30 years ago, Brett Hull became a St. Louis Blue. Here was our first reaction to the deal

Editors note: On March 7, 1988, the St. Louis Blues acquired Brett Hull in a trade from the Calgary Flames. Here's how Post-Dispatch columnist Tom Wheatley first reacted to the trade.Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley of the Blues to the Calgary Flames for Brett Hull and Steve Bozek?It sounded like another of those wild rumors that ricochet around North American hockey rinks as the trading deadline rears its ugly head. But this was no deformed rumor. It was a done deal. My gut reactions were on the snide side.Doesn't Calgary general manager Cliff Fletcher have a conscience? After fleecing the Blues two years ago, the least he could do is give back Joey Mullen.With Ramage gone, which defenseman will beat up on opposing hulks in front of the net? Gaston Gingras? Brian Benning? Robert Nordmark?With an All-Star goalie in Mike Vernon, why did Calgary extort Wamsley from the Blues? Given Wamsley's fat lifetime record against Calgary, this must be a case of ''if you can't beat him, have him join you.''What happens if Greg Millen, the Blues' surviving goalie, gets hurt? The new puckstopper would be Darrell May, who was unwanted by the National Hockey League's 20 other teams in last fall's waiver draft.Is Harry Ornest back in charge of the Blues' piggy bank? The two players leaving St. Louis earn almost $450,000 combined and will make about $500,000 next season. The two arrivals make about $250,000.Why go through the formality of a Stanley Cup joust? Just mail that goblet to the Saddledome. The offensively outrageous Flames just plugged their only pinhole leaks by getting a rugged defender and extra goalie.When will the Blues learn not to tap into their veteran core for players sitting in the Saddledome press box? Two years ago, Mullen, a 40-goal scorer, went to Calgary for seldom-used Gino Cavallini and Charlie Bourgeois, plus injury-prone Eddy Beers (presently teaching school in British Columbia). Now the Blues give up a four-time All-Star defenseman and an above-average goalie Continue Reading

The UP Companies Sets Standards for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce, Promoting Skilled Labor Among St. Louis Minorities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction jobs will grow faster than the average for all other occupations from 2014 to 2024. Despite the apparent abundance of construction work, St. Louis trades, unions and construction companies continue to struggle to find qualified, diverse workers.Minority-owned The UP Companies (UPCO), which consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors and Square UP Builders, is taking several steps toward boosting diversity and making a generational impact on the St. Louis metropolitan area workforce by reaching out to minority students and hiring qualified minorities."We know that union membership in Missouri has declined from 15.5% in 1989 to 8.8% in recent years, and that the majority of union workers are between the ages of 45 and 64, so why aren't more young minorities pursuing careers in the trades after high school? We are working diligently to change the perception of skilled labor," said UPCO owner Michael Kennedy, Jr.High school graduates who do not pursue a college education are more likely to seek employment in the trades, said Kennedy. In St. Louis City and County combined, 71% of individuals with just a high school diploma are minorities and women, and 29% are white men, according to the Coro Fellowship report.  Not all high school graduates go to college and there are plenty of skilled labor jobs currently available with competitive salaries and benefits, said Kennedy. A union apprentice can earn a yearly salary of $30,000 - $55,000, plus benefits and overtime pay, while a journeyman or foreman can earn upwards of $85,000 a year."With more young people pursuing college degrees after high school, less are showing an interest in learning skilled trades and joining unions, opting for other jobs that typically pay less and require less skills," said Kennedy. "The construction consumer demand for quality, competitive pricing and a diverse workforce is increasing all the time. The industry needs more minority Continue Reading

Ritenour School District Becomes the First Mosaic Ambassador School District

Ritenour School District Becomes the First Mosaic Ambassador School District The St. Louis Mosaic Project is delighted to announce the Ritenour School District, the first Mosaic Ambassador School District. Located in Northwest St. Louis County, Ritenour is one of the oldest districts in the metropolitan area. The school district serves approximately 6,400 students. Of those 6400 students about 800 of them are English language learners, speaking 28 languages. The St. Louis Mosaic Project Ambassador School program encourages member schools to reinforce an internationally welcoming and inclusive culture through pledges unique to each school. In 2016 the Ritenour school district started with a one classroom school for their foreign-born students learning English. This is due to the to the growing Hispanic enrollment into the district, growing from under 1 percent in the early 1990s to 17% in 2016. The school district started the International Welcome Center because staff at the schools began to see that ESL students were missing school, struggling to fit in and eventually dropping out.  With this growth in ESL students, Ritenour has added more ESL specialized teachers and have been hosting more school “international nights,” where students have the opportunity to showcase food and culture from different countries. Due to the increase in English language learners in the schools, Ritenour has also begun to offer free adult ESL classes as well as parenting programs and resources that are open to the public.                 The center is really meant to serve as a transition school for students, providing intensive English language programming for up to two-years in order to transition students into Ritenour High or one of the middle schools. In addition to learning English, students are taught things like how to act in an American classroom, and how to follow classroom and school Continue Reading

Quick Hits: Ortiz on St. Louis sports

BAFFLED BY THE BLUES COMMENT: BenFred mentioned in his chat that the Blues were not singing “Kumbaya” after their games. Is there was an issue in the locker room. This team is not playing inspired hockey and I wish someone was man enough to come forward and state the problem. Playing the way they are now, the Blues will not make the playoffs. ORTIZ: All I can say is that nobody is singing happy tunes in the Blues' dressing room after losses. The mood after games has been what you would expect from a team after a loss, and I would say that's a good thing. I've spoken to the players quite a bit over the last two weeks, and I was there after Tuesday's loss. The players understand they must turn it around.Follow-up: Any word on the Blues "team meeting"? Are you sensing panic?ORTIZ: As I wrote Tuesday night in the column that ran in today's edition, I don't sense a panic yet. The players were adamant that there's no need to panic yet. That's not to say there is no sense of urgency. PURSUING THE BIGGEST FREE AGENTS QUESTION: Manny Machado says he wants to be the Yankees shortstop. Harper wants $40 million a year for 10 years. Donaldson will get $26-29 million a year.  Kershaw will re-sign with the Dodgers. With all them seemingly out of reach for the Cardinals, who do you think they'll look to sign as a free agent after this season?ORTIZ: Granted, all those players make up a much better free-agent class than this offseason's free agent class, but I'll wait to see how the market develops before we assume that Harper will get the figure you mention.With all that said, I can promise you that a few front office officials I trust assure me that the Cardinals aren't likely to make a run at Harper next offseason. I do expect them to at least check in with Machado's agent. I cannot envision the Dodgers letting Kershaw go.Follow-up: Which of the big free agents would the Cardinals be most likely to sign?ORTIZ: I'm not saying they're going to sign any of Continue Reading

St. Louis region’s growth among nation’s slowest. But O’Fallon keeps booming.

O'FALLON, Mo. • In the early 1970s, this city in St. Charles County comprised a mere 20 square blocks north of Interstate 70, in what was still a largely rural area surrounded by fields — a place where an occasional cow would wander the streets. That was just before the four-decades-long population explosion that transformed the county into one of the nation's fastest-growing — and lifted O'Fallon to second place in size among all cities in the region. "If you remember watching Andy and Opie and Aunt Bee in Mayberry, it was a lot like that," said Joe Cronin, 63, who grew up in O'Fallon and is the second generation of his family to run Western Lawn Equipment on Main Street. That was when Highway K, today a four-lane thoroughfare surrounded by stores and restaurants, was a sleepy two-lane road. Cronin, now a member of the St. Charles County Council, said his parents built a house in the mid-1960s off K on Laura Hill Road, in what was still considered the country. Today, it's home to a Target and a Kohl's. And the 86,000 people who call O'Fallon home today are expected to get even more neighbors. City leaders project the city will hit 125,000 residents by 2040, when the remaining developable land will be exhausted. Such a population spike is especially remarkable in the slow-growing St. Louis region. Census data released in 2016 showed that among the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas, St. Louis had the third-slowest rate of growth since 2010 — ahead of Detroit and Chicago, which was the only large metro area to lose people. The reasons for O'Fallon's rapid growth largely mirror the ongoing westward population shift to St. Charles County, where suburban homebuyers and builders usually are able to get more bang for their buck in house and lot sizes than in west St. Louis County. A low crime rate and good public schools also are draws. Between 2000 and 2010, more than a third of the city's current 30-square-mile Continue Reading

Body brokers, including firm with St. Louis area facility, supply world with torsos, limbs and heads

This story is part of an investigative series by Reuters that exposed abuses in the human body trade. To read earlier installments go to bit.ly/2E0OFc4 _______ PORTLAND, Ore. • On July 20, a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship departed Charleston, S.C., carrying thousands of containers. One of them held a lucrative commodity: body parts from dozens of dead Americans. According to the manifest, the shipment bound for Europe included about 6,000 pounds of human remains valued at $67,204. To keep the merchandise from spoiling, the container’s temperature was set to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The body parts came from MedCure Inc., a Portland, Ore.-based company with distribution hubs in the U.S. that include a facility in Maryland Heights, just outside St. Louis. A so-called body broker, MedCure profits by dissecting the bodies of altruistic donors and sending the parts to medical training and research companies. MedCure sells or leases about 10,000 body parts from U.S. donors annually, shipping about 20 percent of them overseas, internal corporate and manifest records show. In addition to bulk cargo shipments to the Netherlands, where MedCure operates a distribution hub, the Oregon company has exported body parts to at least 22 other countries by plane or truck, the records show. Among the parts: a pelvis and legs to a university in Malaysia; feet to medical device companies in Brazil and Turkey; and heads to hospitals in Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates. Demand for body parts from America — torsos, knees and heads — is high in countries where religious traditions or laws prohibit the dissection of the dead. Unlike many developed nations, the U.S. largely does not regulate the sale of donated body parts, allowing entrepreneurs such as MedCure to expand exports rapidly during the last decade. No other nation has an industry that can provide as convenient and reliable a supply of body parts. Since 2008, Reuters found, U.S. body brokers have Continue Reading

Open Arms – The St. Louis Mosaic Project encourages international diversity for regional growth

The St. Louis Mosaic Project began its research in 2012 with an economic impact report outlining St. Louis to be lagging in immigrant growth, as well as highlighting the economic benefits of increasing its foreign-born population. The Mosaic Project is a regional initiative that is professionally managed by St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, World Trade Center St. Louis and a 27-member committee. The organization became operational in 2013 with the hiring of Executive Director Betsy Cohen. An exchange student in high school, Cohen was always interested in international activities. In her tenure at Nestlé Purina, she was vice president of marketing and worked on both international business opportunities and ran a local regional coalition. “I’ve always been involved with different nonprofits and businesses – I think of myself as a connector,” Cohen said. Tell us about your background. My family came from Europe in 1848 to St. Louis from Germany and Czechoslovakia. While I was born in Chicago, I lived in many cities growing up and moved back to St. Louis when I was in elementary school. My family hosted international people when I was growing up, and I was also an exchange student in high school. I went east for college, earned my MBA, got married and lived in Baltimore. My husband and I later moved to St. Louis where we’ve been since. After a long career at Nestlé Purina, I was searching for an opportunity where my skills would be needed in the region. At the same time, the Mosaic steering committee had been formed. I was told about the new position, which was essentially a marketing initiative to encourage international people of all skills to come to St. Louis. It appealed to my sense of regional pride and my interest in international people. What is the goal of St. Louis Mosaic Project? The goal is to transform St. Louis into the fastest growing major metropolitan area for immigration by 2020 and promote Continue Reading


MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (January 22, 2018) – Hollywood Casino St. Louis, a Penn National Gaming property in Maryland Heights, has hired Michael Jerlecki as its new Vice President and General Manager. Jerlecki is in the process of relocating to St. Louis from Las Vegas. He has more than twenty-four years of gaming and hospitality industry experience with publicly traded and privately held companies and in Native American gaming in the areas of Executive Administration, Marketing, and Operations, including nine years with MGM and, most recently, nine years with Station Casinos. He last served as Vice President and General Manager of Boulder Station and the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Jerlecki holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and received his Masters of Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Business in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “I am humbled and honored to be joining Hollywood Casino St. Louis. Being a part of North America’s premier regional gaming operator and industry-leading performer, Penn National Gaming, is a fantastic opportunity. I am confident my skills and experience will align nicely with the vision and leadership our company has shown over the past 40+ years. The team members and community have been very welcoming and warm, and for that I am very grateful."  About Hollywood Casino Conveniently located in Maryland Heights, Missouri, Hollywood Casino offers over 120,000 square-feet of action and excitement from 2,003 of the hottest slots and video poker machines. Hit it big on 63 gaming tables and 20 poker tables and relax in our luxurious hotel featuring 455 deluxe rooms and 47 spacious suites. Dine like a star at any of our first-class restaurants and dining outlets. Everywhere you look, there’s star-studded 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. For more information, visit Continue Reading

Why the Trump Rally in St. Louis Was So Different

Donald Trump was supposed to speak at the Peabody Opera House here in St. Louis at noon on Friday. Armed with tickets, I arrived with a friend a few hours early, confident that we’d get in. We stood in line for more than two hours, only to be told the venue was full. Many had arrived the night before and slept on the street. I didn’t exactly leave empty-handed though. Wearing a Cardinals jacket and camo, I did my best to blend in with the crowd that had gathered outside the rally. I did a pretty good job. Looking around, I saw a crowd that was almost exclusively white with a decidedly blue-collar flavor. Mixed in with the Trump apparel, I saw gear for local St. Louis teams and clothes fresh off the rack from Walmart. Outside the venue, I overheard Trump fans trashing Black Lives Matter, defending racism as a natural human instinct, and bemoaning our modern PC culture. But it’s what wasn’t said that spoke the loudest. The St. Louis region has been decimated over the last few decades by deindustrialization, bad trade deals, and a declining standard of living. Take my family as one example. In the early 1980s, my father, an uncle, and a grandfather all worked at Combustion Engineering in North St. Louis. The closure of that plant hit our family like a natural disaster. When I looked at the middle-aged men in the crowd, I thought of my father. He grew up near Ferguson in the industrial northern suburbs of St. Louis. The first handful of African-American students entered Riverview Gardens High School as he was graduating. The school now is virtually 100 percent African-American. After growing up with white privilege in a unionized blue-collar area of segregated St. Louis County, he entered an increasingly diverse workforce. Racial tensions flared up at factories across St. Louis, triggered by union elections and a thousand other incidents. During this same time, public schools were integrating, and older white working-class communities such Continue Reading

World Series MVP David Freese living large after St. Louis Cardinals win title

 HE MAY NOT have the name recognition of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday or Lance Berkman, but David Freese has something none of his high-profile teammates have: a World Series MVP award. Freese captured MVP honors for his stellar performance in the Fall Classic, hitting .348 with three doubles, a triple and a home run, the last two playing crucial roles in the Cardinals’ stunning Game 6 comeback. After tying the game with his two-run triple in the ninth, Freese put himself in pretty good company in the 11th, becoming only the fifth player in history to hit a walk-off home run as late as Game 6 in a World Series. The others? You’ve probably heard of them: Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Kirby Puckett and Joe Carter. “I don’t have a word yet to describe David Freese,” Pujols said. The Cardinals acquired Freese — who grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis — from the Padres in December 2007, sending fan-favorite Jim Edmonds to San Diego for the young third baseman. “He always hit in the minor leagues, so we thought when he got to the big-leagues he’d continue to do so,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “As far as being a middle-of-the-order hitter, that’s what we were hoping for when we acquired him.” Pujols took an immediate liking to Freese, taking him under his wing the way veterans such as Mike Matheny, Fernando Viña, Edgar Renteria and Darryl Kile had done with Pujols as a youngster. “I liked him right away as soon as we got him in the trade,” Pujols said. “To be able to go through the things that he has done in his career just shows who David Freese is.” A car accident in January 2009 resulted in two foot injuries for Freese, one of which required surgery that limited him to only 81 games between the majors and minors that season. Freese was arrested for driving under the influence in December 2009, two years to the day after he was traded to his hometown Continue Reading