Area leaders discuss violence in St. Louis and effect on the region

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI)-Leaders from both Missouri and Illinois are expressing concern about how the series of murders in the city could impact the entire region. They are offering some solutions but realize there are no overnight fixes.

“This has cast a huge cloud over the city of St. Louis. It is very concerning. It’s not only distracting but, most importantly, it’s disgusting,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay about the recent violence.

In the city of St. Louis, seven murders occurred in just 24 hours, Wednesday into Thursday.

The topic was on the minds of many at the “State of St Louis: Setting the Regional Agenda” event. Leaders from both sides of the river gathered at the Renissance Grand Hotel downtown to talk about what’s in store for the St. Louis area in 2015.

Those who attended say dealing with the city violence has to be a high priority because the impact goes beyond the city limits.

The violence might lead to a negative image for the entire region. That could be a serious challenge especially after what the world saw in Ferguson.

“Obviously it is damaging, and it’s particularly a problem now because so much attention has been focused on the St. Louis region,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.

The leaders talked about all kinds of possible solutions. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger called for a regional approach.

“Frankly I think it begins at an early age for individuals. I think it has to do with education. I think it has to with opportunity. I think it also has to do with policies relating to policing. I think it has to with policies related to punishment,” said Stenger.

Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board Shairman, explained, “You’ve got a lot of kids today that are graduating from high school with a third grade reading and math level. That’s just not acceptable.”

“If there are crimes being committed, people in the community need to step up and be willing to testify and help get the bad guys off the street,” added Ehlmann.

Mayor Slay understands the concerns.

“It raises a lot of eyebrows and a lot of concern about ‘hey mayor, what’s going on’ and people worried about their safety as we go forward. I get it! So we’re making sure that you know we don’t leave any stone unturned,” said Slay.

Several arrests have been made in connection to the week’s deadly violence.

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