Sam Zeff / KCUR

It was the worst audit report ever issued about a Missouri school district.

But in a follow up report issued Monday, the state auditor says the St. Joseph School District is making progress.

The auditor report released in February — the only time the state auditor has ever given a school district a "poor" rating — was scathing.

The St. Joseph district, the report said, had a confusing and inconsistent payroll system that resulted in up to $400 million in unapproved stipend payments going back to 2000.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stopped in Kansas City Monday to address the Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers, a global group of farm insurers.

Though Vilsack was mostly there to explain U.S. crop insurance subsidies to the largely European audience – elsewhere, direct payments to farmers remain more common – he also touched on consumer pushback against genetically-modified crops.

Courtesy Aimee Larabee

The Hippocratic Oath that's guided doctors for centuries asks them to "remember that there is art to medicine as well as science." The late cardiac surgeon Jeffrey Piehler and Prairie Village filmmaker Aimee Larrabee shared that sentiment, and the result is her documentary Patient: A Surgeon's Journey, making its one-night local premiere October 1 at the Tivoli Cinema in Westport.


Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Nilvio Aquino weaves through a tangled jungle of marijuana plants at an indoor grow facility in Denver.

“Throw your nose in there. It’s nice and pungent,” he said, pulling a seven-foot tall plant down to nose height at one of the company’s grow facilities.

Aquino, the lead grower for Sticky Buds, a chain of marijuana shops in Denver, is in his element among the plants. He’s like a proud gardener showing off blue ribbon varieties, bustling from plant to plant, picking out his favorites.

Maria Carter / KCUR

A 72-bed, private behavioral health hospital opens its doors this week in Olathe amid growing demand for mental health and substance abuse services in an era of uncertain government support.  

Cottonwood Springs Hospital is the 12th behavioral health hospital built or under construction by Springstone Inc., a for-profit company founded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2010 and backed by venture capital.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Los Angeles-based actor David Dastmalchian returned to Kansas with a message he said should transcend politics: We can’t give up on people who struggle with substance abuse and mental illness.

Dastmalchian is now a budding Hollywood star, with roles in blockbusters like 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and 2015’s “Ant-Man.” But 15 years ago he was a self-proclaimed “full-time heroin addict” living out of a car near Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Kansas Board of Regents

An improving economy may be affecting enrollment numbers of Kansas community colleges.

The Board of Regents released enrollment numbers for its six universities, plus Kansas community colleges and technical schools Friday — and the results are mixed.

Overall enrollment at the state’s 19 community colleges is down 2.9 percent.

That’s probably due to an improving economy and people no longer scrambling to improve their education to land a job.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library

An infectious disease that typically affects about 10 people in Kansas City annually has already spread to more than 14 times that number this year, health officials said Friday.

Shigella is spread by direct or indirect fecal-oral contact. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, among other symptoms. It may also cause convulsions in young children.

The Kansas City Health Department has investigated more than 143 cases of the disease since the start of the year, officials said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Parade Park in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine District will soon be the home of Major League Baseball’s newest Urban Youth Academy.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced Friday fundraising for the first phase of the project – which will include two full-size baseball diamonds, two youth fields, a walking trail, a playground, park upgrades and, ultimately, an indoor training facility – is complete. The outdoor fields are slated to open next fall.

Revitalizing the historic jazz district and former site of Municipal Stadium has long been one of James' goals.

Frank Morris / KCUR

A taskforce aimed at addressing an alleged pattern of abuse by guards at the Jackson County Detention Center heard accusations of violence from a former inmate Thursday.

Terry Coleman is part of an ongoing FBI investigation at the jail that came to light in August, when the county acknowledged allegations of several beatings at the facility.

On Thursday, the taskforce held a public forum, where Coleman explained how he'd been transferred to the detention center on a snowy day in February 2013 on a drug possession charge.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As a young child, Helen Keller lost her vision, hearing, and ability to speak. Her teacher, Annie Sullivan, gave her the tools to communicate with the world. Theirs was a friendship that lasted for five decades – and the play about that relationship, The Miracle Worker, opens this week at the Coterie Theatre. 

As part of our monthly series Actors Off-Script, Vanessa Severo (Annie) and Josephine Pellow (Helen) talked about some of the challenges of bringing this story to the stage. 

Adolfo Gustavo Martinez

When Kansas City artist Adolfo Gustavo Martinez lived in Edinburg, Texas, in the 1980s, he spent most Sundays at bars in the border towns listening to live Tex-Mex music.

He recalls with fondness being able to see people grilling and partying just across the Rio Grande River  in Mexico.

“The Rio Grande Valley isn’t very wide, probably like a street,” Martinez says. “You could see them right there, right across the river.”

Michael Zupon / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Royals pulled away in the late innings in their 10-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners Thursday.

The win was a key milestone for the ball club, as the Royals haven’t won a division title since they won the 1985 World Series.

Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain says it’s an important first step this season.

“We definitely set a goal to win our division this year,” Cain said. “We accomplished that. But our next goal is to get back to the World Series and hopefully win. We have a lot of unfinished business.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR

As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee Syria for Europe, an Overland Park, Kansas, nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid continues its work to stabilize the situation inside the war-torn country.

The number of asylum-seeking Syrians in the United States is small – just 1,500 since the conflict began four years ago – and pressure is mounting to accept more refugees.

But Syrian-born Kansas Citians aren’t sure it’s the best way to help.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Cynthia Lane has spent half of her career in public education in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. On Thursday she ascended to the top of her profession in the state when she was named superintendent of the year by the Kansas School Superintendents' Association (KSSA).

“I am humbled and honored to have been selected for this award,” Lane said in a statement. “I accept it on behalf of the Board of Education and the team of people in the district and in the community who work tirelessly to graduate each student prepared for college and careers in a global society."


Results are in for the recent 48-hour filmmaking contest between gigabit-fueled Kansas City and Chattanooga: Kansas City won.


Jonathan Richard of Brookside recalls being a homesick undergraduate student at Drake University in Iowa in the mid 1990s.

Joining Sigma Chi fraternity made him feel like he was part of a family, even though his real family was in Boston.

“The secret rituals and camaraderie immediately created a special and altogether unique sense of pride and belonging,” Richard wrote us in an email.

“There were certainly stupid antics and drunken parties — but no more so than the typical experience of a college student.”

The University of Missouri–Kansas City on Thursday said it's launching a program aimed at bringing more high school students into  science, engineering, technology and math.

The university said its School of Nursing and Health Studies and its School of Computing and Engineering had received a five-year, $2.5 million dollar grant to fund the program, called KC HealthTracks.

Allison Long / POOL/Kansas City Star

Convicted Jewish Community Center shooter Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. wants a new trial.

He filed a motion Wednesday demanding a retrial for a variety of reasons, most of which stemmed from Cross’ decision to represent himself.

Cross argues he did not have adequate help from the three defense attorneys appointed to serve as standby counsel.

City of Kansas City, Missouri

An effort to put a downtown convention hotel up for a public vote took another official step forward Thursday.

But where it goes from here remains unclear. 

Officials with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners say they have counted and validated signatures on a petition filed this week by a group seeking to challenge a recently inked deal to develop an 800-room Hyatt Hotel next to Bartle Hall

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the nation's Capitol was humming with activity around the pope's visit, Catholics in Kansas City came together Thursday at Rockhurst University to watch the historic address to a joint session of Congress. 

A large crowd gathered in the auditorium of Pedre Arrupe, S.J. Hall on the Rockhurst campus. Students, faculty and staff, and members of the community watched the pope on two large screens at the front of the hall, applauding vigorously almost every time they saw Congress clap. There was also a giant screen feeding live tweets from around the country.

Courtesy photo / Volkswagen of America Inc.

This story was updated at 1:21 p.m. and at 3:16 p.m.

As Volkswagen’s problems mount over its diesel-emissions deception, class action complaints by irate customers are multiplying like vehicles at rush hour.

One of the latest was filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, by Jared Bustamante and Jessie Fox, Kansas City residents, who say they purchased a 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI at Bud Brown Volkswagen less than a month ago.

File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

As China’s president tours the U.S. this week, a bipartisan group of senators is urging the Obama Administration to push China to streamline trade of biotech crops. U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran from Kansas, and Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, all signed the letter.

Regulators in China have in the past rejected shipments of U.S. corn after determining they contained genetically modified varieties that had not been approved in China.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Several advocates for people with mental illness on Wednesday panned a proposal that would allow treatment facilities to hold people in crisis situations for up to 72 hours as involuntary patients.

“This is a deprivation of liberty,” Mike Burgess, a spokesperson with the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, said during a meeting of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

It would be better, he said, to expand access to voluntary treatment.

Robert Huffstutter / Flickr--CC

From the street to the stage, creative folks are sharing their talents and wares this weekend.

And you know what that means: You get to be creative, too, because it takes a creative mind to fully appreciate one. That might explain why you and I get along so well. Glad to be on the same creative team!

Plaza Art Fair

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

A new survey of teacher salaries in Kansas suggests there might be some long-term problems filling education jobs.

Teacher pay in Kansas has always been below the national average.

But a new report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says teachers in the state are also lagging behind the increased cost of living and nonteachers with the same amount of education.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Environmental Protection Agency officials announced Wednesday morning a $475,000 grant to help clean up and redevelop neglected property in Kansas City.

Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, spoke at the site of the former Horace Mann school, where affordable senior housing is now being constructed with the help of EPA funding.

Andy Marso/KHI News

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday convened a new Governor’s Social Services Policy Council for the first time Wednesday in the luxury suites area at Sporting Park, the Kansas City, Kansas, home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team.

At the end of the hourlong meeting, the council decided to focus on obtaining data about criminal recidivism and the breakdown of the family structure.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A national nonprofit organization that distributes books to children from low-income families made a stop in Kansas City Wednesday.

First Book is giving 300,000 titles donated by publisher Random House to Kansas City schools and literacy programs. Local partners Turn the Page KC and LINC are helping get the books to kids and teachers.

“One of the big factors in kids learning to read is access to books from a very young age,” says Mike English, executive director of Turn the Page KC. “Our goal is really to build home libraries for kids and families in low-income areas.”

Courtesy photo / Nature's Own Health Market

Before it was a grocery store, the small space at the corner of 43rd and Main streets housed, over the years, a drugstore, a coffee shop that hosted live music, a Whole Foods and a Wild Oats.

For the past five years, it’s been the home to Nature’s Own Health Market.

The corner grocery store holds a special place in the hearts of many Kansas Citians, as Mary Jo Draper recently discovered.