St. Louis County | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s new campaign donation restrictions have given new status to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.  He now is collecting more large contributions than any other political candidate in the state.

Tracy White sits in front of her mother's house, where she's living after serving more than 18 years in prison.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gun violence is the result of a series of choices, some of them spur-of-the-moment, others made after much consideration.

The vast majority of men and women in Missouri convicted of gun crimes eventually go free. Next comes navigating life with a felony record, which is a complicated process.

They often have to go back to the neighborhoods where they were arrested, making it hard to escape feuds that had them protectively carrying guns. And the lucrative world of drug dealing can be a temptation when it’s tough to find or keep a job.

A rendering of the St. Louis Ice Center at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The National Park Service has ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to stop construction work for a proposed ice recreation facility in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

In a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last Friday, the federal agency expressed its concerns about the St. Louis Ice Center.

"We are concerned that the Ice Center would act as a stand-alone attraction and would not encourage further outdoor recreation at the rest of the site," wrote Carol Edmondson, an outdoor recreation planner at the National Park Service.

Nate Birt | Provided

A team of researchers and service providers in St. Louis County says they've made “substantial progress” toward cutting the number of days people spend in the county jail, but they acknowledge they fell short of their goal.

WOW air, which will start flights in St. Louis next year, was launched in 2011by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.
BriYYZ | Flickr

The St. Louis region is about to get a direct link to Reykjavik. Iceland-based WOW air will begin four flights a week between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Keflavik International Airport in May. From there, passengers can go on to European cities including Berlin, Paris, and London.

Paul Knittel | flickr

The assessed value of residential homes in St. Louis County has shot up an average of 7 percent since 2015 — the county’s strongest showing in almost a decade. St. Louis’ numbers beat the county: a nearly 12 percent increase in the same time frame.

Experts say it’s a sign the region has recovered from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts has announced a new initiative to combat opioid abuse. June 7, 2017
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s statewide prescription drug monitoring database will come online next month. There’s a key difference between it and databases throughout the U.S. and even in St. Louis County, which actually covers nearly 60 percent of the state.

The program, created by Gov. Eric Greitens by an executive order, will collect who is writing opioid prescriptions and dispensing the drugs, but only the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services can access the data. In every other state, pharmacists and doctors can see that type of data — which is the most successful way to stem opioid abuse, according to Sherry Green of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

House for sale
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The St. Louis County Assessor's office has started informal conferences with property owners concerned their taxes are too high.

Assessor Jake Zimmerman says the average county property value has gone up roughly 7 percent, compared to the last review a couple of years ago. He attributes the increase, in part, to a hotter real estate market, with properties selling faster and for more money.  

Councilman Mark Harder's (left) bill aimed at replacing two bridges in western St. Louis County sparked a war of words between councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger always was going to have a hard time getting along with most of the St. Louis County Council. After all, the county voters filled the majority of those seven seats with people who have longstanding disagreements with the Democrat.  

That expected acrimony has come to pass in the form of a dispute over replacing bridges, prompting some council members to question Stenger’s ability to effectively communicate with them.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating at least seven claims that security guards on MetroLink trains and platforms acted like police officers — allegations the Bi-State Development Agency,  which runs the transportation system, denies.

The department wrote its first report about a MetroLink guard attempting to make an arrest on April 8, St. Louis County Police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said Tuesday, though incidents are alleged to have happened before  that. The security guards are not licensed as officers by the state and therefore don’t have authority to arrest anyone.

A screenshot of the newly released Your STL Courts website May 2017
Screenshot | yourstlcourts.com

The St. Louis County municipal court system has a new website that developers believe will help reduce arrests of people who don’t show up to court, but detractors say more access to that kind of information doesn’t necessarily make officers’ ticketing proclivities more fair.

Pallets full of sandbags that stayed dry during the floods sit in the parking lot of City Hall in Valley Park in January 2016.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 1 with new road closure information - Rising rivers in the St. Louis area that are already threatening homes and businesses will also cause major traffic headaches for at least the rest of this week.

More than 70 roads have been closed in the area due to engorged rivers and streams. (See a complete list here.) Officials say more will be added to the list this week. That includes Interstate 44, which will close in both directions at Route 141 Monday night. Missouri Department of Transportation engineer  Tom Blair says it will mark the third spot on the interstate to close since the heavy rains hit the state this past weekend.

A print by Mitchell Eismont, cut from linoleum depicts noted physicist Albert Einstein above the words "Einstein was a refugee."
Courtesy of the St. Louis Artists' Guild

Ohio-based artist Mitchell Eismont’s interest in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis developed while he was producing posters for East Coast musician Chadwick Stokes' “Forced to Flee” tour. Inspired by Stokes' dedication, Eismont began work on a series of prints supporting immigrants and refugees, featuring cultural figures like the Dalai Lama, Jesus and Albert Einstein.

“I think it’s probably the crisis of our generation,” Eismont said of the crisis, which stems from a long-running civil war. “I think it’s important to try and help with the situation.”

Lyda Krewson waves after taking the oath of office to become the 46th mayor of St. Louis on April 18, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Flanked by family, friends and four former mayors, Lyda Krewson became St. Louis’ 46th mayor on Tuesday — and, as she was sure to note, the first woman to do so.

Her address then took a swift, and somewhat surprising turn as she signaled that one of her main goals is to encourage an urban coalition that includes St. Louis County and Kansas City.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General  Sessions' remarks. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County will get an estimated $80 million a year for policing and public safety efforts after voters approved Proposition P on Tuesday.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger visited St. Louis Public Radio studios on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though St. Louis County is gearing up for some major votes come April 4, the St. Louis County Executive seat, currently held by Steve Stenger, is not one of the positions up for re-election. Stenger is about two years into his tenure in the position.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined host Don Marsh to discuss his tenure in the position and current initiatives in St. Louis County.

Here’s a smattering of what Stenger discussed …

… on bringing soccer to St. Louis:

Ahead of the April 4 elections in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, St. Louis on the Air will host several pro/con discussions about ballot measures with a proponent and opponent of the measure at hand.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday, St. Louis on the Air hosted a moderated conversation about Proposition P, one of the ballot measures that St. Louis County voters will decide on during the April 4 election. On Friday's program, we also heard a discussion of Proposition 1, a St. Louis city ballot measure, which you can find here

The text of the proposition reads as follows:

A sidewalk along Bellefontaine Road in Bellefontaine Neighbors doesn't quite make it to the Metro bus stop.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Liane Constantine and her 6-year-old son, Ashton, live about half a mile from where he takes taekwondo classes in a small strip mall in Kirkwood. It would be easy enough to walk there, if only they could safely cross Manchester Road.

“ … I’d have to grab him by the hand and say ‘run when we don’t see any cars’,” she said, standing on the unpaved street corner that doesn’t have a crosswalk. Instead, they’re forced to drive, unnecessary as it seems.

The difficulty in traveling even short distances without a car prompted Constantine to ask our Curious Louis project why sidewalks are often so few and far between in St. Louis County.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee speaks against proposed standards for polcie departments in St. Louis County in December 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the St. Louis County Council overstepped its boundaries when it tried to impose certain minimum standards on the 50 or so municipal police departments in the county's borders.

A capsule of pills.
FDA | file photo

After years of opposition in the Missouri legislature to a statewide program to monitor prescription drugs, St. Louis County is preparing to test its own.

By using a new database, pharmacists in the county will help flag consumers who may be “doctor shopping” for highly addictive opioid-based painkillers. Missouri is the only state in the country without such a system.

Its goal is to take away one of the easiest pathways to opioid addiction, while giving doctors and pharmacists a way to be more vigilant, said Dr. Faisal Khan, St. Louis County's health director.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis County law that would have set minimum operating standards for police departments in the county is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The law, approved in December 2015, set staffing, training and hiring standards. Departments would have been required to have at least two officers on duty 24-7 and conduct background checks on prospective officers that included psychological screenings. Elected officials in cities that failed to comply could be jailed, or the St. Louis County police could take over public safety services in the city.

Chief Jon Belmar said police questioned three people regarding the shootings but they did not turn up any suspects
File photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters will be asked April 4 to approve a sales tax hike to provide more money for police protection.

The County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to place the proposal on next spring's ballot. It would impose a county-wide sales tax of one-half of one percent.

St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar joined Stenger on Wednesday in announcing the minimum standards proposal.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A measure to boost sales taxes to help law enforcement agencies may be going to St. Louis County voters.

The St. Louis County Council gave initial approval today for the ballot item. The one-half of 1 percent sales tax hike would partly go to the St. Louis County Police Department. The rest would go to St. Louis County municipalities.

Police chief Jon Belmar says funding raised by the tax would be distributed based on population and would go toward increasing hiring, salaries and access to technology like body cameras.

s_falkow | Flickr

Nearly every voter in Missouri is aware of the contests for president and governor.

But there are also 48 trial and appellate judges who are hoping to remain on the bench through retention elections. 

The chlamydia bacteria, stained and viewed at 500 times.
National Cancer Institute | Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory

Rates of three common sexually transmitted diseases have risen to a record high level nationwide, and St. Louis continues to rank high among cities, according to federal data released Wednesday.

The St. Louis region recorded 14,961 cases of chlamydia in 2015, the 17th highest per-capita rate in the country. Rates of syphyllis stayed relatively steady at just over 400 cases in the metro area. The city of St. Louis, however, measured the highest rate of both chlamydia and gonorrhea among counties and independent cities. 

“We’ve seen closures of publicly funded STD clinics around the country, and St. Louis is similar in that we have very few options for people to get tested and treated,” said Dr. Brad Stoner, medical director of the St. Louis STD/HIV Prevention Training Center.

Brian Ungles of Cushman & Wakefield announces expansion on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016
Hannah Westerman St. Louis Public Radio

Six hundred jobs are coming to St. Louis over the next four years.

Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield on Friday announced the company’s $17.4 million expansion. The firm has signed a lease for a new 90,000-square-foot office in Town and Country.

The firm already employs 900 people in the St. Louis area. Cushman & Wakefield have been in St. Louis for 90 years.

Brian Ungles, market leader for the company, said St. Louis is a great location for growth.

The St. Louis County Building Commission members (Jeff Aboussie, Barry Glantz and John Finder, right) listen to Sierra Club supporters on August 2015. The model house is covered with the names of 529 area residents who want stricter energy efficiency stan
Veronique LaCapra

A set of construction standards that lower environmental requirements for new residential buildings could soon be approved by St. Louis County officials. 

The county's Building Code Review Committee has approved a draft ordinance on the building codes. The proposed ordinance, which will be sent to the county's Building Commission, dismisses energy efficiency measures from the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that would require new homes to reduce air infiltration, install more energy efficient lights and add more increased wall and ceiling insulation.

St. Louis County Parks and Recreation

St. Louis County residents have several opportunities this month to weigh in on the future of area parks.

The County’s Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a series of open houses to discuss a master plan to guide the development and maintenance of parks and park facilities.

Project manager Gerry Biedenstein said residents should take this opportunity to share what they think is important.

Sgt. Susie Lorthridge on patrol in Wellston on May 19, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway detailed numerous problems with how bonds are collected from people accused of municipal violations in Wellston. She also found that the city collects fees on dismissed cases, which she says violates state law. And she described in a press release how court case records “were disorganized, incomplete, missing and in many cases, inaccurate, with 90 percent of cases reviewed showing conflicting activity between electronic and paper records.”

Pages