Bob Molitor: Human Street Sweeper Cleans Up St. Louis One Gum Wrapper at a Time

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Photos: Chad Garrison
Bob Molitor spends hours a day walking and picking up trash in St. Louis.
If you drive down Delmar, Skinker or Big Bend in the morning hours between 8 and 11 a.m., chances are you've seen Bob Molitor...though you may be more familiar with his rear end than his face. That's because Molitor's posterior is often pointed skyward as he bends over to pick up a stray cigarette butt, soda can or any of the millions of pieces of garbage the rest of us so casually toss to the ground.

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St. Louis Parking Spots Free for Art Galleries, Parks, Puppy Pools And More on PARK(ing) Day

Categories: Environment, News

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Rebar / PARK(ing) Day
Free parking alert, St. Louis!

That is, if you've got an idea of how to use the metered spot in some way other than parking your car. The St. Louis Treasurer's Office, which oversees parking, is participating this year in the international PARK(ing) Day event where folks come up with alternative, creatives uses for spots. Reclaim public space!

"We are encouraging businesses and people to set up their own private parks and enjoy the day outside," Treasurer Tishaura Jones tells Daily RFT.

Her office today sent out applications, on view below, for St. Louisans interested in participating in the September 20 event.

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Forest Park Transformed: Then And Now Photos

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Courtesy of Forest Park Forever
Emerson Grand Basin in 2003 and now.
As we reported earlier this summer, St. Louis' Forest Park has been recognized as one of the most beautiful parks in the world, in large part because of its massive $100 million facelift.

Forest Park Forever -- the nonprofit group that works with the city to restore and maintain the site -- has launched a campaign this year to celebrate the park's 50,000 days in operation since it was first established in June of 1876. The "Recounting 50,000 Days" campaign is an effort to collect 50,000 memories of the park to share in the visitor center. Recently, the group shared some neat photos of the park's transformation over the last decade, offering a side-by-side look at how some sites have improved through various redevelopments.

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St. Louis Bike-Sharing: Mayor, Advocates Pursue Cycling System Similar to Other Cities

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via Mikeshoup
Bike-sharing station in Denver.
The city of St. Louis will have a bike-sharing program.

So says the office of Mayor Francis Slay, which is now partnering with several entities to launch the first step of pursuing a bike-share program similar to the ones that have been successful in major cities across the United States.

"Promoting a cycling-friendly city has been a priority of the mayor," Patrick Brown, assistant to Slay, tells Daily RFT. "We brought our operating departments a long way in understanding the...health benefits and community-building potential that lies within giving people this additional option for transportation.... Bike-sharing is just an extension of that. It really will help to promote the commuters and the tourists within the city."

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Take Back St. Louis Proposal to Block Corporate Tax Breaks, Peabody Energy Headed to Ballot

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Courtesy of MORE
Take Back St. Louis coalition delivering petitions.
A proposal to block St. Louis city tax breaks for corporations like Peabody Energy -- an initiative that officials say could be destructive to the local economy -- is on its way to a direct vote by city residents on an upcoming ballot.

The activists behind the initiative called Take Back St. Louis announced yesterday that the city Board of Elections has reviewed the petition signatures and certified the proposal -- which means that voters may get an opportunity to weigh in on the charter amendment that would drastically impact the funding of local corporations and other entities.

The measure, which would ban corporations like Peabody Energy from receiving public money, could be on the ballot next March or April -- if opponents don't stop it.

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Mississippi River: Untreated Wastewater Discharged Due to Bissell Point Power Outage

Categories: Environment, News

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via Pallavpareek
Once again, millions of gallons of untreated wastewater have entered the Mississippi River due to a malfunction at a St. Louis treatment plant.

Yesterday afternoon, a power outage at the the Bissell Point Wastewater Treatment Plant resulted in the discharge, according to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, which says that the problem persisted from about 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. During that timeframe, approximately 3.5 million gallons of untreated wastewater entered the river from the plant, which is located at 10 East Grand Avenue, in an industrial section of north St. Louis.

The plant, the agency explains, utilizes two power feeds to operate and has a third one that acts as backup source. So when two of the feeds failed yesterday, the plant "ceased normal operations" -- and the discharge began.

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Delmar Loop Gets Traffic Roundabout -- Or Is It a Drunk-Driving Obstacle Course?

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Photo by Al Sawyer-Dickhoff
Editor's note: Mr. Sawyer-Dickhoff is RFT's resident urban-planning critic who occasionally contributes commentary on important issues in our community.

In a move to curb alcohol-related fatalities on Delmar Boulevard's western reaches, University City has installed an obstacle course just west of its bar-friendly "Loop" commercial strip -- and conveniently near the HQ of the burb's po-po. According to a city source close to the project, the town's first ever "roundabout" -- apparently named after the equally confusing song by '70s prog-rockers Yes -- functions as a concrete virtual breathalyzer as county-dwelling imbibers make their way home from their favorite watering holes.

"We've found that anyone under .08 BAC should be able to negotiate it without much of a problem," our source says.

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Take Back St. Louis Ballot Initiative: Activists Target Peabody Energy's City Tax Breaks

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via Facebook
Update below: Today, St. Louis activists who have regularly protested Peabody Energy with high-profile rallies are pushing forward with a new kind of action against the corporation -- one that they say has not been tried before in the city.

The coalition of groups, spearheaded by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), plans to deliver more than 36,000 signatures to the city's election board this morning, marking the first step in the initiative petition process. If all goes according to the group's plan, voters will have the opportunity on an upcoming ballot to amend the city charter with a measure that would prohibit the city of St. Louis from granting tax incentives to companies like Peabody.

"A big part of this ballot initiative is trying to realign how the city thinks about development," MORE organizer Arielle Klagsbrun tells Daily RFT.

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Carter Carburetor Site Cleanup Approved; Rep. Cites History of "Environmental Racism"

Categories: Environment, News

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via Google Maps
Carter Carburetor.
The highly polluted former Carter Carburetor site in north St. Louis is slated for a $30 million cleanup project that will begin next month, officials announced today.

The site is a ten-acre complex of buildings covering two city blocks along North Spring Avenue, where a gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant operated from 1915 to 1984. Congressman Lacy Clay staged a press conference this morning by the site, which, investigations have found, contains high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), trichloroethylene (TCE) and asbestos.

The full cleanup will take four years to complete, with the initial work of debris cleanup beginning in August, officials say. In his announcement, Clay references a history of "environmental racism" tied to "toxic dumping" on this site.

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Governor's Mansion Looking for Tall, Uncut, Well-Branched Evergreen Holiday Tree

Categories: Environment, News

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via Flickr / MoNewsHorizon
The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking for a super-branchy evergreen to grace the governor's mansion this coming holiday season. But for the first time ever, the agency wants your super branchy evergreen. The MDC has sent out a casting call for a "white pine, Norway spruce, or eastern red cedar that is at least 40 feet tall and fully branched on all sides," according to their website.

In previous years, the search for a sufficiently grandiose holiday tree was shared amongst forestry division employees across the state, who simply kept an eye out for good-looking trees throughout the year. This year, MDC is hoping to enlist tree connoisseurs from the general population.

"We want that classic look so that it can be decorated and lit up to be a real highlight for all the people who are going to see it," MDC Community Forestry Coordinator Nick Kuhn tells Daily RFT.

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