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Top Stories

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

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

After months of speculation, intrigue and public policy contortions, the St. Louis Rams have officially filed to move to the Los Angeles area.

Arts program grows during first year of operations

Jan 4, 2016
Show Me Arts Academy kids rehearse a dance to Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" during the program's launch last year
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Nine months ago, Marty Casey launched Show Me Arts Academy in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson. The program tries to reach kids in poor neighborhoods who may not respond well to sports, school or other activities.

“When we take that time out and we give that special attention, you literally see their whole attitude and their world just change,” said Casey.

The Goldenrod sits along an Illinois river bank.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteers have worked countless hours salvaging artifacts from the century-old Goldenrod Showboat that was once a fixture on the St. Louis riverfront, says Jake Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association that’s been working to restore the vessel.

Songs from "The Wild Party," "Bat Boy" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will be part of New Line's 25th anniversary concert.
New Line Theatre

St. Louis’ New Line musical theater company has something to sing about this week: its silver anniversary.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights (Jan. 5 and 6), New Line will present a concert called “25 Years to Life!” featuring songs from shows dating back to its 1991 debut. The event showcases 16 New Line veterans including Ryan Foizy, Taylor Pietz, Anna Skidis and Zachary Allen Farmer.

Askia Hameed, resident imam at Al-Muminoon Masjid in St. Louis: "'’Oh you who believe, stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealing.  And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. '"
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

For our holiday episode, we talked to faith leaders about their experiences addressing race with their congregations.

 

We wanted to know if they felt obligated to address race (many said yes); whether parishioners were receptive (sometimes); and why it was or was not an important part of their ministry (you’ll have to listen to the show to find out).

 

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ron Richard is about to spend his first full session as president pro-tem of the Missouri Senate.

He was elected to the post by his colleagues in September after Tom Dempsey resigned a year ahead of time, and shepherded the upper chamber through veto session. The Republican from Joplin also served as House Speaker from 2009 to 2010, and is the only elected official in Missouri history to lead both chambers.

Richard sat down recently with St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin and talked about what he hopes to accomplish, and about getting started as president pro-tem:

Flood updates and the outlook for commuters

Jan 3, 2016
Southbound lanes of US 67 across the Clark Bridge are expected to remain closed for at least the first part of the work week.
Flickr | Jon K.

Updated Monday, Jan. 4 at 3:00  p.m. with information about sewer plants

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District says one of its flood-damaged water treatment plants should be fully functional by next week.

The Grand Glaize plant in Valley Park went offline Christmas Eve after the Meramec River breached a sandbag levee MSD built around the facility. The utility said Monday that the plant was pumping water again, and partial wastewater treatment would resume by the end of this week. The plant is expected to be back at full capacity next week.

 The utility says it does not know when it will be able to return a second wastewater treatment plant in Fenton to service. That means six million gallons of untreated sewage will continue to flow into the Meramec. The facility was under six feet of water.

It wasn’t that long ago that South Central Avenue in Eureka was swamped by historic flooding. Businesses along the commercial thoroughfare had to fight off several feet of water, which several damaged some longtime establishments.

Photo courtesy Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Despite reduced park hours, the head of the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society says the year was brighter than expected at the Illinois state historic site, which is the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico.

Obama declares state of emergency in Missouri, provides flood recovery help

Jan 2, 2016
Volunteers clean-up Odell's Irish Pub and Ale House in Eureka, Mo. on Sat. Jan. 2, 2016. Owner Jerry O'Dell says he hopes to reopen in time for St. Patrick's Day.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After a formal request from Gov. Jay Nixon Saturday morning, President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration for the state of Missouri.              

Nixon asked for the declaration to get federal help removing flood debris.

cello bridge
Turidoth | Wikipedia

Music therapists in Missouri who are fighting to institute statewide certification for the profession say that will improve access to patients and secure quality patient care.

Residents take stock along the Meramec

Jan 1, 2016
Mia Fernandez, 9, and her brother Mason, 6, help clean up inventory at an ACE Hardware in Eureka with their father, Danny.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Floodwaters are continuing to recede along the Meramec River, and emergency workers are taking stock of the damage. According to early estimates, as many as 1,000 structures had water damage in St. Louis County over the past few days. Personnel from the Department of Public Works, however, cautioned that the number will likely change.  

The flooding Meramec River is taking a toll in Pacific.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 11:10 a.m. Friday - According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, as of 10 a.m. Friday, "Both directions of Interstate 44 in St. Louis County are now open between mile marker 253 and 274. Interstate 55 at the St. Louis County and Jefferson County line opened earlier today. All interstates in Missouri are now open to traffic.

"In the St. Louis area, Route 21 and Route 30 remain closed at the Meramec River and Route 141 is still closed at I-44 and at Route 21."

In Pacific, there wasn’t much time to pack

Dec 31, 2015
Jodi Howard holds her daughter Brooklyn, 3, as they survey flood damage in Pacific.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The flooding Meramec River crested early Wednesday in Pacific — inundating houses, half of the historic downtown district and sweeping through a mobile home park. Residents evacuated to hotels, friends’ houses and a Red Cross shelter set up in a senior center. Much of the water remained the morning of New Year's Eve and isn’t expected to recede to normal levels until early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

After two years of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday that it will move ahead with plans to build a firebreak at a landfill complex in north St. Louis County.

A fire has been smoldering underground at the Bridgeton Landfill since late 2010, about 1,000 feet away from tons of radioactive waste buried in the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis businessman John Brunner is celebrating New Year’s Eve by donating more than $3.6 million to his own Republican campaign for governor.

Brunner’s contribution, split among two checks this week, represents the largest Missouri donation so far, self-funded or not, to a single 2016 candidate. But he has spent more of his own money before.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

As Interstates 55 and 44 remain closed, area residents need alternate routes. Missouri drivers should check www.modot.org, and Illinois drivers should go to www.idot.illinois.gov/home/Comm/emergency-road-closures.

Volunteer opportunities are being coordinated through STLVolunteer.org

Check the Army Corps of Engineers website for river levels.

Anne Keefe came to KMOX in 1976.
St. Louis Media Hsitory Foundation

Anne Keefe, whose smoky voice, inimitable style and consuming dedication to work made her one of the most important figures in television and radio for more than 50 years, has died. She was 90.

Americans buy more than 30 million poinsettias every year.
TANAKA Juuyoh | Flickr Creative Commons

Poinsettias are sold by the millions every year, almost all of them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As popular as these holiday flowers are, there still may be a few things about them that could surprise you. Here are five fun facts about poinsettias we wanted to share.

Gov. Jay Nixon
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As he heads into his final year in office and his last legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon prefers to focus on the positive.

That means highlighting the state’s balanced budgets and drop in unemployment, and downplaying his political battles with the Republican-controlled General Assembly or the criticisms lobbed his way during the unrest ignited by the Ferguson police shooting in August 2014.

ID checks might be more difficult for residents of Missouri, Illinois and two other states.
Department of Homeland Security

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder may have put U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in a difficult position with his harsh comments about a law Blunt originally co-sponsored when he served in the U.S. House.

The law establishes federal standards for issuing driver’s licenses. Residents of a few states, including Missouri and Illinois, whose licenses don’t comply could be denied access to federal facilities or commercial airplanes. Passports will work if federal agencies say those licenses are no longer acceptable government issued identification.

Spelling Bee win gives area teen more than prize money

Dec 30, 2015
COURTESY OF SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE

Immediately after winning the National Spelling Bee Gokul Venkatachalam was thrust into the media spotlight. He appeared on morning talk shows and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He traveled from D.C. to New York, to Los Angeles, and back again before returning to Chesterfield. By Venkatahalam’s estimation he talked to roughly 70 news outlets.

Detail from the cover of Red Cross magazine

The American Red Cross and the World Chess Hall of Fame encourage chess fans to help save lives – and learn more about the impact of chess in World War II -- by donating blood at the Hall of Fame on Monday, Jan. 4.

Family, friends and volunteers from St. Louis help Arnold, Mo. residents combat area flooding
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Patty Titus, 57, stood at the edge of the Meramec River in Arnold as it ran up the side of her house and poured into her basement. It’s the house she grew up in, and she’s lived there for more than 50 years. As Titus watched the water rise, she listed the family heirlooms she’s lost.

“All my parents stuff, dishes, furniture, lost my freezer, my refrigerator, things that can’t be replaced. A lot of memories and things,” she said.

Brenda Talent
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome the Show-Me Institute’s Brenda Talent to the program for the first time.

Talent is the CEO of the Show-Me Institute, which for roughly 10 years has served as the state’s premier “free market” think tank. A co-founder of the Show-Me Institute is retired financier Rex Sinquefield, one of Missouri’s largest political donors over the past decade.

Upgrades to ground Arch trams starting Jan. 4

Dec 30, 2015
The Gateway Arch soars 630 feet. Traveling to the top takes four minutes; traveling back down takes only three.
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

There are just a few days left to take a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch before it closes for at least two months. The trams and underground visitors’ center have remained open throughout CityArchRiver’s massive $380 million renovation project at the Arch grounds, but they’ll have to close on Jan. 4 for museum upgrades and other improvements.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is under the national microscope after a series of racially-charged incidents on campus.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

From Ferguson to Syria: Though separated by more than 6,000 miles, these places were the setting for events that many St. Louisans recalled as they reflected on the news of 2015.

Ferguson, a mid-size city in north St. Louis County, was the first thought of many people who responded to a call for suggestions put out by St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network. A year and a half since the shooting death of a young man named Michael Brown by a police officer named Darren Wilson, many area residents consider that case, and its aftermath, the top news story of the year.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Grand Glaize facility
Screenshot | Google Maps

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. with information on more evacuations and road closures.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday to help rain-weary communities deal with near-record flooding.

Nixon said in a statement that the guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic around closed roads. Forty roads remain closed due to flooding in the Missouri part of the St. Louis region, out of 225 statewide.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In August, 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden was fatally shot in north St. Louis County while doing homework in her mother’s bedroom. She was a student at Koch Elementary, part of the Riverview Gardens School District, where school administrators have been working to bring hope to the students coping with the loss of their classmate.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senator Blunt | Flickr

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says boosting investments in health care research now will be good for Missouri.

The $1.1 trillion federal spending plan approved earlier this month includes about a 7 percent increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. Blunt chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH. He says the increase will raise NIH funding to $32 billion for next year.

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