Remembering Sculptor Carl Milles (1875-1955); 75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza Next May

Aloe Plaza, across Market from Union Station, was many  years in the making. President of the Board of Aldermen (1916-1923) Louis P. Aloe had championed a 1923 bond issue that included razing buildings across from Union Station to create a more attractive way to welcome visitors arriving by train.  Aloe died …

The St. Louis County Municipal Court Racket

Since Michael Brown was shot & killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th, the entire country has learned a dirty little secret: some of our municipalities make big money ticketing & arresting our residents, often minorities. Just as corporations that operate  for-profit prisons seek more prisoners, some of …

More Flordell Hills Police Means More Municipal Revenue

Flordel Hills is one of the many tiny municipalities in St. Louis County, it originated as a residential subdivision: Before Flordell Hills was built in 1939, the area consisted of St. Ann Dairy Farms with corn fields, orchards, chicken houses, barns and buildings for cattle scattered throughout. A creek running …

Upcoming 15th Ward Special Election In Three Weeks; Candidate Forum Monday September 29, 2014

The 15th ward seat on the Board of Aldermen became vacant in July when Jennifer Florida resigned to accept appointment as the Recorder of Deeds, which became vacant after Sharon Carpenter resigned to end investigation into charges of nepotism. Florida was reelected to the Board of Aldermen in the Spring of …

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Remembering Sculptor Carl Milles (1875-1955); 75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza Next May

Aloe Plaza, across Market from Union Station, was many  years in the making. President of the Board of Aldermen (1916-1923) Louis P. Aloe had championed a 1923 bond issue that included razing buildings across from Union Station to create a more attractive way to welcome visitors arriving by train.  Aloe died in 1929 but his widow continued his vision, from the city’s former website on Aloe Plaza:

Edith Aloe, Louis P. Aloe’s widow, became acquainted with the work of the Swedish sculptor, Carl Milles, at an exhibition of modern art held by the St. Louis League of Women Voters in 1930. The idea of commissioning Milles to build a fountain in Aloe Plaza grew out of her enthusiasm for his work.

But the country was in the middle of the Depression so her idea was put on hold until January 1936 when Mrs. Aloe gave a dinner in her home for the sculptor,Carl Milles, and members of the St. Louis Art Commission. She officially presented her check for $12,500.

The City signed a contract with Milles in 1936. Milles designed and cast the bronze statues for the fountain in his studio at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook, Michigan. The fountain was completed in November 1939, but remained veiled until its dedication on May 11, 1940 before a crowd of 3,000 persons.

The fountain, originally named “The Wedding of the Rivers,” depicts the union of the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers, represented by the two central figures. Accompanying the two main figures and forming a wedding procession are 17 water spirits, symbolic of the smaller streams that empty into the two major rivers.

An uproar arose over the nudity of the male figure, reprenting the Mississippi River and the female figure, the Missouri River. In deference to the criticism, the name of the fountain was changed to ,”The Meeting of the Waters.” (PDF of website on Scribd)

Milles was in his early 60s when we was commissioned by St. Louis.

The former website listed the total cost of Aloe Plaza at $225,000, broken down as follows:

  • Fountains: $150,000
  • Statues: $60,000
  • Lighting: $12,000
  • Landscaping: $3,000
  • Tulips: $200

The cost of the tulips wasn’t included in the total. Not listed was the cost to acquire the land and raze the buildings.

Carl Milles, date unknown, Source: findagrave.com, click to view
Carl Milles, date unknown, Source: findagrave.com, click to view his memorial
Carl Milles' 'Meeting of the Waters' is the focal point of Aloe Plaza
Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza

Milles died on this day in 1955 — 59 years ago.

May 11, 2015 will mark 75 years since Aloe Plaza was first dedicated and ‘Meeting of the Waters’ unveiled. Our IKEA store won’t be open yet, but perhaps the Swedish retailer can be involved in a celebration.

— Steve Patterson

The St. Louis County Municipal Court Racket

Since Michael Brown was shot & killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th, the entire country has learned a dirty little secret: some of our municipalities make big money ticketing & arresting our residents, often minorities. Just as corporations that operate  for-profit prisons seek more prisoners, some of the 90 unsustainable municipalities within St. Louis County need to stop people driving through their tiny municipal borders to keep the municipal coffers full:

Unfortunately, for many of the poorest citizens of the region, the municipal courts and police departments inflict a kind of low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay without a meaningful inquiry into whether an individual has the means to pay. (ArchCity Defenders: Municipal Courts White Paper)

I recommend reading all 37 pages of the ArchCity Defenders: Municipal Courts White Paper, it’s an eye-opener! They looked at 60 courts and found “approximately thirty of those courts did engage in at least one of these [illegal and harmful] practices.” The report focuses on the three “chronic offenders”: Bel-Ridge, Florissant, and…Ferguson.

A personal friend has two citations from Vinita Park, population 1880, but the fine amounts aren’t on the citations he was issued. Neither of his citations were for speeding.

The fine amount doesn't appear on the citation, note is it online. Nobody at the company in Georgia knows the fine amounts either.
The fine amount doesn’t appear on the citation, note is it online. Nobody at the company in Georgia knows the fine amounts either. You’ve got to show up in court or call to get the amount to pay.

Logging online and entering your citation number doesn’t bring up the fine amount either, you must know it to enter and pay it. Late fees, of an unknown amount, are added. A bench warrant is issued if you miss the court date.  My friend finally reached a person by phone at Vinita Park City Hall that could tell him the amounts. Earlier calls went unanswered.

Yesterday I posted about the Flordell Hills, pop 822, city website which doesn’t list the elected officials, but has a detailed court section accepting online payments.  Their new police force begins October 1st.

More affluent municipalities, such as Chesterfield, don’t need to use such tactics to survive financially.  Their residents & visitors would never tolerate the injustices.

The poor in the region live in or drive through these predatory municipalities daily. Ferguson is taking steps toward change.

— Steve Patterson

More Flordell Hills Police Means More Municipal Revenue

September 17, 2014 Featured, St. Louis County 2 Comments

Flordel Hills is one of the many tiny municipalities in St. Louis County, it originated as a residential subdivision:

Before Flordell Hills was built in 1939, the area consisted of St. Ann Dairy Farms with corn fields, orchards, chicken houses, barns and buildings for cattle scattered throughout. A creek running under our area going out over Jennings Station Road, ran parallel to West Florissant and College where there was a foot bridge.

Norm Schuermann and Co. initiated construction of our homes in 1939, starting at Greenhaven. They came in three sizes selling for approximately $3,000 to $3,350. Some say the basements were dug out by mule teams and others remember tractors with metal wheels being used. We now have 360 homes and a population of approximately 950. Mr. Schuermann also agreed to enclose the ditch at Greendale Park (now Greenhaven) if we secured enough insurance policies from our residents for his insurance business. We got the policies and park too. The Improvement Association used the rocks from the ditch construction and formed the entrance columns on Greendale Drive.  (Flordell Hills history)

It was incorporated in 1945, prompting the incorporation of Jennings the following year:

By 1946, north St. Louis City and County were booming with plenty of blue-collar jobs and convenient bus transportation. The decision to incorporate the communities of Jennings, Jenwood, and Woodland occurred after the nearby smaller communities of Country Club Hills and Flordell Hills incorporated in 1943 and 1945, respectively. Both cities snapped up portions of commercial property on West Florissant Avenue. (Jennings history)

How tiny is Flordell Hills? Less than half the size of the I-70/I-170 interchange I posted about last week!

Two weeks from today Flordel Hills will have its own police force.

Flordell Hills police car
Flordell Hills police car

I wanted to know more about Flordell Hills so I started at the municipal website, flordell.com

Nowhere does the website list the names of the mayor or other elected officials. The municipal court tab, however, is very detailed. Click image to view live website.
Nowhere does the website list the names of the mayor or other elected officials. The municipal court tab, however, is very detailed. Click image to view live website.

 

Here’s the text under the Municipal Court about:

About the Program
On March xx, 2011, the Board of Alderman of the City of Flordell Hills, Missouri passed Ordinance No. xx-xxxx amending the Flordell Municipal Code of Ordinance by adding a new section establishing the infraction of “violation of traffic safety on roadways” and the automatic traffic enforcement regulations in the City of Flordell Hills.

The Ordinance authorizes the use of automated speed enforcement to improve public safety by controlling speeds in enforced zones, improving traffic flows and reducing speed-related accidents.

The Ordinance can be reviewed by clicking on this link (click here) to the City of Flordell Hills Code.

Automated speed enforcement automatically detects, photographs, and identifies vehicles exceeding the speed limit and then issues violation notices to the registered owners of those vehicles via mail.

Speeding is a major cause of all vehicle crashes and speed enforcement is a constant priority for ensuring the public safety. Fewer vehicle crashes reduce the need for other public resources such as first responders and hospital emergency room resources. Automated traffic enforcement systems are being used in safety-minded communities across the globe. Automated enforcement systems are recommended by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The International Association of Chiefs of Police, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, The Federal Highway Administration and The American Automobile Association.

City of Flordell Hills police officers already use electronic speed-enforcement methods, such as radar, to monitor drivers and issue tickets to speeders. This has proven to be effective in reducing vehicle accidents and improving public safety and public officer safety.

Better safety is our primary traffic-control goal. Our objective is to improve the long-term behavior of drivers in the Flordell Hills community, which in turn improves the safety of our citizens and visitors to our community.

Please obey speed limits and drive safely.

Really? The “click here” link isn’t a link at all. March xx, 2011? Ordinance No. xx-xxxx? At least I know they have a Board of Aldermen rather than a city council. I bet it has x number of members representing x wards…

I took the #74 MetroBus to visit Flordell Hills, the main intersection is W. Florissant & Jennings Station Rd, click image for map
I took the #74 MetroBus to visit Flordell Hills, the main intersection is W. Florissant & Jennings Station Rd, click image for map
The Flordell Hills city hall is the building on the left. The cannon isn't militarization, it's a WWII memorial.
The Flordell Hills city hall is the building on the left. The cannon isn’t militarization, it’s a WWII memorial.

More on the memorial:

The cannon at Memorial Park is a WWI Howitzer than came from France with the approval of President Roosevelt. The cannon was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1946, to the men of Flordell Hills who lost their lives in WW2. Sixteen to twenty men volunteered to move the cannon from the boxcar on the tracks to Memorial Park. In the process it got away from them and nearly hit a building, but they managed to get the cannon in its present locations without further mishap. A band and parade were on hand for the dedication. In 1949 the cannon was supported by jacks encased in cement to keep the weight off the tires. (Flordell Hills parks

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: Starting Oct 1st the north county suburb of Flordell Hills, pop 822, will have its own police force again. Thoughts:

  1. More officers means more revenue 32 [50.79%]
  2. Other: 12 [19.05%]
    1. Another example of why consolidation is needed
    2. Dissolve the counties’ police forces and local gov’ts and create one unity gov
    3. There should be only two police departments STL city & STL county
    4. stupid, disband town and police force, become county
    5. Another example of bureaucratic overload — mismanagement to the max
    6. Terrible
    7. Asinine ploy to get revenue
    8. They’ll lose money, get worse protection
    9. More opportunities for patronage placements!
    10. Sounds unnecessary
    11. Money grab
    12. contract with the county police!
  3. Won’t be substantially different than current protection from neighboring Country Club Hills 11 [17.46%]
  4. Unsure/No Opinion 5 [7.94%]
  5. They’ve decided to provide better police coverage for the community 3 [4.76%]

The Flordell Hills Police Department does have a Facebook page.

St. Louis County needs less police departments, municipalities, etc. Tomorrow I’ll expand on this subject.

— Steve Patterson

Upcoming 15th Ward Special Election In Three Weeks; Candidate Forum Monday September 29, 2014

A candidate forum will be held on Monday September 29, 2014 at the Carpenter Library, 7pm
A candidate forum will be held on Monday September 29, 2014 at the Carpenter Library, 7pm

The 15th ward seat on the Board of Aldermen became vacant in July when Jennifer Florida resigned to accept appointment as the Recorder of Deeds, which became vacant after Sharon Carpenter resigned to end investigation into charges of nepotism. Florida was reelected to the Board of Aldermen in the Spring of 2013. Now voters in the 15th ward will return to the polls next month or elect a new alderman.

Here are the four candidates, in reverse ballot order:

Rhonda Smythe

To my knowledge, the only one of the four I’ve met in person. I met Smythe through her work at Trailnet. As an independent candidate, Smythe submitted at least 106 signatures from valid 15th ward voters to be on the ballot.

Megan Ellyia Green

Green also gathered & submitted signatures to be on the ballot.

Joshua D. Simpson

  • Website: unknown
  • Facebook Page: unknown
  • Twitter: unknown

I was unable to find online information on this candidate or how the GOP nominated him. I did find the St. Louis Republican Central Committee website and Facebook page, no mention of Simpson on either.

Missy Pinkerton-McDaniel

Democratic Committeeman Tod A. Martin & nominated McDaniel, the Committeewoman, for the ballot.

So there are the four individuals seeking to become the next alderman representing the 15th ward. If you’re a registered voter in the 15th ward I urge you to look into all four and consider attending the upcoming candidate forum on Monday September 29, 2014. 7pm @ Carpenter Library, lower level, 3309 S. Grand

The special election is in three weeks, Tuesday October 7, 2014.

— Steve Patterson

Light Pollution Negatively Impacts Citygarden at Night

September 15, 2014 Downtown, Featured, Parks 4 Comments

Busy weekend, the post I’d planned for today will appear later this week. Today I thought I’d share a recent pic from Citygarden.

Citygarden on September 8, 2014 @ 8pm
Citygarden on September 8, 2014 @ 8pm

The bright light on the right is the new Saint Louis University School of Law. I tend to take photos of Citygarden this direction, the other direction the Peabody sign on the Gateway One building is too bright. When Citygarden first opened in 2009 the Peabody name wasn’t on the building, the park was much more pleasant at night. Now the signage is overpowering.

For a future post I’ll try to get a decent nighttime shot to illiterate my point, to contrast with older photos from before the sign went up on the building.

— Steve Patterson

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Poll: What Size Purchase Would You Use Cash Verses Plastic (Debit/Credit)?

September 14, 2014 Featured, Weekly Poll 1 Comment
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

There have been recent reports on the use of cash vs plastic, along with more data breaches at major retailers, and movement away from the magnetic credit card readers. This week I want to see at what point readers use cash or plastic for purchases.

Provided answers include options for those who use plastic almost exclusively, those who use plastic almost exclusively, four monetary tiers, and an unsure.  The poll is in the right sidebar, the answers are presented in random order.

On Wednesday the 24th I’ll post about the reports on cash vs plastic, magnetic readers and the technology that may replace them.

— Steve Patterson

 

Land Hogs: Urban Highways

Urban interstate highways, especially their interchanges, a major land hogs. The other day on MetroLink heading to Lambert Airport the extent became very visible.

The EB I-70 ramp onto NB I-170
The EB I-70 ramp onto NB I-170
Traffic from I-170 merging with WB I-70
Traffic from I-170 merging with WB I-70
Using Google Maps I calculate this interchange consumes 154 acres, about 1/4 of a square mile
Using Google Maps I calculate this interchange consumes 154 acres, about 1/4 of a square mile

One quarter of a square mile isn’t much, is it?  At current density levels this would be enough to house:

  • 475 people (St. Louis County)
  • 1,200 (St. Louis City)
  • 2,845 (Chicago)
  • 17,000 (Manhattan, NYC)

Urban highways reduce overall density, place barriers that further separate us. I’m not saying we change this particular interchange, just recognize what highways do to urbanized areas (vs rural).

— Steve Patterson

Temporary Barriers Still Surround The Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse In Downtown St. Louis

Fourteen years ago today the new Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse opened in downtown St. Louis, a year later was the terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  The 9/11 attack meant immediate security changes around the year-old courthouse, these temporary fixes remain with us today. The big change involved Jersey barriers — lots of them.

Looking north on 11th toward  Walnut
Looking north on 11th toward Walnut you see the west side drop-off area is blocked
Looking West on Clark toward 11th
Looking West on Clark toward 11th, at right you can see concrete benches designed to act as barriers.

This courthouse was designed well after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, yet despite the built-in efforts to protect the building, the Jersey barriers have been in place for all but the first year.  I’d like to see a different solution, something that looks less temporary.

— Steve Patterson

Future Mainstream Automotive Tech, Poll Results

The first hybrid sold in America? If you said the Toyota Prius you’d be be wrong. Seven months before the Prius went on sale in the US, Honda introduced the 2-seat 3-door 3-cylinder Insight hybrid in December 1999.

The first generation Honda Insight
The first generation Honda Insight, first shown at the 1997 Tokyo auto show, went on sale in the US in December 1999. Click image to view the Wikipedia entry.

For perspective, in 1999 GM produced 457 of the second generation EV1s. In 2000 Toyota brought the first generation Prius to America, a compact 4-door sedan. Hybrids were a niche product.

The first generation Toyota Prius
The first generation Toyota Prius was a compact, later generations were mid-sized.

The documentary Who Killed the Electric Car was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006. However, by 2011:

The price premium for a hybrid compared to a similar conventional car is getting whittled down, in some cases to almost nothing–making fuel efficiency and low emissions increasingly a no-compromise affair. New affordable hybrid sedans, and the wider selection of a hybrid system as an option in a mainstream vehicle, are expected to at least double hybrid market share in the next five years, from about 2.5 percent in 2011 to 15 percent or higher in the next 10 to 15 years. That means millions of new hybrids on the road and a growing number of choices for consumers. (Hybrid Cars Go Mainstream)

The 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has the starting same price as the conventional model, $35,190. Hybrids, though not the majority, are now mainstream. Auto manufacturers use hybrid models to meet increasingly tough CAFE standards. Plug-in hybrids & electrics haven’t reached this level —  yet.  Which brings us to the results from last week’s poll:

Q: Which of the following, if any, will be mainstream within 20 years (pick up to 4)

  1. Electric vehicles 49 [34.51%]
  2. Plug-in hybrid vehicles 36 [25.35%]
  3. Self-driving vehicles 26 [18.31%]
  4. Fuel cell vehicles 18 [12.68%]
  5. None within 20 years 7 [4.93%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 6 [4.23%]

I find the answers a bit confusing, more people think electrics will become mainstream than plug-in hybrids. The plug-in hybrid is often the stepping stone between a hybrid and full electrics — both for manufacturers and consumers. In the last 15 years hybrid/electric tech has come a long way, reflected in sales:

Sales of all electrified cars totaled 408,516 vehicles between January and August, down just a tick from the 408,694 vehicles sold during the same period last year.

Of that total, the bigger percentage gain came in plug-in hybrids, which grew from 28,241 vehicles sold to 40,748. Battery-powered EVs — with no gas engine at all — also grew, from 29,917 vehicles sold to 40,349.

But traditional hybrid sales fell from 350,530 vehicles from January to August last year to 327,418 during the same period in 2014.

The market share for electrified vehicles also fell. So far this year, they account for 3.66% of all vehicles sold, down from 3.84% for the same period a year ago. (Electrified car sales stall as buyers back away from hybrids)

As sales increase pieces will decrease, cheaper batteries will drive more sales:

The Gigafactory’s purpose is to streamline production of battery packs and bring down their cost, and subsequently the cost of electric cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the plant will be vital to the success of the Model 3, the brand’s upcoming lower-priced EV sedan. The Tesla Model S and Model X SUV, due later this year, will also benefit from the Gigafactory eventually, as the plant is expected to cut battery pack costs by at least 30 percent. (Tesla Chooses Nevada as Site for Gigafactory)

Ok, so Tesla will sell a less expensive model. What about the mass market?

Toyota and Tesla have been working together to produce battery packs and motors for the electrified RAV4 EV, but with the program soon coming to a close, the automakers are revealing they’re not ready to go their separate ways. The Japanese automaker has been vocal about wanting to continue working with the electric car company, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently revealed he’d like to see the same thing. (Musk: Tesla, Toyota Could Join Forces Again in Next Few Years)

Hard to say where we’ll be with plug-in hybrids & electric vehicles 20 years from now, but I think both will be mainstream within 15 years. Self-driving cars and fuel cell vehicles? I’m still not convinced. Here too we’re seeing repaid adoption:

The age of the self-driving car may soon be upon us. General Motors CEO Mary Barra revealed that we’ll start seeing semi-autonomous technologies in certain Cadillac models in as little as two years. (GM Semi-Autonomous Tech to Debut on All-New 2017 Cadillac Model)

Also see Entire Toyota Lineup to Feature Pre-Collision Tech by 2017.

Fuel cell vehicles are electric cars that generate electricity on-board rather than through the grid, solar, etc. Of the four I think fuel cells have the least chance of becoming mainstream in 20 years.None of us knows for sure, we’ll just have to revisit this issue in the future.

— Steve Patterson

East-West Gateway’s ‘Great Streets’ Examined W. Florissant In Jennings, Ferguson, & Dellwood

Looking South on W. Florissant in Dellwood, MO
Looking South on W. Florissant in Dellwood, MO

A reader comment on West Florissant Ave Part 2: QuikTrip to Chambers Rd alerted me to the fact the Great Streets Initiative, through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, had recently looked at West Florissant:

Vision Statement:
The Vision for West Florissant Avenue comes from community and stakeholder input received through multi-faceted outreach efforts. These have included public workshops and virtual walking tours, interviews with community leaders, input from the Community Committee and Technical Advisory Committee, an Agency workshop, and an online survey and mapping tool. The Vision Statement has distilled this community and stakeholder input, with the most significant community values expressed as how the corridor should look, feel, and contribute to the community’s future. 

Project Area:
The West Florissant Avenue Great Streets Project area is located in North St. Louis County, within the cities of Ferguson and Dellwood (Map 1.1). The Project area extends for approximately 2.6 miles, beginning at I-270 in the north and continuing to the East-West rail line at Emerson Electric headquarters and Buzz Westfall Plaza in the south (Maps 1.2 and 1.3; note change in map orientation). Th e Project area includes parcels that front the corridor, plus additional parcels along the key intersecting streets of Pershall Road and Chambers Road. Th e street corridor itself is owned and maintained by St. Louis County. Th e Project area parcels are about evenly divided between the cities of Ferguson and Dellwood; a few parcels also fall within Jennings city limits at the southeast end of the corridor. Several key landmarks and retail centers are located within or near the Project area. Dellwood City Hall is near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Chambers Road. The Project area also includes Dellwood Park and Dellwood Recreation Center. St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley Campus is just outside the northwest end. In addition to these landmarks, there are 160 acres of open space or park within one mile of the Project area, including open space associated with Maline Creek. A major shopping center is at the northern end of the corridor, with access to I-270. Just outside the southern end of the Project area, Buzz Westfall Plaza is another major retail center. The West Florissant Avenue corridor has been designed primarily to serve motorized vehicles, which is reinforced by the direct access to and from I-270 the road provides. The corridor is served by Metro Transit bus route #74, one of the most heavily-used lines in the system, and a future transit center is planned for Pershall Road in the northeast part of the Project area; its estimated completion date is in 2015. While sidewalks are present, many other pedestrian amenities are not, and the corridor is not pedestrian-friendly. The corridor currently does not have designated bicycle facilities, and is little used by bicyclists. As communities take an increasingly holistic view of streets and incorporate more of these Great Streets principles, our streets will serve multiple functions and become better places.

The supporting documents are on their West Florissant page, I’ve uploaded each to Scribd for quick reference:

The collection of the above can be viewed here.

I hope to dig into these documents soon, but I’m happy to know so much effort has already gone into planning for a better W. Florissant!

— Steve Patterson

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