Elle Moxley

General Assignment Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. Most recently, she covered Indiana schools as an education reporter for NPR’s StateImpact project.

Previously, she reported for The Examiner in Independence, Mo., and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Mo.

She is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

Ways to Connect

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A few years ago, Blue Springs police officers were fielding daily calls about disturbances at two apartment complexes near Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road.

Now disturbances are down at the complexes, which are  under new management. Both have been renovated recently .

Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Muenz credits the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, a national initiative to clean up apartment complexes.

Participating landlords attend training and attach a “crime-free” addendum to their lease.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County superintendents and local chambers of commerce are asking for a return to Kansas's old school funding formula and for a provision that would “hold all districts harmless.”

The Kansas Supreme Court has given lawmakers until June 30 to come up with an equitable funding formula or risk closure of the state’s schools. As it stands, Blue Valley, De Soto, Gardner-Edgerton, Olathe and Shawnee Mission will lose money under state lawmakers’ plan to equalize funding.

Unsplash / Pixabay

More Kansans are commuting to work than were in 2010.

That’s the latest from the Wichita State-based Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which on Thursday released an occasional report on Kansans’ commuting patterns.

“The choices about where we work are driven by the business cycle and what’s happening in that industry,” Pattie Bradley, senior research economist, says. “The choices we make about where to live are much more varied.”

Schools, crime, the cost and availability of housing, other amenities – all factor into the decisions people make.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Horrified. Sad. Distraught.

That’s how Kansas Citians felt Sunday after a weekend shooting at an Orlando gay club left 50 people dead.

But they also weren’t surprised.

“I just feel like mass shooting in this country happens really often,” John Lim said.

The alleged gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had ties to ISIS, NPR reported. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after a nearly 3-hour standoff.

Another 53 people were injured.

Paul Mullenex, walking on the Country Club Plaza Sunday afternoon, took a grim view of what happened in Florida.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

With $40 million from the Department of Transportation, Kansas City would build on the network Google Fiber brought to town five years ago.

That’s the pitch Mayor Sly James made Thursday before U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. Kansas City is one of seven finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge.

“This isn’t about technology,” James said. “It’s not about streets. It’s about people.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Frances Burnett, 91, switched her party registration from Democrat to Republican so she could vote in the Senate District 34 primary for Ed Berger.
Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For the first time in more than 30 years, there’s a Democrat running in every Kansas Senate district. But their fellow left-leaning Kansans might not be voting for them in August.

That’s because some are so fed up with Gov. Sam Brownback, they’d rather switch parties to vote for a moderate Republican in the primary than allow the governor’s supporters to stay in the Legislature.

A lifelong resident of Arlington, Kansas, 91-year-old Francis Burnett laughs when asked if she’s a Democrat.

Anton Novoselov / Flickr--CC

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon returned from a trade mission to Cuba Wednesday with high hopes the state’s farmers will find an export market there.

“This is a country that imports about 50 percent of its food right now,” said Nixon, who spoke to reporters on a conference line from Miami. “They have not yet moved toward modern, productive agriculture at anything near the same level as farmers and ranchers in Missouri.”

Nixon rattled off a long list of products he thinks could be sold in Cuba: soybeans, corn, rice, beef, dairy, poultry, hogs, cotton, wine and biodiesel.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

William Conway. Charles Luken. Frank Rohrback. Maurice Bedell. Wesley Walden. Thomas Medina. James Reynolds.

“Those are the men, the deputies, who are carved in this monument,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 40 President David Toland said Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring fallen Wyandotte County sheriff deputies. “I hope these are the last.”

An emotional Rick Whitby, president emeritus of FOP Lodge 40, shared personal stories about two of the fallen deputies.

Whitby said he was the last to talk to Reynolds before he died in 1984.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker doesn’t think victims and first responders should lose their right to privacy just because they’re witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Baker filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday firing back at a St. Louis judge who in several cases has ordered the City Circuit Attorney there to disclose the home addresses of crime victims and law enforcement officers scheduled to testify in court.

“We're not trying to hide them,” Baker says. “But what we are trying to do is balance their privacy right against our system of justice.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City nonprofit that helps connect homeless veterans with housing and jobs held a “stand down” Friday outside the World War I Museum and Memorial.

“We have an extraordinarily high homeless population,” says Art Fillmore, founder and co-chairman of Heart of America Stand Down. “A couple of years ago, it was up to around 1,700 homeless veterans.”

Fillmore says while city and county leaders have been proactive in addressing homelessness, that number is mostly going down as Vietnam veterans die.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Congressman Kevin Yoder says it remains to be seen if Kansans will back presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Though Yoder has endorsed Trump, he waited to do so until after Ted Cruz and other candidates had dropped out of the race.

“My position is I support the nominee,” says Yoder.

Yoder says while Trump wasn’t his first choice, he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton reflects Kansas values.

Much of metro Kansas City is experiencing severe weather with multiple watches and warnings throughout the listening area.

“Some of these storms are capable of producing tornadoes," says Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. "All of them are capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and large hail, and we’ve had reports of up to baseball-size hail over Northeast Kansas.”

DonkeyHotey / Flickr - CC

June 1 is the last day party-affiliated voters can change their registration in Kansas before the August 2 primary.

But the Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, Kerry Gooch, says he’s more focused on registering unaffiliated voters.

“I think Democrats should vote for Democrats in the primary, and I think Republicans should vote for Republicans in the primary,” Gooch says.

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republicans, expressed similar sentiments about party-switching in an email.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

United Methodist leaders are trying to avoid a church schism over gay rights.

“We have gay and lesbian people who are married,” says Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. “They have children. We welcome them. We’re not going to tell them they should get divorced and divide up the children. We’re going to say, ‘We’re glad you made a lifelong covenant.’”

But Hamilton acknowledges that his congregation, the largest of United Methodists in the United States, has many conservative members who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A plan to turn Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex received a warm reception Wednesday at a city council committee meeting held at the facility.

Large, framed photos from soccer games, livestock shows and concerts line the walls – a glimpse of what the old West Bottoms arena used to be.

But with its only tenant, the American Royal, seemingly poised to move to Kansas, Kemper has sat largely empty in recent years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For Michelle Rice’s son, the problems started when he was in fourth grade at a Kansas City charter school.

“He was under the supervision of a teacher who was Caucasian,” Rice says, “and regularly, he was either in the principal’s office or sent to the computer lab.”

The more time Marquelle spent out of class, the further behind he fell, and his behavior problems escalated. Soon, he was receiving out-of-school suspensions for what Rice describes as minor infractions.

Missouri Department of Transportation

The aging Grand Avenue bridge over Interstate 670 will have to be replaced, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The bridge has been closed since May 6, when small pieces of concrete started falling off of it, District Engineer Dan Niec says.

It cannot be repaired.

“The current design of that bridge was modern for that time, for that era, when it was built back in the ’60s,” Niec says. “Those types of bridges are no longer built.”

Cody Newill / KCUR

The American Royal World Series of Barbecue is moving to the Kansas Speedway.

The annual barbecue contest was held last year at the Truman Sports Complex after it outgrew the West Bottoms, its home for 36 years.

Carolyn Wells with the Kansas City Barbecue Society says having enough space to accommodate everyone is the most important consideration.

“Accommodate them, and accommodate them well. Barbecue teams need electricity, they need water, and they need real estate,” Wells says.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Wyandotte County prosecutors filed charges Wednesday in connection with the shooting death of Kansas City, Kansas Det. Brad Lancaster.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman charged Curtis Ayers of Tonganoxie, Kansas with capital murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and burglary, two counts of kidnapping, aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm.

At a press conference, Gorman said Ayers' bond was set at $10 million. He also said the case could be prolonged if Ayers fights extradition from Jackson County back to Wyandotte County.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

An Oskaloosa man imprisoned for a crime his brother committed is suing the Jefferson County law enforcement officials and others who pursued his wrongful conviction.

“You go from being Floyd Scott Bledsoe to Bledsoe 70545,” said Floyd Bledsoe, who spent 15 years in prison for the murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann in 1999.

Bledsoe’s brother, Tom Bledsoe, first confessed to the murder, then later recanted. In a November 2015 suicide note, Tom Bledsoe again confessed to raping and murdering Arfmann.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Former Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders looks at 17.7 miles of old Union Pacific train tracks and sees the future.

“It has the potential to change the entire way our community works, the entire way our community lives and the entire way we move for generations to come,” Sanders said of the Rock Island Corridor, which Jackson County officially acquired Monday after years of back-and-forth with the railroad.

With the backing of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Jackson County struck a $52 million deal to buy the corridor from Union Pacific last fall.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The father of a toddler who died last week after accidentally shooting herself with his gun has been charged with second degree murder, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Wednesday.

Courtenay Block, 24, told police he was sleeping when his 2-year-old daughter shot herself in the head April 21.

“Children are not responsible for their own safety,” Baker said at a news conference. “That’s our job. Your job and mine.”

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

The airlines that use Kansas City International Airport want to take their plan for a single terminal to voters in August.

Steve Sisneros with Southwest Airlines says waiting any longer could drive up costs on the proposed $964 million project.

“The airlines have agreed to new terminal concept,” Sisneros told the Airport Committee Tuesday. “The airlines have agreed to take financial risk for the project. The airlines have agreed to back the debt.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Speaking Monday at an event to raise awareness about child abuse, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté brought a prop to prove his point.

“This is an extension cord,” Forté says. “People actually get so-called ‘disciplined’ with extension cords. Some of the people I was raised with, they still think it’s OK.”

That’s a problem, Forté says. When abuse is normalized, kids who were abused grow up to be abusers.

“If I beat you with this and I do other things with this over and over again, I can predict the outcome,” says Forté. “I can write the end of that story.”

Daniel Orth / Flickr--CC

Updated 5:30 p.m. Friday:

Olathe city officials say tests conducted yesterday conclusively rule out elevated lead levels in the Ridgeview South neighborhood.

A release Friday afternoon says that tests of dozens of water samples have yet to be fully completed, but enough have been cleared to confirm the water system is not contaminated with lead.

Calah D. Johnson, 35, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of a woman shot while driving her family home from Starlight Theatre on July 17, 2009.

For years, police weren’t sure who murdered 45-year-old Deanna Lieber, the top attorney for the Kansas Department of Education. Lieber’s daughter, then 13, and mother-in-law were also in the car, which was traveling south on U.S. 71 near 59th Street when a stray bullet struck Lieber. The family was headed home to Lawrence.

bigstock.com

The Johnson County Election Office is coming up short on polling places to use come November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says he’s anticipating record-high turnout, possibly with more Kansans voting than in 2008.

“We would like to have 285 polling locations throughout our county,” Metsker says. “Right now we’re at about 195.”

Metsker says concerns about safety and security have crossed many places off his list.

Neerav Bhatt / Flickr--CC

Google got permission from the Kansas City Council Thursday to venture into high-speed wireless, building on the success of its Kansas City, Missouri, fiber optic network.

The Internet giant asked council members for permission to mount antennas on city-owned light poles to see if it could bounce connectivity off of them.

Though the ordinance ultimately passed, there was heated discussion about whether Google has kept its promises so far in Kansas City.

Councilman Dan Fowler doesn’t think so.

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