News

Courtesy University of Missouri

Tucked away in a University of Missouri research building, a family of pigs is kept upright and mostly happy by a handful of researchers. Two new litters recently joined the assembly of pudgy, snorting, pink piglets.

While they look like an ordinary collection of pigs one might find in hog barns all over the country, these animals are special. They’re genetically engineered and they are part of a new crop of GE animals with technology that could be coming soon to the food on your dinner plate.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Three hugely controversial bills will dominate the Kansas House Education Committee starting Monday afternoon with the crescendo building to Wednesday. That's when legislators will debate a measure that would consolidate school districts in the state, cutting the number by more than half.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Tackling some of the biggest problems in Kansas City area schools is no easy task, but that's exactly what more than 100 participants with the Lean Lab's "ReversED" event set out to do this weekend.

The Lean Lab started in October 2013, acting as an incubator for community members to pitch educational solutions to area schools.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

It's been a pretty magical year for the Royals, hasn't it?

Months after hundreds of thousands of Royals fans descended upon downtown Kansas City in November for the team's World Series parade, thousands more are expected to fill Bartle Hall for the 2016 Royals FanFest this weekend.

Kcphotoblog / Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons

Salt gets all the credit for de-icing our roads during wintry weather, but it turns out it’s not a solo operation. The Kansas City office of the Missouri Department of Transportation says beet juice also plays an important part in melting that troublesome ice.

We’ll get to what the beet juice actually does — but first let’s find out where it comes from.

The Royale Inn at 6th and Paseo
Photo from Google Earth Street Views

Residents of the Northeast area of Kansas City have been trying for more than 15 years to get rid of the Royale Inn Motel. 

The now vacant motel was for years an eyesore, a trysting place, transient motel and the scene of numerous disturbances, drug deals and at least one murder.

“The Royale has been a thorn in the side of the Northeast,” is the way Northeast News Publisher Michael Bushnell put it when addressing a City Council committee on Thursday.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

The line for free dental care started forming outside the Kansas Expocentre more than 24 hours before the doors opened.

Daniel Veach was among those waiting for the Kansas Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy to begin.

The annual two-day dental clinic wasn’t scheduled to open until about 5 a.m. Friday. But Veach and his mother left their Hutchinson home Wednesday night and arrived early Thursday at the Expocentre. They weren’t first in line, but they were close.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A new one-act play re-examines an enormous explosion that rocked Kansas City and killed six firefighters. The jury convicted five men of setting the 1988 fire, but investigative reporting has cast doubt on key facts in the case.

The process of producing the play, called Justice in the Embers, meant writing a script with a dogged journalist and visiting a convicted felon. 

Creative Commons

Kansas health authorities now say that more than 390 people have reported getting ill after attending the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it’s expanding its investigation of norovirus infection after receiving the reports.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is no longer the target of a conservative Missouri lawmaker who wants to repeal the earnings tax.

Columbia Sen. Kurt Schaefer dropped Kansas City from his bill challenging the earnings tax on constitutional grounds. The bill, which advanced out of committee Thursday, now focuses solely on St. Louis.

Mayor Sly James credits a strong showing of Kansas Citians in support of the earnings tax for getting Schaefer to back down. James and others testified in Jefferson City earlier this month.

Ryan Van Etten / Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes you have to be an adult. Other times, it’s more of an option.

This weekend, with any luck, the choice will be yours to take full advantage of your adult status without the pesky baggage of grown-up responsibility.

I didn’t say it would be easy. I’m just here to nudge you in the right direction. Or maybe it’s the wrong direction. Either way, I’m nudging.

1. Margaret Cho: The PsyCho Tour

Denise Cross / Flickr-cc

Wyandotte County, Kansas, is one of only two counties in the country where three different ethnic groups — Black, Hispanic and White — each make up more than 25 percent of the population.

How residents feel about that diversity though, is about as diverse as the county itself. 

For some, the medley of different ethnicities in the county has given them a unique perspective on life and opened their eyes to other cultures.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

A prominent cell biologist has been named to head Children’s Mercy Hospital’s pediatric research program.

The Kansas City hospital said that Tom Curran, previously with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, will become chief scientific officer and executive director of its Children’s Research Institute on Feb. 1.

The institute was established last year and focuses on four pediatric areas: genomic medicine, the development and reformulation of drugs, health services and outcomes, and health care delivery.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Several nonprofit organizations that advocate for children, minorities and low-income Kansans are concerned about what they see as a trend toward less open government in Kansas.

Now they’ve joined forces to launch what they’re calling the Open Kansas initiative and to ask legislators to sign a “transparency pledge” to taxpayers. The pledge commits those who sign it to support:

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Around a quarter of adults in Wyandotte County, Kansas, smoke. That’s about twice the rate in Johnson County and well above the state average. Wyandotte County’s government recently created a coalition of partners to find ways to address the problem. For the latest in our series KC Checkup, we talked with Rebecca Garza, coordinator of Tobacco Free Wyandotte, who began by explaining the significance of  Kansas City, Kansas’ recent decision to raise the legal age for the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.

Courtesy Photo / The Gordon Parks Foundation

Kansas-born civil rights photographer Gordon Parks had a consistent message through the years, according to his great niece.

“The power of choosing a weapon, shooting a camera proved to be more powerful than shooting a gun,” Robin Hickman said of her uncle during an interview this week with Gina Kaufmann, host of KCUR’s Central Standard.  

Creative Commons / Public Domain Images

More than 100 people who attended the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park on Sunday, Jan. 17, reported becoming ill, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

In a news release Wednesday, the agency says it’s investigating an outbreak of norovirus infection. Symptoms of the extremely contagious virus include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

KDHE says it’s conducting a confidential online survey of people who attended the matinee and evening performances staged that day at the popular dinner theater.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t mince words when asked about the earnings tax during a stop at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley Wednesday.

“It is wrong for the legislature to say to local communities who’ve voted on how they’re going to fund their services to take away after the people have voted the option for them to fund their services that way,” Nixon said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is asking for an additional $2.5 million for the A+ Scholarship Program, which lets students attend community college for free.

Nixon visited Metropolitan Community College’s Penn Valley campus Wednesday to meet with students who are using the scholarships to pay for school.

“I won’t even have to work a year to pay off my debt,” Marshall Morris, a student in the electric utility lineman program, said.

He told the governor he probably wouldn’t have gone to college without the A+ program.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

The state of Missouri is appealing a judge’s decision blocking it from revoking the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia.

The appeal comes nearly a month after U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Missouri health officials likely violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when they moved against the clinic.

A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office filed the appeal on Tuesday, did not return a call seeking comment.

Jay Flatland / YouTube

Have you ever just given up on a Rubik’s Cube? That’s what Paul Rose did as a kid. 

“I was around for the original phase in the early ‘80s, and had a puzzle back then, and messed around with it, and put it down,” says Rose.

When his daughter got one, a few years ago though, Rose cracked the code, and he got pretty fast, for a mortal. He can tackle a scrambled Rubik’s Cube in about a minute and a half. 

Now Rose and another enterprising Kansas City programmer have built the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube-solving robot.

Crossroads Academy

Dean Johnson, the executive director of the successful K-8 charter school, Crossroads Academy, in downtown Kansas City, says the most common question he gets from parents is: when are you going to open a high school?

Now, he has an answer. 

File photo

After hearings and debate on whether medical treatments should be approved through legislation, the Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday passed two bills concerning marijuana.

One — House Bill 2049 — would lower penalties for possession of marijuana.

Courtesy Photo / Ziegler family

Most of the people older than 65 in the Kansas City area live either on their own or with family, meaning a spouse or child or a grandchild. 

But most older people living with grandchildren are the caregivers in the house.  

It was different for me. When my mother died, my husband and three young children moved into the family home to live with my aging father. We lived together for 17 years.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor

Larned State Hospital could run out of room in its unit to treat sexual predators as early as next year, which may force the state to treat some offenders in community settings or set up a separate secured facility, according to a report from Legislative Post Audit.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

KC Water officials say a rigorous testing protocol should keep what happened in Flint, Michigan, from happening here.

“We’re trying to make sure the water is the best we can get out of here,” says plant manager Mike Klender. “We live in the city. We drink our water.”

The ongoing crisis in Flint began when the city switched to a new water source, but Kansas City is still pumping from the source it’s relied on for 80 years: the Missouri River.

Crystal Lee Farris

Your Friend
Gumption (Domino)

Imagine slowly submerging into a muddy Midwestern lake. Rays of light pierce the surface, illuminating bubbles and small creatures. But it’s hard to tell what’s going on as you sink deeper, losing a sense of how far you are from the surface. Lawrence, Kansas, artist Taryn Miller, who plays under the moniker Your Friend, imposes this sense of disorientation in her debut album Gumption.

Marcy Oehmke / Linn High School

An estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.

That number is projected to nearly triple by 2050 as the U.S. population trends older. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and no treatments shown to slow its progress.

Clay County, in north central Kansas, has the nation's highest rate of people on Medicare diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. At 22 percent, it’s roughly double the rate in surrounding counties, as well as state and national averages.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City officials kicked off a campaign to save Kansas City’s 1 percent earning tax Monday at Union Station.

It’s sometimes called a “fly over” tax by opponents because about half of the people who pay it commute from the suburbs to work in the city.

“I don’t care whether you call it an earnings tax or a fly-over tax or a ground tax or a water tax or whatever the heck you call it, $230 million would have to be replaced,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is suing shuttered Kansas City charter school Hope Academy to the tune of $3.7 million.

An audit released last month found the school grossly overstated its daily attendance, resulting in millions of dollars in overpayments from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Hope Academy claimed 97 percent attendance. But only about a third of students ever showed up for class.

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