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Emergency Services
3:38 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Text-To-911 Technology Exists, But It Hasn't Reached Kansas City

Emergency services in Kansas City aren't set up to respond to text messages, but they will be in the future.
Credit Steve Bell / KCUR

It's going to take some time before Kansas Citians can summon emergency services with a text message.

The big four cell phone carriers announced this month they would offer text-to-911 capabilities to any local government wanting to use the technology.

"There's going to be a line," says Keith Faddis, director of public safety programs for the Mid-America Regional Council.

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Up to Date
3:00 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

The Most Checked-Out Children's Books At Johnson County Libraries

These teen books have the highest historical check-out rate at the Johnson County Libraries.

In recent years, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games  and Twilight series have been favorites among young readers. However, a survey of the most frequently checked out books at the Johnson County libraries also includes classics from decades past.

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Weather
2:20 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Has Summer Weather Already Arrived In Kansas?

Kansas climatologists say a dry, hot spring could be setting the stage for drought later this summer. But mixed reports are also keeping them guessing.
Credit Crazybananas / Flickr.com - CC

A hot, dry spring is sending mixed signals to Kansas climatologists trying to predict what kind of summer the Central Plains will have.

At the beginning of May, temperatures in Wichita, Kan., topped 100 degrees three times. Combine that with a lack of rain to the southwest, and crops across the state are starting to show signs of stress.

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Health
10:02 am
Tue May 20, 2014

KDHE Probes 7 Reports Of Toxin-Related Kidney Failure

State health officials are looking for connections in seven reported cases of kidney failure commonly caused by a type of bacteria sometimes found in food. 

A total of seven cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome have been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. These cases have not been confirmed yet, according to KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry. 

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Transportation
8:43 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Kansas City Public Transit Among Nation's Worst In Connecting Workers To Jobs

Kara McGowan takes two buses to Operation Breakthrough where her kids go to day care, then two more to her job.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Just after 7:15 a.m. in the morning, Kara McGowan rushes out of her house, carrying her baby, Airis, on one arm, a bulging diaper bag on the other. Her four-year-old, Addison, trails behind.

"We got eight minutes. Come on!" McGowan pleads.  She doesn't want to miss her bus. She doesn't have a car, so her only option to get her kids to daycare and to herself to her job as a receptionist in Westport is to take public transit.

McGowan's bus rolls away from the intersection before she and the children arrive, so she reroutes them to catch the 12th Street bus across town.

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Harvest Public Media
7:52 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Canada Jonesing For A Piece Of American (Hemp) Pie

Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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Food Safety
5:03 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Missouri Among States Targeted In Beef Recall

Wolverine Packing Co. has recalled 1.8 million pounds of beef due to E. Coli concerns.
Credit Courtesy of Beef Products International

The usual food safety advice applies in the latest ground beef recall: Don't order that hamburger rare.

A Michigan-based company has recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef earmarked for use at restaurants in four states, including Missouri, for possible E. Coli contamination.

Wolverine Packing Co. issued the recall Monday for distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio after 11 people became sick. 

Though E. Coli occurs naturally in the gut of cows, it's relatively easy to avoid, says University of Missouri food science professor Azlin Mustapha.

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Beyond Our Borders
4:01 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

How One Kansas City Neighborhood Opened Doors, And The Leaders Who Called It Home

Google Street View shot of Sheraton Estates, a neighborhood on the east side of Kansas City, Mo., has been home to many influential African-Americans in the community.
maps.google.com

Sheraton Estates was the first place in Kansas City, Mo., where African-Americans sought out to build new homes south of 27th Street. The suburban-style subdivision was built in 1957. It was marketed to, and, historically, home to many influential African-American leaders in the city.

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Sports
6:46 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Mizzou Softball Eliminated In Regional Title Game

The Mizzou softball team lost their chance at a national title Sunday.
Credit Greg Echlin / KCUR

This year marks 50 years since a sports team at the University of Missouri finished runner-up for a national championship.

The Tiger baseball team finished second at the College World Series. In recent years, the Mizzou softball team has come the closest, but saw its season come to an end Sunday.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Now Appearing: Hemp, For First Time In Decades

At Centennial Seeds in Lafayette, Colo., Ben Holmes is testing hemp varieties. Holmes made his name distributing and breeding strains of medical and recreational marijuana, but recently has become a prominent figure in Colorado’s fledgling hemp industry.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

 A handful of farmers are set to plant the country’s first hemp crop in decades, despite federal regulations that tightly restrict the plant’s cultivation.

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Community
3:20 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Topeka Event Marks Brown v. Board Ruling

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback visits with a student in a new classroom at the former Monroe Elementary School in Topeka. The classroom is being dedicated at the historic site as part of the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Credit Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and others remembered the Brown v. Board of Education ruling Friday in Topeka.

The event comes on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ordered an end to segregation in public schools.

The governor spoke at the former Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, which is now a national historic site dedicated to the ruling.

Brownback says it’s important to remember the controversy surrounding the Brown v. Board ruling and the struggles of the civil rights movement.

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Health
2:39 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Why Your Allergies Seem To Be Worse This Year In Kansas City

Pollen from trees and other plants hit an all-time-high in Kansas City about two weeks ago.
Credit Emily Whitty / Submitted photo

If your allergies seem more severe this year in Kansas City, you're not alone.

That's according to Dr. Jay Portnoy, who leads the allergy and asthma department at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"We've been tracking pollen for 15 years in the Kansas City area and over that time, the pollen count has been slowly increasing," Portnoy says. "Each year is getting a little bit worse."  

On Thursday, Portnoy explained to Up To Date Host Steve Kraske that the day's tree pollen count was only 529, but two weeks ago, it hit an all-time high of 9,000.

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Common Core
2:08 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Missouri Gives Educators Two Years To Make Common Core Decision

Missouri schools have been using the Common Core standards for four years but may have to adjust to new expectations if the state exits the initiative.
Credit bigstock.com

Legislation awaiting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's signature gives state educators two years to reaffirm their support for the Common Core or dump the education standards in favor of state-specific alternatives.

Lawmakers agreed to the compromise last week after debating the contentious nationally-crafted student expectations for most of the session.

If the bill becomes law, educator work groups will spend the next two years writing new learning goals for math and English language arts.

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Central Standard
11:55 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Food Critics: Kansas City's Best Wings

Buffalo-style is one of the most popular sauces for chicken wings. Watch out for the heat.
Credit Wikipedia -- CC

It may not be football season, but chicken wings are still a popular appetizer at many restaurants and bars.

The Central Standard Food critics stopped by KCUR to give us their Kansas City favorites from traditional Buffalo wings to exotic preparations.

Here are their recommendations:

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Sports
11:35 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Possible Missouri-Kansas Softball Showdown Shaping Up

It isn’t the magnitude of a football game at Arrowhead Stadium, but Kansas Jayhawk and Missouri Tiger fans are keenly aware of possibly squaring off over the weekend.

Both schools are the NCAA softball regional in Columbia, Mo. For a University of Kansas-University of Missouri showdown to take place Saturday, both schools would need to either win Friday or lose Friday in the double-elimination regional.

It would mean that Kelsey Kessler, a native of Blue Springs, Mo., and sophomore pitcher at KU, would face the Tigers, which concerns Tigers Coach Ehren Earleywine.

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Health
11:04 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Survey: Nearly Half Of Kansas City Jail Inmates Report Mental Health Problems

Nearly half of all inmates at the municipal jail in Kansas City, Mo., indicated they had a mental health problem, according to the latest results from a periodic survey administered by an outside contractor.

Roughly 45 percent of the respondents answered “yes” when asked if they thought they had a mental health problem or had been told they had one, according to the survey results, which were delivered earlier this month.

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Health
10:14 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Plans Advance For Mental Health Crisis Center In Kansas City

Mattresses line the walls of the sobering unit in the newly reopened Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, Kan.
Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

 

Representatives from a broad spectrum of agencies and organizations, including hospitals and courts, are crystallizing plans they hope will help solve a health problem in Kansas City, Mo.

The issue is that people who are high, drunk or in psychiatric crisis clog emergency rooms and tie up first-responders with needs more suited to mental health intervention, according to organizers.

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Government
10:04 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Brownback Files For Second Term As Kansas Governor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks Thursday at the official launch of his campaign for a second term during an event at the Statehouse in Topeka.
Credit Stephen Koranda / KPR

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer officially have started their campaign for a second term.

The two were joined Thursday at a kickoff event in Topeka by their campaign co-chairs, former Sen. Bob Dole and Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower.

During the event, Brownback touted his economic policies and tax cuts he helped pass. He credits them with promoting job growth and helping to build a significant financial cushion in the state budget.

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Beyond Our Borders
8:00 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Data Maps Show Troost As Racial, Economic And Educational Divide

Credit Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service / University of Virginia

As KCUR examines how Kansas Citians divide themselves in our Beyond Our Borders series, we wanted to look at the demographics of the areas where we are focusing our reporting.

Earlier this year, we asked the community which lines were the most divisive in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Troost Avenue was cited as one of the most prominent racial and socioeconomic borders

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Arts & Culture
5:30 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Want To Play The Carillon? Choices Are Slim, But KU Is One

Assistant professor of music, Elizabeth Berghout, plays the carillon — the instrument that controls the campanile on the KU campus.
Credit Dawn Fallik

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning at the University of Kansas and the chimes inside the school's Campanile rang out "Ode to Joy" across the lush campus.

And then they started clanking, an odd off-beat, minor clank. Students passing by looked at each other, a little worried.

"It is broken?" one asked.

No, just student Amanda Schultz, trying to make 53 bells do a blues slide on the carillon.

There are only handful of schools in the country to learn the carillon, a tall organ-like instrument that controls the bells in a bell tower, or campanile.

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Internet
3:16 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Proposed FCC Changes To Net Neutrality Draw Small Protest

A small group of protesters gather outside of the FCC's Lee's Summit office to support net neutrality.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Some Kansas Citians say they're worried that new rules the Federal Communications Commission is considering would threaten net neutrality — the premise that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

FCC commissioners met Thursday in Washington, D.C., to consider a couple of options. The first would let Internet service providers charge certain companies more to load their content faster, with the FCC overseeing those deals. The second would do the opposite – it would make broadband service a public utility and ban pay-for-performance agreements.

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Central Standard
2:45 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Glenn North: Fostering Raw Self-Expression At 18th And Vine

Poet Glenn North has held court at the American Jazz Museum's Blue Room for the past decade.
Credit Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

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Arts & Culture
12:25 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Kauffman Center CEO Close To Confirmation For National Endowment For The Arts

Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center, speaks during a May 12 announcement about the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, was nominated in February as the next chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts.

According to Kauffman officials, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday moved Chu's nomination forward to the full Senate.

The timing of the vote has not yet been released. Chu isn't expected to comment until the confirmation process is complete.

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Government
11:52 am
Thu May 15, 2014

News Organizations Sue Missouri Department Of Corrections Over Drug Executions

A lawsuit filed Thursday claims the Missouri Department of Corrections stopped providing information about the drugs it uses in lethal injections.
Credit bigstock.com

Five journalism organizations, including The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sued the Missouri Department of Corrections Thursday, seeking information on the drugs the state uses in lethal injection executions.

The suit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, says that the department last October stopped providing the public with information about the drugs it uses in lethal injections.

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Tell KCUR
11:48 am
Thu May 15, 2014

The NFL Looks Ready For Michael Sam — And So Is Kansas City

Michael Sam was the 249th draft choice by the St. Louis Rams.
Credit Wikipedia -- CC

Michael Sam’s NFL draft pick on Saturday — the first for an openly gay football player — continues to generate buzz on social media.

The pick put Missouri in the spotlight, since the University of Missouri defensive end became the 249th overall choice by the St. Louis Rams.

We wanted to hear your thoughts on this historical moment, so we used our airwaves and social media this week to ask: Is the NFL ready for Michael Sam? Why or why not?

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Community
8:47 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Poll: Kansas Sixth Most Charitable State

Kansas: known for farms, flat terrain and ... charitable residents?
Credit Roy Montgomery / Flickr--CC

Kansas is the sixth most charitable state, according to a poll out this month from the research company Gallup.

Sixty-two percent of Kansans reported donating money in the past month, while 45 percent donated time and 39 percent donated some of both.

Missouri came in at 34th with 64 percent of residents donating money, 41 percent donating time and 31 percent engaging in both.

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Arts & Culture
5:30 am
Thu May 15, 2014

WATCH: Tools Of The Trade, A Ballet Dancer's Shoes

Kansas City Ballet dancers perform in 'Cinderella."
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

The modern pointe shoe has kept ballerinas on their toes since the early 20th Century.

Each delicate, custom-made satin and leather shoe endures a punishing routine that begins even before a dancer places a shoe on her foot.

As part of an occasional series called Tools of the Trade about performers and their relationship to the tools that make their work possible, I talked to members of the Kansas City Ballet about shoes.

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Education
4:37 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Strict Social Media Policy Approved By Kansas Board Of Regents

Critics of the social media policy stand during part of Wednesday's Kansas Board of Regents meeting in Topeka to demonstrate their opposition.
Credit Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday finalized a controversial social media policy that places broad limits on employees and is being criticized as one of the most restrictive in the country.

Regents Chairman Fred Logan, speaking to a packed meeting in Topeka, defended the policy, claiming it will shore up academic freedom by creating more specific guidelines.

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Agriculture
4:18 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

National Agricultural Center & Hall Of Fame To Close For Season

The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame is located in Bonner Springs, Kan.
Credit Wikimedia -- CC

 The National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, which is based in Bonner Springs, Kan., will be closing its doors.

The museum blames a tough economic climate for a decrease in donations and corporate support. The Ag Center, as it’s often known, says it plans to close for the rest of 2014 while it seeks more funding and charts a way forward.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Prospect MAX Bus Decision Expected From Court Soon

An approval of a transit plan involving the streetcar and a new MAX bus line would send a taxing district question to voters.
Credit Kyle Gradinger / Flickr--CC

Any day now, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan is expected to hand down a decision that would allow an election to create a special transit taxing district.

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