Danny Wood

Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson unexpectedly resigned today. Hinson has spent more than thirty years in public education, four of them in Shawnee Mission.

In a statement on the school district’s website, the superintendent says, “I’ve decided to retire effective June 30, 2017. This decision will allow me to spend more time with my family, and pursue other lifelong goals.”

Under Hinson’s watch, the district invested millions in building news schools and the “one-to-one” technology initiative, which provided each student with a personal computer.

The City of Liberty

Residents in Liberty, Missouri, now have a $78 million wastewater treatment plant, and will no longer rely on Kansas City for processing services.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The federal Chemical Safety Board has released preliminary findings critical of safety procedures at MGP Ingredients after a toxic chemical release at the Atchison based distiller.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The Trump administration’s cancellation and renegotiation of international trade deals has put United States exports in the spotlight. This comes at a time when metro areas like Kansas City are focusing more on increasing exports. Last year, World Trade Center Kansas City, an agency of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, started implementing the first ever metro area export plan.

Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners

A total of about 60,000 Kansas Citians voted in yesterday’s municipal elections, according to turnout figures from election boards. Kansas City voters in Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties approved $800 million in general obligation bonds, a one-eighth cent sales tax for development on the city’s east side and lessened penalties for marijuana possession.

Shawn Kieffer from the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners says he’s disappointed with the 18 percent turnout from Jackson County.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

About two hundred people on Saturday attended a town hall event in Olathe where they questioned nine Republican lawmakers about their positions on Medicaid expansion and school financing.

Many held placards expressing support for more Medicaid funding. All of the lawmakers present were opposed to expanding the program and agreed with Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to veto an expansion bill passed overwhelmingly last month by the Legislature.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89.3

The University of Kansas basketball players were not the only stellar squad from KU competing for national honors in late March.

Three KU teams are on center stage for the four-day-long National Debate Tournament, which is being held at the university’s Edwards Campus in Overland Park.

About 500 students and coaches, encompassing 78 top university debating teams, are engaged in dozens of simultaneous debates. Debaters from UMKC and Missouri State are among the metro and Missouri colleges represented.

Mid-America Regional Council

In the Kansas City metro area, the economy added about 25,000 jobs over the past year and is now growing at a rate of about two and a half percent per year.

Frank Lenk, who specializes in economic and demographic forecasts for the Mid-America Regional Council, says this is above historical norms of about two percent.

He says the figures for the Kansas City economy show two sectors creating the most jobs.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 11 a.m. Monday: Concrete dust filled the air as a demolition crew began tearing down the old Royale Inn, a blighted motel at Independence Avenue and The Paseo.

Before the city acquired it last year for $1.8 million, drug dealers and prostitutes frequented the Royale. A woman was found murdered in a stairwell in 2011.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Tens of thousands of Kansas Citians are marking St. Patrick’s Day. The festivities started this morning with the annual parade through the city.

The celebrations come on the heels of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.  With Trump standing alongside, Kenny reminded the president that St. Patrick was the patron of immigrants. 

Mayor Sly James echoed those words today alongside the parade route at Kansas City’s Irish Center.

The Missouri Department of Transport (MoDOT)

Kansas City’s newest bridge officially opens Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The U.S. 69 Missouri River Bridge connects Platte and Wyandotte Counties. The crossing opened to traffic in December but the finishing touches to a ramp and a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists were just completed.

Missouri is busy upgrading or replacing historic bridges build from the 1930s to the 1950s. A new bridge was recently finished upstream in Atchison and engineers are currently looking at downtown’s 60-year-old Buck O’Neil Bridge.

Mid-Continent Public Library

Missouri’s public libraries could lose about $6 million in state and federal funding if Gov. Eric Greitens gets his way.

As part of his $27.6 billion budget plan for the state, Greitens has recommended cutting about $3 million from public libraries. This reduction places Missouri’s libraries at risk of losing another $3 million in federal funding.

Missouri Community College Association (MCCA)

Missouri’s 12 community colleges have created a new workforce training network.

Until now, community colleges could only work with businesses located in their geographical service area. Under this new agreement, called the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network, Mark James, Chancellor of Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College, says the state’s colleges can share resources, expertise and even personnel. 

“We are essentially pledging to collaborate and assist each other if and when needed to meet any businesses’ workforce or training needs.”

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

UMKC students demonstrated Wednesday to protest the way university authorities handled an alleged rape that took place on the campus nearly two weeks ago.

The student reported the alleged rape after being carried unconscious through the lobby of the Johnson Resident Hall. A man who is not a student at UMKC has been charged by Jackson County Prosecutors with the assault. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The Big 12 basketball tournament starts today at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. The multi-day event generates an estimated $13.6 million for the local economy.

At the same time, the Missouri legislature is looking at three bills that would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates. If passed, such a measure could prevent Kansas City from keeping or getting other big events.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says he's closely monitoring the bills’ progress.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

An attorney for a now 36-year-old Kansas City man hopes he can persuade prosecutors to file criminal charges against a former Boy Scout leader who was the subject of a $100 million civil judgment.

Last week, a Jackson County judge ruled in a civil case that the victim, identified only as “John Doe,” had been abused by his former Scout leader, Scott Alan Bradshaw.

Rob Shenk / Flickr -- CC

A look at how Missouri deals with its Confederate past. Plus, the reaction to a newly-published Confederate memoir by a Clay County soldier.

Guests:

Clay County Museum & Historical Society

The American Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but those old divisions still affect us today. There’s perhaps no better example of this than Missouri, a border state claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy. The ongoing struggle to deal with this history recently came to light when the Clay County Museum and Historical Society in the town of Liberty, published an old diary.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has announced the expansion of the Hire KC Youth program into a city-wide initiative. The program offers about 200 summer internships but the Mayor appealed to about 80 businesspeople and employment groups at a breakfast meeting to provide more.  

“There is no better social program than a job,” said James. “And when kids have work, when they have a sense of responsibility, then their entire world opens up and barriers and walls fall.”

Kansas City Zoo

For the first time, the Kansas City Zoo’s baby chimpanzee has enjoyed being on public display with her twelve companion chimps. Baby Ruw was born at the zoo in April last year but rejected by her mother.

The 10-month-old spent Sunday morning touring her open habitat, clinging to the backs of older chimps. The zoo's senior director of zoological operations, Sean Putney, says Ruw’s reintroduction is going well.

Bill Tice

Gladstone residents are carrying out a citizen led strategic plan that will decide which city projects take priority for the next ten years.

The “Gladstone: Shaping Our Future” strategic planning process is unique in the metro area: it’s entirely led by the residents themselves.  

More than 100 volunteers met for over a year to brainstorm the sort of projects they’d like to see carried out in their community. Thursday night, a ten member committee started choosing which ones will make the cut.

Among the volunteers, Tina Spallo co-chairs the planning process.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

The latest attempt to get a minimum wage proposal on the Kansas City ballot in April continued in front of a judge today.

The petitioners want Kansas Citians to vote in April on their proposal calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2021. But despite a Missouri Supreme Court ruling in their favor, last month Kansas City council members refused to put the issue on the April ballot.

The petitioners, including Pastor Lloyd Fields, appealed to a Jackson County Circuit Court Judge today.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration were the focus of a panel discussion at the Manual Career Technical Center in Kansas City, Missouri Saturday. More than 700 people, the majority of whom appeared to be supporters and friends of immigrants, packed the auditorium to ask questions about the government's restrictive immigration policies.

Clean Line Energy Partners website

For the second time in three years, a massive electricity line project is back in Missouri seeking approval. 

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line would connect Kansas wind turbines to the eastern states with an 800-mile-long overhead transmission line. The company running the $2 billion project says it has approvals from three of the four states in its path, only Missouri stands in the way.

The transmission line is supported by  utility companies and unlikely bedfellows such as the Sierra Club and Walmart.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Tuesday is this year's open enrollment deadline for buying health coverage through the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

According to local health insurance brokers, the Trump administration's push to repeal or replace the ACA, has not impacted the number of people calling to sign up for Obamacare health coverage.

However, people are expressing anger about the cost of plans.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

After his application for a commercial development was rejected by the city, former Lawrence mayor Bob Schumm, is trying a different approach: asking the Douglas County authorities to re-zone the plot of land on Vermont Street for agricultural use.

KC Streetcar Authority

Over the icy weekend, Kansas City’s downtown streetcar service not only kept to schedule, it ran after-hours to stop ice build-up on overhead lines.

After the last passengers disembarked, up to two streetcars were kept running overnight to keep power-lines ice-free.

Donna Mandelbaum, communications manager for the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, says the trolley cars can run continuously if necessary.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The controversial $1.8 billion Brookridge redevelopment proposal in Overland Park is a step closer to being subsidized with help from taxpayer funds. A special committee told the Shawnee Mission Board of Education Wednesday that it should not use its veto power to stop the creation of a tax increment financing district (TIF).

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.

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