Wayne Pratt | KBIA

Wayne Pratt

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was assistant managing editor at Inside Indiana Business. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana, and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.

A refugee from Honduras has surpassed 1,000 days in a Maplewood church as he tries to avoid deportation.

Alex Garcia hit that milestone on Wednesday. If he steps off the property of Christ United Church of Christ, federal officials will likely send him to Honduras.

“It sucks, still being stuck in sanctuary this long,” Garcia said. “A thousand days. It’s a long time.”

The coronavirus pandemic is hammering ridership levels and the bottom line of Metro Transit. 

The organization that operates Metro says ridership is down 50% over last year. Bi-State Development adds that sales tax revenues that support the system are expected to be down 20% over the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. with a march in St. Charles.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Kirkwood on Saturday morning to protest police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others killed by law enforcement.

The protest was among several in the St. Louis region Saturday, including demonstrations in St. Charles, University City, Clayton, Freeburg and O'Fallon, Illinois.

Ride-sharing scooters have returned to St. Louis streets during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Companies operating the motorized transportation devices in the city are resuming operations after pulling the vehicles off the streets in the early days of the outbreak. 

As health experts and elected officials plan to further reopen the region’s economy, there is concern over a possible second wave of the coronavirus later this year.

The additional waves of the influenza pandemic more than 100 years ago proved to be more deadly than the first round of the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there were three waves of the 1918 pandemic, with the second phase being responsible for most of the 675,000 outbreak deaths in the U.S.

Gas prices are likely to rebound as more communities ease stay-at-home restrictions that have been in place for weeks. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to less demand at the pump, an analyst said, causing prices to plunge.

The price is about $1.10 less per gallon than this time a year ago in St. Louis.

"As a result of the coronavirus we've seen demand drop by, in some cases, over 50% in just a few weeks,” said Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.com.

A combination of factors in the COVID-19 outbreak has led to shortages on grocery store shelves over the past few weeks.

But after a few weeks of shelves being empty of toilet paper, flour and other items, national food industry analyst Phil Lempert said the industry is bouncing back.

“The supply chain is filling up. We are starting to see products filling those shelves,” he said. “I think the worst part is over as it relates to supermarkets."

The coronavirus outbreak continues to hammer the economy. Many businesses are shut down because of social distancing efforts to help stop the spread of the virus. That’s leading to several questions about the country's economic future.

The federal government says roughly 10 million people have filed for unemployment claims in the past couple of weeks. The full impact has yet to be felt in the national unemployment rate, which jumped last month from 3.5% to 4.4%.

The COVID-19 outbreak is not stopping a construction project that is changing the skyline of the Central West End. 

Crews are still working on One Hundred, a 36-story apartment tower at 100 N. Kingshighway Blvd., on the edge of Forest Park. Developers say the city and state have defined new residential construction as an essential service and precautions are being taken, including spacing workers out.

The region’s new XFL team will play its home opener Sunday in downtown St. Louis at the Dome at America’s Center.

The St. Louis BattleHawks have already split two games on the road, but fans are enthusiastic and ready to see their team take the home field after months of planning.

In 2018, St. Louis was announced as one of the XFL cities, and shortly after, Kurt Hunzeker was named team president. His mission: to sell professional football in a market that two National Football League teams have left. 

Ste. Genevieve, a small town on the Mississippi River about an hour south of St. Louis, still has a bit of the flavor of the early 1700s when it was first settled.

Several buildings from those French colonial times still stand in the town, helping it earn a National Historical Park designation in 2018. 

Now, officials have taken another significant step by introducing the park’s first superintendent. Chris Collins has spent 16 years with the National Park Service and brings a degree in French language and literature to an area of Missouri with deep French roots.

The St. Louis Blues will play host to the National Hockey League’s All-Star festivities this weekend for only the third time in the team’s history. 

And this year’s celebration of all things hockey comes with the Blues sitting at the top of the mountain as Stanley Cup champions and this season's Western Conference points leader.

A new effort is designed to boost entrepreneurs and their companies in Missouri by emphasizing their role in job creation and economic development throughout the state.

NEXT Missouri is a coalition of 17 organizations that will start lobbying lawmakers to revamp policies and better support entrepreneurs who create jobs.

“Data shows more than 80% of the new jobs in Missouri — 45,000-plus a year — come from startups and come from entrepreneurs,” said NEXT Missouri President Ben Johnson. “But our public policy historically hasn't been focused on supporting startups and entrepreneurs.”

The owners of the old St. Louis Post-Dispatch building are pushing big plans to bring more jobs downtown.

Along with a pending move to 900 North Tucker Blvd. by mobile-payments company Square, the StarWood Group is creating the NoW Innovation District, according to managing partner John Berglund.

"Basically, it is north of Washington. It runs out to 14th Street, up to Cole Street, and then down past the convention center," he said.

There is new life for what developers describe as the last major vacant building in downtown Granite City. A St. Louis area nonprofit has acquired the former Tri-City YMCA with plans to convert it into affordable apartments and an arts hub.

Rise Community Development has closed on financing for the building, which has been vacant for 14 years. Plans call for nearly 40 apartments in what will be called Edison Avenue Lofts and more than 5,600 feet of commercial space.

Missouri ranks second nationally for completed apprenticeships. Officials say it’s a sign that efforts to improve apprenticeships in the state are paying off.

Developers of the old Crestwood mall site insist work is being done behind the scenes to redevelop the nearly 50-acre property along Watson Road. But right now, it is still a huge patch of dirt and weeds in the center of the south St. Louis County municipality.

The mall has been closed since 2013 and was demolished in 2016.

Experts in making beer, wine and other adult drinks will discuss their craft this month in St. Louis. The Venture Cafe is putting on “The Art of Alcohol” to “explore the science, logistics, innovation, and business models behind alcohol.”

One of the sessions will focus on beer.

A monthslong search for a new home is over for a nonprofit that maintains the history of St. Louis radio, television, newspapers and other media. The St. Louis Media History Foundation plans to move into Grand Center early next year after striking a deal with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

Imagine living in the heart of Cardinals country and not only being a fan of another legendary Major League Baseball team, but also an owner.

Meet Robert L. Plummer. 

The majority women ownership group at the helm of St. Louis' new professional soccer team is continuing a line of female sports ownership in the region that extends to the early 1900s.

While many St. Louisans recall that the National Football League's Rams were owned by Georgia Frontiere for much of the team's time in the Midwest, they might not know the Cardinals also had a female owner.

And she just so happened to be the first female owner in Major League Baseball history.

While fans are excited about the arrival of Major League Soccer in St. Louis, the new stadium could be the beginning of a more vibrant sports-entertainment district in downtown.

The likely site of the MLS expansion team’s venue will be west of Union Station, just down the street from the Enterprise Center, where the Blues play, and Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals. That will mean a roughly one-mile stretch boasting three professional sports venues, similar to districts in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Health officials in Missouri are warning residents about the potential dangers of vaping. 

The state’s Department of Health and Senior Services has issued a health advisory for severe lung conditions possibly related to e-cigarette use. It comes after Illinois reported what is believed to be the first vaping-related death in the United States.

Hundreds of people will line the streets of several St. Louis neighborhoods this weekend to catch a glimpse of cyclists zipping along the roads at an average speed of 30 miles per hour.

Several racers from around the world are in the city for the Gateway Cup. It's a nationally recognized cycling event that is in its 36th year.

"It's exciting for us to say, 'Wow, we have national champions and Olympians and people who have raced in Europe targeting St. Louis and then coming here and having a great experience,'" said organizer Mike Weiss.

Updated at 5 p.m., Aug. 20 with stadium details and comments from ownership.

St. Louis soon will be home to a top-tier professional soccer team. Major League Soccer officially awarded St. Louis an expansion team on Tuesday. 

The team will begin play in spring 2022 in a new stadium to be built just west of Union Station. Construction could begin in January, according to team officials. The team’s name, logo and colors have not yet been finalized. 

“It is with great pride that we welcome St. Louis to Major League Soccer,” league Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday morning.

More than 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses will gather in downtown St. Louis next weekend as part of a convention at The Dome at America’s Center.

The three-day event called Love Never Fails begins on Friday.

A Cuba-born teenager who lives in Webster Groves is trying to add to her already impressive chess resume over the next few days at the St. Louis Chess Club. Sixteen-year-old Thalia Cervantes is among 10 phenoms vying for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

A massive redevelopment project at a high-profile site in St. Louis’ Midtown area is on track to open next year. The first phase of  City Foundry STL will include a large dining hall featuring local eateries. Plans also call for a grocery store, movie theater and office space.

A member of the North County Police Cooperative is being remembered as an outstanding officer and a mentor to younger members of the department.

Officer Michael Langsdorf, 40, was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday.

Plenty of people from the region and around the country are jumping on the St. Louis Blues' bandwagon during this year’s impressive playoff run. But an 87-year-old diehard from Chesterfield has been a huge fan since the beginning. John Oefelein has purchased season tickets every year of the team’s existence.

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