, is how big the impact will be.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s suicide rate ranks 13th in the nation.

In 2016, there were roughly 10 suicides per 100,000 residents, and more than half were gun-related. Yet despite the statistics, only about half of emergency-room doctors in the U.S. ask patients at risk of suicide if they have access to guns at home.

A new Washington University program aims to tackle this issue directly by working with patients at risk of suicide before they’re discharged from the hospital. The Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (C.A.L.M.) program helps patients temporarily store dangerous items they may have at home, including guns and prescription medication.

 


Niah Ester and Anjali Adhikari pose for a portrait at the annual Educators for Social Justice conference.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Anjali Adhikari and Niah Ester teamed up for a class project last summer, they had one goal – to teach educators at Northeast Middle School all about microaggressions.

The seventh graders never imagined their work would make it from their Creve Coeur school into classrooms across the St. Louis region. But since then, they’ve created and led training sessions for dozens of teachers, counselors and school administrators.

Pastor Gwenndolyn Lee of Spirit of Love Church wants to change the negative stigma surrounding HIV in the black community. Her younger brother died from AIDS nearly 14 years ago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 percent of HIV cases in the St. Louis region are in the African-American community. That’s according to a 2016 report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. But the stigma surrounding the virus in the black community makes it a challenge to address.

Local organizations like Faith Communities United have been working to break the stigma down by partnering with several faith communities throughout the region, including Spirit of Love Church in St. Louis, lead by Pastor Gwenndolyn Lee. For Lee, the fear of discussing HIV in the black community, and especially in the black church, is a personal one.

Marsha Evans and the Coalition at the 1860 Saloon on February 24. The band played blues, hip-hop, and r&b songs during their performance.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Marsha Evans is no stranger to the blues. She has performed blues music all her life and can be found performing at venues across St. Louis with her band, Marsha Evans and the Coalition.

But Evans doesn’t confine her passion for the blues to the stage. She’s a strong advocate for the music. For weeks, she and other musicians in the St. Louis region have discussed ways to honor the legacy of the blues and keep the treasured African-American art form alive.

“You’re pouring your life in three or four minutes of musical expression — your innermost emotions, all of the pain you felt on any particular day for a number of months or years,” she said.

Sasha Walchli, an English language teacher at Parkway's Green Trails Elementary, works with third-graders on learning continents. Walchi has 43 students at the school, twice as many as when she started 10 years ago.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Radi and Hadi Hamdan’s English is getting better, slowly. Sitting in the living room of their Florissant home on a recent evening, they struggled to get through more than introducing themselves before switching back to Arabic.

The 12-year-old twins moved to the northern St. Louis suburb from the West Bank last summer, finally reuniting with their father, who has lived in the United States for two decades.

The twins are seventh-graders in Hazelwood School District’s West Middle School. Radi likes art class. Hadi’s favorite subject is math. They also need intense English-language instruction in order to follow other courses.

A view of Lake Taneycomo in February 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

On a bright, brisk winter day in Branson, Mo., several dedicated fishermen tried to catch trout in Lake Taneycomo, a fast-moving, ribbon-shaped lake that snakes around the city.

The water appeared clear, but the lake has some ongoing issues, said David Casaletto, executive director of Ozarks Water Watch, a water quality group. For example, heavy rains in the summer have caused low levels of dissolved oxygen, which has hurt the trout population.

Under a recently proposed water quality rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, Lake Taneycomo, Mark Twain Lake and Lake of the Ozarks are among 113 lakes and reservoirs in Missouri that would be defined as “impaired” or too polluted for human use.

McCluer High School theater students rehearse “Man of La Mancha” at the Florissant Civic Center. Feb. 21, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis schoolchildren in well-funded school districts often enjoy newer amenities like updated textbooks and newer technology. They may also have an advantage when it comes to the arts.

The disparity of resources is illustrated by theater departments at two local high schools. Clayton High School, whose students are mostly white, gets more help from the district and the community. In Florissant, predominantly African-American McCluer High School largely relies on the theater director, Doug Erwin, for funding.

Clayton resident Stacey Smith and her Olympic ice dance partner John Summers. The two finished ninth at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
Stacey Smith

Stacey Smith is an Olympian.

The former figure skater competed for the U.S. at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. 

As the ice dance competition wraps up at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the Clayton resident is watching with a mix of pride, patriotism and accomplishment.

Smith recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio about how she started in the sport, her memories of Lake Placid and the importance of embracing St. Louis' Olympic legacy.

RISE Community Development's Stephen Acree stands in one of his organization's apartments in Forest Park Southeast. His group used low-income housing and historic tax credits to redevelop a slew of buildings in the central corridor neighborhood.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A question and answer panel with four Republican statewide officials was meant to showcase the party’s unprecedented consolidation of power within Missouri’s government. Instead, the Lincoln Days event pointed to a major policy division among the GOP.

That’s because Gov. Eric Greitens touted how he engineered a halt to state low-income housing tax credits in late December. He called the incentive a “scam” that had been “ripping off” Missourians for years, and received a round of applause from the audience when mentioning how he “zeroed out” the program.

Ty'Chila Thomas answers trivia questions during a L.O.V.E Project session at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. Feb. 14, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For three years Shante Duncan has facilitated The L.O.V.E. Project with freshman girls at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. She talks to the girls about school and anything else they want to share about their personal lives.

This month, Duncan centered the session around important African-American females, from Ida B. Wells to Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cervical cancer cells advanced medical research.

Families take photos next to a Black Panther banner at the St. Louis Science Center First Friday event dedicated to Black Panther on Feb. 2., 2018
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Welcome to Wakanda, the technologically advanced fictional nation that is the setting for an upcoming superhero, blockbuster film.

If you are not sure where that is, try asking the thousands of people who pre-ordered tickets to “Black Panther,” the film with the most first-day presales in history.

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

The West Lake Landfill, seen from St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 5 with new public comments deadline  The Environmental Protection Agency has released the full details of its proposal to remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill. The agency will make a final decision after a public comment period.

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