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Top Stories

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

Andre Anderson, the new interim chief of the Ferguson police department, listens as Mayor James Knowles announces his appointment to the job on July 22. City manager Ed Beasley is to Anderson's left.
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Ferguson’s interim police chief is resigning after a little more than four months on the job.

Andre Anderson, a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., police department, was appointed to the department’s top post in July for a six-month contract. He became the first black police chief in the history of the city, which is two-thirds African American.

StoryCorps: Listen to your elders this Thanksgiving

Nov 20, 2015
StoryCorps

StoryCorps, the oral history project program that makes you laugh or cry every Friday during Morning Edition, has an assignment for you this Thanksgiving.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is your chance to record stories from your grandparents, great aunts and uncles, or any important elder in your life. 

Using an online survey, the Coldwater Creek Facebook group has been collecting information on illnesses in the communities around the creek. Close to 2,000 cases of cancer have been reported.
Coldwater Creek - Just the Facts Please Facebook group

St. Louis County is teaming up with federal scientists to assess health risks from radioactive contamination in and around Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County.

According to county public health department director Faisal Khan, the collaboration with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will give a big boost to local efforts to study those risks, both in terms of financial resources and technical expertise.

Volunteers led by the St. Patrick Center look for homeless people during the Point In Time Count in the city of St. Louis in January 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

New homeless numbers are out and they paint an improving picture for the state of Missouri. 

According to the annual homelessness report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness dropped by 11 percent in Missouri this year, but it has not yet returned to pre-recession numbers. Meanwhile, homelessness in the United States dropped by 2 percent this year, continuing a slow but steady decline stretching back to 2007.

Attorney David Pittinsky stands with mayors of numerous St. Louis County cities on Thursday. Pittinsky is leading a lawsuit against a state municipal overhaul.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A dozen St. Louis County cities are challenging a far-reaching municipal overhaul, which was arguably the most significant state action taken in response to the unrest in Ferguson.

The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Court where the state offices are located, takes aim at a new law, still referred to as Senate Bill 5, that lowers the percentage of traffic-fine revenue cities can keep. It also sets standards for St. Louis County cities and provides new guidelines for how municipal courts should operate.

(Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio)

When the Starbucks in Ferguson opens in the spring, it will be more than a new coffee place.

Getting a Starbucks is a big deal for the small city that saw several businesses go up in flames in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.

"There’s probably that belief in some people’s minds that people would be hesitant to make an investment along West Florissant or an investment in north county," said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. "The fact that Starbucks has stepped up to do that, we’re very excited and very appreciative."

Map of the West Lake Landfill
Provided by the EPA

A rare bipartisan coalition of the region’s two members of the U.S. House and both of Missouri’s U.S. senators has filed legislation to transfer authority for the West Lake landfill from the Environmental Protection Action to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-University City, and Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, have filed a bill in the House. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., have filed a companion measure in the Senate.

Ballet class at St. Louis' Juvenile Detention Center, Daniel Blount aka Orange Crush and guard tower at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific
Nancy Fowler and Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

For 22 years, a St. Louis organization has helped prisoners and youthful detainees project words like "thee" and "thou" and practice pliés and arabesques.

Prison Performing Arts instructors work with inmates on projects like performing Shakespeare, perfecting ballet routines and creating hip-hop poetry. It's an effort whose success is told more by anecdotes than analysis.

Zoo says it wants to buy Grant's Farm, so does Billy Busch

Nov 18, 2015

The St. Louis Zoo is making plans to acquire the family attraction Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust.

De'Carlon Seewood
City of Ferguson

The new Ferguson city manager is a familiar face at city hall. De'Carlon Seewood is returning to the community after serving in a similar position in a Chicago suburb.

He was Ferguson's assistant city manager from 2001 to 2007. Seewood has also served as city manager in Berkeley.

A large crowd gathers at the clocktower on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University is getting pushback over how long it is taking to meet diversity goals agreed to by President Fred Pestello and student protesters last year. 

The chlamydia bacteria, stained and viewed at 500 times.
National Cancer Institute | Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory

When Faisal Khan took the job of St. Louis County's director of health earlier this year, one of his first calls was to Melba Moore, St. Louis' new health director. He asked for he help to tackle regional problems like sexually transmitted diseases.

“She said yes; let’s do this,” Khan said. "Let’s start looking at issues such as STDs, violence prevention, obesity and poverty alleviation."

City attorney Winston Calvert reisgned Nov. 18 2015
File photo Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Winston Calvert is no longer St. Louis’ city counselor.

Up until earlier this week, Calvert was in charge of 37 attorneys who handled the city’s legal business. But after some rumblings on social media, Calvert confirmed to St. Louis Public Radio in several text messages that he had left St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s administration.

A silent witness display created by the Violence Prevention Center, to represent victims murdered in counties they serve. The shields on the chests tell who the victim was and their story, provided by family members.
provided by the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois

Domestic violence shelters in Illinois have spent the past months dipping into savings and cutting back staff. At least one has closed its doors to women and children. With the legislature unlikely to pass a budget anytime soon, service providers are looking to an uncertain future.  

“We’re running on a very skeleton crew,” said Debbie Sander, the executive director of Phoenix Crisis Center in Granite City. “We’ve not replaced staff members, due to the uncertainty of the finances.”

Students gather on the University of Missouri campus to show support for Jonathan L. Butler, the 25-year-old graduate student who is holding a hunger strike on campus in Columbia, Missouri on November 7, 2015.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

On a special edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum, Tim Lloyd and Kameel Stanley welcomed three journalists from Columbia-based KBIA to take stock of a series of events that rocked the University of Missouri system.

Three prisoners share their stories through performance.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Recent national prison reforms have included shortening sentences for drug offenders and releasing a number of prisoners because of the changes in sentencing guidelines. Yet roughly 32,000 people are incarcerated in Missouri.

Kurt Schaefer 2014 mo senator gop dist 19 columbia
Official photo

Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican candidate for attorney general, suspects that a disparaging story in Middle East-based Al Jazeera may be tied to a death threat that has prompted him to temporarily close his office in the state Capitol.

Schaefer, R-Columbia, said in an interview Tuesday night that the  article by Al Jazeera's U.S. affiliate – which appeared online last week -- contained “inflammatory stuff” as part of its critical coverage into his recent probes of ties between the University of Missouri and Planned Parenthood.

Ernest Johnson
Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate who came within hours of being executed earlier this month will have his appeal heard by a three-judge panel.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on Nov. 3 to Ernest Lee Johnson, based on whether a lower court properly handled his complaint about the state's execution drug. The order from the high court arrived around 40 minutes into the 24-hour execution window.

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello addresses students at the university's Clock Tower last August after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Saint Louis University

Two of 13 initiatives from a controversial agreement between Saint Louis University and student protesters in the aftermath of Ferguson unrest aimed at improving opportunities for black students on campus have been "substantially completed" in the last year, according to a school administrator tasked with overseeing the progress.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner talks with reporters in O'Fallon, Illinois. Rauner expressed enthusastic support for bringing the NGA headquarters to the Metro East.
File photo | Katelyn Petrin I St. Louis Public Radio

Even as Republican lawmakers from Missouri, Illinois and elsewhere across the U.S., speak out against allowing Syrian refugees into their states, St. Louis is seen as a community that welcomes those most in need of finding a new home, according to Audrey Singer, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. “St. Louis is a place that definitely sees refugees and immigrants as assets and as members of the community, members of the work force, and members of the (city’s) future workforce.”

Ryan Johnson
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Missouri Alliance for Freedom’s Ryan Johnson to the program for the first time.

Beyond Housing

Pagedale, one of St. Louis County’s many municipalities, sits just north of University City. Recently, a new movie theatre opened there, called 24:1 Cinema. It is named for the 24 municipalities that feed one school district: Normandy.

Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:45 p.m., Nov. 16 with revised Illinois proposal - Metro East officials are sweetening their offer to attract a federal spy agency and its roughly 3,000 workers. St. Clair County officials said Monday that they are adding 200 acres to its proposal for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The hipness of curating: One year with Museum Blue

Nov 16, 2015
Museum Blue Founders Lauren Cardenas and Michael Behle stand in the exhibit 'Water, Water'
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year four artists and educators decided to turn their shared studio space into an exhibition space for other artists. The project achieved unexpected results.

“The most important thing that I have learned is how remarkably diverse and surprising our audience is with every single show, with every single opening,” said photographer Gina Grafos.

presidential candidates 2016
Wikipedia

With Missouri’s presidential primary just four months away, the state’s Republicans are already pumped up.

And Missouri Democrats are hoping to follow suit.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee waits his turn to speak at least week's St. Louis County Council meeting. McGee opposes a measure establishing standards on local police departments.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s pretty difficult to find two municipalities that differ more than Florissant and Glen Echo Park.

Florissant is one of St. Louis County’s largest and oldest cities – and possesses a fairly sophisticated police department. The roughly 160-person strong Glen Echo Park is one of the county’s smallest municipalities with a land area consisting of a whopping 0.03 square miles. It contracts with Normandy for police service.

But leaders of the two cities share a commonality: They’re both strongly opposed to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s push to establish standards on municipal police departments.

Athrasher | Flickr

St. Louis area banks are becoming more accessible to low-income and minority neighborhoods. That’s according to a new report released by the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance.

In a survey of 23 banks, the alliance found that St. Louis banks have added at least seven branches in low-income or minority neighborhoods in the past three years. The banks have also made at least $2.4 billion in development loans and investments since 2012, earmarked for people and communities that don’t have much money.

Rams fans line up with letters made by Jill Bauer of Columbia, Ill. on Sat. Nov. 14, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The plan to build a new football stadium in St. Louis continues to bring passion to the forefront. Rams fans and St. Louis residents took turns pleading their cases to the city’s Ways and Means Committee for three hours Saturday at an outdoor venue within the footprint of the proposed stadium. The aldermanic committee is considering a bill to help fund its construction.  

LaVell Monger
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As president of the Associated Black Collegians at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, LaVell Monger is well versed on issues facing minorities on campus.

But when the recent furor erupted over the president of the University of Missouri system, Monger admits the name Tim Wolfe didn’t exactly ring a bell.

Gary Pinkel is the winningest football coach in Mizzou history, and will retire at the end of the 2015 season.
Courtesy MU Tigers

Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel will retire at the end of this season.

According to a statement from the University’s Athletics Department this afternoon, Pinkel’s decision is "health-based." Pinkel, the winningest coach in Mizzou history, was diagnosed with lymphoma in May, but was able to continue his coaching duties as he was being treated.

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