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KC Streetcar Authority

Over the icy weekend, Kansas City’s downtown streetcar service not only kept to schedule, it ran after-hours to stop ice build-up on overhead lines.

After the last passengers disembarked, up to two streetcars were kept running overnight to keep power-lines ice-free.

Donna Mandelbaum, communications manager for the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, says the trolley cars can run continuously if necessary.

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Happy new year! KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping up with the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared their picks with guest host Brian Ellison on Friday’s Central Standard.

architetural rendering, courtesy of RMTA architectural firm

Like a handful of other cities in the Kansas City metro area, Roeland Park, Kansas, has a one percent for art program. Roeland Park's was established in 2010 by a city council resolution, and it sets aside one percent of development costs for art. 

But city administrator Keith Moody says the program hasn't been tested a lot. At least not more than once to his knowledge. 

"There hasn’t been a lot of development in Roeland Park since the adoption of the one percent for arts dedication resolution," he says. "So it isn’t something that we deal with frequently." 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveils his official portrait at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2016.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

And then there was Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary is the only post in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet without a nominee, mystifying many in rural America and spurring worries that agriculture and rural issues will land near the end of the line among the new president’s priorities.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served for all 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, announced Friday was his last day in office.

The Rieger / Facebook

When it’s cold out, a big, hearty bowl of pasta really hits the spot.

Whether it’s a creamy mac and cheese or something a little more sophisticated (squid-ink noodles, anyone?), KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

The Brownback administration has increased advance payments to nursing homes while a backlog of Kansas Medicaid applications persists.

The administration instituted advance payments of 50 percent for nursing homes residents with pending applications last spring, when almost 11,000 applications backed up past the 45-day federal processing limit.

Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg / U.S. Marine Corps

This Sunday, the NFL playoffs return to Kansas City for the first time since 2011, and the Chiefs have a chance to go further than they’ve gone in a generation. But as commentator Victor Wishna explains in this month’s edition of 'A Fan’s Notes,' that’s not all that’s on the line.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a much-loved institution in Kansas City. What many Midwesterners may not know, though, is that the Nelson also has a world-renowned reputation among artists and scholars of Asian art. With more than 7,000 works spanning 5,000 years, the museum boasts one of the most celebrated collections of Asian art in the West.

Courtesy - Johnson County

Thursday's vote by the Johnson County Commission authorizes the spending of revenues from a quarter-cent sales tax voters approved last November.

The money will be used to demolish the old courthouse in downtown Olathe and replace it with a new nine story building across the street.  It will also subsidize a $20 million coroner's facility at 119th and Ridgeview for autopsies and toxicology exams.

The project is not to exceed $245 million.

Chief Counsel Don Jarrett says construction won't start until the existing courthouse is completely torn down.

David Bickley

Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was a pianist. But some of the music Bartók wrote for strings, inspired by folk music, is considered among his most expressive and inventive. 

This weekend, Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller will be the featured soloist in Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

While Arrowhead Stadium will be jammed on Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game, the Chiefs must still deal with the case of the parking lot fatality from three years ago.

Though the criminal case over the death of Kyle Van Winkle was settled last year, a wrongful death suit against the Chiefs is still pending. The victim’s family has also named the perpetrator, Joshua Bradley, in the suit. The lawsuit addresses several parking lot issues that the Chiefs continue to deal with.

Kansas News Service File

It very well might be too late, but some Kansas lawmakers are moving ahead on a plan to expand KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted Thursday to introduce an expansion bill at the request of Rep. Susan Concannon, a Beloit Republican.

Wyandotte County civic and government leaders are calling on the Kansas congressional delegation to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A statement from Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland says Obamacare is working, and repealing it would leave 6,000 Wyandotte County residents without health coverage.

“The time and energy our community invested in taking full advantage of this law must now be used to protect it,” Mayor Holland said. “There is too much at stake.”

The E Energy ethanol plant near Adams, Neb., processes nearly 50 millions gallons of ethanol annually.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A new U.S. government study claims ethanol is better for the environment than most scientists initially expected, boosting an industry that is a boon to Midwest farmers but challenged by many environmental groups and the oil industry.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Mark Bedell says he’s done observing – it’s time to act.

Last month, Bedell outlined his plan to move KCPS forward in a 22-page report that recapped his experiences visiting schools during his first 100 days as superintendent.

Cody Newill / File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Despite Mayor Sly James' hope that the Kansas City Council would agree on ballot language for a major infrastructure bond  issue, joint committees on Thursday decided to put the discussion on hold until next week. 

The leaves just one week to come to a consensus on language if they want to get the issue on the ballot April 4 — which they do. 

Kansas Memory

On April 4, 1968, the radio and TV crackled with awful news: Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tomas Forgac / Wikimedia Commons

May the gridiron gods be with our Kansas City Chiefs as they seek to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at noon Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, allowing Alex, Travis, Tyreek and the rest to advance to the AFC Championship Game and ultimate victory in the 2017 Super Bowl.

So … what else might there be to do this weekend?

Food! Music! Comedy! Hike! Oops – well, it is a big game, you know.

Courtesy Kansas City Irish Center

The Kansas City Irish Center begins 2017 with much to celebrate. After almost a decade in the lower level of Union Station, last year the Center bought historic Drexel Hall, in Midtown at the corner of Linwood and Baltimore, and moved into its new home in September. 

“It’s in a location that we really want in the heart of the city, where a lot of the cultural activities are happening, and where the history of the Irish is in Kansas City,” says Nancy Wormington, the center’s executive director.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The controversial $1.8 billion Brookridge redevelopment proposal in Overland Park is a step closer to being subsidized with help from taxpayer funds. A special committee told the Shawnee Mission Board of Education Wednesday that it should not use its veto power to stop the creation of a tax increment financing district (TIF).

SWARE. / Flickr-CC

Kansas City voters will likely get to vote on an ordinance that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Whether they'll be able to vote on it this April, however, seems unlikely. 

On Wednesday, a Kansas City Council committee debated the ordinance for the first time and held off on a decision until next week. The deadline to submit ballot language for the April election is Jan. 19. 

Creative Commons-Pixabay

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposal would sell the state’s future payments from tobacco companies to plug financial holes for the next two years.

The budget proposal — outlined Wednesday morning — calls for the state to receive $265 million from “securitizing” the tobacco payments in fiscal year 2018, which starts in July, and the same amount in the following year.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback’s office released a budget proposal Wednesday that is likely to put him at odds with large swaths of the Legislature.

Legislators in both parties won re-election last year on platforms that included repealing a state income tax exemption for business owners and providing a state general fund that balances annual spending with tax revenue and doesn’t rely on one-time sweeps of other money.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The family of a Kansas boy who died last summer while riding a slide at Schlitterbahn has reached a settlement with the water park.

Caleb Schwab, 10, was killed Aug. 7, 2016, while riding Verrückt, an attraction Schlitterbahn billed as the world’s tallest water slide.

It was Elected Official Day at the water park – Schwab’s father is Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe.

Courtesy Lincoln Marshall / Facebook

Lincoln Marshall is the Kansas-based rap duo of Approach (Sean Hunt) and MilkDrop ( John-Alan Suter). They're on the bill for this weekend's Sound Machine concert, a monthly event that's envisioned as a miniature version of the annual Middle of the Map Fest.

3 reasons we're listening to Lincoln Marshall this week:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pastor Adam Carter is standing next to a single white cross in the front lawn of the Leawood Baptist Church on State Line Road. For the final weeks of the year, the lawn was a sea of white crosses, each representing a homicide victim. The visual, he says, would stop you in your tracks.

"Each cross wasn't just a piece of wood, it represented a human life," Carter says. "So when you look at it from that perspective, it was extremely overwhelming."

Overwhelming because of the sheer number of lives lost last year. 

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback began a quest to preserve his legacy with Tuesday’s State of the State address.

Facing an immediate budget crisis and a Legislature rendered more oppositional with the ouster of dozens of allies in last year’s elections, Brownback used the 30-minute speech to try to reassure Kansans that the right-wing policy path he has blazed the last six years is worth maintaining.

Kansas News Service

Think twice and don’t be in such a hurry to repeal Obamacare.

That’s the message that an alliance pushing for Medicaid expansion in Kansas is sending to members of the state’s congressional delegation.

Kansas doctors who mistakenly diagnose a case of child abuse are not liable for malpractice, a court has ruled.

In a case of first impression, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the Kansas law requiring health providers to report suspected cases of physical, mental or emotional abuse of children protects physicians and other health providers from civil liability.

The case involved the parents of a nine-month-old girl who brought her to The University of Kansas Hospital for a respiratory infection.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri has slipped another spot in a national ranking of teacher pay.

“Missouri teachers are earning even less compared to national average as they did last year,” Aurora Meyer, spokeswoman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, says. “Overall, Missouri dropped a spot to 43rd nationwide for average classroom teacher salary.”

The ranking is based on data from the National Education Association and the National Center for Education Statistics.

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