Metro East | St. Louis Public Radio

Metro East

"Get to Know M.E." http://www.get2knowthemetroeast.com

In March 2015, 23 businesses and organizations collaborated to create the “Get to Know M.E.” campaign (M.E. standing for “Metro East”) to counter the negative images some people may have about the Metro East.

Founded by Carol Bartle, the campaign’s goal is to help everyone in the Metro East get to know their communities better and to embrace each other as neighbors, all while working to improve the overall image outsiders may have about the region.

Mascotoutah Mayor Jerry Daugherty speaks at a news conference Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Daugherty is the current chair of the Illinois Municipal League.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A dozen Metro East mayors are asking Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to reconsider a cost-saving measure in his proposed state budget. Rauner ran for office on a pledge to balance the budget, and has proposed cutting in half the amount of state income tax given to municipalities next fiscal year.

Hofbrauhaus, Shrine, Belleville
(courtesy Keller Entreprises)

A new convention center, two hotels, and several restaurants are being proposed for development across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, all with the Catholic organization’s blessing.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate own the 177-acre proposed site north of Illinois Route 15, just across from the Shrine. The Oblates said at a news conference Monday the development will augment their own conference space at the Shrine.

Guest services and marketing manager for the Shrine Chris Diel said it would also allow them to close an old hotel on the grounds.

Illinois Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner shakes the hand of a diner at Red Apple Family Restaurant in Maryville, Ill. on January 10, 2015.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

With the countdown to inauguration day down to two, Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner stepped into Red Apple Family Restaurant in the Metro East Saturday with a Carhartt jacket on his back and a smile on his face.

The discerning eye could note a silver Illinois-shaped pin stuck to the lapel of the tan work coat.

The crowded red-roofed eatery in the village of Maryville was the Republican’s first stop Saturday—the second day of his pre-inauguration tour.

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon talked to reporters Thursday in Belleville about the impact of military spending throughout the state.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A new report shows that Illinois’ military and defense industry contributes roughly $13.3 billion to the state’s economy – a figure that officials say could serve as a deterrent against federal cutbacks. 

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation helped produced the study, which looks at the statewide impact of military installations, Department of Defense contracts and National Guard facilities.

(Read the report here.)

Illinois state Rep. Mike Bost's impassioned floor speech from 2012 is getting some attention. Democrats are using it to paint him as an ill-tempered extremist, while Republicans say it showcases his passion for his constituents.
Mike Bost's campaign

On the surface, Mike Bost and Moses don’t have that much in common. But some not-so-flattering political ads may create a different impression.

Bost – a Republican state representative from Murphysboro – is engaged in a highly competitive race against U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, for the 12th congressional district seat. It’s become vigorous enough to force the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to spend lots of money to paint Bost in a bad light.

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

The Highland, Illinois teachers’ union reached a settlement with the district’s board of education late Thursday afternoon, ending a week-long teacher strike.  Students will be back in class Friday after missing six days of school.

In a press release, Highland Superintendent Mike Sutton said the new teacher contract is good for three years and includes a provision to make up the missed school days. With school back in session Friday, school-sanctioned activities are now back on the weekend schedule, including the high school football game.

EAC/Portfolio’s “Ebony Creations”

St. Louis-area art openings this Friday explore the beauty of nature, teapots and African-American works. “Ebony Creations” is a joint project of Portfolio Gallery and the Edwardsville Arts Center.

Illinois Bill Takes Aim At 'Knockout' Game

Dec 17, 2013
(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A state representative in the Metro East wants to stiffen the punishment for random assaults often referred to as the 'knockout' game. The so-called 'game' involves punching an unsuspecting person in the head with the goal of rendering them unconscious.

Toxic Site In Metro East Enters New Phase Of Cleanup

Oct 30, 2013
(via US Environmental Protection Agency)

The US Environmental Protection Agency held a community meeting in Hartford, Illinois, on Wednesday, to inform residents about the ongoing cleanup of the former Chemetco copper smelter.

This is the second of three open houses being held this year. Another will be held in December.

U.S., State's Attorney Address Public Safety In Metro East

Oct 11, 2013
Paul Sableman / (Via Flickr/pasa47)

Over the past six decades, the Metro East has gained a nasty reputation for dangerous crime. The news headlines reflect a cycle of poverty and crime made worse by a lack of local resources for adequate governance.

Three government officials charged with tackling these problems joined us to discuss their vision for creating a more positive future for the Metro East: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen Wigginton; State's Attorney for St. Clair County, Brendan Kelly; and the mayor of Washington Park, Ann Rodgers.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Federal, state and local law enforcement in the Metro East are zeroing in on armed robberies with a coalition similar to the Major Case Squad.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen Wigginton is spearheading the effort to go after a spate of what he called "brazen and violent" armed robberies this summer.

Wigginton said prosecutors will go after offenders with federal charges that often carry longer sentences.

via Flickr/TeamSaintLouis (Army Corps of Engineers)

Updated: 4/1/13 at 4:12, after the meeting took place.

Transportation advocates say that by 2018, 1 out of every 3 miles of roads in Illinois will be of unacceptable condition, unless there are new sources of revenue. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition held a meeting with business leaders and state lawmakers in O’Fallon Monday to discuss what can be done.

Cars are becoming more fuel efficient – it’s good for drivers, who get to save more money, and it’s better for the environment. What it isn’t good for, however, is transportation funding.

Flickr

Several Metro East communities want to negotiate electricity supply costs for their residents and businesses.

A 2009 law allows Illinois cities and counties to contract with suppliers in order to negotiate prices with electric utilities.

It’s called "municipal aggregation" and referendums are on the ballot in Belleville, Collinsville, and Edwardsville. Click here for a complete list.

Nearly 250 Illinois municipalities already have done so, including Alton and Glen Carbon.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Metro East environmental advocacy group is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over access to information about the Southwestern Illinois levees and plans to repair them.

In the suit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the American Bottom Conservancy (ABC) said the Corps had repeatedly failed to respond to federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The suit is seeking an injunction from the court to compel the Corps to comply with the Act.

Corps gives green light for Metro East levee upgrades

May 1, 2012
(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

The US Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light to start levee upgrades in the Metro East.

The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council will start the first phase of levee construction next month.

The project supervisor for the council, Les Sterman, says the goal is to get the levees to a 100-year flood protection level by the end of 2014.

That would meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s accreditation standard.

St. Louis Public Radio

The Southwestern Flood Prevention District Council says too much is at stake for any more delays in fixing levees in Metro East. 

Les Sterman, the project's supervisor for the Council says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has so far taken too long in approving plans to work on the levees.

He said their latest plan approval was six months late.

“Essentially we're doing our part," Sterman said. "All we're asking is for the federal agency to do its part in helping us get this project moving.”

Hoffman drops run for Congress, switches to Ill. House

Oct 28, 2011
(Ill. General Assembly website)

Democrat Jay Hoffman has changed his mind about running for Congress and now plans to seek a seat in the
Illinois House.

Democratic Party officials on Thursday endorsed Huffman's run for the seat held until recently by Tom Holbrook. Holbrook announced plans to step down from the Illinois House after Gov. Pat Quinn picked him to head the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

A month ago, Hoffman had said he'd run for Congress in the newly drawn 13th District.

(Photo courtesy of Illinois EPA)

Demolition of the former Chemetco copper smelter took another step forward on Tuesday. The demolition is the start of a long clean-up process for the hazardous Metro East eyesore.

The Illinois EPA is overseeing the dismantling of the smelter buildings, which began last year.

Judge tosses suit challenging FEMA flood mapping in S.W. Ill.

Aug 3, 2011
(St. Louis Public Radio)

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit three southwestern Illinois counties filed to block the U.S. government from declaring the region's levees functionally useless.

U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert called the lawsuit moot Monday, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in court it had no plans to pull the accreditation of the region's levees as part of a levee-mapping effort.

Durbin: More money for Metro East port project

Jul 22, 2011
(Official Portrait/via Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says a Metro East port project is getting more money.

Durbin announced the $8.5 million from the Department of Transportation. The money is to help build a transportation hub that Durbin says can help reduce congestion on the Mississippi River.

Durbin's office says the project got $6 million last year. The project includes a harbor, rail lines and a rail and truck facility in Madison County, Ill.

The Illinois Democrat says the facility can help the Metro East's economic competitiveness.

Council OKs southwestern Ill. levee upgrades

Jul 21, 2011
(St. Louis Public Radio)

The people who oversee 64 miles of aging Mississippi River levees in southwestern Illinois have signed off on a $151 million plan to upgrade the barriers perhaps by 2014.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council adopted the proposal Wednesday involving levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

Officials expect the upgrades to be funded largely by a quarter-cent sales tax.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A yearly effort by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to clean up discarded tires is underway in the Metro East.

Front loaders were hard at work at a city-owned lot in East St. Louis Wednesday afternoon dropping tires into tractor trailers. The contractors, which will haul away the old tires to be reused, are funded with a fee that customers pay on new tires.

FEMA shifts course on flood map modeling

Mar 11, 2011
(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is giving a reprieve to southwestern Illinois and other U.S. areas guarded by levees it was to have deemed functionally useless.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told federal lawmakers Thursday that the agency would hold off on decertifying 64 miles of earthen levees protecting St. Louis' Illinois suburbs.

Fugate says the agency would stop using a questioned assessment technique and turn to a more nuanced measure of the actual protection the levees provide.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says homes and businesses in the Mississippi River floodplain may need flood insurance, even if they are protected by a levee.

Last week senators from Missouri, Illinois and 16 other states sent a letter to Administrator Fugate.

The Illinois EPA is helping the Metro East village of Washington Park clean up an illegal dumping site this week.

The area an estimated 100 tons of trash, and the clean-up is expected to take three to five days.

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