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Johnson County

University of Missouri-Kansas City students with a valid student ID can now ride Johnson County's bus lines for free.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expanded the service as part of its new focus on regional transportation since former Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon was hired as president.

The700level.com / Flickr-CC

Fans of the NBA are mourning the death of Darryl Dawkins, the man known to many fans (and himself) as 'Chocolate Thunder.' Dawkins played 14 seasons in the NBA in the 1970s and 1980s, playing for Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit.

He died Thursday of an apparent heart attack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was 58.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

Name: Kelly Ott

Number of Years In Education: 18

Role: Director of Professional Development (Blue Valley Public Schools)

 Kelly Ott is a second career teacher who came to the profession with the goal of leaving a positive footprint. After graduating from college with International Business and French degrees she worked in the fashion industry in Paris, but she knew she wanted more...

Kelly spoke with some of her colleagues about this shift. 

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

People involved in Kansas child care will meet Monday to discuss a plan for moving the state in line with new federal regulations — without the state agency that will have to implement the plan.

Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of a Topeka-based nonprofit called Kansas Action for Children, said her organization is hosting the event at the request of child care workers, associations and continuing education specialists.

Courtesy / the artists

Anne Pearce made her name in Kansas City years ago, as a painter and as director of the Greenlease Art Gallery at Rockhurst University, where she also teaches art. Two years ago, during sabbatical on the other side of the world, Pearce had a profound experience — one she's now sharing with her students.

File: Kristofer Husted / Harvest Public Media

Some of the nation’s largest farm groups are cheering after a federal judge blocked implementation Thursday of new rules governing water pollution.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction delaying the rules, which had been set to take effect Friday, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped its bounds. Thirteen states sued the agency, seeking to prevent implementation, and Erickson said the “states are likely to succeed in their claim.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In Sarah Ruhl's play The Oldest Boy, a suburban couple's life is turned on its ear when they learn their 3-year-old son may be the reincarnation of a high Buddhist lama. Playing the boy's mother in the Unicorn Theatre production is Katie Kalahurka. 

For our series called Actors Off-Script, Kalahurka spoke with me about motherhood and the innovative way her character's son's story comes to life.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

When Dr. David Zamierowski was training as a physician in the 1960s, he tried out his new skills on living patients.

“I am so grateful to those poor souls, who knew it was my first time, but graciously allowed me to practice on them,” Zamierowski said Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Kansas Medical Center’s new health education building.

“But in the back of my mind, I always knew there had to be a better way, and when I first saw simulation, I realized that this was the answer.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

A Jackson County jury awarded $5.9 million to the owners of JJ’s restaurant, the popular eatery and bar just west of the Country Club Plaza that was leveled in a fiery explosion in February 2013 caused by a natural gas leak.

The explosion took the life of restaurant server Megan Cramer, injured 15 other people and extensively damaged two nearby buildings.

The jury, by a vote of 9-3, found against defendant Time Warner Cable, assigning 98 percent of the blame to the company and 2 percent to JJ’s.

Ricky Brigante / Flickr-CC

People have so many different interests and ways to be individually enthralled, getting family members to agree on the same weekend action plan can be a challenge.

Still, I’d like to believe that the family that plays together, stays together.

Corny? I guess. Worth trying this weekend? You know it.

1. ‘Disney on Ice: Frozen’

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Cabinet officials say Kansas’ quest to combine Medicaid waivers for people with seven categories of disabilities is intended to provide better care and outcomes, not cost savings.

But costs will go down if care improves as intended, they say.

Officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services are beginning a statewide listening tour on the proposed changes after briefing a legislative committee on them Friday.

badjonni / Flickr--CC

Summer breezes may make you feel fine, but for many, summertime is all about the music.

We wanted to build a summer 2015 playlist, so we asked, “What’s your song of the summer?” on the air and on social media.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The deadline has passed, and two proposals are in, but it may be a while before there's a decision on the fate of Kemper Arena in Kansas City's West Bottoms.

City Council Economic Development Chair Scott Taylor says city staff is vetting the proposals to make sure they are complete and thorough. Until that is determined, limited information about the two applicants will be released.

POOL/Joe Ledford / The Kansas City Star

Updated, 12:30 p.m. Wednesday: The avowed anti-Semite accused of killing three people in a shooting spree last year will get an extra half-day to prepare his defense.

Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., who is representing himself, has been granted a continuance after a lengthy back-and-forth with the judge.

Cross has said repeatedly he wants to explain “what caused me, a retired Army sergeant living a great life, to do what I did” to the jury.

State officials have decided to ask members of a committee charged with critiquing the state’s behavioral health system to continue meeting.

“We don’t want this to be a group that makes recommendations and stops,” said Doug Wallace, housing and homeless specialist at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. “We want this to be an action-oriented group.”

City of Kansas City. MO

Two city officials who went to Elmira, New York, to check on progress and attempt to speed up the process, if possible, have returned with better, if not definitely good news.  CAF U.S.A., the company custom-building four streetcars for Kansas City's starter line says the first car should be delivered by Oct. 29.

Earlier, CAF had alerted the city to the fact that delivery could be as late as December.  Because of DOT testing requirements, that would have made it unlikely Kansas City could have had a streetecar running in time for the Big 12 Tournament in March.

ATPworldtour.com

Over the next two weeks, the best tennis players in the world will be in New York competing in the U.S. Open. The lion’s share of attention is focused on the USA’s Serena Williams as she attempts to complete the Grand Slam. She’s already armed this year with victories at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open.

But Americans will also be cheering on a rising star on the men’s side, and that Kansas high school grad has a renewed pep in his step.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a heated two-hour debate, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday night to get into the charter school business.

The vote was the next step in the process for a partnership between KCPS and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Cicadas sing the rhythm of late summer as plein air painter Patrick Saunders and his wife, photographer Kimberly Saunders, sit at a picnic table beneath the shade of a tent — the living room in their new life together.

Joe Ledford / POOL/Kansas City Star

Accused Jewish Community Center shooter Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. had just one question for the state’s firearms expert, who testified for more than an hour.

“What are the chances I’m going to get those guns back when I’m exonerated?” Cross asked David Wright, a supervisor at the Johnson County Crime Lab.

An exasperated Chris McMullin, the deputy prosecutor, objected at once.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Kansas City Public Schools board wants to get into the charter school business.

The board of education is slated to vote to move that process forward Wednesday night.

Premiums for Kansas health insurance plans offered in the federal marketplace won’t increase as much as originally proposed, state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said Tuesday.

In May, Kansas insurance companies requested rate increases of up to 39 percent for individual market policies to be sold through the healthcare.gov marketplace during the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2016.

KC Aviation Department?Steve Bell

The Kansas City Council's new Airport Committee is making it clear that the airlines will not dictate the future of KCI. 

The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, and the main course was a report from Aviation Director Mark VanLoh on the history and status of the airport.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar was perhaps the most assertive with VanLoh when he suggested that since the airlines will pay for whatever is done, they should have the most say in whether the airport terminal is renovated or replaced.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In 2009, Mary Kay O'Connor was preparing to restart her consulting business. Her specialty was collecting customers' stories to provide meaningful feedback to her clients. The Affordable Care Act was in the news, and she became interested in the data collected by the federal government — data that showed hospitals performing poorly but without much information on how they could improve.

She may not have been the typical startup entrepreneur – but an idea took hold.

File: / Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The rural economy across the Midwest could take a hit this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects a 36 percent drop in net farm income, according to economic forecasts released Tuesday.

Lower prices for wheat, corn, soybeans and hogs will hurt many Midwest farms, though USDA economist Mitchell Morehart said the impact could be lessened on some farms thanks to lower production costs. Fuel and feed expenses are both lower this year, while labor costs are higher.

On the second day of the accused Jewish Community Center shooter’s trial, Maggie Hunker told the jury she stared down the barrel of Frazier Glenn Cross Jr.’s gun and lived to tell the tale.

Hunker testified she had just finished lunch with a friend at the Village Shalom retirement home when she watched Cross gun down Terri LaManno in the parking lot.

“She was screaming, ‘No, no, no!’” said Hunker.

Hunker said at first, she was too stunned by what was happening to be scared. She said after she saw Cross shoot LaManno, he turned to her and asked, “Are you a Jew?”

Courtesy photo / City of Merriam, Kansas

When Ken Sissom became the mayor of Merriam, Kansas, in 2008, he knew exactly what he was getting into.

He was on the police department in Merriam for 26 years, serving the last 13 as police chief.

“When I became mayor in 2008, I had attended every city council meeting, with the exception of maybe four or five, since 1992. So there were no surprises for me on the Mayor’s job,” he said.

For a city of its small size — only 4.5 square miles — it has 600 business, which makes it an interesting place to govern.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Thousands of Kansans rely on hemodialysis treatments to keep them alive because their kidneys no longer function properly.

Nick Franano, a doctor and medical researcher from Johnson County, estimates that at any given moment, about 50 of them are in hospitals across the state, suffering potentially serious complications because they don’t have a vein of optimal diameter for dialysis.

“Every day, in every part of the world where dialysis is done, vascular access is a problem,” Franano said. “And we have the opportunity to really take that problem down several levels.”

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas officials are reviewing a recent federal appeals court ruling that requires the state’s Medicaid program to pay in-home care workers minimum wage and overtime.

Officials at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services issued a statement shortly after the ruling was handed down Friday saying they were attempting to determine its “potential impact” on the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Perhaps the issue that worries current educators the most is where the next generation of teachers will come from.

Lots of teachers are leaving the profession. But what’s scarier than that is the shrinking number of people who chose teaching as a career.

You can blame economics and politics.

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