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St. Louis Named the National Chess Capital
The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), located at 4652 Maryland Avenue in the Central West End, features the world's largest chess piece, standing at 14 feet 6 inches tall and constructed out of 192 layers of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood.
St. Louis Honored with "National Chess Capital" Title from U.S. Senate
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), May7, 2014 - St. Louis has received national recognition from the United States Senate, which passed an official resolution late Monday night naming St. Louis the National Chess Capital.

The resolution, which was introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), also seeks to raise awareness of the educational benefits of chess and to encourage schools and community centers to engage in chess programs that promote important developmental skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, spatial awareness and more.

"The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosts all major U.S. chess competitions and has been a driver in educating children throughout the State since its inception," Senator McCaskill said in a release.

"The intellect and creativity needed to learn and compete in chess also helps students think creatively and strategically in traditional academic areas, including math and science. We are proud St. Louis is leading the way in competitive American chess while providing students the problem-solving and critical thinking skills needed in an ever-advancing world."

"I'm pleased the Senate approved our resolution to designate St. Louis as the National Chess Capital," Senator Blunt said. "Chess programs like those offered by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis challenge young people academically and help motivate them to succeed."

The news comes just days after the announcement that a Congressional Chess Caucus has been formed to promote the educational benefits of chess and just days before the top chess players in the country will compete in St. Louis for the title of U.S. Champion and U.S. Women's Champion.

The 2014 U.S. Championship and 2014 U.S. Women's Championship will begin May 7 and continue through May 20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL).

This marks the sixth consecutive year that each of these prestigious events will be held in St. Louis. The opening ceremony takes place At the World Chess Hall of Fame on May 7 at 6 p.m., and the first round for both events will kick off at 1 p.m. on May 8.

The 2014 U.S. Championship will feature a 12-player round robin and a guaranteed total prize fund of $172,000. The winner will take home $45,000.

In addition, the CCSCSL is sponsoring a "$64,000 Fischer Prize," to be awarded to anyone who wins all 11 of their games outright without a single draw or defeat. The prize is named in honor of the 50th anniversary of Bobby Fischer's accomplishment of that feat - the only time anyone has ever done it - at the 1963-64 U.S. Championship.

Last year, Grandmaster Gata Kamsky of New York City won his fourth U.S. Championship title. Kamsky, 39, seeks to defend his title this year against 11 strong competitors.

The 2014 U.S. Women's Championship will feature 10 players and a guaranteed prize fund of $72,000. Grandmaster Irina Krush, 30, of New York City looks to defend her U.S. Women's Championship crown.


Missouri Ranked 14th in Total Number of Healthcare Enrollees
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), May 4, 2014 - The United States Department of Health and Human Services has released new data indicating 152,335 people have enrolled in Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace plans, capping off a highly successful seven-month education and enrollment push by Cover Missouri, a 450 member coalition created by the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH).

The coalition includes health systems, providers, social service organizations, universities, safety net clinics, and insurance brokers and agents. A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Report issued in September 2013 projected enrollment for Missouri would be 118,000, but numbers far exceeded expectations. Only 13 states, including state and federal run exchanges, enrolled more people than Missouri.

"Since late August, Cover Missouri Coalition members have worked tirelessly throughout the state to ensure Missourians have access to accurate information about their Marketplace health plan options and assistance with enrolling," said Ryan Barker, vice president of Health Policy at Missouri Foundation for Health. "We are beyond pleased with the Coalition's efforts in helping so many people get health coverage that will allow them to access needed health services. We are thrilled to have achieved 129% of the federal goal set for Missouri."

During the past seven months, Cover Missouri members have hosted hundreds of free education and enrollment events, distributed informational materials and offered extended office hours for Certified Application Counselors (CACs) and Navigators to help address information gaps and dispel myths. In March alone, the Coalition hosted nearly 200 events to educate Missourians on the Marketplace and help them enroll. Their efforts clearly paid off with Missouri enrollment numbers more than doubling from just 75,000 in the last 30 days to sign up for coverage.

"The momentum gained during the enrollment period for the marketplace is tremendously encouraging," Barker said. "While decreasing that rate to less than 5 percent in five years is bold, the newly released numbers indicate we've taken a big step toward meeting that goal."


St. Louis Recognized As One of the Worst Cities for Spring Allergy Sufferers
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), May 4, 2014 - St. Louis was recently ranked 20th on the national organization's annual list of "The Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies".

"Spring is a beautiful time in our city. It's a time when people come to visit us from all over the country and the world," said Joy Krieger, Executive Director of the St. Louis Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "It is unfortunate that so many residents and visitors may have their St. Louis experience disrupted by troublesome allergy symptoms."

"For those who suffer from annual allergy symptoms, it comes as no surprise that St. Louis has once again made the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's list of toughest places in the U.S. for spring allergy sufferers. But this year looks like it's going to be particularly nasty, with the city ranking eleven places higher than it did in 2013."

"Thankfully, safe and effective over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine are still available at local pharmacies. Many people depend on these medicines to get through allergy season and AAFA members believe they should have easy and affordable access to them. We will continue to support policies that protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to purchase these important treatments in order to help St. Louis residents stay functional through this year's brutal allergy season."


State of the Air Report Brings More Bad News for St. Louis Region
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), May 4, 2014 - With air quality forecasting officially beginning today for the 2014 summer season, the St. Louis region is facing more grim news regarding its air quality.

According to the American Lung Association's latest State of the Air Report, released yesterday, the St. Louis area is now ranked 13th out of 217 metropolitan areas in the nation for ozone pollution, which is the main component of smog. The report also shows that particle pollution continues to be a problem for the region, which now ranks 8th in the nation for year-round particles.

This news comes as the region prepares to settle into the sizzling summer months when air quality conditions are typically at their worst, prompting the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership to ramp up its efforts to encourage area residents to keep an eye on the daily forecast to protect their health and do their part to help clear the air to reverse these troubling trends.

"Once again, the State of Air Report has confirmed what a critical concern air pollution continues to be for the St. Louis region," said Susannah Fuchs, Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region and spokesperson for the Clean Air Partnership. "We want people to know that, while particle and ozone pollution are especially harmful to children, the elderly and the many individuals who suffer from respiratory disease, each and every one of us can see negative health effects from poor air quality. That's why it's so important for area residents to do their share to help ensure that air quality conditions remain in the healthy range this summer and year-round."

With transportation having the most profound impact on air quality, making the choice to drive less is an easy way to help reduce the emissions that lead to poor air quality. Actions like using transit, carpooling and vanpooling, combining errands into a single trip, telecommuting and walking and biking more to get around town help take cars off area roads and the related emissions out of our air.

These actions are especially critical when poor air conditions are in the forecast. In addition, the many green lifestyle changes we choose to make can also positively impact air quality and improve lung health in the region. These changes include efforts to conserve energy, recycle, reduce waste and reuse items.

"While the latest State of the Air results continue to be disappointing for the St. Louis region, we hope that the news will help drive home how important it is for area residents to stay up-to-date on air quality conditions this summer and encourage the public to get engaged in the clean air effort by taking steps to reduce emissions so the region can breathe easier," said Fuchs.


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