Public Insight Network

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

Even though open enrollment doesn't start for several days, Healthcare.gov began on Monday to allow visitors to take a peek at the individual health insurance plans and rates that will be available for 2015. 

In the St. Louis area, two additional insurance companies  — Cigna and UnitedHealthcare — began offering plans on the federal exchange. For zip codes in St. Louis, the marketplace lists 41 plans with varying monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Ryan Barker of Cover Missouri said the additional competition likely led to a slight decrease in plan prices.

Ask a bunch of voters why they bother, especially when there are no “big races,” and Election Day is rainy and cold, and you’ll get answers like “I just always vote” or “I believe it’s important for my voice to be heard.”

Voters such as these don’t care that records show that in off-year or non-presidential elections, voter turnout is generally low, with fewer than half of registered voters bothering to show up.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The World Series is over and the Cardinals will have to wait until next year to contend for another title.

But the Redbirds’ lack of championship success didn’t stop Joe Smart from venturing down to Ballpark Village this week to watch the Royals battle it out with the San Francisco Giants. Smart is hardly a newbie to Ballpark Village; he’s visited the entertainment complex 15 times.

So what keeps Smart coming back for more?

Danielle and Adam Dowd with their daughter, Alice.
Provided by Danielle Dowd

Like talking about the “facts of life,” or “the birds and the bees,” many parents and teachers know that discussing race and racism is necessary in helping young people learn about life.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Tim Lloyd presented “A Teachable Moment,” a three-part series that examined how area teachers are leading discussions in their classrooms about issues raised after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer in August.

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

St. Louis County executive candidates Steve Stenger and Rick Stream will face off in a public debate Oct. 14 hosted by St. Louis Public Radio in partnership with the University of Missouri–St. Louis. It is the first planned debate ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

chef taste 2014
Provided by Taste of St. Louis

Taste of St. Louis begins today and closes Sunday. This year, the festival announced a change in location from downtown St. Louis to Chesterfield. The event’s relocation has been a hot-button issue for some St. Louis residents. Former school teacher  and lifelong Ferguson resident Jerry Benner, 70, believes the change redefined the event.

“It’s not taste St. Louis. It’s taste of Chesterfield,” Benner said.

Provided by Katie Borders

Until recently, you may have considered Weird Al Yankovic to be that fading parody singer who turned “Beat It” into “Eat It” before sliding into relative obscurity in the 1990s.

But Weird Al’s not only sustained a 35-year career, he was just showcased at the Emmy Awards. And there’s a grassroots movement to get him on stage at the Superbowl.

jay nixon 81814
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon is defending his decision to deploy Missouri National Guard troops to Ferguson.

Nixon issued a statement earlier this morning, announcing his decision to send in the Guard after what may have been the worst night of rioting since the protests began a week ago. Nixon explained his decision by citing "violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk."

/photo by Kathryn Banks

Emotions continue to run high as people throughout the greater St. Louis area try to process the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed young man.

Peaceful protests that followed the death of Michael Brown, 18, at the hands of a Ferguson police officer on Saturday turned to violence on Sunday. And the chaos continued early Wednesday, when a St. Louis County officer shot and critically injured a man authorities say pointed a gun at officers near a protest site.

Berkeley website

A town hall meeting called by the NAACP in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson was urged Monday evening to channel anger into productive change, but not every member of the overflow crowd seemed ready to leave the community’s rage behind.

For about 90 minutes, speakers at Murchison Tabernacle CME Church at 7629 Natural Bridge Road talked about what some called an “unfolding tragedy,” reminding everyone that the real focus should be on the fatal shooting of Brown by a Ferguson police officer, not the disturbance and looting that followed.

Courtesy of the Charlie Menees Collection, UMKC.

It spanned less than three blocks at the intersection of Olive and Boyle. And it only lasted about ten years.

But the arts and entertainment district known as Gaslight Square flourished in the 1950s and '60s, making St. Louis a national destination for music and culture.

In honor of St. Louis' 250th birthday, I took a little detour off my usual science beat to explore this extraordinary time and place in our city's history.

Flickr/Rob Lee

The rich are getting richer. The top 5 percent of earners in the U.S. accounted for nearly 40 percent of personal consumption expenditures in 2012, according to the Institute for New Economic Thinking. That is up from 28 percent in 1995. 

Photo courtesy of MoDOT

If Missourians back a transportation sales tax next month, road workers can expect a busy decade. 

That's a key takeaway of a St. Louis Public Radio analysis of a project list approved by the state's Highways and Transportation Commission. It's what will be funded if voters approve a 0.75 percent sales tax increase on Aug. 5.

(Campaign Photos)

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and his chief Democratic rival, Councilman Steve Stenger, agree on two things: Each says his attack ads are accurate and the other guy’s are not.

The two defended their accusations during separate, back-to-back appearances today with host Don Marsh on St. Louis Public Radio’s "St. Louis On the Air."  The sparring over ads reflected another common consensus: Their Aug. 5 primary contest will get even nastier.

The two ads in question attempt to link Stenger to sex trafficking and Dooley to FBI investigations.

Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Coming away with a new favorite song is part of the Muny tradition for thousands of St. Louis families. But some families are taking home more than a catchy tune — they’re also leaving with paychecks.

Five members of the Heet family have worked at the Muny as ushers. Two are still on the job. Alex Heet, 21, is a college student in her fifth summer at the Muny. Her sister, Sarah, 18, is ushering for a third year.

MJ_07 / Via Flickr

For many, fireworks are a staple part of celebrating the Fourth of July. If watching the night sky light up is part of your holiday tradition, you’re in luck: the St. Louis area hosts several public events.

Tasmyn Front has been living in St. Louis for 12 years. She says that fireworks aren’t the only attraction to consider when deciding on a venue.

“There’s a lot of waiting before the show starts,” said Front. “Ultimately it's only 20 minutes so you want it to be worth the wait.”

Music, food and activities for the kids are standard at most venues.

(via Flickr/Scuddr)

Institutional religions are losing members to those who claim to be “unaffiliated,” people who are often religious or spiritual in some way but don’t belong to an institution. Nearly one in five of U.S. adults are “unaffiliated” according to the Pew Research Center.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians will vote Aug. 5 on a 0.75 percent sales tax increase for transportation projects. The proposal — commonly known as the transportation tax — would generate billions of dollars over the next decade to fix roads, repair bridges and improve mass transit. 

The stakes are high. Supporters say Missouri needs more money for its aging transportation infrastructure. With gas tax revenue dwindling and federal funding uncertain, some policymakers see the sales tax as a guaranteed way to fund transportation needs.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Anxiety crept through SheRon Chaney when she heard that the Francis Howell School District would no longer accept about 350 transfer students from Normandy who were signed up to continue in the program. 

“Last year we were hopeful, this year we’re fearful,” she said. 

Chaney transferred her middle school aged daughter BrenNae to Maplewood Richmond Heights last year.  And even though Francis Howell’s decision —  made during a closed session of its school board — doesn’t affect her directly, it has Chaney and hundreds of other parents holding their breath.  

Courtesy Normandy School District

While policy debates and legal battles swirl around the new Normandy school district, Savonna Stacey has a more personal question:

Where can her son attend first grade when the new school year starts?

The Stacey family lives in the Normandy school district, and last summer, Stacey took advantage of the state law that lets students living in unaccredited districts enroll in nearby accredited ones. She enrolled Jonathan in kindergarten in Ritenour.

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