St. Louis County

(via Flickr/Trailnet)

The St. Louis County Parks Department presented its business plan to the County Council last night, and for now, no park closures are being discussed. 

Officials with the parks department said they’re doing their best to cut unnecessary expenses and uncover new revenue streams, but currently the department has a $500,000 budget shortfall for 2013.

The budget outlook could get much worse in 2014, and Parks Department Director Tom Ott said they would need to make drastic cuts without adequate funding.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn to announce plan to address Illinois' drought

Gov. Pat Quinn plans  a visit to a southern Illinois farm today. The Illinois Farm Bureau says that so far, it's the sixth driest year on record. The average precipitation of the first half of the year was 12.6 inches. Much of Illinois' corn and soybean crop is suffering. Farm officials say southern Illinois is experiencing the worst of it.  Quinn is expected to detail whatever government relief may be available to drought-affected growers and ranchers.

(via Flickr/breahn)

The St. Louis County Economic Council is opening the doors to its new biotech incubator on Monday afternoon and the agency says it will serve as a launching pad for biotech businesses.

Officials say The Helix Center Biotech Incubator is a 17,000 square foot facility loaded with lab and office space with a prime location next to the Danforth Plant Center.

Entrepreneurial efforts are nothing new to the council, which runs four other incubators in the region.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn will close two prisons, including Tamms

Rachel Otwell contributed reporting from Springfield, Ill.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made it official on Tuesday - he will close two state prisons, including the state's supermax facility in Tamms.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg, says he received a brief memo from Quinn, saying that Tamms and a prison in Dwight will close, as well as juvenile detention centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. That's despite legislators including money in the 2013 budget for the facilities.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

St. Louis County officials believe a strong public awareness campaign about the dangers of heroin use are having an impact.

The county has reported 14 deaths from heroin through April 10, down from 32 over the same period last year - a drop of more than 50 percent.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

US Chamber of Commerce weighs in on Missouri's GOP Senate primary

The US Chamber of Commerce has made an endorsement in the three-way Republican Senate primary in Missouri.

The chamber on Tuesday backed former Vi-Jon chairman John Brunner, saying his private sector experience in cutting spending and balancing budgets provides the best contrast with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

Nate Birt | Provided

A Muslim civil rights group is urging St. Louis County to revise its policy of requiring female Muslim inmates to remove religious headscarves. But the director of the jail cites a potential security risk.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says a Ballwin, Mo., woman was jailed in January because of an unpaid traffic ticket.

She was ordered to remove her Islamic headdress, known as a hijab. The Muslim religion forbids women from exposing their head or neck to men outside the immediate family.

(National Cancer Institute)

Spikes and dips in cancer rates are not uncommon in public health statistics, but explaining why they occur and deciding what to do about them can often be as difficult as treating the disease itself. St. Louis Public Radio's Joseph Leahy takes a look at St. Louis County where the prostate cancer rate is unusually high. 

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County is considering changing farmers’ markets ordinances to make it easier for food venders to do business. Instead of a $35 permit which lasts two weeks, the new permits would last seven-months, and cost $75. 

St. Louis County Health Department Director Dolores Gunn says the seven-month length – as opposed to a year – is intended to prevent abuses of the system.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri companies exported $14.1 billion worth of goods and services last year, according to new data from the World Trade Center St. Louis and the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research.

That's a record level of exports, officials say - $500 million higher than the previous record, which was set in 2007. The state's biggest customers were Canada, Mexico and China, with China's consumption of goods like copper scrap, fan parts, and semiconductor devices growing another 18 percent in 2011.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

In response to calls from residents during an actual tornado warning last month, St. Louis County officials have announced that they'll begin a series of re-tests of some of their new tornado sirens on Wednesday.

Any siren location where officials received multiple calls from residents claiming not to have heard the siren will be subject to the re-tests.

The re-tests will occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and will be accompanied by "This is only a test" messages at the beginning and end of each activation.

Flickr/jdnx

Gateway Arch project may not be finished by anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch is three years away, but the project to improve and expand the grounds by then may not be finished on time.

Walter Metcalfe, director of the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which is leading the effort, says it's more important to get it right than to get it done in time for the anniversary.

(via Flickr/Ian Sane)

Here's a strange, and painful-sounding, story out of Ellisville this morning for you:

A 53-year-old St. Louis County woman is hospitalized with critical injuries after being struck in the head by a deer.

Authorities say the woman was standing in a service station parking lot in Ellisville when two deer ran through the lot. One of them ran into the woman, knocking her to the ground. The animal then bounded into an insurance company window.

The woman is hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Her name has not been released.

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St. Louis County Police are filling a law enforcement gap in Dellwood as efforts continue to disband the suburb's municipal police force. 

Dellwood's Mayor, Loretta Johnson, requested the county's help while eight of Dellwood's 16 police department positions remain vacant.

Nate Birt | Provided

The St. Louis County Public Works department is asking the County Council for permission to use more than $394,000 in unspent funds to make emergency repairs to the roof of the county jail.

Public works spokesman David Wrone says a hailstorm last spring punched pin-sized holes in the membrane of the roof. Resulting water leaks damaged mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as left some day rooms and cells on the 8th floor unusable.

(St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County goes on holiday recess with approved budget

The St. Louis County Council has approved a 2012 budget after a contentious season of fiscal wrangling with County Executive Charlie Dooley. Early this fall Dooley's county budget estimates convinced him to propose drastic cuts. Dooley drew sharp criticism for his proposal to shut down 23 county parks and lay off almost 200 county employees.   

(via Flickr/ines_saraiva)

Motorola Solutions has been awarded a $75 million contract to design a radio system for first responders in St. Louis County.

The system will allow more than 150 police departments, fire departments, paramedics and other public safety agencies to communicate directly with each other by radio. Officials say their inability to do that makes it difficult to respond to disasters effectively.

(via Flickr/Trailnet)

Members of the St. Louis County Council have reached a budget deal that avoids the closure of 23 county parks.

The two sides announced the compromise at a County Council meeting Tuesday night. The new 2012 budget keeps open all 50 of the county parks, and reduces the number of job cuts from 173 to about 40. It also maintains plowing in unincorporated areas that receive less than two inches of snow.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city and St. Louis County officials say they've gotten federal approval that will help local companies compete in the global market. The area's Foreign Trade Zone has expanded to include all of St. Louis County and City.

The expanded zone will allow more local manufacturing and distribution companies to import goods duty-free and avoid other customs fees.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the expansion at Sunset Transportation in south St. Louis. Slay says the approval from the US Department of Commerce also streamlines the time it takes for businesses to qualify.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is defending his decision to explore the possibility of the state jointly running several county parks in St. Louis County that are being targeted for closure.

The parks in question include Lone Elk Park in West County, home to wild elk, turkey, deer and buffalo.  State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) is questioning whether the governor has the authority to enter into such an agreement.

(St. Louis County website)

Gov. Jay Nixon says his administration has begun discussions with St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley in hopes of helping to keep open some county parks slated for closure.

(via St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County Council members gather tonight at 6:00 p.m. to discuss County Executive Charlie Dooley’s proposed budget for 2012.  Facing flat revenues and a budget shortfall, Dooley has proposed $10 million in spending cuts that would close 23 county parks and eliminate up to 133 Parks & Recreation Department employees.

The budget has been under fire from council members, citizens, and environmental groups, many of whom are calling for more equitable cuts across county departments.

Former County Park Ranger Marty Koch joined Dooley’s Senior Policy Advisor Mike Jones today on St. Louis on the Air.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

As the six-month anniversary of the presidential disaster declaration for Missouri approaches, federal disaster grants and loans have reached over $3.5 million in St. Louis County.

Grants and loans have been distributed by FEMA’s Individuals and Household Programs, their Public Assistance Program and the Small Business Administration disaster loan program.

The money has been providing for those affected by disasters in St. Louis County.

(St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County Executive is defending his proposed budget that includes layoffs and closing some 20 parks and other facilities. In a letter to the county council dated Tuesday, Dooley laid out the options for dealing with declining property tax revenues and rising costs. Dooley says it’s time for the county to live within its means.

(Via Wikimedia Commons/Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU)

Updated October 28, 1:50 p.m. to update information related to St. Louis City. Updated October 28, 12:30 p.m. to add information about the U.S. CDC team.

An E. coli outbreak has sickened at least 21 people in the St. Louis area.

Confirmed cases include 16 in St. Louis County, two in St. Charles County, two in Jefferson County, and one in St. Clair County in Illinois. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services is investigating three suspected cases in St. Louis City. At least nine people in St. Louis County have been hospitalized.

The director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health, Dr. Delores Gunn, confirms that the toxic strain of E. coli is being spread through contaminated food, but says her department is still investigating its origin.

(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

You may hear tornado sirens in St. Louis County again this week. But it won’t be because of bad weather.

The county sounded the new sirens two weeks ago, on Labor Day, and said the new omni-directional, solar-powered system worked largely as hoped. But spokesman David Wrone said they received reports that residents couldn’t hear 14 of the sirens. That doesn’t necessarily mean the sirens aren’t working.

(via Wikimedia Commons/RamblingGambler)

Will be updated

The region's newest casino is barely 18 months old, but plans are already under way for its expansion.

Pinnacle Entertainment announced today that it plans to add a 200-room hotel and 10,000-square foot event center at the River City Casino in south St. Louis County. The $82 million project also  includes a parking garage with 1,700 spaces.

(via Flickr/wild_turkey5300)

Despite cooler weather over the past several days, it's still mosquito season, and that means there's the potential for West Nile Virus cases.

The St. Louis County Department of Health has reported its first suspected human case. A 12-year-old boy from Wellston was briefly hospitalized with West Nile symptoms, though the department says he has returned to normal activities.

The county says there was one human case last year.

Flickr/jimbowen0306

Mo. legislative session begins today

Missouri’s special legislative session begins today and is focused primarily on an overhaul of Missouri’s tax credits. The plan would eliminate existing tax breaks for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rented homes. New incentives would be created for international cargo shippers at the St. Louis airport, computerized data centers, science and technology companies and the organizers of major amateur sporting events.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

A former suburban St. Louis police officer is facing felony charges for allegedly stopping a female drunk-driving suspect, then agreeing not to arrest her in exchange for sex.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 48-year-old Timothy Jones of Troy is charged with acceding to corruption by a public servant. He was formerly an officer for Country Club Hills in St. Louis County.

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