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Missouri News

Jefferson County health officials plan this year to increase testing for lead contamination in residential areas near where companies mined for heavy metals several decades ago. 

The county’s health department will work with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to educate residents about potential lead contamination in their yards. The agencies also are encouraging parents to have their children’s blood tested for lead.

CHICAGO — The Illinois Courts Commission has removed St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ronald R. Duebbert from office after concluding he “demonstrated an utter disregard for the integrity and respect of the judiciary” by lying to police during a murder investigation in 2016 and to Judiciary Board members in subsequent interviews.

The Courts Commission announced its decision Friday. The seven-member commission includes one Illinois Supreme Court judge, two appellate court judges, two circuit judges and two members of the public.

Segment 1: Kansas lawmakers prepare to tackle myriad issues in the upcoming legislative session.

Kansas' Medicaid expansion seems to be the hottest issue going into the 2020 legislative session, but it won't be the only thing keeping senators and representatives busy in Topeka. Possible outcomes and implications for everything from abortion to state debt to prison reforms were previewed.

A dancer who hears "elevé" knows to push herself up onto her toes. In 2010, when retired ballerina Lisa Choules needed an apt name for her fledgling dancewear company, the term sounded just right.

Everyone needed a lift: She was a single mom scouting for a new career; ballerinas needed a better-fitting leotard.

The crackle of gunshots has become white noise for children living in parts of north St. Louis.

“I got used to it,” a fifth grade girl said, “because it happen a lot, so I’m just not scared of it no more.”

They know just what to do if they’re inside: 

“When I hear gunshots, I duck on the floor and get under my bed,” said a sixth grade boy.

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Kansas City’s art world is at a turning point.

A community organizing group wants St. Louis and St. Louis County to spend more money on early childhood education.

In a report released Thursday, WEPOWER proposed a ballot initiative in November that would allow St. Louis County voters to consider a half-cent sales tax increase to expand access to pre-K. The group's members said that would raise about $84 million a year.

The report also urges St. Louis officials to designate 2% of the city's general fund budget — about $22 million a year —  to early childhood education.

Thousands of Missouri residents have received certification cards for medical marijuana, and dispensaries are gearing up to begin sales of the product later this year, likely in the spring. 

Physicians have the ability to prescribe medical marijuana to patients via the state’s certification form, although they are not obligated to do so.

On Friday's St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske spoke with two physicians, who are also sisters, to get a sense of why they react differently when patients request their signatures on medical marijuana certification forms.

Illinois House Speaker's Confidante Dodges Questions About Alleged Rape Coverup

Jan 9, 2020

Consummate Illinois Democratic insider Michael McClain dodged questions Thursday about an email in which he sought leniency for a state worker in a disciplinary case, arguing that the man was politically loyal and had stayed silent about “the rape in Champaign.”

Thursday on St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden defended his crime-fighting strategy in the north St. Louis area known as “Hayden’s Rectangle.”

The GOP leaders of the Missouri Senate say they plan to make changes in the process for drawing the state’s House and Senate districts a top priority — and are prepared to withstand any opposition among the Democratic caucus.

That makes it basically inevitable that Missouri voters will decide whether they want to retain a new redistricting system that they approved in 2018 — or largely go back to a prior system that was used to craft state legislative maps.

This interview will air on “St. Louis on the Air” at noon on Monday, January 20, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This story will be updated after the show.

University of Missouri-St. Louis sophomore Lucy Grimshaw grew up learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the fraught times that shaped his life and death. But none of those lessons stuck with her quite like what she experienced last spring while touring places associated with key events of the civil rights movement.

As she visited sites such as Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young girls were killed in a racist bombing, and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, where law enforcement officers brutally attacked black protestors on a day later known as Bloody Sunday, Grimshaw and fellow UMSL students reflected each evening on what they were seeing and learning.

They did so under the guidance of UMSL School of Social Work faculty members Courtney McDermott and Sha-Lai Williams, who co-taught the trip as part of a Pierre Laclede Honors College course offered to students coming from various academic and ethnic backgrounds.

Samuel Rodgers has been a tenant at TEH Realty’s Blue Fountain apartment complex in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood for about 13 years. Early on, he had relatively few complaints about his living situation. But in recent years, maintenance of the property has plummeted dramatically.

“I’ve been about three or four years without heat in my apartment, so I have these space heaters to try to stay warm, my shower’s not working right,” Rodgers told St. Louis on the Air in a phone interview this week. “I need a whole new toilet — they still haven’t replaced that. My kitchen sink [is] jacked up; I have to take a bucket and get water from the tub to transfer the water from the tub into my kitchen sink to do my dishes.”

At another TEH complex in St. Louis, Southwest Crossing in Carondelet, the situation has deteriorated to the point that Mayor Lyda Krewson and mortgage loan corporation Freddie Mac last month each filed suit against TEH. Southwest Crossing residents began taking actions of their own, too.

As dispensaries across the state keep a close eye not only on the supply of their marijuana products but also their workforce to meet the demand from recreational weed customers, they may begin looking for new “budtenders” to apply.

Some dispensaries in the state, including in Chicago and Champaign, had to close for a day this week to give their staff a break because of a shortage of state-approved employees available to handle transactions.

Segment 1: Test scores for Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools improved last year.

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools saw last year's test scores jump at least four percentage points from the 2017-18 school year. Today, the superintendent explains his strategies for continued success, and details the work still left to do.

Segment 1: What's the deal with this Bike Plan that advocates are trying to push through?

There is a plan for increasing bicycle safety in Kansas City that's been languishing in City Hall for almost a year. The death of a cyclist has ignited a groundswell of urgency for the city to take some kind of action. 

Getting drunk at dinner is sooo 2010. Some of the area’s most buzz-worthy bars are now focused on drinks that won’t get you buzzed. That includes Elmwood.

At this one-year-old Maplewood hotspot, the roster of booze-free cocktails (called “zero proof”) is just as interesting and complex as that of their liquor-fueled cousins. The restaurant is also serving drinks it calls “low proof,” offering a taste of spirits without condemning you to a raging headache the next morning.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and a key Republican lawmaker said Thursday they’ve crafted a deal to make roughly 130,000 more Kansans eligible for Medicaid.

U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr., D-St. Louis, is issuing a dire warning when it comes to President Donald Trump’s actions regarding Iran.

“If we don’t rein in this president’s recklessness, we will commit young men and women to a war zone in the Middle East, and the results will be a catastrophe,” he said Friday on St. Louis on the Air

“I’ve seen this before,” he continued. “And apparently no one in this president’s family has ever served in the military or ever gone to war, so it probably doesn’t faze him. He doesn’t realize what the damage will be to Americans in a war zone. It’s so cavalier.”  

TOPEKA, Kansas — Natalie Zarate entered state custody when she was 11 years old, removed from a physically abusive mother and placed in a group home for foster children.

Now 23, she trembles when she thinks about her time at EmberHope Youthville in Newton.

When the St. Louis Chess Club wanted to create new and innovative chess tables for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour events held in St. Louis, it reached out to longtime partner and supporter Nate Cohen.

Cohen, 30, is the chief financial officer of Cohen Architectural Woodworking, a 70-employee family-run business in St. James, Missouri, that supplies commercial millwork to companies nationwide. 

If a woman at a restaurant chokes on a chicken bone, millions of people know to wrap their arms around her abdomen and dislodge it, thanks to countless classes that teach first aid. 

But if she starts hyperventilating during a panic attack, many people wouldn’t know how to help. If she stops showering or coming to work, her friends might not know what to do. 

To teach people how to respond, St. Louis organizations have started training the public in mental health first aid, which aims to offer immediate help for people experiencing emotional and mental health emergencies. It’s the same idea as traditional first aid, except that the wounds treated are emotional. 

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Buzz about new housing and development in the metro has focused on downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The past two decades saw former warehouses and old buildings converted to lofts at lightning speed.

Negotiators for the Shawnee Mission School District and the teachers union are at an impasse and will now present their cases to a neutral party.

On one side are teachers who feel overworked and underpaid. On the other side are school administrators who say the union’s demands will ultimately put the district in the red. It’s a dispute with deep roots in the Great Recession and all the years Kansas seriously underfunded schools, happening amidst a national conversation on teacher pay.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office amended charges Wednesday against the two men suspected in October's fatal shootings at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hugo Villanueva-Morales and Javier Alatorre now also face capital murder charges in the shootings at Tequila KC that killed four people and injured five. Under Kansas law, capital murder charges carry a sentence of either life in prison without chance of parole or the death penalty. 

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, is calling on financial regulators to strengthen protections against a possible cyberattack from Iran. 

In a letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Cleaver urged the department to "take all possible precautions" to protect the country's financial infrastructure.

This comes in the wake of Iran firing ballistic missiles Tuesday night at bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops as retaliation for the American assassination of Qasem Soleimani.

For those interested in learning more about East St. Louis’ rich cultural legacy, a new “music and history walk” is one route to consider. Treasure Shields Redmond, daughter of East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene Redmond, is organizing opportunities for hipsters, jazz nerds and genuinely curious minds alike. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske discussed with Shields Redmond how opportunities like the Historic Jazz & Poetry Excursion is showing the world a different East St. Louis than what you might see on the evening news.

Segment 1: Flooded fields and fallout from trade wars could mean another rocky year for farmers.

Climate change, flooding, and bankruptcies are just a few of farming's biggest issues — a list that spans a country mile. With voices from Kansas and Missouri, representing small farmers and Big Ag, we dug through the biggest obstacles facing farmers going into 2020.

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