Top Stories | St. Louis Public Radio

Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has announced a gun buyback program for the St. Louis region.

She made the announcement on Friday at an event surrounded by the police chief, public safety director, federal and state prosecutors, and members of the clergy. “We are awash in guns,” Krewson said. “So far this year, the police department has taken over 2,000 guns off of the streets. That’s not nearly enough.”

Norm White dedicated his life to changing the way people viewed children "immersed in risk."
File |Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University criminal justice professor and Ferguson activist Norman White died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 64.

He and his wife Elizabeth “Liz” White were getting ready to leave their Belleville home for an evening rehearsal of a Christmas play they were performing in when he had the attack and died soon afterwards.

White, a New York native, called himself a “developmental criminologist,” and he spent his life working to change the way people viewed and treated children who are “immersed in risk,” as he phrased it.

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A pre-filed bill in the Missouri House would eliminate a state law requiring the attorney general to live in Jefferson City.

Current law requires the attorney general to live “at the seat of government,” which is in Jefferson City. The measure sponsored by Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal, would simply strike those words from state law.

St. Louis Community College student lie on the floor and chant during a Nov. 30, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting in an effort to delay a vote on teacher layoffs and budget cuts. Five of those students are now facing disciplinary action from the school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

At least five students at St. Louis Community College received a letter summoning them to a meeting with their dean of students to talk about disciplinary action over a protest at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.

Those five, along with other students and professors, caused an hour-long delay for a vote over cutting the college’s faculty and staff. Ultimately, the trustees approved the cuts during a confusing and raucous meeting on Nov. 30.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Oscar Hernandez has been playing Latin jazz and salsa music for more than four decades, and in that time he’s performed with some of that music’s greatest performers, but also seen people turn away from their musical heritage.

So when Hernandez gets a chance to share the Latin music tradition that emerged from New York with a multigenerational crowd, he counts his blessings.

“I always say thank God for the intelligent, discerning fans that go beyond the commercial [music] that they’re fed continually in this country,” Hernandez said recently. “They go out and seek something better than that. And that’s who our audience is. That’s who our fans are.”

The Metro Trans Umbrella Group telethon will take place Saturday at noon through Sunday at noon.
Provided

Sayer Johnson grew up watching the annual Jerry Lewis telethon for kids with muscular dystrophy.

In recent years, he's wondered if advocates for transgender people could raise money in a similar manner?

That will happen at noon on Saturday, when the Metro Trans Umbrella Group begins a 24-hour telethon. Viewers can watch it on Facebook and YouTube.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson County is one step closer to attaining the federal clean air standard for sulfur dioxide, a noxious gas that can cause asthma and respiratory illness.

The Missouri Air Conservation Commission on Thursday approved the state's recommendation to the Environmental Protection Agency that the county's sulfur dioxide levels are within the federal limit of 75 parts per billion.

William Gass teaches a class at Washington University in 1984
Herb Weitman | Washington University

Author William Gass died Wednesday at his home in St. Louis.  He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

Longtime friend and coworker Lorin Cuoco said Gass’ work flourished in St. Louis.

OliBac | Flickr

The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

Justin Wang (left), playing against Luis Torres. Wang, 12, was the youngest player in the event and achieved his first international master norm. 2017
Eric Rosen

For six days, 20 players from all over the world battled it out through nine strenuous rounds of chess at the 2017 St. Louis Invitational. The event featured two 10-player round-robin sections in which players competed for a chunk of the $15,000 prize fund. More importantly, many of the players strived to earn grandmaster and international master norms, which would bring them closer to attaining the respective titles.

About 1,000 people die in U.S. jails every year. Half of deaths are due to illness, according to federal statistics.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirletta Chambly has lost two family members in St. Louis jails: First her brother, and then her 21-year-old son.

Maleek Coleman-Chambly died after a seizure in his bed at the St. Louis City Justice Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Family members claim he told them over the phone that jail personnel had refused to give him his epilepsy medication the night before.

Provided | Anthony Volkman

For seven years, Ackerman School music teacher Anthony Volkman has spent his summers creating the school's annual holiday program on a budget likely to make The Grinch flinch.

“We had $400,” Volkman said. “We had basic costuming; we made sets out of cardboard and paper.”

But this year, the program will be more elaborate, thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Maritz marketing company. It's not a huge amount — enough for props for kids in wheelchairs, professional lighting and more microphones — but the impact on the kids in this K-8 Special School District building in Florissant is incalculable.

Gov. Eric Greitens sits down for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

Gov. Eric Greitens is taking his smaller-government message to Missouri’s agriculture industry, ahead of the 2018 legislative session that begins next month.

The first-year Republican governor told Missouri Farm Bureau members at their annual gathering this week that his administration is poised to roll back “tens of thousands” of regulations that affect farmers, ranchers and agribusiness.

 

This story was updated at 1:00 p.m.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, has joined with a chorus of colleagues—including the majority of women in the Senate—in calling on their fellow Democrat, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, to resign following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s top public school leaders are getting larger salary bumps than the teachers they’re overseeing, according to an audit from state auditor Nicole Galloway.

The audit released Monday found a large gap in the pay range of superintendents which is not always based on district size. Overall, superintendent pay is up 31 percent from 12 years ago, according to the auditor. During that same time, teacher salaries increased 22 percent.

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

Missouri will soon adopt new regulations to clean up the state’s 150 large lakes and reservoirs.

But environmentalists contend the state’s plan won’t be strong enough to address pollution caused by harmful nutrients.

Missouri currently does not set limits on nitrogen and phosphorus. A combination of agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plant discharges and other sources can cause an excessive amount of the nutrients to enter lakes, rivers and streams. Nutrient pollution can render bodies of water unsuitable for drinking and recreation, cause fish kills, and drag down oxygen levels to create “dead zones,” similar to the one that exists in the Gulf of Mexico. 

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams and Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven speak with each other after the State Board of Education granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

One of Gov. Eric Greitens’ five appointees to the Missouri Board of Education says disappointing reading, math and social studies scores convinced him that Margie Vandeven needed to be dismissed as the state’s education commissioner.

Amid a bipartisan backlash, Eddy Justice is rejecting the idea that he’s a “puppet” of the governor — or that the move to oust Vandeven “politicized” the board’s proceedings.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that the electric car maker Tesla can be granted a license to sell cars in the state.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the association representing Missouri car dealers did not have the right to sue Tesla, and dismissed the case. The ruling means Tesla can apply to renew licenses for its two Missouri stores, and potentially expand across the state.

The Evening Whirl bills itself as St. Louis' uninterrupted crime-fighting publication for over 79 years.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

For nearly 80 years The St. Louis Evening Whirl has been reporting on crime in a way other news outlets wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do.

The weekly is sold in gas stations, convenience stores and by subscription for $1.50. Readers will find plenty of crime stories told in a distinct style, filled with slang and nicknames. Recent headlines have included “Prosecutor Seeks ‘Big Needle’ in Slaying of Pregnant Teacher” and “D-Boy Throws Bomb at Cops During Getaway.”

provided by the CDC

Missouri and 12 other states are continuing their legal fight against California over a state law there that plaintiffs say is inflating the price of eggs.

California law requires any eggs sold there to come from chickens whose cages are large enough for them to stretch out and move around. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Dec. 4 with comment from Green — St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green has decided to follow a judge’s order to issue $100 million in bonds to upgrade the Scottrade Center.

Green said in a statement that she has complied with the court ruling, and signed the required documents. But a spokesman said the bonds had not yet been issued, and Green may still appeal the ruling. Also on Monday, her attorney filed documents asking the judge to change the ruling.

Sarah Durrett - Combat Sexual Harassment
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sarah Durrett’s car broke down in 2013, she started walking and taking public transportation for daily tasks in St. Louis — and was surprised to find herself experiencing regular sexual harassment for the first time in her life.

Some men followed her home, and others whispered lewd comments. One man tried to grab her feet and kiss them. Durrett worried that even an off-kilter look could escalate to something scarier. “You don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “You just become afraid.”

So Durrett began considering ways to challenge sexual harassment in St. Louis. After living elsewhere for a few years, she moved back to St. Louis in 2017 and decided to forgo her car, only to once again experience harassment. That’s when she focused on her ideas to start Combat Sexual Harassment, a network to help women and men who have had similar experiences.

Left to right. Chorus members Samantha Madison, Kelli Lowe, Melissa Pickens, Khalid McGhee, De-Rance Blaylock, Robert Crenshaw, Duane Martin Foster, a NYC chorus member and Gheremi Clay in the October production of The Drum Major Instinct.
Provided | Theater of War

A theatrical performance coming to St. Louis on Friday ties the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to recent protests here, with the goal of getting people to talk about racism, gun violence and policing.

“The Drum Major Instinct” is based on a sermon King delivered in  February 1968, in which he encouraged followers to work not for individual glory, but collective justice. The New York company Theater of War Productions is staging the dramatic reading and choral event.

An illustration of a group of four people sitting around a table.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last week took a big step toward adopting one of the recommendations in the Ferguson Commission report.

By approving the Office of Community Mediation on a 26-0 vote, the city is embracing the idea that with a little help, communities can handle some disputes on their own, rather than relying on the police or the judicial system.

Links 2 Health, a mobile health screening unit, is providing services at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers. December 1, 2017.
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

A mobile health screening unit will begin providing services on Monday at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers.

 

Links 2 Health was announced Friday during a ceremony at the Wellston Transit Center.

 

The program is a collaborative between the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and Bi-State Development to bring the mobile unit to transit riders in north St. Louis County.

 

Margie Vandeven gets a hug from a supporter after the State Board of Education voted 5-3 to remove her as Education Commissioner.
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens got his wish to install a new education chief Friday after enough of his appointees to the state's board of education voted to remove commissioner Margie Vandeven.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted 5-3 to oust Vandeven, according to board member Mike Jones, from St. Louis. It was the second vote on Vandeven’s status in the past couple of weeks.

File | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s school district has surpassed a “milestone” in its long turnaround process.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to raise the district’s classification up to “provisionally accredited,” a change from the failing status at which it’s languished the past five years. The reclassification will bring an end to a program that’s caused the district to lose scores of students and millions of dollars to other schools.

People gather inside a giant inflatable bubble to listen to presentations about art
Provided by Gavin Kroeber

As the sun sets, several people circle around giant plastic disk laid out behind the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The disk inflates and attendees are invited to walk back and forth as it grows into a massive bubble.

Adults giggle as performers run around the inflated orb before inviting people inside for an installment of “At the Edge of Everything Else,” a creative soiree hosted by artist and organizer Gavin Kroeber. It’s part of a project to highlight art rooted in the urban fabric of St. Louis.

Provided | Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Missouri’s education commissioner could soon be out of the job after a State Board of Education member resigned — and a judge refused to reinstall a Joplin pastor to his slot.

Claudia Oñate Greim resigned from the state board on Thursday night, less than a day before members are slated to meet. Greim was the only person who Gov. Eric Greitens appointed who voted earlier this month against firing Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

St. Louis Community College trustee Joan McGivney makes a motion during votes to cut college employees as students shout in protest during a board of trustees meeting Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College’s workforce will shrink again as the institution tries to combat what administrators say is a looming budget crisis.

The college’s board of trustees approved a budget reduction plan Thursday during a raucous meeting that included a lengthy delay by protesters. The budget cuts include the second buyout package this year — plus layoffs of full-time teachers and staff. The plan also increases employee health care costs and eliminates other staff benefits.

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