While city leaders from Ballwin and Ellisville have officially dissed any plans for a full city-county merger, with maybe any number of municipalities grumbling off to the side, Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley got together recently to unveil a unified approach to economic development efforts for the St. Louis metro. The AP reports they did this at a Clayton hotel (which, interestingly, they didn’t identify… although the news agency did mention it was on the ‘city-county border’). Well, why not a city space, like Windows On Washington? But, we digress. Joined by dozens of others in their respective governments, the two leaders of our city and county governments ‘repeatedly’ referred to their concerted effort to lure a new Boeing assembly plant to our area as an example of what working together, rather than being at cross purposes, could do. Um, that effort was unsuccessful. But it’s early yet, of course. St. Louis Economic Development Partnership was formed scarcely 10 months ago, and it will continue to be interesting to watch from the sidelines as opponents and supporters line up for this epic push and pull.


ESPN is traditionally a network for all things sports—for Camaro’s sake, you can even watch stuff like auto racing on there. Anyhow, it stands to reason that a championship contest as prestigious as the Scripps National Spelling Bee was aired on the network, too. Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, 13 and a (recent) seventh-grader at Parkway West Middle School, was in Washington, D.C., for the national contest. It was his third time—and he placed third. Actually, it could be argued that he placed second, because two kids shared first-place for the first time since 1962. And if Gokul makes it through all the local and regional hoops as an eighth-grader in 2015, his final year of eligibility, he will have another shot at the $30,000 cash prize. The word he missed? Kierkegaardian—are you as smart as a seventh grader?

[creve coeur]

The lights have gone out on yet another red-light-camera ordinance, this one in Creve Coeur. The program was suspended last year, and the city council voted late last month to repeal the ordinance. Elsewhere, after a state appeals court ruled that laws in Arnold and Ellisville violated state law, Ellisville voted in March to cancel its contract for the cameras. We’d have surmised that business overall has soured for American Traffic Solutions (ATS) of Tempe, Ariz., but the company website chirped with pleasure over its first-quarter results this year. It did seem, however, that the success was attributable to cameras that catch motorists who ignore school buses and scofflaws who zip through toll booths, not so much business from red lights. ATS did note, however, that the St. Louis suburbs of St. John and Florissant had renewed their red-light contracts. TT_Ladue.6-11


Bull’s-eye! Aiming for a bigger store, Sign of the Arrow has found a 50-percent bigger space, and right down the street. The move west from 9740 to 9814 Clayton Road in Ladue (where the former Alixandra once operated) will be complete sometime this summer for the beloved boutique, which deals in the likes of needlepoint supplies and unique gifts. Oh, myyy… Daddy’s golf-themed monogrammed belt has shrunk! Maybe the Arrow can attach that stretched-out stitchery to a bigger one. I don’t know about waistlines, but bigger will be better for the niche nonprofit vendor. Storage was a problem, but the new space has a basement, so it won’t have to pay to keep stuff off site anymore. And the parking lot, now crowded, will seem enormous: 12 spaces for customers and volunteers. Why the arrow? It’s key to the logo for Pi Beta Phi; the St. Louis alumnae club opened the store in 1966 and has donated $3.5 million (!) to dozens of institutions and organizations ranging from Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital to Opera Theatre of St. Louis.


As far as we know, the former manager of the CVS Pharmacy in Maplewood wasn’t helping himself to any of the controlled substances available in that department. But the feds charge that he had his hand in the till, and in a big way. This goofball admitted to embezzling $30,000 from the company by processing the return of items that customers had never bought in the first place. Crime may pay, but in this case only temporarily. He faces a possible 10-year jail-time and $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in September. Begs the question: How does a convicted felon manage to deal with that debt?

[webster groves]

After a wait of about 10 months, a county court has ruled that Webster University may use the buildings it acquired in 2010 from Eden Theological Seminary. Judge Mark Siegel ordered that the City of Webster Groves issue a conditional-use permit (CUP) to the university within 60 days. The city council in August had denied the CUP, whereupon the university sued the city. Webster U. had purchased three buildings for $5 million: Luhr Library, Wehrli Center and another known as the ‘White House.’ Webster’s stated plans are to raze the latter for green space and to use the others for the IT department, alumni association and faculty senate. Additional plans include designing suitable accommodations for the school’s world-class chess team. Some residents believe the arrangement is symbiotic—if Webster can afford to repurpose buildings that the seminary, with its declining enrollment, cannot keep up, everyone wins. Meanwhile, a number of others remain concerned that the university’s expansion north across Lockwood Avenue may continue, perhaps lowering property values and compromising the community’s unique character.

[university city]

Jilly’s Cupcakes always have had a lot in common with ice cream: You can’t eat them with your hands because they’re too gooey and luscious. Many with a hankering for the soft and sugary already have relished mouthwatering trips to the sweetery on Delmar Boulevard for this incomparable spin on the ‘cupcake’ (air quotes ours). For awhile, there was a second location in Des Peres, but it closed about the same time the goodies became available at select Schnucks markets. All along the way, folks clamored for—yes, they screamed—for ice cream, and owner Jill Segal thought she’d have her new ice cream bar (get it?) open by last winter. The wait was worth it, and Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar officially opened the first week of June. Just a hop, skip and jump from the cupcake store, the ice cream bar (8509 Delmar Blvd.) offers 15 more varieties than have been available for some time at the cupcake place or Schnucks. Some are classics like you’d find at Baskin-Robbins. Others are suitably weird. A flavor of the month gets a lot of its taste and some of its texture (eww) from Lucky Charms cereal. Sorry, Jilly; I’m more a Froot Loops connoisseur.

[st. charles]
How to get Mom and Dad’s attention when their kids are skipping school? Put them on the hook for it. Parents probably don’t like it if their truant kids are at risk of going through a juvenile court process. But in St. Charles, it’s more than a matter of principle … or just so much aggravation. Beginning next school year, parents could face a misdemeanor charge and/or a fine if their children are truant too often. The fine is $300, which could come with 15 days in jail. Want a response from the folks? Just start threatening the pocketbook.

[st. louis]TT_StL.6-11.A

You might have heard a collective sigh of relief from around Grandel Square a few weeks ago when the former Sun Theater reopened, renovated after four decades of neglect, vandalism and weather damage. Rehabbed for $11 million by The Lawrence Group (including $4 million in historic tax credits), the theater is being leased by Grand Center Arts Academy, whose 535 students attend classes in the adjacent Beaux Arts Building. The 100-year-old theater opened as a performance space for the German community with a production of Faust … but backlash at the outset of World War I led to the first of many changes, including the name—to The Liberty, from its original title, The German Theatre. Post-war, there was a time for vaudeville and burlesque. It later showed films for the black community. At one time it even housed an evangelical church. Before the renovation, a wall was about to collapse. Trees were growing from the roof. Most of the plaster ceiling had crumbled. Opportunists had removed marble panels. The redo has shrunk the seating space from 1,800 to 600 (with some space dedicated to classrooms). And much needs to be done to make the hall ‘production ready,’ observers say. In any event, it will be a delight to experience the continued transformation of this historic theater, which we hope could one day complement the Fox and Powell.

[st. louis update]

Wilson, the lab-mix puppy found in north St. Louis with a bungee cord wrapped around his neck and a grotesquely swollen head, has recovered—and has been adopted. The Humane Society of Missouri continues to solicit leads as to who abused the animal.

by Bill Beggs Jr.