Public Insight Network

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday’s “Morning Edition,” NPR’s Mara Liasson delved into why exactly voters are feeling so anxious about the 2016 election year. Economic uncertainty, terrorism, demographic change, immigration and dysfunctional politics were some of the key factors in that anxiety.

St. Louisans echoed that anxiety, and a general feeling of anger at the political process when we recently asked about political mood through our Public Insight Network.

David Bowie performing.
Hunter Desportes | Flickr Creative Commons

Tammy Merrett is a self-proclaimed “life-long Bowie fan.” After hearing the news that mega-entertainer David Bowie had died on Sunday, Merrett, of St. Louis, reflected on the times she saw him perform in St. Louis.

“I was at both shows,” Merrett wrote, responding through St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network. She was referring to Bowie’s performance in 1995 at what was then Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, and in 2004 at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

Bowie died Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday. He had been treated for cancer over the last 18 months.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is under the national microscope after a series of racially-charged incidents on campus.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

From Ferguson to Syria: Though separated by more than 6,000 miles, these places were the setting for events that many St. Louisans recalled as they reflected on the news of 2015.

Ferguson, a mid-size city in north St. Louis County, was the first thought of many people who responded to a call for suggestions put out by St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network. A year and a half since the shooting death of a young man named Michael Brown by a police officer named Darren Wilson, many area residents consider that case, and its aftermath, the top news story of the year.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Grand Glaize facility
Screenshot | Google Maps

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. with information on more evacuations and road closures.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday to help rain-weary communities deal with near-record flooding.

Nixon said in a statement that the guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic around closed roads. Forty roads remain closed due to flooding in the Missouri part of the St. Louis region, out of 225 statewide.

Emma Clemenson on the right in the late 1990s with four cousins, all in their Christmas kimonas, singing "Sisters" from the movie "White Christmas." Singing along with the movie has been a family tradition for six decades.
Courtesy Mary Burke

For Mary Burke of Kirkwood, watching  the 1954 movie “White Christmas” is like Santa Claus and candy canes — a holiday tradition. Burke and her three sisters grew up in the 50s and 60s singing and dancing along with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. It’s something they never outgrew.

On Oct. 10, students blocked a car carrying former University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe during Mizzou's homecoming parade
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

This week’s show started with a simple question we could not get out of our heads as we followed the recent shakeups at Mizzou.

A silent witness display created by the Violence Prevention Center, to represent victims murdered in counties they serve. The shields on the chests tell who the victim was and their story, provided by family members.
provided by the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois

Domestic violence shelters in Illinois have spent the past months dipping into savings and cutting back staff. At least one has closed its doors to women and children. With the legislature unlikely to pass a budget anytime soon, service providers are looking to an uncertain future.  

“We’re running on a very skeleton crew,” said Debbie Sander, the executive director of Phoenix Crisis Center in Granite City. “We’ve not replaced staff members, due to the uncertainty of the finances.”

Photos provided

For many former students of the University of Missouri-Columbia, events of recent weeks bring back memories. Some are good, but many are not. For those alums, racial bias has always been part of the sub-text of their Mizzou experience.

And while some alumni welcome announcements this week that Tim Wolfe, president of the University System, is leaving, and R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the Columbia campus, is changing jobs, others question whether those actions alone will be enough to solve long-standing problems.

Vito Comporato, right, and another worker during the construction of the Gateway Arch.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

The story of the engineers and ironworkers who built Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch never gets old, and Wednesday — the 50th anniversary of "topping out" day — might be one of the last opportunities for St. Louisans to meet the men and shake their hands.

Because a standard monumental shape — an obelisk, rectangle or dome — wouldn’t do for Saarinen, the Arch remains a one-of-a-kind monument built of 630 feet of Wow! His design was modern and bold:  a sleek and outsized arch of gleaming stainless steel on the St. Louis riverfront that would celebrate America’s pioneer spirit.

Flickr, Damian Gadal, creative commons

St. Louis native Danny Meyer recently rocked the restaurant world, making national news with his decision to eliminate tipping from his family of New York City restaurants.

Some have lauded Meyer’s decision as the first true step towards a more equal restaurant; others question its feasibility, predicting a mass exodus of servers and a reduction in service quality.

Originally published in St. Louis Globe-Democrat / Courtesy St. Louis Mercantile Library

For 50 years, the Gateway Arch has drawn visitors from around the world to downtown St. Louis. From presidents and pop stars, to school kids and church groups, millions of people each year have come to marvel at the monument.  But exactly how many people have visited in five decades? That depends on how they’re counted.

 2013 arch photo
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Beacon

The Gateway Arch reaches the big 5-0 this year, and is thus deserving of citywide celebration — not only for its beautiful, imposing design, but because the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is one of St. Louis’ top tourist sites, attracting more than 2 million visitors every year.

While many duck into the Old Courthouse or explore the Mississippi River on the Becky Thatcher or the Tom Sawyer, the big draw is the Arch itself — all 630 feet of it.

At their 2013 wedding, Bob and Jackie McNett displayed their baseball loyalty.
Photo provided by Jackie McNett

Jackie McNett has been a St. Louis Cardinals fan for as long as she can remember. Growing up, her family named their canine member Wrigley, because, as she put it, “at the time, the Chicago Cubs were the dogs of the National League.”

Then, in 2008, as a student at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Jackie met Bob. Spotting a Cubs poster in his dorm room, Jackie called it “disgusting.” But that didn’t stop her from wanting to get to know him better.

“I thought he was cute,” Jackie said in a telephone interview Friday. “So we kept talking.”

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Ikea's newest blue and yellow box store that opens Wednesday on Vandeventer Avenue in St. Louis is the biggest sign yet of a building boom that’s transforming what was once a relatively sparse neighborhood into a bustling part of town.

File photo of Pope Francis
Flickr | Christus Vincit

Dozens of St. Louis Catholics are headed to Philadelphia this week to see Pope Francis, who arrived in the U.S. Tuesday, and they bring with them a wide variety of expectations.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

The push to make life better for women inside the Missouri Capitol strikes a chord for people like Kelly Schultz. One of the main lessons she learned about dealing with harassment is the importance of having a structure in place.

Before she embarked on a 16-year career in and around the Missouri Capitol, Schultz worked at a central Missouri police station. There, Schultz faced sexual harassment from one of her male officers.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

At least at J. Pfenny’s sports bar, it’ll be business as usual next week when legislators return to the Missouri capital for their annual veto session. They’ll also be gathering for the first time since the furor over sexual misconduct allegations involving interns sent two top state legislators packing.

The alcohol will be flowing as several lawmakers, or hopefuls, hold simultaneous fundraisers at the popular watering hole, situated just a couple blocks from the Capitol building.

Images from zoo museum district entities
File photos and Wikipedia

The debate over charging nonresidents of St. Louis and St. Louis County for admission to the various free Zoo-Museum District institutions was reignited in St. Louis this month. “A small entrance fee of, say, $8 for non-city, non-county people would be fair and would help institutions terrifically,” said Ben Uchitelle, the former chairman of the board of the Zoo-Museum District.

Emanuele Berry
Provided by Emanuele Berry

This week's We Live Here podcast is something a little different.

Recently, we've been looking at health and the way that toxic stress can impact someone's ability to succeed and even to be healthy. We'll be transitioning to a new area soon, but we wanted to take a step back this week to allow Emanuele Berry to produce her own, unique show.

Clockwise from the upper left: John Powell, Greg Gibson, Amy Peach and George Lenard.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Part 4 of 5

The death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson brought the eyes of the world to St. Louis last August. But it’s the people who live in St. Louis who were impacted most directly.

Now that a year has almost passed, St. Louis Public Radio is inviting you to share how Brown’s death affected your life, as well as your thoughts about how the events that followed impacted the region as a whole. We’ll be asking you a different question every day this week.

Today’s question: Is St. Louis as a region moving in the right direction to bridge gaps of race and class? If so, how so? If not, what needs to be done differently?

From left to right: Jerry Benner, Greg Gibson and Amy Peach.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Part 3 of 5

The police shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014 brought the eyes of the world to St. Louis. But it’s the people who live in St. Louis who were impacted most directly.

Now that a year has passed, St. Louis Public Radio is inviting you to share how Brown’s death affected your life, as well as your thoughts about how the events that followed impacted the region as a whole. We’ll be asking you a different question every day this week.

Today’s question: Are the racial divides in St. Louis better or worse than they were before Aug. 9, 2014?

Clockwise from upper left: Jerry Benner, Katie Banister, Dan Hyatt and Janice Thomas.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Part 2 of 5

The police shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, brought the eyes of the world to St. Louis. But it’s the people who live in St. Louis who were impacted most directly.

Now that a year has passed, St. Louis Public Radio is inviting you to share how Brown’s death affected your life, as well as your thoughts about how the events that followed impacted the region as a whole. We are considering a different question every day this week.

Today’s question: What still needs to happen to resolve the issues brought to light this year?

Clockwise from the upper left: Janice Thomas, George Lenard, Greg Gibson and John Powell.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Part 1 of 5

The shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, by a police officer in Ferguson brought the eyes of the world to St. Louis. But it’s the people who live in the St. Louis area who were impacted most directly.

Now that a year has nearly passed, St. Louis Public Radio is exploring how Brown’s death affected individuals and the region as a whole. We're discussing a different question every day this week, and we invite you to join the conversation. 

Today's question: What's changed for you since the death of Michael Brown?

The Missouri Capitol Building
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Within the outcry over state Sen. Paul LeVota’s resignation, one response in particular stood out.

It wasn’t from a Democratic heavy-hitter like Sen. Claire McCaskill or Gov. Jay Nixon. And it didn’t come from a pundit or a journalist. The most poignant reply came from Rachel Gonzalez, a 16-year-old student who is president of the High School Democrats of Missouri.

Flooded fields, an inability to plant, and the possibility of disease are all concerns Missouri farmers have due to recent rains.
Sonya Green | Flickr

Missouri's farmers are facing significant challenges as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bill compound an already wet planting season.

About 250 Catholic bishops will be attending a meeting on key topics important to the Church in St. Louis this week.
Courtesy USCCB's Facebook page

As Catholic bishops from across the country gather in St. Louis this week for their annual Spring General Assembly meeting, many local Catholics are hoping church leaders discuss an array of issues.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

2016 will be the third year that Missouri goes without Medicaid expansion, as Republicans have stayed firmly against it in the General Assembly.

Rosie and Holly Nauheim stand outside their home in St. Louis on May 18, 2015.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When her health insurance provider told Holly Naunheim that it wouldn’t cover her daughter’s stay in a residential treatment facility for an eating disorder, she was furious.  

“I was hysterical,” Naunheim said. “My husband and her therapist said, ‘We’re going to fight this.’”

Naunheim's daughter, Rosie, 15, had struggled with anorexia for three years, going in and out of doctor’s offices and a treatment center. In the eighth grade, she was so sick that she had to attend her graduation with a feeding tube taped under her nose.  

From left, SheRon Chaney helps her daughters Anandra and BrenNae with homework at their dining room table.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This week lawmakers put a bill on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk that’s supposed to fix the state’s student transfer law that doesn't include a hard cap on how much receiving districts can charge.

A lack of a tuition cap has rekindled concerns that the cost of student transfers will bankrupt the Normandy school district. And for the Chaney family, who St. Louis Public Radio profiled back in May of last year, it’s just the latest twist in what’s been a roller coaster ride.

Five-year-old Charlotte Pappan selects foam leaves for a sun painting at the Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April, 26, 2015. Her mother, Sara Pappan, looks on.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The sound of music, children, dogs and generators filled the air Sunday at the annual Earth Day festival in Forest Park. Food trucks and other booths needing electricity were fueled by propane generators that release half the emissions of standard diesel generators.

According to festival organizers, more than 50,000 people attended the event.

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