Danny Wood

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.

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.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Shoppers looking for a cell phone at the Sprint store on the Country Club Plaza on Saturday got more than they bargained for: the CEO of the company wanted to listen to them.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure became a salesman again as he met customers on the shop floor at a new outlet on the Plaza.

Claure says he wants to understand what he described as “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the sales experience. By late morning Claure had a few tips.

“I’ve learned that I’d love to make this process a little simpler and less time consuming," he says.

Ervins Strauhmanis / Flikr -- CC

The Midwest is generally not renowned for the beauty of its town planning. Acres of concrete strip malls with  barren parking lots indicate a lack of aesthetic concerns. However, one Kansas mayor wants to protect his city’s aesthetics from telecommunications infrastructure.

City of Overland Park, Kansas

The Overland Park City Council has unanimously approved LANE4 Property Group’s final plan for redevelopment of the corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. The green light clears the way for the developer to apply for permits before starting demolition and site work.

The $80 million project is less ambitious than an earlier proposal worth several hundred million that called for a more urban style and help from city funds.  That plan included residential units, outdoor gathering areas and walking trails.

Daniel Wood / KCUR 89.3

As part of events marking  the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the city of Mission, Kansas, hosted a memorial at the Sylvester Powell Junior Community Center. About 70 local residents, including a number of veterans and current servicemen and women, attended. Among them, one of the last survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Dorwin Lamkin, a 94-year-old Shawnee resident,  was a hospital corpsman in the USS Nevada’s sickbay when the battleship was hit by a Japanese torpedo and started to sink.