Ballwin has been ranked No. 9 among the 100 safest cities in the country … the only Missouri city to make the list. Chief Steven Schicker says the ranking comes from the quality and focus of the officers on the force, which he boils down to one word: pride. He also credits the department’s dispatch center, which is independent (many other cities in the county share dispatch services). The rankings come courtesy of neighborhoodscout.com, a site real estate agents use to help determine a community’s quality of life. Criteria are: population of 25,000 or more, and number of property and violent crimes per 1,000 residents reported to the FBI. Crimes include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault. Ballwin made quite a jump in the ranking from last year, when it was No. 47; the city was No. 31 in 2012. A touch of trivia: Ballwin may be the only Missouri city on the list, but there is a Missouri City cited: Missouri City, Texas, a Houston suburb, at No. 89.

Investing in your company headquarters just seems like the Netelligent thing to do, especially if you meet goals set by the state and therefore reap incentives. Netelligent, an IT company based in Chesterfield, plans to pump $1.8 million into its operation, including adding about 60 employees. Bloom where you’re planted, they say, and the Show-Me State is a good spot to plant an IT firm: I2013, Missouri was the fastest-growing state for technology employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, Netelligent has grown like Topsy. Since 2010, the company has increased revenues by 93 percent and expanded workforce by 64 percent. And speaking of that brass ring: The state Department of Economic Development has offered a strategic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria. Established in 2003, Netelligent has data centers in downtown St. Louis, Denver and Singapore.

[creve coeur]
A woman was inside Priory School for a parent-teacher conference just long enough for another to snag her driver’s license and credit cards from the car. The victim canceled her credit cards, but not before the thief got to Walgreens to purchase hair dye and undergo a transformation believable enough to fool a bank teller in Weldon Spring and withdraw about $6,500. Surveillance video shows a heavyset blonde walking into Walgreens; video from the bank shows a woman with the same build and darker hair … shot from above, it also reveals a spot she missed. Neither the victim nor anyone at Priory recognizes the quick-change artist, and investigators with the St. Charles Sheriff’s and Creve Coeur police departments are seeking the public’s help. There’s enough video from both the bank and store for a miniseries.

Seems like Fresh Thyme’s time has come. Phoenixbased Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has (just about) zeroed in on three locations in the greater metro area, solidifying its aim to build as many as 10 produce-focused grocery stores in and around St. Louis. By 2015, Kirkwood’s new store will become an anchor business at the southeast corner of Manchester and Kirkwood roads, where the city’s moratorium on development recently expired. The company was coy about its Ballwin location, which also should open next year; meanwhile across the Big Muddy, it is already taking over a vacant Kmart store in Fairview Heights. Fresh Thyme is banking on a continued growth in fresh-foods buyers whose pockets aren’t deep enough for Whole Foods. While traditional groceries dedicate about 15 percent of their space to fresh, often locally sourced foods—produce, dairy, meat—about twice that area at Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets will focus on the same three categories. Meanwhile, you won’t find so much of the boxed, bottled and canned goods that make up the middle of most grocery stores, so you won’t likely be shopping here for Fritos, Froot Loops and dozens of fizzy drinks as far down the aisle as the eyes can see.

The intersection of Manchester and Clarkson- Kiefer Creek roads is not exactly one for the city scrapbook. On one corner are the remains of an auto dealership. That’s where a would-be Walmart had its last stand, until the City of Ellisville and residents of a neighboring apartment complex dug in their heels. Now, just across the road, the Big Kmart is closing. The attached strip center isn’t abandoned, but it’s not exactly thriving, either. There’s a gun shop and a big liquor store, a Chinese restaurant and a Chuck E. Cheese franchise. Could the Walmart battle for Ellisville start all over again in the soon-to-be empty Kmart location? City officials say they haven’t heard anything. But if I were part of the neighborhood opposition, I’d worry the Bentonville, Ark., big-box maker already has a pin in its campaign map to mark the site of a fresh assault.

[saint charles]
‘Shock time’ is a terribly unfortunate term for the mere 80 days in jail that a man will spend for using a taser on his wife during a domestic quarrel last summer. This creep didn’t only touch her once with the ‘stun gun,’ but he used it repeatedly on her after pinning her to the ground— firing it into her neck, stomach and thighs. His original sentence for felony domestic assault, for which he pleaded guilty, was three years in prison. Why on earth the sentence then was suspended for such a heinous act is beyond anyone’s comprehension. I have seen someone ‘tased’ on the leg, at the device’s lowest setting, and he reported it felt like his limb was on fire, and he was nearly brought to tears. If ever punishment should fit the crime…

[university city]
The world laughed at his movies, from National Lampoon’s Vacation to Groundhog Day, and The New York Times obit headline called him the ‘Alchemist of Comedy.’ Harold Ramis, 69, an alum of Washington U. honored by a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, died Monday, Feb. 24, from a circulatory system disorder. Ramis mined the comic genius of Chicago’s Second City troupe, of which he was a member, and made movie stars of many who had moved on to Saturday Night Live, including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray. Alongside Aykroyd and Murray, Ramis was one of the three intrepid Ghostbusters. He was at least partly responsible for the rude belly-laughs of National Lampoon’s Animal House, which he co-wrote. Many consider his comedy sophomoric—think Caddyshack—but for much of the 1980s, moviegoers could not help but appreciate the rich vein of sly wit Ramis could produce. Early in his career, the Chicago native had a stint rewriting jokes that readers sent to Playboy, where he became an associate editor. (If you find in your new realm that fighting bad ghosts is necessary, Mr. Ramis, we hope your compatriots take heed when you warn them not to cross the energy streams … I don’t know that we could handle the results down here!)

[saint louis]
In 1764, a fur-trading post sprang up on the west bank of the Mississippi just south of its confluence with the Missouri, although the two rivers may not even have officially been known by those names back then. That was 250 years ago, and The Lou is looking better than ever, we must say. So … let’s celebrate! You may have noticed by now one of the 250 fiberglass cakes—that’s right, do not eat—that have appeared magically all over town, from Creve Coeur to Webster Groves to the Old Courthouse steps. The only thing they seem to have in common is a single candle and the icon ‘stl250’ on the side. The so-called Polar Vortex delayed the installation of some, but they should all be in place before the daffodils pop. (No belated birthday cards needed for the Gateway City… plans are to celebrate all year long!)

[webster groves]
Former high-flying ad exec Cary Jordan has had his wings clipped by the feds for diverting about $500,000 for his personal use. Owner of a Webster Groves media-buying company that bore his name, The Jordan Group, he pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of mail fraud. Jordan pre-billed clients for commercial time but held on to some of the funds his company was supposed to have been paying to media outlets. Jordan Group went belly-up in 2008 after losing it biggest account, Dairy Queen, whereupon its 20 or so staffers were let go and the firm liquidated assets to pay nearly $3 million to creditors. Then, guess what the auditors didn’t find? Presently living in Florida, Jordan will be sentenced May 15 to a maximum of 30 years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines. We surmise he’s on the hook for the half-million bucks, too, and has a sporty piece of electronics around his ankle.

By Bill Beggs Jr.