Sam Zeff / KCUR

Just a week after being served with a sixth federal grand jury subpoena, the embattled St. Joseph School District gave interim Superintendent Robert Newhart a vote of confidence by tacking two years onto his contract Monday night.

In addition to a little more job security and more money, the board of education also decided to drop interim from his title.

Newhart will continue to make his current salary of $174,500 through June 2017. His pay could then go as high as $181,480 for the 2017-2018 school year depending on how big a raise the board wants to give him.

Courtesy of

Trail Runner magazine says Wyandotte County offers some of the most challenging and fun trails for running and hiking in the country.

In an upcoming issue, the magazine ranks Kansas City, Kansas as the third best trail running site in the country, saying "Kansas City is serious about its trail running."

Kansas City Power & Light wants to build a solar farm in southeastern Jackson County, near Greenwood.

If the Missouri Public Service Commission greenlights the application next month, the solar farm could be online as soon as April.

“The sun and sunshine is free, so to the extent we can harness that, there’s very little operational cost to running this solar farm,” says KCP&L spokesman Chuck Caisley.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Union workers at Ford’s truck assembly plant in Claycomo have dented the push to ratify the new labor agreement worked out between Ford and the UAW. 

The Los Angeles Times / Creative Commons

There's a federal surveillance file from the early 20th century that refers to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas during World War I as a "University of Radicalism."

"That's not hyperbole," said researcher Christina Heatherton of Trinity College in Connecticut during a conversation on Central Standard

Heatherton was writing a book on the Mexican Revolution.

Courtesy Photos / St. Louis Public Radio

For many former students of the University of Missouri-Columbia, events of recent weeks bring back memories. Some are good, but many are not. For those alums, racial bias has always been part of the sub-text of their Mizzou experience.

The governing body that represents all University of Kansas faculty, staff and students will be considering how to respond to claims of racism and discrimination at KU. The University Senate Executive Committee will look at changes to make the campus more inclusive.

Michael Williams is a journalism professor at KU and president of the University Senate. He says they take the concerns over racism and discrimination seriously. At the meeting, they’ll be ready to hear suggestions from student and faculty, and they’re going to be making some suggestions of their own.

Whitney Thouvenelle

Howard Iceberg & the Titanics
Smooth Sailing

Putting the name Howard Iceberg & the Titanics next to an image of a sinking ship on a CD cover creates an impression of doom-and-gloom, but in a hokey, cartoonish way. Add the title Smooth Sailing, and you get something else: irony, or at least smart-aleck cynicism.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Walk into the courtroom of Wyandotte County District Judge Kathleen M. Lynch and you may be surprised to find lawyers who aren’t asked to stand up and a judge who prefers street dress to a judge’s robes. Lynch’s docket includes lots of cases involving mental illness or substance abuse and offenders needing institutional treatment. She’s become a big advocate for more social services in the area and for courtrooms more sensitive to people who have experienced trauma.

John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The roar of the fans, the daring runs on the field, and the click of camera shutters all go together at a major league sports event. When you're a photographer on the field, you get a different perspective of the game.

Photographers and Kansas City-area residents John Sleezer of the Kansas City Star and Denny Medley of USA Today Sports told Steve Kraske on Up to Date that being in the moment is crucial — the action can be fast and furious or few and far between.

On getting the shot 

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

These days, it’s hard to find someone who has stayed at one job longer than a decade. For many, exciting opportunities draw them to different companies and new careers.

But for Wendy Guillies, the last 15 years with the Kauffman Foundation have been anything but boring.

Kansas Supreme Court

While public schools in Kansas deal with frozen budgets and lawmakers prepare for another session dominated by fights over school funding, there is a small group of people profiting: lawyers representing the state and school districts in the case now before thes Kansas Supreme Court.

The Gannon case was filed in 2010 and since then both sides have incurred a total of more than $5.5 million in attorney fees, as well as travel, expert witness and lobbying costs.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Signs of the toll amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has taken on Kelli Johnsen’s body are scattered throughout the living room of her Emporia, Kansas, home.

A wheelchair in one corner. A lift in another. A walker near the television.

Next to her chair there’s an Eyegaze system — a screen that tracks her eye movement and blinks — that she uses to control the TV, lights and other devices. She can still move her hands, but not much.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers that pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack the social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Migrant workers planting roots

Angel Castro’s old road is muddy and covered with flooded potholes. He lived here during the 1990s just behind a large John Deere store in Kennett, Mo.

The University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital has filed plans to expand its presence in Overland Park and build a 60-bed hospital there.

The Overland Park Planning Commission last week unanimously approved the request for a special use permit by The Winbury Group, the developer of the project. The request now goes to the City Council.

The hospital would be located on the southwest corner of 107th Street and Nall Avenue, near an inpatient surgical center operated by KU Hospital that was formerly known as Heartland Surgical Specialty Hospital.  

Lynn Wilson / Washburn University

As a teenager in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson found solace from loss and loneliness in comic books, with a best friend named Stuart, and in putting his own pen to paper.

He captured those memories in a 2010 poetry collection called Missing You, Metropolis that won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a first-book award for "exceptional manuscripts by black poets."

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 100 Kansas Citians and French nationals joined in a gathering of solidarity at Liberty Memorial Sunday to show support for France after terrorist attacks killed more than 120 people in Paris.

Residents held French flags, signs and flowers of blue, white and red as Honorary Consul of the French Republic Cyprienne Simchowitz spoke over a microphone.

Courtesy of

University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel says he will resign at the end of season.  The announcement is the latest twist in a dramatic week for the team.

On Friday, the 63-year-old Pinkel announced his resignation, effective at the end of this season.  Doctors have been treating Pinkel for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, since May.  Pinkel says his health and not the turbulent week at MU drove his decision.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

If you’ve ever wondered what food tasted like 100 years ago, Dixon’s Famous Chili on Highway 40 is like a culinary time capsule.

With its red décor, bar stools and historic photos, it looks like a 1960s-style diner, and that’s when this particular restaurant opened near the stadiums on U.S. Highway 40.

In 1919, Vergne Dixon opened the original location at 15th and Olive streets just east of downtown, which makes it one of the oldest family-run establishments in the Kansas City metro; Dixon’s Chili eventually became a chain of 13 restaurants, including one in Minnesota. 

Jeffreyw/Flickr --CC

Cold weather and chili go hand-in-hand.

Hot and hearty, and eminently customizable, it’s an American classic and a perfect winter meal.

But what is chili? There are many recipes that vary by region, including a Kansas City loose-meat assemble-it-yourself style of chili.

“I think it’s chili if you think it’s chili,” Food Critic Jill Silva told guest host Sylvia Maria Gross Friday on KCUR's Central Standard.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Becky Bieker admits it's bittersweet. 

She's about to achieve what she and her husband Jon Bieker had been working towards for years — a dream, a lifetime goal.

And in its own way, she says, a small "win" in an ongoing battle. 

A battle she's been fighting since January, when Jon was gunned down in a robbery attempt at the old She's A Pistol location in Shawnee, Kansas.

"It's about not letting four people who committed a heinous crime to hold us down, run us out of business," she said.

Courtesy photo / Kauffman School

Education insiders in Kansas City have been closely watching the Ewing Marion Kauffman School  ever since it started in 2011.

Now, the rest of Missouri may perk up. 

This week, the Missouri Charter Public School Association named Kauffman its Missouri Charter School of the Year, citing its "strong academic performance," "innovative professional development" and "daily efforts to build community and engage parents." 

Concerns among Kansas health care providers of a billing system “apocalypse” appear to have been unfounded. Providers are saying “so far, so good” about a twice-delayed new system that went into effect Oct. 1.

The new billing system is called ICD-10. It’s the 10th version of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), and it replaced a system that had been in use since 1979.

Graphic courtesy of Hyatt Hotels

Only one Kansas City council member voted Thursday to honor the petitions and submit the city's plans for tax incentives and other financial considerations to the voters. 

The Northland's Heather Hall said she simply did not believe the downtown convention hotel would produce the economic benefits developers speak of and that she has concerns about the effect on local businesses, particularly in the catering industry.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

On July 17, 1981, about 2,000 people gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, for a dance. What followed was one of the most deadly structural failures in American history.

Shortly after 7 p.m., two 32-ton skywalks collapsed — the fourth-story walkway fell on to the second-story walkway and both crashed into the lobby. The toll: 114 killed, 200 injured. 

Now, more than 30 years later, a memorial honors those who died and recognizes the contributions of the first responders. At a dedication ceremony Thursday morning for the Skywalk Memorial Plaza, many personal stories were shared.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Children’s Mercy Hospital, which opened its first clinic in Kansas nearly 30 years ago and now has eight spread across the state, has changed the name of its facility in Overland Park from Children’s Mercy South to Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas.

Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Kansas City-based pediatric hospital, announced the name change at a news conference Thursday afternoon attended by hospital staff and supporters, political dignitaries and what he called “our real bosses,” half a dozen children sprawled on the floor alongside him.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City area residents have joined a nationwide effort petitioning Sprint to keep offering internet for nonprofit organizations through its WiMax service.

WiMax provides low-cost, high-bandwidth internet access with no data caps through mobile hotspots. Providers Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen use the service to hook up schools and other nonprofits.

Sprint acquired WiMax along with telecommunications company Clearwire in 2013, and decided to shut down the service and migrate customers over to its LTE service instead.

University of Missouri System

The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced Thursday that Michael Middleton will serve as interim president of the UM System.

Middleton served as the deputy chancellor of MU for 17 years before retiring in August. He was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court last month to co-chair the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in state courts. He also served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Paramount Pictures

It’s important to show appreciation. That includes showing up to laud cherished entertainment heroes and/or concepts when the opportunity arises.

Sometimes, the heroes are able to appear in person to receive their due. Other times, worthy stand-ins embodying the notion of the original’s excellence must suffice.

This weekend offers chances to be laudatory in both categories. Lay it on thick, because when we acknowledge what we admire, we bring out the best in ourselves.

1. Gladys Knight and the O’Jays

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's downtown streetcar made its first powered run along its 2.3 mile route early Thursday.

KC Streetcar Authority workers tested visibility for streetcar operators and made sure the vehicle maintains contact with overhead electric lines.

Streetcar spokeswoman Meghan Jansen says maintenance crews would monitor the car and take notes as they go from the Singleton Yard maintenance facility south to Union Station and back.