Rolla-Region Coverage | St. Louis Public Radio

Rolla-Region Coverage

A soldier at Fort Leonard Wood is tested for TBI using the experimental Brain Scope, part of research going on at the base and Phelps Health in Rolla. 12/5/19
Matthew Doellman | Phelps Health

Diagnosing traumatic brain injury faster so treatment can start right away is the focus of a $5 million research project centered at Fort Leonard Wood and nearby Phelps Health Hospital in Rolla.

Traumatic brain injury is a head injury from an external force that can do long-lasting damage to the brain. Phelps Health is a community hospital that serves a county of fewer than 50,000 people, but is conducting research that could revolutionize the way the Army treats everything from concussions to serious brain injury. 

Missouri S&T researchers Ryan Smith, Marek Locmelis, Jonathan Obrist-Farner and research assistant Gabriela Ramirez examine a soil sample as part of their research into toxic contaminants. 11-25-19
Tom Wagner | Missouri S&T

ROLLA — The spring floods in Missouri and Illinois caused more than $1 billion in damage and may have left behind chemicals that could hurt the environment and end up in drinking water.

“A lot of times we don’t take measurements right after a flood. So we don’t have a really good idea of how long it takes for these things to get flushed out,” said Ryan Smith, a geologist at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. 

Kyle Wernke conducts the Missouri S&T Orchestra.
John Francis

ROLLA — Kyle Wernke is an up-and-coming composer, but he doesn’t teach at a high-profile music school. 

There are no music majors in his orchestra, and the students spend more time on equations than they do on scales. Wernke teaches at Missouri University of Science and Technology, a school known much more for engineering than for performing arts.

Missouri S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani gives his State of the University Address 11-11-19
Tom Wagner | Missouri S&T

Mo Dehghani, who has led Missouri University of Science and Technology for 100 days, already has ambitious plans to increase the size and impact of the school.

He laid out his vision for the campus in Rolla during a State of the University address last week. 

A flyer encouraging voters to approve the use tax in Phelps County and the City of Rolla. 10/24/19
File photo | Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — Voters in Phelps County were inconsistent Tuesday in their approach to authorizing local government to collect sales taxes on online purchases. 

Phelps County rejected the tax, while its two biggest cities, Rolla and St. James, approved it.

A flyer encouraging voters to approve the use tax in Phelps County and the City of Rolla. 10/24/19
File photo | Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — Phelps County and its two largest cities have only one question on the ballot Nov. 5 — whether to start collecting a tax for online sales known as a use tax.

Phelps County, along with Rolla and St. James, are reporting sales tax revenue that is lagging behind expenses. They all place the blame on consumers increasingly moving toward online shopping, where there isn’t any sales tax paid. 

Robots mounted with new detection equipment roll toward a simulated collapsed building at Fort Leonard Wood as part of testing of new technology. 10-18-19
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

FORT LEONARD WOOD — Soldiers in Missouri are testing new technology that could help save lives after a natural disaster or a terrorist bombing while keeping search-and-rescue teams safe.

The $700,000 Department of Defense project at Fort Leonard Wood is combining new and existing forms of technology that can be used by both the military and civilian first responders.

School robotics competitions like this one at Missouri S&T in 2016 can help students develop an interest in STEM fields. 3/15/16
Sam O'Keefe | Missouri S&T

ROLLA — Rural Missouri school districts short on money sometimes struggle with teaching the three R's, so the idea of adding advanced science and technology instruction can be daunting.

A $250,000 state grant through Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla is helping 41 school districts in 10 counties in south-central Missouri bolster their offerings.

A section of the Big Piney River that runs through Fort Leonard Wood. This is one of the places that provides habitat to endandered species that live at the base. 10-02-19
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Fort Leonard Wood is home to more than 6,000 soldiers and at least three endangered species.

Those animals and two more that are threatened are protected and cared for despite living among shelling and other military training.

And scientists flock to the installation, saying it’s a boon to their research and gives them an opportunity to help these animals.

Two of the posters that are part of the "I Chose To Live" suicide prevention program at Fort Leonard Wood. 8/29/19
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

FORT LEONARD WOOD — In 2007, Jason VanKleeck was a drill sergeant in the Army, moving up the ranks and taking on new jobs.

But depression led to suicidal thoughts and nearly ended his life. 

He got help, and now is sharing his story with fellow soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood as part of a suicide prevention and mental health education program called “I Chose To Live.”

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Daniel Jones said he is right and the law is wrong.

But ultimately, he didn’t think he would win a legal battle to keep his seat on the Rolla City Council.

He resigned Thursday night, on the eve of a hearing to determine whether he could continue to hold public office.

This cannon made by Missouri S&T faculty and students is being used to test mine seals.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA - Sometimes, the best way to see how strong something is means shooting it with a cannon loaded up with stuff found in a coal mine.

While this may sound like a TV comedy bit, it’s part of serious research at the Missouri University of Science and Technology that could make coal mines safer for workers.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

WAYNESVILLE — Sen. Roy Blunt is quick to tell people he is proud of soldiers, veterans and the bases in Missouri.

And he says the state can do better in supporting those soldiers and their families.

Blunt was a speaker Thursday at the annual meeting of the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes the region around Fort Leonard Wood.

The theme of the meeting was “Supporting National Defense in the Heart of America."

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Small towns love their high school football team. 

So much so, that every year around this time there are scam artists who try to prey upon that pride to get money from local businesses.

The scam works like this: An out-of-town printing company calls businesses saying it is printing items to promote the high school team, and asks them to be sponsors by buying an ad. 

But the money doesn’t go to support the team, and the items may never be printed.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo Dehghani looked at Missouri University of Science and Technology (then known as the University of Missouri-Rolla) when he was picking a school for his undergraduate education.

While he decided to go to Louisiana State University, Missouri S&T’s commitment to science and technology stayed in his mind. Now, he’s ended up in Rolla as the school’s chancellor.

“When I got the call for the position, I was over the moon,” Dehghani said.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

The mostly nondescript Building 2101 at Fort Leonard Wood was the home of the Black Officers' Club before the Army was desegregated in 1948. 

The building had been slated for demolition, but a preservation effort restored it. The goal is to honor African American soldiers who served in difficult times.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Responding to a Department of Defense mandate that all military bases improve housing conditions, Fort Leonard Wood has hired more staff and made it easier for soldiers and their families to report problems. 

The base is reporting those changes have reduced complaints and sped up repairs.

Missouri S&T researchers will look at ways to improve the life of roads, like this section of I-44 in Rolla
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 40 million motorists are expected to hit the road in the U.S. this holiday weekend, and many of them will encounter highways that are cracked or littered with potholes.

Missouri University of Science and Technology is part of an effort to make those roads last longer. 

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition in court this week to remove Daniel Jones from the Rolla City Council. 

He cited Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to a felony charge of cannabis possession as a violation of state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office. 

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

As legal medical marijuana is on its way to Missouri, the city of Rolla is exploring decriminalizing possession of small amounts by recreational users.

The City Council recently voted 10-2 to direct city staff to research the concept and come back with proposals to make possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a fine or eliminate prosecution altogether.

Missouri S&T engineering researchers inspect a damaged apartment building in Jefferson City in May 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the volunteers and workers moving furniture, broken lumber and fallen trees at Hawthorne Park apartments in Jefferson City last weekend, three engineers with a large remote control watched a drone fly over a building that was missing a chunk of its roof.

A team of engineering professors and students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology began inspecting damages after a violent tornado struck parts of the state capital last Wednesday. For several years, some have been studying ways to design houses in Tornado Alley states like Missouri to withstand extreme weather events.

Missouri S&T engineering professor Grace Yan and her students survey post-tornado damages in Jefferson City in May 2019.
Missouri University of Science & Technology

Engineering researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology are spending several days in Jefferson City to study the destruction caused by a tornado that battered the city late Wednesday.

Missouri S&T engineering professor Grace Yan and her graduate students began Thursday to interview residents and capture drone footage of the damages. Her research has focused on designing buildings to become more resistant to tornadoes.

There have been many examples of damages in Jefferson City that are unique to tornadoes, such as roofs being torn off, Yan said.

 Steelville High School senior Caleb Dicus is honored at the event in Waynesville for his decision to enlist in the Army. More than 90 students from 12 high schools were recognized.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Many high school students choose college as their destination after graduation, and receive lots of attention for that decision. A collection of high schools near Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood wanted to bring that same recognition to students who join the military.

Waters continue to rise around I-55 near Butler Hill on Wednesday morning. May 2017
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Engineers at Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla are developing algorithms that could provide early warnings for motorists about flooded roads.

The system could warn drivers to stay off flooded roads. Researchers began the yearlong project to use artificial intelligence to enhance flood evacuation plans in February for transportation agencies in the Midwest, including the Missouri Department of Transportation. The work focuses on the Meramec River basin in eastern Missouri and the areas of Nebraska and northwest Missouri that experienced record-breaking floods in late March from the Missouri River.

A group playing The Detective room at Great Xscape in Rolla. The four month old business is trying to cash in on the escape room craze in a smaller city.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

The escape room experience sounds a lot like putting yourself in a stressful situation for the sake of fun. These are games in which a group of people are put in a room. A clock counts down. The players have to find clues and solve puzzles hidden in the room before time runs out.

The popularity of escape rooms has increased dramatically, with just a handful in existence in 2015 to more than 2,300 nationwide operating today. There are national chains that operate rooms in dozens of big cities across the country, including St. Louis. But they are so popular that they are opening in smaller cities, usually run by individuals and families.

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