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Heartland Health Monitor
4:52 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Proposal To Raise Missouri’s Cigarette Tax Would Fund Children’s Initiatives

Credit Creative Commons-Pixabay

 

A business-led group based in Kansas City, Mo., is leading an effort to quadruple Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and direct the proceeds to early childhood health and education programs.

Organizers of the “Raise Your Hand for Kids” campaign on Friday outlined their plan for a statewide ballot initiative to an audience of about 100 business, education, health and early-childhood leaders at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The campaign aims to increase Missouri’s cigarette tax from 17 cents to 67 cents a pack.

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Central Standard
4:37 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Kansas City Wine Vendor's Advice: Slurping Is Good

Ryan Sciara, right, owns Underdog Wine Co. in Crestwood Shops.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Wine merchant Ryan Sciara says “slurping” is the proper way to taste a wine.

Suck in some air to help move it to the different taste receptors in the mouth.

“You get acidity on the front, tannins in the back, and sweetness in the middle,” Sciara says.

And then he spits, so that he can function through the rest of the day.

Sciara, who opened Underdog Wine Co. in Crestwood Shops in Kansas City, Mo., earlier this year, developed a taste for wine as a small child, sitting in his grandmother’s kitchen.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:10 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Olathe Approves Bond Funding For Hospital Expansion

One of the biggest hospitals in the southern part of metropolitan Kansas City is about to get even bigger.

The Olathe City Council this week approved $47.1 million in bonds on behalf of Olathe Medical Center to help finance expansion of the hospital. The project carries an estimated $67 million dollar price tag.

“Projects of this magnitude show the commitment Olathe Medical Center has to this city and this region,” Erin Vader, a spokeswoman for the city, said in a phone interview.

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Traffic Cameras
3:20 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Missouri Bill Seeks To Let Voters Decide On Traffic Camera Legality

A new bill introduced to the Missouri General Assembly is seeking to give Missourians the option to vote on the legality of red light and speeding cameras.
Credit Derek Jensen / Wikimedia Commons

A new bill introduced to the Missouri General Assembly seeks to give voters the choice to ban the use and enforcement of red light and speeding cameras statewide.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court heard three cases testing the legality of traffic cameras. But Mo. Rep. Paul Curtman (R) of the 109th District wants to give the final say to voters.

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Central Standard
3:17 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Food Critics: The Best Fine Dining In Kansas City

There are standards for fine dining, but they may be changing.
Credit chameleon-interiors.blogspot.com

Fine dining is all about the details.

Once upon a time, there were strict rules: nice white tablecloths, crystal glassware, servers in tuxedos, coat-and-tie dress code.

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Government
1:17 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Independence, Missouri, Looks To Expand Renewable Energy Portfolio

The Independence, Mo., City Council wants to see a solar farm built in the northeast part of the city as part of its plan to decrease reliance on coal-fired power plants.

The city council passed a resolution this summer to have 10 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2018. Independence Power and Light Director Leon Daggett says the city-owned utility already gets about 5 percent of its power from a Salina, Kan., wind farm.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:04 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Kansas Budget Cuts Affect Department For Children And Families

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families says the agency plans to heed Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for cutting $3.9 million from its fiscal year 2015 budget by delaying a planned upgrade of its computer system.

The savings should cover “almost all of our anticipated FY 2015 reduction,” DCF spokesperson Theresa Freed said in an email, referring to the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.

Delaying the upgrade, she said, will have “no impact” on the department’s services for at-risk children and low-income families.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:38 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Mission Hills Lawmaker Sees Gun Background Checks As Health Issue

Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican, wants to expand background checks for gun sales.
Credit File photo

 

 

A former physician now in the Kansas Legislature says she will promote a bill expanding background checks for gun sales because she believes gunshot wounds are a public health issue.

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Arts & Culture
9:24 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Director's Cuts: Sidonie Garrett On 'I'll Eat You Last'

Donna Thomason as Sue Mengers in the Unicorn Theatre's production of 'I'll Eat You Last.'
Credit Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

Hollywood super agent Sue Mengers was never a household name. But, in the 1970s, she was considered the most powerful woman in show business. The play, I'll Eat You Last, opening this weekend at the Unicorn Theatre, shows that Mengers could be as vulnerable as she was cut-throat. 

Sidonie Garrett, the show's director, answered some questions about the show as part of our monthly series, Director's Cuts

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Politics/Elections
7:26 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Political Experts Recap Contentious Kansas Campaigns

While Kansas had other high profile campaigns in 2014, the race for U.S. Senate in Kansas was so unusual that it attracted a lot of attention. Political staffers and experts weighed in Thursday on that and the governor’s race as part of a panel by the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

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Government
7:04 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Compromise: Put Leon Jordan's Name On Campus, Not Police Station

The Kansas City Council has come up with a compromise they hope will satisfy those who wanted the new East Patrol police station named after Leon Jordan, a former police officer and the founder of Freedom, Inc, while also satisfying those who opposed it.

Councilman Jermaine Reed explained the idea: name the campus, not the police station.

A parade of black community leaders and former council members spoke in favor of the naming to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  All cited the historic contributions made by Jordan to the city and to law enforcement.

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Beyond Our Borders
6:45 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Executive Action On Immigration Gives Kansas City Hispanic Communities Hope

El Torito II is located on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. It started as a Hispanic supermarket, added a taco stand and now is one of the neighborhood's most popular restaurants, complete with an ice cream shop. It's one example of Central Avenue's growth in the past 20 years, when a wave of Latino immigrants came to the area.
Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

In November, President Obama announced sweeping changes to immigration policy via executive action.

The action, which protects about 4.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States from deportation, has been met with controversy nationwide.

But Hispanic communities in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., say the measure is a step in the right direction.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:09 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Obamacare Plays Major Role In Brownback Budget Fix

 

When Gov. Sam Brownback announced this week a list of stopgap measures to close a $280 million budget hole, one of the biggest chunks was $55 million from a “Kansas Department of Health and Environment Fee Fund Sweep” made possible in part by a federal law the governor has strenuously opposed and criticized.

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Tell KCUR
3:39 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

What Podcasts Kansas Citians Are Downloading

What podcasts are you listening to? Why? Tweet us with the #TellKCUR hashtag.
Credit Mingo Hagen / Flickr--CC

As podcasts pick up in popularity across the country, we wanted to see what Kansas Citians were choosing for their earbuds.

This week, we asked: What podcasts are you listening to? Why?

The question came as we prepared for our event, “Serial: The Listening Party,” set for Thursday night in Westport.  

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Arts & Culture
1:54 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Best Podcasts: Recommendations From KCUR Staff

With the hit podcast 'Serial' 2014 saw a resurgence in the listening platform.
Credit Doug / Flickr--CC

The line between radio show and podcast is pretty blurry.

After all, a podcast is just audio that you can stream or download on your own time. (You can subscribe to KCUR podcasts here.)

Many of our own staff at KCUR are also big consumers of podcasts, whether produced by public radio or not.

Here are some picks from our staff and interns:

Maria Carter, news director/newscaster

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Community
9:33 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Kansas City's Owls Get All The Help They Need At Lakeside Nature Center

Kimberly Hess, Director at Lakeside Nature Center with Hooty the owl. Hooty is a 19 year old barred owl who came to the center after his nest was destroyed. He was malnourished, and developed cataracts. He cannot survive in the wild.
Suzanne Hogan KCUR

Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City, Mo., is a place where people can get an up-close look at wild animals and plants that surround the area. It’s also one of the largest animal rehabilitation centers in Missouri.

Wild animals are brought in when they lose their habitat, are injured or abandoned. Humans are animal’s biggest threat, but the center is a place where humans are trying to help them out.

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McTavish Weekend Extra
9:19 am
Thu December 11, 2014

6 Things To ‘Revue’ This Weekend In Kansas City

Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder are among the classic Motown recording artists enthusiastically depicted in their early prime in this touring Broadway musical.
Credit Courtesy / Theater League

What comprises a revue? Technically, it’s a show consisting of music, dancing and/or skits, often with a lively or sometimes lampooning tone.

More loosely — and we like to keep it loose around here — it’s any entertainment that evokes the essence of a variety show, where a succession of engaging bits makes up the whole.

If you remember The Ed Sullivan Show, then you’re with me. If you don’t, something tells me you’re still with me because you’re curious to see what revue-centric amusements the weekend has in store. Still there? I knew it!

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Arts & Culture
7:22 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Ensemble Ibérica Explores Spanish Connections To Irish Carols

Soprano Victoria Botero keeps an eye on the verses as she rehearses 'The Darkest Midnight,' one of the best known carols -- one that is sung on Christmas Day.
Julie Denesha KCUR

In the 1720s, after studying in Spain, a young priest returned home to Ireland. He started writing Christmas carols influenced by Spanish liturgical music. Now known as the Kilmore Carols, these carols are still performed during the holidays in the small Irish village of Kilmore —and this year, in Kansas City. 

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Government
7:20 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Kansas City To Extend Pension Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

Update, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11:

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council voted Thursday to extend city pension benefits currently offered to couples in conventional marriages to legally-married same-sex couples.

“So this is just one more example of our commitment to being inclusive to all of our citizens in Kansas City,” Councilwoman Jan Marcason said before the unanimous vote.

The original post continues below.

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Government
7:02 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Kansas Republicans Criticize Brownback's Budget Plan

Two high-ranking Republicans have criticized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to use state pension dollars to help fill a budget hole.

Senate Vice President Jeff King and state Treasurer Ron Estes have concerns about the move. They say the proposal hurts the public pension plan, known as KPERS, not long after an attempt to fix it.

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Education
5:20 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

St. Joseph School District To Lose $2 Million In State Aid

The St. Joseph School District's summer school program is under scrutiny by the State of Missouri.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Update, Dec. 18:

The St. Joseph School District filed an action plan Monday with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In the letter to St. Joseph superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwona outlining the summer school programs the state disallowed, DESE required a plan from the district to make sure these mistakes don't happen again.

Czerwonka sent a one page letter to DESE saying, among other things, the district will review the summer school handbook every year and any changes will be reviewed by DESE.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:47 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Wichita Center Feels Effects Of Limited Admissions At Osawatomie State Hospital

A decision last week by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to limit admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital has had an immediate effect on the state’s mental health system.

Marilyn Cook, executive director at COMCARE, the community mental health center in Wichita, says the state’s decision to suspend admission of voluntary patients and more closely screen involuntary admissions recently prevented the center from transferring several patients thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:01 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Deadline Nears For Kansas Nursing Homes To Join Malpractice Fund

Cindy Luxem, president and CEO of the Kansas Center for Assisted Living, urged the inclusion of adult care facilities in the stabilization fund.

Hundreds of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Kansas will be required to participate in a fund meant to spread the risk of malpractice lawsuits starting next month. Advocates for those facilities say the change is a plus, but it has insurance agents scrambling to find liability coverage for their assisted living clients in a limited market.

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Education
4:00 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Missouri Denied Federal Early Childhood Development Grant

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received some bad news Wednesday.

Its application for a $17.5 million grant to boost the number of children in state-funded early childhood education programs was turned down by the U.S. Department of Education.

The grants were announced in conjunction with a Dec. 10 White House summit on early childhood development. Eighteen states will share $226 million in federal grants to either develop state pre-kindergarten programs or expand existing programs.

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Community
3:41 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Kansas City Response To Ferguson Calm But Tensions Simmer

Students and civil rights leaders marching the day after the Ferguson decision was released.
Credit Laura Ziegler / K

Kansas City, like many cities across the world, saw a public outcry to what many felt was an injustice in the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

As anticipated, the decision set off immediate violence in the St. Louis suburb. The ruling reverberated with demonstrations and protests from New York to San Diego, and as far away as Sydney, Australia.

Here in Kansas City, the response was quick and vocal, but mostly peaceful.

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Arts & Culture
3:16 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Kansas City's New Director Of Creative Services Names Her Top Three Priorities

Megan Crigger has been appointed the first Director of Creative Services for Kansas City, Mo. She starts on January 5.
Credit courtesy of Artist INC.

Kansas City, Mo., officials announced the first director of creative services Wednesday. 

Megan Crigger is an arts professional with nearly 20 years of experience in Austin, Texas. Most recently, she served as that city's cultural arts division manager with a focus on tourism, arts and culture. 

"Things that are my priority so align with what Kansas City is focused on that it just feels like a great natural fit," Crigger says. 

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Community
3:03 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Body-Mounted Cameras Have Been A Useful Tool For Lenexa Police Despite Complications

Officer Dawn Layman is a Major with the Lenexa Police Department.
Credit Matt Hodapp / KCUR

In the wake of the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Mo., President Obama earlier this month called for $75 million to provide 50,000 body-mounted cameras to police departments across the nation. 

Several Missouri police departments have recently started using the devices, and more will likely follow if the federal funds move forward.

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Community
1:53 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Concern Over Firefighter Suicides Prompts KCFD To Seek Resources, Help

Firefighter Kimble Cowan sits with station dog Lucky as they head to refuel their fire truck.
Esther Honig KCUR

Sirens flash and wail as the 17-ton fire engine barrels down Independence Avenue in Kansas City's Historic Northeast. The four firefighters on board gear up in their flame retardant boots and jackets as they rush to the scene of a call.

“After 25 years I’ve seen just about everything you can image,” says firefighter Dan Utt, shouting over the blaring sirens. “Probably more than I’d like to recall to be honest.”

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90.9 The Bridge
1:47 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Kansas City Music Guy Chris Haghirian To Host All Local Radio Show

90.9FM The Bridge's new music show "Eight One Sixty" is set to launch this January and focus on all things local in Kansas City's music scene.
Credit 90.9FM The Bridge

Kansas City community radio station The Bridge is launching a new hour-long music program this January hosted by local music aficionado Chris Haghirian.

"Eight One Sixty" will debut on Jan. 6 and air weekly on Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. The show will play all local music and feature interviews, news and live performances from Kansas City-based artists. 

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Government
7:55 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Brownback Unveils Plan To Reduce Kansas Deficit

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has released a plan to fix a budget deficit in the current fiscal year. Cuts to highway funding and the state’s public retirement system will be key to balancing the Kansas budget.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, says the administration started by trying to find ways to reduce spending while minimizing the effect the cost-cutting would have on services.

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