Metro East Coverage | St. Louis Public Radio

Metro East Coverage

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.

East St. Louis' 2011 homicide total eclipses 2010

Nov 22, 2011
(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Illinois State Police are helping authorities in East St. Louis investigate the shooting death of a man who's become the city's 25th killing this year.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 31-year-old Timothy Jones of Swansea was shot multiple times Friday night as he sat inside his pickup truck. He died later at a hospital.

There's no word on any arrests or charges in the killing, which brings the city's total of homicides this year past the 24 recorded last year.

East St. Louis mom accused in kids' shotgun deaths apologizes

Nov 21, 2011
(Courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A woman accused in the shotgun deaths of two of her children says in a jailhouse letter to a judge she was hearing voices the day of the killings and is "truly sorry."

The Belleville News-Democrat reports 25-year-old Yokeia Smith told St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton she believed police were after her even before the Aug. 31 killings.

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.

County takes over East St. Louis grant program

Oct 25, 2011

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St. Clair County will take over a multi-million dollar federally funded housing program in East St. Louis.

East St. Louis police chief doesn't want to resign after all, but mayor ready to fill post

Oct 14, 2011
(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

This morning we told you that East St. Louis' police chief  Ranadore Foggs wanted to take back his resignation and keep his job - but it seems that the mayor isn't ready to let Foggs return so easliy.

Foggs announced Thursday night he has rescinded the resignation he submitted last week after less than five months on the job. He had claimed the mayor was interfering with his efforts to lead.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 20, 2011 - The hungry in East St. Louis are in "survival mode," according to community service leaders and residents who attended a Monday hearing before the newly formed Illinois Commission to End Hunger.

Vandals pillage Miles Davis' boyhood home in East St. Louis

Sep 20, 2011
(via Flickr/Steve Issacs)

East St. Louis is proud to call late jazz great Miles Davis one of its own, but vandalism to his childhood home is striking a sour note with many in the struggling city.

KSDK-TV reports vandalism that has escalated in recent weeks has included nearly all of the aluminum siding being stripped away from the home. Windows also are broken and pipes have been taken.

Neighbor Mamie Page says the damage and disrespect "just disgusted me" and leaves her saddened.

Woman accused of killing 2 children with shotgun denied bond

Sep 16, 2011
(Courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A judge in southwestern Illinois has denied bond for a woman accused of killing two of her children with a shotgun last month.

Associate St. Clair County Judge Julie Katz entered a not guilty plea on behalf of 25-year-old Yokeia Smith during a brief arraignment Friday. Katz also appointed a public defender to represent the East St. Louis woman. No new court appearance was scheduled.

(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.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Services are scheduled for two East St. Louis children whose mother is facing charges that accuse her of killing them with a shotgun.

Twenty-five-year-old Yokeia Smith is charged in St. Clair County with first-degree murder in the deaths last Wednesday of 5-year-old Levada Brown and 4-year-old Yokela Smith.

The mother is jailed in St. Louis, where she was arrested after police say she hit two pedestrians near St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

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