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Top Stories

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

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin
Official photo

The House Republican Conference is scheduled to select its candidate for speaker Thursday to replace John Boehner, who’s leaving Congress at the end of the month. The rifts in the Republican Party that led to Boehner's departure are reflected in the thinking of House Republicans from Missouri and Illinois.

Mayor Francis Slay, left, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson unveil the new Real Time Crime Center at police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay will join his counterparts from dozens of American cities in Washington, D.C. this week for the attorney general's summit on violent crime.

His trip comes as the city continues to battle an increase in crime. The latest numbers show crime is 10 percent higher in 2015 compared to the same time last year, though the increase has slowed down each month this year. St. Louis is on pace for about 200 homicides, a barrier it hasn't broken in nearly 20 years.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Groups that have been meeting for the past year to come up with new standards for Missouri schools have turned their homework in to state education officials.

Where those standards go from here is the next big test.

Kelly Lee and her mother Barbara Hill examine a sculpture inspired by the artist's homeless sister inside the garage studio of JE Baker
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

Barbara Hill of Fenton will do almost anything to support her four daughters. A decade ago while visiting one daughter in the African Republic of Mali, Hill shut her eyes as her car's driver backed down a narrow mountain road to let another vehicle pass.

So simply riding a forward-moving bus to four St. Louis artists’ studios this past Sunday was a breeze. And an eye-opener, as it turned out.

The city's Civil Courts Building, where a challenge of St. Louis' minimum wage law was heard.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The fate of St. Louis’ minimum wage law is in the hands of a judge.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer heard arguments on Tuesday over a law raising the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. A coalition of businesses and business groups are challenging the measure in court.

After roughly two hours of arguments, Ohmer promised to deliver a quick ruling on the lawsuit. He had previously promised to decide on the validity of the law by October 15, the day that the city’s minimum wage is expected to rise from $7.65 to $8.25 an hour. 

Organizer Leon Braxton at the site of the Transgender Memorial Park.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A sliver of land in St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood is getting a makeover to become what may the country’s first Transgender Memorial Park.

It’s a cooperative effort between the city and community members. Leon Braxton got the idea when he heard about the city’s “Plant4Peace” project, a program that gives out free trees for local gathering spaces.

“I thought about this would be a great opportunity for something in the LGBT community,” Braxton said.

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

This July 31, the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of a 20-month investigation into the St. Louis County Family Court that sent a jolt through the system.

"The investigation found that the court fails to provide constitutionally required due process to children appearing for delinquency proceedings, and that the court’s administration of juvenile justice discriminates against black children, all in violation of the 14th Amendment," assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a conference call.

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert chats with St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nick Pistor before a judge ruled against a temporary restraining order for the city's minimum wage law.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When attorneys resume a legal fight this week over St. Louis’ minimum wage law, the atmosphere will be very different from when they first clashed in the courtroom.

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert and omnipresent litigator Jane Dueker are set to resume a high-stakes legal battle on Tuesday morning. Dueker is representing businesses and business groups seeking to dismantle St. Louis’ law raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. Calvert (along with private attorneys from Dowd Bennett) is defending the statute.

UCityNeeds.me director Chris Paavola, (left), speaks with a resident during a results party Saturday at the Heman Park Community Center. Paavola and other University Center organizers launched a campaign to link residents with causes they care about.
Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

Organizers of UCityNeeds.me had a simple goal in mind when they launched their interactive social campaign this summer:

Find out what residents in University City want and need from their community. It didn’t take long to get the answer.

Over a 30 day period, residents submitted more than 2,000 responses to this prompt: “My #HopeForUCity is…”

The exterior of the new Lewis & Clark branch of the St. Louis County Library.
St. Louis County Library

In 2014, historic preservationists and community members called for the preservation of St. Louis County Library’s Lewis & Clark branch, designed by noted architect Frederick Dunn. Activists said that branch was the most architecturally significant in the county library’s system. Also at stake were stained glass windows, created by artist Robert Harmon with Emil Frei Studios, depicting Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacajawea on their famed Westward expedition.

Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican field for Missouri governor has grown larger. St. Louis businessman John Brunner announced his candidacy this morning in a pre-recorded YouTube video.

Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson takes her turn as a crossing guard.
Jennings School District

The arcane world of school finance in Missouri can be harder to understand than the most obscure poem or the most difficult calculus problem. But clear away all of the acronyms and calculations and modifications, and it comes down to two simple questions:

Should the quality of children’s education depend on where they live? And how important is money to education anyway?

New genetic test can detect almost any human virus

Oct 5, 2015
This colorized scanning electron micrograph image shows filamentous Ebola virus particles (shown in blue) infecting a cell (shown in yellow-green).
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Scientists at Washington University have developed a genetic test that can be used to detect practically any virus known to infect humans.

It could be especially useful for quickly identifying the cause of deadly disease outbreaks or helping a patient whose disease has eluded diagnosis.

A year without Chuck Berry at Blueberry Hill

Oct 5, 2015
Chuck Berry
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

This month marks one year since Chuck Berry wrapped up his iconic run at Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop. The musician’s performing status is up in the air, according to Blueberry Hill owner Joe Edwards.

“The fact he’s almost 89 years old, who knows? He has the interest in doing it but he’s also working on some songs,” said Edwards. 

John Thavis covered the Vatican for 30 years.
Provided by the author

When veteran Vatican journalist John Thavis interviewed exorcists for his new book, many said right off that exorcism was “nothing at all like the movie.”

These American and Italian priests were referring to the 1973 movie “The Exorcist” made from William Peter Blatty’s novel, which was based on a St. Louis event.

Parking lots disappear in renderings of the new east entrance of Washington University.
Renderings from Washington University

Two of the most important civic, cultural, educational and recreational institutions in the region — Washington University and Forest Park — announced building and renovation plans over the weekend, plans that include transformative changes to come as well as some work already completed.

The plans also include a campaign for bulking up endowment funds for the future for Forest Park. Together, the plans represent a total of about $370 million and include five buildings and a green on the eastern part of the university campus.

Parents cheer during a football game against Christian Brothers College High School at St. Louis University High on Friday. At left, Verlion Evans cheers for her nephew, Andrew Clair.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When she was a student at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School back in the 70s, Betty Pearson would ring a cowbell every time the Blue Devils made a touchdown. Her high school sweetheart — now her husband — played football, and their oldest son later followed in his footsteps. So when the school board announced they were ending the district's high school football program due to a lack of interest, Pearson was pretty shocked.

“I was first sad! I was like, 'Oh wow.' You know?” Pearson said.

Left: Audience members at an Ameren employee diversity festival clap when Ameren's $2.5 million donation is announced on Sat. Oct. 3, 2015 in St. Louis. Right: Rev. Earl Nance Jr. of Heat Up St. Louis shakes hands with Ameren CEO Warner Baxter.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

​Updated at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 with more detail on recipients - Ameren Corporation has pledged $2.5 million dollars to programs that support the Ferguson Commission’s priorities to reduce poverty and improve educational opportunities in St. Louis. The commission’s other priorities include justice and racial equity.

Ameren announced the funding Saturday during an employee festival celebrating diversity.

Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate scheduled for execution next week has been spared, as Gov. Jay Nixon has commuted his sentence to life without parole.

Kimber Edwards was sentenced to death for the 2000 murder of his ex-girlfriend Kimberly Cantrell in St. Louis County.

St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie speaks in favor of his bill exempting sheltered workshops from the city's minimum wage law.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen exempted sheltered workshops from its new minimum wage law.

When the board passed legislation that is to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour, they didn’t leave out sheltered workshops. Those facilities provide employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities and often pay less than the minimum wage.

A line of police face off with protesters on West Florissant Ave., last Sunday night.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Revised following conference call - The St. Louis County police department is falling short of best practices in several critical areas.

That is the conclusion of the latest report on policing post-Ferguson released Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services. The voluntary review, requested by Chief Jon Belmar more than a year ago, found 50 areas where the department can improve, and includes 109 recommendations.

File photo | Thomas Hawk | Flickr

In what some are calling a historic compromise, a broad spectrum of senators on Thursday announced support for sweeping changes in criminal sentencing laws.

The coaltion formed at a time when many Americans see Congress as dysfunctional, and lawmakers even within the same party at odds over national priorities.

photo of Barbara Harbach
Stephanie Zettl

For good reasons and for bad ones, the north St. Louis County city of Ferguson has acquired an international reputation. Its name has spread through conversations about social justice and inequities, including economic and educational issues. Art also has spread impressions of the city, more positive than not, and has come to play a significant, sometimes cathartic role in the life of Ferguson.

Most of the works of art are visual – drawings, paintings on wood used to board up buildings, even professionally produced prints that exalt the hands-up posture. There had not been a major musical endeavor such as a symphony. Now there is.

The west wing of Soldiers Memorial Museum
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The person in charge of the Soldiers Memorial Museum is excited about management shifting from the city to the Missouri History Museum. A bill to do just that is now before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. And   Superintendent Lynnea Magnuson says she's hopeful that the building may now receive the care it deserves.

“This is something that when I started, I would never have dreamed of it happening,” said Magnuson.

A new report finds the rate of homeownership among foreign-born residents in St. Louis is lower than the nation's.
Jim Larrison | Flickr

As St. Louis leaders are looking to turn the city into the fastest-growing metro region for immigrants in the next few years to spur economic growth, a new report shows that a majority of the city's foreign-born residents don't own their own homes. 

Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Steve Stenger
Jason Rosenbaum and Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The leaders of St. Louis and St. Louis County say their administrations are tackling the big issues that were highlighted in the Ferguson Commission report.

The commission’s nearly 200-page final report showcased substantial racial, economic and social divides throughout the St. Louis region and provided dozens of policy recommendations. Many of the report’s suggestions require action from the Missouri General Assembly, but some could be implemented by local governments.

ozone air pollution St. Louis
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Since last fall, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for an administrative rule to tighten standards on “ground-level ozone,” better known as smog, business and environmental groups have been fighting over what might seem to most of us to be minute differences on a grand scale. In anticipation of the new standard, both of Missouri’s U.S. senators have introduced separate bills to limit the rule’s economic impact on businesses, and state and local governments.

Jonathan Mueller | Flickr

There’s a lot of talk about “privilege” these days: “white privilege,” “heterosexual privilege" or “male privilege.”

It’s not uncommon to have some kind of privilege and not even know it. Many of us in St. Louis and elsewhere don’t know how to define it. But some people learn about male privilege in an unexpected way. They know what life is like for men and for women because they've lived both.

East St. Louis teachers on strike

Sep 30, 2015
East St. Louis students spend about a month without school last fall due to a teacher strike. In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo students spend their free day outside the school district office.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Thursday, Oct. 1,  2015

School is canceled Thursday for 6,000 students in East St. Louis as teachers walk the picket line. About 400 union teachers and staff members went on strike at 7 a.m.

East St. Louis School District 189 spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said Wednesday the superintendent is hopeful teachers will meet Thursday and reconsider the district’s contract offer. The district’s 400 union teachers rejected it Tuesday before voting to go on strike.

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Five public schools in Missouri will have their cyber security measures reviewed as part of an initiative announced Wednesday by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

She told reporters that more than 250 K-12 schools nationwide have suffered data breaches over the past 10 years. One of those was the Park Hill district in Platte County, near Kansas City, which is among the five being audited.

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