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What Happened Last Week, November 29, 2021

What Happened Last Week, November 29, 2021

Each week, we do our best to help you stay on top of the news in the County. We're thrilled that so many people find this newsletter a useful resource! (Please share with your friends, who can sign up here: https://bit.ly/3nijXBs).

NOTE: Because we have new subscribers each week (welcome!) we will continue to highlight some items that have appeared in past issues. However, to make it easier for those of you who read What Happened Last Week each week (hello!) we will indicate new or edited content with two asterisks ** and a highlight. We hope that's helpful!

Here are a few reminders, and then we'll turn to this week's updates. (Plus: Read to the end for photos of this week's Pets of the Week, and our Frequently Asked Questions segment!)

General Reminders:
Live Briefings: Dr. Page's press briefings are broadcast live on his County Executive facebook page; they are generally held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30am. (https://www.facebook.com/CountyExecutiveSamPage/). See past briefings here: https://bit.ly/3l7ic9T.

County Council Meeting: The St. Louis County Council holds its meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays; during that meeting Dr. Sam gives his weekly County Executive Report. You can now attend the meeting in person at 41 S. Central Avenue, or watch online. To speak during the public forum portion of the meeting, you must sign up outside of the chamber doors from 6-6:28 p.m. on the date of the meeting. All Council meetings are streamed exclusively to BoxCast. Members of the public can access the stream at https://boxcast.tv/channel/wdeojvfau9uqc9qt6k8z.

This Week's Updates

**Statement regarding mask orders: Last week, an elected state court judge in Cole County (Jefferson City) ruled that local health orders issued during a pandemic are not valid. The impact that order will have on the County is not clear. Regardless, some have intimated this ruling is somehow a victory – and that local health orders requiring people to wear masks in public, indoor environments during an airborne pandemic that has killed over 5 million people worldwide and 2,616 St. Louis Countians are overly burdensome and restrictive.

The advice being given by world, national, state, and local health experts is the same: masks reduce the spread of this deadly and disabling airborne virus, and keep you and the rest of the community safer. You should wear them when you are in public, indoor spaces, especially when crowded.

We understand that twenty months into the pandemic, nerves are frayed and we all want to know when we can get to a place that feels “normal.”

But minimizing the death and disability caused by this virus – whether for political or personal benefit – needs to stop. COVID is a serious disease that must be taken seriously. Dr. Page does not take the deaths of 2,616 St. Louis Countians lightly, and does not accept the long-term suffering of the 10-30% of people who acquire COVID that go on to develop Post Acute Covid Sequelae (PASC) as inevitable. We doubt you do, either. We believe focusing on the largest public health crisis our country, and this County, has seen in the last 100 years is good leadership; fighting public health efforts targeting data-proven methods to slow transmission within our community is not.

**County, City Sign $790 Million Rams Settlement Agreement: On November 24, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority signed a $790 million agreement with Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the National Football League to settle a lawsuit over the Ram's 2016 relocation to Los Angeles.

In a joint statement, Dr. Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones stated: “This historic agreement closes a long chapter for our region, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for our communities while avoiding the uncertainty of the trial and appellate process. The City, County, and STLRSA are still determining how settlement funds will be allocated. We will provide more updates as they become available.”

**This Week's Key County Council Votes: Each week the County Council votes on legislation that impacts all of our lives. We know it's often hard to attend or watch the Tuesday night meetings, and difficult to keep up with the votes that are being made. We hope highlighting a few key votes each week will be helpful! Note that you can see what's on the agenda at the Council's website here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-government/county-council/meeting-portal/ Here's what happened last Tuesday:

Passing Justice Services Hourly Raises: 

On Tuesday, the St. Louis County Council unanimously voted to fast-track and approve $5.1 million in COVID-19 recovery funds to issue pay raises – immediately – for nearly 300 hourly frontline jail workers. The bill provides for a $3/hour pay raise through 2024. Although the bill was not scheduled to be finally approved for at least another week, after hearing dramatic and emotional testimony from corrections officers, Councilwoman Clancy asked to fasttrack the bill and asked if anything prevented expediting it. A number of questions from fellow councilmembers arose, leading the Council to call back Acting Jail Director Scott Anders to answer a few final questions. With their questions having been answered, the Council unanimously voted for the bill’s final passage.

Dr. Page immediately signed it into law. Dr. Page was grateful for the Council's action in fast-tracking this long-overdue legislation. Dr. Page had requested raises for hourly Justice Services employees to be part of the ARPA funding priorities of the Council back in July. (See https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/st-louis-county-american-rescue-plan-act-funds/63-10d259ce-bee2-4402-a862-e3be705020ff)

Passing Grant Funds: At this week's meeting, the Council accepted $141,114 in grant funds from the 2021 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. According to Acting Police Chief Gregory, this grant program is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and funds will be used to purchase 42 mobile data terminals for patrol vehicles to enhance officer safety and service to the citizens of St. Louis County. The terminals are used by patrol officers to receive requests for service,to check for arrest warrants on individuals,to check the registration of vehicles, and to utilize several other Department written applications.

Approving Appointees: The Council approved the following appointees that Dr. Page appointed earlier this year:

To the Housing Resources Commission: 

Ms. Tamiko Armstead (Florissant) offers over 20 years of leadership experience, including a strategic role in a Fortune 500 company and as CEO of the Nation’s first co-ed predominantly African American Catholic prep high school (Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School). She currently serves as the President for the school located in a diverse socio-economic community. Ms. Armstead is a pillar of the St. Louis community and has a deep passion for housing-related issues. She has an Executive MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and a BA in Political Science from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH. (See https://stlouisco.civicweb.net/document/40333/10.05.21~OC-CountyExec_zzApptHRC.pdf?handle=17CBF070327443B892168AF93691E5D5)

To the Commission on Human Relations: 

Mr. Dwayne T. James, PE (Ferguson), has been a Ferguson resident since 1997 and a resident of North County for most of his life. He graduated from Normandy Senior High and received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas and his Master of Science in civil engineering from The University of Missouri- Rolla. Mr. James is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Education from the University of Missouri—St. Louis. He has been recognized for his accomplishments with several awards including the 2018 YMCA Community Heroes Award of Excellence, the 2017 KU Black Alumni Leaders and Innovators Award, the 2013 North County Inc. Public Service Award, the 2009 Earth Dance Farms Community Activist Mission Award, the 2008 North County Inc. 30 Leaders in their Thirties Award, and the 2002 “Yes I Can” Special Achiever Award from the St. Louis Sentinel Newspaper.

Dr. Ekin Pellegrini (Chesterfield) Associate Professor of Global Leadershipand Management, Director of Executive Education, and Co- Director of the Doctor of Business Administration program at the University of Missouri — St. Louis’ College of Business Administration. Her research interests include mentoring and leadership, specifically in an international context, and she has been published in the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Management, the Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Group and Organization Management among others. Dr. Pellegrini holds a Ph.D. in organizational behavior management from the University of Miami, Florida. (See https://stlouisco.civicweb.net/document/40334/10.05.21~OC-CountyExec_zzzApptHumanRelations.pdf?handle=20F4C8E3C7D943128FD69C68BBF3C451)

**Dr. Page’s Funding Request for Job Training Center a “Great Idea”: The Metropolitan Employment and Training (MET) Center provides job training and placement, career development services, and transportation services to underemployed, unemployed, and displaced individuals. In July, Dr. Page recommended using ARPA funds to support the MET Center to increase the job training and opportunities in the region. While the St. Louis County Council still has not decided on a plan to spend the money, Chair Rita Days said appropriating some of the ARPA money to the MET center is a “great idea.” Read more here: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/county-administration-seeks-big-funding-boost-for-wellston-job-training-center/article_eb4bbcdc-0397-5d40-b058-774c6e58892e.html

**Bi-State Votes to Authorize $52 Million Security Funding: The board of the Bi-State Development Agency — Metro Transit's parent agency — voted to authorize president and CEO Taulby Roach to seek $52 million in funding for security upgrades that would include turnstiles at all 38 stations, gates and improved camera monitoring. The $52 million plan would be paid for with $10 million from bond refinancing, a mix of local funding and federal aid and $13 million in private donations ($5.25 million in private sector funding has already been committed). Dr. Page, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern signed a joint letter in support of the plan stating that the new security systems "will signal to the public that Metro is committed to taking proactive steps in response to safety needs and resident concerns." St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden and Acting St. Louis County Chief Kenneth Gregory also signed letters of support, with Gregory noting that “this is just what our citizens have been asking for.” (See more: https://www.securityinfowatch.com/critical-infrastructure/news/21247601/turnstiles-are-part-of-52-million-in-security-upgrades-envisioned-for-metrolink)

**St. Louis County Vaccination Rates Top In State Again!: St. Louis County is the highest vaccinated county in Missouri – 63.8% of St. Louis Countians have at least initiated vaccination, and 55.7% have completed vaccination.

Dr. Page Addresses Rising COVID Cases: Last week Dr. Page announced that new cases have jumped to an average of 189 per day, up 30 percent in one week. On Wednesday, November 11, St. Louis County officially re-entered the CDC’s “High” Threshold for Community Transmission. Children, particularly those 5-11 years old, continue to make up a high proportion of new cases.

“It is likely that this increase in cases has to do with large gatherings during Halloween, as well as the cold weather that we saw during the first week of November,” said Dr. Page. “It is a reminder to all that we are not out of the woods yet and we must redouble our efforts to get vaccinated, wear masks when in public, and do everything in our power to  protect everyone in our community.”

“Just like last year, we are likely to see a surge in cases when people gather in large numbers and move indoors,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Department of Public Health. “The upcoming holidays and cold weather make this increasingly likely. While we have vaccines this year, the current vaccination rate among county residents is not high enough to combat this high degree of community transmission — we urge all unvaccinated members of the community to get the COVID-19 vaccine and protect themselves and their neighbors.”

COVID Booster Eligibility Expanded; Vaccinations for Children 5-11 Begin: The eligibility for Pfizer and Moderna COVID boosters has been further expanded to include anyone age 18+ who completed their vaccination at least six months ago. Johnson & Johnson boosters are available for anyone 18+ who completed their vaccination at least two months ago. And earlier this month the CDC authorized a lower-dose formulation of the adult Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, after it was found to be safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19.

You can now receive adult vaccines, second doses, and boosters – as well as vaccines for children 5+ at County Health Department locations and vaccine events. NOTE: More than one family member can get a vaccine at the same time, making DPH a convenient option for the entire family. The County is implementing expanded hours to help parents and families with scheduling. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and booster doses will be available during the extended hours. Walk-ups are welcome. For more info visit: http://ow.ly/mjWm50GEwm2

Here are the DPH Clinic hours:

Monday-Friday, John C. Murphy Health Center, 8am-4:30pm
Monday-Friday, North Central Community Health Center, 8am-4:30pm
Monday-Friday, South County Health Center, 8am-4:30pm

And boosters are also available at Library Clinics (Pfizer and J&J)

Wednesdays, SLCL Lewis and Clark, 1-7pm
Thursdays, SLCL Natural Bridge, 1-7pm
Fridays, SLCL Florissant Valley, 9am-4pm
Saturdays, SLCL Rock Road, 9am-4pm

Vaccine Incentive Program Shows Results; Children Eligible: The vaccine incentive program provides gift cards for St. Louis County residents who get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at a DPH vaccination event. Vaccination must have begun on or after Sept. 25.

Since Sept. 25, 952 people have received their first dose from a DPH vaccination site and 266 people are eligible for gift cards. Children ages 5-11 are now eligible for vaccinations – and gift cards! St. Louis County parents or guardians will receive the gift cards if their children 5 and older get vaccinated.

Families with multiple children are eligible to receive gift cards for each child who is fully vaccinated. Once DPH confirms that an individual is fully vaccinated, gift cards will be mailed out via certified mail to the address they provide during registration. As of Monday, 51 recipients have received gift cards in the 63031 zip code. 46 recipients have received gift cards in each of the 63033, 63136 and 63121 zip codes and 28 recipients have received gift cards in the 63123 zip code.

Dr. Page Welcomes Corrections Officers to Apprenticeship Program: Last week Dr. Page spoke with the first class of corrections officers eligible for a new nationally certified apprenticeship program. Through this program, new corrections officers will receive a $500 incentive after completing the probationary training period.

St. Louis County's Justice Center is the only jail in Missouri to offer this nationally certified apprenticeship program. It provides 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. New corrections officers who complete six months of apprenticeship training will receive a $500 incentive. Once a year of training is completed, new corrections officers are eligible for up to 30 hours of college credit in a job related major at a community college. Current corrections officers will also be eligible for these college credits.

In late September, St. Louis County accepted funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development for financial support to help with the recruitment of corrections officers. The $50,000 will cover the cost of training of 100 new corrections officers.

At last week’s County Council meeting, Justice Center staff spoke about the need to hire more corrections officers and the role of a pay increase in recruitment. Dr. Page has long recgonized this need, and acted on it in May 2021, when his administration asked the Council to use $5 million in ARPA funding to provide officers with an hourly raise of at least $2.00 an hour. https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-county-jail-seeks-slice-of-federal-stimulus-money-to-address-staffing-shortage-pay/article_cb7bb11b-6df9-5b7f-870d-477ba61d4562.html This new and innovative apprenticeship program, combined with a raise that will hopefully soon be passed by the County Council, are important steps in getting the jail fully staffed.

St. Louis County Wins $18.2 Million Grant to Improve North County!: The County has won an $18.2 million grant to greatly enhance W. Florissant Avenue through Ferguson and Dellwood. Thank you to Senator Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Cori Bush for making this transformative project a priority.

Dr. Page Names Metro Transit Operators Day: During this time of thanksgiving, we are especially grateful for the hard work of our Metro Transit Operators, who have kept the County going through incredibly difficult times. They've provided essential services for county residents, businesses and workers during the pandemic and their hard work is appreciated. Last week, Dr. Page honored them by dedicating a day in their honor. We join him in expressing our gratitude for their continued service. Please join us in thanking our Metro Transit Operators!

Congratulations to the "I Voted" Sticker Design Winners!: The St. Louis County Board of Elections and the St. Louis County Library held a sticker design contest, with County residents voting on the winners. Well, the polls have closed and the results have been certified – it’s time to announce the winners! The response was overwhelming, with 6,930 votes in the contest. The following artists will have their designs featured as next year's “I Voted” stickers:
6th-8th Grade: Mariam Rana, Parkway South Middle School
9th-12th Grade: Tara Wang, Pattonville High School
18+: Kathryn Owens, City of Brentwood, MO
Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit an entry and cast a vote!

Blue Angels Return to St. Louis County: The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be coming back to St. Louis County for the 2022 Spirit Of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo, presented by Boeing. This popular event will be held the weekend of June 11-12. Tickets are only available online at spirit-airshow.com.

Congratulations to Award-Winning St. Louis County Library!: Last week, the Library received an Outstanding Local Government Achievement award from East-West Gateway Council of Governments for its Pandemic Response through Collaboration of Community Resources. We're not surprised – the library has provided incredible resources throughout the pandemic, and has been a regional and national leader. Congratulations to the library for this well-deserved award. Learn more: https://youtu.be/3mfGjEXhBfs

Welcome Winter Wonderland! The first Winter Wonderland Walk started last week. Go to the Winter Wonderland website to see each day's schedule, and for the link to purchase tickets. https://www.winterwonderlandstl.com/shows

Historic Jefferson Barracks Fence Restored by Friends of Jefferson Barracks:  The iconic rifle barrel fence, which dates to 1890, was designed by Major John A. Kress – Commandant of Jefferson Barracks from 1886-1887 and 1890-1903. It is made of Civil War era muzzle loading cannons, rifle barrels, and bayonets that were deemed outdated and slated for scrap metal. It was in desperate need of repair. The Friends of Jefferson Barracks paid for the fence to be fully restored before being reinstalled over the summer by park staff. The Friends have funded and made possible many restoration projects throughout the park, and we thank them for their dedication to preserving our county's beautiful, unique – and historic – assets.

Property Tax Season Underway: Did you know that you can pay your personal and real estate taxes online? You can! Just go to https://revenue.stlouisco.com/Collection/PayTaxes/ to get started. Or, watch this very informative video that walks you though the simple process: https://fb.watch/9gQnc2gJoX/ You can also mail a check or money order (made payable to ‘COR’) to Collector of Revenue, 41 S. Central Ave, 2nd Floor, Clayton, MO 63105 or drop your payment off in the Collector’s drop box in the lobby of one of the offices Mon – Fri, 8am – 5pm. See the location and hours information at the DOR Frequently Asked Questions page here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/services/services-links/revenue/collector-of-revenue-faqs/ Just click on "What offices are open and what can I do there?".

Winter Wonderland Volunteers Needed! Winter Wonderland is looking for volunteers ages 14+ who can help direct walkers. Shifts are 4:30p-10:30p on Saturday and Sunday and 5:30p-10:30p on Friday and Monday. If you're interested in volunteering, or know someone who is, please contact parksvolunteers@stlouiscountymo.gov or call 314-615-8865.

 

New Segment: FAQs! If you'd like to submit a FAQ, please send your question via email to info@sampage.com

Q:  What do we know about the new COVID variant that's been in the news?

Over the last week, scientists identified a COVID variant that the World Health Organization (WHO) has named Omicron. Although Omicron was identified in South Africa (due to its state-of-the-art testing and sequencing infrastructure) it has since been identified in a number of other countries, including the U.K., Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Australia. As of this morning, it has not yet been identified in the United States.

WHO has classified Omicron as a variant of concern. Studies are being conducted now to learn more about whether it spreads more quickly than other COVID variants, whether it evades natural or vaccine-based immunity, and whether it causes greater disease.

In other words, as frustrating as it is to not have more information about Omicron’s relative risk, it is premature to make any conclusions. We will know more in the coming days.

However, it is important to know that you already have the tools and the knowledge to combat Omicron. At this stage of the pandemic, we all know what we can do to slow and stop the spread of COVID: wear a tight-fitting mask when indoors, especially in crowded areas; increase ventilation by opening doors and windows, or installing air purifiers; get vaccinated – or get a booster. (At least one vaccine manufacturer has announced that it is already working on a variant-specific booster, should one be needed.)

As more information about Omicron becomes available, Dr. Page and the Public Health Department will share that information. In the meantime, let's all show that generosity of spirit that makes St. Louis County such a wonderful place to live, and do what we can to protect one another.

**Pet of the Week!:  We really love our Pet of the Week segment. Adopt in November (which is almost over!) for the chance to win a raffle basket for your new pet. This week we're highlighting Davey, because with a smile like that – how could we not? Davey is about three years old, and 47 pounds. Learn more here: https://petharbor.com/pet.asp?uaid=STLC.A154544


The shelter is open on the weekends from 12-3pm, and during the week by appointment. Any questions regarding the adoption process can be emailed to hhenderson@stlouiscountymo.gov, blove@stlouiscountymo.gov, or kbetts@stlouiscountymo.gov, or you may call the adoption desk at 314-615-0650 (opt. 3). Learn more about the adoption process and find the adoption application online here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/public-health/animal-care-control/pet-adoption

 

St. Louis County Library News:

St. Louis County Libraries are open for browsing without an appointment. Learn more at www.slcl.org/reopening. The Library has many events, classes and workshops each week. Check out the online calendar to see what’s happening this week. https://www.slcl.org/events

Grab-and-Go Meals: Operation Food Search provides free grab and go meals for kids, Monday-Friday at select SLCL locations. Learn more: www.slcl.org/after-school-meals

St. Louis County Parks news: 

The Fall/Winter Activity Guide is available! Learn more about special events, day camps, swimming lessons, outdoor programs and more: http://ow.ly/my0Z50DQ9n5

Come celebrate the season by seeing Thornhill, the family home of Missouri Governor Frederick Bates, in all its Christmas splendor the weekend of Dec. 3 and 4. This self-guided stroll through the Victorian-adorned home is a wonderful opportunity to spend the holiday in the mid-1800s. Light refreshments will be served. Advance tickets are available by calling (314) 615-8328 or visiting http://ow.ly/N5rP50GGaZA, but they are not required.

Winter Wonderland carriage ride tickets are on sale now! https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/winter-wonderland Last week Dr. Page recorded a welcome message for the visitors coming to Winter Wonderland. We can't wait to share this holiday tradition with you.

 

To say this is a challenging, fast-paced time is an understatement, but we hope updates like this will help you keep track of what's going on week-to-week.

Please forward this email to a family member, friend, or co-worker you think might be interested. Or encourage them to subscribe for themselves at this link https://bit.ly/3nijXBs.

Let us know if you have questions, concerns, or something you'd like us to focus on!

Thanks,

Dr. Sam's Team

P.O. Box 410091
Saint Louis, MO 63141
Paid for by Page for Missouri, Sue Felling, Treasurer

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