Dan Verbeck

Reporter

Dan has covered Kansas City area news since 1974. He began a career in journalism more than 40 years ago in Chicago’s suburbs. The switch from newspaper to radio came during two years in the U. S. Army, and by 1968 he was firmly convinced that radio was his medium. He has covered breaking news, blizzards, tornadoes & floods. The Federal District Court was his daily beat for years. He was one of the few radio reporters able to continue broadcasting during Hurricane Katrina and it’s immediate aftermath. He concedes KCUR is one of his passions. Dan has been honored by the Missouri Broadcasters’ Association, The Associated Press and United Press International. He is inducted into the hall of fame of the Kansas City Media Professionals. When not covering news, Dan is partial to reading American history and tinkering with an old tractor. His wife Sylvia is his best critic. They have two daughters and a son.

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Community
6:51 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Kansas City Police Helicopter Unit Founder Takes Dream Flight

Jack Brady, Kansas City, Missouri Police Captain, retired. Brady is exuberant after long awaited modern copter ride.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Nearly 50 years ago, the bosses in the Kansas City Police Department were not too keen about a change in the way they were supposed to patrol the streets.

The first helicopters had just arrived, but they were practically unheard of in police work.

Only after the concept worked did it get almost universal approval. The man who prodded and promoted the idea watches from the distance now. But for a brief hour, the innovator went back to the heliport he started.

A guy walks into the helicopter unit

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Government
5:11 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Federal Authorities Ask For Help In Protecting Consumers From Fraud

Phony lottery-sweepstakes certificates displayed by prosecutors and federal postal inspectors in Kansas City.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, postal inspectors and U.S. Attorneys from Western Missouri and Kansas are asking the public for help fighting sweepstakes scams. According to prosecutors Tammy Dickinson and Barry Grissom, most are operating from outside the United States.

Many of the lottery winning schemes mail impressive looking certificates. Tom Noyes of the postal inspection service in Kansas City says most gullible victims are elderly and will often send up front money to con artists.

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Community
11:56 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Archeology Bolsters Background Of Historic Kansas City Homestead

Doug Shaver with Civil War era lead bullet, one of hundreds of artifacts unearthed in archeological study of Wornall House Homestead.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The name Wornall means a lot in Kansas City.  It’s a road, a historic place and a large connection to the Battle of Westport in 1864.  

An archeology project, begun last year and now completed, aims to cement that piece of history for generations ahead. 

Science and sweat

In the front yard of the  Greek Revival Style house, built more than 150 years ago by John Wornall, archeologist Doug Shaver was out in the sun shoveling dirt into a box with a screen on the bottom, sifting out anything that wasn’t dirt.

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Education
9:31 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Missouri Audit Finds Hickman Mills Misspent Money

The Missouri Auditor's office will return to the Hickman Mills School District this year after a scathing performance audit was released Tuesday night.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

The Missouri Auditor’s office pledges to return to troubled Hickman Mills School District this year after a scathing performance audit released Tuesday night that stops just short of claiming criminal conduct.

Most of 15 separate cases of errors listed in the 40-page document are termed poor business practices by deputy auditor Harry Otto. He includes overpayment of a former superintendent, untrained MAP test overseers and excessive paid trips out of town.

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Government
9:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Scion Of Historic Kansas City Organized Crime Family Guilty Of Bank Theft

The owner of an ATM servicing company whose family directed the highest levels of organized crime in Kansas City  has pleaded guilty to bank larceny and money laundering.  

Prison time is expected for 46-year-old Anthony Civella, Jr. It is is the first and only federal conviction for Civella whose father and grandfather served long sentences for a variety of offenses purportedly connected to mob activities.  

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Government
7:11 am
Wed February 26, 2014

KCK Mayor's First State Of The Government Address

Mark Holland, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., County needs to lower its taxes and drop its mill levy. That was part of the message on Tuesday for Mark Holland in his first term as chief executive of the Unified Government.

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KCI Airport
7:48 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Critics Express Concern Over Potential KCI Changes

FILE: Passengers walk past shops in Terminal B. Current businesses and potential tenants are included in decision-making for the future of KCI.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Mayoral investigators searching for best ways to improve Kansas City International Airport heard another barrage of public input Monday night.

Most of it was against radical change from multiple terminals. The most common sentiments were to update the existing structure.

Alan Norman said he finds the airport user-friendly but not perfect.

"There are some operating inefficiencies there and maintenance problems and security problems that are expensive," said Norman.

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Government
7:38 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Kansas City Regional Rail Outlook Brightens With Union Pacific Accord

Longest unused rail line runs through heart of Near-East Kansas City suburbs.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Prospects for a regional rail system east of Kansas City got brighter Monday. Jackson County now has an understanding with Union Pacific to buy three abandoned rail lines.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders has liked regional rail because it’s far cheaper than the light variety of rail transit. Tracks exist and rolling stock is plentiful.

The cost is $60 million.

“We’ve got an option agreement at no cost to taxpayers and no risk to the taxpayers, we have an option agreement to purchase these rail corridors should we decide to do it,” said Sanders.

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Community
7:52 am
Wed February 19, 2014

One Year Later, Still No Final Chapter In JJ's Blast

Lawsuits and appeals plague the aftermath of the deadly explosion of JJ's restaurant on Country Club Plaza in midtown Kansas City.
Credit Elana Gordon / KCUR

One year has passed since the explosion and fire at JJ's restaurant killed waitress Megan Cramer and injured 15 on the edge of Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Investigators have found fault in the blast, but legal action continues. Ten lawsuits are on file by people legally claiming damage in the natural gas explosion. Suits are not expected to go to trial for more than a year.

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Government
5:04 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Grand Jury Refuses To Indict Cop In Killing Of Kansas City Firefighter

A  Jackson County grand jury has declined to file charges against a  Kansas City, Mo., police officer in the 2013 shooting death of a firefighter.

The criminal case is closed in the Dec. 1, 2013, death of Anthony Bruno.

Bruno and the policeman struggled during a brawl leading to the shooting on a downtown street. There had been a dispute over cab fare outside Bruno’s wedding reception party. The pair fought and struggled on the pavement as the officer tried to arrest Bruno.

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Government
6:36 am
Thu February 13, 2014

ACLU Sues Missouri Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Jim MacDonald, with daughter Grace, waits to talk to reporters about Missouri's same-sex marriage prohibition.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri  has filed suit, trying to overturn the state’s refusal to accept same-sex marriage.

The suit is in the name of a Kansas City couple and seven others around the State.

The suit assumes public attitudes have changed since the Missouri Constitution was altered to ban same-gender marriage a decade ago.  

Jim MacDonald and Andy Schuerman were legally married in Canada and are raising Schuerman’s  biological 3-year old daughter, Grace.

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Government
4:59 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Former Grandview Mayor Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

Former Grandview mayor Stephen Dennis.

The former mayor of Grandview, Mo., pleaded guilty to wire fraud at U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday.

Stephen Dennis’ voice rarely rose above a whisper as he told District Judge Howard Sachs he is guilty of taking two checks worth $35,000 from the International House Of Prayer for an illegal charity he’d set up. As part of an agreement with the U.S. Attorney, Dennis stipulated he used the money for himself and family. The organization was purported to be raising money for the poor and elderly in Grandview, Mo.

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Weather
7:28 am
Fri February 7, 2014

MoDOT Prepares For The Next Winter Storm

The state of Missouri is shipping fresh supplies to storage barns in Kansas City, but there is no guarantee there will be enough to last until spring.

A tractor trailer loaded with salt pulled into a Lee’s Summit storage dome Thursday within minutes of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's arrival for a press conference.

The dome was last filled six weeks ago, but it was virtually empty after recent snowstorms.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director, David Nichols says salt is being shipped into and then around the state to meet demand.

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Weather
6:47 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Kansas City Invention Makes Snow Removal Easier Across The Country

A tow-plow removes snow on a Missouri highway.
Credit Courtesy / MoDOT

Kansas City area drivers may not love multi-inch snowfalls but since 2005 they have stood a better chance of getting through it. That was the first time something called a “tow-plow” showed up on highways and it was created in Kansas City as one-of-kind. Since those days, its use has spread to other parts of the county. 

The contraption is pulled behind a truck instead of pushed from the front.

Efficiency of the 'tow-plow'

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Government
6:16 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

State And City Officials Encourage Residents To Stay Home

The snow storm approaching the Kansas City metro area could deliver the deepest blanket of white this year.  The storm is prompting calls for people to stay off the streets Tuesday – when the heaviest snowfall is expected between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

The prospect of further clogged highways and streets in and around Kansas City has brought pleas from both the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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Government
1:26 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Federal Belt Tightening May Threaten Missouri Disaster Relief

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Kansas City won’t be getting the volume of federal funding it’s been accustomed to  for preparation against terrorist attacks and natural disasters, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, meeting with Kansas City reporters.

The Senator said the mood toward smaller government will work against paying for disaster aid the way it has been since Sept. 11.

Kansas City has been excluded from a list of to 25 cities to get  public safety and disaster aid. 

McCaskill doubts funding will return for what many consider municipal responsibilities.

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Education
7:51 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Public Comments Heard On Changes To Kansas City Schools

Melissa Eddy chided adherents to local control of Kansas City Schools.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

More than a dozen people, picked from among scores who wanted to speak,  reacted with passion to proposed changes in Kansas City Public Schools Wednesday night.

Nearly all who spoke to a two- thirds filled Paseo Academy Auditorium wanted to keep local control of schools.

Public testimony taken by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was first in a series around the state.

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Government
8:07 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Missouri Governor Brings School Funding Debate To Younger Audience

Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Coming out of his State of the State call for more education spending, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon brought his case to Kansas City and a younger audience with a stake in the future. 

The forum was an assembly of some 700 Center High School students.

The Governor tried to break down staggering financials to something a less sophisticated economics mind would understand, telling students the system can open more than a local earnings’ future, to world-wide.

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Cops & Crime
5:36 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Suspect In University Arsons Will Go To Prison

A man from Columbia, Mo., is going to federal prison for six and a half years for setting fires at University of Missouri’s main library and at Stephens College.

The penalty includes $600,000 in restitution.

At least seven fires were set in Ellis Library in September 2011. Computers and security cameras and windows were shattered with a pipe. Damage and cleanup was worth roughly $1.5 million.

Christopher Curtis Kelley, 27, also damaged the repository of Missouri State Historical Society housed in the same building.

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Business & Tech
6:15 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Bannister Rebirth By Cerner On 2.5 Year Schedule

Designer's rendition of Cerner 3-Trails Development.
Credit Cerner Corp

Visible occupancy of the new Cerner office complex in southeast Kansas City  will appear by late 2016.

The timetable was laid out by executives of the medical information giant, the Mayor and Missouri’s governor. 

The numbers include  240 acres on site of the old Bannister Mall.

A $4.3 billion dollar development capable of eventually handling 15 ,000 new jobs.

Fifteen hundred jobs will be available early-on, according to Cerner president Zane Burke.

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Government
7:19 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar Expansion Will Likely Be Up To Voters

The decision to expand the streetcar further may go to voters.
Credit City of Kansas City, Missouri

An ambitious expansion of the Kansas City streetcar system has gotten approval from a City Council Committee.

The plan is for a taxing district that covers a wide swath south of downtown.

A variety of possible extensions of the system branch east and south from the starter line.

Supporters are in a hurry to move the system past its current fledgling movement.

Council members were told the tax district would provide local funding as seed for federal grants, necessary for expansion.

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Cops & Crime
4:03 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Platte County Boutique Drug Death Sparks Call For Law Change

Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen calls for loophole changes in Missouri synthetic street drug laws.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The Platte County Sheriff, Prosecutor and Social Service Agencies hope a change in Missouri law will give teeth to fighting potentially deadly synthetic street drugs.  

The recommendation comes after a charge was filed in connection with the death of a Northland teenager.

The manslaughter charge against 17-year-old Krista Meeks of Riverside contends she knew the synthetic LSD she allegedly sold a 15-year-old boy and a younger friend could kill and that other drugs like it had killed in the past.

The older boy died in October, his friend lived.

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Government
7:11 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Airlines Lukewarm On New KCI Terminal Concept

Airlines that use KCI are not convinced a complete terminal replacement would help their business.

Airline officers took their turn appearing before the advisory group on the airport’s future.

The advisory group appointed by the Mayor is exploring whether to recommend a new terminal layout or renovate what’s there.

Southwest Airlines executive Ron Ricks spoke for all major carriers at the airport and said the current system operates well.

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KCI Airport
7:58 am
Thu January 9, 2014

As KCI's Terminal A Closes Its Doors, Airport Future Still Uncertain

Terminal A at Kansas City International Airport.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Overnight Wednesday, movers hauled US Airways' remaining equipment out of KCI Terminal A to Terminal C, but the future of KCI remains undecided.

City officials say Terminal A won’t necessarily be demolished, but closing little-used Terminal A saves about $2.5 million a year, says Joe McBride with city aviation.

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Business & Tech
7:51 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Survey Finds Kansas Business Owners Feel Overtaxed

The Kansas business lobby is armed with new data to convince this year’s legislature to press for lower taxes and other change. 

The basis is a Kansas Chamber of Commerce commissioned survey of 300 company owners.

The December 2013 questionnaire found 57 percent of those surveyed thought they paid too much in taxes. Thirty-six percent thought they paid about the right amount. 

The study found less interest than in the past in what plays into the economic border war with Missouri, the poaching of jobs back and forth across state line.

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Government
4:29 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Majority Of Kansas City Water Pipes Withstand Sub-Zero Temps

Despite some of coldest weather in years, the Kansas City Water Services Department has not been inundated with service calls for frozen pipes or lines. Though, troubleshooters await a second full night of sub-zero temperatures.

Almost 100 calls have come from customers who say their water taps deliver nothing, but Jennifer Kincaid of the city’s Water Services wants people to stay aware the danger to pipes remains through Monday night.  

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Headlines
6:31 am
Mon January 6, 2014

As Frigid Weather Rolls In, Service Agencies Reach Out

In answer to the bitter cold, a Kansas City Salvation Army team that deals with the camp-living homeless will be out for the next three nights. The numbers served are small, but the services are life-saving.

On a Summer night, relief volunteers see about a hundred people in the makeshift camps. Numbers dwindle to 30 or 60 a night when the harshest winter hits.

Sean Tyson runs emergency and disaster aid for the Salvation Army, which brings clothing and warm food to people in woods along the Missouri River and its bridges and West Bottoms.

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Cops & Crime
7:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Metro Drivers In Kansas Claim Legal Exceptions To Texting Law

Police and highway patrol on the Kansas side of metro Kansas City are finding it hard to enforce laws against texting while driving. Loopholes allow it to go on, relatively unchecked as numbers bear out.

Kansas law is pretty clear, stating you can’t drive on road or highway “while using a wireless communications device to write, send or read a written communication.”

Yet, the Johnson County Sheriff's office only issued 17 tickets  for testing while driving in 2012. Overland Park Police wrote 45 tickets for the offense in 2011 and 40 in 2012.  

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Government
8:09 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Findings Delayed In Probe Of Deadly JJ's Restaurant Explosion

A Missouri State agency has asked for more time to report findings on the deadly explosion at JJ’s Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo. The findings are now expected nearly a year after the blast and fire.

A report had earlier been expected weeks ago.

A buildup of flammable natural gas exploded at the restaurant on the west side of the Country Club Plaza last Feb. 19. It killed one person, Megan Cramer, who worked at the restaurant.

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Health
8:27 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Type A Flu Cases Rising In Kansas City

Credit kcmo health dept

Kansas City has seen a steady, week-by-week rise in the number of people reported suffering from influenza.

That is a significant increase, according to Jeff Hershberger of the health department, who said 264 cases, most of which were Type A, turned up the week of Dec. 15, 100 more than the week before and more than double from Dec. 1.

The most recent report includes 259 of Type A flu, two of Type B and three that are undefined.

Since the flu season started at the end of September, Hershberger says they’ve counted 570 cases.

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