Two area hotels have been recognized by a national publication as Top Large City Hotels in the United States.
Travel and Leisure magazine ranks the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown St. Louis as the fourth best hotel in the country. The Ritz-Carlton in Clayton ranks 21st on the list. The categories used to rank the hotels were rooms and facilities, location, service, restaurants and food, and value.
The only hotels ranked ahead of the Four Seasons St. Louis were the The Peninsula in Beverly Hills, the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, and the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas.
A news release from the singer's publicist says the 54-year-old Travis was admitted to the hospital Sunday in Dallas and was in critical condition Monday evening.
Travis was being treated for viral cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-oh-my-OP-uh-thee), a heart condition caused by a virus, according to his publicist, Kirt Webster.
The Mayo Clinic's website says the disease weakens and enlarges the heart muscle, making it harder for the heart to pump blood and carry it to the rest of the body. It can lead to heart failure. Treatments range from medications and surgically implanted devices to heart transplants.
The illness is a continuation of a tough run for Travis after a handful of recent high-profile appearances, including a performance during the Country Music Association Festival's nightly concert series and George Jones' funeral.
Long a popular figure in country music, the North Carolina-born singer has been trying to put his life back together after a series of embarrassing public incidents involving alcohol.
Travis pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in January following his arrest last year when he was found naked after crashing his Pontiac Trans Am.
Travis was sentenced to two years of probation, fined $2,000 and given a 180-day suspended jail sentence. He was required to spend at least 30 days at an alcohol treatment facility and complete 100 hours of community service.
The multiple Grammy Award-winning singer rode his alternately mellow and majestic voice to stardom in the 1980s and `90s with hits like "Forever and Ever, Amen" and "Three Wooden Crosses."
A message of thanks. The three young Cleveland women recovered two months ago after being held captive for nearly a decade have posted a video on YouTube.
Amanda Berry says, "Everyone who has been there to support us, it's been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely."
Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight all appear on the video. They say financial support from the public is allowing them to restart their lives. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three women held against their will for a decade locked in a Cleveland, Ohio, home, posted a video on YouTube early this morning to offer thanks for the support they have received trying to rebuild their lives.
Each of the women appeared separately in the 3-minute, 33-second video, with Berry and Knight each making a brief statement, while DeJesus answered questions from someone off camera, followed by her father, Felix DeJesus, and then her mother, Nancy Ruiz.
Berry appears calm and happy in the video, which was filmed July 2. She smiles frequently, as she offers thanks not only for those who have helped her, but to those who have respected the three women's request for privacy.
"First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family, my friends," she says. "It's been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely."
In response to a question of what she wants to say, DeJesus briefly answers that she would like to say thank you, before her father and then her mother speak at greater length.
Ruiz reflected on the love and support of neighbors, such as those who played such a big role in helping the three young women finally escape their captivity.
"Parents in general that do have a loved one missing, please do me one big favor. Count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for the help because help is available," she said.
Knight, who appears last, expresses confidence for the future and talks about how her faith in God has helped her.
"I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my held high and my feet firmly on the ground," she says. "Walking hand-in-hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation."
Kathy Joseph, an attorney for Knight, said in a statement about the video that the three young women wanted to "say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world."
"People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages," Joseph said. "It was their decision to relay their thanks in this way to all of the many people who have offered support to them, for which they are extremely grateful."
James Wooley, attorney for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, said the release of the video does not mean that the three women will begin making public appearances or granting interviews any time soon.
"It is important for everyone, especially the media, to understand that the three women still have a strong desire for privacy," Wooley said. "They do not want to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else. This cannot be stated strongly enough."
Ariel Castro, 52, the man accused of kidnapping the three women and keeping them inside his home, has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment that includes charges of kidnapping and rape.
Castro, a former school bus driver, also is also accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus for allegedly forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating, a charge that could potentially carry the death penalty.
Meanwhile, a fire in Southern California destroyed a pair of mountain lodges Monday while a new fire near a rural Arizona community grew to 300 acres within a matter of hours, prompted evacuations and claimed at least one home.
More than 750 firefighters, including 18 elite Hotshot crews, in Nevada were battling the Carpenter 1 Fire some 25 miles northwest of Las Vegas, said Jay Nichols, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.
Smoke from the 24-square-mile fire created a towering white cloud that stretched northeast, visible from downtown. The Clark County Department of Air Quality issued a health advisory that officials said would remain in effect today through Sunday.
An influx of firefighters and equipment including bulldozers, seven helicopters, four air tankers and a DC-10 jet fire retardant bomber arrived in the area as crews in Arizona neared containment of a deadly blaze that killed 19 Hotshot firefighters near Yarnell on June 30 and another fast-moving fire in the state erupted farther south.
Pinal County Deputy Chief Steve Henry said the new fire fueled by salt cedar trees along the San Pedro River bed outside the remote community of Kearny had burned a ranch-style home and two other structures. It also threatened the local airport in the town of some 2,000 residents.
Residents of a trailer park were evacuated as a precaution after the fire was reported about 5 p.m. Monday. It was unclear how it started. The Arizona Republic reported (HTTP://BIT.LY/170OCJA ) the fire had spread across 300 acres by late Monday.
Temperatures in eastern Arizona where the fire sparked were expected to rise just above 100 degrees in the area Tuesday, but possible showers and thunderstorms would help firefighters' efforts.
Henry said crews were expected to work through the night to make advances on the blaze.
"I don't think they want to wait on the temperatures picking up in the morning," Henry said.
The fire in California destroyed two lodges along a mountain road in rural San Diego County, burned at least six other structures and threatened dozens of cabins as it surged to more than 7 square miles in soaring heat that's expected to return Tuesday.
In northern Nevada, the Bison Fire in the Pine Nut Mountains straddling the Douglas and Lyon county lines nearly doubled in size Monday from a day earlier as it burned through tinder-dry brush, dead trees and pinion-juniper forests. By afternoon the fire was estimated at 17,500 acres, or more than 27 square miles.
The mountain range also stretches into Carson City. Late in the day, fire officials closed popular back-country roads leading from the state capital into the mountains because of the fire's path.
The blaze broke out July 4 and firefighters initially hoped to have it contained Monday. But those ambitions were dashed Sunday when strong winds fanned the fire into an inferno that pushed to the northeast and created a towering, swirling smoke plume seen for miles.
No homes have been lost, but officials said several old structures burned in the Slater Mine area.
More than 700 firefighters battled winds, low humidity and steep terrain to clear fire breaks through grass, pinion and juniper.
Firefighters lost ground Monday on both of the Nevada fires, which each were about 15 percent contained. Fire managers expecting crews to spend a week on both fire lines.
No injuries were reported in the southern Nevada fire and no structures burned in the fire since it started July 1 on the west side of Mount Charleston near Pahrump and quickly spread east into rugged terrain reachable only on foot. Officials said Monday that some $2.4 million had already been spent fighting the fire.
Mount Charleston is a popular weekend getaway, where summer temperatures can be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than in Las Vegas, which has sizzled in the triple digits for more than 10 days.
More than 400 homes in Trout, Kyle, Lee, Harris Springs and Lovell canyons were evacuated during the weekend, along with a Clark County-run youth correctional camp that houses 98 teenagers at a mountain elevation of almost 8,500 feet above sea level. State highways 156 and 157 were closed into the canyons, and evacuation shelters were set up at schools in Las Vegas and Pahrump.
Crews were also working to protect about 100 non-residential structures including barns, sheds and corrals, Nichols said.
Daytime high temperatures on the mountain were expected to decrease over the next few days after peaking at 90 degrees on Saturday, but firefighters were hampered by gusty winds and humidity levels in the single digits.
The fire, named Carpenter 1, was declared a top priority nationwide due to its size and the value of homes and structures at risk, said Suzanne Shelp, a Forest Service spokeswoman.
"This fire, these last few days and going forward, is going to depend on the weather," Shelp said.
Associated Press writer Sandra Chereb in Carson City contributed to this report.
Find Ken Ritter on Twitter: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/KRTTR