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As St. Louis city continues its' 250th birthday celebration in 2014, there is an ambitious effort underway to encourage volunteerism.

Erin Budde, executive director of STL250, tells the St. Louis Post Dispatch officials are seeking 250,000 people to volunteer this year.  She calls it an ambitious project and goal, but points out that the St. Louis region has consistently ranked high nationally in its volunteer efforts.  

A report released Saturday looking at the “civic health” of Missouri shows that the state ranks 15th in the country in volunteerism, with 30 percent of residents participating compared with 27 percent nationwide.

The St. Louis region does even better, at 32 percent.  The region also fares better than the rest of the country in donating to charity, with 57 percent of residents doing so, compared with 51 percent in the U.S. overall.

Monday, 20 January 2014 11:15
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois high school student and his parents will get $910,000 under a jury award related to injuries the teenager sustained in a bicycle accident.
The (Alton) Telegraph reports that Edwardsville High School student Trevor Brady says he plans to use some of the money for college tuition. He'll receive the money under a jury verdict last week in Madison County.
The trial involved Brady's lawsuit against Plocher Construction Co., which was building a new office building in Alton and admitted it misplaced a steel beam that Brady hit while bicycling to middle school in March 2010.
The accident left Brady with facial injuries and missing teeth.
Brady's lawyer argued for $3.3 million, while an attorney for Plocher suggested $250,000. Plocher's attorney declined to publicly discuss the verdict.
Monday, 20 January 2014 10:30
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In what is a nearly $6-billion deal, Anheuser Busch InBev is reacquiring Oriental Brewery, South Korea's leading brewery. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that AB-InBev sold the company in 2009, following its acquisition of St. Louis-based Anheuser Busch.

Oriental Brewery has an exclusive license to distribute AB InBev brands including Budweiser and Corona in South Korea. Beer sales in South Korea grew 2 percent from 2009 to 2012, and premium beers grew 10 percent annually.

The country's beer market is expected to increase by more than 13 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Monday, 20 January 2014 10:13
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OVERLAND, Mo. (AP) - The new chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. sees a comeback in the near future for the Missouri-based company.
The company, which allows customers to customize and "build" stuffed animals, has seen its sales decline since in 2007, with only one profitable year in the last four years.
Sharon Price John, who became chief executive officer of the Overland-based company six months ago, says she is optimistic that changes initiated recently will help the company turn around.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports John made her case to investors in a meeting last week at a conference in Florida.
She says the company declined in part because it did not respond to economic changes. Among other moves, the company is closing 60 underperforming stores and is updating its marketing.
 
Monday, 20 January 2014 09:44
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Salt used to make roads and sidewalks passable after winter weather can damage surrounding plants.
The Department of Conservation says Missourians can protect plants by creating drainage channels or barriers, using ice melting chemicals in moderation and by being particularly careful about applying salt in late winter and early spring.
Damage can be treated by pruning dead or deformed branches and washing away surface salt residue. Powdered gypsum can be applied if soil has been contaminated by long and heavy exposure. Moderately contaminated soil should get 100 to 200 pounds of gypsum for every thousand square feet.
Officials say symptoms of exposure to salt spray include yellowing or dwarfing of foliage.
   
 
Monday, 20 January 2014 09:39
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UNION, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri man is charged with first-degree assault for allegedly shooting his son in an argument over a vehicle.
Authorities say 67-year-old Charles W. Crow of Franklin County is also charged with armed criminal action.
Deputies were called Friday evening to a home in a rural area between Union and St. Clair, where 39-year-old Nathanial Crow had been shot. He was airlifted to a suburban St. Louis hospital with a chest wound and is in stable condition.
Witnesses told authorities that Nathaniel Crow was retrieving a vehicle in his father's possession, prompting an argument. Charles Crow is jailed on $100,000 cash-only bond.
 
Monday, 20 January 2014 09:36
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri concealed weapons permit holders can now bring their guns with them to Wisconsin.
Attorney General Chris Koster announced the two states had reached a reciprocity agreement when it comes to concealed weapons.
He says a new law requiring permit holders to undergo national background check upon renewal paved the way for the agreement. The same legislation also changed Missouri's gun permit to not include a photo of the holder.
Thirty-six other states also honor Missouri's concealed weapons permits. Missouri recognizes gun permits from any state that issues them.
 
Monday, 20 January 2014 09:29
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A walk down the 6-mile city street named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. yields plenty of images that would surely unsettle the civil rights leader: shuttered storefronts, open-air drug markets and a glut of pawn shops, quickie check-cashing providers and liquor stores.

The urban decay along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in St. Louis can be found in other major American cities, from Houston and Milwaukee to the nation's capital.

"It's a national problem," said Melvin White, a 46-year-old postal worker in St. Louis and founder of a 3-year-old nonprofit group that is trying to restore King's legacy on asphalt. "Dr. King would be turning over in his grave."

Nearly three decades into the observance of Monday's federal holiday, the continuing decline of the most visible symbols of King's work has White and others calling for a renewed commitment to the more than 900 streets nationwide named in the Atlanta native's honor. The effort centers in St. Louis, where the small nonprofit is working to reclaim MLK roadways as a source of pride and inspiration, not disappointment over a dream derailed.

White's goals are ambitious, his resources admittedly modest. A neighborhood park is planned across the street from the group's headquarters. An urban agriculture project to encourage residents to eat healthy and grow their own food has preliminary support from nearby Washington University, one of the country's wealthiest private colleges. Above all, Beloved Streets of America wants to build community from the ashes of what was once a thriving retail corridor when White was a child.

The template can be found just a mile away. Delmar Boulevard, which saw a similar decline, is now a vibrant retail corridor packed with restaurants, nightclubs, a renovated movie theater and a boutique hotel. The renaissance earned Delmar recognition in 2007 as one of "10 Great Streets in America" by the American Planning Association.

Journalist Jonathan Tilove, who wrote a 2003 book based on visits to 650 King streets nationwide, called the King byways "black America's Main Street."

"Map them and you map a nation within a nation, a place where white America seldom goes and black America can be itself," he wrote. "It is a parallel universe with a different center of gravity and distinctive sensibilities. ... There is no other street like it."

But while streets named for King undoubtedly resonate widely in the black community, a University of Tennessee geography professor whose research explores the cultural and political significance of such streets said the compromised condition of streets named for King in St. Louis and other cities deserves broader attention.

"In some ways we racially profile these streets," said Derek Alderman, author of a 2007 study that found a smaller disparity among MLK-named streets and other "main streets" than is popularly portrayed. "We need to move beyond those images and see what concrete lives and realities are living on those streets."

More than 50 years after King led his march on Washington, communities large and small still debate whether to rename local streets in his honor. In Harrisonburg, Va., city leaders recently agreed to rename a street for King over protests by some residents. A similar debate continues in High Point, N.C., where a King street proposal first suggested two decades ago remains up in the air.

Other cities have had more success in balancing the desire to commemorate King without superseding local tradition. Alderman singled out Chapel Hill, N.C., which in 2005 renamed a major thoroughfare that abuts the University of North Carolina campus. Street signs that identify Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard also include the name "Historic Airport Road."

Chicago's Martin Luther King Drive, a major thoroughfare spanning roughly a dozen miles south of downtown, is anchored by important hubs of black life in the city. The street features grassy boulevards with stately greystones, while other segments touch rougher patches that have fallen into disrepair, including a dilapidated motel that drew community protests over crime. Gentrification is taking hold along some parts.

The major landmarks include Bronzeville, the neighborhood where numerous black activists lived or worked and tourism officials have marked with plaques. There's also Chicago State University, where Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks taught.

In Miami, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard stretches from the predominantly Cuban town of Hialeah through largely black Liberty City and into Little Haiti - a reflection of both the city's diverse demographics as well as its lingering segregation.

Along MLK Boulevard in Hialeah, where U.S. flags fly alongside Cuban ones, MLK Boulevard isn't known as the street named after a civil rights leader. Rather, it's simply referred to by its number: "La Nueve Street," or 9th Street.

The sights and sounds of MLK Boulevard change in Liberty City, where many buildings are shuttered and storefront churches can be found on almost every block. In the decades after the civil rights movement, Liberty City has seen two race riots and struggled to escape a cycle of violence and poverty.

At Miami Edison High School on the border of Liberty City and Little Haiti, 17-year-old Judith Etienne said King would be disappointed in his unfulfilled dream.

"I'm sure Martin Luther King didn't have this in his dream," she said. "There's a lot of kids dying of gang violence in this community."

For Alderman, the King street scholar, the struggle to reclaim MLK Jr. Drive in St. Louis offers a realistic portrayal of the battles King waged a half-century ago - and where such efforts need to reach into the 21st Century.

"Those street names are really powerful social indicators of how far we've come in really fulfilling the dream, and giving us an indication of where we need to do more work," he said. "As much as it may sadden us, it demarcates and defines boundaries for civil rights activism for the future. You've got something that remembers the past that actually works, in its own tragic irony, to symbolize where the struggle still is."

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Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen in Chicago and Christine Armario in Miami contributed to this report.

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at HTTP://TWITTER.COM/AZAGIER

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Monday, 20 January 2014 09:27
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   ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is scheduled to open early next month.
   The new bridge will carry Interstate 70 over the Mississippi River. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the four-lane, cable-stayed bridge and associated highway projects are being funded with a combination of Missouri, Illinois and federal money.
   The Missouri Department of Transportation says the  bridge will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 8 to walkers, runners and bicyclists who want a close-up view of the bridge. Festivities include a ribbon-cutting and a 3 p.m. parade.
   Department spokesman Andrew Gates says the agency is preparing for as many as 20,000 people to attend the events.
   Gates says the bridge is expected to open to traffic Feb. 9.
 
Monday, 20 January 2014 04:17
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