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Top Stories

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

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill makes a point during a town hall meeting on August 23, 2017, in Bowling Green.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

BOWLING GREEN -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s August recess town hall tour stopped in northeast Missouri on Wednesday, a historically Democratic stronghold that went heavily for Republican President Donald Trump last November.

It’s part of a rural tour of sorts that McCaskill said is vital for Democrats like her to undertake — especially as she gears up for a potentially tough re-election battle next year.

Crevonda Nance, Herring's sister-in-law, is supported by community activists – including Gina Torres, to the left of her, whose son was killed by police in June. Nance drove to St. Louis from Mississippi after finding out Herring was killed by police.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

East St. Louis teachers walk out of their union hall after voting to approve a tentative contract agreement and end a month-long teacher strike Friday Oct. 30, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois’ teacher pension system creates an unequal funding structure between rich and poor public school districts, a report released Wednesday said.

That’s because the state pays the majority of teachers’ pensions, which are tied to a teacher’s salary. The more the teacher earns, the more the state’s share of his or her pension. According to the nonpartisan Bellwether Education Partners report, when pay and benefits are factored in, the gap between per-student funding in rich and poor schools widens.

WOW air, which will start flights in St. Louis next year, was launched in 2011by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.
BriYYZ | Flickr

The St. Louis region is about to get a direct link to Reykjavik. Iceland-based WOW air will begin four flights a week between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Keflavik International Airport in May. From there, passengers can go on to European cities including Berlin, Paris, and London.

Good Life Growing operates 20 "hoop houses," which are a kind of greenhouse.
File photo | Provided | James Forbes

An urban farming nonprofit is the winner of a competition for a free restaurant space in St. Louis’ Old North area.

James Forbes and his partners at Good Life Growing will open Old North Provisions, a restaurant, grocery store and co-op at 2720 N. 14th St.

They’ll offer their own and other local produce on store shelves, a buffet line and take-out packages. Forbes said his operation will provide an alternative to neighboring Crown Candy Kitchen, known for its ice cream and hearty sandwiches.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

For five years now, the Missouri legislature has considered legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring database that would allow pharmacists and physicians to look at their patient's prescription history for signs of misuse of narcotics. And for five years, Missouri pharmacists like Erica Hopkins have watched those efforts fail with disappointment.


This treehopper in a greenhouse at Saint Louis University would not normally have a purple horn or "pronotum." It was painted that color for identification purposes.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers are studying countless plants and animals to understand how climate change could threaten populations. At Saint Louis University, scientists want to know if changes in temperature could affect the mating songs of insects.  

Biologists at SLU have received $480,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how temperature affects treehopper mating songs, which could provide clues as to how climate change could affect insect survival. The loss of insect species could adversely affect agriculture and many ecosystems that depend on them.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, right, and candidate Bill Haas, center, speak as state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal answers a question.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s Senate leadership made the rare move of stripping Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of her committee assignments on Tuesday.

It’s because of a Facebook comment she posted and later deleted last week that hoped for President Donald Trump’s assassination. She has resisted numerous calls from Republicans and Democrats, including Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, to step down.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri labor unions were successful in getting enough signatures to all but guarantee the state’s new right-to-work law won’t go into effect a week from now as Gov. Eric Greitens had planned.

But the real battle is just getting started. Come November 2018, voters around the state will determine whether to kill or keep the law, which bars unions and employers from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues. Ten percent of Missouri workers are in a union.

Mazy Gilleylen bounces on a trampoline outside her home in Overland. Summer 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mazy Gilleylen of Overland is looking forward to her 12th birthday in September. But she’s dreading what comes next.

Approaching puberty is alarming for transgender kids like Mazy. To them, the changes can feel like like a betrayal of who they really are. Doctors can prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to prevent unwanted prevent breast growth or a deepening voice. But the cost is out of reach for many families.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

Joyetta White looks up at the partial eclipse with classmates at Long International Middle School in St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People gathered at schools, a rural airport and downtown St. Louis on Monday seeking a good view of the total eclipse. The celestial event reached totality (when the moon completely covered the sun) at about 1:15 p.m. St. Louis time, darkening the skies except for what looked like a very bright headlight overhead.

Saint Louis University Robert Pasken and his graduate student Melissa Mainhart perform a test run of a weather balloon that they plan to launch during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Historically, total solar eclipses have been used to make important scientific discoveries. One in 1919 validated Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Another in 1868 led to the discovery of helium, the second most common element on the planet.

Organizers of the Black Pride Festival set up a tent on Sunday in St. Louis' Grove neighborhood.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s words and actions were at the forefront of people’s minds on Sunday at St. Louis’ Black Pride Rally.

One of the longest-running black LGBTQ community events in the nation, this year’s gathering coincides with a summer in which the president announced on Twitter that transgender people were banned from serving in the military and, more recently, assigned some blame to counterprotesters for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

An employee sits in a crisis communications center for Saint Louis University Hospital. The red phone acts as a backup communication system, and the white boards track hospital resources in an emergency.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Saint Louis University Hospital's emergency services director, Helen Sandkuhl, has spent the last couple of weeks reviewing emergency plans, checking equipment and preparing a crisis communications center in a hospital conference room.

Visitors are descending on the St. Louis region to view the total solar eclipse on Monday, so Sandkuhl and other emergency room officials expect to be busier than usual.

Donald Trump leaves the stage after a March 2016 speech at the Peabody Opera House.
File photo I Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri residents backed President Donald Trump by overwhelming numbers in last year’s election.

But some of his backers told St. Louis Public Radio that they aren’t completely happy with how he’s reacted to last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed and more than a dozen people were injured when a car rammed through a crowd of anti-white supremacist protesters, and two state troopers died when their helicopter crashed.

Joseph Davis superintendent candidate 1.29.15
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated 3:50 p.m. Friday with Davis released from county jail  — Ferguson-Florissant schools Superintendent Joseph Davis is charged with fraud for allegedly using a credit card from his previous North Carolina school district in January.

Davis has been with the St. Louis-area district since 2015.

Davis was arrested Wednesday by St. Louis County police based on a May indictment from a grand jury in Washington County, North Carolina. That document accuses Davis of using a Washington County Schools credit card to pay for a hotel room and rental car on Jan. 15.

More than 1,000 union members gathered Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. with law suspended — With the submission of more than 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri’s right-to-work law won't go into effect Aug. 28 and its fate likely will be put to voters in 2018.

The law is suspended, Secretary of State spokeswoman Maura Browning told St. Louis Public Radio. The office still needs to verify that at least 100,000 of the signatures are from registered voters — the minimum to force a statewide vote in November 2018.

She said the count will take weeks and that if there isn't enough, the law will be put in place.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal walks out of the Senate chamber as the Senate adjourns for the session earlier this year in Jefferson City.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:20 p.m. Aug. 18 with lieutenant governor calling for expulsion — Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said Friday the state Senate should expel Maria Chappelle-Nadal due to her Facebook comment in which she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.

Third-grader Donoven Cruz tries out his eclipse glasses with classmates while looking up at a projector light at Gotsch Intermediate School in Affton. Aug. 17, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the first science lessons of the year for thousands of students in Illinois and Missouri won’t happen in the classroom, but high above it.

Teachers are using Monday’s solar eclipse as an opportunity to inspire a new generation of stargazers, stockpiling special viewing glasses and planning activities and eclipse-specific lessons.

Of course, there’s the other side of the moon: Dozens of schools in the St. Louis area are closing, mostly for safety reasons.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

State Reps. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City
Photos by Tim Bommel of House Communications & Jason Rosenbaum

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Reps. Lauren Arthur and Jon Carpenter onto the program.

The two Kansas City Democrats represent portions of Clay County. Arthur was first elected in 2014, while Carpenter won his first race in 2012.

July 27 photo: Mark Kelley helps cast members of "In the Heights" stage a fight while Christina Rios looks on from behind him.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

This has been a super-crazy week for St. Louis theater professional and mom Christina Rios.

One of her three younger children started kindergarten. Her teenager entered her junior year of high school. And her theater company R-S Theatrics geared up to open its largest-ever production: “In the Heights.”

A total solar eclipse in 2006.
Franz Kerschbaum

Like any other day, the sun will rise on Monday. But close to noon in Missouri, the moon will start to cover the sun.

“You’re going to start to see little bits of the sun start to disappear, like someone slowly taking little bites out of a cookie,” said Anna Green, planetarium manager at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The sky will start to go dark quickly, like someone dimming the lights in a room. The air will also become colder, said Angela Speck, astrophysicist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The city of St. Clair, Missouri, is issuing permits to help keep some order when it comes to parking as thousands arrive for the eclipse.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Alexander's family has owned the Budget Lodging Hotel in St. Clair, Missouri, for nearly three decades. During that time, only one event has sparked a customer to book a room years in advance.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:45 p.m. Aug. 16 with a statement from Uber — Uber and Lyft will now be able to pick up passengers at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed all voted on Wednesday to authorize permits for ride-hailing companies, which cost $15,000 for two years.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announceson Nov. 24, 2014, that a grand jury has chosen not to charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 3:10 p.m. Aug. 16 with comments from oral arguments, new headline  — A grand juror who was on the panel that did not  charge ex-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown asked the Missouri Court of Appeals on Wednesday for the right to speak about that experience.

Dan Viggers' Fringe play "Liberals vs Zombies vs Conservatives" traps people of opposing political persuasions in a house with zombies.
Provided | St. Lou Fringe

The 2017 St Lou Fringe festival of performing arts opens Thursday with a new menu of choices. For example, paying for one show will get you a free “Meatball” on the side.

“Meatball Séance,” to be exact. That’s the name of one of two dozen non-highlighted productions this year. When you buy a ticket to one of the three main performances — “A Song for Vanya,” “Snow White” and Ashleyliane Dance Company’s “Evolution” — you get a voucher for “Meatball” or other non-headliners including “Liberals vs Zombies vs Conservatives,” one of two zombie-themed shows this year.

Ninth-graders take notes during a social studies class at the recently opened KIPP St. Louis High School on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

KIPP St. Louis is taking its disciplined approach to education to high schoolers.

The charter school network opened a high school this week to go with its two elementary and two middle schools. It’s also one of three new charter schools opening for the 2017-18 academic year in St. Louis.

But overall, charter school growth in St. Louis is slowing from its peak during 2009, 2010 and 2011; there are 33 charter schools in the city.

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