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Missouri News

ROLLA — In 2016, Donald Trump received 70% or more of the vote in most of Missouri's non-urban counties, continuing a trend of the GOP dominating rural areas. 

A group of 23 Democrats running in those areas is hoping that working together will reverse that tendency.

To Empower All Missourians includes Democrats running for Congress, statewide office and state legislative seats. The goal is to share resources, volunteers and best practices to improve their odds in the November election.

Municipalities in Illinois that have cannabis dispensaries will start seeing more money from recreational marijuana purchases. 

Cities, counties and villages that passed an individual 3% cannabis tax could start collecting it as of July 1. In the Metro East, that means more revenue for St. Clair County, Collinsville and Sauget, areas that passed a tax levy and where the region’s two current dispensaries operate.

Even fewer Missouri students have reliable internet connectivity than previously thought, according to a new report from the nonprofit Common Sense Media.

The group, which makes entertainment and technology recommendations for families, estimates that 36% of Missouri students don’t have adequate internet access for virtual learning.

An earlier Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education survey put that figure at 23%. Both studies found that cost was the biggest barrier to access.

Now that masks are mandated in public places for almost everyone in metro Kansas City, recently reopened malls are facing the challenge of how to enforce the requirements. Enforcement provisions of the mandates are vague and leave much to the discretion of officials and shop owners.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide executive order this week.

It was received with mixed emotions by patrons of Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas.

Volunteers Raise Flags Before Independence Day

Jul 3, 2020

About 50 volunteers raised 497 flags Thursday for the annual Avenue of Flags at the Centralia City Cemetery, according to a news release.

The flags are provided through donations and represent veterans from the area who have died. The community has guidelines to determine eligibility.

Participants recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sung the National Anthem before raising flags. Flags will be displayed through the Independence Day holiday and are to be lowered Monday.

Before forming the band CaveofswordS, Sunyatta Marshall broke into the local music scene as a 13-year-old strumming acoustic guitar at bars on Laclede’s Landing. Later she joined Fred’s Variety Group and eventually became lead singer for indie rockers the Helium Tapes. 

Kevin McDermott, aka KVN, was a DJ who made short, instrumental tracks at home for his own amusement. 

He approached Marshall in 2011 and asked if she might like to step outside her musical milieu and sing over some of his tracks. 

The musical connection clicked, and so did the personal one — they are now the McDermotts. 

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Flooded homes and backed-up sewers during heavy rain have been a frustrating part of life for years in north Centreville, where residents say they still aren’t getting the help they need from their local government, despite repeated pleas and a lawsuit.

It happened again this week, when 3 to 6 inches of rain fell on the Metro East.

Patricia Greenwood said the crawl space and laundry room of her home on Piat Place were flooded.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the St. Louis American.

In early April, officials at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health made a grim realization: The region would need a temporary morgue for anticipated deaths from COVID-19. 

They worked with St. Charles County to build an overflow facility they called the Dignified Transfer Center in Earth City in about 10 days. The project cost almost $1.67 million, with St. Louis County paying more than $1.13 million and St. Charles County paying about $531,000. But, as with so many other aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, business opportunities resulting from these contracts were not awarded equitably.

A joint investigation by the St. Louis American and Type Investigations found that African American contractors earned only a tiny fraction of the publicly financed construction dollars available. Despite a county law requiring 24% of contract dollars go to minority-owned business enterprises, less than $1,000 was awarded. 

Citing her responsibilities as Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker is stepping away from her duties as Missouri Democratic Party chairwoman and turning over control to former state Rep. Clem Smith.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Baker said Smith, vice chairman of the party, “is the right person to lead our party at this critical moment.”

As homicides in Kansas City, Missouri, approached 100, and a day after two officers were shot in separate incidents, Mayor Quinton Lucas asked the governor on Friday to call a special session of the general assembly to address violent crime.

“Given our challenges, I respectfully request that you call a Special Session of the Missouri General Assembly with a focus on addressing violence in our cities,” Lucas said in a letter to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Residents in primarily north St. Louis County ZIP codes hit hardest by the coronavirus will help determine how $7 million in federal coronavirus funding will be spent by voting online.

The survey from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health asks people what health services they need the most and will use those responses to bring the most urgent needs to the communities.

The leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs says the agency is focusing on improving accountability and inclusiveness at its hospitals. Robert Wilkie, secretary of Veterans Affairs, made his comments Thursday after touring the Kansas City VA Medical Center, which has been the target of complaints and protests alleging minority employees have been discriminated against for years. Wilkie says changes in leadership at the Kansas City hospital have led to increasing satisfaction for employees and veterans at the facility.

State Funding for UM NextGen Facility Delayed, Budget Director Says

Jul 2, 2020

While higher education saw its state funding slashed Tuesday for the new fiscal year, leaders at the University of Missouri System could take solace in one bright spot: $10 million in approved funding for its NextGen Precision Health Institute.

Now, that funding may not come anytime soon.

Nathan Lawrence

Mayor Brian Treece held a press briefing on Thursday to further clarify his proposed ordinance to mandate masks in Columbia.

Treece said the ordinance is a response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 case numbers in the area since re-opening measures began on May 4th.

“Overnight before 8 a.m. this morning, 14 additional positive cases were added and reported from the state lab, putting us on track to exceed 100 cases within just 9 days,” Treece said.

Copyright 2020 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Segment 1, beginning at 4:33: Rep. Davids says her constituents' top concerns are, "their health and safety, and their economic security."

Amid what the congresswoman calls a devastating pandemic, Rep. Davids has pushed to include in an upcoming health care package more incentives for states that expand Medicaid, and says passing the Justice in Policing Act should be a national priority.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has handed over to federal authorities information from the agency’s own probe into sexual assault allegations against former Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective Roger Golubski.

The KBI’s investigation was centered on the case of Lamonte McIntyre, who was exonerated in 2017 after witnesses recanted testimony that had helped convict him of two murders. Golubski is accused of framing McIntyre because McIntyre’s mother, Rosie, spurned his sexual advances.

A sharply-divided Johnson County Commission voted Thursday to require people to wear masks in public, following Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask order in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission voted 4-2 in favor of the mask mandate, with Commission Chair Ed Eilert, Janee Hanzlick, Becky Fast and Jim Allen in support.

Dissenters were Mike Brown and Steve Klika. Michael Ashcraft abstained.

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” at noon Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

In 2018, a powerhouse trio of nonprofits and activist groups set off on an unlikely quest: They wanted to close the city’s notorious Medium Security Institution, better known as the Workhouse. ArchCity Defenders, Action St. Louis and the Bail Project argued that the fraught racial history of the city jail and its hellish conditions meant that St. Louis was better off without it, moving all of its detainees to the Justice Center downtown.   

Saint Luke’s Health System is closing Cushing Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, on October 1, saying the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in “significant financial strain.”

The decision comes just months after Saint Luke’s had converted the facility from a traditional 74-bed hospital to one focused on emergency services with eight inpatient beds.

“Like health care organizations everywhere, we stocked up on resources and staffed up on people to prepare for a surge in cases,” Saint Luke’s said on its website.

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

It was one thing to navigate the initial stress and disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic. And early on, as people looked for ways to guard mental well-being amid big changes, many people realized that it helped to have a sense of horizon in sight.

“I can shelter in place for a month” and “One semester at home is manageable” were common — and useful — mindsets.

But as weeks turn into months and maybe even years of new normals, frustration and anxiety may be mounting. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Dr. Jessi Gold of Washington University will offer strategies and insights for safeguarding your mental health at this time and take questions from host Sarah Fenske and listeners.

Virtually everyone in Kansas is under an order to wear masks when they’re in public starting Friday.

Yet the executive order, officially issued by Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday, comes with exceptions.

The deafening booms and brilliant flashes of many big-budget Independence Day fireworks shows will be muted this year.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced dozens of towns and organizations in the St. Louis region to depart from tradition and cancel fireworks displays and parades. Meanwhile, sales at fireworks stands are soaring as area residents are lighting their own shows. And some out-of-town campground managers report a blaze of campsite rentals in recent weeks.

Two prominent music venues in St. Louis are featuring concerts again after closing their doors for months to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

A summerlong outdoor concert series programmed by the National Blues Museum, and an experiment in outdoor music by the Dark Room in Grand Center, are attempts by show promoters to get back to business following a monthslong shutdown of live concerts during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Many sanctioned fireworks shows are canceled this summer due to the pandemic, but people continue to set off everything from firecrackers to Roman candles in backyards and streets throughout the region.

And compared to 2019, fireworks use in St. Louis is up this year. 

“[It] started much earlier in my neighborhood and in the neighborhoods I work in,” said St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson. “We have 30 different firehouses around the city. They’re all seeing an earlier start and an increased amount of shooting going on early in the evening. The size and the sound of these fireworks going off has increased.”

Last year from May 1 to June 24, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department received 196 calls about illegal fireworks use. During the same period this year, the city received 879 calls. 

State auditors has found more than $115,000 in fraudulent payments and purchases were made by former leaders of a tiny Missouri town that drew widespread attention last year when two mysterious fires burned records that were sought for the audit. State Auditor Nicole Galloway said Wednesday that the examination of Parma, a southeastern Missouri town of about 700, looked at the four-year period that Tyus Byrd served as mayor. Byrd lost her reelection bid in April 2019.

Second MU Researcher to Receive NSF Grant for COVID-19 Study

Jul 1, 2020

An MU researcher has received a $200,000 one-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study an aspect of COVID-19. 

The research will study a protein on the current coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, that "has received little attention, but could hold promise for defeating the pandemic," according to an MU news release.

Grant recipient Steven Van Doren is a professor of biochemistry at MU. Joining him are research scientists Yan Fulcher and Rama Koppisetti.

The St. Louis Police Department will get a third-party review of its policies and practices.

Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Wednesday that former Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., police Chief Charles Ramsey will lead the study, the cost of which will be covered by the Regional Business Council and Civic Progress. St. Louis County announced a similar review of its police department on Monday.

EAST ST. LOUIS — Dozens waited outside the Casino Queen on Wednesday morning, eager for the first day of gambling in Illinois since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Illinois Gaming Board announced last week all 10 casinos and more than 37,000 video gaming terminals in the state could resume operating Wednesday, nearly a month after casinos in Missouri reopened.

To the delight of outdoor enthusiasts and other users of the Blue River Parkway trails in south Kansas City, Oakwood Country Club has shelved its plan to expand beyond its current boundaries.

Oakwood, the oldest country club in Jackson County, had hoped to purchase land from the county to build a driving range. But the land the club was interested in is part of the Blue River Parkway trails system south of Bannister Road near U.S. Highway 71.