Community

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.

Courtesy / Lyft

The Kansas City council committee for transportation and infrastructure unanimously passed a controversial ride-hiring ordinance Thursday.

Ride-hiring company Uber has said if the ordinance is adopted it will force them to suspend services in Kansas City.

Revisions to the ordinance decreased the vehicle permit cost for TNC (transportation network company) drivers from the already lowered $150 fee to $100 as long as the company pays a $40,000 base fee. TNC drivers will also have to pass a physical, complete exams, and acquire a business license and a chauffeur's license at their own expense.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

Steve Bean is the guy who oversees Kansas City's 127 tornado sirens, each expected to alert people within a mile of potentially life-threatening storms. It's part of his job at the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Even so, he doesn't have tornado nightmares. 

"In an odd way, I love it," he admits. "We spend a lot of time preparing for the 'big one,' so to speak. So it's kind of like — I guess it's like fishing. Once in a while, you want to catch something. Now, I don't want tornados to come, but we do like to be able to see that we made a difference."

Cody Newill / KCUR

Dozens of low-wage workers rallied Thursday outside the McDonald's at 3741 Broadway in Kansas City to protest a recent decision by the fast-food giant to raise wages for some workers.

McDonald's is raising wages by at least a dollar for about 90,000 employees in corporate-owned restaurants. That means employees working in franchised restaurants won't get a raise unless franchise owners follow suit.

Kevin Harber / Flickr--CC

The 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals  face the Chicago White Sox in their home opener Monday afternoon. And to get ready, we asked you to imagine yourself in the line up. What music would you want to hear blasted over the speakers at Kauffman Stadium as you stepped up to bat?

We had a deluge of Tweets, Facebook comments and phone calls with a range of responses — from the silence of John Cage’s "4'33"" (hmmmm ...)  to "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate, to George Frederic Handel’s Royal Fireworks Suite.

Bennie Campbell called to say he’d like hear Jim Neighbors singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Come on, Bennie, have a little confidence!

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The iconic J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain on the Country Club Plaza will soon be bubbling again.

The fountain underwent extensive repairs this winter, paid for by $250,000 in private donations.

Workers installed the bronze statues Wednesday, and Kansas City Redditors shared photos of the four horsemen on their way across the metro.

Next week, workers will test the fountain to make sure the plumbing has been installed correctly. It's expected to reopen April 14 for Fountain Day.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Lake Quivira may be the only gated city that straddles a county line in Kansas.

Most of its 400 homes are in Johnson County but 17 of them are across the line in Wyandotte County. The political boundary between the two cuts through the lake on the northern end.

The clubhouse, golf course, and tennis courts — even the gas station just outside the security booth — are in Wyandotte County.

But during my recent trip to Lake Quivira — I found that if you didn't know which side the homes or amenities were on, it was impossible to tell where you were —WyCo or JoCo.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James used his State of the City address Tuesday to outline his priorities for a probable second term, which include reducing crime, improving education and revitalizing the urban core.

He says Kansas City must begin budgeting for costly infrastructure improvements that have been ignored for too long.

"We have a backlog of deferred maintenance, and my priority is to deal with it," James said Tuesday in his speech at Starlight.

Courtesy photo

“Leaving Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of why people decided to live somewhere else. It follows our series “Going to Kansas City.”

Martin and Cindy Blair are both from Kansas City. They went to the University of Kansas, met in Topeka at a dive bar, and were married in Kansas City. But 35 years ago, a job offer sent them to San Diego.

After a year or two they really missed Kansas City BBQ.

Baseball’s opening day is just right around the corner — so imagine this — as you enter the batter’s box the PA person announces your name, followed by a tune.

But what is it? Is it your favorite song? Do the lyrics describe you? Is it lucky?

Tell KCUR: What Would Be Your 'At-Bat' Theme Song?

Tweet us your answers with the #TellKCUR hashtag or go to our Facebook page and leave your answer in a comment.  

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 700 volunteers showed up at Lakeside Nature Center Saturday morning to help clean up the Blue River. 

The volunteers divided up into more than 20 groups to clean up different sections of the river. One of the teams stationed at the Coal Mine Pond just off I-435 had their work cut out for them: on top of the usual trash, a 16-foot boat sat underneath the water.

Group leader Jim Armer has been involved in river cleanups for about 10 years. In that time, he's seen just about everything there is to see at the bottom of a riverbed.

Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff's Office

Update, 5:35 p.m.:

Attorneys representing the man accused of killing three people outside two Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish sites last year told a Johnson County judge Friday they'll need more than 150 days to prepare his defense.

But Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. disagreed, arguing he'd stand trial in 30 days if Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan would allow it.

"I asked about a speedy trial months ago," Cross complained to Ryan.

Charvex / Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Rashaan Gilmore is a Kansas City native with a lot to say about our city's unspoken code for polite conduct. During a January conversation about race in Kansas City's LGBTQ community, he said, "We don't like to talk about things that are uncomfortable, we don't like to talk about things that are difficult. We're Kansas City Nice."

We invited Gilmore and some fellow panelists back to to Central Standard to unpack that phrase.

Here's Gilmore's definition of Kansas City Nice:

A uniquely Kansas City behavior that gives the appearance of kindness, helpfulness or interest but which belies a true attitude or feeling of envy, anger, disinterest or apathy.

And here is his list of 9 key characteristics that he thinks should tip us off when this particular form of politeness is in full effect.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Uber drivers rallied outside City Hall in Kansas City Thursday morning to oppose an ordinance draft that would regulate ride-hiring companies similar to taxi companies.

The proposal would require drivers to pay a $250 vehicle permit fee, or $150 if the parent company pays an annual $10,000 fee. The city says they need to make sure drivers have proper insurance, vehicle inspections and background checks.

Kathy Disney

Members of Kansas City's arts, LGBT and non-profit organizations are in deep mourning over the death of Stephen Metzler, widely described as "a pillar of the community" who suffered a stroke and died Tuesday at St. Luke's Hospital. He was 66. 

TheTruthAbout / Flickr-CC

Representatives from the Kansas City branch of ridesharing company Uber say that a new ordinance scheduled for debate by the Kansas City Council Thursday could force them to leave the city entirely.

The new ordinance would require ride-share drivers to pay a $250 fee to get licensed, or $150 if their parent companies pay an annual $10,000 fee. To ease the up-front cost, the city would waive its inspection fee and allow drivers to use state vehicle inspections instead.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Six people face federal money laundering charges in an alleged $13 million scheme that allowed Kansas contractors to pay undocumented workers in cash.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced the charges Thursday at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan. Grissom said that instead of raiding factories looking for undocumented workers, his office is trying to target the root cause of illegal immigration.

"We've thought that there has to be a better, more humane and from the taxpayer's standpoint, a more effective way to address this problem," Grissom said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When it comes to delivering meals to seniors, Don Davis is an old pro. 

“Every once in awhile they miss one, and it’s easier to count them ahead of time and not be short,” he says, sifting through two big cooler bags of food outside the Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park.

Once he's sure the number of meals is right, he hoists them into the trunk and tells wife, Toni, it's time to hit the road. It’s about 10:30 a.m. when the couple begins their regular Friday route for Johnson County Meals on Wheels.

Esther Honig / KCUR

On a Monday night at the Lee A. Tolbert gymnasium in Kansas City, 80 dancers ages 6-25 gather for one of two weekly practices of The Marching Cobras. 

In gym shorts and sneakers, the dancers break a sweat running through their routines. They move to the beats of a group of young drummers banging out a rhythm loud enough to make your ears pound.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Dozens of volunteers from across the Kansas City metro gathered at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., Saturday as part of a disaster simulation.

Just who is the middle class?  The Wall Street Journal wondered in a piece earlier this year. The paper points out the term means little, and that’s why politicians love to use it.

Middle class in the Kansas City metro is certainly different than middle class in San Francisco, but how should we decide who fits into that category?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Law enforcement across the country has been forced to confront violent acts of terrorism, and with the shootings at Jewish sites in Overland Park just a year ago – officials realize we’re as vulnerable here as anywhere.

A bill currently waiting to be heard on the floor of the Kansas House is aimed at helping police intervene in incidents across the Missouri-Kansas state line. The bill is known as the Critical Incidents Bill, named for the type of incidents it applies to — those that could cause serious injury or loss of life.

A shortage of beds for Missouri inmates means a West Bottoms center for parolees and probationers will go back to being a minimum security prison.

Michael Gil / Flickr-CC

How many times have you seen a car pulled over at the side of the road and wondered why they were being pulled over?

Three professors at the University of Kansas did more than wonder. Charles Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Markel started surveying drivers in the Kansas City metro area in 2004 and studied the research over the next 10 years. 

What they found is that race is deeply embedded in police practice.

Speaking to more than 700 people at the Pride Breakfast on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Thursday morning, Nico Leone, general manager at KCUR, announced the station will be bringing the national storytelling project StoryCorps to Kansas City.

In partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA) at UMKC, KCUR and StoryCorps will capture the stories of the LGBTQ community in the Kansas City metro this June.

It’s that time of year when we’ll start to see more and more mammals scurrying about around the city. Mammals like foxes, squirrels and, yes, maybe even some coyotes.

In the past 15 years, coyote populations in Midwestern urban and suburban areas have been increasing -- including in the Kansas City area.

“A  lot of folks don’t realize that we have them around the state, they don’t realize that they’re inside the cities. So when they see one they get all concerned,” says Andy Friesen, a wildlife damage biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife.

For the latest updates on this developing story, see our live blog.

Two St. Louis-area police officers monitoring protesters at the Ferguson police department were shot shortly after midnight. While the injuries were termed serious, both officers were released from the hospital later in the morning.

Looking toward Thursday night, when at least one group has called for a candlelight vigil at the department, law enforcement officials announced that the County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol would take over security around the headquarters on South Florissant Road.

A federal appeals court panel on Monday struck down part of a Missouri law that prohibits "profane discourse" outside of churches and other houses of worship.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed the challenge to the 2012 Missouri House of Worship Protection Act on behalf of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group regularly hands out pamphlets outside churches urging parishioners to beware of abusive clergy members.

essentialeducator.org --CC

The mother of a boy who was severely beaten in a Liberty, Missouri middle school lunchroom in February said she’d written to the school a month earlier — telling administrators her son was being picked on.

Blake Kitchen has Asperger’s Syndrome and as part of his condition, he likes routine. For example, he likes eating in the same spot in the lunchroom each day. When Blake put his tray down in that spot, an older student allegedly beat him so badly he ended up in the hospital with a broken skull and jaw.

Pages