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In an effort to take advantage of expanding local government data capabilities, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has hired Alan Howze to fill a new position — chief knowledge officer. The role merges public service, government efficiency, and transparency, several things he is passionate about, Howze said in a Facebook post.

Courtesy of KC Shrimp

Mitch Schieber got into the shrimp farming business by chance.

He does remodeling for a living, but he had been looking at different careers. Then, a couple of years ago, his daughter, who was in fifth grade, was doing a science experiment with brine shrimp.

He started wondering if he could raise real shrimp.

Jeremy Bernfield / KCUR 89.3

  

Another NFL season kicked off last week, and the opening spectacle in Kansas City was most unprecedented, in more ways than one. Commentator Victor Wishna expounds on the situation in this month’s edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

If all you knew about Sunday’s win at Arrowhead was the final score, you’d think the Kansas City Chiefs had done exactly what they were supposed to do. After all, the six-point margin was just a half-point off the Vegas line, and with four straight victories over San Diego, beating the Chargers had become routine.

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

It’s a misconception that we can’t get access to fresh seafood here in the landlocked Midwest.

Locally, we can get catfish, trout and now shrimp grown in Oak Grove, Missouri. And fish wholesalers bring seafood from far-away oceans to KC.

Bryan Thompson / KHI News Service

Kansas lawmakers — at least the majority of incumbents — think college campuses will be safer starting next July. That’s when a law they approved will allow people to carry concealed handguns on Kansas Board of Regents campuses.

But Joey Paz, a student at Kansas State University, said he’ll feel less safe.

“If this law would have been passed three years ago … I would have seriously considered not going to school in Kansas,” he said.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County

Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland  apologized to relatives Thursday night for statements he made following the death of Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Dave Melton.

“I want to publicly reiterate my apology to them for the timing of my remarks during the press conference following the death of their brother, Captain Dave Melton,” Holland said at a meeting of the United Government Board of Commissioners.

After the meeting ended, Holland went down on the floor and met with Melton’s family to offer a copy of the statement read at the meeting.

Stormont Vail Health of Topeka is closing two regional clinics because of financial pressures created by recent cuts in Medicaid reimbursements and the decision by state leaders not to expand the health care program.

Stormont will close Cotton O’Neil clinics in Lyndon and Alma, according to a news release issued Thursday. The Lyndon clinic will close Dec. 31. The clinic in Alma will close Jan. 31, 2017.

Clarke Wyatt

Musicians Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt started playing as Betse & Clarke, a fiddle and banjo duo, in late 2014. Their latest album is called River Still Rise.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two weeks ago Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said the state needed a new school funding formula and called on educators to email him their suggestions.

At his Statehouse news conference Brownback offered no specific ideas.

On Thursday, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) talked about what should be in a new formula next year. But, like the governor, the organization offered few details. KASB did urge everyone to email.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says members of Congress should set aside partisan differences and fix problems with the Affordable Care Act.

Failing to do so, she warns, could hasten consideration of a single-payer system.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Supporters of a $227 million plan to expand Kansas City’s streetcar system south to UMKC got their day in court Thursday – as did opponents.

“Putting down rails is something you do to invest for the century,” says Midtown resident Ryan Mott, adding that two blighted homes in his neighborhood have sold amid speculation that the streetcar is headed their way.

Gib Kerr, a commercial real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield, says he’s spent most of the last 20 years watching companies leave downtown.

Just what is a “Smart City?” 

If you've been paying attention since Google rolled out its first-in-the-country high speed internet in the Kansas City area five years ago,  you're probably familiar with smart city technology.

As the city prepares to roll out the second phase of the project, we wanted to see wanted to see what's happened so far.

What we found  are a lot of questions from  citizens and even the project's promoters.

Downtown: The epicenter

Brad Nading

After a series of hits to their budgets, community mental health centers in Kansas are adjusting through cutbacks, changes in services or a combination of the two.

In Topeka, Valeo Behavioral Health Care plans to limit sessions for uninsured patients. Valeo provided about $2 million in charitable care last year but can’t offer that much this year because of cuts to Medicaid and other revenue streams, CEO Bill Persinger says.

Patrick Emerson / Flickr--CC

We can’t all be triumphant at once – unless we share our victories.

That’s the ticket this weekend, when winning talents and other successful allures invite each and every one of us to beat back defeat and exult in glorious achievement.

How’s that for a triumphant attitude? Feel free to pass it on!

1. Cyndi Lauper

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

St. Louis-based Monsanto, a world agribusiness leader, has agreed to be acquired by the German company Bayer.

Bayer will pay $57 billion dollars, or $128 per share, in a deal that has been in the works since last spring. Regulators still must approve the move. Two other mergers are underway in the industry, with Dow set to combine with DuPont (already the owner of Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer) and ChemChina planning to buy the Swiss company Syngenta.

Zach Bauman

The Anniversary, a band from Lawrence, earned national recognition before it broke up in 2004, but the band has reunited for a national tour that concludes in their hometown on Saturday.

3 reasons we're listening to The Anniversary this week:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The NCAA has put off its December announcement on future championship sites to give itself the chance to monitor what happens in state legislatures this fall.

When the Missouri legislature re-convenes, it’s possible that a so-called "religious freedom" bill may pop up again on the agenda. That concerns Kansas City Sports Commission Executive Director Kathy Nelson. Especially since the sports commission submitted a record of 55 bids to the NCAA to host championships.

“For us, we have 55 have chances to get shot down if someone decides to vote for this,” said Nelson.

Matthew Loper of Grandview, Indiana, at left, and Sam Dunning of Benton, Kentucky, work on sculptures at the Adams County, Illinois, fair.
Rich Egger / for Harvest Public Media

Sandy Songer of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, has a bit of advice for anyone who wants to watch chainsaw artists in action.

“If you’re going to stay around us very long, you need to put some earplugs in,” she says with a laugh, as chainsaws revved and roared behind her like race cars, drowning out everything else in the background.

From carnival barkers, to Ferris wheels humming, to snorts and moos of livestock shows, late-summer state and county fairs are noisy, chaotic affairs. Add to the din this season: chainsaws buzzing.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The St. Joseph School District, smarting from the federal wire fraud conviction of a former superintendent, has asked the federal court to hike the fine to cover the district's financial loss.

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop.

But they’re declining faster in states that have expanded Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.

New data out Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Kansas’ uninsured rate dropped to 9.1 percent in 2015, down from 10.2 percent the year before and 12.3 percent in 2013.

Catilin Troutman / KCUR 89.3

Amazon has officially started construction on a huge new fulfillment center in Kansas City, Kansas. 

The facility, which will sit on 190 acres of land near Interstate 70 and the Turner Diagonal, will provide more than 1,000 jobs to the underutilized area. 

Gary Guo, Amazon's Vice President of North America Operations, said the center will host Amazon's robotic technologies. It will fill orders for small items like books, electronics, and small household items. 

He said the center will be operating by the peak of holiday shopping in 2017. 

rizha ubal / Flickr-CC

Before John McLendon died in 1999 at the age of 84, he knew he was already a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in the 1979 class. But in this year’s class, which includes Shaquille O’Neal, he was honored among the greatest as a coach.

As fortunate as I was to record a 21-minute interview with McLendon in 1998, while attending a luncheon in conjunction with the NAIA men’s basketball tournament, I could have spent hours listening to someone as humble as he about his achievements.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Michael Fellman says a chance passerby — or, perhaps, divine intervention — kept him alive when the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder became overwhelming.

Fellman, a combat veteran of the Iraq War who spoke Friday at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs summit in Topeka about mental health care, said he had planned to die on July 31, 2015.

Rich the Factor
Smile and Whale Mafi (Major Factor Records)

In the parlance of the street, the Kansas City rapper Rich the Factor has spent most of the past two years on “vacation.”

Since his extended incarceration recently ended, the man born Richard Johnson has been making up for lost time. “I’m fresh up out the pen and I’m back with a vengeance,” he raps on “Blow the Horn,” a combative track on one of his two new albums.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Mat Smith and Ben Stickler are in training.

The two twenty-somethings from the Kansas City area are working to improve their rankings in the online game League of Legends. Stickler says the strategy and competition remind him of the sports he played growing up.

“You can see yourself getting better,” Stickler says. “You can challenge yourself as you get better. And just play with people that are as well as you and really bond over that.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kemper Arena qualifies for historic tax credits that will effectively cut the cost of remodeling the long-empty complex by about 40 percent, according to developers.

The Foutch Brothers development group plans to use credits, along with private financing, to fund a $20 to $30 million project to turn Kemper into a hub for youth sports, with two levels of courts, fields and tracks operating year-round.

Nokdie / Flickr - CC

At the beginning of most marriages, divorce is likely the last thing on the bride and groom's minds. Unfortunately, with divorce rates hovering around 40 percent, a separation is something a lot of couples will have to navigate at one point or another.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas general election ballot is now set.

Officials in the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office late last week cleared the last hurdle to certifying the roster of candidates for the Nov. 8 election by granting presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request to change the person listed on the ballot as her vice presidential running mate.

Meat and poultry labels can be crammed with claims about how animals are raised. Many are not backed by formal USDA definitions.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

When shoppers browse meat at the grocery store they are confronted with all kinds of brands and labels, making it hard to tell whether the meat they buy comes from animals that were raised humanely. Organic producers want to answer that question more clearly, but conventional farmers are charging that proposed changes to organic standards would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

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