Metro East Coverage | St. Louis Public Radio

Metro East Coverage

(Courtesy: Andrew Theising / Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)

The citizens of East St. Louis once believed their town was destined for greatness.  They thought the town was poised to outdistance Chicago as the premier industrial giant and railroad freight node of the Midwest.

According to Andrew Theising, political scientist at the Institute for Urban Research at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and series editor of the East St. Louis Sesquicentennial series, “In the 19th century residents really did think it would be the new Pittsburgh. (Early) documents are just gushing with civic pride.”

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 5, 2012 - Last week, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. announced an executive emergency curfew on those 17 years old and under, which, among other restrictions, will have police arrest and jail juveniles between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. as well as stop and randomly search vehicles for drugs, weapons and open alcohol containers. Furthermore, police will be checking pedestrians, bicyclists and skateboarders for alcohol, and arresting citizens who cannot produce a state-issued ID.

(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.

former East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks Jr. has been appointed city manager.
Alex Heuer/St. Louis Public Radio

Less than one week ago East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks announced a list of new measures in an attempt to curb recent violence in the city.  Among the new rules is a curfew for all youth after 10:00 p.m.  A ban from wearing royal blue or bright red clothing was also in effect for all men though the Mayor has since backed down.

Host Don Marsh talks with multiple guests about the new measures which stem from a deadly weekend in which an 18 year old man was stabbed to death and three young men died after being shot in the parking lot of a local club.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

East St. Louis’ mayor has put a strict curfew in place for teens on the heels of four killings earlier this week.

Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says police will arrest teenagers 17 and younger who are NOT in school between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Teens younger than 18 also will be arrested if they’re out later than 10 p.m.

Parks says he knows some people will consider the curfews too strict, but he wants to keep the city from losing more young people.

East St. Louis police officer sentenced

Sep 22, 2012
police lights
essygie | Flickr

A former East St. Louis police officer who stole a Rolex watch planted by federal agents as a test has been sentenced to 66 days in prison.

Larry Greenlee, of Belleville, pleaded guilty in May to stealing the watch, which agents planted as part of an integrity test. Greenlee came across the Rolex, encircled with diamonds, in what he thought was a stolen car, which agents had bugged with recording devices.

The sentence was announced Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in southern Illinois.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Mayors from 19 cities and towns are in St. Louis this week to launch a new initiative aimed at bringing greater attention to issues affecting the Mississippi River.

A total of 41 mayors, so far, have formally agreed to the partnership, which is set to begin lobbying congress in March of next year.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said mutual interests trump party politics.

Was Miles Davis' cool born in East St. Louis?

Aug 24, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 24, 2012 - This spring the U.S. and French postal services issued a pair of stamps honoring Miles Davis and Edith Piaf. In light of this national recognition, we checked in at the places that claim Davis – Alton and East St. Louis – to see what is happening with plans in those cities to commemorate the jazz legend. Today: East St. Louis

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The East St. Louis Housing Authority will use a portion of a federal grant it received in February to boost security at its seven main housing projects in the city.

The funds will allow for the construction of a perimeter fence at the John DeShields homes, new exterior lighting at the same site, and security cameras at all seven of the authority's major properties. The authority will also be able to hire eight full-time security guards.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 18, 2012 - Driving between Metro East and St. Louis should be easier once the Mississippi River Bridge project is finished, but accessibility to the modern city could lead to the further destruction of an ancient one.

East St. Louis school board sues to block state takeover

Jun 22, 2012
Flickr | alkruse24

Five members of East St. Louis' elected school board are suing to reverse the state's takeover of the city's public school system.

East St. Louis clubs to close earlier, against mayor's wishes

Jun 22, 2012
Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has pushed for East St. Louis to limit the liquor sales that he believes fuel violent crime in his hometown, and the city now appears poised to do just that - against the mayor's wishes.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the City Council voted 3-2 to approve a measure ordering East St. Louis nightclubs to close at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

Morning headlines - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jun 19, 2012
(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Study says region needs more immigrants

A new study to be released this morning says the St. Louis region needs to attract more immigrants if it wants to thrive in the current economy.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch got an advance look at the study, written by Saint Louis University professor Jack Strauss.

Morning headlines - Monday, June 4, 2012

Jun 4, 2012
(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Ill. DNR director cannot rule out park closures

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield.

The director of the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources says his department will do all it can to keep the state's parks open after the failure of a $2 increase in license plate fees that would have provided a funding stream the the DNR.

But Marc Miller says he can't rule anything out, because the department has seen its budget slashed by 50 percent over the last decade.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Trayvon Martin's father returned to his hometown of East St. Louis Friday to honor the memory of his son and spread the message of peace.

Several hundred community members congregated at North End Missionary Baptist Church to hear Tracy Martin and Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, talk about ways to end gun violence.

Tracy Martin says many things have changed since he graduated from East St. Louis Senior High School in 1986.

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.

Ex-East St. Louis police chief Baxton gets year in prison

Apr 27, 2012
(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Updated 3:24 with new headline, information on sentence.

The man who stepped down again as East St. Louis' police chief after admitting he stole video game boxes planted by federal agents has been sentenced to a year in prison.

(via EPA.gov)

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public meeting tonight in East St. Louis. 

The agency will to explain its proposed plan to clean up the North Alcoa site. The property is bounded on the north by Lake Drive, on the east by the Alton and Southern railroad, on the south by Missouri Avenue and on the west by 29th Street.

EPA's remedial project manager for the 400-acre site, Dion Novak, says the area is contaminated with waste products produced over 100 years ago by a former alumina refinery.

Morning headlines: Friday, April 13, 2012

Apr 13, 2012
(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Parks again rejects Durbin's call for earlier night club closings

East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks is again rejecting a call from Sen. Dick Durbin to institute an earlier closing time for the city’s night clubs and liquor stores

Durbin was in his hometown on Wednesday encouraging area ministers to push Parks for a 1 a.m. closing time. Durbin believes it would help curb the killings in a city that a federal prosecutor has called the nation’s most dangerous.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2012 - The closing times of clubs and liquor stores may not seem like an issue that would capture the attention of the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

But for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, it's personal. 

Durbin enlists East St. Louis ministries in fight to curb club hours

Apr 11, 2012
(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is enlisting East St. Louis church leaders in his fight to rein in the city’s late-night entertainment industry.

The Democrat met with more than fifty members of the New Salem Baptist District Association Wednesday. He urged ministers to pressure Mayor Alvin Parks to close the city's nightclubs and liquor stores at 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

When it’s “last call” on weekends for St. Louis bars and clubs, East St. Louis’ nightlife is just getting started. The city’s slack liquor laws allow nightclubs and liquor stores to operate well into the morning. Many critics say the laws are the root of the city’s chronic violent crime.

The problem poses a delicate balancing act for Mayor Alvin Parks who says East St. Louis’ late-night entertainment industry is keeping the city alive.

A Senator's strong words 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.

Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.

“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”

Morning headlines: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mar 20, 2012
Joseph Leahy, SLPR news

East St. Louis lays off more employees

A tight budget has forced East St. Louis to lay off seven more employees, leaving the city's police officers without a support staff.  

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the latest layoffs include Police Chief Michael Floore's secretary, the department's director of community programs and a records room employee responsible for logging all of the city's tows.

The city also cut employees in the mayor's office, the city clerk's office and the city treasurer's office.

Morning headlines: March 12, 2012

Mar 12, 2012
UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Southern Ill. denied federal disaster aid

The parts of southern Illinois destroyed by deadly storms and a tornado last month will not be declared federal disaster areas.

U.S Senator Dick Durbin says FEMA's decision will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.

Durbin calls for East St. Louis action on clubs

Mar 5, 2012
(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

A U.S. senator is stepping up his efforts to limit nightclub hours in East St. Louis.

Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that earlier closing times for nightclubs and liquor stores would improve safety for city residents. The Illinois Democrat specifically challenged Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. to do his part in reducing crime rates. (Read the full letter from Durbin to Parks).

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.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

East St. Louis mayor rehires police chief who once quit

Nov 30, 2011
(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

The law enforcement officer who resigned has East St. Louis' police chief in 2009 has his old job back.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Michael Baxton was sworn in Wednesday in the southwestern Illinois city of about 30,000 residents.

It's been a rocky ride for Baxton. He was police chief in nearby Alorton in October when a state board barred him from law enforcement because of a 1982 robbery conviction.

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