News

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The downtown performance space known as The Living Room arrived on the scene in 2010 with a debut season that included two plays by John Kolvenbach. Five years later, Scott Cordes and Katie Gilchrist are back in the directors’ chairs with both plays being performed in repertory.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

Musicians in the Kansas City Symphony play a lot of places out in the community, but earlier this week they found themselves in one place they’d never been: Lansing Correctional Facility. For the first time, they played a concert for inmates.

Hotel Muehlebach Centennial Times

In May of 1915, the Hotel Muehlebach opened its doors in downtown Kansas City with a 500 balloon release from the roof. In the 100 years since, there have been booms and busts, multiple renovations, and visits from Babe Ruth, The Beatles and 16 presidents.

At its opening, the Muehlebach was boasted as the most opulent hotel in Kansas City, originally with 12 stories, 500 rooms, two restaurants, a tea room and a music room. It was the first hotel in the area to have air conditioning — a luxury at the time.

A Senate committee on Thursday learned that a bill proposing that the state collect a 3.5 percent fee on health insurance policies sold to Kansans on the federal government’s online marketplace could be used to force a vote on Medicaid expansion.

“I want to know if Senate Bill 309 could be a vehicle for Medicaid expansion,” Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, asked in the final minutes of the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing.

Hyatt Hotels

Plans for an 800-room, $300 million downtown convention hotel continues to advance at a whirlwind pace. 

The full Kansas City council approved the basics of the deal Thursday, including a contribution of $13 million in city-owned land and $35 million in cash. 

Mayor Sly James said the hotel was part of his pre-election vision, but the plan is not about personal aggrandizement. 

“This was done because everybody on this council, I think, agrees that this was something we needed to get done,” he said.

Sedalia, MO Police Department

The manhunt continues for James Horn, now wanted in connection with the murder of his former girlfriend, Sandra Sutton, and her 17-year-old son. The  bodies of the woman and her son were found in her brother's home in Clinton, Missouri Thursday morning. 

Sutton's stolen car was found in Sedalia just two blocks from the house where she said Horn had kept her prisoner for months, sometimes confining her in a wooden box. Warrants had been out for Horn in connection with those crimes for about three weeks.

Clinton Police Lt. Sonny Lynch said his department had not been aware that the woman was staying in their community.

“She was advised by a couple of different victim advocates to get a protection order and to inform law enforcement of her location. That was done. But she felt as though she was safe over here staying with her family member, and from talking with the victim advocate folks, she just did not feel like she wanted to do that,” Lynch said.

Film 4 Productions

When editorial writers hoped to spur the country's westward expansion with the phrase “Go west, young man,” they might not have envisioned a sixteen-year-old from Scotland whose beloved has a bounty on her head. But that’s the deceptively simple narrative of Slow West, director and writer John Maclean’s creative, at times dazzling new western.

Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Jay, a teenager who left his native Scotland for the Colorado territories circa 1870, a place and time of volatility and random violence. Equipped with money, a gun, and two suitcases stuffed with clothes and cooking utensils, he’s on horseback and intent on reuniting with Rose (Caren Pistorius), his girlfriend from back home. Stopped and held at gunpoint by a grizzled outlaw, Jay is saved by a fellow renegade named Silas (the charismatic Michael Fassbender), who conveniently shoots the robber through the head.

The Kansas City Council delayed a vote Thursday on raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

The council came to an agreement after nearly four hours of public testimony in committee. Petitioners in favor of raising the minimum wage had submitted a ballot initiative in conjunction with Councilman Jermaine Reed introducing an identical ordinance.

The issue is complicated by an Aug. 28 deadline for a bill on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk that would prohibit cities from raising the minimum wage. Mayor Sly James summed up the council's difficulty with the measures.

George Hodgman is a writer and editor who's lived in New York and worked for places like Vanity Fair and Simon & Schuster.

After a childhood spent dreaming of New York and an adulthood caught up in the whirlwind of an intense career, he came home to Missouri to care for his ailing mother. Still, people from the small towns of his youth still think of him as the guy who went to New York.

So when he wrote a memoir, Bettyville, not about the glitzy social engagements in New York but about his childhood in Missouri, that meant something to people.

Just last week, he returned to Madison, Missouri — which had 554 residents as of the 2010 census — and gave a talk in a church basement. He regaled the town with stories about itself.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Star editor Mike Fannin makes decisions every day about what this community is going to know about itself, the region and even the world. In a changing news environment, with financial and staffing constraints, The Star, along with many news organizations, has been forced to examine their guiding principles and priorities.

South Dakota / Flickr-CC -- image cropped

As a famous song says, “Things will be great when you’re downtown.” And even more so this Memorial Day weekend.

Suffice it to say that downtown Kansas City will be a hub for music, art, sports and the biggest holiday party of its sort in the Midwest.

As the song says, “You’re gonna be alright now.” Just alright? Oh, I think we can do better than that.

1. Celebration at the Station

Eric Baker / KCUR

Google will fund two temporary positions in Kansas City aimed at narrowing the digital divide, the company announced Thursday. The people hired for the positions will work to get people in low-income communities online.

Google Fiber came to Kansas City pledging to make the internet more accessible to everyone. It offered very low cost connections in some neighborhoods, but didn’t wire others, where interest in the service was low. The upfront cost of installing Google Fiber made it unattractive for many low-income renters.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When Corinne Corley, 60, moved to Brookside two decades ago, her morning Kansas City Star came around 5:30.

“Now, it comes between 6:30 and 7,” says Corley, clutching her cup of coffee as she reads the headlines on her tablet. She has a digital subscription to the New York Times, but she still gets the Star delivered to her door.

“There’s just something about the feel of a newspaper in your hand,” she says.

Her paper arrives with a thud around 6:25 a.m. Corley waves to her carrier.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Republican from Shawnee, said the fee would generate between $18 million and $24 million annually.

The money, she said, would be deposited in a fund that would be used to offset costs associated with the state’s Medicaid program and its implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“We are doing this not because of the budget hole,” Pilcher-Cook said Wednesday, referring to the Legislature’s ongoing debate over how to fill a more than $400 million gap in the state’s budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

Driving up the hill to the Rosedale Ridge apartment complex, it's hard to imagine that anyone lives at the top of this steep incline. But the steps cut into the side of the road tell a different story: 350 low-income residents live in six squat buildings and most them don't have cars. They walk up and down this hulking hill multiple times a day. 

But probably not for long — Rosedale Ridge is on the verge of being shut down because of terrible conditions. Residents have mixed feelings about their departure, if it even happens at all. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A Kansas City Council committee gave initial approval to a plan for a new downtown convention hotel Wednesday.

The city's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee approved an outline for a $300 million, 800-room Hyatt hotel. The plan puts the city on the hook for $35 million, which would come from the city's existing tourism funds that currently go to Kemper Arena.

Allagash Brewing / Flickr-CC

Craft breweries and distilleries in the Kansas City area could soon have a new venue to sell their libations.

The Kansas City council's Public Safety & Emergency Services Committee advanced an ordinance Wednesday that expands liquor sales in the City Market area near downtown Kansas City.

Currently, only wineries can bring their products to the farmer's market, but the new ordinance would allow state-licensed breweries and distilleries to do the same.

America's Health Rankings Senior Report

Kansas dropped seven places in a report assessing which states are the healthiest for seniors while Missouri moved up one spot.

The third edition of the United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report” rated Kansas 24th in overall health for seniors and Missouri 38th.

The report looked at 35 measures of senior health in categories including behavior, community and environment, policy, clinical care and health outcomes.

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

It's no longer enough for restaurants to offer roasted chicken or braised beef shank on their menus.

They need to be able to tell customers exactly where that chicken came from and how the cow was raised. If they can remember the pedigree of the produce? All the better. 

But serving locally sourced food is a challenge for chefs, and the farmer-foodie connections aren’t always easy to come by.  

Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that Missouri had levied its largest fine ever for insurance law violations against two Aetna companies.

Nixon said Aetna Life Insurance Co. and Aetna Health Insurance Co. had agreed to pay $4.5 million for violating a 2010 state law that requires insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

If Aetna complies with the settlement agreement, $1.5 million of the fine will be suspended, a news release from Nixon’s office said.

KHI News Service photo

Some legislators are considering the possibility of eliminating the state’s earned income tax credit in exchange for expanding its Medicaid program.

“That’s being shopped around, big time,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat.

“There’s been discussion of that, yes,” said Rep. Don Hill, an Emporia Republican.

Kelly and Hill, who serve on their respective chambers’ health and budget committees, declined to say which legislators are promoting the would-be deal.

Katie Brady / Flickr--CC

Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, is in its fifth season as the home of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. For the money spent on what is regarded as one of the best soccer venues in the country, very little so far has been invested in Wyandotte County for youth soccer.

But changes are taking place.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

For customers stepping inside Abarrotes Delicias, the noise, traffic and heat of the surrounding Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood seem to disappear.

The small store offers everything from tacos to snacks to money transfers – or just  an air-conditioned place to hang out and watch TV on a lazy afternoon.

Owner Graciela Martinez says she tries to provide a welcoming personal touch when serving her customers, who comprise a diverse sample of nearby residents.

David DeHetre / Flickr--CC

If you were awake in the Kansas City metro around 11:25 p.m. Saturday, you may have heard a tornado siren ... but you may have not.

Around the same time, the National Weather Service was sending emergency alerts warning about flash floods in the area, creating confusion for many Kansas Citians.

Check out what Kansas Citians were tweeting:

A state audit of Jackson County Circuit Court finds continuing weaknesses in its accounting controls and gives it only a “fair” rating.

The report by the office of Missouri State Auditor Nicole R. Galloway comes three years after the court’s administrator was found to have bought nearly $78,000 worth of personal items with a court purchasing card. The administrator, Teresa York, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Although the new court administrator has set up additional internal controls, the audit found persistent problems. It pointed to unbalanced ledgers and $6 million in investments that didn’t comply with state law and the court’s own investment guidelines.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

As Mosby, Missouri, Police Sgt. Jason Lininger helped residents evacuate their Clay County homes Sunday morning, he asked Fishing River Fire how fast the water was rising.

"At one point, it actually rose four foot in one hour," Lininger told Gov. Jay Nixon during a briefing Monday afternoon.

Severe weather this weekend spawned 10 confirmed in Bates, Henry, Caldwell, Jackson, Ray, Newton, Lawrence and Polk counties. An unconfirmed tornado near Bethany leveled several grain elevators.

But the real problem was flash flooding.

A Johnson County jury rejected the claim that the Kansas City area’s biggest radiology practice violated state antitrust laws but ordered it to pay $718,500 to a prominent radiologist whom it terminated.

The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours before reaching its verdict Friday night after a trial that lasted two weeks.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

As the outbreak of avian flu continues to spread across the Midwest, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the spread of the virus could be "laterally spread" by humans.

The outbreak, which has now spread to 15 states, is thought to be caused by wild birds coming into contact with poultry flocks. Vilsack said it was definitely wildlife that brought the virus to the Midwest via the Mississippi Flyway. But now it appears the ongoing spread of it could be caused by humans, Vilsack told Iowa Public Radio.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Some state legislatures are moving to shield residents’ federal health insurance subsidies in advance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act.

The Kansas Legislature is not among them.

As Kansas lawmakers work toward a tax plan to end the 2015 session, they have not had any briefings on the King v. Burwell case, the verdict expected in June or its implications for the nearly 100,000 Kansans who purchased insurance from healthcare.gov, the online insurance exchange.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the fourth year in a row, Kansas City officials are pushing for teens and young adults to join Mayor Sly James' Club KC and Mayor's Nights events during the summer.

The initiative is meant to keep kids from causing trouble at places like the Plaza by hosting parties and sports tournaments at various community centers across the city.

Mayor James and several city council members were on the Plaza Saturday handing out fliers for the programs. James says that attendance is expected to match last year, which means less problems for law enforcement.

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