HEADLINES
BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT






GARAGE FIRE SPREADS TO ATTIC IN NORTH COUNTY


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District Facebook

March 24, 2016 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - Black Jack firefighters fought a residential structure fire in the Barrington Downs subdivision Tuesday. "B" shift arrived to find the garage fully involved and fire spreading into the attic space. An aggressive interior attack limited the damage in the living area. The garage was a total loss.

Black Jack was assisted by Florissant Valley FPD, Spanish Lake FPD, Ferguson FD, and Hazelwood FD.

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TWO ALARM FIRE IN NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY


Photo: Spanish Lake Fire Protection District Facebook

March 20, 2016 - Black Jack Fire Protection District Facebook

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - Black Jack firefighters fought an early morning 2 alarm fire at the Paddock Village Apartments. The fire involved the second floor, third floor and roof. "A" shift did a great job containing this fire to 2 units.

Firefighters from Spanish Lake FPD, Ferguson FD, Metro North FPD, Riverview FPD, Florissant Valley FPD, Hazelwood FD, and St. Louis City FD assisted.

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FIRE DISTRICT RECEIVED AWARD FROM HAZELWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

October 9, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK - At the Hazelwood School District board meeting Tuesday night, the Black Jack Fire District was given a certificate of appreciation by the school board for their work in the community.

Among the activities the firefighters helped with were the semi-annual Food 4 Thought food drive (with Florissant Valley FPD), the annual winter coat drive, the recent Back to School Giveaway for Teachers, and the construction of a wheelchair ramp for a special needs student.

The Black Jack Fire District is grateful for its partnership with Hazelwood School District!

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FIREFIGHTERS BUILD RAMP FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

September 29, 2015 - Call News

BLACK JACK, MO. - Black Jack firefighters spent the day building a wheelchair ramp for a child with special needs. Previously, they had to carry the wheelchair into the yard, then carry the child out to the wheelchair. Now the family has easy and safe access to the driveway. Thanks to Lowe's in Florissant for providing the materials at a discount! More Headlines for Black Jack Fire




FIRE CHIEF PROMOTIONS


(left photo) Promoted to Fire Chief was Ankeneth Corbin. (right photo) Promoted to Assistant Chief was Roger Ellison

September 8, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK, MO. - A ceremony was held at headquarters for promotions and the hiring of 4 new Firefighter/Paramedics. Promoted to Fire Chief was Ankeneth Corbin. Promoted to Assistant Chief was Roger Ellison. Dave Schmidt and Tom Torminio were promoted to Battalion Chief. Mike Scott and Phil Torminio are new Captains. Our newest Firefighter/Paramedics are Kentral Williams, Aaron Hammond, Scott Keeven, and Luke Andert.

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WOMAN SENTENCED IN ST. LOUIS FEDERAL COURT FOR FIRE THAT KILLED HER SON

May 3, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Jennifer S. Mann

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis County woman whose son was killed when she set their house on fire for financial gain was sentenced Friday in federal court here to eight years in prison.

Sandra Kay Bryant, 59, will get credit for the four years and two months that she has already served, according to the sentence ordered by U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig. It was pursuant to an agreement reached between Bryant's attorneys and prosecutors when she pleaded guilty in March to one charge of aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud.

Bryant's ex-husband, Steven H. Kemper, 56, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced last month to five years and 10 months in prison. He received a break for cooperating with investigators and agreeing to testify against Bryant if she were to go to trial.

The couple's 15-year old son, Zachariah Andrew Kemper, became trapped in the basement and was killed during the fire at 6682 Champana Lane in Florissant, Missouri on November 16, 2001. Kemper has said the fire was supposed to happen when the home was unoccupied, and it was going to be blamed on careless smoking and cleaning habits.

But instead, the home was occupied. The couple's son became trapped by the fire and died.

Court records revealed it was the third arson planned or carried out by the couple.

As part of his guilty plea in 2013, Kemper, admitted setting fire to his mother-in-law's house in 1997. He was retaliating against Betty Bryant for ending her financial support and cutting the couple out of her will after she discovered they had defrauded her. Betty Bryant escaped and later reconciled with the couple.

In 1999, Bryant set fire to her mother's home in Alton when it failed to sell, prosecutors said.

Bryant, under her married name, originally faced murder and arson charges in St. Louis County Circuit Court until a mistrial was caused when jurors were allowed to see a video showing Bryant's polygraph examination.

The Missouri Supreme Court ultimately held that because the mistrial was declared over the defense objection, state prosecutors were barred from retrying the defendant in state court because it would constitute "double jeopardy."

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FATHER SENTENCED FOR SETTING FATAL 2001 HOUSE FIRE IN FLORISSANT THAT KILLED SON


Zachariah Kemper died in a house fire in 2001 at his home in Florissant.

June 8, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis County man who plotted an arson for financial gain that instead killed his 15-year-old son was sentenced Monday to five years and 10 months in prison.

The Nov. 16, 2001 fire that killed Zachariah "Zachy" Kemper was the third planned or carried out by Steven H. Kemper and his then-wife, Sandra Kay Bryant, according to court documents and testimony Monday.

Kemper and his lawyer said that the fire was supposed to happen when their home, at 6682 Champana Lane, was unoccupied. It was supposed to be blamed on careless smoking and cleaning habits. But Bryant set the fire when the house was occupied by her son, her husband and her mother, they said. Zachy was trapped and died.

Assistant federal defender Nanci McCarthy said that Bryant intended Kemper to be a victim as well.

Zachy's uncle, William "Bill" Fleming, asked U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig to "carefully examine the maximum penalty," saying that Zachy was kind, generous and funny.

Fleming said that he expected parents dealing with the death of their son to cry and scream, "instead of calmly arranging for an insurance payout."

He also faulted Kemper for 11 years of deception before he finally pleaded guilty.

At one point, Kemper listened with his head in hands shaking with tremors.

He later agreed with much of what Fleming said, saying that he has been enduring a "living hell" for the last 14 years and that the Flemings "don't know the loss I feel."

"I'm so sorry everything happened the way it happened," he said.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Kemper faced 10 years in prison. But lawyers on both sides agreed that he should be get a break for cooperating with the federal investigation and for agreeing to testify against his former wife. Bryant pleaded guilty in March, days before her trial was to start. McCarthy said that Kemper should not do any prison time due to serious medical and mental health issues that include a heart attack and stroke in 2008, emphysema and back and leg problems. Kemper came to court in a motorized wheelchair.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rea asked for between 60 and 75 months, citing the two other fires that Kemper or his wife set, fueled by greed.

As part of his guilty plea to aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud in 2013, Kemper, admitted setting fire to his mother-in-law's house in 1997. He was retaliating against Betty Bryant for ending her financial support and cutting the couple out of her will after she discovered they had defrauded her. Betty Bryant escaped and later reconciled with the couple.

In 1999, Bryant set fire to her mother's home in Alton when it failed to sell, Rea said Monday.

Bryant, 59, of St. Louis County, pleaded guilty to the same charge as Kemper and is scheduled to be sentenced July 8. Both sides have agreed on an eight-year prison term, but Fleissig said Monday that she had not yet agreed to accept that condition of Bryant's plea. If Fleissig rejects the plea, Bryant could go to trial. If she is sentenced to eight years in prison, she'd get credit for the time she's already served and the net result would be 46 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said earlier this year.

Bryant, under her married name, originally faced murder and arson charges in St. Louis County Circuit Court until a mistrial caused when jurors were allowed to see a video showing Bryant's polygraph examination. Bryant's lawyers wanted jurors to see her repeatedly deny any role in the fire and St. Louis County Circuit Judge Judge David Lee Vincent III agreed. He later changed his mind. The Missouri Supreme Court would later rule that Bryant could not be re-tried because her lawyers had objected to the mistrial.

By the time that ruling came, the statute of limitations had passed for nearly all applicable federal charges, Callahan has said.

On Monday, after faulting Kemper for his lack of an apology to relatives, Rea turned to Fleming and his wife, Linda Fleming, and said, "I am sorry I couldn't do more."

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FIREFIGHTERS IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY DO NOT LOOK LIKE THOSE THEY ARE TRAINED TO PROTECT


Black Jack Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Roger Ellison (left) helps Pauline Pearson, 17, into a firefighter's coat, helmet and air pack during an organizational meeting for a new Explorer Post for teenagers interested in fire fighting careers Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at the district's house three in Florissant. Photo by Sid Hastings

April 4, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Doug Moore

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - In Hazelwood, none of the city's 36 firefighters is black although nearly a third of its residents are African-American. In neighboring Ferguson, more than 67 percent of residents are black, compared with 7 percent of firefighters.

And in the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, two of the 60 firefighters are black, representing 3.3 percent of the department. By comparison, more than a quarter of the residents who live in that part of the region are African-American.

The situation is the same throughout the parts of St. Louis County with large African-American populations. With the Justice Department fresh off an investigation here after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, more cities are being scrutinized for their hiring practices amid criticism that minorities are systemically underrepresented in public employment.

Fire chiefs say that there are not enough qualified black applicants and that blacks hired are hard to retain, often recruited by other departments that offer better pay and benefits in communities with fewer emergency calls.

"Even when we are fortunate to hire a minority, we don't get to hold onto them for very long," Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel said. He said part of the reason for a lack of blacks on his department came from having two fire protection districts that also serve parts of his city. It doesn't take long for firefighters on mutual aid calls to begin talking and find where the better salaries are, he said.

But one of those districts - Florissant Valley - is not faring much better.

The department recently received 70 qualified applicants to test for a hiring list that is likely to go into effect in May. Fire Chief Scott Seppelt recalled one or two African-Americans among them. After a series of tests, 10 applicants made the cut. All are white.

Seppelt said his department continued to look at ways to improve diversity. Like some other departments, Florissant Valley provides training for fire and EMT programs at North Technical High School, part of the Special School District. Successful students graduate from high school with community college credits.

"We really do want to see that applicant pool change. We are open to any way we can assist in doing that," Seppelt said.

NOT BLAMING

Addington Stewart is the regional leader of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, which works to encourage young African-Americans to consider the profession. Retirees with the association have for the past two months been offering free classes in test preparation for those wanting to become firefighters.

Later this year, the organization will offer tuition reimbursement to those who successfully complete emergency medical technician training. Stewart, a retired St. Louis city fire captain, said young African-Americans didn't know much about fire service as a career because outreach had been poor. And those who are doing the hiring need to look at more ways to reach minorities. Often, job postings are made in a newspaper ad, the fire department's website or by word of mouth.

"We're not looking to blame anybody," Stewart said of the hiring practices he wants changed. "But to say they (minority applicants) are not out there is insulting to me."

Quinten Randolph agrees. He is fire chief of the Northeast Fire Protection District, which represents Normandy and parts or all of 17 other tiny communities. They range from Bel-Nor with a black population of 46.4 percent to Velda Village Hills, where 98.5 percent of its residents are African-American.

By comparison, 12 of the 30 firefighters in Northeast are black, or 40 percent.

"We as leaders can't sit back and say we can't find black firefighters. We are at the helm to change things to make fire districts look somewhat like those they serve," said Randolph, who is black. Once you build a culture of diversity in your department, then it becomes a place where people want to work, he said.

But Stewart, Randolph and those they criticize for not doing enough to change the fire department culture, all agree there are challenges that have to be addressed.

'A BIG BUGABOO'

Most departments now require firefighters to be paramedics, which means additional schooling beyond graduating from the fire academy. That can put the career out of grasp for those who can't afford community college. Poverty rates in Missouri are three times higher among blacks compared with whites. And it is required in all 42 fire districts and departments in St. Louis County that those hired must go through the county's fire academy. That includes veteran firefighters from other jurisdictions such as St. Louis, where 39 percent of firefighters are African-American.

Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the requirement "reeks of structural racism."

Aroesty served as chairman of the St. Louis County Fire Standards Commission until December, when she resigned. She was appointed to the commission in the fall of 2010 by then-County Executive Charlie Dooley. She said she grew frustrated by the system, log-jammed by policies that she could not get changed.

A few years ago she and other commission members were being introduced to a cadet class.

"One gentleman stood up and said: 'I'm an 11-year vet of the St. Louis City Fire Department.' I remember thinking: 'Why can't he just get hired?' It's awful he has to go through the county academy."

The commission, which has been in place for 35 years, is made up of seven St. Louis County residents who must, among other things, pledge that every firefighter working in the county "will be trained to established standards to ensure professional, quality, and uniformed firefighting and the safety and well-being of our citizens and firefighters."

Members are appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the County Council. Aroesty's resignation makes four vacancies on the board. A spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said those vacancies should be filled by the end of the month. A new executive director for the commission also should be in place by then.

William Pruitt is one of the remaining members of the commission. He also serves on the three-member board of the Mid-County Fire Protection District, where 22 percent of firefighters are black, serving communities where the majority of residents are African-American.

"This is just a big bugaboo," Pruitt said of hiring practices within the county. Pruitt, who is black, was hesitant to be critical of the current St. Louis County system and the required academy training.

"You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution," he said. "You can't do anything from the outside looking in. For the time being, I'd like to stay on the board and hope that things are guided in the right direction."

Aroesty is leaving the board discouraged.

"I will be honest - I did not succeed the way I hoped I would" on the commission, she said.

"Where is the political will to make these changes? The fact is fire jobs are good jobs and the challenge is you have to make the effort to go find people," she said. That includes black firefighters going out into the community to talk about their profession and instill confidence in minority candidates that "they will be respected and be successful in the job."

REFLECTING THE COMMUNITY

Stewart, with the black firefighters association, said he began looking at the racial makeup of fire departments long before Ferguson. But after Brown's shooting, he began to formally request information from the county's departments. Of the 21 departments that serve parts of St. Louis County where at least 10 percent of African-Americans live, 15 responded to Stewart's request. Among those supplying information was Ferguson, where two of 27 firefighters are African-American serving a city where more than two-thirds of residents are black.

"Diversity has always been, and continues to be, very important and beneficial to the city of Ferguson," city spokesman Jeff Small said in an email. He said the fire department had seen very little turnover the past few years.

The city last hired firefighters in 2012. Both hires were white men, based on records from Ferguson's human resources department.

In University City, 15 percent of the firefighters are African-American, compared with 41 percent of the community. City Manager Lehman Walker said efforts were ongoing to improve minority representation throughout city departments.

"When I came here in August 2010, we had two African-American firefighters. Now we have six," said Walker. "It's very important from a city point of view that our workforce in every department reflect the demographics of the community."

Part of that effort includes putting minorities in leadership positions. Walker, who is African-American, has six department heads who report to him. They include two black men, a black woman, an Asian woman and a white woman.

Other departments with a small percentage of African-Americans say they are working to improve their numbers but are finding it a challenge.

In the Black Jack Fire Protection District, for example, an Explorer post is being started through the Boy Scouts, where firefighters mentor young people ages 14 to 21 interested in the profession. Yet at an open house last week, just one of the eight participants was African-American.

Close to 20 percent of the Black Jack district's firefighters are black. By comparison, more than 81 percent of residents of Black Jack, which composes a big chunk of the district, are African-American.

Black Jack Fire Chief Mike Gantner said the key was getting to young people as early as possible to put firefighting on the radar as a profession. He is hopeful the Explorer program and continued visits from firefighters into classrooms will increase interest - and eventually qualified applicants.

Stewart's firefighter group has been holding Monday night sessions at the O'Fallon Park Rec Complex in north St. Louis since Feb. 2. More than 50 young people have stopped in. About 15 are regulars, he said.

At a class last month, 14 young African-Americans - 12 men and 2 women - went through a two-hour session of reading exercises from a manual used to help prospective firefighters prepare for exams. Gavin Alfred, 25, of University City was one of the more engaged students.

Alfred has a few years of college under his belt, but he had to stop taking classes to take care of family. He has held a series of jobs but is looking for a career. Firefighting seems a good fit, he said.

"It's a way to give back to the community," Alfred said. "There is nothing wrong with working alongside the law and helping those in need."

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY WOMAN MAKES GUILTY PLEA IN FATAL 2001 FIRE


Sandra Kemper, later known as Sandra Bryant, talks outside of her home in Florissant on Nov. 16, 2001. Her son, Zachariah Kemper, 15, died in the fire. Sandra and her husband, Steve Kemper, were not injured. Photo by Sam Leone of the Post-Dispatch

March 5, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Robert Patrick

ST. LOUIS - A woman from St. Louis County pleaded guilty to a federal charge on Thursday and admitted setting a fire in her home in 2001.

Sandra Kay Bryant, 59, admitted that financial difficulties drove her and her then-husband to plan the fire to reap the insurance proceeds. She and her husband, Steven Kemper, set the fire early on the morning of Nov. 16, 2001, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rea said in court.

There was no mention of it in her plea to a charge of aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud, but the fire claimed the life of the couple's 15-year-old son, Zachariah Andrew Kemper, after he became trapped in the basement.

Bryant's lawyers declined to comment when asked why the detail was left out.

Also left out of Bryant's plea was any mention of two other fires.

As part of his plea to the same charge in 2013, Kemper, then 54, admitted setting a fire to his then-mother-in-law's house on Jan. 1, 1997. He was retaliating against Betty Bryant for ending her financial support and cutting the couple out of her will after she discovered that the couple had been defrauding her.

On July 20, 1999, Sandra Bryant set fire to her mother's new home in Alton when it failed to sell in a few months, Kemper's plea documents say. Betty Bryant was in a rehabilitation center at the time and had agreed to the sale.

Kemper's plea says that Sandra Bryant planned to set the 2001 fire in a trash can in a basement utility room. It was supposed to look like an accident triggered by careless smoking and cleaning habits.

Under Kemper's plea agreement, he faces 10 years to life in prison when sentenced. His sentencing has been delayed awaiting Bryant's trial.

Kemper pleaded guilty both out of fear that he was near death and out of a desire to get the "truth out," he told a judge at the time. He suffered a heart attack and stroke in 2008.

Both prosecutors and Bryant's lawyers will recommend a prison term of 46 months in prison at her sentencing hearing June 11, but U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig is not bound by that recommendation.

Bryant was scheduled to go to trial Monday on the charge, but she had just lost her bid to keep her confession out of the trial, as well as the results of a polygraph test that triggered it, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said.

Callahan said that Bryant's lawyers wanted to argue that investigators lied and that Bryant didn't really fail the lie detector test. Prosecutors would have argued that she did fail the test, as she had been told.

Bryant originally faced murder and arson charges in St. Louis County Circuit Court, but her 2002 trial ended with a mistrial after St. Louis County Judge David Lee Vincent III allowed jurors to see a video showing Bryant's polygraph examination.

Although lie detector results aren't usually admitted at trial, Bryant's attorneys wanted jurors to see Bryant repeatedly deny any role in the fire.

But Vincent later changed his mind, triggering the mistrial. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that because Bryant's lawyer objected to the mistrial, Bryant could not be re-tried.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took up the case, and the couple was charged federally in 2011.

Asked about the delay, Callahan said that there was initially not enough evidence to support federal charges. Experienced prosecutors began working what was essentially a cold case, he said. A thick file became two six-foot-high stacks of paper, and both Bryant and Kemper ended up facing charges, he said.

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BATTALION CHIEF RETIRES AFTER 39 YEARS OF SERVICE


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

February 27, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK - Black Jack Fire District thanks Battalion Chief Rob Wohldmann for 39 years of service to the community.

Rob was hired on November 3, 1976. He was promoted to Captain in 1993 and Battalion Chief in 1999. He was also the recipient of a Unit Citation by the St. Louis Area Fire Chief's Association for the rescue of a trapped occupant in a house fire in 2012.

We wish Battalion Chief Wohldmann a happy retirement!

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FOUR ALARM FIRE BREAKS OUT AT BLACK JACK CONDO COMPLEX

November 19, 2014 - KTVI BY SHAWNDREA THOMAS

BLACK JACK - Shortly after 5 pm a three-alarm fire broke out at a condo complex located in the 12000 block of Chesapeake Drive in Black Jack.

Five fire districts in north St. Louis County responded to the blaze.

Tenants were evacuated with no injuries.

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SPECIAL GIFTS FOR A SPECIAL CHILD


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

November 10, 2014 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK - Christopher is a child with cancer who lives in our fire district and Cottages for Cancer Kids built an awesome firehouse for him! We helped deliver it and gave him a new leather fire helmet! After that, Christopher got to take a ride in Pumper 3710 with lights and sirens! He's an amazing kid and we are happy to help make his wish come true!

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FIRE DISTRICT SUPPORTS STUDENTS THROUGH THE FOOD 4 THOUGHT PROGRAM


Photo by Hazelwood School District

September 29, 2014 - Hazelwood School District

The weather outside may have been unseasonably cold on the morning of March 20, but the selfless act of local heroes was truly heartwarming. The Black Jack Fire Protection District fire fighters took time from their day to deliver food to the HSD Food 4 Thought closet at Hazelwood East High School.

The truckload of food items were collected from members of the community at two Florissant Shop 'n Save locations during last weekend's food drive. The event was spearheaded by the Black Jack Fire Protection District to benefit the HSD Food 4 Thought program.

"I commend the efforts of Chief Michael Gantner, Assistant Chief Ken Corbin and the entire Black Jack Fire Protection District, HSD staff, the Hazelwood PTA Council, and Hazelwood National Education Association on coming together to help alleviate the food hunger problem for many of our students," said Dr. Grayling Tobias, HSD superintendent. "I am thankful to our entire community for their continuous support of the HSD Food 4 Thought program, and their generosity to our students."

Fire fighters arrived at the school on Thursday and were greeted by members of East High's student council and SoJAM, a justice and social issues club, Principal Dr. Jacqueline Kelly, Counselor Angela Bryant, PTA members, and other HSD staff. Students and staff helped transport the food items from the truck to a holding area in the building where the items could be sorted. Eventually, the food was equally distributed to the District's three high school sites: Hazelwood East, Hazelwood Central and Hazelwood West. Although the food is stored at the high schools, the HSD Food 4 Thought closets will service all HSD students who are in need.

The HSD Food 4 Thought program provides for students who lack access to nutritious food at home with a reliable source of food for evenings, weekends, and other breaks from school.

For the program to operate sustainably, continued support from the entire community is needed. If you have questions about the HSD Food 4 Thought program, please call 314-953-5045.

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BLACK JACK FIRE DISTRICT LICENSED AS ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT AGENCY


Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

September 11, 2014 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The Black Jack Fire Protection District has received its Advanced Life Support license from the State of Missouri's Bureau of EMS.

Effective September 1, 2014, Black Jack will be responding as an Advanced Life Support agency, when a paramedic is on duty. On September 9, 2014, Black Jack held a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the occasion. On hand at the ceremony were Black Jack's Board of Directors, members of the Greater North County Chamber of Commerce, several members of the Black Jack City Council, and Florissant Valley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Seppelt.

"This is a great day for the citizens of the fire district," said Battalion Chief Roger Ellison (Photo: front row - third from right), one of Black Jack's paramedics. "They passed an EMS tax in April, and as a result, we will be improving the medical service we provide them with more paramedics and advanced medical equipment."

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PROMOTIONS TO BATTALION CHIEF AND CAPTAIN


From left to right -
Fire Chief Michael Gantner, Roger Ellison, Michaell Brock, and Assistant Chief Ankeneth Corbin

August 6, 2014 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Congratulations to Roger Ellison and Michael Brock for being promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief and Captain respectively.

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RED CROSS HELPS SEVEN FAMILIES AFTER FIRE BURNS UP THEIR HOMES

April 12, 2014 - KMOV

The Red Cross has helped seven families after a fire in Florissant has left them without a place to stay.

The fire broke out at the Heatherton Estates Apartment Complex located in the 6200 block of Kingsfront Place on Saturday.

19 total people were displaced, but no one was hurt during the fire.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

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ELECTION RESULTS FOR ST. LOUIS COUNTY FIRE DISTRICTS

April 9, 2014 -

ST. LOUIS COUNTY -

Source: ST. LOUIS COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSION

BLACK JACK FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION B 
**BONDS - CAPITAL IMPROV (57.15% NEEDED)** 
(Vote for ) 1 
            (WITH 28 OF 28 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,349 71.94 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 916 28.06 

BLACK JACK FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION E 
**OPERATING TAX LEVY** 
(Vote for ) 1 
           (WITH 28 OF 28 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,939 59.72 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,308 40.28 

CREVE COEUR FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION S
 ** OPERATING TAX LEVY** 
(Vote for ) 1 
           (WITH 41 OF 41 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,700 61.93 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,045 38.07 

CREVE COEUR FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION Y 
**BONDS - CAPITAL IMPROV (57.15% NEEDED)** 
(Vote for ) 1 
           (WITH 41 OF 41 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,745 64.04 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 980 35.96 

METRO-NORTH FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION S 
**OPERATING TAX LEVY** 
(Vote for ) 1 
            (WITH 17 OF 17 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 642 63.88 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 363 36.12 

NORTHEAST AMBULANCE AND FIRE DIST - PROPOSITION F 
**BONDS - CAPITAL IMPROV (57.15% NEEDED)** 
(Vote for ) 1 
           (WITH 35 OF 35 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,488 60.07 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 989 39.93 

RIVERVIEW FIRE DISTRICT - PROPOSITION A 
**OPERATING TAX LEVY** 
(Vote for ) 1 
           (WITH 16 OF 16 COUNTED) 
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 561 58.99 
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 390 41.01 
 



FIRE DISTRICT BALLOT ISSUES FOR THE APRIL 8th ELECTION

BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION B

Four-sevenths majority required

Ballot wording: Shall the Black Jack Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, Missouri, incur an indebtedness of the District in the amount of Five Million Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Dollars ($5,365,000) and issue the bonds of said District in evidence thereof for the purpose of purchasing real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and maintaining emergency medical equipment and fire protection and fire-fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment thereof?

Summary: The district wants to borrow $5.365 million, which is within the $12 million debt ceiling approved by voters in 2001. District officials say the money would be used to buy and maintain emergency medical and fire protection equipment and apparatus and to upgrade fire houses. The bonds would be paid off by 2034. This proposal does not involve a tax increase. Supporters said aging equipment needs to be replaced with items that employ up-to-date technology.


BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION E

Simple majority required

Ballot wording: Shall the board of directors of the Black Jack Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than forty cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of an ambulance service or partial or complete support of an emergency medical technician defibrillator program or partial or complete support of an emergency medical technician paramedic first responder program?

Summary: The district wants to increase its property tax rate by up to 40 cents per $100 assessed valuation. If passed, the owner of a home valued at $75,000 will pay $57 more a year in taxes. The district says the money would be used to train more firefighters as paramedics and to buy related equipment, supplementing ambulance service provided by Christian Hospital.

Supporters say the proposition is needed to avoid slower emergency medical response times. Opponents are critical of tax increases.


CREVE COEUR FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION S

Simple majority required.

Ballot wording: Shall the Board of Directors of the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than twenty five cents per one hundred dollar assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the ambulance service?

Summary: The district wants to increase the property tax by 25 cents per $100 assessed valuation to support ambulance operations. Under this proposition, the annual tax on a home valued at $200,000 could increase by about $95. Some extra revenue would be used to add three employees to staff an additional ambulance the district plans to buy. Officials say the increase also is needed to expand training and maintain quality service without continuing to tap reserve funds.


CREVE COEUR FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION Y

Four-sevenths majority required.

Ballot wording: Shall the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District issue bonds in the amount of Nineteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($19,500,000) for the purpose of purchasing of real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and equipping ambulances and fire protection and fire fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefore to carry out the objects and purposes of the District?

Summary: The district wants to borrow as much as $19.5 million over the next 20 years to pay for various improvements. A property tax increase of as much as 11.7 cents per $100 assessed valuation would be involved if the entire amount of bonds were sold. The owner of a home valued at $200,000 could pay about $44 more a year if the entire amount of bonds were sold. The work includes either building a new fire station or renovating and upgrading the district's existing fire house #2. Plans also call for a new disaster shelter and administrative center and replacing ladder trucks, fire engines, ambulances, cardiac monitors and other equipment.


METRO-NORTH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION S

Simple majority required

Ballot wording: Shall the Board of Directors of the Metro-North Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, Missouri, be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than thirty-nine cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the district?

Summary: The district wants voters to approve an additional property tax of up to 39 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The district says the increase is needed because of a decrease in property values since 2007 and the scheduled end of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant next year. Because of this shortfall, the district has made cuts and dipped into its reserves, which fell from $800,000 in 2010 to about $200,000. If passed, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $74 more a year in property tax. Proponents say without more revenue, further cuts will have to be made which could spur insurance companies to raise rates for property owners. They also say that the reserve fund should be replenished. Opponents criticize increasing taxes.


NORTHEAST AMBULANCE AND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION

Four-sevenths majority required

Ballot wording: Shall the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District issue bonds in the amount of Nine Million Dollars 9,000,000 for the purpose of purchasing of real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and equipping ambulances and fire protection and fire-fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefor to carry out the objects and purposes of the District?

Summary: The district wants to borrow $9 million to replace the current firehouse with a new facility and to replace ambulances and other emergency equipment and vehicles. If passed, owners of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $64.98 in property tax annually. Officials said the new facility also would serve as a natural disaster relief center for residents. The building would be able to resist seismic and high wind events and have 72-hour independent power operation. Proponents said the current facility, built in 1949 and expanded in 1984, is too small and has a cracked floor in a vehicle bay. That prevents the district from housing heavy equipment there. Ambulances are currently parked outside, requiring medications to be reloaded for each run. There also isn't enough space for training and community classes. Officials said insurance rates in the district would decrease if the upgrades are carried out.


RIVERVIEW FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION A

Simple majority required

Ballot wording: Shall the Board of Directors of the Riverview Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than fifty cents on the one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the District?

Summary: The district wants voters to approve an increase of the annual tax rate of up to 50 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The last tax increase was in 2002. This increase will be used to maintain the present level of service, officials said.

The district says its revenue has dropped approximately $350,000 just in the last budget year due to decreased property values while operating costs have increased. Officials also say call volume has increased by 20 to 25 percent over the last three years. If passed, the owner of a home valued at $50,000 - the average in the district - would pay about $47 more a year in tax.


ST. CHARLES COUNTY AMBULANCE DISTRICT PROPOSITION E

Simple majority required.

Ballot wording: In order to remove cuts both in paramedic staffing and the number of available ambulances, as well as reduce delays in response times to 911 calls that have occurred due to budget cuts, shall the Board of Directors of St. Charles County Ambulance District be authorized to levy an additional general tax of not more than eleven cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation?

Summary: The district wants to increase its property tax rate by 11 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The annual tax on a home valued at $100,000 would increase by $20.90. District officials say reduced property values have limited district revenue and forced its board to make various cuts, including the shutdown of one ambulance base and putting two ambulances out of service.

Proponents say that the proposition is needed to provide quality service to the district.

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FIRE DISTRICTS SEEKING TAX INCREASES IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY - APRIL 8th ELECTION

February 26, 2014 -

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Several St. Louis County Fire Protection Districts have filed ballot propositions with the St. Louis County Board of Elections, seeking tax increases in the April 8, 2014 General Municipal Elections.

The following is a list of Fire District Propositions that have been filed:

BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT - BOND ELECTION
FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION B Shall the Black Jack Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, Missouri, incur an indebtedness of the District in the amount of Five Million Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Dollars ($5,365,000) and issue the bonds of said District in evidence thereof for the purpose of purchasing real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and maintaining emergency medical equipment and fire protection and fire-fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment thereof?

BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION E Shall the board of directors of the Black Jack Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than forty cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of an ambulance service or partial or complete support of an emergency medical technician defibrillator program or partial or complete support of an emergency medical technician paramedic first responder program?

CREVE COEUR FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION S Shall the Board of Directors of the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than twenty five cents per one hundred dollar assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the ambulance service?

CREVE COEUR FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT - BOND ELECTION
FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION Y Shall the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District issue bonds in the amount of Nineteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($19,500,000) for the purpose of purchasing of real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and equipping ambulances and fire protection and fire fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefore to carry out the objects and purposes of the District?

METRO-NORTH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION S Shall the Board of Directors of the Metro-North Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, Missouri, be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than thirty-nine cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the district?

NORTHEAST AMBULANCE AND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT - BOND ELECTION
FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION F Shall the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District issue bonds in the amount of Nine Million Dollars 9,000,000 for the purpose of purchasing of real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and equipping ambulances and fire protection and fire-fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefor to carry out the objects and purposes of the District?

RIVERVIEW FIRE DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION A Shall the Board of Directors of the Riverview Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than fifty cents on the one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide funds for the support of the District?

Complete list of ballot issues - Board of Elections




NEIGHBOR HELPS FAMILY ESCAPE BURNING HOME IN BLACK JACK

December 9, 2013 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - A man who heard noises near his Black Jack home just after midnight Sunday looked outside and saw flames. He is being credited with helping his neighbor's family escape from their burning home.

Battalion Chief Keith Goldstein with the Black Jack Fire Protection District said no one was injured in the one-alarm, accidental fire.

The fire was reported just after midnight Sunday in the Whitney Chase subdivision. A man living in the first block of Bridekirk Court was still awake and heard noises outside. He looked out and saw flames at the home at 17 Bridekirk.

The fire apparently started outside on a back patio near a barbecue pit. The family apparently had been using the pit on Sunday. They were asleep when the fire broke out at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Goldstein said the fire had traveled from the patio, gone up a wall and gotten inside the home. Everyone was out of the house when firefighters arrived. The residents included at least two adults and one child. The neighbor ran to the home and woke the residents up and helped them escape.

"Everyone got out of the house, thanks to the neighbor," Goldstein said.

Goldstein said he wasn't sure if the home's smoke detectors were working properly.

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FATHER ADMITS PLANNING 2001 FIRE THAT KILLED SON IN FLORISSANT


Sandra Kemper outside the front of her home on Nov. 16, 2001, in Florissant. Her son, Zachariah Kemper, 15, died in the fire. Sandra and her husband, Steve Kemper, were not injured

July 4, 2013 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

FLORISSANT - He sat in a wheelchair before a judge, frail, tearful and fearful of death, and admitted to planning a fire that killed his 15-year-old son a decade earlier.

Steven Henry Kemper, 54, said Wednesday that he just wanted the "truth out."

"I am very sick and I don't know how much longer I have to live," he told U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig.

His guilty plea to felony charges marked the end of a federal case against Kemper, although his former wife, Sandra Kay Bryant, still faces charges. She has pleaded not guilty.

The couple was accused of setting their house in Florissant on fire in November 2001 to collect insurance money. They escaped, but their son, Zachariah Kemper, 15, was trapped inside and died.

State charges of murder and arson were originally filed against Bryant, but her 2002 trial ended in a mistrial after St. Louis County Judge David Lee Vincent III allowed jurors to see a video of Bryant's polygraph examination, then changed his mind. Lie detector tests aren't usually admitted in court.

Bryant's attorneys wanted jurors to see Bryant repeatedly deny any role in the fire. The Missouri Supreme Court would later rule that because the mistrial had been entered over the objection of Bryant's attorney, she could not be re-tried.

Federal authorities eventually took an interest in the case, though it would be years before they pressed charges. Kemper and Bryant were indicted in 2011, accused of setting a series of fires to profit off insurance payouts.

Bryant's attorney, Susan Roach, said Wednesday that her client "continues to maintain her innocence" and "is struggling to survive and get through this." Bryant and Kemper divorced in 2002.

For his part, Kemper admitted in court Wednesday that the root of all the fires was financial trouble.

In December 1996, his then-mother-in-law, Betty Bryant, discovered that Steven and Sandra Kemper had been tapping into her bank and trust accounts by forging signatures and impersonating her on the phone, Steven Kemper's plea documents say. Betty Bryant had been helping them out financially but said that would end. She also said they were going to be cut out of her will.

On Jan. 1, 1997, in "retaliation," Kemper set a fire in the rear of Betty Bryant's house in Florissant, court documents show. She suffered smoke inhalation.

The next day, the couple counseled Bryant on how to submit the insurance claim for the house. Bryant used the money to buy a house in Alton, then resumed helping the couple financially.

Two years later, after Betty Bryant had been injured and was in a rehabilitation center, Kemper and his wife convinced her to put her house up for sale. When it didn't sell in a few months, his wife set fire to the home on July 20, 1999, Kemper's plea documents say.

The couple then again helped Betty Bryant file an insurance claim, the proceeds of which went toward buying a house in Florissant in July 2000.

The Kempers would soon again land in financial trouble and decided to set another fire, according to court records. Kemper says his wife planned to set the fire on Nov. 15, 2001, in a basement utility room trash can while almost everyone was out. The fire was supposed to look like an "accident due to careless smoking and cleaning habits," his plea documents say. But she was interrupted.

So Sandra Kemper started the fire early the next morning. Their son never made it out.

Steven Kemper, a former truck driver, told the judge Wednesday that he suffered a heart attack and stroke in 2008 and had been on disability since 2009. He appeared in court in a motorized wheelchair and said he also suffers from tremors and seizures.

Kemper's plea to aiding and abetting the use of fire in mail fraud will earn him 10 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

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Firefighters Training For Mass Casualties At Nursing Home

March 21, 2013 - KTVI

BLACK JACK - Firefighters are training on Monday for a mass casualty incident. The fire crews from Black Jack, Spanish Lake, Ferguson, Florissant, and Hazelwood are conducting exercises at the Delmar Gardens Villas assisted living complex. Residents of the Villas will be playing the part of the victims in the exercises.

They are simulating car crashes, tornadoes, earthquakes, chemical leaks, terrorist attacks, and mass shootings. They will be working on developing rapid triage skills to ensure quick treatment for victims.

The training will continue on March 26-27th from 9am-3pm.

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