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Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Thousands of Kansans rely on hemodialysis treatments to keep them alive because their kidneys no longer function properly.

Nick Franano, a doctor and medical researcher from Johnson County, estimates that at any given moment, about 50 of them are in hospitals across the state, suffering potentially serious complications because they don’t have a vein of optimal diameter for dialysis.

“Every day, in every part of the world where dialysis is done, vascular access is a problem,” Franano said. “And we have the opportunity to really take that problem down several levels.”

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas officials are reviewing a recent federal appeals court ruling that requires the state’s Medicaid program to pay in-home care workers minimum wage and overtime.

Officials at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services issued a statement shortly after the ruling was handed down Friday saying they were attempting to determine its “potential impact” on the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Perhaps the issue that worries current educators the most is where the next generation of teachers will come from.

Lots of teachers are leaving the profession. But what’s scarier than that is the shrinking number of people who chose teaching as a career.

You can blame economics and politics.

Teachers and public education take a beating at the hands of some politicians.

Iris Dement

Iris Dement
"The Trackless Woods"

Iris Dement’s new album is both right in line with all the music she’s ever made and unlike anything else she’s accomplished in an already iconoclastic career.

“She was a young person, out there, struggling to survive on her own.”

That’s how Kris Wade remembers 33-year-old Jasmine Collins. Wade had known Collins for about a year as part of the Justice Project, a non-profit that provides advocacy and services to transgender women in poverty, among others.

Kansas City Police, on the other hand, say they can’t confirm that Collins was a transgender woman. They originally described the murder as a conflict over a haircut and a pair of shoes. A suspect has been charged.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Jackson County has asked the FBI to help investigate repeated use of excessive force by guards at the county jail.  

The problem came to light last month, when a nurse told the county’s acting corrections director, Joe Piccinini, about an inmate hospitalized with serious injuries.

Piccinini says the county looked into the issue and discovered that a group of four corrections officers may have used excessive force on inmates on at least three other occasions between May and July of this year.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Area school districts seeking additional state aid due to increased enrollment took a beating from the State Finance Council Monday.

Five area districts applied for money from the Extraordinary Needs Fund, a pool of money the Legislature created when it approved block grant funding last session.

But two walked away with no additional state aid. Olathe asked for $458,501 and got zero. Bonner Springs requested $155,094 and also got nothing.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Following complaints by legislators and case managers, state officials say they are changing how they notify people on Medicaid that they’ve been placed in a “health home” program to coordinate their care.

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

How long can you let your lawn grow before the city gets involved?

In Overland Park, Kansas, that number is 8 inches, according to Kim Hendershot, supervisor of code compliance for the city. In Parkville, Missouri, you can let it grow a whole foot. 

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Health centers that serve Kansans who lack insurance or struggle to pay for primary health care are seeing no lack of demand for their services.

Rebecca Lewis was once among those Kansans. In 2011, the McPherson woman found herself working three part-time jobs and trying to complete a college degree. As a single mom with three young boys — then ages 8, 5 and 2 — it was hard to make ends meet.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

Lawmakers on the State Finance Council meet Monday in Topeka to determine how much money nearly 40 public school districts in Kansas will get from the state's extraordinary needs fund.

Here are some questions you may have, answered by KCUR's education reporter Sam Zeff. 

1. Kansas has an 'extraordinary needs' fund? What is that?

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many veteran teachers speak of a time earlier in their careers when they doubted their choice to teach. 

"It was actually one of my first days teaching kindergarten," says Julie Wilson, who now directs the state-run teaching jobs board kansasteachingjobs.com

"I had to get them lined up for a fire drill, and it was such a mess that by the time I got them out to the playground I was in tears. And I was like, 'What have I done? How am I ever going to teach them if I can't get them to line up?'" 

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants throughout the country employ a lot of people. About a quarter of a million workers in the U.S. stun, kill and eviscerate the animals we eat. Most of those jobs are physically demanding and require few skills.

So why haven’t we started using more robots to cut up our beef?

They may not be shocking but the numbers are still illuminating. 

In Kansas City Public Schools, 19 percent of teachers are in their first year on the job. And 17 percent do not have the correct certification. These are the highest proportions of any district in the state. That's according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It will be a tense day at the Kansas Statehouse Monday as 38 school districts ask the state for more money on top of the block grants they received for this school year.

The districts are asking for Extraordinary Needs Funding, money set aside by the Legislature when it dumped the previous school funding formula for the block grant scheme. The $12.3 million pool is for districts who claim an extraordinary increase in enrollment or plummeting real estate values.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Andrea Johnson is a Kansas City native, now studying English, creative writing and music up at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

She wrote this piece after graduating from high school, when she and a few of her friends were facing long-distance relationships as they headed off to college.

Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR

Sweet tomatoes served with soft mozzarella cheese, an arugula salad with a watermelon vinaigrette, even an ice cream made with sweet corn ... the best of summer's bounty is ripe for harvesting.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A jury has been selected in the trial of Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. who is accused of killing three people at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas on April 13, 2014.

The jury selection, which began last Monday, narrowed a pool of 200 down to 17 jurors on Friday. The jury is made up of eight women and nine men – five of which are alternates.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Growing up, Amanda Fish used to lock herself in her room to sing. So, her younger sister Samantha Fish would lock herself in her room and play guitar.

"We were independent experiencers," Amanda says.

"She calls it a loner thing, I call it a leader thing," Samantha adds.

Fast-forward through the days of wailing with Tom Waits and rocking out to Nine-Inch Nails, and these two musicians are, sure enough, leading their own blues bands around Kansas City and across the country.

Courtesy photo / KCATA

Four months into his new job as president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Joe Reardon has several things to brag about, and a few still on the to-do list.

The former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, appreciates being able to focus on a single mission for a change.

“It's an exciting time, and the first four months have been great. We're singularly focused on connecting people ...  I'm loving every minute of it,” Reardon told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

His charge is to connect multiple jurisdictions across the metro that have their own public transit system into a single, metro-wide system, under the brand, “Ride KC.”

“When we're out on a day-to-day basis, we don't pay attention to the jurisdictions. And this economy doesn't either, so were trying to develop a system that allows us to really answer to that call,” he said.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Dozens of registered nurses and supporters marched and chanted outside of Research Medical Center in Kansas City on Thursday evening to draw attention to labor issues.

The picketers, who were organized by the National Nurses United union, say the hospital is failing to comply with its own staffing plan and the resulting staffing shortage is affecting patient care.

“This hospital is where patients come to get good care, and what we’re doing today is advocating for them, not only to get good care but get above and beyond good care,” said Bessie Grey, a Research nurse.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

With its new production of West Side Story, Spinning Tree Theatre takes an intimate approach to a large classic musical.

It’s thought to be the first in Kansas City with an all-local, all-professional cast. And while maintaining the original choreography, two veteran cast members are putting their own stamp on it. 

Ken Zirkel / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City Council approved a petition that seeks to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 for a Nov. 3 election.

However, state law is likely to get in the way of the measure, regardless of what voters decide. When council members passed the city's minimum wage ordinance last month, they believed that a state bill forbidding local wage hikes gave a small window of opportunity.

But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill, which could be considered during the Missouri General Assembly's special Sept. 16 veto session. If it's overridden, any minimum wage ordinance or petition passed by Kansas City would be in violation of state law.

BigStock image

  Each month, according to the latest available data, roughly 225 KanCare beneficiaries file complaints about the care they’ve received or been denied. That’s a small percentage, considering that more than 400,000 Kansans depend on the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

The numbers also show that all but a handful of the complaints are resolved within 15 days.

State officials often cite the data when assuring legislators that KanCare, now in its third year, is meeting the needs of its beneficiaries.

Lane4 Properties

The Planned Industrial Expansion Authority has agreed to a 19-year tax abatement for the Red Bridge Shopping Center in south Kansas City.

Lane4 Properties Vice President Brandon Buckley says the hope is more Mom and Pop retailers will be willing to locate in old retail space if a developer makes needed infrastructure repairs first.

“By putting in the money it takes to get the spaces ready to go, we think it’ll have a positive impact in terms of encouraging retailers to really invest in the market,” Buckley says.

Kelly/Flickr -- CC

Charlie Parker was one of the most influential musicians to come out of Kansas City. But how did Kansas City shape him?

“He’s definitely a Kansas City person,” jazz historian Scott DeVeaux told Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

“I mean, Kansas City has a rich enough jazz tradition before him, but he’s the one who combines aspects of the local scene, like the local blues scene, in a way that, I think, makes bebop what it is,” DeVeaux said.

Nephron / Creative Commons

A disease caused by swimming pool parasites has been diagnosed in some Johnson County, Kansas residents and led to the temporary closure of a pool in Overland Park.

Cryptosporidiosus, or crypto, is spread by contact with waste, contaminated food or water,or infected people. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.

“At this time, we have three confirmed cases and are tracking a few more possible cases in the community,” said Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and the Environment, in a press release.

The Unified Government Of Wyandotte County

Kansas City, Kansas mayor Mark Holland wants his residents to help him solve a city budget puzzle.

The CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County is in the middle of a listening tour to hear what residents think their government should do with an extra $12 million a year — which stems from the paying off of bonds for the Village West development.

Andy Marso/KHI News

  Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer was on hand Thursday for the unveiling of a book to educate children about interacting with people who have disabilities.

“Darby Boingg Has an Adventure and Meets a Person with Disabilities” features Boingg, a wallaby with human characteristics, who meets Ian, a young man in a motorized wheelchair.

Sunflower State Health Plan hosted the book signing at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The event featured  author Michelle Bain and Ian Kuenzi, a Topekan with cerebral palsy who was her inspiration.

cindyt7070 / Flickr-CC

Been there and done that? Lucky you. Not been there and done that? Lucky you, too.

That’s because whether you’re an old hand or a newbie regarding this weekend’s tried-and-true entertainment and attractions – some familiar annual events, some well-known in other ways – their established allure is undeniable.

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