News

Maria Carter / KCUR 89.3

Another metro school district is at a contract impasse with its teachers.

Teachers and the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are heading into non-binding fact finding after failing to reach a deal.

The two sides held talks with a mediator twice last month but that also failed to result in a contract.

Teachers and the district say the dispute is not over how much of a pay hike to give but rather how to distribute the two percent raise.

Chris Lee

The Kansas City Symphony has been quietly fundraising over the last four years with the goal of adding $55 million to its endowment. On Wednesday, in front of more than 100 donors and arts officials on the stage of Helzberg Hall, the Symphony announced that they'd raised nearly $52 million.

Now, they're seeking public support for the "Masterpiece Campaign."

WATCH: Down Times Have Farmers Looking To Cut Costs

Jan 4, 2017
Thousands of farmers attend the Nebraska Power Farming Show in Lincoln to price out new equipment.
Jack Williams / Harvest Public Media

The federal government expected net farm income and farm profits to fall in 2016, the third-straight year of declines. That means farmers and ranchers are taking a closer look at their finances, and many aren’t very optimistic about their prospects for 2017.

Courtesy Isaac Cates

Isaac Cates is a Kansas City native who studied at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Since he co-founded Ordained in 2004, it's become one of the most prominent gospel groups in Kansas City.

3 reasons we're listening to Isaac Cates & Ordained this week:

1. They've shared stages with gospel greats like Marvin Sapp and Shirley Caesar.

@NWSKansasCity / National Weater Service Kansas City

People across the south Kansas City area felt a blast Tuesday evening after an explosion at a lawn care business in Grandview.

Firefighters were called to JW Lawn Service near 140th and I-49 after receiving calls about an explosion and fire shortly after 7 p.m. 

Firefighters took a defensive position, waiting to go into the burning building because of reports of ammunition inside. They reported at least a dozen more explosions while on the scene.

Getty Images/NBA

Kansas City may be known more as a college basketball town these days, but two NBA head coaches with Kansas City ties, Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue and Phoenix’s Earl Watson, will make history when their teams face each other on Sunday.

Last June, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship and set off a celebration in that city. At the same time, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, a graduate of Raytown High School, couldn’t pry himself from the bench. He sat with his face buried in his hands.

Sobbing.

Greitens workout
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Laying out a central theme of his first-year agenda, Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens told a group of law enforcement officers, recruits and their families Tuesday that he would have their back when he takes office next week.

Christophe Testi

This story was updated with comments from ArtsKC. 

Bruce W. Davis has resigned as the president and chief executive officer of ArtsKC —Regional Arts Council after less than a year on the job. 

In a news release on Tuesday, ArtsKC board chair Brad Douglas announced that Davis's last day was Monday, January 2. 

Douglas told KCUR that Davis notified the board in December about his departure.

www.haysmed.com

Extending its growing reach in Kansas, The University of Kansas Hospital has finalized its agreement to partner with Hays Medical Center in the northwest part of the state.

In September, the two institutions signed a letter of intent to join forces, with HaysMed maintaining its name and separate ownership structure.

Kansas City, Kansas, Police

The man who killed Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective Brad Lancaster in May 2016 pleaded guilty Tuesday.

In addition to capital murder, Curtis Ayers pleaded guilty to nine other counts in a crime spree that began when he shot 39-year-old Lancaster outside the Hollywood Casino May 9.

Ayers still faces charges in Leavenworth County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri, where he was apprehended after a long chase.

Courtesy Jill Wagner

Jill Wagner’s life changed the day her then-10-month-old son, Dean, was hospitalized after a series of seizures.

Tests revealed that Dean had a rare genetic condition that put him at risk for a host of medical issues. By the time he was discharged, little Dean already had a handful of diagnoses, including one for autism. Doctors weren’t sure if he would ever walk, talk or read.

For the next eight months, Wagner, a businesswoman and former professor who lives in Salina, Kansas, tried to navigate the complex world of health insurance for applied behavior analysis, or ABA.

CC--Wikipedia w/modification

KCUR comes to you with good news this morning. We’re proud to announce that the KHI News Service, a pioneering not-for-profit journalism startup, is now part of our organization. And it is the cornerstone of a new reporting collaboration called the Kansas News Service.

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode
C’est Si Bon

Gypsy jazz — or, probably more appropriately, Django jazz — is a booming style in Kansas City.

This sub-genre, built around the silky runs and inimitable swing of guitarist Django Reinhardt in the same way bluegrass grew around Bill Monroe’s mandolin, pops up periodically around the world, and now it’s our turn.

Alex Smith / KCUR

On a chilly winter morning, dozens of truck driver trainees file into a classroom at the headquarters of Prime Inc., a trucking company based in Springfield, Missouri.

At the front is Siphiwe Baleka, an energetic African American in his mid-40s. The former swimming champion delivers grim news about trucker health to the new recruits.

“If you haven’t started to think about this, you need to start right now,” Baleka says. “I’m gonna tell it to you straight, OK? You are about to enter the most unhealthy occupation in America.”   

The corporate headquarters of Cabela's has for decades been located in Sidney, Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Cabela’s is known for big stores filled with museum-grade taxidermy and shelves piled with hunting and fishing gear. The Cabela’s store in Sidney, Nebraska, sits along Interstate 80 with a giant bull-elk sculpture facing the freeway. Next door is the sprawling company headquarters, complete with a forest-green Cabela’s water tower.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Bird watchers in the Kansas City area and across the United States are finalizing their annual Christmas Bird Count tallies. The census, run by the National Audubon Society, ends Thursday and provides a snapshot of bird species and populations.                               

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

According to statistics sourced from local police departments, the total number of homicides in the Kansas City metropolitan area reached 200 in 2016, the highest for nearly ten years. As many Kansas Citians prepared to welcome in 2017, community organization, AdHoc Group Against Crime, held a vigil Saturday morning to remember these victims and support their families.

www.facebook.com

Why do you get one Tater Tot in your order of fries at Winstead’s?

According to Kathy Fern, the general manager at the Winstead’s near the Plaza, that’s not a mistake.

About five years ago, they started adding the lone tot as a promotional thing, but then it stuck. It’s something they strive to do with each order, she said, though that renegade tot doesn’t always appear.

Gwen's River City Images / Flickr--CC

It’s not a trick of the light – the water flowing from Kansas City taps is faintly pink.

The culprit? Too much sodium permanganate, a chemical added during the water treatment process.

“When the Missouri River has what we call a high color content, when there are a lot of silts and clays in the river, there may be some materials that some people find unappealing,” Mike Klender, plant manager, says. “Part of our treatment process is to use sodium permanganate to combat those taste issues.”

Cristian Bortes / Flikr -- CC

So here comes 2017. But before abandoning the current calendar year for whatever amalgam of cheer and challenge that lies ahead, why not celebrate New Year’s Eve with a look back?

Not just back to 2016, but waaay back to times and traditions that you may never have experienced firsthand, but are still cool to “remember” with a little imagination.  

Want to visit the Roaring Twenties? Maybe dust off your Funky Chicken? Out with the old and in with the old!

1. Roarin’ recordBar 1920s New Year’s Eve Party

Capitol
Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The head of Eric Greitens’ transition team outlined the Missouri governor-elect’s legislative priorities for 2017 and new details on inaugural and transition activities during a conference call on Thursday.

Greitens will be sworn in at noon on Monday, January 9.

Austin Chambers, who will be a senior adviser in the new administration, says Greitens will focus his legislative efforts on laws related to jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform.

Rob Jefferson

Can you imagine what it would be like to regain your sense of hearing . . . after years of silence?

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, one man's story, as well as questions within the deaf community, about whether deafness is something that requires correction.

Plus, why Missourians need to start thinking about black bears.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by a Garden City, Kansas, mother who lost custody of her son over her use of cannabis oil in an incident that drew national attention.

In a brief four-page order Tuesday, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten dismissed the action, finding that Shona Banda had failed to respond to the defendants’ “prima facie valid arguments.”

Banda, who represented herself, had sued the Garden City school district and one of its employees; the Garden City police department and its chief; the state of Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback; and the Kansas Department for Children and Families and its secretary, Phyllis Gilmore.

Banda filed her lawsuit in March, exactly a year after Garden City police raided her home and seized marijuana, cannabis oil and drug-related equipment after her 11-year-old son spoke up about her use of cannabis at a school anti-drug presentation.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It’s getting harder to fill teaching positions in Kansas, especially in rural and urban districts.

In a report released in August, KSDE talked about the challenges the state faces to make sure there is a reliable source of teachers in the future and how to maintain a veteran teaching corps. "Kansas isn’t experiencing a greying of the profession but actually a greening," said the report.

But there’s a new program at Kansas State University to help fill the need.      

It used to be pretty easy to at fill open jobs for elementary teachers in Kansas.

elisfkc / Flickr--CC

An estimated 40,000 travelers will pass through Kansas City International Airport Tuesday. Airport officials expect about 12 percent more passengers this holiday season compared to 2015.

They’ve seen 31 consecutive months of growth.

“We’re really busy, not only with folks traveling home after spending the Christmas weekend with family, but also those that are ready to depart on a winter break vacation, maybe a ski trip,” airport spokesman Justin Meyer says.

File photo

More offenders are completing the sexually violent predator treatment program in Kansas, but state officials say they still need a bigger building to house those in treatment.

The program, based at Larned State Hospital, attempts to treat offenders who have completed their prison sentences but who were found to have a mental or personality disorder that placed them at a high risk of committing another violent sexual offense.

E.G. Schempf

When Grand Arts closed in the fall of 2015 after a 20-year tenure in the Crossroads, Stacy Switzer, the artistic director of the organization (calling it a "gallery" would be inadequate), said it had been a place of "extraordinary" freedom for artists. 

Kevin Marsh

Members of Kansas City's service industry and restaurant community are mourning the death of Jennifer Maloney, long-time executive chef of Cafe Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Maloney died Christmas Day at North Kansas City Hospital after a short, sudden illness. The cause of death is still unclear.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

City Union Mission, a Christian charity, says it distributed nearly 20,000 gifts to struggling Kansas Citians this Christmas, more than ever before.

The Rev. Dan Doty says during 40 years of its Christmas program, City Union Mission has never received more requests for help or given out more gifts. One-thousand twenty-one families, or a total of about 5,000 people, received presents, up 20 percent over 2015.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Out in Sugar Creek, Missouri, on top of a snowy hill, there are three houses with a long history. Every year around this time, that history comes to life, with the help of Stan and Barbara Salva. 

Stan was born and raised in Sugar Creek, and he spent a long stint as the town's mayor. Barbara has lived there since they married 50 years ago, but she's absorbed the history of the place "like a sponge."

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