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Top Stories

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

A strip of paint that runs through Rainmaker art studio in Makanda, Illinois is meant to mark the line of totality for the upcoming eclipse.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Adam Kirby stood in the path of totality, deep in the hills of Southern Illinois, and acknowledged that he has absolutely no idea how many guests to expect on his farm on Aug. 21 for the Great American Eclipse.

He’s turning this field of dreams — just outside the village of Goreville — into a one-day-only parking lot for eclipse-watchers: Ten bucks for cars and trucks; $30 for RVs.

Aaron Murray, 30, works out at Paraquad in St. Louis. Murray was paralyzed from the waist down during a home invasion in 2012.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2011, Aaron Murray bought his first gun at a sporting goods store — a .40 caliber Beretta pistol. He and his wife were fixing up a foreclosed home in a tough neighborhood in the northern suburbs of St. Louis, and he wanted to protect himself.

Two years later, a bullet from his own gun during a home invasion would leave him paralyzed from the waist down.

Charvonne Long, 26, has spent many weekends in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, St. Louis County's oldest park. She's opposed to the St. Louis Ice Center Project, which she thinks would disrupt the natural beauty of the area.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 70 St. Louis area residents and environmentalists gathered in front of the St. Louis County Administrative Building on Tuesday to protest a proposal to build a 250,000-square-foot ice recreation complex in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

Holding signs that included pictures of local birds pasted on paper plates, local residents said they are concerned that the St. Louis Ice Center project could dramatically alter the appearance of the park. Environmentalists also fear that the facility of three indoor rinks and one outdoor rink could increase flooding. The site is on a floodplain that has experienced a couple of major floods in the last two years.

The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, asking municipalities to spend Proposition P solely on policing. The resolution is non-binding.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In an effort to block municipalities from using a recently passed “public safety” tax increase on things like potholes and snow removal, the St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday asking for the money be strictly spent on policing.

Problem is, the resolution doesn’t actually do anything.

Environmental Protection Agency workers met with city health officials at the Clemens House before learning they did not have authorization to test the site for asbestos.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has found no trace of asbestos near the Clemens House in north St. Louis, according to city officials.

The mansion, built by Mark Twain’s uncle in 1860, burned on July 12, causing some residents to be concerned about asbestos contamination. The St. Louis Health Department contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which began putting monitors up in the area one week later.

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

Updated 11:45 a.m. Aug. 16 with statement from Darlene Green— The owners of the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis have gone to court to kick-start the planned $100 million upgrade of the home of the St. Louis Blues.

Kiel Center Partners asked a St. Louis circuit judge on Tuesdsay to force Comptroller Darlene Green to issue the bonds for the project. This is the second lawsuit related to the work in a week: three St. Louis residents sued Friday, saying it’s illegal to use public dollars to help private companies make more money.

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

Updated at 5 p.m. with comment from Williams' lawyer, governor's office — The Missouri Supreme Court will not stop next week's scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, it said Tuesday. 

The Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday advanced what’s been characterized as a “skinny” plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Better known as ESSA, the Obama-era reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act as the law governing school accountability. Among other things, ESSA outlines how federal Title I dollars should be distributed to schools with large populations of students living in poverty.

Natasha Toro (Vanessa) and Marshall Jennings (Benny) are shown on the bottom row. Jesse Muñoz (Usnavi) and Cassandra Lopez (Nina) are on the top.
Provided | Autumn Rinaldi | R-S Theatrics

Way before his blockbuster play “Hamilton,”  Lin-Manuel Miranda was a college student, struggling with a script about his upbringing in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

On Friday, Miranda’s early musical “In the Heights” comes to St. Louis' .Zack Theatre in the Grand Center area. The R-S Theatrics play tackles one of today's toughest subjects: immigration. It's a huge draw for local Latino actors and those from other states, including one theater professional from New York City.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:20 p.m. Aug. 15 with details from the State Board of Education meeting — Missouri’s board of education will stay out of the process to return decision-making control to St. Louis Public Schools after a decade, at least for now.

The decision came Tuesday at the Missouri State Board of Education meeting.

Though ending state oversight of SLPS is up to the board, it has no obligation to be involved in the transition process.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Estie Cruz-Curoe knows black beans.

The Cuban native came to the United States in the early 1960s and grew up in Miami, where her mother added a Cuban mix of spices to canned black beans. But when Cruz-Curoe moved to the Midwest as an adult, she could no longer find the right black beans.

St. Charles County

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann will try for a fourth term in 2018, he announced Monday.

If he wins, the Republican would become the county’s longest-serving official.

Gov. Eric Greitens greets guests at this residence after being sworn in on Jan. 9, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has jogged with soldiers, done push-ups with state troopers and rolled up hoses with firefighters since becoming governor of Missouri.

On Monday, he'll serve food to prison inmates near Jefferson City.

It's part of an initiative that eight governors, Republicans and Democrats, a lieutenant governor and an attorney general will take part in this week as a way to understand the needs of prison workers. The push is backed by the U.S. Justice Department, the National Reentry Resource Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

The gift shop at the state historic site is selling commemorative T-shirts but is out of eclipse glasses. August 11 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several hundred people are expected to show up at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Aug. 21 to observe the solar eclipse from the “City of the Sun,” even though the historic site is just outside the path of totality.

The state historic site will experience about 99.5 percent totality and is not planning special events that day, said assistant manager Bill Iseminger.

He expects that most of the eclipse-watchers will want to climb the 156 steps to watch from the top of Monks Mound, the largest of the mounds built by the ancient Mississippians between 1000 and 1400 A.D.

A memorial rests for Rashad Farmer, who was shot and killed in 2015 on the 5800 block of Lotus Avenue in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a grim trend tucked into St. Louis’ 2017 homicide statistics: More than half of the victims are black males under the age of 29 and close to half of those suspected of doing the shootings are in the same age range.

It illustrates a stark reality in the city’s crime-ridden neighborhoods. Officials with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment say employment and education are an answer to reducing the number of young people killed. But those who have made connections with the city’s youth say there’s more to be done.

East St. Louis instructional coach Tracee Wells taught AVID to Chaya Cary, 16. Cary is studying at Southwestern Illinois College in the fall of 2017. "We don't hear enough about these kinds of stories coming out of East St. Louis," Wells said.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Belleville’s two public high schools have doubled the number of low-income students and students of color in advanced placement courses in the coming school year — part of a statewide goal to enroll 100,000 underrepresented students in such classes by 2019.

And East St. Louis Senior High is encouraging students to try more rigorous coursework even if they aren’t the top students.

Experts say high schoolers who take challenging classes have a leg up in college. But studies show black students, Latino students and low-income students are less likely to take them.

A Washington University researcher holds a piece of paper coated with tiny gold particles that can be used to test blood for Zika virus.
Provided | Washington University School of Medicine

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are developing a test for the Zika virus that produces results quickly and don't require refrigeration. 

To test for the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos and is linked to birth defects, blood samples have to be sent to a laboratory, where a positive or negative result is generated in a couple days. The blood and the chemicals used in the test have to be refrigerated. Researchers at Wash U's medical and engineering schools created a test for the virus using nanotechnology, or particles smaller than 100 nanometers. It shows results in a matter of minutes.

Sparta Public Schools Superintendent Gabe Schwemmer said her district doesn't have bonding authority, so it's borrowing from banks in order to open this year. Aug. 11, 2017
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of Metro East school superintendents made one thing clear Friday: They need state money, and they need it now.

Illinois’ new school funding formula is tied up in another political battle, one that could end next week when lawmakers have a chance to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s partial veto.

People line the sides of West Florissant during a protest held to marke the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

After a Ferguson police officer fatally shot Michael Brown Jr., local artist Damon Davis hit the streets. What he saw there conflicted with TV news reports and social media posts he’d seen that emphasized clashes between protesters and police.

“It was absolutely nothing like what was being portrayed by the media,” Davis said.

Instead of clashes with police, he noticed people exercising their first amendment rights. So when budding filmmaker Sabaah Folayan contacted Davis about collaborating on a documentary about the protests, he felt compelled to work with her. That documentary, “Whose Streets?” will be released locally and across the nation tonight. 

City of St. Louis

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson picked one of her former aldermanic colleagues to serve as the city’s chief record keeper.

Krewson is appointing Alderwoman Dionne Flowers to head the Office of the Register. That appointed officeholder is responsible for maintaining the city’s official records, as well as certifying city elections. 

Flowers represented the 2nd Ward, which takes in six neighborhoods in north St. Louis. She was first elected to her aldermanic seat in 1999.

Affinia Healthcare opened a clinic at Normandy High School on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Chantel Courtney and her two sons took a wrong turn at Normandy’s back-to-school fair last weekend in search of getting her eighth-grader a vaccination. They ended up getting a sneak peek at the high school’s new medical clinic, which opened Thursday.

It’s the first one to open as a direct result of the efforts of a 2014 research project called For the Sake of All, which recommended putting clinics in St. Louis-area schools to bridge gaps in health-care access. Normandy is the third high school in the area with a clinic that offers students services for free or on a sliding scale, and at least two other schools may open a clinic soon.

Metro's newly-renovated downtown transit center will include round-the-clock security inside the new commuter waiting area.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Safety improvements and better bus access are some of the key components of the newly-renovated Civic Center Transit facility across from Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.

Metro is taking the wraps off the $10.5 million project this week. The center had been home to nine MetroBus bays for a total of 16 routes. The renovation increases the number of buses that will converge at 14th and Spruce.

"18 total bays, 23 bus routes. The opportunity for para-transit - the Call-A-Ride vans- to come in and out," Metro Executive Director Ray Friem told St. Louis Public Radio.

On Chess: The return of the king

Aug 10, 2017
Garry Kasparov at the first day of the Paris stop of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

It was the fall of 1995, and I was on the top floor of the World Trade Center.  I watched on a TV monitor as two players concentrated intensely on a chessboard. Grand Master Viswanathan Anand, playing black, had a look of quiet serenity. While surely he was analyzing dozens of variations with a speed and accuracy that would make most people dizzy, there was no indication of that immense effort on his face.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Tues., 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

(Revised Aug. 10 to clarify the activities of Americans for Prosperity) --It appears that Missouri labor groups will be able to block the state’s new right-to-work law from taking effect Aug. 28.

They’ve collected more than 300,000 notarized signatures in the fight to force a statewide vote over the law in November 2018, state AFL-CIO president Mike Louis and other union leaders say. That’s more than three times the number needed.

In Missouri, 415 judges and commissioners operate in courthouses across the state to hear roughly 2 million cases each year. Circuit Court includes associate, probate, juvenile and municipal divisions.

Opinions can then be appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which is comprised of 32 judges over three districts; Springfield – Southern, Kansas City – Western, and St. Louis – Eastern.

Michael Brown Sr. places roses along Canfield Drive before the start of a moment of silence for his son, Michael Brown.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were tears shed, prayers said and more than four minutes of silence observed Wednesday at the site of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in Ferguson three years earlier.

Michael Brown Sr., who is encouraging people to also support other organizations that help local kids during this memorial week, was there at the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson.

“Aug. 9 will always be hard, because it’s in memory of Mike Brown Jr. and just remembering what happened to him,” the elder Brown said during the gathering. “But moving forward, we’ll be doing a lot of positive things in memory of his name.”

Protesting youth were stranded on the street after curfew when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson in August 2014.
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

The 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, at the hands of a white police officer unleashed anger and activism throughout the St. Louis area.

Some who marched in the streets of Ferguson after August 9 of that year remain committed to changing hearts, minds and laws throughout St. Louis and Missouri, despite setbacks at the ballot box and within legislative chambers. But activists also concede that policy alone won't bring St. Louis together: It'll require people of all stripes acknowledging the realities of a racially divided region and state.

Ferguson on August 14, 2014
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

 

On August 9, 2014, Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in the Canfield Green apartment complex. His death touched off weeks of protests, reigniting a national conversation about race and policing that continues to this day.

Closer to home, reforms have been slow to take hold, even those mandated by the federal Justice Department. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but, rather, a big-picture view of what has and hasn’t changed.

Organizers with the St. Louis Action Council have protested against systemic inequality in Missouri.
File Photo | Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Following up after the NAACP last week issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay is calling for Gov. Eric Greitens and other state officials to confront the fact that a new Missouri law and other policies are discriminatory.

Clay, a Democrat from University City,  says the state’s racial problems go beyond some of the legislative changes singled out in the the NAACP advisory, which warns travelers that they “could be subject to discrimination and harassment” in Missouri.

Construction workers finish up work on the new Stone Creek Elementary School in the Wentzville School District on July 25, 2017. It's one of two new schools that will open next week.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Signs along the road leading to one of the new elementary schools in the Wentzville School District advertise newly constructed homes for sale. It’s something district officials say they closely track, along with hospital birth records.

The data tells them that the district’s rapid growth — the quickest in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — won’t level off soon. To keep pace, Wentzville is opening two elementary schools this month.

Wentzville’s late to the expansion party in St. Charles County, where the population has been growing steadily for three decades.

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