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

Peter Herschend listens to a presentation Thursday, June 14, 2018. He was appointed back to the Missouri State Board of Education this week after first serving from 1991 to 2017.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 17 at 11:30 a.m. with comments from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed — State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed objected to one of the governor’s four appointments to the Missouri State Board of Education, leaving Peter Herschend off the board after just three meetings.

Nasheed, D-St. Louis, held up a vote on Herschend Friday during a flurry of board appointments as part of a joint-veto and special session of the legislature. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, eventually withdrew the nomination.

Harris-Stowe State University

Harris-Stowe State University’s historic Vashon Community Center is getting an upgrade.

The university has received a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to renovate the interior of the 1936 building, along with $1.2 million from the state of Missouri. The building has most recently been used for storage, but after the $1.7-million renovations, the former public recreation center will again be open to the public.

Lawyers for Friendship Village retirement facility say the community’s decision to turn away the couple was due to the “faith-based nature of the organization.”
Friendship Village

Lawyers for Friendship Village have asked a federal court to dismiss a same-sex couple's discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County retirement community.

In a response filed Friday, lawyers for Friendship Village deny the facility discriminated against Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance on the basis of sex. The lawyers argue that the retirement community denied the couple housing based on the organization's religious convictions.

In denying their housing application in July 2016, the senior living community in Sunset Hills mailed the couple a copy of its “cohabitation policy,” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman as it is “understood in the Bible.”

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

Astronaut Bob Behnken is a Pattonville High School graduate. He has physics and mechanical engineering degreees from Washington University. He earned advanced degrees from the California Institute of Technology.
NASA Kennedy | Flickr

Bob Behnken is helping NASA usher in a new era.

The astronaut, who grew up in St. Ann, has nearly 40 hours walking in the vacuum of space. Now he is part of the crew that will conduct the first human test flights for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

The Arch lights will be turned off from Sept. 17 to Sept. 30, 2018.
Jason Lusk | Flickr

The lights illuminating the Gateway Arch will go dark for two weeks beginning Monday.

The decision is part of a biannual effort to avoid disrupting bird migrations along the Mississippi Flyway — a critical route used by more than 300 North American bird species. Light pollution from upward-facing spotlights can disorient birds that migrate at night and cause them to collide with buildings.

File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s mission accomplished for Gov. Mike Parson, as the Missouri Legislature’s special session is all but over.

The Senate Friday debated and passed both revised bills the governor wanted – legislation to allow expansion of treatment courts in Missouri, and to create an online science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for middle-school and high-school students.

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan, left, and County Executive Steve Stenger declare a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis at a press conference Thursday in Berkley.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Department of Public Health Director Faisal Khan is leaving his post for a job in Kansas City.

Khan, who reports to County Executive Steve Stenger, said Friday that political tensions between the County Council and Stenger’s office have made it difficult to do his job.

“The gulf of trust that seems to have opened up between the two is the result of both sides being unwilling to come to the table and come to an agreement and understanding about the vital services provided in St. Louis County,” Khan said. “The apportionment of blame is equally to share.”

Green Party candidate Jo Crain, Republican candidate Attorney General Josh Hawley, independent candidate Craig O'Dear and Sen. Claire McCaskill participate in a candidate forum in Maryland Heights on Sept. 14, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill and state Attorney General Josh Hawley went toe-to-toe on health care, the Supreme Court, immigration and tariffs in their first forum of the campaign Friday.

Hawley, a Republican, said the public will choose between a “heartland way of life’’ and a “radical left-wing agenda.”

McCaskill, a Democrat, said the public should focus on “the ones who actually have a track record of working in a bipartisan way and actually getting things done.”

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, left, and her Republican challenger Saundra McDowell participated in a debate Friday.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s state auditor candidates tangled Friday over the role of the job in their first — and possibly only — joint appearance.

They also differed over the fate of a disputed ballot measure called Clean Missouri.

 

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Cole County judge ruled Friday that a bid to overhaul the state’s ethics and state legislative redistricting laws contained too many subjects — and therefore can’t appear on the November ballot.

Proponents of the Clean Missouri initiative are appealing the ruling. But the clock is ticking for judges to make a final decision.

Amanda Moller prepares her formula in her home in University City. The formula is vital to treat a rare condition, but her insurer doesn't cover it.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, Amanda Moller scoops powdered formula out of a can and shakes it up with water from her kitchen sink. It's like mixing a cocktail, she said, "but not that much fun."

The formula doesn’t taste great – like watery pudding with a biting, cheesy aftertaste. But it’s something Amanda needs to treat a rare metabolic condition she’s had since she was born. After 30 years, she’s gotten used to it.

Amanda’s employer-based insurance plan (through her husband’s employer) doesn’t cover it. Like many treatments for rare diseases, the lack of well-funded research and the tendency of insurers to focus on the bottom line mean sometimes patients can’t afford necessary medical supplies. Many of the 16,000 people in the United States who need the formula spend close to $1,000 a month to buy it.

STL Not for Sale, grassroots group hold press conference at City Hall Sept. 13, 2018
photo credit | Melody Walker

A grassroots group called STL Not For Sale is criticizing an outreach campaign conducted by a team exploring privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The group held a press conference Thursday on the steps of City Hall to protest what it says is a push for privatization. Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, said she learned about the door-to-door effort from her constituents.

The Boys & Girls Club of St. Louis broke ground on the Teen Center of Excellence on September 13, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 13 at 3:50 p.m., to include information from Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Four years after protests rocked Ferguson, a nonprofit is expanding youth services in the area.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis broke ground on a teen center in Ferguson, Thursday morning. The $12.4-million facility will be located on West Florissant Avenue, less than half a mile from the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in August 2014.

Carmen and Isabel Garcia with a Clydesdale, on location in September 2017 at Grant's Farm for a promotional St. Louis Blues video.
Carmen Garcia

Updated Sept. 13, 2018 - Since we originally published this story, the mother-daughter duo of Carmen and Isabel Garcia have continued performing in musical theater separately and together.

In June they played a grandmother and granddaughter in Mustard Seed Theater’s “Luchadora”, a drama about Mexican wrestling.

Cami Thomas, producer of the Smoke Screen documentary series with fellow filmmaker Calvin Tigre.
Cami Thomas

St. Louis activist and filmmaker Cami Thomas moved back to St. Louis from college a year after Michael Brown’s death. While news of the 2014 shooting and the protests that followed grabbed national attention, she was miles away at school — grappling with the developments and fallout.

When she returned to St. Louis, Thomas said people told her she was fortunate to move back “after the smoke cleared.” In talking with neighbors and friends, however, she wondered if locals weren’t still wrestling with age-old problems — namely segregation and discrimination.

On Chess: The Batumi Chess Olympiad

Sep 13, 2018
The 2018 U.S. Olympic team. Seated (left to right): Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So. Standing: Ray Robson, John Donaldson, Sam Shankland.
Dilip Vishwanat / World Chess Hall of Fame

The Georgian resort city of Batumi, located on the Black Sea near the Turkish border, will host the 43 Chess Olympiad. More than 1,600 players from 185 countries will compete in the bi-annual event, which is separate from the Summer and Winter Olympics.

The two-week-long tournament, running from Sept. 24 to Oct. 6, will see the United States' team attempt to defend the gold medals it won as the top finisher in 2016 in Azerbaijan, its first victory in 40 years. Perennial powerhouses Russia, China and Ukraine, along with newcomers Azerbaijan and India, are among the other top-ranked teams in an event that traces its history back to 1927.

The Avett Brothers at LouFest 2015
File photo | Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

When the organizers of LouFest canceled the event, the news came as a shock to many, though signs of the festival’s distress had been apparent. The festival’s promoter, Listen Live Entertainment, insisted that everything was fine until the moment it pulled the plug.

The announcement identified several causes including the loss of key sponsors, debt and expected rain. Organizers insisted the festival had been on target “until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment.”

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

While the special legislative session moves forward, Missouri lawmakers have wrapped up their annual veto session with no overrides.

The House did vote in favor of overriding four of Gov. Mike Parson’s line-item vetoes, which would’ve restored $785,546 to the current state budget. But the Senate needed to override them, too, and it didn’t.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley spoke in the St. Louis area on Aug. 30, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again, Republicans are raising questions about U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s personal finances – or rather, those of her husband, wealthy businessman Joe Shepard.

But this time, she’s accusing her GOP critics of being hypocrites because they’re not making the same demands of President Donald Trump.

Her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, contends that McCaskill wants to hide her family’s “dark-money’’ finances.

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