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Julie Denesha / KCUR

My colleague, Donna Vestal, and her husband Eric like living in the Northland.

They have space. Their expansive backyard spills down from their deck like their own personal park where they enjoy a rural kind of quiet.

They like their living situation well enough to endure what can easily be a 30-minute commute daily across the Missouri River.

To save gas, Donna and Eric frequently commute together. He works downtown and she works at KCUR in Midtown.

Thousands of Kansans soon will be receiving letters notifying them that their electronic health records may have been compromised.

The letters are from a Fort Wayne, Ind., company that provides an online patient portal called NoMoreClipboard used by 18 Kansas hospitals and at least half a dozen clinics. Most are small-town hospitals in western and southeastern Kansas. The largest is in Hutchinson.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Former employees of two Kansas City-area hospitals who claimed they weren’t paid promised separation benefits after the hospitals were sold to Prime Healthcare Services have agreed to settle their class action lawsuit.

The proposed $550,000 settlement, if approved by the court, would end a case brought by 49 former workers of Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Robyn Anderson / Robyn Lyn Photography

Editor's note: StoryCorps OutLoud visited KCUR in June to collect stories from Kansas City's LGBTQ community in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America.

Living as Sean Power simply wasn't working.

Jerry Moran / Native Orleanian Fine Photography

Samantha Fish
Wild Heart (Ruf Records)

“Turn it up!”

Samantha Fish’s demand to crank the volume during a song of the same name on her new album “Wild Heart” reflects her general orientation. Although she’s invariably classified as a blues artist, “Wild Heart” reveals that Fish is actually a first-rate rock-and-roller.

There’s a new warehouse going up at the Intermodal BusinessCentre near the Kansas City International Airport.

The KC Aviation Department, Trammell Crow Company and Clarion Partners will break ground on the facility Tuesday.

It’s the third such building in the industrial park.

There’s no tenant yet, but David Hinchman with CBRE real estate says it’s an ideal location for companies that want a Midwest distribution center.

U.S. House of Representatives

Kansas 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo has agreed to co-sponsor a joint resolution that would allow states to form a health care compact and, potentially, circumvent parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Mike has agreed to be a part of the health care compact because he views it as one of the last remaining opportunities to protect Kansans from the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act,” Heather Denker, a spokesperson for Pompeo’s office, said in an email.

Pompeo, she said, believes the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will “drive up costs for the poorest people in Kansas and diminish access, especially in the rural areas of Kansas.”

Shawnee County Emergency Management / Twitter

An amendment to a bill offered by Republican Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder could cost some Kansas counties federal funding. 
 
Yoder’s proposal would strip existing Federal Emergency Management Agency grants away from local governments that are not fully enforcing national immigration laws.
 
Under the amendment, Shawnee, Johnson and Sedgwick counties could all lose a substantial amount of federal money. They would still be eligible for disaster aid.
 

KT Kind / Flickr-CC

A persistent teacher shortage remains in Kansas, just two weeks before students start returning for the new school year. 

According to the state-run Kansas Education Employment Board, there were 466 open positions at Kansas schools as of Monday. Of the openings, 236 were for certified teachers. The other openings were for administrators, support staff and other positions. 

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

The switch from county oversight to management by a Wichita-based nonprofit is under way for the four safety net clinics in Shawnee County.

Together, the four clinics provide health services to about 8,000 patients a year, regardless of their ability to pay.

That sounds like a lot. But for a county with 20,500 uninsured children and adults, health officials say it’s not enough.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

A final Kansas City Council decision regarding a proposed Catholic student housing project located at 53rd and Troost Avenue was expected last week.

But instead, the council deferred the decision, suggesting the groups work more to resolve the conflict through mediation.

The proposed 237-bedroom dorm pits members of the surrounding neighborhoods and St. Francis Xavier Parish against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The building would be built just next to the church on the site of a former elementary school that is now vacant, which is owned by the diocese. 

Thomas Hawk / Flickr-CC

An often easy crime – at least in the past, in Kansas City, Missouri — was to pawn stolen items for cash at a pawn shop.

Detective Jeff Mehrer says when he makes the connection in a case and goes to the shop, the items have usually been sold. 

The person who brought them in likely used a phony name and pawn shops are not required to keep records of who buys things. Your stuff is gone. Not recoverable.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don’t plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

“We’ve traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it’s a very productive acre and a half,” Eric Reuter said. “We’re really into cropping things.”

David Slaughter / Flickr-CC

While the Kansas City Royals were in the midst of a 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon, a major trade was announced.

The Royals acquired Johnny Cueto, one of the best pitchers on the trade market. Cueto currently plays for the Cincinnati Reds.

In exchange for Cueto, the Royals sent three minor league left-handed pitchers (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed).

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says his administration will unveil $50 million in state budget cuts this week. The cuts are required as part of a bill passed in the Legislature this year.

When Kansas lawmakers were working to pass a final tax deal, they added a clause requiring the $50 million cut from the budget as a way to help get conservative Republicans on board. When asked last week if Kansas could cut another $50 million without layoffs or hurting state services, Brownback didn’t have much to say.

Wikimedia Commons

The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health is warning Kansas residents about an uptick in rabies infections this year.

As of July 1, there have been 69 positive cases of rabies in the state, 13 of which have been in domestic animals. In 2014, there were 69 cases for the entire year. 

Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Bill Brown says that the increase is part of a natural cycle. He says rabies cases typically surge every few years, and this year's hot temperatures and wet weather could be spurring more animal activity — and more chances for infection.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Writer and poet Billy Brame majored in acting, and it's shaped his performances at readings and slams around Kansas City. Brame describes his style as silly, in the same vein as Shel Silverstein, and you'll hear that in his two poems — about politics, sort of, and bacon and dinosaurs.  

"I like whimsy, whimsy is where I'd squarely put these," says Brame. "I like just being the nonsense guy, the whimsy guy, wherever I land."

dcJohn / Flickr--CC

With the start of school less than three weeks away, thousands of Kansas public school teachers are without contracts for the coming year. But one major Johnson County district is getting close.

While Shawnee Mission, Olathe, and Kansas City, Kansas are all still in contract negotiations, Blue Valley officials say a "tentative proposed agreement" has been forwarded to the district's teachers for approval.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Gov. Sam Brownback said Friday he’s unconvinced Medicaid expansion is an answer to the financial woes of rural Kansas hospitals and suggested they should innovate instead.

During a news conference Friday, Brownback was asked about a Reuters story on the improving financial fortunes of public hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act versus the stagnation of hospitals in states that did not.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Sen. Paul LeVota announced Friday he will resign from the Legislature, following allegations he sexually harassed two college interns.

LeVota, a Democrat from Independence, maintained his innocence in the announcement on Facebook: "As I stated before, I did not engage in harassment of any intern in the Missouri Senate and an investigation found no proof of misconduct."

Katie Knight/KCUR

It’s an age-old question: In the battle of pie vs. cake, which is superior?

Some contend that cake is a great vehicle for frosting. Others say that pie can incorporate more seasonal ingredients, like fresh fruit.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Finding love is a difficult task at any age, but once you reach the later stages of life, the challenge can be even greater.

Because meeting new people can be especially hard, some organizations across the country are creating opportunities to make it a little bit easier by hosting senior speed-dating events.

Last month, the Shepherd’s Center Central in Kansas City organized their own speed dating event targeted to people over the age of 55, the first event of its kind in the metro.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Last May, former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl resigned after journalists at the Kansas City Star obtained sexually charged text messages that Diehl had sent to a former intern.

Now, Sen. Paul LeVota of Independence has come under scrutiny after two former interns alleged that he propositioned them for sex and then retaliated when they refused.  

On Friday's Up to Date, host Steve Kraske was joined by former Statehouse interns Sarah Felts and Casey Millburg, former Rep. Sandra Reeves and Rep. Kevin Engler to talk about the rising issue of sexual harassment in the Missouri Statehouse.

Courtesy photo / Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District superintendent says it's "highly likely" that Kansas state aid will come in below what's budgeted this year and the district will be forced to tap into budget reserves.

Dr. Jim Hinson told the Board of Education at Thursday night's regular meeting that he's trying to prepare for reductions in the block grant funding passed last session by the Legislature.

"Based on what we know at this time we have great concern about the state's ability to fund the formula that's in place," Hinson says.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A new partnership in southwest Kansas aims to build mental health services and help strengthen a couple of rural hospitals at the same time.

The nonprofit United Methodist Health Ministry Fund is leading an effort to make the health system work better for people in rural Kansas. The fund’s president, Kim Moore, says the current structure based on small, low-volume hospitals isn’t likely to survive long-term.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

  For two decades, Henry W. Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block, and his wife Marion, collected what they described as "pretty pictures" — mostly French Impressionist works by the likes of Degas, Matisse, and Monet. Nearly 30 of these paintings filled the walls of their Mission Hills, Kansas home.

Although these masterworks are not there now — you wouldn't know it by looking. 

The Blochs started collecting art in the 1970s for a very practical reason. "My wife and I had a home and we needed pictures in it," he recalls. 

As expected, the full Kansas City Council approved financing arrangements for a proposed downtown convention hotel on Thursday.

One by one, the council members each spoke in favor or the convention hotel. Then the body voted unanimously to issue $35 million in bonds for construction, provide $4.9 million worth of land between Bartle Hall and the Kauffman Center, and endorse property tax abatement for the hotel.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There are a few hundred college students in Missouri right now who are trying to figure out how to pay for a 300 percent tuition hike that they found out about two weeks ago.

AllieKF / Flickr-CC

Move or be moved.

While that suggestion may seem like a marching order, I’d rather think of it as merely a heads up to anyone interested in having their emotions helpfully set in motion this weekend. That’s right, feelings matter. And if we don’t find meaningful ways to connect with them, it’s easy to become a hollow shell. Yuck.

So find a way to be moved this weekend – I said, move it! See how that works? I just discovered my inner drill sergeant.

1. Kansas City Dance Festival

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Editor's note: This is the second of two stories looking at Medicaid expansion in Missouri and Kansas. Today's story looks at the failure to expand Medicaid in Kansas. Wednesdays story looked at the failure to expand Medicaid in Missouri. Tonight, Thursday, at 7:25 p.m., KCPT Channel 19 will air a video tied to the stories. 

  The Kansas Hospital Association and other groups urging Kansas lawmakers and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to expand Medicaid coverage to more poor adults have little to show for their three years of lobbying on the issue.

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