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2015 Session
7:58 am
Sat December 27, 2014

Kansas Lawmakers Predict 2015 Session Topics

Kansas lawmakers are predicting that a wide variety of issues will come up in the 2015 legislative session, including Medicaid expansion, budget holes and minimum wage.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

There are some high-profile issues that Kansas lawmakers will address in the upcoming legislative session, including filling a budget hole. But there are always other issues that rise to the surface and attract attention when lawmakers are in Topeka.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he’ll be pushing anti-poverty legislation in the coming session, and he also expects work on long-term water policy.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Major Mail-In Election Slated For Johnson County Schools

Credit alamosbasement / Flickr--CC

Starting Friday the Johnson County Election office will mail about 330,000 ballots to voters in five county school districts.

The districts want to make permanent an increase in their local option budgets.

School districts have two main sources of money. Most funds come from the state, but districts can also raise local money from property taxes.

But the state limits how much a school district can tax locally.

Last year, the Legislature raised the limit from 31 percent to 33 percent of a district’s budget.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:45 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Saint Luke’s Scientist Pens Viral Op-Ed On Dangers Of Sugar

An op-ed piece co-written by Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute scientist James J. DiNicolantonio, pictured here, was the most emailed article Tuesday in The New York Times.
Credit Saint Luke's Health System

 

An op-ed piece on the addictive nature of sugar that ran in The New York Times Tuesday and shot to the top of the newspaper’s “Most Emailed” list early Wednesday was co-written by Kansas City research scientist James J. DiNicolantonio.

DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research specialist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. According to his bio on Saint Luke’s Health System’s website, the 2010 graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy is the author or co-author of more than 100 medical publications.

And oh, he’s all of 28 years old.

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Central Standard
11:20 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Kansas Citians Remember Loved Ones Lost In 2014

From left, American Jazz Museum's Greg Carroll, jazz historian Chuck Haddix, and musicians Horace Washington and Bobby Watson participated in a recent panel about the legacy of Charlie Parker at the American Jazz Museum.
Credit Courtesy photo / American Jazz Museum

On Central Standard, we asked our listeners to tell us about the people in their lives and communities who died in 2014. 

Here are a few of the personal stories we heard during our conversation about memory and meaning.

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Christmas Music
9:00 am
Wed December 24, 2014

The Best Christmas Music You've (Probably) Never Heard Of

James Brown is mostly known for being the "Godfather of Soul," but he's on our list for best Christmas songs that you might not have heard before.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Besides food and presents, Christmas music might be one of the most important parts of the holidays.

From Bing Crosby to Brenda Lee, dozens of music artists have produced timeless classics that never lose their seasonal appeal.

That said, one can only tolerate "White Christmas" so many times before suffering a holiday breakdown. To keep that from happening, here's a list of more obscure Christmas tunes that are sure to brighten your spirits.

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Harvest Public Media's Top Agriculture And Food Stories Of 2014

The Jamie L. Whitten Building in Washington, D.C., home to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Even the lunch ladies got political in 2014.

KCUR's Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest.

This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

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Community
7:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Missouri Farmer Saves History One Sleigh At A Time

Bill Engel has filled eight buildings with horse-drawn sleighs in Denver, Missouri.
Credit Ben Nuelle

Long before all-wheel drive and snow tires, sleighs were essential winter transportation.

Those that survive are now antiques.

Fifteen years ago, cattle farmer Bill Engel went to auction in northeast Iowa when he bought his first wooden sleigh. He noticed people purchased these historic vehicles to tear them apart.

“They were taking the runner parts and making them into coffee tables,” says Engel.

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Community
5:46 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

People With Disabilities Face Differing Challenges Across State Line

Barbara Cooley takes care of quadriplegic Joseph Spencer in her south Kansas City home.
Credit Laura Ziegler

Finn Bullers guides his $30,000 electric wheelchair by using the bright beam of a light lodged in its frame.

The 51-year-old has been battling Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy, since he was growing up in Iowa.

As a young boy, Bullers would stuff his clothes with pillows to defy his already atrophying body and spend hours on a frozen farm pond trying to skate like the other kids.

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Arts & Culture
5:12 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas City Theaters To Show 'The Interview' Starting On Christmas

Movie poster for "The Interview"
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Freedom has prevailed, according to Kansas City movie theaters that said they’ll be screening The Interview starting on Christmas Day.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:54 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas City Regional Health Care Initiative To Undergo Changes

Scott Lakin, pictured here, is leaving as director of the Kansas City regional health initiative.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

During the past eight years, the philanthropic community has spent about $8 million on a wide-ranging program aimed at improving health services for low-income individuals in the Kansas City area.

The REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCF) have provided nearly three quarters of the total funding. But now, the collaboration and the various efforts it has spawned are taking on a more targeted approach heading into 2015.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:15 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Officials Looking For Answers On New ‘Bourbon Virus’

News that federal and state health officials are studying a new virus linked to the death of a Bourbon County, Kan., resident caused little stir in the county Tuesday. But that could change once ticks return to the county's woods and prairies.

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Gasoline Prices
11:12 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Missouri Has Lowest Gas Prices In U.S.; Kansas City Second Lowest In State

Missouri's gas prices are the lowest in the nation, according to AAA.
Credit Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri has the lowest average gasoline prices in the country at just $2.05 a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel tracker.

On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that average is even lower, at $1.97 a gallon.

The only city with lower prices in Missouri was Springfield, at $1.94 a gallon, according to AAA.

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Up to Date
9:57 am
Tue December 23, 2014

The Best Wines In Kansas And Missouri Of 2014

Grape orchards on the Les Bourgeois Vineyard have been in operation since 1986. It's located just off the Missouri River, midway between Kansas City and St. Louis.
Credit Courtesy photo / Les Bourgeois Vineyards

The holidays are a great time to buy local, especially when it comes to picking out a great bottle of wine.

In the past 20 years, Missouri’s wine industry has grown in size and sophistication, with more than 100 wineries throughout the state.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, master sommelier Doug Frost, of Kansas City, Mo., will talk about one of his favorite subjects — local and regional wines.

Here are some of his top 10 picks out of Kansas and Missouri in the past year:

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:43 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Contacting Kansans Waiting For Disability Services Remains A Challenge

State officials say they’re having a hard time contacting disabled people who have expressed interest in receiving Medicaid-funded services designed to help them live in community-based settings.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett on Friday said that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15, the agency had reached out to 1,627 people on its waiting list for services for people with physical disabilities.

More than 830 of these individuals are now receiving services.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:32 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas And Missouri Consumers Have Big Stake In U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Consumers in Kansas and Missouri are among those who could be most affected if the U.S. Supreme Court eliminates federal subsidies in states that didn’t set up their own health insurance marketplaces.

The court announced on Monday that it will hear arguments in the case — King v. Burwell — on March 4, 2015. 

At issue is whether the Affordable Care Act authorizes federal subsidies only in state-operated marketplaces and not in the federal marketplace being used by consumers in Kansas, Missouri and up to 35 other states.

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Agriculture
9:16 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Moran Bucks Fellow GOP Senators, Backs Free Trade With Cuba

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is breaking from the GOP caucus by calling for full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

President Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba has drawn mixed reactions for Republicans in congress, but Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran sees a big opportunity for farmers.

Cuba imports a lot of wheat, but none of comes from the United States. Food’s not part of the trade embargo, but U.S. payment restrictions make Cuban exports impractical.

That’s costly to farmers. A Texas A&M study figures that free trade and travel with Cuba would boost the U.S. economy by more than a billion dollars, and create thousands of jobs.

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Arts & Culture
5:45 am
Tue December 23, 2014

A New Christmas Novel, Inspired By Charles Dickens, Takes Place In Topeka

Thomas Fox Averill's latest novel tells the story of Carol Dickens, whose life is in transition. She turns to cooking Victorian holiday meals, inspired by 'A Christmas Carol.'
Credit courtesy: Topeka Public Library

As a novelist, Thomas Fox Averill has explored country music, southwestern cuisine, Scotch whisky and the poetry of Robert Burns. 

Averill's fourth novel, A Carol Dickens Christmas, is a Christmas story, set in his hometown of Topeka, Kan. It's filled with recipes, puns, and modern characters inspired by Charles Dickens.  

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Education
4:02 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

ACLU Sues Kansas City Public Schools Over Ferguson Protest

The ACLU is suing Kansas City Public Schools over a protest at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.
Credit Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday against Kansas City Public Schools over a November protest at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. 

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Government
2:43 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Senator Blunt Says More EPA Regulation Will Be Costly For Missouri

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt attends a legislative priority lunch at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City, Mo., Monday afternoon.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Sen. Roy  Blunt will meet with farmers in Plattsburg, Mo., Monday afternoon to discuss a pair of new Environmental Protection Agency regulations he says will have disastrous impact on the state.

Blunt says it's not just farmers but local officials concerned about changes the Environmental Protection Agency is considering to how it enforces the  Clean Water Act.

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Harvest Public Media
9:18 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Grain Glut Clogs Railways, Rivers, Roads

An MFA Agriservices worker monitors the soybean chute as the barge fills up on the Missouri River in Glasgow, Mo.
Kristofor Husted Harvest Public Media

For the Midwest’s biggest crops, this harvest season was a big one. With winter setting in, the race is on for farmers to ship out their harvest so it’s not left out to spoil. But the giant harvest and a lack of available rail cars have created a traffic jam on the rails and the highways.

Usually, farmers store their harvest in silos and grain bins, but this year, farmers brought in so much, there’s just no room.  Farmers in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and South Dakota are all being hit particularly hard by the storage shortage.

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Black Lives Matter Protest
9:31 am
Sun December 21, 2014

#Blacklivesmatter Protesters Arrested After Attempt To Block I-70 In Kansas City

#BlackLivesMatter protesters with activist group One Struggle KC begin their march through Parade Park to I-70.
Cody Newill KCUR

Seven people involved in a protest in downtown Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday were arrested as they attempted to block Interstate 70.

The protest was themed #BlackLivesMatter after the viral hashtag, which took off after the decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:08 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Kansas City-Area Hospitals Penalized For Infection Rates And Other Injuries

These 11 hospitals in the metropolitan area will have to forfeit 1 percent of their Medicare revenues in fiscal 2015 under the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was established by the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Eleven Kansas City-area hospitals have been hit with penalties for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare deems avoidable.

The hospitals’ Medicare payments will be docked by 1 percent in the fiscal year that runs from October 2014 through September 2015.

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Central Standard
4:59 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Musical Pair: Kasey Rausch And Mikal Shapiro

Kasey Rausch (left) and Mikal Shapiro (right) have been friends for 21 years, and collaborators for almost as long.
Credit Paul Andrews

It might be tempting to call Mikal Shapiro and Kasey Rausch two peas in a pod.

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Kansas City Star
1:58 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Scam Targets 'The Kansas City Star' And Dozens Of Other Publications

A new mail-based subscription scam is targeting The Kansas City Star among dozens of other newspapers around the country.
Credit Judith E. Bell / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City Star has been targeted by a nationwide billing scam, according to Star editors.

The paper has been publishing a warning box in its print edition cautioning readers to disregard any renewal notices asking for money to be sent to Oregon or Nevada.

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Education
11:31 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Lawmaker's Proposal Would Give Missouri Schools Letter Grades

Lamar Republican Sen. Ed Emery wants to give Missouri schools a report card – he's filed legislation to create an A-F letter grade system similar to those enacted in other states.

"I think if we can do this in Missouri, we'll have better informed parents and more involved parents, and as a result, we'll be moving toward an excellence in education that we all want," Emery said.

Florida was the first state to issue A-F letter grades to schools a decade ago under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Now, about a dozen states have similar systems in place.

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Education
10:59 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Kansas State Tapped As Best University Marching Band In U.S.

Kansas State University has won the prestigious Sudler Trophy as the best university marching band in America
Credit Courtesy photo / Kansas State University

The Kansas State University marching band won one of the most prestigious music awards in the country Friday.

The Sudler Trophy is given every two years by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation to the university band with the highest musical standards, innovative routines and that's made contributions to the American way of life, according to the foundation website.

"It’s an award that people in the athletic band world covet. It’s really considered  sort of a lifetime achievement award in the marching band area," said Dr. Gary Mortenson, director of K-State's School of Music.

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Beyond Our Borders
10:47 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Civil War Origins Of The Kansas Jayhawk And Missouri Tiger

Avid college sports fans Evan and Kari Deude, of Prairie Village, Kan., made sure mascots from both the University of Kansas and University of Missouri made appearances on cakes at their wedding in 2011. Each of them roots for the opposite team.
Credit Courtesy photo / Kari Deude

For more than 100 years, the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of Missouri Tigers have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry.

It's a rivalry that's alive and well, even though the teams haven't played each other in two years.

RELATEDJayhawks and Tigers Love to Hate Each Other Across State Line

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Beyond Our Borders
10:46 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Jayhawks and Tigers Love To Hate One Another Across State Line

Thousands of University of Kansas fans waited in line at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 13 to watch University of Kansas play the University of Utah.
Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

There was no shortage of Mizzou hate Dec. 13  when the University of Kansas played the University of Utah at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Thousands of Kansas fans gathered, ironically in Missouri, to watch the Jayhawks play.

Kansas and Missouri haven’t played one another since 2012, when Missouri left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference.

But just mention the University of Missouri to a die-hard Jayhawk and you’ll get a heated response. To fans, it’s more than just a sports rivalry. It's part of their identities.

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Agriculture
10:27 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Golden Ox, A Piece of Kansas City's Cowtown Past, Set to Close

The Golden Ox, a steakhouse and one of the oldest restaurants in Kansas City, is closing Saturday.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The Golden Ox, once the center of the Kansas City Stockyards in Missouri and one of the oldest restaurants in the area, is set to close Saturday night.

The steakhouse, a kitschy mix of cowtown and commerce, has been busy for the past couple weeks, in response to word getting out that it was closing.

The West Bottoms restaurant has struggled attracting folks to the area, especially since Kemper Arena stopped holding events, said Mike Holland, the Golden Ox general manager.

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Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Film Review: Reese Witherspoon Takes A Brutal Walk On The 'Wild' Side

Reese WItherspoon in 'Wild.'
Credit Fox Searchlight

Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail suggested to more than a million readers that the way to tame inner demons is to redefine what it means to navigate a wild life. Jean-Marc Vallee, the director of last year's Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club, has adapted Strayed's book into a beautiful and gritty film with a transformative performance by Reese Witherspoon at its core.

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