News

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

About a thousand people rallied in Kansas City on Saturday, calling for action to protect the environment. The People’s Climate March was one of hundreds across the country and overseas timed to coincide with the 100-day mark of President Donald Trump's administration.

Despite heavy rain, a cross section of Kansas Citians, including climate activists, students and families, marched through the Plaza and then gathered inside Unity Temple.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

An audit of the Kansas foster care system found the state doesn’t ensure children are placed close to home or receive all services they need.

The Legislature’s independent auditing team presented the third part of its report on the Kansas foster care system Friday to the Legislative Post Audit Committee. The final part of the audit attempted to answer if the state’s two foster care contractors have sufficient resources to provide services and if privatization has improved children’s outcomes and lowered costs.

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

You can try to go it alone. But it’s more fun to be interactive.

Experiences worth sharing with your fellow humans this weekend include the area’s biggest comic book and pop culture convention, mosh-pit friendship, getting all warm and fuzzy with the Muppets, air guitar players aiming for international glory and a dog stunt show with a cute quotient powerful enough to make audiences roll over.

See what’s possible when we play together? OK, rolling over is optional.

1. Planet Comicon

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In 2010, Kansas City Public Schools closed nearly 30 schools, mostly because of declining enrollment and a budget deficit. Some of these buildings are still in limbo, and others have been sold, leased, or mothballed for future use.

At the former Westport Middle School at 200 E. 39th Street, classrooms, where students used to work on projects, are now co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. 

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers signaled Thursday that they could exempt Kansas psychiatric hospitals from a law requiring them to allow concealed handguns.

Gov. Sam Brownback has requested an additional $24 million in spending over the next two budget years on upgrades needed to provide security at state mental health hospitals and facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A Republican leader in the Kansas Senate says he’ll propose a fee on all utility bills in the state to help fund education.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, says his plan calls for a $3 monthly fee on residential electric, gas and water bills in the state. Those with all three utilities would pay $9 more a month. For commercial customers, the monthly fee would be $10 per bill.

The whole package would raise $150 million a year, Denning estimates.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

The Missouri Senate has voted to approve $48 million in funding for a new downtown campus for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

The $96 million project, which would relocate the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to the block immediately south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, is seeking $48 million in state bond funding to match private and city contributions already lined up.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback kicked off the Kansas legislative session by drawing lines in the sand on taxes, spending and Medicaid expansion, and he has defended those positions with his veto pen.

The question when lawmakers return Monday to Topeka is whether those vetoes will hold up.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Saadiq Thompson will walk across the stage and proudly receive a diploma from Ruskin High School in Kansas City in a few weeks. But he’s only spent a sliver of his student days there.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education unanimously voted Wednesday night to name Dr. Kenny Southwick as interim superintendent for Shawnee Mission schools.

Jim Hinson, who has headed the district for the past four years, unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. His last day is June 30.

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is launching an app next week to help people with disabilities get a ride. The launch follows a year of development and two months of trials in a partnership with the company Transdev.

Anyone can use the RideKC Freedom app, but it’s specially designed for the more than 300,000 people with disabilities who use the KCATA’s subsidized paratransit services. CEO Robbie Makinen says the Uber-style app is an innovation for the public transit agency. 

Sam Warlick / National League of Cities

Earlier this month Kansas City, Missouri, residents raised their own property taxes for 20 years in part to help pay for federally-required improvements to public buildings under the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Roy Inman / KCUR 89.3

How does President Donald Trump fit within the tradition of the presidency? Is his style beholden to his voters? And is his New York swagger and often controversial rhetoric — not to mention the Tweets — good for America?

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A $1.3 million grant will help a downtown charter school expand.

Education nonprofit SchoolSmartKC announced Tuesday support for Crossroads Academy, which hopes to open a high school in 2018.

“Whenever you’re growing and expanding, there are a lot of operational costs associated with the planning and staffing something while it’s still small and before it can reach full capacity and scale up to a point where it’s self-sustainable,” says Dean Johnson, executive director at Crossroads Academy.

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Just because Kansas had an election a few months ago doesn’t mean people aren’t already thinking about 2018 legislative campaigns.

Grassroots organizations in Johnson County are multiplying and starting to plot how they will elect more moderate Republicans and Democrats to the Kansas Legislature.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt was in Kansas City Tuesday to promote MO ABLE, a new savings program for people with disabilities.

“Look, when my son was born, we opened up a college savings account. You have all those hopes and dreams,” says Schmitt. “Emotionally, psychologically, that’s tough for families.”

Schmitt's 12-year-old son is nonverbal on the autism spectrum.

The tax-advantaged accounts function similarly to Missouri’s 529 college savings plan and can be used to pay for assistive technology and long-term care.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

This week marks beginning of the end of the Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas. It's officially demolition time — though it might be hard to tell for awhile.

www.16thcircuit.org

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell to the state Supreme Court.

Powell, a Springfield native and Mizzou law grad, will fill a seat on the seven-member court that has been vacant since Judge Richard Teitelman died in November.

At age 46, he will be the youngest member of the Missouri Supreme Court.  

Kansas City lawyers who dealt with Powell, both when he was a prosecutor and a judge, applauded his selection.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A stone’s throw from the childhood home of pilot Amelia Earhart in Atchison, Kansas, is Benedictine College. Benedictine monks started the college in 1857 to provide a Catholic education to the children of pioneers and to celebrate Mass with German and Irish settlers.

Today, about 40 monks live at the abbey on a hill overlooking the college and the Missouri River. They live much the same way Benedictine monks have lived since St. Benedict of Nursia established the order in sixth century.

Courtesy Summer Breeze

Lenexa drummer and philanthropist Billy Brimblecom says he’s put blood, sweat, and tears into trying to be an original musician.

“But seriously, one of the most fun and — dare I say — at least locally successful things I’ve done, is this.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Outgoing Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson was absent from Monday night's board meeting but he was the subject of much discussion.

The board officially accepted Hinson's resignation and started to lay out plans to search for his successor.

Hinson, who has headed the district for the past four years, unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. His last day is June 30.

Several members of the public asked the school board to hold off on hiring a new superintendent until after the November elections. Three board positions will be on the ballot.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A third of the way to an end-of-year deadline, Kansas officials still do not have federal approval to extend KanCare.

In January, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied the state’s request for a one-year extension of the waiver that allowed it to privatize its Medicaid program. The denial letter said neither the Kansas Department of Health and Environment nor the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was doing enough to hold the three private companies that run the program responsible for providing services accountable to Medicaid rules.

Courtesy Jim Murray

Jim Murray will never forget the first time he heard "Study for Strings" by the Czech composer Pavel Haas. It was a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Kansas City back when Murray was a junior at William Jewell College.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A short march from 27th and Grand to Washington Square Park kicked off Kansas City's "March for Science" Saturday morning. One of hundreds around the world, the event was intended "to voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives."

Courtesy Block Real Estate Services

Construction on the first multi-tenant office tower to go up in the Country Club Plaza in more than a decade is expected to begin this summer following approval of final incentives.

The 14-story 46 Penn Centre project is planned for 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue just north of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist by Block Real Estate Services.

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Starting in August, KU Athletics will ban all purses from football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball games and other major sporting events.

If it’s larger than a typical clutch bag and opaque, it won’t be allowed into big games.

Courtesy Unbound Book Festival

On a recent Wednesday morning at his home Columbia, Missouri, Alex George was ignoring his day job. He’s an attorney and author whose second novel, Setting Free the Kites, was released in February. But on this day he was working on neither writing nor lawyering.

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