Top Stories | St. Louis Public Radio

Top Stories

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

U.S. Rep Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin, raised $804,000 from Jan. 1 to March 31.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri says coordination between private area transportation operations is crucial in the fight against sex trafficking, especially since St. Louis has become a hub in the illegal trade.

The Ballwin Republican met Thursday with representatives from rail and bus companies, along with Uber and Lyft ridesharing services. During the closed-door meeting, they discussed ways that drivers and employees can spot potential trafficking victims, who are often underage and forced into the sex trade.

Storyteller Bobby Norfolk once worked as a park ranger at The Arch. The lack of represenation of York in the Museum of Westward Expansion helped inspire his current performance.
File photo | Provided | Bobby Norfolk

Who were the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition across the Western United States? The obvious answer is Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. But many likely don't know that an enslaved African played a crucial third role.

Lewis and Clark are famous for undertaking the “Corps of Discovery” in the early 1800s. But another man, York, typically only receives a footnote in history books.

St. Louis storyteller Bobby Norfolk wants the change that. In our latest Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast, we talk with Norfolk, whose Sept. 15 storytelling event at The Link Auditorium in the Central West End focuses on York’s experience, which included adventure, hardship and terrible mistreatment.

Rep. Warren Love (center) speaks with Rep. Eric Burlison (right) during the 2016 legislative session.
File photo | Tim Bommel | House Communications

Updated August 31 at 4 p.m. with comments from Love and Gov. Greitens:

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and Democratic elected officials are calling for a Republican lawmaker from southwest Missouri to step down after he posted on Facebook that people who defaced a Confederate statue should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Rep. Warren Love's GOP legislative colleagues are also condemning the Osceola Republican after he posted his reaction to the news that someone threw paint on a Confederate memorial at the Springfield National Cemetery. He wrote: “This is totally against the law. I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

First-year Washington University medical school students board a school bus after a stop on a trip around St. Louis in August.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Every year, for the past 15 years, first year students at Washington University’s School of Medicine have climbed on board three yellow school buses and headed north. They take a route that passes through the city’s poorest neighborhoods, in a bid to introduce medical students to the lives of their future patients.

It’s a trip the school hopes will make them better doctors.

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

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade Jefferson County's air quality status, now that levels of sulfur dioxide have dropped below the federal limit. 

In 2013, the EPA designated Jefferson County as "nonattainment," or not meeting the federal standard for sulfur dioxide, a gas that produces toxic odors and causes respiratory problems. A monitor near the Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum detected sulfur dioxide levels above 200 parts per billion, said Kyra Moore, director of the state's air quality control program. After the smelter closed in 2013, levels have dropped well below the 75 parts per billion limit. 

Matt Ridings | Flickr

 

Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis will see some renovations and improvements over the next few years. Park officials are unveiling a 20-year master plan on Wednesday.

The park’s new master plan includes expanding and enhancing some of the more popular areas of the park, including the farmer’s market.

The park’s executive director, Bill Reininger, said more than 200 people attended an open house in January and over 1,200 people have made suggestions for the park’s renovations through an online survey.

Fireworks at Fair St. Louis on the Fourth of July in 2006.
Dave Herholz | Flickr

Fair St. Louis will return to the Gateway Arch grounds in 2018  to celebrate the Fourth of July, organizers announced Wednesday.

The annual Independence Day extravaganza — one of the nation’s largest — was moved to Forest Park in 2014, while extensive renovations were being completed on the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. 

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (second from left) argues with Councilman Sam Page during a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Page sponsored a bill halting construction at the site of an ice center.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

All construction work would halt on the St. Louis Blues’ new practice facility under a bill introduced Tuesday by the chairman of the St. Louis County Council.

Area residents have become increasingly vocal over the possible environmental impacts of the four-rink St. Louis Ice Center facility slated to go up at Creve Coeur Lake Park in Maryland Heights. The debate further illustrates the divide among councilmembers and County Executive Steve Stenger.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

Logan Jackson | Curators of the University of Missouri

Large agricultural corporations influence all stripes of Missouri politicians, including the Republicans who control the Missouri General Assembly.

A new nonprofit organization is seeking to change that, pushing back against Big Ag’s money and lobbyists. But it’s a tall order, especially when multibillion-dollar companies like Monsanto and Smithfield donate hefty sums to rural Democrats’ and Republicans’ campaigns.

Author Lewis Diuguid, the son of Du-Good Chemical company founder Lincoln Diuguid August 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For more than 50 years, Lincoln I. Diuguid worked as a researcher and inventor at his Du-Good Chemical company on South Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis. But it was his formula for community engagement that would have a lasting impact on countless African-American youths.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed holds up a petition at a rally at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company on Monday. Raise Up Missouri is gathering signatures to put a statewide $12 an hour initiative on the ballot. Aug. 28, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with details from rally — Several elected officials across Missouri endorsed an effort Monday to raise the state's minimum wage. Their backing came the same day that St. Louis' $10-an-hour minimum wage, in effect since May 5, dropped to $7.70 an hour due to a new state law. 

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 29 with comment from Belleville superintendent — Illinois’ school funding overhaul fight is all but over thanks to Tuesday’s 38-13 Senate vote.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll quickly sign the plan, which will increase aid to more than 800 public school districts. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay in instituting the new funding mechanism.

The Fashion Incubator takes up 7,500 square-feet of a Washington Avenue building on what used to be known as Shoe Street USA.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 28 with resignation of Fashion Fund's executive director - The St. Louis Fashion Fund is looking for a new executive director. Eric Johnson has resigned after roughly a year-and-a-half on the job. A statement from the nonprofit says Johnson is leaving to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Illinois state seal
The Illinois state seal / Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been busy in the last few days, having signed into law bills that restrict cooperation with federal immigration authorities, automatically register eligible voters when they get a license, make it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates and re-establish the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council.

But the Republican also has used his veto powers on college loan protection, limits on what employers can ask job candidates and a workers’ compensation plan. Here's a rundown of the action:

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

St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage is a thing of the past. So is a Missouri resident’s ability to sue when he or she thinks age or race was part of the reason for being fired.

That’s because several new laws have taken effect as of Monday.

The Wanamaker Trophy outside the gates of Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country. The trophy goes to the winner of the annual PGA Championship. The 100th edition of the tournament is next year at Bellerive.
100th PGA Championship.

A major sporting event in St. Louis next summer will give the region worldwide attention. The 100th PGA Championship will take place at Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country.

The PGA's tournament director, Barry Deach, has set up office at the club. He recently spoke about the potential impact, preparations, partnerships and how the event goes beyond the course, thanks to initiatives that will benefit the community for several years.

David Wea, 62, works on a geometry problem in an adult education class. August 25, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 28 to correct Kris Shannon's title — The director of one of Missouri’s adult education programs is worried high school equivalency tests are being undervalued.

A new Missouri law will establish four adult high schools in the state, including one in St. Louis. The bill sponsor wanted adults to have a chance to complete a high school curriculum because, he said, a diploma is more attractive to employers than a GED certificate.

Michelle Daytona, a transgender U. S. Army veteran, held a transgender flag as hundreds of protesters chanted behind her on July 30. The rally was in response to President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing a ban on transgender troops.
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:40 a.m. August 26 with information on the president's official memo:

Nearly one month after indicating a change in military protocol with three tweets, President Donald Trump signed an official memo implementing a new policy on "military service for transgender individuals." The memo indicates a reversal of an Obama-era policy implemented in 2016, which allowed active-duty service members who are transgender to serve openly and transition while enlisted. 

File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a plan Friday to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 over five years. 

Elvert Barnes Protest Photography | Flickr

Updated Aug. 25 with "St. Louis on the Air" audio — An excerpt of a conversation with Dick Gregory from Jan. 2003.

Original story from Aug. 20:

As Dick Gregory’s brother tells it, the comedian and civil rights activist “just saw things that was wrong and decided ‘I was going to do whatever I could and right them.’”

It was that determination, Ron Gregory told St. Louis Public Radio in an interview Sunday, that pushed his brother beyond St. Louis’ confines and onto the national stage.

Affton High School seniors Malahja Smith (left) and Isabella Millen participate in a discussion in their cultural studies class, Other Voices, Other Rooms on Aug. 23, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

An uncomfortable silence broke up the thriving discussion about race in Affton High School teacher Brian Jennings’ class this week.

He had just asked the dozen or so white male teenagers in the room how they’d feel if all monuments of people who looked like them were taken down across the United States.

The question was one of several Jennings posed to his senior cultural studies English class, which he’d always used to address race and prejudice. But the current political climate and this month’s violent white nationalist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, forced the conversation to happen as school began.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Tuesday.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m. Friday with more data from state agencies: At least 580 Missouri state government employees have taken advantage of paid family leave since Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order in March.

While some state lawmakers are glad the benefit is available, they worry about what it’s costing the state.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois' legislative leaders have reached a tentative agreement in the state's school funding fight, they said Thursday afternoon, but added that the details are still being worked out. 

The state has missed two payments to public schools since Gov. Bruce Rauner used an amendatory veto on the original school funding plan, which was meant to be more equitable. 

People gather at the Transgender Memorial Garden to honor Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on charges against the driver — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has issued warrants against a St. Louis man who drove his car into a group of people protesting the fatal police shooting of a transgender woman.

Prosecutors filed warrants against Mark Colao for resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.

Big Spring State Park
Missouri Division of Tourism | Flickr

Missouri’s recent state park windfall, which came at the end of former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s tenure, is in jeopardy.

Four of the parks, scattered across the Ozarks, were shuttered or never opened. Republican legislators said there just isn’t the money to maintain the parks and some have suggested selling the land to private developers.

But all of those parks are near active mining operations, raising fears among environmentalists that now-protected land will become a for-profit enterprise.

Carol Van Strum has been in legal battles with the federal government and chemical industries since the 1970s. She amassed a trove of government documents, which are now being published for the first time.
Risa Scott | RF Scott Imagery

Bending a rusted, gnarled piece of wire gate just above her head, Carol Van Strum ducked into the old, dark shed where she kept some old, dark secrets.

“This was my bear deterrent,” she said of the makeshift gate.

She shined a lantern past a stack of hay bales, lighting up a row of decaying cardboard boxes that housed what’s left of her document trove.

“This is where the worst of them were,” she said. “This whole, it was just filled. And you can see the state of them. This is what they all looked like.”

After gathering dust, rust and rat poop for decades in the Siuslaw National Forest, Van Strum’s piles of documents about the chemical industry are poised to become evidence in lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake.  

Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann back to the program.

The Republican has served as St. Charles County’s top office holder since 2007, and is one of the region’s longest-serving officials. Previously, he was a circuit judge, state senator, private-practice attorney and public school teacher.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Amazon began capturing state sales tax for purchases in Missouri this year.

The voluntary move preceded the online retailer’s announcement in July that it would open a distribution center in Hazelwood. Without a physical presence in the state, many online retailers don’t charge a state tax to Missouri customers.

Instead, the onus is put on consumers.

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz champion, Levon Aronian with Chess Club and Scholastic Center founders Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, as well as County Executive Steve Stenger in August, 2017
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The newest addition to the Grand Chess Tour, the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz, became the most anticipated event when the announcement was made that Garry Kasparov would come out of retirement to join the field.

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