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Cody Newill / KCUR

A Lee's Summit fireworks stand that was blown over by a tornado has reopened just before the Fourth of July. 

High winds caused the tent to collapse Wednesday evening, ruining at least $20,000 worth of fireworks. The stand is run by volunteer students and Parent Teacher Student Association members at Lee's Summit North High School.

PTSA member Rebecca Fisher said there was a little grumbling, but the students got the tent back up and running within 24 hours.

Hillary Clinton will make her first visit to Kansas City as a 2016 presidential candidate later this month. The presumptive Democratic front-runner will speak at the National Council of La Raza's annual convention on  July 13. 

NCLR President Janet Murguia, a University of Kansas graduate, said thousands of Latino leaders and activists will be on hand to hear Clinton's address. 

The conference will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center from July 11-14 

Wikipedia Commons/geograph.org.uk

The Kansas City City Council put the finishing touches on an update of city rules on pet potbellied pigs Thursday, and in the process eased some restrictions.

To make it easier to adopt the animals or find homes for strays, pedigree papers are no longer necessary for the pigs . The word of any veterinarian that the pet pig is of the Vietnamese potbellied variety will suffice. 

The weight limit of 95 pounds was removed.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

On a warm afternoon at Garfield Elementary school in northeast Kansas City, a class of grade schoolers charges out into the schoolyard to spend an hour riding bikes. They’re getting training from members of the nonprofit group BikeWalkKC.

The program was created three years ago to teach bicycle safety skills. But BikeWalkKC’s education program manager, Maggie Priesmeyer, says she and her fellow instructors found they would often be teaching children to ride for the first time.

Cyrus Farivar / Flickr--CC

White trash, bigotry, honor and home.

Those were just some of the words that Kansas Citians used to describe the Confederate flag when we asked, "What does the Confederate flag mean to you?" in our online and on-air Tell KCUR poll this week.

The sentiments echoed a national discussion on the Confederate flag in light of recent shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, which has provided a polarizing debate.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The newly elected Kansas City Council features a lot of new blood— six out of the 12 members have never served on the council before. 

In the spirit of getting to know our newly elected council men and women, we asked them — what is the greatest challenge facing Kansas City as you start your term?

A controversial tax enacted five years ago by Mission, Kansas, has been ruled illegal by the Kansas Court of Appeals.

The so-called transportation utility fee, derided by critics as a “driveway tax,” pays for street and infrastructure maintenance and is imposed on all improved real estate in the city.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court on Thursday ruled that the fee is in fact an excise tax that Kansas law, with certain exceptions, prohibits cities from imposing.

J. Robert Schraeder / courtesy of The Coterie Theatre

The extraordinary freedom of expression that we have in this country is routinely utilized by artists who choose to perform on stage, along with audiences that seek to be engaged by their efforts.

Keep that in mind this Fourth of July weekend, while enjoying the talents of actors and musicians who are free to go wherever their creative spirit leads.

That kind of liberty? Only in America.

1. ‘Pippin’

PROMO Missouri

Some Missouri counties are going slow – and two are outright refusing – to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Of the state’s 114 counties, 11 have yet to implement the changes brought on by last Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning bans on same-sex marriage.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

At 33, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway is the image of composure. But when she was appointed to the position just a few months ago, she inherited an office that was still reeling from suicides of former Auditor Tom Schweich, and his aide Spence Jackson.

An attempt by the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to circumvent three rejections from the City Plan Commission met strong citizen opposition in a Kansas City Council committee hearing Wednesday.

Members of the St. Francis Xavier Church and neighbors objected to the plan to build a 237-bedroom “Catholic-oriented living experience” for college students at the site of the former St. Francis School at 53rd Street and Troost Avenue.  Objections included parking problems, population density, design and the basic premise itself.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

In the next couple of years, Kansas education will face some of its most unstable times ever.

The Legislature has cut classroom funding. There’s no school finance formula and the the whole system may be thrown into chaos depending on what the state Supreme Court does.

All of this is all taking a toll on recruiting and retaining teachers, and there's mounting evidence that Kansas teachers are becoming disenchanted. And out-of-state districts are taking advantage.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Wall clouds were reported across the Kansas City metro Wednesday night, including some reports of rotation and even brief touch downs in eastern Jackson County and Cass County.

Trained spotters and residents reported a tornado in Lee's Summit and one in Pleasant Hill. There were reports of some damage, and as of 8:11 p.m., more than 10,000 Kansas City Power & Light customers were without power. 

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

It doesn’t take long to drive a car across the Missouri River.

Depending on traffic, the roughly half-mile trek can take just one minute. But if you don’t have a car, the Missouri River can seem like a much larger obstacle.

According to the U.S. Census, about 84 percent of the Kansas City metro population drives alone to work. That leaves the other 16 percent commuting by other means, like carpooling, public transit, walking, biking or just working from home.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Since 2000, money that was supposed to be used primarily for early childhood development in Kansas has been repeatedly raided by the Legislature to help balance the state's budget. Now, says Kansas Action for Children in a report released Wednesday, the Kansas Endowment for Youth (KEY) Fund will be almost depleted in two years.

Bigstock

When it took effect five years ago, the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act had some restaurant and business owners concerned.

But their worries about the state law prohibiting smoking in most public places — including workplaces, public buildings, bars and restaurants — have largely gone unrealized.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has withdrawn his challenge to same-sex marriage in the state, dismissing his lawsuit against a Johnson County judge who directed clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Schmidt’s move follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Schmidt on Tuesday filed a notice of dismissal of his lawsuit with the Kansas Supreme Court. The two-page document, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v.Hodges, said the action was now moot.

Kansas City Power & Light

In Kansas City, the U.S. women’s soccer team had its most visible display of support Tuesday night during their semifinal match against Germany. The match was shown live in the outdoor courtyard area of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

But before Tuesday’s match, there were already signs of strong Kansas City support. Since the women’s World Cup started, there have been ongoing discussions of an outdoor gathering in the Power & Light District — something like the many celebrations the district organized during the men's World Cup last year.

Courtesy Photo / Chipotle

Do you have good taste?

Some companies think you do, just because you live in Kansas City.

Kansas City has seen several new products before the rest of the country. Think Wendy’s breakfast menu in 2011 or the McDonald’s Blitz Box 2013, which offered a bundled meal for our Chiefs parties. If you've been here long enough, you might even remember a McPizza.

Now Chipotle is testing out its new chorizo meat option in the Kansas City metro — it started appearing in area locations about a month ago.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week on same-sex marriage has yet to spur Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback into action on the issue.

On Tuesday, Brownback’s office reiterated what he said after Friday’s ruling – that he is reviewing the decision — but state agencies reported that officials aren’t making changes based on the decision.

Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

The state of Kansas is off the hook, for now, for $50 million in back payments to school districts across the state.

Lawyers for the four school districts suing the state, including Kansas City, Kansas, say they expected all along that the order from a three-judge panel in Shawnee County would be stayed by the state Supreme Court.

Late Tuesday evening the high court did just that.

The state appealed last Friday's order from the panel that ordered all back payments to districts be made by Wednesday.

State tax receipts for June totaled $22.5 million less than expected, the Kansas Department of Revenue reported Tuesday.

Both individual income tax and sales tax receipts failed to meet projections.

Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan tried to put the numbers in a positive light, saying that overall tax receipts were $69.9 million higher than the previous year and “were less than 1 percent below estimates” for the current budget year.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Fresh off a win in one multi-state lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced he will join another.

Schmidt’s office said Tuesday morning he was joining attorneys general from eight other states in fighting the “Waters of the U.S.” rule intended to expand the scope of the Clean Water Act to smaller tributaries.

Kauffman Foundation

A new teacher training program in Kansas City hopes to mimic the medical residency training model in order to draw talented educators into the profession and keep them in the classroom long-term. 

The Kansas City Teacher Residency will place new teachers — or "residents" — in a one-year apprenticeship in a high-needs city school. Each new teacher will get intensive one-on-one coaching from a master teacher acting as a full-time mentor. 

"This is what we know sets teachers up for success," says Aaron North, vice president of education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "Being observed, getting feedback, having that opportunity to make those adjustments with an experienced educator guiding and mentoring you." 

North says it will give the new teachers of the program a chance to "hone their craft" as they learn how to teach. They will also take graduate-level courses while they work in schools. 

Mid-America Regional Council

Kansas City metro-area seniors are healthier and wealthier than their parents, though their spending habits are most aligned with a different generation – millennials.

“Young folks and older folks kind of want the same things,” says Frank Lenk, director of research for the Mid-America Regional Council. “They want lots of amenities near them. They want to be able to have a walkable community with open space and parks around them.”

MoDot / Flickr-CC

It might not be much of an exaggeration to predict that no matter where you look in the night sky this Fourth of July, you’ll catch at least a glimpse of glittering fireworks.

That’s because we love our fireworks in Kansas City as much as we do our barbecue and baseball. To meet the demand, myriad community gatherings will take place Saturday night throughout the metro, where folks will get to “ooh,” “aah” and applaud in response to red-white-and-blue spectacles flooding across the heavens in the name of Uncle Sam.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency must take cost into consideration when regulating power plant emissions.

Kansas and Missouri were among 20 states that joined Michigan officials in a lawsuit over a 2011 EPA rule requiring electric utilities to minimize their emissions of mercury and other toxic substances from their smokestacks.

Bigstock

You hear a lot about students being career or college ready — it’s really a rather new way to judge high school success. So new, that there hasn’t been much research about it.

The Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium Tuesday will release its first report on career or college readiness. The report, which will be made available to educators in both Kansas and Missouri, shows data that is not particularly surprising.

Kansas Attorney General's Office

As expected, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt quickly appealed Friday's court ruling finding most of the block grant funding law unconstitutional and ordering the state to make millions of dollars in back payments to school districts by Wednesday.

In a statement, Schmidt said a three-judge Shawnee County District Court panel broke new legal ground with its order, "including attempting to reinstate laws that the Legislature repealed months ago."

The language in the appeal takes the court to task. Schmidt called the order "cynical, calculated and unfortunately political" because the panel "issued its decision on the very day and barely one hour after the Legislature finally adjourned."

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