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Top Stories

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

This album was recorded live at Club Imperial in 1965.
George Edick

When George Edick Jr. was in elementary school, he received a present he’ll never forget: a guitar from Ike Turner.

Edick grew up in the 1950s around musicians like Turner who played at his father’s Club Imperial, 6306-28 West Florissant Ave., in the Walnut Park West neighborhood in northwest St. Louis.

The run-down building escaped the wrecking ball last month after the St. Louis Preservation Board voted to save it.

This story was originally published February 6. It has been updated as of February 9 at 1 pm.

The Atchison-Holt Ambulance District spans two counties and 1,100 square miles in the far northwest corner of Missouri. The EMTs who drive these ambulances cover nearly 10 times more land area than their counterparts in Omaha, the nearest major city. 

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

For U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the political question may well be whether lightning can strike twice.

In Missouri, 2012 was shaping up to be a strong Republican election year when the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Todd Akin, went on St. Louis TV station Fox2 and offered up his opinion regarding why an abortion ban wouldn’t affect rape victims:

“If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has  ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 
Now, some in both parties wonder if a replay is looming.

The Africa World Documentary Film Festival runs Feb. 9-11 at the Missouri History Museum.
Africa World Documentary Film Festival

  

The 11th annual Africa World Documentary Film Festival, which runs this weekend in St. Louis, will highlight the experience of African people around the world.

This year, the festival at the Missouri History Museum includes documentaries that focus on Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States.

Festival director Niyi Coker said the documentaries will give viewers in St. Louis a chance to witness breathtaking stories from Africa and its diaspora.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri Senate is weighing a bill that would revoke the governor’s ability to appoint and remove people at will from state boards and commissions.

The measure would require the governor to notify the Senate in writing of any appointments made while the legislature is not in session, bar appointees from being sworn in until the Senate has been notified, and bars the governor from withdrawing appointees if he doesn’t like their decisions as board members.

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

Democrats across the country are jubilant after the party took a Jefferson County-based House seat that was held for nearly eight years by a Republican.

It’s a morale boost for a state party that’s seen its legislative fortunes evaporate over the past few election cycles. And it’s a win in a county where state Democratic candidates have won before and need to excel in order to win tough elections later this year.

Kirkwood City Hall was the scene of fatal shootings on Feb. 7, 2008.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ten years after Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton opened fire at Kirkwood City Hall, some residents hope the city is learning to empathize with the experiences of non-white people and encourage understanding across racial and socioeconomic lines.

Thornton shot and killed five people and wounded others at Kirkwood City Hall on Feb. 7, 2008. Two police officers and two council members were among those killed. Police killed Thornton at the scene.

Lights illuminate the commemorative plaques that line a memorial walkway near Kirkwood City Hall. The plaques honor those killed at City Hall 10 years ago. Feb. 6, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The choir will sing soothing words of hope when the community gathers Wednesday evening at Kirkwood United Methodist Church for a prayer service marking the 10th anniversary of a tragedy that time has not yet tempered.

“Peace fall like a gentle snow ... Fall fresh on the wounded heart ... Come blanket our every fear and let the healing start ...”

The church commissioned “Canticle of Peace’’ by Joseph M. Martin in 2009 and dedicated it to a community still healing from the City Hall shootings. On Feb. 7, 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, armed with two handguns and a festering grudge against city officials, fatally shot two council members, the director of public works and two police officers before being shot and killed by responding police officers.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger to the program.

The Huntleigh Republican represents the council’s 3rd District, which includes municipalities such as Kirkwood, Manchester, Fenton, Sunset Hills, Frontenac and Valley Park. Wasinger has represented her district since 2007.

Students at the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls on May 12, 2017, a St. Louis charter school that opened in 2015.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are making another attempt at expanding independent charter schools outside of the state’s two major cities, this time with a more narrow focus.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Monday voted 7-6 to advance a charter school expansion bill. The legislation allows charter schools to go head-to-head with struggling schools but not entire districts.

Legislation passed by the Missouri House last month banning most gifts from lobbyists has been altered by a Senate committee.

The original version would ban all gifts except plants, flowers, and catered events in which all state lawmakers and elected officials are invited. Now, the bill would allow officeholders to accept no more than $40 worth of gifts per day, and would require them to reimburse the lobbyist for anything above $40.

The West Lake Landfill, in the distance, sits adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its plan for cleaning up radioactive waste at West Lake Landfill.

But officials say they still want to hear from community members on all the proposed remedies, not just the one the agency selected.

The EPA asked for feedback on three elements of its plan: Does the EPA’s proposed excavation plan address public concerns regarding the thoroughness of the removal? How should excavation differ between waste areas? And, where should the radioactive material go after it’s removed? Access all the plan’s documents on the EPA’s website.

George Allen and his mother Lonzetta Taylor speak to reporters on Nov. 14, 2012 after a judge threw out Allen’s 1983 conviction for rape and murder. His family has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for $14 million.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri will pay nearly $14 million to the family of a man wrongfully convicted of the 1982 rape and murder of a St. Louis court reporter.

George Allen died in 2016. His sister Elfrieda and his mother, Lonzetta Taylor, agreed to a settlement in the the federal civil rights lawsuit in December, although the case was not officially dismissed until last week. The first payment of $5 million was due in January.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden poses for a portrait in his office at police headquarters on Olive Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

2017 was a violent year in the St. Louis region. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department handled 205 homicides. St. Louis County detectives investigated 55 more.

Getting the 2018 numbers down is a priority for law enforcement at all levels, and the team leading that effort looks much different than it did last year.

The site of the first Olympics sculpture will be located at the Washington University Field House, one of the locations of the 1904 Olympics.
St. Louis Sports Commission

The Olympic rings will soon be coming to St. Louis.

The St. Louis Sports Commission has announced a plan to place two Olympic sculptures at the venues for the 1904 Olympics.

Approved by the International Olympic Committee, the project will help preserve St. Louis’ Olympic history, said Michael Loynd, chairman of the St. Louis Sports Commission's Olympic Committee.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is considering legislation that would target protesters who block interstate highways.

The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to block lanes of interstate or other limited access highways, punishable by fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to 30 days in jail. And protesters could be held liable in civil suits filed by patients whose ambulances are delayed by blocked interstate highways.

Most of Missouri's Republican statewide officials join state party chairman Todd Graves, left, during forum at state Lincoln Days festivities, held Feb. 3, 2018 in Kansas City.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 5 at 3:55 p.m. with "St. Louis on the Air" segment – KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With federal tax cuts leading the way, some top Missouri Republicans predict they’re on a path to a stronger election-year showing than many critics have predicted.

“I expect it to be a good year for Republicans in Missouri, “ said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who hosted Saturday’s breakfast at the state Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities, held this year in downtown Kansas City.

“It seemed like when the tax bill passed in December, it was almost like a light switch flipped on,” Blunt explained.

The Missouri Capitol building.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly calls for mapping the state's more than 2,200 special tax districts. 

The number of such districts has exploded over the last 10 years, according to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. He said in some areas the layering of districts has pushed sales tax rates up in "a considerable way."

Residents who live near West Lake Landfill gathered at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton after the EPA announced its remediation plan. (Feb 1, 2018)
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

When the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced its plan to remove much of the radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill, some activists and residents celebrated.

But many residents expressed frustration and disappointment that only some of the waste would be removed before the site is covered. They said they’re still concerned about groundwater contamination, which might not be prevented by a partial removal, and worried that they might not be able to move away if the government doesn’t come up with a buyout plan. Some still don’t trust that the EPA can deliver on its promises.

St. Louis is accepting applications for a company to operate a "dockless" bike share system in the city. Officials hope a service will be operating some time this year.
CityofStPete | Flickr

St. Louis officials are shifting gears to bring a bike share program to city residents and visitors.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman Friday approved the permit application to run what’s known as a “dockless” bike share program. Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, the bill’s sponsor, is hopeful a company will be up and pedaling later this year.

Dennis Edwards with the Temptations in a 1968 publicity photo.
Bernie Ilson, Inc., Publicity for Motown Records & The Ed Sullivan Show

When Dennis Edwards was tapped to fill the flashy suit of a well-known lead singer in one of the hottest male soul groups in music history, he hesitated. The Temptations needed him to replace David Ruffin, who had established himself as the undisputed voice of romance with lush ballads that included what would become the group’s signature song: “My Girl.”

“I went home and it wasn’t but about 10 minutes,” Edwards said, during a 2011 interview with Fox2 News. “I said I would love to try out.”

Washington University scientists are identifying genetic features of flu viruses to investigate how to predict flu pandemics.
Credit Jacco Boon and Graham Williams | Washington University St. Louis

Washington University scientists are identifying genetic features of flu viruses to investigate how to predict flu pandemics. 

In a study published in the Nature Communications journal, researchers Jacco Boon, Graham Williams, and Sebla Kutluay write that focusing on the genetic makeup of a flu virus can determine how they replicate and mutate.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Lobbyist gifts, a tax credit for the elderly, and a bill frowned upon by labor unions are on next week’s tentative agenda for the Missouri General Assembly.

Some Senate members appear to be close to their own version of a proposal to ban most gifts from lobbyists. Details are being withheld at the moment, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it could be voted out of committee next week.

File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation designed to combat human trafficking in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Eric Greitens.

The bill would require airports, bus and train stations, hospital emergency rooms, strip clubs, and any business with prior citations for prostitution to display posters that contain a national hotline number. Republican Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis sposoned the bill in the Senate. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens helped engineer a freeze on low-income housing tax credits. And that decision is likely to stand unless the legislature makes substantial changes to the program.
File photo I Carolina Hidaglo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens upset a bipartisan contingent of legislators when his interim appointees made major public policy decisions.

That includes how the Republican governor and his appointees in December 2017 helped halt state low-income housing tax credits, an incentive that encourages developers to produce affordable housing for the working poor and elderly.

The West Lake Landfill, in the distance, sits adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill, right.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency proposal to partially remove nuclear weapons waste from a northwest St. Louis County landfill marks a major shift in approach to a problem that’s plagued residents for decades.

Since 1990, federal officials have either passed the buck on remediating West Lake Landfill or proposed building a cap over the site, which does little to prevent the tons of radioactive waste from contaminating groundwater.

On Thursday, EPA head Scott Pruitt announced his “Excavation Plus” proposal to remove much of the waste, which is about 600 feet from an underground fire in the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill, and permanently cover the rest.

Here's a guide to our coverage.

The West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, seen from St. Charles Rock Road.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. to clarify how much waste would be removed and with additional reaction  — The Environmental Protection Agency has decided on a partial removal of World War II-era radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill, in northwest St. Louis County.

The EPA proposed a remedy that would remove “the majority of the radioactive material” and construct a cover system to “best protect the community of Bridgeton over the long term,” the agency said today in a news release.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens is proposing a $6.5 million increase to Missouri’s student financial aid programs, a modest boost amid his desire to cut $68 million in direct funds to the state’s public colleges and universities.

The state’s Department of Higher Education gave 64,500 students attending in-state schools about $128.5 million last year in the form of three grants: Access Missouri, a financial need-based grant; Bright Flight, a merit-based scholarship; and the A+ Scholarship, providing free community college to students completing 50 hours of community service in high school.

Erise Williams, wearing a gray and white striped shirt, stands by the window, talking with guests at Rustin's Place, a drop-in center  serving mostly young, black, gay men. January 2018
Erise Williams

Black History Month is a time to spotlight African-Americans who made a difference. But many people don’t know that prominent African-Americans were part of the LGBTQ community.

Among them was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who worked side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The civil rights strategist who died in 1987 is honored every day at a little storefront in St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood, called Rustin’s Place. It’s a drop-in center that largely serves LGBTQ people, particularly gay African-American men.

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in 10 years, Missouri’s auditor is going to take a closer look at the way the city of St. Louis operates.

The city is required to undergo a financial audit every year. But the review announced Wednesday by Auditor Nicole Galloway will also look at whether the city is following its own rules and policies when it comes to things like budgeting, contracting and open meetings.

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