Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

Posts Tagged ‘AOL’

More Parking Coming to Richmond Heights Public Safety Building

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | November 30, 2010

Parking for the building that houses night court and the Richmond Heights fire and police departments has been tight since the facility opened in 2005. Just ask the city’s public relations coordinator Irene Johnson.

“When you grow, you have expanded needs,” she said. “On our court nights, the people who are on the docket need to have a place to park. For some time now, the overflow has gone onto our residential streets. That has been a concern for residents who live on, for example, Silverton, right around (Richmond Heights) City Hall.”

The parking lot for the public safety building on Dale Avenue has 84 spaces. The city hopes 34 new slots will help alleviate or lessen the overflow parking on residential streets.

But will that be enough?

Johnson said city employees fill up more than 70 spaces on training and meeting days. That leaves about 10 available for public use. She added night court often requires parking for more than 150 vehicles, so overflow onto residential streets likely will continue.

Bruce Murray, director of public works for Richmond Heights, said the city is landlocked so it had to acquire nearby land for additional parking. It was a “one-shot” chance, he said. 

More than three years ago, owners of property immediately east of the public safety building offered the city the first opportunity to acquire their land and houses, Johnson said. City Council closed the deal, paying about $428,000, in December 2007.

The parking project is nearly complete. The city is waiting on the delivery of eight solar lights to illuminate the lot as part of the city’s sustainability efforts, Murray said. The lights are scheduled to be delivered and installed the week of Dec. 6, and the lot will open after that.

The price tag for the parking lot is about $163,000, which comes from the city’s capital improvement budget. Infrastructure Management served as the primary contractor on the project and collaborated with public works crews. 

Company Goes Online in Effort to Reduce Post-Traumatic Stress

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | January 2, 2011

Jeff Eastman is a man with a plan. Eastman, a native of Clayton, came up with a way for people to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of stress without leaving home.

His inspiration?

“A dancing girl, and 300,000 soldiers coming back with PTSD and not being taken care of,” Eastman said.

Eastman, an attorney, is president and majority stockholder of the Clayton Stress Institute, based in Clayton. He has founded many St. Louis companies including Eastman Marketing, whose clients include Monsanto and Anheuser-Busch. He is also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the St. Louis University School of Law.

Eastman said Clayton Stress can treat a person at home using nothing but a computer and access to the Internet. It is the only Web-based provider of what it calls “self-directed help for stress and anxiety,” according to a news release.

While veterans were the impetus for the company, its services are available for people seeking treatment for various kinds of trauma.

A PowerPoint presentation by Clayton Stress—a copy of which is attached to this article—outlines its concerns about the treatment available to veterans.

Accoring to the presentation, the House Armed Services Committee has said there are only 35 percent of the needed health-care professionals to treat troops suffering from PTSD, and the need for treatment is expected to continue.

Eastman said he became very angry “that the kids coming back with PTSD were not really being cared for.”

The seeds for treatment came to him as he researched optical illusions and treatments. He described how people can perceive the same image in different ways. Take the image of a dancing girl who is spinning around.*

“Some people see the girl spinning to the left, counter-clockwise, others to (the) right, clockwise,” Eastman said. “Some people can see it both ways.”

He continued to investigate how it was possible to view the same event from multiple perspectives. After a period time, he found that he could see the image of the dancing girl rotating in either direction, “sort of like a gate.”

That was the first part of the treatment puzzle. Eastman discovered the second piece after speaking with a friend who is a psychotherapist. Eastman told his friend about PTSD and how it aggravated him.

His friend, in turn, introduced to a technique known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing that can be used to help people who have experienced trauma.

Much as the image of the dancing girl helped Eastman process the fact that the same scenario could be viewed from multiple perspectives, EMDR is aimed at helping people see the various aspects of trauma they have experienced and process the negative emotions that can otherwise be overwhelming.

Clayton Stress claims that 93 percent of the more than 1,500 people who have taken one online session have reported a 43 percent reduction in stress. Participants have included veterans and those not associated with the military.

The identities of those who participate in Clayton Stress’ online program are kept confidential. Only a valid e-mail address is required to register.

Clayton Stress also aims to provide treatment at a lower cost than that provided by some therapists. Marketing materials from the company state that the average cost of a therapist can run anywhere from $100 to $150 an hour, not including medications. The EMDR technique does not require medication.

Clayton Stress has applied for a patent application for the online EMDR treatment.

Dr. Thomas Geracioti, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a research physician at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has worked with Eastman.

“EMDR is a safe and efficacious treatment for PTSD,” Geracioti stated in an e-mail interview. “However, there is much about EMDR that we don’t know, including whether or not it can prevent PTSD. Jeff’s idea to bring EMDR widely (and automatically) to the front line military could have a major positive impact if it can.”

Group Seeks Intern to Begin Work on City Climate Plan

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | January 30, 2011

A Richmond Heights nonprofit wants to work with an intern to evaluate the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and map out a more sustainable future.

The Friends of Richmond Heights held a meeting Wednesday at City Hall to learn more about the Regional Environmental Internship Program sponsored by Focus St. Louis. Jan Niehaus of the Friends of Richmond Heights Hosted the event.

More than 20 people came to hear more about the plans. They included City Manager Amy Hamilton, who is a member of the Friends board.

John May, a resident of Creve Coeur and a Focus St. Louis board member, gave a presentation about Creve Coeur’s pilot version of the program. May is a member of the Creve Coeur Climate Action Task Force. Creve Coeur participated in 2009 with help from a Saint Louis University intern.

May said he thinks this is a program that can be replicated throughout the region.

Creve Coeur’s climate plan is composed of five major steps:

  • Make a formal commitment to proceed.
  • Assess greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.
  • Set goals in an action plan, based on the assessment.
  • Implement the plans.
  • Measure progress with another assessment and update the plan as needed.

“The process in Creve Coeur was to build organizational resources first and then implement specific strategies,” May said. He also recommended that simpler strategies be implemented first rather than expensive projects.

The greenhouse gas inventory in Richmond Heights would be composed of two parts. First, an intern would visit city departments, gather information about how much they are spending on energy and take measurements. Second, the intern would use the data to develop an action plan aimed at helping the city reduce energy usage.

The intern would work approximately 40 hours a week, May said. Creve Coeur got started on its environmental initiatives by paying $600 to join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a group of goverments focused on sustainable development. A donation helped pay for the intern’s stipend.

Jan Niehaus, chair of the Friends’ Sustainability Team, stated in an e-mail interview that Richmond Heights will be the first city to use an intern under Focus St. Louis’ internship program.

“The city was well aware of Focus St. Louis, since the city participated in the survey that led to Focus publishing the Roadmap to Sustainability in 2009,” Niehaus stated. That report is aimed at helping St. Louis communities become more sustainable. But at the time, the internship program didn’t exist.

Richmond Heights residents should expect the internship program to yield a greenhouse gases inventory and at least a semi-completed climate action plan.

The council is expected to vote in February on a resolution to get the process started, Hamilton said. If the resolution passes, the city would join ICLEI.

City staff would manage the intern, and ICLEI would provide the tools for conducting the greenhouse gases inventory, she said.

Mark Winings Says He’s Excited and Grateful to Become Alderman

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | April 5, 2011

Mark Winings said he’s excited and grateful after being elected Tuesday to become the next Ward 3 representative on the Clayton Board of Aldermen. He will serve alongside Alderman Steve Lichtenfeld in that role.

Winings, who led in early returns, won the election with 41 percent of the vote, according to the St. Louis County Board of Elections website. His opponents, Jim Holtzman and Steve Singer, captured 30 percent and 28 percent of the vote, respectively.

Winings will serve a three-year term. He succeeds Alex Berger in that role.

Winings said he would like to thank his supporters for voting Tuesday. He also extended his thanks to the people who worked on his campaign and to his wife, Rula.

Winings said he thinks highly about his opponents in the race, and he congratulated them on what he described as a great campaign.

“I’m excited about joining the board of aldermen and getting to work,” he said.

Winings spent the evening with his wife watching returns from the election.

Singer said Tuesday night that he wanted to extend his congratulations to Winings and to thank his supporters.

Jim Holtzman had no comment.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the following representatives were re-elected in uncontested races:

Gateway Chapter of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Awards Man and Woman of Year Honors in Clayton

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | April 18, 2011

An event held Thursday in Clayton to benefit people with cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma raised more than $122,000 and attracted about 390 people.

The grand finale gala, held at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, served as the culmination of the Man & Woman of the Year 2011 contest sponsored by the Gateway Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It featured fun, food and thoughtful moments.

Ron Hofmeister, president of the chapter’s board of trustees, said this year’s contest is the 12th the chapter has held. During the event, he said he hoped it would be a record night. It was: A silent auction and a live one held at the event netted a record amount of money for programs benefiting those who have leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other forms of blood cancer.

The Man & Woman of the Year contest is a spirited eight-week competition in which seven candidates vie for one of those titles by raising money during charity events, pub crawls and more.

“All of the money raised in this campaign directly benefit(s) leukemia research and patient aid,” Hofmeister said.

During the eight weeks of the campaign, every dollar raised counts as a vote. The man and woman to get the largest number of votes are crowned Man and Woman of the Year.

This year’s Man of the Year title went to Mike Hubbell of Chesterfield. He raised $17,549. The Woman of the Year title went to Gail Chellis of South County. She raised $40,888. The 2010 recipients, Danette Davis and Jerry Holloway, presented the awards.

Hofmeister called all of the candidates the “Magnificent Seven.”

“They have just done a fabulous job,” he said. Centene Corporation sponsored the competition along with support from Genentech and Biogen Idec.

The seven participants who competed in this year’s event did so in honor of Brendan Su of Maryland Heights and Sammy Wyeth of St. Charles. The young people served as the local faces of blood-cancer patients for the campaign this year. Their parents—Jayne and Juan Su, and Krissy and Matt Wyeth—shared their experiences with the audience on Thursday.

Wyeth’s daughter Sammy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on Dec. 27, 2007. She had been sick for a month before her diagnosis.

“Her doctor wanted to get blood work done to see if she needed fluids, and the next thing we knew we were admitted to a hospital for 30 day(s), and the next day she started chemo,” Krissy Wyeth said. Sammy received treatment for 2 1/2 years. Now, she has been off of treatment for a year. She recently turned 7.

Brendan Su’s mother, Jayne, said her son was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer, at 11 months old. Brendan is now in his fifth year after his final chemotherapy treatment

Gail Chellis got involved as a candidate in the competition after being nominated by her friend Maria Ojascastro. The event was something she wanted to do.

“This charity is very near and dear to my heart,” Chellis said. “My father passed away from leukemia in 1996, so I thought that this would be a great way to give back in his honor.” She said she also participated in honor of her friend’s son, who is doing well after being treated for leukemia three years ago.

Nationwide, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is looking to raise $12 million by holding 63 events.

The events are held with several goals in mind. They include treating the sick and educating the public. Other campaigns such as Team in Training and Light the Night Walk also are aimed at raising money and awareness.

Debbie Kerst, executive director of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, said the Gateway Chapter—which covers eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Arkansas—raises about $3.4 million each year. In 2010, the money the group raised went toward providing financial aid to patients, offering co-pay assistance and helping more than 5,000 patients with education, support groups and more.

The Gateway Chapter already had another event scheduled this weekend. An Easter egg hunt in Forest Park, called A Hunt for a Cure, was scheduled to take place at Langenberg Field on Saturday, Kerst said.

Clayton Board of Aldermen Approves Signs Ordinance, Pays Tribute to Alex Berger

Reported by Kareem Johnson

Mayor Linda Goldenstein identified the theme for Tuesday night’s sessions of the Clayton Board of Aldermen in two words: public service.

Over the course of three consecutive sessions, aldermen presented the Crème de la Clayton awards to outstanding members of the community, paid tribute to outgoing alderman Alex Berger and swore in new alderman Mark Winings.

The following is a look at the board’s discussion on a variety of topics.

Economic development

During a study session, city economic developer Gary Carter outlined Clayton’s economic picture. He said sales-tax revenue has improved in the initial months of this year, reversing an overall downward trend since 2008.

Carter outlined the strategies that his office is employing, including business attraction and retention, redevelopment and social media. He played the board a YouTube video produced by his office to advertise space available in the Centene building. So far, the office has produced six such videos, and links to them are available on the city’s website, its Facebook page and the Twitter feed @ClaytonBusiness.

Carter noted that participation during this year’s Clayton Restaurant Week rose to 19, up from 17 in 2010.

Aldermen expressed excitement about the use of social media in marketing Clayton. Ward 3 Alderman Steve Lichtenfeld said he is pleased with what he described as forward-looking statements in Carter’s presentation.

Public Hearing on Amendments to Signs Law

As part of Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen solicited input on a proposed ordinance defining what constitutes a sidewalk sign.

Susan Istenes, Clayton’s director of planning and development, gave a 10-minute presentation outlining the types of signs that are used on sidewalks throughout downtown and answered questions from the aldermen about the measure.

Ward 3 Alderman Alex Berger expressed concern that the ordinance would not be given a trial period as has happened in the past with things such as outdoor dining.  He wanted to know why staff didn’t recommend a trial period of, for example, May 1 to Oct. 1.

“Some of the pictures are really frightening,” Berger said. “Men and women who are pushing strollers will be in our streets.” He said he worries that the legislation would deter from the type of inviting streetscape Clayton is trying cultivate.

Lichtenfeld said there is a lot of inconsistency right now.

“This was a good start to attempt to control the signage, to give some new options,” he said. “We may need some tweaking.”

Aldermen also asked about the degree to which the business community was engaged in the process. Istenes said that representatives from 25 businesses came to the original meeting and that representatives from five businesses showed up for a follow-up meeting.

She also noted that the signs are considered temporary and that permits need to be obtained annually. Repeat violators of the ordinance will not be allowed to obtain permits.

After discussion, the alderman unanimously approved the bill.

In other business, the board reviewed a resolution to approve a contract with Trak Engineering for a fuel-station engineering project. Trak Engineering was selected through a low-bid process. The project will cost approximately $75,500, with a $12,000 authorization to approve change orders, as requested by the city’s public works department. The resolution passed unanimously.

The aldermen also approved a liquor license for Half & Half, a restaurant that will be located at 8135 Maryland Ave.

The board also certified the results of the April 5 municipal election in which Ward 1 Alderman Andrea Maddox-Dallas and Ward 2 Alderman Cynthia Garnholz were elected to second terms and and Mark Winings was elected as a new Ward 3 representative.

They were then sworn in.

Also on Tuesday, outgoing Alderman Alex Berger made closing comments about his nine years of service on the board and his life in Clayton. He talked about his years growing up, saying he talked about Clayton to others while at Drake University.  He said that he even convinced his wife to move by calling it the “Riviera of the Mississippi.”

Fellow aldermen made comments of appreciation for Berger before he performed his final action as an alderman by adjourning the meeting.

After being sworn in, Mark Winings told Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch that he is happy to be a part of the board.

“I look forward to working with the board and serving this community,” Winings said.

Crescent Plaza Soiree Draws Guests to See Sculpture, Businesses

Reported by Kareem Johnson

The Crescent Plaza Sidewalk Soiree held Wednesday evening in Clayton attracted a large crowd of people who showed up to see the unveiling of Gerard Tsutakawa’s sculpture Uzumaki Curve and find out about businesses in the neighborhood.

“It’s a real honor to have such a great piece of art by a renowned artist here, and we’re so glad to add this to our collection of public art,” Mayor Linda Goldstein said.

The block party-style event ran from 5 to 8 p.m. with businesses opening their doors to the public and inviting them inside to see their wares and services, sample food and mingle.

“I think that events like this, where people can sample our food, come in and visit our establishments, just give people an opportunity to get to know us, visit us and have a good time,” said Mary Szyhowski of Stratton’s Café.

Cheri Chod, who owns Blue Moon Activewear, said she was very happy about event.

“The event is fabulous. They’ve worked very hard on this for a year, and we’ve been hearing about it, and this is an absolutely amazing event,” Chod said.

Sarah Umlauf of the Clayton Century Foundation had an information booth set up at the event.

“We are so fortunate that we a beneficiary of tonight’s event,” Umlauf said.

The foundation will receive 10 percent of the proceeds from some of the participating Crescent Plaza restaurants, including The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, St. LouisAraka and Luciano’s Trattoria. The foundation plans to raise $20 million from private sources for the city’s centennial in 2013.

The atmosphere even drew visitors who didn’t know about it beforehand.

Randy Stratton was working on a job at Steve Schankman’s Contemporary Productions and decided to stop by.

“I saw the party, and thought I’d come over and see what it was about,” Stratton said. He found a sidewalk performer dancing with a streamer in an inflated clear ball particularly fascinating.

The night included a performance by The Fabulous Motown Revue.

Linda Crymes’s daughter came to see her daughter perform with the group.

“It’s a very nice event,” Crymes said.

Ellen Gale, executive director of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, said the sculpture will bring art lovers to Crescent Plaza and increase foot traffic.

“We’re very lucky to have it,” she said.

Organizers expect to make the Crescent Plaza Sidewalk Soiree an annual event.

What do you think of the new sculpture in Crescent Plaza? Tell us in the comments.