Maria Altman

Reporter/Newscaster

Altman came to St. Louis Public Radio from Dallas where she hosted All Things Considered and reported north Texas news at KERA. Altman also spent several years in Illinois: first in Chicago where she interned at WBEZ; then as the Morning Edition host at WSIU in Carbondale; and finally in Springfield, where she earned her graduate degree and covered the legislature for Illinois Public Radio.

A native Iowan, Altman earned her bachelors degree in journalism at the University of Iowa. She remains a devoted Hawkeye. In her free time, Altman likes hiking, swing dancing, and searching for the perfect diner.

Ways to Connect

The same day TechShop announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing all locations, a St. Louis native decided to step in to save the local makerspace.

Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of Square and Third Degree Glass Factory, as well as the founder of LaunchCode, made a couple of phone calls.

TechShop offered a cutting edge workshop for entrepreneurs making prototypes or those who just wanted to make stuff.

Now the St. Louis location and nine others around the country are closed. TechShop announced on Wednesday it’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The San Francisco-based company came to St. Louis in 2016. The maker’s space had a prime location in the innovation district Cortex in a new, 60,000-square-foot building at 4260 Forest Park Ave.

“It was a surprise to us,” said Dennis Lower, president and CEO of Cortex.

World Wide Technology, a privately-held company, has opened its new headquarters in Maryland Heights.

And the seven-story building is filled with cutting-edge technology.

CEO Jim Kavanaugh points to a six-foot iPhone that sits in one of the briefing rooms.

“That’s actually a working iPhone,” he said. “So when we do application development work, we may build it and show it on that iPhone that’s literally the size of a person.”

A conversation has been sparked in Missouri about how electricity will be generated, stored and consumed in the future.

The Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, is looking for input on what are known as “distributed energy resources” and will hold a workshop later this month in Jefferson City. The Commission’s Staff Director Natelle Dietrich admits the term is a bit of a catch-all.

The Chinese investor Fosun Group announced the investment in the financial tech company BondIT on Friday.

BondIT, based in Israel, has created a digital product to help investors in the bond market. The company took part in the St. Louis-based seed investor and accelerator SixThirty last year.

SixThirty Managing Partner Atul Kamra said it’s the latest company to attract follow-on funding.

AT&T is reaching out to St. Louis’ tech startup community with a new Open Source Lab.

The company is providing about $70,000 worth of servers, technology services and funding to create the lab, which will be located at the tech incubator T-REX in downtown St. Louis.

Jomo Castro, AT&T's regional director of external affairs, said it will allow for collaboration between startups, researchers and corporations.

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

The protests in St. Louis over the last three weeks have topped the news almost daily.

Even for those who stay up on what’s happening, there may be questions about how this came to pass again, just three years after race-related protests in Ferguson.

Delving into St. Louis’ history of racial division and relations between police and black people can seem overwhelming. St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman set out to make a reading list with recommendations from people who are used to being asked.

The St. Louis-based, non-profit group, GlobalHack has announced the focus for its seventh hackathon a full year ahead of the event.

GlobalHack VII attendees will build software solutions to help meet challenges facing foreign-born and refugee communities in St. Louis. The teams will compete for $100,000 in cash prizes at the Oct. 12-14, 2018 event.

Executive Director Matt Menietti said the non-profit group wanted to build relationships with stakeholders and get a sense of what’s needed.

A St. Louis accelerator is partnering with the South Korean government to bring cyber security startups.

SixThirty CYBER is bringing five South Korean startups to St. Louis early next month to help further develop their technologies and introduce them to those in the cyber security field. The accelerator invests $250,000 annually into cyber security startups and provides mentoring and networking opportunities.

Jay De Long, general partner, said this program is unique; instead of investing in the companies, the accelerator is working with the government of South Korea.

Two things strike you when you meet Col. John Howard.

He’s very tall: 6’4.” Yet despite his height and the uniform, he comes across as very down-to-earth.

Howard is the new commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base. He oversees about 3,000 personnel who provide airlift for senior leaders, aeromedical evacuations and air refueling. The wing also operates Scott Air Force, making Howard akin to a mayor.

Updated at 9:25 p.m. with details from protest — Activists put forth an updated list of demands Thursday, including that new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson resign. But Thomas Harvey, the head of ArchCity Defenders, told St. Louis Public Radio that the main thing protesters want is simple: “Stop killing us.”

Later in the evening, a group of protesters returned to Washington Avenue, close to where mass arrests were made on Sept. 17, sparking three lawsuits against the city. After protesters surrounded a police car for a few minutes, yelling at the officers inside, a line of police in riot gear showed up. The group eventually moved on, and the protest ended after about two hours, with no arrests.

A few more details are emerging related to the city's consideration of whether to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Urban Issues held a hearing in Clayton on Wednesday regarding airport privatization. Linda Martinez, who is Mayor Lyda Krewson’s deputy mayor of development, and airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebrugge took questions from the committee.

Marjorie Theodore and her son were among protesters at the St. Louis Galleria on Saturday.

She said the protest was just wrapping up and they were celebrating with chants and clapping when she said she heard something garbled. Within seconds Theodore said a whistle blew and police moved in on the protesters. Her 33-year-old son was among the first arrested.

“Clearly the police took a peaceful situation and committed violence on it,” she said. “That would be called a police riot and the violence continued and continued.”

The numbers aren’t in yet, but recent protests over the Jason Stockley verdict are clearly hitting the St. Louis region financially.

Two major concerts, U2 at the Dome at America’s Center and Ed Sheeran at Scottrade Center, were canceled on Saturday and Sunday. That meant a combined 100,000 concertgoers who were not in downtown St. Louis.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says the region is planning to make a “competitive bid” to bring Amazon’s second headquarters here.

The company said Thursday that it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. It plans to stay in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the new space will be "a full equal" of its current home, said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with details from rally — Several elected officials across Missouri endorsed an effort Monday to raise the state's minimum wage. Their backing came the same day that St. Louis' $10-an-hour minimum wage, in effect since May 5, dropped to $7.70 an hour due to a new state law. 

The St. Louis Cardinals held their first Pride Night at Busch Stadium on Friday.

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church had promised a protest and delivered a small one. Six church members stood across from the stadium at Clark St. and Broadway Ave. before the game holding up signs.

But the anti-LGBTQ protest was hard to notice behind the sea of counterprotesters standing in front of them.

Amazon began capturing state sales tax for purchases in Missouri this year.

The voluntary move preceded the online retailer’s announcement in July that it would open a distribution center in Hazelwood. Without a physical presence in the state, many online retailers don’t charge a state tax to Missouri customers.

Instead, the onus is put on consumers.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found no trace of asbestos near the Clemens House in north St. Louis, according to city officials.

The mansion, built by Mark Twain’s uncle in 1860, burned on July 12, causing some residents to be concerned about asbestos contamination. The St. Louis Health Department contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which began putting monitors up in the area one week later.

Estie Cruz-Curoe knows black beans.

The Cuban native came to the United States in the early 1960s and grew up in Miami, where her mother added a Cuban mix of spices to canned black beans. But when Cruz-Curoe moved to the Midwest as an adult, she could no longer find the right black beans.

Seven startup companies are taking part in the inaugural Ameren Accelerator program, which began this week in the St. Louis innovation district Cortex.

Ameren Corporation CEO and President Warner Baxter said bringing the utility together with startups will spur innovation that will ultimately help customers.

“They’re going to bring some technologies that we’re going to be able to study to see how we can do things around energy efficiency, how we can make the grid smarter, how we can make the grid more secure,” Baxter said.

A grass-roots effort to clean up some north St. Louis neighborhoods is holding an event this weekend.

Clean Sweep will tackle the Hamilton Heights and Wells Goodfellow neighborhoods and parts of the city of Pagedale, in St. Louis County, on Saturday. Better Family Life and Habitat for Humanity organized the effort, the second such clean-up event.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport doesn’t have the crowded terminals of a hub, but things have been looking up.

Last year, nearly 14 million passengers came through the airport, a 10 percent increase over 2016 and the most passengers since 2008.

“We’re pretty pleased with the direction,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

The numbers poured in at a recent Airport Commission meeting.

A report from a national organization is recognizing BioSTL as a model for other cities looking to build on their own industrial and research strengths.

The Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities’ report “Building Strong Clusters for Strong Urban Economies” focuses on four case studies from cities around the country.

The steel gray KC-135 Stratotankers are massive.

The Boeing jets, first deployed way back in 1956, can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo with the thrust of four turbofan engines.

The plane is also capable of carrying 33,000 gallons of fuel and off-loading it in mid-air.

That’s the primary mission of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing, assigned to Scott Air Force Base, near Belleville.

MetroLink trains whisked by in the background as officials gathered to break ground on a new light rail station in the Cortex Innovation District.

The new $12.6 million station will be located on the east side of Boyle Ave. It’s expected to be completed in about a year.

Cortex President and CEO Dennis Lower said having a stop will allow the district’s 4,500 employees to get to work without cars and allow business partners to come straight from the airport.

“All of that is important with the technology community and that we work with every day,” Lower said.

Tax incentives in St. Louis have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, both from within city government and among citizens' groups.

Now the St. Louis Development Corporation, the agency that recommends whether a development should receive the city’s help, is proposing some reforms.

Updated with TIF Commission's vote Wednesday

A $26 million apartment building project has received the first round of approval for tax incentives from the city of St. Louis.

The Tax Increment Financing Commission approved a $3.8 million TIF for the project at Clayton Ave. and Graham St. on Wednesday. 

The International Institute of St. Louis is seeking ambassadors of sorts.

The organization that provides integration services for more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees each year is recruiting volunteers to help spread the word about how those foreign-born residents benefit the community.

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