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Penguin Random House

Are you looking for a special book for the young people in your life? If so, our panel of Johnson County Librarians have their holiday gift recommendations ready for you — and just in time!

From the story of a boy who finally connects with his distant father through the unlikely language of music, to a tale of some ragtag kids, and a loyal greyhound, escaping 13th-century France, these titles are sure to get your children through what could otherwise be a long winter break. 

For preschool through 2nd grade

Kansas Department for Children and Families

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families confirmed this week that a call center for child abuse reports had trouble keeping up with the volume of calls it received in September but denied the center had a “backlog.”

Foster care contractors learned of the issue in a Sept. 22 email sent by a DCF employee that said the call center was “experiencing a backlog in processing new reports of abuse or neglect, due to a severe staffing issue.”

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The new Grand Boulevard Bridge over I-670 in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, re-opened on Friday morning. 

Structural issues, such as falling chunks of concrete and cracks, led to an emergency bridge closure in May. The Missouri Department of Transportation decided the aging bridge should be torn down and replaced.

Brian Kidwell, assistant district engineer for MODOT, says projects like this can take years, but a city-state partnership expedited it.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

When musician Amado Espinoza and theater artist Karen Lisondra moved to Kansas City from Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2014, Espinoza noticed that many people here were disconnected from their own roots, from each other and from the earth. He'd come from a place where indigenous culture is present in everyday life.

As they looked to develop a creative network and collaborate with other artists, Espinoza and Lisondra also started thinking of a project that would bring different people with indigenous backgrounds together.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Planned Parenthood Great Plains says it has been flooded with support since the national election in November.

The women's health organization, which serves Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, says that between Nov. 8 and Dec. 1, it has received three times the amount of donations it receives in a typical month.

Spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore says around 200 volunteers have signed up during the same period, compared to around 10 in an average month.

Photo courtesy U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote early next week on a major medical research and mental health bill that two members of the Kansas congressional delegation played a role in.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

 It’s December and there’s no turning back: The holiday season is upon us – or if you’d prefer a friendlier image, it’s sharing space with us.

And there are plenty of related festivities to go around, too, including community friendly tuba carols, the balletic exploits of the Sugar Plum Fairy and heavy metal tidings of comfort and joy.

Tis the season for sharing the merry, however you and yours decide to go about it.

 

1. TubaChristmas 2016

James Hugo Rifenbark

Kyle Powell died in my arms, November 4, 2006.

That's the first line of Gerardo "Tony" Mena's poem "So I Was a Coffin," which he set to music, added photographs from other members of the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, and posted on YouTube.

Eric Hunsaker / Flickr-CC

Following a similar move in Jackson County, Missouri, earlier this year, Kansas City will establish a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Kansas City Council members Thursday passed an ordinance to establish a city-wide prescription drug database, a tool used to track patients who abuse painkillers and to prevent “doctor shopping” by individuals seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

For the second year in a row and third time in the last four years, the Rockhurst University men’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinal matches. Only this time it was practically in the Hawks’ back yard at Swope Park Village.

The Hawks had everything they wanted, including a raucous group of blue-clad students in the stands, with hopes of reaching the title match for the first time in program history.

Except for the win.

Courtesy of Katie Kuhlman

A 15-year-old boy charged with sexual assault against two Shawnee Mission East students pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery in Johnson County Juvenile Court Thursday.

The Leawood teenager was charged in September for three counts of indecent liberties with a minor after he was reported to have sexually assaulted two students, one in a bathroom at the high school. Though another student was said to have held the door shut during the incident, no one else was charged with any crimes in relation to the case. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding in July for the historic 18th and Vine jazz district to stabilize historic buildings and acquire properties not under city control.

The Council’s finance committee met on Wednesday and approved $44,000 in additional funding. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he supports President-elect Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election.

Trump has argued that he would have beaten Democrat Hillary Clinton in the popular vote count if not for illegal votes cast. Clinton leads Trump by more than 2 million votes, but Trump won the presidency by winning the Electoral College.

Kansas Legislature, coloring by Kelly Tate

Next Monday, Dec. 5,  all the lawmakers elected to the Kansas Legislature will meet in Topeka to nominate new leadership for the 2017 session.

Without a doubt, there will be many more Democrats and moderate Republicans in the statehouse this time. Conservative Republicans lost roughly a third of their seats in the just-certified elections. 

But conservatives will still be the single biggest faction in both the House and the Senate, and so a lot depends on who they back for top posts. 

How many moderates?

Cattle farmers are expected to see lower profits this year.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Profit from U.S. farms will sink to its lowest point since 2009 this year if Agriculture Department predictions are correct.

U.S. net farm income is expected to drop for the third-straight year in 2016, dropping 17.2 percent from the 2015 estimate to $66.9 billion, according to projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released on Wednesday.

The livestock sector is expected to be particularly hard hit.

healthcare.gov

Close to 25,000 Kansans have signed up for health insurance through the online marketplace, healthcare.gov, despite uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act under a new administration.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service reported Wednesday that 24,778 people in Kansas had signed up for insurance since open enrollment for 2017 started Nov. 1. The number of people seeking insurance was up less than 2 percent compared to the same period during open enrollment last year.

Courtesy The Show Globes / Facebook

The Snow Globes is a Kansas City trio of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Lindsey Jones, guitarist/vocalist Barclay Martin and bassist Rick Willoughby. They specialize in performing traditional Christmas carols and original songs about the holiday season.

3 reasons we're listening to the Snow Globes this week:

1. The trio’s gentle folk-pop might sound insufferably precious and exasperatingly twee in July, but its approach matches the sentiment of the holiday season.

Courtesy Amy Meya

Once again, the traditional art-opening weekend meets the traditional gift-giving season at the following shows and sales, which involve multiple Kansas City artists.

Belger Crane Yard Studios Open House & Holiday Sale
2011 Tracy Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 
More than 30 artists sell handcrafted pottery, jewelry, sculpture and ornaments as part of the Kansas City Clay Guild’s Annual Pottery Tour. Friday, December 2, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday morning sued to overturn the state’s highly restrictive abortion laws, a move expected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws in Texas in June. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, sets up a showdown over state statutes that were enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the right to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy is rooted in the Constitution.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Most Tuesday mornings, the Palestine Senior Activity Center in Kansas City is a pretty quiet place. But recently, high schoolers, community workers and seniors crowded the parking lot. Lots of curious neighbors peeked from porches and through the gates to see what the buzz was about.

With a cue from Lynn Miller of Palestine Missionary Baptist Church, a booming beat exploded from a PA system, and the parking lot crowd seemed to transform into a lockstep dance troupe.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A sea of red beanies, T-shirts and flags filled the median at 63rd and Paseo in Kansas City Tuesday night as more than 400 people gathered for the final phase of the "Fight for $15's Day of Disruption."

Workers nationwide celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Fight for $15, and the $61.5 billion low-wage workers have reportedly earned since the movement launched in 2012.

Megan Wingerter / Heartland Health Monitor

It isn’t far from the gleaming bank buildings and high-end hotels to the rent-to-own stores and corner shops that stock more chips than fruit.

A visitor getting off the highway in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, would pass by a Hilton Garden Inn and several high-rise buildings bearing the names of financial companies.

Listen to Jerry Jones, executive director of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, talk about the Kirwan report

Courtesy Erik Voeks

Erik Voeks
So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away (Hanky Panky Records)

Until now, singer-songwriter Erik Voeks had one album to his name: Sandbox, released in 1993 on Rockville Records, the label that released the first three Uncle Tupelo albums. A pervasively melodic collection of power-pop that holds up well today, Sandbox was long treated as a lost masterpiece by music fans in the know.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District board and its superintendent faced a packed room of very unhappy parents and teachers Monday night.

The district has come under fire for strongly suggesting to staff that they refrain from wearing safety pins. The pins are seen by many as a sign to students that they're in a safe place, but some see the pins as a protest of the election of Donald Trump.

Before the meeting even started, board President Sara Goodburn made it very clear: We'll listen to your concerns but we're not changing our minds.

5 Moments Where The Chiefs Nearly Lost To The Broncos

Nov 28, 2016

Against all odds, the Kansas City Chiefs escaped with a 30-27 win on Sunday night over the Denver Broncos. In an overtime thriller filled with dramatic twists and unlikely heroes, fans of both teams thought their team had secured a victory at several different points throughout the game. Luckily for Kansas Citians, all of that heightened drama paid off in the end with a Chiefs victory, extending their record to 8-3 and putting them in prime to position to make the playoffs. But securing the win was never easy.

Taylor Keen is a member of the Omaha Tribe and the Cherokee Nation. He's trying to revitalize the corn growing traditions of his ancestors.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Long before European settlers plowed the Plains, corn was an important part of the diet of Native American tribes like the Omaha, Ponca and Cherokee. Today, members of some tribes are hoping to revive their food and farming traditions by planting the kinds of indigenous crops their ancestors once grew.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's Woodswether Terminal on the Missouri River has seen the last of its barge traffic for the year. Port KC reopened the public port in 2015 (it closed in 2007), and it looks as if 2016 has been a successful year.

The Army Corps of Engineers only guarantees enough water for navigation from April 1 to the end of November. Last year was an unseasonably warm winter, so the Woodswether Terminal had cargo moving in and out by barge as early as February. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A shootout in Midland True Value's parking lot at Gregory Boulevard and Prospect Avenue that started after 2 a.m. Sunday ended in seven gun-related injuries and three vehicle accidents. One victim is in critical condition.

Minutes after receiving a call around 2:19 a.m., police arrived at the scene where suspects were engaged in active shooting. According to the Kansas City Police Department, one officer, fearing for safety, fired shots. No officers were injured.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 3 p.m. Friday Nov. 25:

After suffering a massive fire earlier this month, the Evangelistic Center Church east of downtown wasn’t sure they could provide their typical community services after a fire destroyed their building.

The fire incinerated both the old building and a newer annex, including a kitchen and pantry full of goods for Thanksgiving.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Winston Churchill sure didn’t make it easy to become a seminal figure in world history.

Before becoming Great Britain’s prime minister and leading his empire through World War II, Churchill was an extremely ambitious youngster who saw military glory as a pathway to political power. But this type of thinking almost got him killed in the Second Boer War, a late 1890s military conflict in what’s now South Africa.

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