Thursday, December 17, 2009

City Licenses: Seeking Enlightenment

The following was recently e-mailed to Mr. Michael McMillan:

Please forward this e-mail to Mr. Michael McMillan, License Collector, City of St. Louis

Dear Mr. McMillan:

On Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 an article titled “Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited” was posted on a blog labeled Gumbo, the Forum for Soulard at http://gumbotheforumforsoulard.blogspot.com/. The article contained information about bar/restaurants in the Soulard neighborhood whose property taxes are in arrears or were paid after the deadline. (Please note that this letter is also posted on the blog.)

My understanding is that businesses cannot open their doors and do business unless they have been granted a business license. I understand a business license cannot be issued if the business owes any taxes. Are these understandings correct, or have I misread the laws and ordinances of the City of St. Louis?

I have been approached by several business owners who have paid all their relevant taxes. They want to know why businesses which have not been good citizens - those which have not paid all their taxes - are being subsidized by those who have. They believe an unfair competitive advantage has been created. At what point is a business which has a defective business license - one which does not meet the requirements as defined by laws and ordinances of the City of St. Louis - going to be closed? Are the business licensing laws something to be taken casually here in St. Louis, by both elected officials and businesses?

There are some people in Soulard who feel that there are too many bars/restaurants in the neighborhood. They feel that the large number of these establishments contribute to quality of life problems. Examples of these quality of life issues include increased crime, trash, noise, traffic accidents, vandalism, and others. That some of these establishments remain open when it appears that they have defective licenses suggests favoritism and corruption in City of St. Louis government. They are expected to pay their taxes, their parking tickets, etc., etc., but bars/restaurants which degrade the living experience in the neighborhood seem to get a free pass. Could you please address this concept? Is there any concern by you that residents think favoritism and corruption is an ingredient in St. Louis city government?

I am most interested in hearing from you so that your responses can be published on the blog in order to set the record straight and to calm the fears and anger of some of my fellow citizens. Thank you in advance for your time.

ADDENDUM: The following was attached to the above message and re-sent to The Honorable Michael McMillan on January 4:

Dear Michael McMillan, License Collector, City of St. Louis

This is the second e-mail I have sent you. The first was sent on Dec. 17 to the e-mail address licensecollectorsoffice@stlouiscity.com, as directed by your page on the CIN/St. Louis web site. The e-mail seeks information about irregular business licenses in Soulard, as per a story published on the Soulard blog on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 and titled Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited. I have not received any answer from you. You may not have been able to find the story due to an error in the blog address. My apologies for the mistake. Thus, I am re-sending the first e-mail to mcmillanm@stlouiscity.com, a different address. I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited

Recently we posted information (Monday, July 6, 2009 titled "When was Soulard declared a Tax Haven? Nobody told Madame Chouteau" and Friday, July 31, 2009 titled "Update on Soulard as a Tax Haven and Our Apologies") about four bar/restaurants in Soulard that were in arrears in their property taxes but were still open, despite the City of St. Louis law which states that property taxes - and other taxes - must be paid up in order for a business to have a valid business license.

Well, we are happy to report that things have changed, in a St. Louis sort of way.

The good news is that McGurks-Soulard LLC, owner of record of the ground under John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub, 1200 Russell Blvd., finally paid their 2008 tax bill of $22,984.72. This was posted on 9/24/2009 on the web site of the Collector of Revenue. Anybody concerned about this late pay should remind themselves that James P. Holloran is listed as agent for the company, and he is a "mover and shaker" here in St. Louis. He is blue blood royalty for what passes as St. Louis society, so he pays his taxes when he damn well feels like it, and the rest of you can just bow and scrape and tug your respective forelocks when he passes..

Next, we turn to Nadine’s Gin Joint. Here we have some real St. Louis type progress. The tax problems, which our research showed and we reported as stretching over three years and amounting to $29,389.34, including penalties, were resolved when the property was sold. It appears that somebody in NTM Partnership LLC, listed as the previous owner, paid taxes and bought out some other owners.

The new owners, who call themselves Missouri Housing Assoc. LLC (created on 10/7/09) and who boast a mailing address at 74 Hester Ct., St. Charles, MO 63304, are listed on the Secretary of State’s web site as Gregory Stephen Wood, Nicole Marie Wood, Benjamin Aaron Scott and Kelly Ann Scott. The property, which had been subdivided under the ownership of NTM Partnership LLC, has the abbreviated property description of Nadine’s Kingdom Subdivision. While welcoming the Woods and Scotts to property ownership in Soulard, we wonder if they are going to change the subdivision description to Woods and Scotts Kingdom.

Interestingly, the new owners have created two parcels out of the property, dividing the tax bill into two pieces. The two tax bills were promptly paid by the new owners, which is a blessing, since the City of St. Louis needs every tax dollar it can get. Previously, we had though that the property had been a beneficiary of a tax cut. We were mistaken. Our apologies for the error, and congratulations to the new owners for paying on time.

From here, the news is not so good. Clementine Inc. owes taxes on 2001-2003 Menard for 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the amount of $15,653.36, as of 12/9/09 from the site of Gregory F. X. Daly, Collector of Revenue. But their doors are still open for business.

And, of course, our eternal favorite, Great Grizzly Blues LLC, owner of the building that homes the Great Grizzly Bear, owes $30,273.72 as of 12/9/09. They are in arrears all the way back to 2006, and there is evidence they also owe for 2005. The address of Great Grizzly Bear is 1027 Geyer. Assessor’s Office records list the owner/owners as living at 2 Clara Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119. Everybody in Soulard is proud to have one of our bar properties owned by somebody from the county, even if they don’t pay their taxes. Us taxpayers really do not mind subsidizing their operation.

Still, we do not understand what is happening. So we have decided to e-mail some questions to the License Collector, Michael McMillan at licensecollectorsoffice@stlouiscity.com.. His web site states: "The City of St. Louis has a responsibility to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Therefore, the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor enact ordinances that govern operations of businesses that impact the citizens of St. Louis City. State statues and City ordinances give the duty and responsibility to the License Collector of the City of St. Louis to enforce the business license ordinances and statutes."

From their actions - their failure to pay property taxes - Clementines and Great Grizzly are in violation of license requirements. Why are they still open, when their business license applications are defective? Why do you force the rest in the tax-paying community to subsidize their operations? Why are failing businesses - ones which cannot pay their bills - exempted from denial of a business license, while the City of St. Louis expects the rest of us to pay up? Do you not think this undermines confidence in the integrity and competence of City of St. Louis government? We will post any answers we receive from The Honorable Mr. McMillan.

But don’t take our word for any of this. Do your own research, and start by visiting http://stlcin.missouri.org/assessor/lookup.cfm, the site of the City of St. Louis Assessor’s Office. Enter an address and when the property comes up, click on "Tax History Information," which takes you to the page of Gregory F. X. Daly, Collector of Revenue. That page shows tax history, dates of payments and other information. And maybe send an e-mail to Michael McMillan, or Phyllis Young, or Mayor Slay. It is time we stopped being victimized by elected officials. It is time for elected officials to start listening to their respective oaths of office.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Crime: Antoine Soulard's Revenge

On Saturday morning, November 28 - the Saturday after Thanksgiving - the number of broken auto windows - evidenced by the piles of windows glass along the road and from the still parked, damaged cars - on Soulard and S. 10th Streets was discomforting. A simple shopping trip to Soulard Farmers’ Market yielded insight into the condition of neighborhood civility.


In front of 1823 S. 10th was a red truck with a broken driver’s side window, and there was a fresh pile of broken glass where an adjoining vehicle would have parked. Across the street in front of 1824 S. 10th was what looked like older broken glass (it was scattered) and an auto with a temporary black plastic bag driver’s side window. Around the corner and in front of 911 Soulard was another car with a broken window, plus two fresh piles of broken window glass in adjoining spaces. Across the street in front of 904 Soulard was an older spread of broken window glass.


It looked like somebody had taken out five windows during the previous night, supplementing evidence of older vandalism in the vicinity. The car in front of 911 Soulard had temporary Colorado plates. Not an auspicious beginning for a new purchase.

What is one to make of this?


In an e-mail blaster message from Terry Hoffman - and copied from Lisa Otke’s blaster message dated Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 - the weekend before Thanksgiving - the message was:


"Great news from Officer Hickel, Soulard Community Officer.


"Officers caught 4 black males, 17 years old breaking into vehicles on Wednesday night in Soulard. There had several handbags and valuable in the vehicle they were driving which had been stolen earlier in the day. They were responsible for several car break-ins around the area. This should reduce crime in the area!


"Thanks to Officer Hickel for sharing this good news!! Let’s hope we see a reduction of crime for awhile!!

"Have a good week and Happy Thanksgiving!"


The call to celebrate was premature. One could try for some humor and comment that Hi-Tech Security, the "rent-a-cop" company hired with our special business district add-on tax, is hot on restoring neighborhood manners, but it seems that there is nothing humorous - nor effective - about Hi-Tech Security. Two recent stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hinted that scandal touches the company, suggesting it suffers from a defective business plan.

Of course, over the last number of years, civility has not been a Soulard trademark. The Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day (and other boozy festivals) promotes Soulard as a place to waste, all in the name of celebrating drunkenness while boosting the bottom lines of area bars and restaurants.

Year around, the patrons of the bars and restaurants do a fine job of leaving a debris trail that helps convey the message that "nobody cares what happens in this neighborhood," the price we pay for the unsought designation from the City of St. Louis of "Entertainment District."

The Soulard Restoration Group, a self-centered collection of poseurs, believes that promoting the party somehow promotes the neighborhood. They effortlessly sidestep the truth that fighting trash, just like fighting crime, requires healthy neighborhood morale and effective leadership. What years ago had been an evolving residential neighborhood has been traded for a "party neighborhood."


So maybe we can see all these broken windows - and a lot of other anti-social events - as "Soulard’s Revenge," as payback from our namesake for directing his neighborhood down the road towards Pigpensville. Random vandalism, occasionally mixed with violence or the threat of violence, coupled with trash, noise, accidents, etc., all the stuff from the police blotter, are "Soulard’s Revenge" for turning a historic residential neighborhood into St. Louis’ Party Neighborhood, as The Riverfront Times labels us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Oct. 11 - 18

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at http://safecity.slmpd.org/index.htm - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct.18 include:

2 theft: 900 block of Lafayette, reported at 10:35 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11; 2300 block of S. 13th, reported at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11.

2 stolen autos: 1200 block of Sidney, reported at 11:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16; 2500 block of S. 18th, reported at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

1 peace disturbance: 2300 block of S. 10th, reported at 2:45 a.m. of Sunday, Oct. 11.

93 service calls, including accidents (7), assault (2), disturbance (8), indecent act, prowler attempting entry, etc.

Interestingly, this blog received an anonymous posting regarding the murder/suicide, first brought to our attention by Cynthia Harrison, chairman of the Soulard Special Business District during a SSBD forum, held Sept. 30, 2009 and mentioned in the last two incident reports.

The posting simply said: "There was no murder/suicide. The swat team did show for a drug bust at a home which turned out not to have any drugs. Who knows where murder/suicide started!"

Another item brought up at the Sept. 30 forum was that the SSBD was going to start a web site in order to reduce neighborhood rumors, especially those involving crime. At the same meeting, they contribute to the rumors, if the anonymous posting is to be believed.

We are sort of at a loss for words. What kind of people have been appointed by the mayor to be in charge of spending approximately $282,000 in special tax funds? Are they incompetent? Do they have any concept of what they are supposed to do?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baetje Farms Wins the Gold for Remarkable Cheese

Baetje Farms LLC has received gold award recognition for their Coeur de la Creme Three Pepper Blend of goat cheese after judging in October by the United Kingdom’s Guild of Fine Food. Called the World Cheese Awards, the judging was held in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, only the second time the awards have been held outside Britain in their 21 year history.

In addition, Baetje Farms won bronze for their Coeur de la Creme Bavarian Lemon Creme, as well as for their Coeur de la Creme Garlic and Chives. These and other flavors of their pure farmstead artisan cheese are available at the Soulard Farmers’ Market, Fridays from 8 a.m. until 1, Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 1, brought to you by Steve and Veronica Baetje and their staff.

The World Cheese Awards judging attracted 2,440 entries from 34 countries. Judges came from 24 countries, including Mexico, South Africa, Japan and Australia and 140 cheeses from around the world were awarded with gold by the international jury. For additional information about the judging, visit www.finefoodworld.co.u./content/WorldCheeseAwards/62.html.

Steve and Veronica produce their goat cheese products fresh with milk from their own herd of registered Saanen dairy goats.

Fed on an all natural diet of whole grain ration, locally grown alfalfa hay and browse pasture, weather permitting, the goats also receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water. The cheeses are made by hand, using old world cheesemaking techniques coupled with high standards of quality and precision.

Steve and Veronica Baetje have been working with goats for over 10 years and have been licensed to produce cheese for retail sale since Sept. 2007. Veronica has completed the Advanced Cheesemaking course from the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese through the University of Vermont in Burlington, where experts are brought in from around the globe to give hands-on experience and to further the craft of artisan cheese here in the United States. Baetje Farms boasts a state of the art plant, built with the guidance and direction of Neville McNaughten with Cheezsorce.

Madame Chouteau, who loves the Baetje products, congratulates Veronica and Steve for awards well-deserved, and reminds area cheese enthusiasts of how lucky we are to have their outstanding products available at the Soulard Farmers’ Market.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Oct. 4 - Oct. 11

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at http://safecity.slmpd.org/index.htm - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct.11 include:

1 serious assault: 900 block of Barton, reported at 12:36 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

1 burglary: 2300 block of S. 7th, reported at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

4 theft: on Tuesday, Oct 6: 800 block of Soulard (7 p.m.), S. 13th and Russell (5:40 p.m.), 900 block of Wyoming (3 p.m.), and 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

2 stolen auto: 1000 block of Ann, reported at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, 2600 block of S. 13th, reported at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.

1 minor assault: 3300 block of S. 7th, reported at 5:50 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.

1 weapons: Gravois and Russell, reported at 8:50 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4.

1 peace disturbance: 800 block of Allen, reported at 12:14 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

171 service calls, including accident (23), assault (2), assist motorist (16), attempt larceny, attempt suicide, cutting, destruction of property, disturbance (15), flourishing, shots fired (3), supposed sudden death.

Madame Chouteau has been unable to obtain any more information on a murder/suicide, rumored to have occurred in Soulard and mentioned last week. The only conclusion that can be reached is that major crimes are not reported in the incident reports of the above mentioned web site, possibly so the customers of the many bars in Soulard are not concerned about crime.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Special Oktoberfest Festival

The Oktoberfest event has again landed on Soulard, another commercial exploitation of this historic district by private interests. Striving mightily to pretend that it is a neighborhood event, instead of a private, money-making activity, Oktoberfest further degrades the quality of residential life, distracting attention from growth and improvement, focusing on a party.

At the Soulard Special Business District forum, held on Sept. 30, a question was raised regarding security during Oktoberfest. It was interesting to listen to Alderwoman Phyllis Young during the ensuing discussion. She assured those attending that the responsible organization - Soulard Oktoberfest Benevolent Association - had assumed full responsibility for security.

She also said that the so-called festival will no longer be held in Soulard after this year. "They have promised this is the last year," she said, ignoring the fact that the organizers promised the same thing last year. She could have made the point that the organizers will say (and promise) anything to continue the event in Soulard.

Finally, she added that Oktoberfest was growing in popularity, and any who "did not like this event in their neighborhood should make their voices heard." She neglected to say to whom comments should be directed. Perhaps Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch readers will recall that Alderwoman Young seems not to be a fan of Oktoberfest, possibly because she doesn’t want another over-the-top commercial event added to her legacy. She has good cause for embarrassment.

The Soulard Mardi Gras has grown to its present state of disorder as a public drunk during her reign as alderwoman. It gets a free pass from the City of St. Louis because our wise City Fathers are so desperate for revenue, no matter what the cost to a city neighborhood, no matter how disgraceful the event.

SMG has changed the tone of the entire neighborhood, transforming the culture from neighborhood growth and improvement to "let’s have a party." Thus, it gets a free pass from the Soulard Restoration Group, an organization now devoted to drinking. Their glib motto is: "If you don’t like Soulard Mardi Gras, then it’s time to move." And many otherwise contributing people have done this.

Anyway, after some skirmishing in the pages of the Post-Dispatch, Alderwoman Young wrote a letter - on Board of Aldermen stationary - on May 30, 2009 to Mr. Victor Wendl, President, Soulard Oktoberfest Benevolent Association, 7321 S. Lindbergh, Suite 208, St. Louis, MO 63125.

The letter pretty well catalogues the impact of Oktoberfest and reads as follows:

"I have reviewed the plan of action that you have submitted for curtailing the problems that have arisen in the past from the Oktoberfest. While I can see that you have made some effort I still have concerns. I’ll address the issues as you presented them.

"ISSUE 1: PUBLIC URINATION. Additional porta-potties in the area will be appreciated if they are used by your visitors. Will the ‘stationary officers’ patrol and issue tickets?

"ISSUE 2: PERSONAL PROPERTY DAMAGE. That might help; however, again what will the patrols do to curb this behavior? Will they issue tickets for damage?

"ISSUE 3: DAMAGE TO VEGETATION IN SOULARD MARKET PARK. Fencing the flower beds would be appreciated.

"ISSUE 4: DAMAGE TO PARK GROUNDS. That’s an item to take up with the Parks Director.

"ISSUE 5: IMPACT ON MARKET PARKING. Have you discussed this with the Market’s Merchant’s Association? In my discussions with them it was felt that the elderly and handicapped as well as those people who shop for large families will not come to the Market due to the inconvenience or inability to deal with large quantities of food on a shuttle bus. This is not an acceptable approach for resolving the Market’s issue.

"ISSUE 6: IMPACT ON MARKET SALES AND TRAFFIC. There has been no growth shown in the number of younger shoppers at the Market after either Mardi Gras or Oktoberfest. While you moved your date to the second week of October the checks for those dependent on Social Security generally arrive on the 5th of the month. Therefore, the date you have chosen is also the one that is generally the busiest of the month for the Market.

"You need to work more closely with the merchants at Soulard Market to limit the damage to their revenues. In effect your event causes them to lose a week’s revenues. It would be similar to closing a Soulard bar for a week. Keep that in mind as you plan your event.

"I’m told that the 50 cent coupons that were issued last year to offset the decrease in sales were never funded by your organization. Therefore, I am skeptical that the vendors would get reimbursed if people from food pantries came in with Soulard Oktoberfest Dollars. To show good faith to the Market Merchants a check with an agreed upon amount should be provided to the Merchants Association for deposit in an account two weeks prior to Oktoberfest to insure that the program would be funded.

"ISSUE 7: JULIA STREET VENDOR PARKING PROBLEMS. Again this is an issue to take up with the Park Director.

"ISSUE 8: EXCESSIVE DRUNKENNESS. I applaud the mandating of TIPS training for nonprofit organizations selling alcohol at Oktoberfest. I request that ID’s be checked with every sale. You’ll make the older folks feel young and be certain that everyone is of age to drink. In addition the state and local Excise officers should be asked to be at the event ticketing underage drinkers.

"ISSUE 9: GROWTH OF THE FESTIVAL TO UNMANAGEABLE ATTENDANCE. I agree that an entrance fee will help the event. I’m told that there was a $10 fee previously so I don’t understand the $5 one now proposed. You should also provide flexibility to hire additional security if the crowd builds.

"ISSUE 10: USE OF ALTERNATIVE LOCATIONS OR DISBURSE ACTIVITIES. (1) I have no information about why Strassenfest failed downtown; however, the split that brought Oktoberfest to Soulard was likely a part of it along with the fact that it occurred in the hottest part of our St. Louis summers. (2) If Oktoberfest is a German Cultural festival why not hold it at the German Cultural Center on S. Jefferson and build on the decision to locate that facility in that location. There is also a large parking lot adjacent to the St. Louis Gast Haus on Chouteau which could promote the event and the restaurant. (3) Alderman Ortmann has also agreed that your event could locate in Lyons Park in the shadow of the brewery.

"ISSUE 11: BOISTEROUS PEOPLE WHO BOTHERED RESIDENTS. While you can post on the website and throughout the neighborhood, unless there is some penalty imposed by the officers you hire there is no enforcement for this problem. What specific measures are you taking to insure the residents that your participants will be responsible and respectful?

"ISSUE 12: SHORTEN THE FESTIVAL HOURS AND/OR DAYS.

"ISSUE 13: CLOSING OF LAFAYETTE STREET NO EARLIER THAN NOON ON FRIDAY. These are the Director of Streets requirements. You may close 8th St on Thursday morning to construct the stage as was done last year, however, Lafayette Street will be available on Friday at noon. You may use the parking lanes and sidewalks for prep and staging provided that you leave the driving lanes open. You’ll need permits for all of this.

"I appreciate the thoughts and efforts of the group to meet the concerns expressed; however, I believe that more work is needed to protect both the adjacent neighbors and the Soulard Market Merchants. I will await you ideas.

"Sincerely, Phyllis Young, Alderwoman, 7th Ward"

Copies were sent to Alderman Ken Ortmann, Gary Bess, Todd Waeltermann, Jim Price, Johnny Daus, Joannie Thomas and Ann Chance.

Wow, that is some letter. These issues raise the obvious question: why let private interests - and private wallets - wag the dog and on the public dime, too?

An analysis of the issues reveals that Oktoberfest is nothing more than a microcosm of the Soulard Mardi Gras, and both events offer insights into the leadership skills - the degree of incompetence and venality - of those who run the neighborhood and the City of St. Louis. So if you don’t like what you see, well, then, it is time to move, as the neighborhood party people would say.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard, Sept. 27 - Oct. 4

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department - as recorded on an official department website at http://safecity.slmpd.org/index.htm - for the seven day
period of Sunday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 4 include:

1 serious assault: 1300 block of Gravois, reported at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

3 theft: 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3; Menard and Allen, reported at 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27; 2500 block of S. 11th, reported at 11:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28.

1 stolen autos: 1500 block of S. 7th, reported at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.

1 minor assault: 1000 block of Ann, reported at 2:05 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.

3 peace disturbances: 1700 block of S. 9th, reported at 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27; 1000 block of Lami, reported at 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2; 2400 block of S. 12th, reported at 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.

120 service calls, including accident (11), accident with injuries (3), auto theft (2), disturbance (15), etc.

As an aside, there was an interesting incident which occurred during a scheduled meeting of the Soulard Special Business District, which held a public forum on Sept. 30 at the Soulard Preservation Hall. Cynthia Harrison, Chairman of the commissioners of the SPBD, revealed that sometime during the past 30 days there had been a murder/suicide - apparently the result of a domestic altercation - in the 700 block of Russell. A swat team had made an appearance during the course of this event.

No other details were provided.

It is odd that this event was not identified on the web site where all of above material was obtained and has been obtained for the past numbers of weeks. This absence was brought up during the meeting, and the response to the question made absolutely no sense.

One interpretation of the answer was that the event, which apparently involved two life partners, was too personal to be put on the web site and to be exposed to public comment. We cannot see the sense in this interpretation. All crime is personal. Just ask the man who lives a half block from us how personal it was to feel a pistol barrel placed on the back of his head in the middle of the night, all part of a robbery reported earlier on this blog.

If crime and incidents are not listed because they are too personal, where does this begin and end? Would any crimes be listed?

We asked Terry Hoffman, Treasurer of the SSBD, to please provide additional details of the murder/suicide so that we might research it on the web site. We look forward to hearing from him, and we hope that the absence of information to date is no more sinister than a clerical error. If it is more than a clerical error, then what else is being left out?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A False Sense of Security?

One of our neighbors, a long-time Soulard resident, property owner and observer of the neighborhood scene, tries to inform people of problems with their vehicles. Some of us do this. If we see a car with an almost flat tire, we let the driver know before the tire is ruined. If somebody leaves their auto lights on, we try to alert the owner before the battery is drained. It seems to be common courtesy.

At approximately 6:30 a.m., while driving east on Victor on her way to work, our neighbor passed one of the Hi-Tech “security force” cars parked on the south side of Victor pointing east. The cross streets, which dead end here at the Boy’s Club, were Menard and South 10th streets. The motor was running and the lights of the vehicle were on, which was appropriate since this was sometime between March 10 and 20, as near as she can place the event. After passing, she observed in her rear view mirror that one of the headlights of the security vehicle was out. This is a safety issue.

Out of habit and to inform the driver of the headlight problem, she did a turn-around and pulled up on the north side of the street, now facing west, and honked her horn. The driver was in the car with the window up. She then realized that he was asleep.

After honking a couple of more times and getting no reaction, she dialed the number on the side of the car and reported to the “dispatcher” that their security patrol was sidelined because the officer was sleeping in his vehicle with the engine running. She informed the dispatcher that she was not particularly impressed by the devotion to duty being displayed. Hi-Tech was hired under the auspices of the Soulard Special Business District to bolster Soulard security, and the bills are paid from a special add-on to property taxes.

In fact, there are several people who report seeing police officers sleeping in the Hi-Tech security cars. Madame Chouteau does not perceive that this is an end of the earth sort of situation. However, it does call into question the effectiveness - and integrity - of the security program.

Our neighbor sums up the situation: “Why are we paying extra taxes for a service that seems questionable?” Madame Chouteau would certainly like to hear some discussion of this issue, some evaluation of the benefits of the program, other than creating what may be a false sense of security.

In a recent e-mail, Cindy Harrison, Chairman, Soulard Special Business District, the organization that handles the expenditure of the special tax funds - announced that “we will be reviewing some of the accomplishments of the patrol at the district forum. If you would like more information, I suggest you attend.” The forum is scheduled to be held Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Soulard Preservation Hall.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pierogi Selection Available at Soulard Farmers' Market

Frozen pierogi - a Polish version of ravioli - now can be purchased at Krystyna’s European Food stand at the Market. Cabbage, meat, potato and cheese, cheese, plum and blueberry pierogi are available at the stand.

The pierogi is in addition to smoked Polish sausage, Kielbasa Weselna, Slaska brand sausage, Jalowcowa Juniper Berry Smoked sausage, duck pate, Szynka Polish style ham, dill pickles and other products.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SRG to take over Soulard/CIN site

The Communications Committee of the Soulard Restoration Group has announced plans to take over the front page of the Soulard/City Information Network (CIN) web site, substituting a different front page to direct visitors to the SRG site. The Soulard/CIN site has been tended by Clark Rowley for almost a decade.

Billy Tomber, head of the committee, board member and editor of The Soulard Renaissance, commented on Friday, Sept. 4 that "when people want information about Soulard, then our site should come up." He added that "our organization speaks for the vast majority of Soulard residents. I can say that with great assurance," and he explains that taking over the Soulard/CIN front page has recently been added to the objectives of the Communications Committee.

"Control of the Soulard/CIN site is desired by the membership of the Soulard Restoration Group," he stated. "The present Soulard/CIN site is not representative of the neighborhood," he believes. "It has served the neighborhood, but not any longer," he says.

Under Billy’s plan, the front page of the SRG website at http://www.soulard.org will be substituted for the existing front page on the CIN site at http://stlouis.missouri.org/soulard. Under this plan, all visitors to the city sponsored site will be directed to the pages of the SRG site. Without a directory, access to the remaining pages of the Soulard/CIN site will be difficult or they will be deleted.

The switch was made in the middle of August after Billy e-mailed the CIN staff requesting the change. Clark was never told about the plan, nor was he consulted by Billy or anybody in the SRG. When the page change cropped up, Clark changed it back, thinking it was some practical joke. When Billy learned of the switch, he contacted the CIN staff and was told he should talk with Clark.

When asked why he had not contacted the person who created the site, Billy said that he did not know that Clark was the webmaster of the Soulard/CIN site. "When the Communications Committee met in July, we decided that this was one of our objectives" - to take over the Soulard/CIN site. He noted that the Soulard Restoration Group speaks for the neighborhood and is "the largest group in Soulard."

He boasted that the SRG site receives contributions from everyone - "our site is open to everyone," and he added that if "anyone does not like something about the SRG, then they can join the organization and work to change it. We are a democratic organization."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Minding our Pets, Displaying Courtesy

The following comments are from a Soulard neighborhood e-mail blaster

Hello all,

I am still somewhat new to the neighborhood and getting acquainted with how things work around here. So far living in Soulard is fantastic, but I am having some issues with folks not cleaning up after their animals in front of my home on 11th st. This has happened several times over the past couple of months. I have never seen the culprit(s) so I can't ask them to stop or to pick up the mess. Is anybody having or had the same and how have you dealt with it? If you know someone who knowingly leaves there animal droppings on other people's property please pass this along as it very discourteous and they should begin to clean up after there animal.

Thanks,

Domenic Marcello

And a response:

I second that emotion. I always clean up after my animals when I walk them, whether it is on sidewalks, in tree lawns, public parks or the dog park (if there has been a time I haven't, it's because I ran out of bags during the walk, but I always try go back after and pick it up as soon as possible....)

It is both irresponsible and just plain rude to leave your animal's waste, no matter the size, etc., on public property or some other person's private property.

Even if it is in the tree lawn, the homeowner whose property is adjacent to that tree lawn is responsible for maintaining it, e.g. cutting the grass, and it is very frustrating to have to pick up some other person's pet waste prior to mowing the tree lawn. Sometimes I really consider putting the asphalt back that was there before I bought the house so I won't have to deal with it...

Dana Brackeen

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police Incident Reports, Soulard Neighborhood, Aug. 23 - 30

Incident reports for Soulard from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for the seven day period of Sunday, August 23 through Sunday, August 30 include:

1 robbery: 900 block of Russell, reported at 10:28 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23.

3 theft: 2100 block of S. 12th, reported at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28; 2300 block of S. 13th, reported at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 28; 700 block of Russell, reported at 6:50 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 24.

1 DWI: S. 10th and Geyer, reported at 8:27 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28.

There were reported 123 service calls, including accident (7), accident w/injuries (4), arrest attempt (2), assault (2), assist motorist (7), attempt holdup (2200 bock of S. 9th), attempt larceny, auto theft (4), burglar in the building, call for police - calling for help - disturbance (5), disturbance (4), fight (2), holdup, parking violation (12), shooting (900 block of Russell), shots fired (900 block of Russell, Russell and Menard), suspicious person (14), etc.

In recent blog postings there was made note of an unfortunate accident involving the dog of a customer of Elicia’s Pizza. The dog was struck and killed by the delivery driver. The owner of the dog was interviewed for the story, and then Elicia’s Pizza e-mailed their side of the accident. Several elements of the accident, as explained by the two sides, are contradictory.

However, it was noted that the customer, a resident of Soulard, called the police and asked the police to make a report of the incident. Madame Chouteau checked the Safe City Incident Mapping site, which is the source of all of the above information. Following is what was recorded regarding the accident: Call type: Injured animal; Reported as: Animal bite; Date time: 2009/08/21 20:15:00; Address: 1300 block of Sidney St.; District: 3.

Madame Chouteau has no sources of information about crime in the Soulard neighborhood other than what is revealed on the Safe City Incident Mapping site, unless those with knowledge of crime incidents step forward. The reason this information is being posted is because it is important that residents and visitors to Soulard understand that there is crime in the area and that they need to be alert to this fact and to act appropriately.

For example, the crime map on the Safe City Incident Mapping site indicates that during the last seven day period, there was considerable police activity along Russell in response to reported incidents. Residents and visitors may wish to verify this information for themselves by visiting the Safe City site.

Good luck, and try to avoid becoming a statistic. Remember, a large element of avoidance depends on you and how you conduct yourself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Addendum: Elicia's Pizza Driver Kills Neighborhood Dog

The following e-mail regarding the Elicia’s Pizza delivery driver accident was opened on Friday, August 28 and was immediately posted in its entirety. For additional information, please see the preceding blog posting.

"Hi, I am David, the owner of the Elicia’s Pizza located at 3209 Gravois, and this letter is in reply to the incident that happened in Soulard last weekend. On behalf of myself, my driver and the entire crew of Elicia's Pizza, we extend our sincerest condolences to the owner of the dog, along with his family and friends.

"The entire staff of Elicia's Pizza would never intentionally hurt any animal. Several of my employees are animal lovers and have rescued and adopted animals, including myself and my general manager.

"My location works with many of the non-for-profit organizations, schools and churches on a daily basis to help make our community a better place to live.

"The delivery driver who is accused of hitting the dog does not believe he ran a dog over. He is a family man who has 6 children and pets of his own. He has stated that he would never intentionally hurt an animal.

"It was not confirmed that a dog was hit in Soulard until late Tuesday afternoon and that dog belonged to one of our customers. The following day a sympathy card was sent to the owner.

"Throughout the last twenty–four hours I have made several calls, and replied to several emails regarding this situation. There is so much hearsay going around as far as what happened. If you read each and every post and email, the story changes. Examples:v "The manager asked the owner of the dog, "What do you want me to do? Fire him?" That was never said. My manager couldn’t even get two words in through the phone call when she spoke to owner. Some emails saying the gate was open some saying the gate was closed. The day that it happened changes. This happened Friday August 21st, some post / emails say Saturday and the lady who I spoke to last night thought it was on Sunday.

"I have spoken to the employees involved who spoke with the owner along with the delivery driver, and here are their stories.

"Friday night, August 21st, as he has done for the last fifteen years, he left on a delivery going to Soulard. As he arrived on the block, he made a right and parked on the side of the house, grabbed the bag of food and exited his van. He had to walk around the corner of the block, and down the sidewalk to get the front gate of the house. He opened the gate, and proceeded to walk up the sidewalk, then up the steps on to the front porch. As he approached the front door, the screen door was closed, but the main door was opened. As he started to knock, two dogs came to the front door and started barking. After about a minute the owner came to the door. The owner tried to get the dogs back so he could come out on the front porch, but after a few minutes the owner just opened the door, letting the dogs out. The driver was surprised that the customer let the dogs out since he could see that the front gate was opened.

"The dogs started jumping on the delivery driver trying to get the food that he was carrying. The driver asked can you get the dogs off of me. The owner paid for his food while the dogs were running up and down the sidewalk and into the street.

"As the delivery driver started walking back towards his van, he heard the owner calling for the dogs to come. Since the dogs were outside of the gate the driver left the gate open so the dogs could get back into the yard.

"The driver rounded the corner and got back into his van and left. Please keep in mind that the van was parked on the side of the house. The driver returned to the store for his next delivery.

"The shift manager received a call from the customer, according to our phone log one hour and forty three minutes after the order was placed, saying that his dog got hit by one of the delivery drivers. The shift manager told the customer, I am sorry, but I will need to have my general manager call you in a few minutes.

"Shortly after that, the general manager spoke to the owner of the dog to find out what happened. She listened patiently as the customer told her what had happened. She asked what kind of dog it was and before she could get any more information, he suddenly got upset with her and said, "You just don’t care do you?" and hung up on her before she could say anything else.

"Unsure what to do she called the police. When my manager spoke to the police officer, the police lady said that they do not write reports on situations where an animal was hit, but did say we can send an officer out to that location if we would like to file a complaint of a dog running around unleashed. If that was the case we would issue a ticket to the owner of the dog (please call the police department to verify this) My manager told the officer that we did not want to file a report.

"I want to give everyone all of information that I have been told. This is from an email I received tonight. I do no know if this is true, but I want to be honest, and let everyone know what I have been told. I am passing this information along to everyone. This was from a neighbor who said that she and her children did see the dog get hit. She did say that it was my delivery driver who hit the dog, and again I am sorry that this did happen, no matter who hit your dog. She also did say in her email that they did believe that this was an unfortunate accident.

"Elicia’s Pizza again, would like to offer our condolences to the owner of the dog. To help heal the pain of our community, Elicia’s Pizza will be contacting the Stray and Rescue organization in Lafayette Square to plan a fundraiser in the owners name to benefit future animals and their needs.

Sincerely,
Elicia’s Pizza"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Elicia's Pizza Driver Kills Neighborhood Dog

"The whole thing is so out of control, with Alicia’s Pizza not even offering an apology after their delivery driver ran over our dog," remarks Soulard resident Mal Schwartz, describing the Friday evening - August 21 - accident on the corner of S. 13th Street and Sidney in the Soulard neighborhood.

He and life partner Ed Van Kast, tenants living in a first floor unit in the 1300 block of Sidney, had been regular customers of Alicia’s Pizza, located nearby on Gravois, ordering deliveries every couple of weeks. The peculiar events on Friday ended their relationship with the company.

"Ed ordered a pizza from the company on Friday evening, around 8 to 8:30 p.m. When the delivery driver arrived at our door, our two dogs, Shorty and Groucho, who were inside the house, started barking," Mal relates. Mal describes Shorty as a rescue dog, adopted by the couple through the Humane Society of Franklin County, following flooding in the area over a year ago. "Shorty was a shih tzu, about 10 inches high, weighing in at 21 pounds, according to the vet, and Shorty and Groucho bark when somebody comes to the door. That is natural," he explains. Groucho is a medium sized dog, also probably not weighing over 30 pounds. "These are house pets, not ferocious attack dogs," Mal emphasizes.

Ed kept the dogs inside and went out on the small porch to accept the pizza and to pay the delivery person. "The dogs were inside, and there was never any physical contact between the dogs and the delivery person," Mal observes.

But the whole thing just went downhill, he says. The delivery person was upset and angry, even though Mal gave him a tip. "Ed just wanted to end the whole thing, after accepting the pizza and paying the man, and he turned to go into the house. When he opened the storm door with one hand, juggling the pizza with the other, Shorty bolted. Ed had not noticed that the delivery man had left the gate wide open on the way to his vehicle, which was parked on S. 13th," Mal relates.

"The delivery person was shouting at Ed, and one of his comments was to never call Elicia’s again, among other things," Mal comments. "Anyway, he started up his car and ran through the stop sign, turning west on Sidney. He ran over Shorty, who was excited by the confrontation and was out on the street by this time. Death was instantaneous. The driver slowed, but he did not stop," Mal testifies.

Mal relates that neighbors heard the delivery man shouting. In fact, the neighbor three doors up Sidney had come to her front yard because the delivery driver had attracted her attention by speeding down the alley paralleling Sidney to turn onto S. 13th on his way to the delivery. "Her daughter was having a slumber party and she was out in the back yard and noted that the driver was driving erratically through the alley. From her front yard, she witnessed the whole thing," Mal comments. "He was yelling as he was driving away," he notes.

"Ed was stunned by this turn of events," according to Mal. "He called the police. They did not want to take a report. They said it was just an accident. In fact, they wanted to arrest Ed, since he threw the pizza into the middle of the street. They wanted to arrest him for littering," Mal recounts.

"Animal control was also on the scene. They wanted to remove the body, but Ed told them that he would take care of that," Mal says.

He also called the manager of Elicia’s Pizza. "The manager said that it was not their fault and that we didn’t have our dog under control. He said they had no responsibility, and that it was our problem, not theirs," Mal continues. "There was no apology, no sense of remorse. The manager was rude as hell. As far as I am concerned, Elicia’s Pizza has the worst sense of customer relations of anybody I have ever seen," he concludes.

News of the strange incident has been spread on a Soulard neighborhood e-mail blaster. The response has been overwhelmingly against Elicia’s Pizza. Somebody forwarded the blaster information to Channel 5. Interviews were conducted by Channel 5 KSDK personnel, but the story did not run because Elicia’s said they would take legal action, according to Mal.

A friend of Madame Chouteau called Elicia’s Pizza on Thursday afternoon, August 27 in order to get a comment. The statement received was: "The situation was an accident. The owners of this company are talking to the owners of the dog to try to work this situation out."

Ed and Mal buried Shorty’s remains on a family farm in Waterloo, Il.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Garden Spot Market Occupies Key Niche

Soulard Market shoppers are fortunate to have another first class vendor. Garden Spot Market, a outlet of Rick's Garden Spot Meats, based in Salem, Illinois, has opened inside the main building, right across the aisle from the Soulard Spice Shop. Meats, old time canned goods and other products, plus hot lunches, are all available on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.

Marcus Shupp, one of several family members running the outlet, is extremely enthusiastic to be at the Soulard Market, and he is overjoyed at the reception the shop and its products have received.

He notes that "we have been in the meat processing business for about 14 years. We started out as a custom only processing plant, and we evolved over the years into what we are now - a USDA inspected meat processor."

The benefit to Soulard Market shoppers is that they can purchase meat products which are locally produced. Marcus observes that "the knowledgeable consumer wants to know where their food is coming from and exactly what the animals (for the meat part of our business) have been fed. All of our fresh meats come from small, local farmers. We know each one of them. We can tell you exactly what farm produced what, how the animal was raised and what they were fed."

He adds that "all of our meat is ‘naturally’ raised. No hormones have been used to ‘greenhouse grow’ or to grow them faster and bigger."

He also mentions that "all beef is dry aged for 10 to 14 days to bring out the best flavor. Store bought box meat does not compare to the quality of good, aged steer. Finally, all our pork, lamb and goat are fresh."

Marcus explains that "we are large enough that we can meet the needs of our customers, but we are small enough to care about each individual person and family we come in contact with in the course of providing service."

In addition to meats, honey, pickled dilly corn, maple syrup, salsa, a spectrum of sugar-free jams and many other canned goods are stocked on the store shelves. Marcus mentions that "all of our canned goods are prepared for us by the Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio. All canned goods are of the old fashioned nature, which means that very little or no preservatives are used in the canning process. Simply said, they are prepared just the way our grandparents and earlier generations would have done it, naturally!

"Our maple syrup is tapped and cooked at a small family operated business in central Illinois. The honey is from right here in southern Illinois and is minimally processed - just enough to prevent the product from crystalizing in the jar. The jams and jellies come from the Miller's, a husband/wife operated small business. Once again, they strive to make their products as natural as possible," Marcus states.

He goes on to explain that "our hot lunches are prepared in our inspected facility before being served in our store at Soulard. All meals are prepared fresh each day and in a home style manner. For example, the mashed potatoes that we serve are actual potatoes that we peel, cook and mash to provide in our meals. They are not instant."

Marcus comments that "we also have deli sandwiches available. They are made fresh with your choice of lunch meat and cheese and are sold from our deli case," he says.

"Our business is a family business, and participants include my parents - Rick & Jean, my brother and his wife - Jordan & Jeri, my two sisters - Lucia & Melissa, and my wife Charlou and I," Marcus concludes.

For additional information, visit their web site at http://www.ricksgardenspotmeats.com/ or e-mail Marcus at mlshupp@iglide.net. The store is definitely a must visit for Soulard shoppers. Pictured is Marcus displaying some of the meat products and stocking the canned goods shelves.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Update on Soulard as a Tax Haven and our Apologies

Readers will remember that a recent blog posting noted that property owners of several main line bar/restaurants in Soulard were in arrears in their real estate taxes.

To recap, the owners of: (1) 1923-31 S. 12th, the location of Nadine’s Gin Joint, owe $29,560.65 for the years 06, 07 and 08; (2) 1027 Geyer, the location of The Great Grizzly Bear, owe $23,386.77 for 06, 07 and 08; (3) 2001-2003 Menard, the location of Clementine’s Bar - Oh My Darlin’ Café, owe $10,708.77 for 07 and 08, and (4) 1200-1214 Russell, the location of John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub, owe $24,191.66 for 08. This is per a check of the City of St. Louis web site at 8:45 a.m. on July 31, 2009.

That is a total of $87,847.85, penalties included.

Madame Chouteau checked the St. Louis City Revised Code Chapter 8.02: Licenses and read that: The License Collector shall not issue any merchants, manufacturers, franchise, business or occupational license or renewal thereof, to any person, partnership or corporation, or anyone who contracts for personal service to be performed by individuals within the City, which under the law the License Collector is empowered to issue, unless and until the applicant for such license produces a written statement of clearance issued jointly by the Collector of Revenue and the License Collector certifying that no current or past personal property, real estate tax, payroll tax, business license taxes and/or earnings taxes are due and payable to the City and a statement from the Director of Revenue of the State of Missouri certifying that the applicant is in possession of a retail sales license, if such a license is required.

Madame Chouteau’s interpretation of this boilerplate is that a license to do business will be granted providing that real estate property taxes, among other items, have been paid and are not past due. This sounds reasonable.

The fact that property owners on which some bars and restaurants sit in Soulard are in arrears in their property tax payments, according to City of St. Louis records, is puzzling.

Then everything was made clear, thanks to an excellent column titled "Political Eye," found on page A11 in the July 9 - 15, 2009 issue of the St. Louis American under the headline "License to do business as usual" and the subhead "Scofflaws welcome."

The column explains that Missouri Auditor Susan Montee had released the week before audits of several City of St. Louis departments, including the Office of License Collector, headed by Michael McMillan. There were some miscellaneous problems revealed by the audit, including some problems with procurement policies, etc. The column went on:

"The real eye opener in this audit report, however, is that you really don’t have to have a business license in order to do business in the city of St. Louis.

"The report notes, ‘Of the 3,208 businesses reviewed, 700 operated without a valid business license for at least two years due to deficiencies noted during the clearance process. Of the 700 businesses noted above, 235 operated without a valid business license for at least three years.’

"That’s fully one-quarter of the businesses reviewed!

"McMillan’s response is typical in local politics. If it’s my fault (and I’m not saying it is), then everybody else is doing it.

"‘As indicated, this has been a long standing problem. It is a City and State problem, not just a License Collector’s Office problem,’ he writes.

"‘Businesses in this category have paid for their business licenses. The non-compliant status usually relates to compliance deficiencies with other city departments such as the Collector of Revenue, the Building Division and the Health Department or to the State of Missouri for sales tax.’

"McMillan goes on to admit that the City is so desperate for tax revenue it is willing to waive the license requirement rather than close down scofflaws.

"The report states, ‘According to the License Collectors office, this problem has continued to exist partly because the City has been hesitant to close non-compliant businesses when it is already difficult to keep existing businesses and bring new businesses into the city.’"

So there you have it. Madame Chouteau applauds the administrators of the City of St. Louis for not enforcing their own laws in order to avoid discomforting city businesses, which apparently are in short supply. And we especially thank the St. Louis American for explaining this and making it clear. And we hope that business property owners are not deducting from their income taxes the expense of their unpaid property taxes.

And, of course, Madame Chouteau apologizes for misunderstanding the situation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mugged in Broad Daylight on S. 12th Street

"My mistake was that I gave two young black men the benefit of the doubt," explains Judy Johnson, long time Soulard resident, who was mugged early Saturday evening.

Judy relates that she was returning home from work. The time was approximately 7:10 p.m. She parked two doors up the street from her home in the 2300 block of S. 12th Street - between Shenandoah and Lami, the cross streets. After exiting her van and locking it, she was accosted by two young black men - "they seemed to be about 18 years old" - who asked for directions to a restaurant on "Tucker."

"They were very polite, calling me ma’am. They stayed six feet away from me, and I did not feel threatened at all," Judy relates. "I told them that this was not Tucker, but S. 12th Street. The one who did the talking said he was from Mississippi and that was why he didn’t know that Tucker had a name change when it branched at Gravois. He spoke softly and with a Southern accent. Both were clean cut and casually dressed," Judy notes.

"I was weary from the outset, but they apologized for taking up my time. Then they turned and headed south. I turned north to approach my house, and I heard the talker say: ‘I’m joking, bitch,’ and I was immediately hit between my shoulder blades by a fist or an open hand," Judy says.

"He really hit me hard, and I was pushed several feet, but I did not loose my footing, fortunately," she continues. "He grabbed my purse and yanked, but he did not get it. The second time he did. Then they ran south and turned right on Lami," Judy says.

Judy immediately got in her van and drove to the police substation on S. 11th and Barton, hoping to find a police presence. Unfortunately, there were no police cars there. She drove back home and parked in the same place. When she got out of her van, she saw that a neighbor, Bob Williams, was in front of his apartment. She told him she had just been mugged, and he said that there was a woman’s purse in the alleyway between his building and the next one. Judy said that it was probably hers, and it was.

She inventoried the contents and found that the only thing missing was her cash, which amounted to $4 or $5. She went inside her house and called police, who arrived quickly. She surmises that the muggers turned right on Lami, turned right into the alley and circled into the dogtrot at Bob’s house, went through the purse, dropped it and possibly went north on S. 12th, passing the scene of the event, and cleared out. The policeman - Ofc. Williams - hypothesized that they had an auto nearby and used that to exit the neighborhood. "The officer was very professional, very kind," Judy notes.

Oddly, Judy thinks that the perp hit her so hard that he dropped his cell phone. "It broke, and Bob picked up the pieces that were left and gave them to the policeman," she adds.

The person who did the talking and who attacked her was approximately 5' 10" to 6' tall, very solidly built and his skin tone was "extremely black," she comments. "Also, his teeth were very crooked, and one front tooth was growing over another one at an angle. It was almost as though he was wearing Halloween teeth," Judy says. "The other man was shorter and lighter," she observes.

"These guys gave me no hint that I was going to be nailed. They used the element of surprise. I should have stayed in my van when I saw them. Instead, I gave two young black men the benefit of the doubt, and that was my mistake," Judy concludes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Armed Robbery, Lami between 12th and 13th

A Soulard renter was robbed at gunpoint at 11 p.m. Wednesday evening, July 1 in the well lighted parking area of his building as he returned from a business related social event in Illinois.

"I turned off Lami into the alley and the parking lot, parked, put the club on my steering wheel, exited my car, and opened the back door to pick up some clothing," the victim related. "While leaning inside the car, the perp came up behind me and placed the revolver barrel against my head," he said.

The three and a half year Soulard resident is an A-B contractor. " I really enjoy Soulard, and I can walk to work," he notes. He has rented the same apartment since arriving in the neighborhood. His age is about 30, he works out and he weighs about 135 pounds.

"With the metal on my skin, he told me to turn around. I complied, and he told me to give him my money, my wallet and my cell phone. I dug out some money in a clip. It amounted to $20 or $30. I handed it to him, and he then demanded my wallet and my cell phone. I gave him my wallet, but I told him I did not have a cell phone. Actually, it was buried in the pocket of my cargo shorts," the victim remarked.

The perp, a black male dressed in a white tank top and black shorts, late 20's, 5'8" to 5'9", muscular and stocky, apparently accepted this and "pointed down the alley toward Shenandoah and told me to run that way, which I did," the victim observes. "When I hit the street, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. When I checked the time of the call next day, it was at 11:07," he explains.

The police arrived in 10 to 15 minutes. A police dog searched the area but found nothing.

"At about 11:30 I called my bank to report the loss of my credit cards. By the time I was through talking to them, the perp had already used two credit cards at the BP station on South Broadway near the White Castle," the victim observes. The victim has informed the police that the perp may have been recorded on a camera at the gas station.

Lessons learned, mistakes made: "When I pulled into the alley and into my parking space, I did not properly evaluate my surroundings," notes the victim. "This man knew exactly what he wanted and he was in and out very quickly, as though he had done this before. My evaluation is that he was in a vehicle with others and that he followed me in, left his car, and came into the parking lot. After he sent me packing, he exited the alley, got back in his vehicle, and left the area. Only if he was in a car could he get to the BP station, which is a mile and a half away or so, that quickly, to use the credit cards."

The victim concludes with the most important advice: "Be more cautious, and try to be aware of what is going on around you. And try to remember to check your mirror to see if it appears anybody is following you."

When was Soulard declared a Tax Haven? Nobody told Madame Chouteau

In addition to being an entertainment district, Soulard apparently has morphed into a tax haven. Some owners of properties which house local entertainment/business establishments seem to feel that paying their property taxes is a low priority.

Those curious can visit the website described as that of the City of St. Louis Assessor’s Office, Property Database Search (http://stlcin.missouri.org/assessor/lookup.cfm). After entering an address, visitors have the option of going to "Tax Payment History - view summary," a database maintained by the office of Gregory F. X. Daly, Collector of Revenue. According to informatiion provided as of 7/6/09 at approximately 9 a.m., when we checked, property described as 1923-1931 S. 12th Street is in arrears on property taxes for three years. The bills are: 2006: $10,941.03; 2007: $9780.59; 2008: $8,839.03, or a total of $29,560.65. The property is owned by NTM Partnership LLC, located at that address, and the building is the home of Nadine’s Gin Joint, a bar and restaurant.

Similarly, the records indicate that 1027 Geyer owes $8,658.61 for 2006; $7,736.58 for 2007, and $6,991.58 for 2008, or a total of $23,386.77, as per the time we checked on 7/6/09. The records indicate that the owner of the structure is Great Grizzly Blues LLC, 2 Clara Ave., Webster Groves, MO. The building is the home of The Great Grizzly Bear, a bar and restaurant.

Another address is 2001-2003 Menard, the address of Clementine’s Bar - Oh My Darlin’ Café. The owner, as listed on the Assessor’s website, is Clementine, Inc at that address. They are in much better shape, with past due taxes listed for 2007 as $5,625.25 and for 2008 as $5,083.52. The total is $10,708.77.

Finally, we note that 1200 Russell Blvd owes $24,191.66 from the 2008 tax year, as per a check of the Assessor’s Office web site, also on 7/6/09 at approximately 9 a.m. Everybody knows that is the address of John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub. The owner is listed as McGurks-Soulard LLC, 2000 S. 8th Street. They make that much money in a half and hour selling booze on Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day or St. Patrick’s Day.

It should be noted that, according to the web site, the information on the web site is updated weekly.

Why is this happening? Do these property owners perceive that Soulard entertainment district businesses are too big - to important - to have to be bothered with keeping their property tax payments up to date? The coffers of the City of St. Louis are not overflowing with cash. St. Louis may declare a fiscal crisis so city government can furlough employees and eliminate jobs.

Did the 2009 Mardi Gras income not meet expectations? Was the neighborhood turned into a trash bin and a public urinal for nothing because some business owners were not satisfied? They didn’t make enough money from the debacle, so they sent the tax man a rain check?

Or is this just another manifestation of the attitude among Soulard entertainment property owners that they can write their own rules, just like they do for Soulard Mardi Gras and during the rest of the year, staging a peculiar string of phony festivals and corn ball events, all to boost liquor sales, all trampling on the quality of life of residents?

Why are property owners whose businesses make so many neighborhood people uncomfortable allowed to skate on their property tax bills, too?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Look, Ma, We Creamed the Porsche and We had a Good Time, Too

By the early 1970's Soulard was a doomed, inner-city slum, a neighborhood to be demolished as soon as government funds became available. Then rehab took hold and a number of people worked for many years to save the interesting housing stock and to turn the area into a residentially oriented historic district.

Unfortunately, the neighborhood made an unexpected turn. A large number of bars and restaurants took root, latching onto and feeding off the Soulard Mardi Gras. The City of St. Louis supported this development, designating Soulard as an "entertainment district." Residential interests were sidelined.

One of the consequences of evolving into an entertainment district is the tremendous amount of vehicular traffic in Soulard. Sometimes vehicles are driven by careless young people. Some drivers have trouble driving because they have been drinking. For whatever reason, their attentions are elsewhere. The result is property damage.

Thus, we were awakened shortly after midnight on Saturday, June 27, by the crunch of metal on metal and the screech of brakes. Dashing out front, we found that a parked Porsche on S. 12th Street near the intersection with Lami had been smushed by another car.

Later, we were told the story that a woman from Arnold was driving alone, she reached for her cell phone and the rest is history. She passed the breath-a-lizer test, administered by John Law. The explanation for the numbers of people on the scene was that they were friends of hers who were in another auto which was following her, for an unstated reason.

Last year there was a similar accident on Lami, half way between S. 11th and S. 12th. A rather fancy parked car lost a whole bunch of metal and plastic when it was hit by somebody or other in the middle of the night. And, of course, on Mardi Gras Grand Parade day, there was an Infiniti parked on the alley on Lami between S. 11th and S. 12th with its back end half way into the street and the alley. The first cop car passing by called it in and had it towed away. Whoever parked it must have been really smashed, but the car wasn’t.

Cars go shooting down S. 12th at 50 miles and hour and blast through stop signs. Motorcycles do the same, while producing an ungodly amount of noise. On any afternoon or evening, speeding vehicles and loud motorcycles announce the corroding presence of those enjoying the Soulard entertainment district while disrespecting the residential element of the neighborhood.

The fallout from these bars and restaurants - the noise, the litter, the discourteous visitors, the property damage - could not continue without support from neighborhood residents. A party culture has evolved in Soulard. Instead of contemplating how to improve the neighborhood, those submerged in the party culture focus on how to improve their party. In other words, Soulard has lost its focus and the party has become the thing.

The hollowness of this culture can be perceived by their excuse. "Anyone who lives in Soulard isn’t going to be anti-bar. You wouldn’t move here if you were!" That is the comment from "Gary Siddens of the Soulard Restoration Group," as printed in the Sunday, August 29, 2004 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

For years his bombastic and glib sound bite has provided sustenance to the arrogance of Mardi Gras and bar and restaurant apologists, enablers and beneficiaries, supporting and excusing bad behavior and the problems these negative elements cause.

Thus, an additional sound bite would be: "Anyone who lives in Soulard isn’t going to be against having their parked car trashed in the middle of the night. You wouldn’t move here if you were."
Nobody can make a comeback to these comments. The bottom line seems to be that if you move to Soulard, for some strange reason you become part of an excuse for bad behavior You are automatically a supporter of the party culture. And if you have lived in Soulard for years and years, somehow you don’t count. Par-tay trumps quality of life every time. This is the message of the trashed Porsche.
(Top two pictures: a bruised Porsche. Bottom picture: Mardi Gras parking problems.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Updates from Living Well in Soulard

Those on the lookout for locally grown produce at the Soulard Farmers’ Market should check out the Wholesome Gardens Produce booth, located next to the booth of Baetje Farms, in the northeast wing. A spectrum of hydro lettuce and fresh herbs is offered. Fresh cut basil, arugula, and wildfire, butterhead and romaine lettuce are available now. Eggplant, squash and peppers will be offered in the season. All produce is grown by Gardell Strite on the farm, located in Bluford, Il.

For additional information, contact Gardell at the farm at 618-732-8552.

Also, while we are on the subject, Veronica Baetje has introduced a new cheese she is calling "Fleur de la Vallee." It is made using the same techniques as the French use to produce their famous reblochon cheese. She cannot use the reblochon name, which is copyrighted.

If you google the word "reblochon," you can research the history of that product. Of course, the French cheese is made with milk from cows, while Veronica is using goat milk. But the steps and procedures she uses copy of French techniques. It is a very interesting product, and Baetje Farms fans should take note.

Veronica learns about making different cheese products by attending a school in Vermont and from consulting with specialists in her field. She is an artist. She is constantly learning, improving, updating and experimenting, always seeking to achieve perfection and to express herself through her cheese. Madame Chouteau is so proud that Veronica and husband Steve - also an artist - have chosen Soulard Farmers’ Market as one of the outlets for their products. Watching the evolution of the booth is a wonder. Watching them aspire to be the best that they can be is inspirational.

As an aside, it is reported that Globe Drug has restocked Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, vintage 2008, as discussed in a posting on this blog on May 11. This French wine is perfect with Baetje Farms cheeses, as well as with many other foods. The review of the wine was posted, too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crime Alert: Report of Soulard Robbery

A resident sent the following information by e-mail on Friday:

"Last night (05/14) another Soulard resident was robbed at gunpoint at 9th and Geyer at around 2:30 A.M. According to the police (who were congregated and talking very loudly about the incident over their intercom outside my window), three black males jumped out of a newer model silver Pontiac and pointed guns at a man walking home from a friend's house and demanded his money. Apparently they only got away with his keys and cellphone and he was not assaulted.

"However, it appears that this is a trend developing in this area and is worth keeping an eye on - its actually kind of similar to the one [...previously reported]. That's all I can provide because that is all I could hear from the cops talking, but if you wanted to post more about it I'm sure the police would be happy to fill you in. Since part of my name is in my email address, I ask that you please keep this information anonymous. Let me know if you have any questions."

We thank this person for providing the information, and we suggest that all residents and visitors take care, especially after hours. Hopefully, we can obtain additional information, which we will post.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Foodies Pay Attention: Living Well, Soulard Version

On Saturday, after doing our shopping at the Soulard Farmers' Market, Madame Chouteau purchased several bottles of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, vintage 2008 at Globe Drug, 1900 South Broadway. We always enjoy French red wine. It is so smooth, compared with the red wines from California, which often seem to have a bite to them, no matter what the price. Of course, Globe offers a spectrum of wines from Australia, Spain, Italy, Chile, the United States and from other wine producing countries, all reasonably priced.

The beaujolais nouveau we added to our shopping cart was a close-out at Globe, priced at $2.98 per bottle, plus tax, of course. It perfectly complemented a meal which included other locally produced and purchased products including fresh asparagus from Scharf Farm, available at the Scharf booth at Soulard Farmers’ Market, along with a small package of Coeur de la Creme goat cheese from Baetje Farms, also at the Market. The portion that we purchased was flavored with lemon curd, another Baetje Farms innovation. It was perfectly delicious.

Any nominations for other outstanding food purchases in or near Soulard?

Additional information (added May 12): We thank Lyn deMoss for forwarding to us the review of the beaujolais nouveau from Globe Drug. The following review is reprinted from a blog titled drinkhacker.com, self-described as "The essential blog for the discriminating drinker."

Review: 2008 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

"On Thursday, November 20, the new 2008 vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau goes on sale, and every wine lover should make a point to try at least one bottle before ‘08 is history.

"I got an early peek at Georges Duboeuf’s Nouveau and found it one of the most charming Nouveaus in recent memory.

"The Gamay’s traditional, lightly bitter and strongly fruity character is here, with all sorts of green herbs on the palate. A kind of sage and dried oregano tone laces its way through the very dark crimson vino, and the finish is moderately quick and dry, with notes of cassis.

"As always, it’s nothing complex (sometimes that’s a good thing, after all), and at $12 a bottle, you can’t really go wrong. As always, Nouveau stands best as a wonderful way to welcome the first wines from the 2008 vintage… even though it will be years before most of them hit the market."

The reviewer gives the wine a B+ rating.

Lyn deMoss, who forwarded the wine review information to Madame Chouteau, is a resident and homeowner in the Lafayette Square neighborhood who enjoys good food and good wine. Interestingly enough, she is a seamstress specializing in home interior sewing, including custom pillows, cushions, draperies and slipcovers. Exotic jobs include engineering and fabricating sound control panels for home theater/home entertainment installations. A fashion design background, coupled with work with ballet and theater customers, has sharpened her skills in clothing fabrication, alteration and repair, and she has constructed Victorian costumes and handled wedding dress alterations, among other projects. She can be reached at 314-865-5388 or by e-mail at lyndemoss@sbcglobal.net.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Robbed at Gun Point (soulard)

We ran across the following posting on Craigslist - St. Louis, dated May 3 - Sunday - in the Lost and Found category and titled "Robbed at Gun Point (soulard):

"So, me and my friends where, yes robbed at freaking gun point last night. My purse was stolen and I'm hoping they just took the cash and threw out the window. It's a white purse with a brown strap. If any one finds it, can I please have it back!" Location: Soulard.

Madame Chouteau sure hopes this person gets her purse back. Remember, these are hard times, and wandering around the Soulard neighborhood after dark can be risky, especially if you have been drinking. Of course, this is just common sense.

Update (added on Monday): Wishing to obtain more detail than that on the Craigslist posting, Madame Chouteau had a friend contact the Craigslist poster seeking additional information. The friend truthfully identified himself as a resident of the Soulard neighborhood. Following is the exact reply (the name of the victim has been left out):

"I actually work at Johnny's and after work I went to McGurks to visit with my friends from Dublin. After last call we were gathered at the front bar. My girlfriend was parked on 12th St across from where the cop sits. She wanted to walk by herself but I insisted that we all walk her. All being myself, my 2 girlfriends and a guy friend from Dublin. We walked her to her Jeep and were just talking about plans for Sunday. The time was approx 1:30-1:40ish, our 1st call to 911 was 1:50 a.m. or so. Just then a Silver late 90's Monte Carlo swerved toward us and then wiped around and another car facing the other way, stopped. 3 black men jumped out, I could only see out of the corner of my eye, since I was facing the Jeep. One of the guys about 5 foot 8, wearing jeans and a held a very shiny hand gun to my head. He said to give him all of our money. The other men were pointing guns towards my friends. They hit one of my girlfriends in the face.

"My guy friend from Dublin, told them that they didn't want to do this. They pushed him and hit him. My back was to them...I dropped to my knees and laid my purse down and placed my hands in the air. One of them grabbed it and they hopped into the cars and turned west on Russell. The police came after being put on hold twice, thank God no one got shot or we'd be dead. Needless to say that is the 3rd time I've been robbed in this city. My purse was stolen from work during Mardi Gras, last summer my car was broken into and now this. Each time before I was thankful I wasn't robbed by gun point or hurt.

"Next time I'm sure someone is going to kill me. Thankfully for me I'm only working 5 more days in Soulard and then I don't think I'll ever go back without a gun. It's getting worse in the city and the police just care. No one is safe. I have countless of stories from friends that this type of stuff has happened all in your backyard.

"My boyfriend was home during a home invasion and those assholes were never caught. I'll never get any of my stuff back and I can deal with that. Since this is my 3rd time around, you start getting numb. The police suggested that we arm our selves. I'll probably be caring a gun from now on down there. If this dosen't get under control you're going to have not only the thugs with guns but everyone else with them. I'm not a radical about firearms but if we had guns this would have defanity ended in a blood bath. Needless to say, I'll have a gun on me from now on and suggest to friends not to go down there without one. I hope this helps. Good Luck!"

Madame Chouteau thanks the victim for her willingness to share the unfortunate details, and we hope she soon recovers her composure.

Update 2 (added on Tuesday): Following is an official version of what happened in Soulard relating to the incident on Sunday, May 3, from information compiled by Lisa, Linda and Terry, who operate Soulard neighborhood blasters meant to keep neighborhood residents and others informed:

The following information provided from a St. Louis police officer:
Incident: Robbery 1st
Location: 2018 S. 12th Street
Suspect #1: B/M, early 20's, 5'06", short hair, light t-shirt, shorts, silver handgun
Suspect #2: B/M, early 20's, 6'01", short twisties, slim build, light t-shirt, black blue jeans, black handgun
Suspect #3: B/M, driver in Chevy Malibu
Suspect #4: B/M, passenger in Chevy Monte Carlo
Precinct/Beat: 311/321
Dates/Times: 05/03/09 0150hrs

Terry was also told (by a SLPD officer) that this robbery, and 5 others, occurred throughout the city this same evening, committed by the same suspects. They were driving a stolen car, boxed the victims in, assaulted and robbed them at gun point.

The following information was received by a resident who contacted the Craigslist poster: (Please note, the following are details from the victim's email and not a copy of the reply.) The victim met friends at McGurks after work at another Soulard business. After last call the victim and friends walked one of the friends to her car on 12th Street. (Victims: 3 females and 1 male) A silver late model 90's Monte Carlo swerved toward them and whipped around and another car facing the other way, stopped. 3 suspects (see description above) jumped out with guns and demanded all of their money. 2 of the victims were pushed and/or hit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our Most Sophisticated Mardi Gras Parade

We must admit that we missed the 2009 Grand Parade of the Soulard Mardi Gras on Saturday, February 21. The temps were freezing and a wicked wind pushed the wind chill into the 20's.


Missing the 2009 version of the parade might be perceived as a tragedy, since it is promoted as the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras and as an extremely sophisticated parade, second only to the public displays associated with a royal coronation. To be honest, those officers and members of Mardi Gras, Inc., and the Soulard Restoration Group carry themselves as though they are royalty. We know that the rest of the world wishes they were one with this in-crowd, with The Swells of Soulard. But you aren’t, so eat your heart out.


In fact, Madame Chouteau missed the parade not because of the weather but because the parade is so pathetic.


Here are some pictures from the 2008 parade. You could park your rosin chair next to the pumps at any truck stop in Pevely or Fenton and see a better parade of trucks, and without the drunken crowds. Bring your own beads and have a ball. And the booze would be cheaper, so you could get a good buzz on and have money left over to buy a six-pack or two to drink on your drive home.


It should be mentioned that the photos were taken at the beginning of the parade and do not advantageously display the parade setting: a stretch of road whimsically and romantically titled South Broadway, a post-industrial urban boulevard, complete with potholes and eroding curbs, embroidered with a surly spectrum of gas stations, worn at the edges fast food outlets, liquor stores, vacant buildings and trash strewn lots. To hear The Swells of Soulard talk, Mardi Gras turns South Broadway into some kind of Rodeo Drive. The Grand Parade does lend a certain flavor to South Broadway. The old computer saw about garbage in, garbage out comes to mind.


Thus, it is puzzling to witness the hubbub made over the Grand Parade and Grand Parade Day.


For example, why would Loonyness Place, the newest gambling venue here in St. Louis and a source of great civic pride to people starved for signs of municipal health, associate itself with this debacle by sponsoring it? Why would a supposed sophisticated business want to stand cheek by jowl with Mardi Gras Inc. and its child, the Grand Parade, a lame come-on for a faux festival trying mightily to disguise the fact that selling over-priced booze (and as much as possible to anybody) is its reason for existence?


Is this a cool branding move? Madame Chouteau has found that one way to determine whether somebody has a semblance of good sense and effectively evaluates reality is to bring up the subject of the Grand Parade Day. Those with a life say they wouldn’t get anywhere near the event. They accurately appraise it as "just a bunch of drunks."


So here is Your Sponsorship, LP, the entertainment venue whose unique contribution to St. Louis is a tunnel from the underutilized domed football stadium (which soon will be really underutilized) to their new digs in Laclede’s Landing. A tunnel from nowhere to nothing. Why does it associate with MG Inc? Maybe it helps management feel superior. Scientists aren’t sure.


In a city insecure about its identity and direction and hosting a leadership trumpeting self-serving answers and solutions, the Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day is a symptom of the continuing malaise confronting Soulard and St. Louis. Is a Grand Drunk - enthusiastically boosted as an answer by those who know better - the preview of things to come?

More Recognition of Steve and Veronica Baetje

Steve and Veronica Baetje, who make Soulard Farmers’ Market shoppers so happy with their outstanding goat milk products, were recently recognized by the Southeast Missouri University for their entrepreneurial skills. In late February it was announced that Baetje Farms LLC was one of the recipients of the 2009 SPARK Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the Southeast Innovation Center.

The Baetje’s are goat farmers and artisan cheese makers. The goats are hand raised on their farm, located in Bloomsdale, MO. Steve and Veronica rely on the assistance of friends and family members to tend the goats and to produce their award-winning cheeses. Their cheeses are sold at four farmers’ markets, including at Soulard, in several restaurants and wineries and at 17 grocery stores.

The business was one of six small businesses in the tri-state region that were recognized by the Southeast University Innovation Center for growth and economic impact in the region. Each of the SPARK Award winners were graduates from a nationally recognized and high successful small business training program, titled Operation Jump-Start, created and conducted by the Innovation Center. Objective of the program is to teach entrepreneurs essential business planning and preparation skills in a non-academic setting. For additional information about the Innovation Center, visit their site at http://www.semo.edu/innovation.

Madame Chouteau wishes to add that Steve and Veronica and those who help them at the Soulard booth are just wonderful people. Shoppers are encouraged to stop and chat with them at the market, and to sample and purchase their products.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Market Vendor offers Heart-Healthy Beef

Grass-fed, heart-healthy beef is brought to Soulard Farmers’ Market shoppers by Bob and Sue Eckenfels and partner Robert Hoye from Hoye Brothers Farm (HBF), located in Ste. Genevieve.

HBF occupies 114 acres of the rolling countryside which characterizes the typography of the Ste. Genevieve area. The pastures provide cool and warm season grasses, red and white clover and annual forage plots of rye and mullet, according to by Bob and Sue.

They explain that the pastures are divided into 14 individual paddocks and each is supplied with abundant well water. The cattle herds are rotated from paddock to paddock, allowing them to graze on high-quality, nutrient-rich grasses. The resulting beef is a tasty alternative to factory farmed, store-bought beef, Sue explains.

The HBF herds consist of Murray Grey and Angus cattle, known for the rich flavor of their beef. All are 100 per cent grass fed and are never given grain, antibiotics, hormones, anabolic steroids or growth stimulants, Sue notes.

She adds that beef from grass-fed animals is much lower in calories and fat than grain-fed animals, is high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene and vitamin E, and is a rich source of cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). The meat is flash frozen and shrink-wrapped.

At present, Bob and Sue can be found at the booth usually occupied by Steve and Veronica Baetje, who sell that outstanding goat cheese. Steve and Veronica will be back at their stand after the kidding season, of course, at which time Bob and Sue will move to a more permanent location at the Market.

For information about cuts of meat available and prices, contact Bob and Sue by phone at 573-883-0337, by e-mail at mailto:bseckenfels@yahoo.com. Best, visit them at the Soulard Market on Saturday. We welcome them as new vendors to the famous Soulard Farmers' Market.