Community

Cody Newill / KCUR

Medical marijuana activists from Kansas and Missouri met at the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain Saturday to rally for expanded medical marijuana legalization.

Activist groups Bleeding Kansas and Sensible Missouri organized the rally. Sensible Missouri founder Nick Raines says that lawmakers should allow citizens who are suffering from chronic illnesses the choice of medical marijuana.

Cody Newill / KCUR

In the wake of unrest in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri, the Kansas City Police Department held a community peace rally at Linwood and Prospect Saturday morning.

Mayor Sly James told the crowd of several dozen police officers, community members and city council members that keeping the city peaceful will require a continued cooperative effort.

"The issues that arose in Ferguson are not unique to Ferguson," James said. "The issues can arise here just as easily, just as quickly, if we are not vigilant."

Dirk Duckhorn/Flickr -- CC

La Crosse, Kansas is serious about barbed wire — it's the home to the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum and it even trademarked the phrase: "The Barbed Wire Capital of the World."

This weekend, La Crosse hosts the Antique Barbed Wire Swap & Sell, an annual event where collectors gather to buy, sell and trade the spiky, thorny wire.

The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum — the first barbed wire museum in the country— has a special relationship with Kansas: It's where the collecting hobby really took off in 1967. According to Brad Penka, president of the museum, there are so many different varieties of barbed wire and some are unique.

Matteo Merzi / Flickr-CC

Kansas City isn't exactly known for being a pedestrian friendly city. Downtown is overcrowded by parking lots, there have been books written about the city's automobile obsession, and it still only has a "bronze" rating from the League of American Bicyclists for its cycling friendliness.

But there are still Kansas Citians who go against the grain and make it a point to walk. In a conversation with Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann Wednesday, Pedestrian Path blogger Rhianna Weilert said her breaking point came after her car was totaled in a hit-and-run accident.

Kristin Conard

Spring is finally here and outdoor enthusiasts around the Midwest are ready to hit the trails and take in some fresh air. Acccording to authors Jonathan and Kristin Conard, the Great Plains offers a wide variety of hiking, biking, and horseback-riding trails, ranging from simple beginner paths to more advanced ones. 

Naveen Vaidya, a math professor at UMKC, woke up in the middle of the night from a phone call from one of his relatives in the U.S. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had hit his home country of Nepal, where his mother and sisters live.

"That's really one of the biggest moments in my life," said Vaidya. "I tried to call Nepal continuously for two or three days but it was really hard to get in touch with them."

He made occasional contact online but phone and internet have been unreliable. On Monday morning he was finally able to see his family's faces via Skype. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

With a towering physical stature and soft spoken, solicitous style, Archbishop Joseph Naumann knows he has a difficult task before him as he takes over the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on an interim basis after the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn.

He's encouraging the grieving and still angry parishioners to reach toward their faith.

"I think we need to ask the Lord to help each of us to heal. There are people who have experienced wounds on both sides," Naumann said in an interview Monday at the Diocese headquarters in downtown Kansas City. 

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is adding protest artwork and signage to its permanent collection. Emily Bland, one of the artist-protesters, said the Smithsonian’s decision to conserve Ferguson protest art could cement the protests’ importance in the public eye.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The Kansas City No Violence Alliance kicked off a two-year long effort Saturday to reduce violent crime around Prospect Avenue.

NoVA partners will work with Kansas City, Missouri police on the area from 39th Street to 25th Street going north-south and Paseo to Indiana going west-east. 

Detective Maurice Oatis is one of four officers who will be embedded in the area.

"The biggest problem is actually the blight," Oatis said. "The vacant areas, the trash left out in the area: people not really caring about their community is the main issue that people are worried about right now."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas City Council has approved a $15 million agreement with San Francisco based Cisco Systems Inc., to turn a two mile stretch of the streetcar line into a "Smart City" network. 

The project calls for the creation of interactive digital kiosks that share information about events and city services with pedestrians.

Data about infrastructure and traffic will be detected by sensors and sent back to the city in real time.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Updated, 9:30 a.m. Friday: Johnson County law enforcement officials arrested one of two people they were seeking in a fraudulent driver's license ring Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday, District Attorney Stephen Howe asked for the public's help in locating Monica Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44. He described Hernandez-Gonzalez as a "fixer" who helped connect undocumented workers with a former driver's licenses examiner making false documents.

So far, 40 people have been arrested in the scheme.

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The parents of Michael Brown filed a wrongful death suit Thursday against the city of Ferguson, former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown.

Attorney Benjamin Crump pointed to a U.S. Department of Justice report that uncovered racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department.

Charvex / Wikimedia -- CC

Every Kansas Citian has a list of out-of-towner attractions — barbecue, the Nelson-Atkins, a stroll through the Plaza. But we have been wondering: what should Kansas Citians be putting on our own to-do list? What hidden gems are right next to us that we need to see (or do) at least once?

We asked you to give us your suggestions, and we got a ton of them!

Here we present the incomplete "Kansas Citian bucket list" — a list of things every person in Kansas City should do at least once. Feel free to add additional items in the comments.

Christina Lieffring

Earth Day, founded in 1970 by the fledgling environmentalism movement, is Wednesday. At its inception, the movement aimed to bring attention to issues of pollution, waste and the depletion of natural resources.

Now, 45 years later, our nation is in an ongoing conversation about climate change and conservation, but for many Earth Day comes and goes with little notice. In the Kansas City area, we asked people if they knew Earth Day was this week, and asked them if they were planning on recognizing the holiday.

Here is a sampling of their responses:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

By midday Tuesday, there were still many among the flock of Catholics in Kansas City who didn’t yet know that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of their Bishop — Robert William Finn.

Finn has been at the center of controversy for years. He became the highest ranking official of the church to be convicted of a crime when he was found guilty of failing to report allegations of child abuse in 2012.

Kansas City-area Catholics reacting to the news revealed a wide range of opinions.

Cara McClain / KCUR

Rebecca Koop stood by Saturday watching as workers carted away the boards painted with images of gigantic playing cards. The artwork had covered the windows and doors of an abandoned apartment building at 702 Indiana in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood.

Scutter / Flickr--CC

Kansas City is up-and-coming. We're totally cool, and this October we found out our city (and our boys in blue) look great on national television.

We are used to telling visitors what they should do while they are here (Eat the barbecue! Go to the Nelson-Atkins!). 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

An updated computer lab at the Mattie Rhodes Center in the Historic Northeast will help Kansas City's Latino community access the technology they need for work and school.

The League of United Latin America Citizens, or LULAC, runs the Empower Hispanic America technology center housed at Mattie Rhodes, 148 N. Topping Ave, Kansas City, Missouri. AT&T donated $200,000 to LULAC to update seven of its community technology centers.

Paul Sableman / Flickr-CC

 

When hungry Kansas Citians need a lazy night in, they often reach for the phone. They know a wide variety of local pizza places are ready to deliver cheesy goodness to their doorsteps. 

Unless they live east of Troost Avenue.

While national chains Papa John's and Domino's will deliver east of Troost, many local pizza places won't.  

Minsky's on Main Street won't go there. Pizza 51 sits three blocks away from Troost at 51st and Oak — it won't deliver there either. Neither will Pickleman's. Sarpino's Pizza in Midtown will, maybe.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When Sister Berta Sailor called Kansas City Mayor Sly James' cell phone a couple of weeks ago, he picked up.

The director of the child care and social service agency Operation Breakthrough told the mayor some of her patrons wanted to participate in events marking the one year anniversary of the shootings at Jewish sites in Overland Park — but there was a problem. The march and candlelight vigil were to start at the Jewish Community Center, and she didn’t have a way to get her people there.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Mindy Corporon and her husband, Len Losen, watched as thousands of people began a walk from the Jewish Community Center to the Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, Kansas, Monday night.

It's been a year since Reat Underwood, 14; William Corporon, 69; and Terri LaManno, 53; died in the shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom. 

And tomorrow, Corporon will look onward, the theme for the walk and the last of the SevenDays events planned in honor of her late son and father.

But not yet. Not tonight.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The vast majority of seniors – nearly 90 percent, according to a 2011 AARP study – want to stay in the homes and communities where they've always lived.

Ellen Becky Grossman is no exception. The 101-year-old Roeland Park resident has never wanted to live anywhere but the home she built with her late husband in 1948.

But like a lot of Kansas City homes of a certain age, Grossman's single-story ranch house wasn't ideal for aging in place. That's why she enlisted the help of David Groves, one of a growing number of contractors who specialize in aging in place renovations.

“You might see his work right at the front door,” Grossman says.

Christina Lieffring / KCUR

For decades Johnson County has lured people from all over the Metro with its promise of safe neighborhoods and good schools. Some have made sacrifices to make the move, because the cost of living in Johnson County is higher than other parts of the metro area. 

Megan Rojas crossed the border from Wyandotte into Johnson County and is trying to make it work for herself and her children. On a recent visit to her home, her son, Julian, like a typical two-year-old,  has already eaten two bowls of peaches and is still hungry.

“He eats all day,” she says.

He picks out Rice Krispies with milk and Megan tells him he has to eat at the bar in the kitchen.

“That’s one thing that I don’t like is that there isn’t enough space to put a table. So he has to sit at the bar or on the couch,” she says. “I wish we had a table. But living in a two bedroom doesn’t give you much space.”

Cody Newill / KCUR

Ten members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus held a town hall at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Kansas City Saturday to let community members know about some of the bills they've been working on in the 2015 session.

Frustration was evident from both the lawmakers and the several dozen attendees. Although some of the Caucus members' measures have been supported by the Republican-dominated legislature, nearly all the lawmakers talked about difficulties with conservative leaders in both chambers.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas City Council voted Thursday in favor of a ride-hiring ordinance that Uber says will force them to suspend operations in Kansas City. The adopted legislation marks the end of Kansas City's long regulatory debate with ride-hiring companies. 

Spokespeople for Uber have re-titled the legislation an "anti-technology ordinance" and Uber's general manager for Kansas City, Andy Hung, says it creates a model that won't work for drivers.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Gabina Castañeda has run a daycare out of her home for many years. Her own kids have grown up and are in school, but she watches a 3-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 5-year-old five days a week. One day last week they were busy scooping up Easter eggs with plastic spoons — working on coordination, colors, numbers and sharing, in both English and Spanish. A few years ago, this whole in-home-child care operation would have been against the law.

Lexie’s Law

In 2004, 13-month-old Lexie Engelman suffered fatal injuries at a Johnson County day care. The tragic incident led Lexie’s Law legislation in Kansas in 2010. The law mandates inspections, background checks, training and licensure for home care providers who care for children outside of their family more than 20 hours per week.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Both Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas have seen their Latino population grow in the past 25 years. And though the highest concentration of Latinos in Kansas City live in Wyandotte County, the number of Latinos living in both counties is about the same, nearly 40,000 people.

The population is growing at a rate that's fairly new to Johnson County, whose Latino population has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. I talked to Latinos living in both counties about the opportunities and differences between life in both counties.

National Weather Service

The Kansas City metro area could be in for a wet and wild Wednesday with severe thunderstorms, large hail and even tornadoes possible as storm cells loom to our west and southwest.

National Weather Service Pleasant Hill meteorologist Jenni Laflin says there's around an 80 percent chance that the metro will see some rain tonight, but more severe probabilities can't be quantified just yet.

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

Terrie Van Zandt-Travis had only been a preschool teacher for three weeks when one of her more challenging students scampered away right after lunch. She looked around the classroom, and what she saw stopped her in her tracks. 

"He was face down in the trash can," she said. "We had peaches that day and there was a peach between every single finger. He was pulling them out of the trash can and jamming them into his pants."

She says she'll never forget this 4-year-old's face when he told her, "I'm taking food home for me and my brothers." 

Photo courtesy Mindy Corporon


It's been almost a year since three people were gunned down outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas. The avowed anti-Semite accused of killing William Corporon, 69; Reat Underwood, 14; and Terri LaManno, 53; on April 13, 2014, will face capital murder charges at a trial this summer.

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