East St. Louis

(via EPA.gov)

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public meeting tonight in East St. Louis. 

The agency will to explain its proposed plan to clean up the North Alcoa site. The property is bounded on the north by Lake Drive, on the east by the Alton and Southern railroad, on the south by Missouri Avenue and on the west by 29th Street.

EPA's remedial project manager for the 400-acre site, Dion Novak, says the area is contaminated with waste products produced over 100 years ago by a former alumina refinery.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Parks again rejects Durbin's call for earlier night club closings

East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks is again rejecting a call from Sen. Dick Durbin to institute an earlier closing time for the city’s night clubs and liquor stores

Durbin was in his hometown on Wednesday encouraging area ministers to push Parks for a 1 a.m. closing time. Durbin believes it would help curb the killings in a city that a federal prosecutor has called the nation’s most dangerous.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is enlisting East St. Louis church leaders in his fight to rein in the city’s late-night entertainment industry.

The Democrat met with more than fifty members of the New Salem Baptist District Association Wednesday. He urged ministers to pressure Mayor Alvin Parks to close the city's nightclubs and liquor stores at 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

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.

A Senator's strong words 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

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.”

Joseph Leahy, SLPR news

East St. Louis lays off more employees

A tight budget has forced East St. Louis to lay off seven more employees, leaving the city's police officers without a support staff.  

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the latest layoffs include Police Chief Michael Floore's secretary, the department's director of community programs and a records room employee responsible for logging all of the city's tows.

The city also cut employees in the mayor's office, the city clerk's office and the city treasurer's office.

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Southern Ill. denied federal disaster aid

The parts of southern Illinois destroyed by deadly storms and a tornado last month will not be declared federal disaster areas.

U.S Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA's decision will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

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).

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

The law enforcement officer who resigned has East St. Louis' police chief in 2009 has his old job back.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Michael Baxton was sworn in Wednesday in the southwestern Illinois city of about 30,000 residents.

It's been a rocky ride for Baxton. He was police chief in nearby Alorton in October when a state board barred him from law enforcement because of a 1982 robbery conviction.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Illinois State Police are helping authorities in East St. Louis investigate the shooting death of a man who's become the city's 25th killing this year.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 31-year-old Timothy Jones of Swansea was shot multiple times Friday night as he sat inside his pickup truck. He died later at a hospital.

There's no word on any arrests or charges in the killing, which brings the city's total of homicides this year past the 24 recorded last year.

(Courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A woman accused in the shotgun deaths of two of her children says in a jailhouse letter to a judge she was hearing voices the day of the killings and is "truly sorry."

The Belleville News-Democrat reports 25-year-old Yokeia Smith told St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton she believed police were after her even before the Aug. 31 killings.

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St. Clair County will take over a multi-million dollar federally funded housing program in East St. Louis.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

This morning we told you that East St. Louis' police chief  Ranadore Foggs wanted to take back his resignation and keep his job - but it seems that the mayor isn't ready to let Foggs return so easliy.

Foggs announced Thursday night he has rescinded the resignation he submitted last week after less than five months on the job. He had claimed the mayor was interfering with his efforts to lead.

(via Flickr/Steve Issacs)

East St. Louis is proud to call late jazz great Miles Davis one of its own, but vandalism to his childhood home is striking a sour note with many in the struggling city.

KSDK-TV reports vandalism that has escalated in recent weeks has included nearly all of the aluminum siding being stripped away from the home. Windows also are broken and pipes have been taken.

Neighbor Mamie Page says the damage and disrespect "just disgusted me" and leaves her saddened.

(Courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A judge in southwestern Illinois has denied bond for a woman accused of killing two of her children with a shotgun last month.

Associate St. Clair County Judge Julie Katz entered a not guilty plea on behalf of 25-year-old Yokeia Smith during a brief arraignment Friday. Katz also appointed a public defender to represent the East St. Louis woman. No new court appearance was scheduled.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Services are scheduled for two East St. Louis children whose mother is facing charges that accuse her of killing them with a shotgun.

Twenty-five-year-old Yokeia Smith is charged in St. Clair County with first-degree murder in the deaths last Wednesday of 5-year-old Levada Brown and 4-year-old Yokela Smith.

The mother is jailed in St. Louis, where she was arrested after police say she hit two pedestrians near St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

(Photo Courtesy St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

Updated at 3:20 pm with information from  the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Updated with comments from Yokeia Smith's family and officials

Updated at 1:15 pm to correct amount of bail and add information on father of the slain son.

A 25-year-old East St. Louis woman faces first degree murder charges for allegedly shooting two of her children in the head with a shotgun.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Illinois' board of education says a former top federal prosecutor will head a probe it has launched into spending by East St. Louis' cash-strapped public school system.

Friday's announcement of the probe comes as the 7,500-student district is under state control and beset by questions about its paying millions on consultants and conventions.

The state board says the probe will be headed by A. Courtney Cox, southern Illinois' former U.S. attorney. His firm will be paid up to $100,000 a year to do the investigation, at the district's expense.

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East St. Louis is weighing whether to appeal a federal jury's verdict in favor of two former city officials who claimed they were fired because they spoke out about racial discrimination in the city's hiring process.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that jurors in Benton deliberated about four hours before ruling Wednesday in favor of former police and fire commissioners Della Murphy and Wyatt Frazer.