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Many MoDOT employees are trained to operate complicated machines and vehicles.
File Photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

MoDOT Is Bleeding Employees; Traffic Agency Tries Raises To Stem Departures

Missouri’s Transportation Department is losing employees at a worrisome rate, said Patrick McKenna, its director. McKenna said that nearly half of the department's workforce has left and been replaced since 2017. That turnover cost nearly $37 million last fiscal year, according to MoDOT estimates. McKenna said that high turnover rate has made it hard to get employees trained in time for them to deal with bad weather.

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The city of St. Louis alone contains roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, which vary widely in design and overall condition.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S., sidewalks have been no exception to the pattern of decay. The city of St. Louis alone is home to roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, and both the physical condition and suitability of those streetside pathways vary widely.

David Newburger, St. Louis’ commissioner on the disabled, thinks about sidewalks quite a bit. He notes that he’s old enough to remember when curb cuts — sloped curb faces that are particularly critical for someone using a wheelchair — were few and far between. These days, Newburger says, a lot of effort goes into the design of new sidewalks to ensure that they are safe and passable for everyone, including pedestrians with disabilities.

Two trolleys sit in a garage as workers try to fix an electric problem during a week of test drives. June 8 , 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The quest to bring the Loop Trolley back to life under St. Louis’ regional transit agency has failed. 

Bi-State Development committee members on Friday declined to send to its full Board of Commissioners a proposal to temporarily take over running the trolley. Members of the committees challenged the plausibility and business sense of the proposal, a four-year management contract aimed at making the trolley self-sustaining by 2024. 

Taulby Roach, Bi-State president and CEO, said after the meeting that he does not plan to revise the proposal.

Colin McLaughlin, Larry Sheldon and Kevin FitzGerald rehearse a scene from "Workers' Opera." Jan. 19, 2020
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On a recent Sunday afternoon, about a dozen people gathered at the otherwise-quiet headquarters of the Service Employees International Union in Clifton Heights to rehearse an opera.

Granted, they were using the term opera a little loosely. “Workers’ Opera" is an original compilation of vignettes — mostly dramatic sketches and songs — addressing a variety of issues facing working people today. 

Bread and Roses Missouri, an activist group with a pro-labor stance that addresses social issues through the arts, is behind the production. The fifth annual incarnation of “Workers’ Opera,” updated for 2020, makes its debut in a free performance at Missouri History Museum on Sunday.

Dicamba graphic
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, the owner of Missouri’s largest peach farm started noticing damage to his orchard. A year later, Bader Farms estimated a loss of more than 30,000 trees. 

A lawsuit filed by the farm in 2016 alleges Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, and herbicide maker BASF Corp. are to blame because the weed killer drifted from other fields. Both companies deny the allegations.

That suit, which seeks $21 million in damages, will be heard in federal court starting Monday in Cape Girardeau. It will be the first of several dicamba-related suits against the corporations to go to trial.

Have a question about legal marijuana in Illinois or medical marijuana in Missouri? Ask here, and we'll update this guide with answers as we report them out.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began awarding the 192 state medical marijuana dispensary licenses on Thursday. 

According to the constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2018, the department was required to license at least 192 dispensaries, 24 in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. This means DHSS could have awarded more licenses, but officials want to see if the minimum number can meet demand. 

voxefxtm | Flickr

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling gutted the state’s voter ID law approved by voters in 2016, but Republicans in the statehouse are looking to restore it. 

State Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, has filed a measure that he hopes would withstand a court challenge. 

The original law approved by voters allowed three methods to cast a ballot. Voters could show a photo ID; another form of identification, like a utility bill, but were then required to sign an affidavit; or they could cast a provisional ballot. The provisional vote would count once they returned to show ID or election workers matched their signatures with a past vote.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority funded 172 supportive housing units for vulnerable populations. 22 of them are in Collinsville and will serve veterans in the area.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

COLLINSVILLE — The Illinois Housing Development Authority has dedicated nearly $43 million to create permanent supportive housing for vulnerable populations in the state. It’s the sixth time the state has funded such projects. 

The money will help create, rehab or restore 172 affordable housing units for low-income individuals or families and other groups, said Christine Moran, IDHA’s director of multifamily financing.

St. Louis Wildlife Project

There are roughly 2.8 million people living in greater St. Louis, many of whom would be surprised to know that they share the space with a good variety of wildlife.

The St. Louis Wildlife Project now has four seasons of data that they hope will give insight into how wildlife occupy and utilize the region’s urban spaces. For the past year, they’ve collected images from 34 motion-activated cameras planted in parks and green spaces across St. Louis. They’ve spotted foxes, turkeys, river otters and even a couple bobcats. 

Nancy Weaver joined Thursday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When news breaks about a dangerous situation, it’s natural to wonder what one might have done in a similar scenario: Tried to help? Been courageous? Perhaps made things worse?

Running into burning buildings and shielding others from active shooters may be the sort of dramatic situations that come to mind. But far subtler opportunities to intervene on behalf of fellow humans come up more regularly than one may recognize — right in the grocery checkout aisle, for example, when witnessing a tense parent-child interaction.

That’s the sort of scene Nancy Weaver and her colleagues at St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice have been helping others around the region visualize and then learn to respond to in positive, practical ways.

January 23, 2020 Fran Caradonna
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1990, Fran Caradonna and her then-husband upended St. Louis’ beer scene by starting a distributorship. They wanted to give local drinkers a choice beyond Anheuser-Busch — and, when Schlafly Beer was founded a year later, the Caradonnas’ company naturally became its distributor.

They helped introduce St. Louis to many new craft beer brands, helping to shake up what once felt like a near-monopoly for A-B. And, after the Caradonnas sold their company to Major Brands, they started a craft brewery of their own: O’Fallon Brewery, which they also later sold.   

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St. Louis on the Air

Monday: Legal Roundtable Discusses Gardner Lawsuit, Roundup Trial, Title IX Case

Host Sarah Fenske will convene this month’s Legal Roundtable panelists to take a closer look at local and regional issues pertaining to the law.

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Best of 2019

St. Louis Public Radio's Best of 2019

Our St. Louis Public Radio journalists look back at the most memorable stories from 2019.

St. Louis Public Radio Investigates

5 US Cities Have 3 Stadiums Within About A Mile — St. Louis Will Soon Join Them

When St. Louis' MLS stadium is complete in 2022, the city will have three stadiums within about a mile of each other. So we wondered, 'How common is that?' Here's what we found.

Living #Ferguson: 5 Years After The Killing Of Michael Brown Jr.

What has changed?

Listen to the voices of people who experienced #Ferguson and who are directly touched by the issues Michael Brown’s death laid bare.