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Top Stories

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

Lois Jackson, who lives in the Villa Lago housing complex in Spanish Lake, sits outside her apartment. Public housing residents have recently been banned from smoking inside their homes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

James Parker has been smoking for more than six decades. But to keep his habit, he's had to make changes. Every time he smokes, he has to go outside his home in the Badenfest apartment complex on North Broadway in St. Louis.

Parker is one of the hundreds of smokers in St. Louis who can no longer light up in their homes. Residents and housing agencies are adjusting to a new rule from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development which bars residents from smoking within 25 feet of their apartments. Residents and housing advocates have criticized the policy and are worried it will result in more evictions.

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announces on May 30, 2018, that her office will drop a felony computer-tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis prosecutor’s office will no longer accept cases from 28 St. Louis police officers, and is reviewing the testimony they have offered in others.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner provided no details on why she is excluding the officers. In a statement, she called it her responsibility to defend the integrity of the criminal-justice system.

The Christopher Columbus statue has been a source of controversy over the last few years due to Columbus's violent history.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Discussions about removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park have re-emerged.

Activists have banded together to plan an event, Plotting in the Park for Columbus removal. The event, posted on Facebook, takes place on Sept. 1. The brainchild of Chris Singer, the gathering aims at reaching out to community members to discuss what actions can be taken to remove the statue. Singer said Columbus’ controversial conduct with indigenous peoples should not be celebrated.

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

Both of the major candidates for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat were in the St. Louis area on Thursday, seeking to emphasize issues that will help their cause in November.

For McCaskill, Thursday’s topic was her support for a minimum-wage hike and opposition to right to work. Hawley zeroed in, once again, on Brett Kavanaugh’s pending nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SLCD proposes SUD for NGA.
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

Residents gathered Wednesday night at Vashon High School to hear about a proposal for a Special Use District surrounding the future site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.

It was the second of two public meetings organized this month by the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Project Connect to discuss the proposal.

Granite City steel plant on July 20, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Steel is facing a labor issue in Granite City just months after restarting production at the Metro East plant. The company’s current national contract with the United Steelworkers is set to expire Saturday, and workers are holding a rally Thursday to draw attention to the negotiations.

The Clarence Cannon Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Mo.
Randall Hyman

About 70 miles north of St. Louis, a serene, 3,750-acre area covered in prairie grasses, forests and wetlands serves as a crucial habitat for migratory birds.

The Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in Annada sits next to the Mississippi River, surrounded by farmland. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a $29-million project to improve wildlife habitats in the refuge.

The agencies aim to bring back historic flood cycles that support native plants. They provide food and habitat for birds and other wildlife.

SLU students conduct archeological dig on campus before new center for science and engineering is built.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In a race against the bulldozers and cranes, a Saint Louis University history professor and a handful of students are conducting an archeological dig in the middle of campus.

It’s unlikely they will be able to excavate deep or wide enough to find evidence of an early Civil War encampment that once occupied the site, but Tom Finan, assistant professor of history and archeologist, doesn’t like to give up hope.  

“I can’t help but think with 800 men living here for a month and using the Mill Creek that ran through here, that something wouldn’t be left behind,” he said.

Jen Kerner plays a Bird Girl in Christ Memorial's 2016 production of Seussical.
Cindy Tiefenbrunn

St. Louis actor Jen Kerner has played dozens of characters, but in recent years she’s taken on a new role: making the theater experience enjoyable for people who are overwhelmed by loud sounds and bright lights that are part of the typical theatrical experience.

Kerner works in job placement for people with developmental disabilities who often have sensory issues. Four years ago, she began to pay more attention to her own sensitivities during rehearsals for “The Music Man," in which the orchestra seemed noisy and abrasive. Shortly thereafter, a doctor diagnosed her with autism.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly eight years, members of the Women Initiate Legal Lifelines to Other Women — or the WILLOW Project — have made a significant gain in the case of a woman convicted of helping in the 1994 murder of two elderly women in Missouri and Iowa.

The Missouri Parole Board granted Angel Stewart parole this month after spending 25 years behind bars. She’s still serving a life sentence in Iowa without the possibility of parole, although she and those helping her maintain she was not a part of the women’s murders.

State Sen.-elect Brian Williams
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Brian Williams joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann to talk about his big win in the 14th Senate District Democratic primary.

Williams will represent the central and north St. Louis-based district once the Legislature reconvenes in 2019. The 14th District includes municipalities such as Clayton, University City, Ferguson, Hazelwood, Northwoods and Bridgeton.

John Harrington has led local hip-hop group Midwest Avengers for 25 years, in addition to being a longtime organizer of annual graffiti festival Paint Louis. 8/29/18
Courtesy Midwest Avengers

A new St. Louis hip-hop festival will go beyond the music and celebrate the culture that surrounds it, including art, film and dance.

The four-day series of events dubbed Hip Hop Week will coincide with Paint Louis, an annual gathering of hundreds of graffiti artists from around the world who will paint murals on the flood wall by South Wharf St. downtown.

“If I say Hip Hop Week, most people will think of it as: ‘Oh, it’s a music festival.’ And [they’re] not thinking of other elements of hip-hop — such as the fashion, such as the film, such as the culture of hip-hop,” said Dwight Carter, a local event promoter who is the festival’s creative director.

Sally Gacheru, center, tosses a ball to a child in Sakutiek, Kenya. Gacheru, who was born in Kenya but moved to St. Louis four years ago, was part of a service trip back home for fellow immigrant teens this month.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It hit them that they were back home as soon as they were off they off the plane and in the crowded Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

“And there was a long queue [at customs], a long, long queue. And I just knew I was in Kenya right there,” Victor Rotich said, days later and hours away from the capital, in the small village of Sakutiek.

Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield donated $50 million to Saint Louis University to improve the school's standing as a top tier research institution. The gift is the largest in the university's 200-year history.
Steve Dolan | Saint Louis University

Local philanthropists Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield are donating $50 million to Saint Louis University to help bolster the school’s research efforts.

The gift announced Tuesday is the largest in the school’s 200-year history.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt (third from left) and front office officials answers questions on August 28, 2018 after giving Shildt a two-year contract as manager.
5 On Your Side

The St. Louis Cardinals like what they’ve seen from Mike Shildt, and they want him to stick around and keep it going.

The team announced Tuesday they had removed the interim tag from Shildt, and signed him to a two-year deal as manager of the club. The terms were not disclosed.

Jefferson Barracks cemetery
File photo | Mary Delach Leonard I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. with council action on charter amendment veto

The St. Louis County Council took a big step Tuesday toward expanding Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

The plan involves selling more than 33 acres of the roughly 70-acre Sylvan Springs Park to the federal government, which could prevent Jefferson Barracks from running out of room.

Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Paul McKee amassed more than 250 acres in north St. Louis as part of his $8 billion redevelopment plan.

In June the City of St. Louis announced that McKee's Northside Regeneration had defaulted on its agreement with the city after nearly a decade. McKee vehemently denies that.

St. Louis Public Radio examined two specific accountability measures included in those agreements that were ostensibly meant to track maintenance and complaints for McKee’s properties. What the reporting found was that only portions of the requirements were met, and the city did little to ensure that the developer followed through completely.

The St. Louis Street Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are working together to install barriers along North Broadway to reduce cruising.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

On the evening of July 4 of this year, the Energy Express Travel Center on North Broadway Street looked like the scene of a neighborhood party. Video footage from that night released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows dozens of cars converging on the gas station lot. Soon, individuals carrying firearms and wearing ballistic vests appear. 

Video footage from that same location on July 29 shows a similar gathering, but this time people begin firing their weapons into the air before returning to their cars and racing off into the night.

Developer Paul McKee owns much of the land in this picture, looking north from the intersection of Cass and Jefferson avenues. After nearly 10 years, the city of St. Louis wants to cut ties with McKee and his NorthSide Regeneration initiative.
File Photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2009, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved developer Paul McKee’s $8-billion plan to transform nearly two square miles of north St. Louis. In exchange for $390 million in tax incentives, McKee promised new housing, parks, schools, churches and major employment centers.

Nearly a decade later, with very little work completed, the city tried to cut ties with McKee. But a 2016 agreement, struck with very little public input, could complicate that effort, and has already led to litigation.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks to a group of people representing Missouri manufacturing and agircultural interests on Aug. 27, 2018.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill continued her criticism of President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which she says could do lasting economic damage to Missouri’s agriculture and manufacturing economies.

At a meeting Monday in St. Louis, the Democratic senator heard from companies and agricultural-commodity groups affected by the tariffs as Trump announced a trade deal with Mexico.

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