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St. Louis News: A Year In Review

(via Flickr / DanielSTL, year added by St. Louis Public Radio)

With just one more day left in the year, we took the opportunity to reflect on the top St. Louis news stories of 2013. St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in a discussion about the top regional news of the year with education reporter Tim Lloyd, political reporters Chris McDaniel and Jo Mannies, and statehouse bureau chief Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio.

Two ongoing news stories stood out. Both had major developments in 2013, both are nuanced, multi-faceted issues, and both have implications about how we as a region seek to define ourselves.

One is the quest for quality K-12 education, regardless of zip code, which came to a head this year in Missouri with the implementation of school transfers.

The other is the new execution process in Missouri. Political reporter Chris McDaniel and science reporter Véronique LaCapra, who have been providing ongoing coverage on the topic, published a new story just today revealing that the compounding pharmacy providing the new drug used in Missouri executions is not licensed to do business in the state.

2013 was also a year of change for Illinois. The state legislature passed a pension reform bill, approved concealed carry and medical marijuana, and made Illinois the 15th state in the nation to permit gay marriage.

For political reporter Jo Mannies, the biggest issue in 2013 was Medicaid expansion. Also important in her book were the re-election of Mayor Francis Slay and the return of the police force to city jurisdiction.

Other important headlines of the year included:

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

Your Top Stories of 2013

We asked our sources in the Public Insight Network to share the news stories that mattered the most to them this year. Their top stories included the state of public education locally and statewide, a push for an increase in the minimum wage and the ongoing debate concerning the West Lake landfill in Bridgeton. Below are examples of responses we received. Some have been edited for length or clarity.

Joe Pritchard of Festus:

“The overall story of public education in Missouri. (This is) an unfolding story with several aspects. I was a teacher for two decades. It will not affect me, except that I care.”

Second choice: “The St. Louis Cardinals. I have been a fan via Harry Caray and others since 1956.

Ron Hodges of Kirkwood

The old racial covenant that was still on Greenbriar (subdivision) books. This covenant (which set raced-based restrictions on who may live there) was removed (at the end of 2012), with the help of the Greenbriar community and the Kirkwood Human Rights Commission.”

Joan Brannigan of Olivette

“The top story for me would be thecontinuing demonstrations to get legislators to know that we need to raise the minimum wage. Too many people are trying to make ends meet on wages that are too low.”

Second choice:This is a silly one, but I'm so glad that Pokey LaFarge is starting to make national musical news. He is very talented and smart and has worked hard to make headlines in the music field. I love his music!”

Jennifer Smith of Wentzville

“The biggest story is the status of the radiotoxic materials buried at West Lake Landfill. The … project, processed the most toxic uranium in the world here in the 1940s, and as such, it has continued to harm our area for decades. The waste now sits in West Lake Landfill just a few hundred feet from a subsurface fire. It threatens the entire St. Louis area drinking water. The waste is migrating and turning up in wells — wells that should not be showing positive for these radio toxins. This nuclear waste is only getting hotter as it decays.”

Kirby Pemberton of Maryland Heights

“West Lake Landfill. I was born and raised in Spanish Village/Brittany Acres from 1971- 1977. I've lost my 12-year-old daughter to GBM (glioblastoma multiforme), a rare brain tumor, which (I believe) was caused by nuclear weapons and ionizing radiation. I'm concerned about myself, my other children and our innocent community of people.”

Byron Clemons of St. Louis also cited the West Lake landfill as his top story. For his second choice, he listed the death of Bob Reuter, a local musician, radio personality and photographer. Reuter died in August after he fell down an elevator shaft in a downtown loft building.

Although we asked our sources for their top local or regional stories, at least one source took a broader look:

Robert Hormell of Glen Carbon

The Edward Snowden issue and his revealing the many state secrets that probably will compromise our efforts around the world.”

Second choice: The Affordable Care Act. “President Barack Obama's statement that 'there will be no change in your doctor or insurance plan,' and then all was revealed to be otherwise. As a Medicare recipient, I am not affected, but my adult children are.”

Inform our coverage: This report contains information gathered with the help of our Public Insight Network. To learn more about the Network and how you can become a source, please click here.

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Outreach specialist Linda Lockhart has been telling stories for most of her life. A graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, she has worked at several newspapers around the Midwest, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a reporter, copy editor, make-up editor, night city editor, wire editor, Metro Section editor and editorial writer. She served the St. Louis Beacon as analyst for the Public Insight Network, a product of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media that helps connect journalists with news sources. She continues using the PIN to help inform the news content of St. Louis Public Radio. She is a St. Louis native and lives in Kirkwood.