Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Maria Altman

Newscast, Business and Education Editor

Maria Altman was named the editor of the newscast, business and education teams in January, 2018. She came to St. Louis Public Radio in 2004 as the local newscaster for All Things Considered and a general assignment reporter. In 2013 she became a business reporter covering economic development, the burgeoning startup community, biotech and Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been aired on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as Marketplace and Here and Now. Prior to her time in St. Louis, Maria worked at KERA in Dallas as a newscaster and at WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her graduate degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and her bachelors degree in journalism and history at the University of Iowa. Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband (whom she met at St. Louis Public Radio) and their two children. She is a proud native of Iowa and can happily name every celebrity or historical figure with even the slightest connection to the Hawkeye state.

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New trouble for Ameren at Taum Sauk power plant

A recent memo to the Missouri Public Service Commission shows major problems for Ameren at its Taum Sauk power station.

Morning headlines: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec 20, 2011
Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
(via Flickr/pasa47)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Slay authorizes $64 million in bonds for St. Louis parks

Funding for St. Louis City parks will no longer be siphoned into other capital improvement projects, following a bill signing by Mayor Francis Slay Monday night.

Morning headlines: Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dec 14, 2011
M.L. Fuller (Image 336)/USGS

Mo. schools and residents to prepare for next big earthquake

It was nearly 200 years ago that the first in a series of massive earthquakes shook Missouri and much of the nation. Now, several Missouri school districts will take part in a drill to prepare for the next big one.

State officials say that nearly 100 districts and individual schools have registered for Missouri's second statewide earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m. on Feb. 7. Meanwhile, more than 146,000 residents are also registered for the drill, called the "Great Central U.S. ShakeOut."

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Updated 9:18 a.m. Dec. 14:

As we mentioned Tuesday morning, the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether the state's public defenders can turn away cases.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

The owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced today that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, says it will allow the company to restructure its debt and exit bankruptcy within 60 days.

The company said in a press release that the filing would not affect employees, vendors and customers.

(St. Louis Public Radio/Screen Capture)

Some retailers in Illinois are lobbying for E-fairness nationally; a move to require online vendors to charge sales tax just like brick-and-mortar businesses.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association helped push legislation through in Springfield this year to force remote online retailers with affiliates in the state to charge sales tax.

President and CEO David Vite says 18 e-commerce businesses have registered with the Illinois Department of Revenue since then bringing in $1.5 million.

Vite says the effort in Illinois helped spur a push for a federal law.

The St. Louis Federal Reserve is part of a central bank system that includes 12 regional reserve banks and a board in Washington, D.C.
ChrisYunker | via Flickr

The latest report by the Federal Reserve finds that there was slow to moderate growth in all the Federal Reserve districts, except St. Louis.

What’s known as the Beige Book, or a summary of current economic conditions, is published by the United States Federal Reserve Board eight times a year.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Senator Claire McCaskill says since the supercommittee failed to come to an agreement, Congress should follow through with the automatic budget cuts.

The $1.2 trillion in cuts would come from defense and non-defense spending, but would not affect Social Security or programs for low-income people such as Medicaid.

Already some Republican senators, including John McCain, have said Congress can reverse the cuts.

Morning headlines: Monday, November 21, 2011

Nov 21, 2011
(via St. Louis County website)

Committee to meet today to review St. Louis County's controversial proposed budget

County Executive Charlie Dooley wants to cut $10 million in spending in part by closing 23 parks and laying off 175 employees. During a public hearing last week on the budget the council chambers was filled with residents, mostly opposed to closing parks. Several of the council members, including Mike O'Mara, the chairman of the special budget committee, suggested the cuts can be avoided.

Arrests made in Occupy St. Louis march to MLK bridge

Nov 17, 2011
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

This is a developing story. We will update it with more information as we know it.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. with quotes from Elliott and march organizer.

Update 5:05 p.m.: Among those arrested this afternoon was Gary Elliott, president of LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) Local 110, according to a press release distributed by Progress Missouri.

In an interview during the march, Elliott said it was time for him to put his words into action.

"It's one thing to say you feel sorry for people," Elliott said. "It's another thing to actually go out and actually take a little bit of risk to get the things that this country needs."

The march route took protestors past the local headquarters of Bank of America and the Federal Reserve. Johnathan McFarland, an Occupy St. Louis organizer, called it symbolic of America's misplaced priorities.

"We need to rebuild our infrastructure," he said. "And people need jobs rebuilding the infrastructure as opposed to bailing out banks that don't really provide jobs."

Most marchers returned to Kiener Plaza after the arrests, though a few continued on toward the City Justice Center, where the arrested protesters were taken.

Update 4:42 p.m.: Via our reporter Rachel Lippmann:

14 people have been arrested this afternoon and the march of Occupy St. Louis protesters is making its way back to Kiener Plaza.

Update: 4:36 p.m. via the Associated Press: At least a dozen Occupy St. Louis protesters were arrested after their attempt to block the entrance to a Mississippi River bridge on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy movement.

Police were waiting on several hundred protesters when the throng arrived at the Martin Luther King Bridge shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday. About 15 to 20 protesters then sat down cross-legged, with their arms locked.

Officers moved in and arrested them when they refused to move.

They offered no resistance.

The crowd of protesters included labor unions and other sympathizers who marched from Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to the bridge.

Members of Occupy St. Louis had camped in the plaza for several weeks before early Saturday, when police took down the tents and arrested demonstrators for curfew violations.

Via our reporter Rachel Lippmann:

About a dozen Occupy St. Louis protesters have sat down at the entrance to the MLK bridge.

St. Louis police are moving in now to arrest them and telling those nearby to move away or they’ll face arrest as well.

Hundreds more protesters are nearby.

They marched from Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to the bridge, as part of a nationwide effort to mark the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement.

Affton mother charged with second degree murder of 13-month-old son

Nov 16, 2011
(via St. Louis County Police Department)

Update 5:26 p.m. (adds more information, replaces 3:27 p.m. update):

Just a little over 24 hours after reporting her son missing an Affton woman has been charged in the child’s death.

Twenty-year-old Shelby Dasher faces a second-degree murder charge.

She’s accused of killing her 13-month-old son Tyler Dasher, then disposing of his body near a cemetery.

St. Louis County Police chief Tim Fitch says skilled investigators and interviewers helped bring the case to a head quickly.

“One of our first supervisors on the scene yesterday was a very experienced lieutenant who used to for most of his career handle child abuse cases,” Fitch said. “So he recognized rather quickly that this wasn’t just a missing person. That there was a lot more to this than just a baby missing out of his bed.”

Morning headlines: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nov 16, 2011
(via Facebook)

One person in custody in connection to 1-year-old Tyler Dasher's murder

St. Louis County police detectives have taken one person into custody in connection to the death of 1-year-old Tyler Dasher. The death has been ruled a homicide. St. Louis County spokesman Rick Eckhard says the person has not yet been formally booked or processed.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has resolved a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency with promises to fix its aging system.

But the consent decree, which still must be signed off on by a federal judge, comes with a huge price tag, an estimated $4.7 billion over 23 years.

In the second of a two-part series on the overhaul of the sewer district, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman explains MSD’s rate payers will be picking up the tab.

(The Midland Montly Magazine, 1865)

The Missouri History Museum is opening a new exhibit Saturday called “The Civil War in Missouri.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in a state that was bitterly divided by the war and saw more than 1,200 battles and skirmishes.

But the museum, founded just one year after the Civil War ended, has a treasure trove of artifacts from the era that bring the conflict to life.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman got a sneak peak.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

While in the St. Louis region Tuesday for a press conference on the Share the Harvest program (which you can learn more about below) Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon called his trade trip to China productive - however, he had little to say about whether he wants to renew efforts to get tax credits for a China hub.

The Democrat said his week-long trip resulted in $4.6 billion in export agreements between Missouri and China.

The 2011 World Series followed the tradition of turning the water red at The Runner's fountain.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

In Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis Friday afternoon locals mixed with out-of-towners taking pictures of the red fountain.

Those on their lunch break, including Missi Wood and Kerry Anne, admitted they were a bit tired from the late night Game 6 World Series win over the Texas Rangers.

But Anne says she never doubted the Cardinals would pull it off.

“I was calm the whole game,” Anne said. “They were like, ‘last out’, and I was like, ‘we’re going to win.’”

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Our own Maria Altman did a story for NPR's Morning Edition on the economic impact of the World Series on St. Louis. Here's the summary of her story as stated on NPR.org (below) and, of course, you can listen to her story here.

Summary:

The Texas Rangers are leading the World Series 3 games to 2 going into Game 6 Wednesday in St. Louis. The fact that the Cardinals will be playing at home is good for both the team and the town. The game will bring a welcome infusion of cash. As St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports, the unexpected sales tax revenues have already allowed the city to cancel expected furloughs for its employees.

Morning headlines: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oct 18, 2011
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Nixon to announce details of China trip

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says state officials expect to finalize billions of dollars of export agreements during an upcoming trade trip to China. Nixon plans to announce more details of the trip today during a visit to a Cargill soybean processing facility in Kansas City.

The governor said Monday the trip will allow the state to sign export agreements with Chinese agencies and provide a chance for numerous Missouri businesses to close deals with Chinese customers.

(Robert Altman)

Fairmount Park Racetrack in the Metro East is getting 67 race days next year.

The Illinois Racing Board approved the race dates Tuesday.

This year Fairmount was awarded 75 days and raced 69.

But both the track and horsemen say they’re happy with next year’s 67-day schedule, which they requested.

Fairmount will be offering bigger purses for winner horses next year, and spokesman Jon Sloane says that’s good for the track.

Morning headlines: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sep 21, 2011
Flickr/GoTRISI

Wentzville Mayor: news couldn't be better

The United Auto Workers announced Tuesday that GM plans to invest $380 million and bring more than 1,800 jobs to its Wentzville plant as part of a proposed contract with the union.

Mayor Paul Lambi says he's hoping the union will ratify the contract on Monday.

"The announcement made by the UAW seems to be a positive indication that contract negotiations went well," said Lambi. " And it seems to me that I would expect that contract to be approved and ratified."

(Robert Altman)

$2.6 million dollars is waiting to be distributed to Illinois’ horse racing industry but the law’s wording is keeping that from happening.

More than a decade ago Illinois legislators promised horse tracks 15 percent of the tenth casino’s gross revenue receipts.

That license was caught up in the courts for years.

Finally a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state’s Gaming Fund.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Senator Claire McCaskill says after a month of traveling to Missouri businesses she’ll introduce legislation to better enforce U.S. trade laws.

The Democrat says too many foreign companies are engaging in unfair trading practices, such as mislabeling products to avoid paying duties.

McCaskill says her bill will require all importers to have a physical address to ensure easier tracking and new shippers will be required to pay cash for duties instead of posting bonds that sometimes go unpaid.

McCaskill: funding for Joplin not in jeopardy

Aug 29, 2011
(via Flickr/Meagan)

Updated at 3:47 p.m. following a press conference with McCaskill

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says federal funding for Joplin is not in jeopardy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said last week that funding for some long-term projects in the tornado-ravaged town would be put on hold because of Hurricane Irene.

McCaskill said she was worried initially (see earlier story below) but says she got a better explanation over the weekend.

(via Flickr/srqpix)

This summer, fewer young people in the U.S. are employed than at any time since the government began keeping track.

On Wednesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that found just 48.8 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds had jobs in July.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman spoke with Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, about what the numbers mean.

(via Flickr/number657)

Officials with Wehrenberg Theatres say when the announcement was made Friday some movie goers actually applauded.

The St. Charles-based company says as cell phone screens have gotten bigger, they’ve gotten more complaints.

Instead of blocking phone signals as some movie chains have done, Wehrenberg is asking patrons to put their phones on vibrate.

If they’re caught talking or texting, they’ll be asked to leave without a refund.

Spokeswoman Kelly Hoskins says they’re stepping up monitoring, and so are other movie goers.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

There are 20 charter schools in the city of St. Louis, and when classes start Monday, four more will open their doors.

Charters get public funding, but they have more autonomy from the state.

The free schools are a draw for parents who want to avoid the unaccredited St. Louis Public Schools system.

But some charters are performing far below state standards.

And as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports in the second of a two-part series, no one is holding them accountable.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Classes begin Monday in the St. Louis Public School District.

But four new charter schools also will be opening their doors.

Charters receive public funding but have more freedom with their budgets, staff, and curriculum than traditional public schools.

Many parents in St. Louis welcome the charter alternative and more than a quarter of the city’s students attend charter schools.

As part of a two-part series on charters, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman looks at how that trend is affecting the city’s public school district.

(via Flickr/Jo Naylor)

"It's not the large, organized, and, later in the war, the drafted armies that you see on the East Coast. This is very personal. You know, you better know who your neighbor is, and where their sympathies lie, or they're going to be turning you in, so to speak."

- Connie Langum, National Park historian on the nature of Civil War battles in Missouri

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Mo.

It was the second major battle of the Civil War, after Bull Run, and the first major battle to take place west of the Mississippi River.

About 2,500 men died or were wounded at the site, which is now known as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman spoke with National Park historian Connie Langum about what happened on that day a century and a half ago, and how it will be remembered this week.

Listen to their conversation above.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will have four new charter schools when school begins in a few weeks.

The mayor was on hand when the latest school, Better Learning Communities Academy, announced Wednesday it’s enrolling students.

Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed all four of the charters opening this year.

At the same time he says some of the St. Louis Public Schools are working. 

Nixon will let late-term abortion restrictions take effect without signature

Jul 14, 2011
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 2:05 p.m. with comment from Nixon.

Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from Planned Parenthood and Rep. Tim Jones.

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon says he will let a controversial measure that puts further restrictions on abortions performed after 20 weeks become law without his signature.

The state already bans late-term abortions unless the life or health of the mother is in danger. That includes mental health.

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