Public Insight Network

Adrian Clark | 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.

(Mary Delach Leonard, St. Louis Public Radio)

There's a pretty good chance that the jar of horseradish you have in the refrigerator has its origins in farms located just across the river from St. Louis.

St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois produce the lion's share of horseradish in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 16 growers in Illinois harvest horseradish from 1,779 acres, accounting for about 60 percent of the nation's horseradish. Nationally, only about 3,100 acres are in horseradish production.

/ Susan Schultz

Same-sex couples in Illinois will be lining up to receive marriage licenses Monday after marriage between couples who are the same gender officially became legal across the state Sunday.  

The marriage-equality bill that passed in 2013 went into effect June 1, although a judge’s ruling prompted a handful of counties to issue marriage licenses earlier than that.

/ Tim Lloyd, St. Louis Public Radio

 It’s just after 7 a.m., and SheRon Chaney already has her family packed into an SUV and ready for school.

“On a good day like today, I’m hoping it only takes about 35 minutes,” she said.

Leave just a touch later and they could be stuck in traffic for more than an hour. It’s a quirk of St. Louis' commuter culture that Chaney picked up when she decided to transfer her seventh-grade daughter, BrenNae, out of the Normandy School District in favor of Maplewood Richmond Heights.

Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Sam, the only openly gay professional football player, was introduced at a news conference at Rams Park Tuesday. 

Sam received unprecedented attention for a 249th pick in the NFL draft. He answered questions for nearly half an hour during the news conference. That's much longer than what even No. 2 draft pick, fellow St. Louis rookie, Greg Robinson, had to endure.

/ Photo provided by Eileen Duggan

If you ever listened to you mother — really listened, you probably learned some very valuable lessons.

For Eileen Duggan, one of those lessons has served her well in her years as a piano teacher.

“She taught me the importance of establishing a studio policy, and treating the career as a business.” Duggan wrote, in response to questions through our Public Insight Network. Her mother, Frances Duggan, taught piano for 55 years. 

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Greendale is home to about 700 people in north St. Louis County. The primarily residential community features stately brick houses along seven, well-maintained streets. The town’s city hall consists of two rooms inside an office building. It contracts with nearby Normandy for police service. Its big-ticket expenditures include cleaning streets and trimming trees.

Charlie Giraud found a lot to like. He’s lived in bigger St. Louis County municipalities like Ballwin and University City. He appreciated Greendale’s friendly neighbors, racial diversity and close-knit community.

burn whistle logo
Proided by Nathaniel Carroll

Our recent reports about assorted consumer scams brought an interesting response from a Saint Louis University law student who is developing an online website to help centralize efforts to fight fraud.

Nathaniel Carroll and his associates came up with a catchy name — Burn Whistle — and eye-catching graphics for a blog they’ve launched. Their slogan is “Fight Fraud With Fire.”

Courtesy of the Old North Restoration Group

As the population of St. Louis began to shift away from the city’s core in the 1970s, many of the city’s older neighborhoods entered a state of decline. But now, thanks in part to a renewed interest in the city’s older neighborhoods, many are experiencing renewal.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Chesterfield received plenty of attention recently when it snagged two high-profile festivals away from the city of St. Louis. But the hubbub over the Taste of St. Louis and Bluesweek’s exodus may be part of a larger story. 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

After 161 days, baseball returns to Busch Stadium Monday, with the St. Louis Cardinals hosting the Cincinnati Reds. And that means across the city, thousands of bosses have approved vacation days with a knowing smile. Some may have even said, “I’ll see you there.”

Cardinal baseball is probably the closest thing you can get to a government-sanctioned religion without running afoul of the First Amendment. It is a passion that unites a city from April to September and beyond.

What It Means To Root For the Cardinals

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