News

FIle Photo / Kansas News Service

Anecdotal evidence from prosecutors across the state indicates opioid abuse is growing in Kansas, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said, but he urged lawmakers not to forget the state’s ongoing methamphetamine problem.

Schmidt answered questions about the issue Thursday from a panel of lawmakers in Topeka.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

In a big breakthrough for downtown commuters, Missouri highway and Kansas City officials have come up with an interim repair plan that avoids closing the Buck O'Neil Bridge entirely and buys time for a hoped-for, permanent replacement.

South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is among more than 60 cities around the world that earned "Creative City" distinction from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on October 31. Along with cities in Cabo Verde, Chile, Czechia, India, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Sweden, Kansas City was recognized as a music city. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As the race for the Unified Government's top job draws to a close, the two candidates for mayor/CEO are drawing distinctions between themselves and their proposed policies.

Mark Holland was elected mayor in 2013 and says his re-election would maintain the momentum that his administration has built in Wyandotte County, especially when it comes to job increases, low unemployment and growing household incomes.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3 FM

Fort Leavenworth isn't just a military base with a lot of historic architecture. It's also a place where you can find one of Kansas' oldest trees.

Just east of the airfield there is a 200-acre stretch of land on a flood plain that's become an accidental wildlife refuge. It's the largest stretch of contiguous forest along the lower Missouri River.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Few things capture the respect that nature commands than a massive, looming tree. But the trees found on this list are special. They’re “champion trees” — the largest recorded living trees of their kinds.

 

Democratic Policy and Communications Committee

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday used a group of like-minded witnesses to attack President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan by comparing it to what they repeatedly referred to as Kansas’ “failed” tax experiment.

Two Kansans — House Democratic Leader Jim Ward and state employee union representative Sarah LaFrenz — joined a list of national experts in assailing the 2012 Kansas tax cut experiment that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback touted as a “red state model.”

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will reopen Lincoln Middle to relieve overcrowding at the adjacent high school and offer a rigorous college preparatory program to more students.

“Just like any other competitive superintendent, I don’t want to lose on my first big decision, so I’m extremely happy about the board approving our recommendation to reopen Lincoln Middle School,” Superintendent Mark Bedell, now in his second year with the district, said after the board of directors approved his administration’s plan to reopen Lincoln Middle for the 2019-20 school year.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A security lapse at the El Dorado Correctional Facility led to a June 24 disturbance during which inmates used makeshift weapons to threaten guards, according to new information provided Wednesday to Kansas lawmakers.

The report, compiled by the prison’s Serious Incident Review Board, said the failure of guards to secure “multiple” doors allowed between 50 and 70 inmates to leave their cells and enter the prison yard where inmates from another cellblock had gathered for their scheduled “evening recreation.”

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

The University of Kansas Health System and Nashville-based Ardent Health Services announced Wednesday that they have completed the purchase of St. Francis Health in Topeka.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency is trying to determine why permits were issued for half a dozen wastewater wells whose operators didn’t accurately inform nearby residents of their rights to protest the wells.

The deficiencies were discovered by a resident of Matfield Green in Chase County who objects to the wells, into which companies can pour hundreds or thousands of barrels of oil- and gas-related wastewater per day.

Cindy Hoedel wants the Kansas Corporation Commission to shut down the wells and make the companies in question redo the application process.

Brandon Cale / Courtesy The MGDs

The sharp-dressed MGDs are one of Kansas City’s most accomplished party bands, strongly influenced by New Orleans groups such as the Radiators, the Iguanas and the Neville Brothers.

Much of the MGDs repertoire features vocals, but soulful grooves and joyous instrumental solos are the group’s strength.

Keyboardist and vocalist Damon Parker fronts the band, which also includes guitarist Scott Middleton, trumpeter Teddy Krulewich, saxophonist Rudy Vasquez, bassist Greg Bush and drummer Matt Davis.

Courtesy Kansas International Film Festival

Kansas Citians who know Bev Chapman from her days as a reporter at KMBC TV are likely to be impressed with her 14-minute documentary film "Soaring Back: Message to the Future." With spectacular footage, it chronicles Kansans’ successful efforts to revitalize the area’s population of bald eagles.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

A coalition of social justice groups is pushing for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County to become the first government in the Kansas City area to issue municipal identification cards to residents.

The coalition, which includes the ACLU of Kansas, says as many as one in five Wyandotte County residents belong to demographic groups that are likely to have trouble obtaining a government-issued photo ID. 

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

After wrestling to balance the budget for years, Kansas lawmakers bit the bullet this spring and agreed to undo many of Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature 2012 tax cuts.  

The question now is whether they have done enough to fix the state budget, as many promised to do in the 2016 campaign. Lawmakers will get a better idea of the state’s financial situation later this week when the consensus revenue estimating group determines whether revenues are tracking with projections.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas legislative leaders have directed their staff to work with the Kansas City-based Women’s Foundation to update the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy.

The move comes amid recent allegations by several former legislative staffers, lobbyists and campaign workers about the prevalence of harassment at the Statehouse. 

HuffPost

A federal judge on Monday partially blocked President Trump's ban on transgender recruits to the military.

In a 76-page opinion Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia said parts of the president's ban are not supported by the evidence.

The judge's opinion reinstates Obama-era policy toward transgender service men and women, which lifted long-standing restrictions. For decades, the military identified gender non-conformity as a mental illness.  

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers soon will start work to determine their response to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that found K-12 public school funding unconstitutional.

Republicans and Democrats on a key legislative panel decided the matter is too urgent to wait until the 2018 legislative session starts in January.

They voted Monday to create an 11-member committee that will meet for three days before then. Its task will be to kick-start efforts that must be done by an April 30 deadline.

File photo / KCUR 89.3

Thwarted in its attempt to block one part of Missouri’s newest abortion law, Planned Parenthood has now filed a second lawsuit challenging another part of the law, one involving medication abortions.

Courtesy Alcott Arts Center

If things had gone differently over the last two decades, the hulking old brick building near the 18th Street exit off of Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Kansas, might look more like the setting of a real-life horror story these days.

Instead, Chris Green expects the Alcott Arts Center's parking lot to be alive with a few hundred kids celebrating a family-friendly Halloween on Tuesday.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

Joy / Flickr -- CC

It’s a great time of year for pie.

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with a traditional pumpkin pie, or warding off the chill with a hearty chicken pot pie, it’s amazing what can go under, over or between flaky, golden crusts.

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Photo courtesy of Pat O'Neill

It was 120 years ago this week that George Wigert was born in Axtell, a speck of a town in rural Nebraska. Wigert would grow up to attend military school, fight in World War I, then return home to start a family.

It was just three years ago that Wigert's grandson, author and publicist Pat O'Neill, came across hundreds of letters Wigert exchanged with his mother while preparing for and fighting in what was called "the war to end all wars."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Victor Raider-Wexler, a venerable actor with a voice as deep as magma, has never performed as a woman before. 

“It’s a brand new thing," he says of his role in Spinning Tree Theatre's newest production. "But last Christmas I was Marley, and I’d never been a ghost before either.”

agilemktg1 / Flickr — CC

There’s some good news and some bad news for Missourians purchasing marketplace healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act.

The good news: Those eligible for premium subsidies will see no increase in their premiums. In fact, a 40-year-old non-smoker earning $30,000 a year will see a 2.7 percent reduction of his or her premiums to $201 a month.

The bad news: Those not eligible for subsidies will see premium increases ranging from 12 percent to 50 percent for the benchmark silver plan.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Newly unsealed testimony given by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach suggests he knew that the federal motor voter law might have to be amended for states to require proof of citizenship for voter registration.

Pinar Temiz / Flickr — CC

With Halloween just around the door-creaking corner, plenty of purposely peculiar events will be going on this weekend. There will also be some things that just happen to be a little weird.

Into gore and zombies? Bizarre glitz? What about an uncanny glissando?

And you thought you knew weird!

1. ‘Chainsaw, the Musical’

FIle Photo / Kansas News Service

A U.S. Senate committee has given the green light for the full chamber to proceed with a vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s confirmation to an ambassador-at-large position.

Approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the position relating to international religious freedom was the first hurdle after President Donald Trump picked Brownback for the role in July.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Update: The Kansas City Council approved this proposal on Thursday, October 26.

The Kansas City Council’s finance and governance committee on Wednesday approved a proposal for the city manager to take a closer look at the assets and management of the American Jazz Museum. The ordinance also requests a $250,000 boost for the museum, which faces an estimated $1 million shortfall. 

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