Elle Moxley | KCUR

Elle Moxley

Missouri Schools Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Ways to Connect

John Spertus / KCUR

It's been 29 years, so we almost forgot what it felt like, but on Wednesday Kansas Citians around the globe had a sweet sip of victory after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles to take the ALCS Championship.

We still have to prove we're the world's best — but for the time being, the sound of success is all you can hear in Kansas City.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Kansas gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis says if elected, he'll surround himself with the most bipartisan cabinet in the state's history.

"I want to try to bring the very best people we can into state government, and that's ultimately going to mean we're going to have roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans," said Davis, a Democrat.

His comments came during an appearance on KCUR's Up to Date with host Steve Kraske on Wednesday.

The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will pay almost $10 million to settle dozens of sexual abuse claims filed since 2010.

The settlement, reached late Tuesday, includes 30 pending claims against the diocese and ends an ongoing civil trial in a case filed by former alter boy Jon David Couzens. Couzens, who alleges he was abused in the 1970s and '80s at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Independence, took the diocese to court last month. His case would have entered jury deliberations this week if not for the settlement.

An estimated 17,000 Kansas City kids don't have enough diapers.

Their families just can't afford them.

"Diapers and other hygiene products – including cleaning supplies – are not provided by any state or federal subsidy," says Joanne Goldblum, executive director of the National Diaper Bank Network.

And diapers, especially the disposable kind required by most childcare centers, are a significant expense, up to $100 a week.

If that amount seems high, Goldblum says it's because poor families don't have the same resources as wealthier ones.

Briana O'Higgins / KCUR

Kansas City barbecue — we know you've heard of it.

The president eats it when he visits, and Anthony Bourdain said Kansas City barbecue is the best in the world.

But how did it all get started? And who made Kansas City barbecue famous?

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Updated, 4:40 p.m. CST: Merriam, Kan., residents Margo Lauer and Sheila Hafner held a commitment ceremony at Unity Church of Overland Park 11 years ago.

They took the first step toward making their union legal in Kansas Thursday morning, applying for a marriage license at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The two candidates vying for the U.S. Senate seat from Kansas spent Wednesday trading partisan barbs at their second debate.

Republican incumbent Pat Roberts tried to paint Greg Orman, who is running as an independent, as a Democrat in a race that doesn’t have one.

“A vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the future of Kansas and the country to Harry Reid and Barack Obama,” Roberts told the crowd at the Overland Park Convention Center.

Roberts called Orman a liberal more than a dozen times and repeatedly hammered him for his ties to Democrats.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

An international aid organization based in Lenexa, Kan., on Tuesday announced plans to operate a medical facility in Liberia to treat Ebola victims.

Heart to Heart International CEO Jim Mitchum says running the 70-bed Ebola treatment unit will be the largest and most challenging humanitarian effort the organization has ever undertaken. It will cost approximately $6 million to operate the facility, which should open in November, for six months.

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council wants to know if current city rules regulating the taxi cab industry are unfair to women- and minority-owned businesses.

At issue is an agreement Yellow Cab has to act as an exclusive operator with most of the major downtown and Crown Center hotels. Councilman Dick Davis says that contract is keeping small taxi cab companies from operating in large swaths of the city.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Two years ago, metro-area entrepreneurs started buying houses in the first Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood to get Google Fiber.

They wanted to take advantage of the ultra-fast Internet as they launched new ventures in what quickly became known as the Kansas City Startup Village.

The plan was to create a community of entrepreneurs on either side of State Line Road. But because the two states have different economic incentives for new businesses, many entrepreneurs gravitated toward the Kansas side of the Startup Village.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Green celebrated the district's recent successes in his annual State of the Schools address Tuesday.

The district regained provisional accreditation last month after losing its standing with the state in 2012. Green, who took over as superintendent shortly thereafter, says many believed at the time the district couldn't be saved.

But he says that attitude isn't helpful in education.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Karman Romero was in second grade the last time the Royals made the playoffs back in 1985. And now that the Royals are returning to post-season play, she wanted her kids to experience the excitement.

So on Monday morning, she picked up her 9-year-old twin daughters and 6-year-old son from school and took them to Kauffman Stadium along with her toddler son. About 5,000 other fans also showed up, the Royals said.

Romero called the decision to pull her children out of class for Monday's pre-wild card rally "a no brainer."

Photo courtesy of the JO

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will take over management of the JO in early 2015, the Johnson County Commissioners agreed Thursday.

Dick Jarrold, vice president of regional planning for KCATA, says the consolidation shouldn't impact riders because routes and schedules won't change.

"Johnson County will still be making all policy and budget decisions, so for the customer, they won't see an immediate change," says Jarrold.

A 28-year-old Kansas City man has been charged in connection with the vandalism of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II's Kansas City office earlier this month.

The U.S. Attorney' Office for the Western District of Missouri filed criminal charges against Eric G. King Wednesday. King allegedly threw a hammer through the window of the congressman's office and attempted to throw two Molotov cocktails through the broken window in the early morning hours of Sept. 11.

No fire damage was reported, and no one was in the office at the time.

Brandon Burke / Flickr--CC

A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board says Kansas City-based Gates & Sons Barbeque engaged in an unfair labor practice after workers participated in strike last summer.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the Workers' Organizing Committee on the employees' behalf, about a quarter of the Main Street restaurant's workforce informed their supervisor they planned to strike on July 30, 2013, and return to work the next day. The strike was part of an organized effort among Kansas City fast-food workers to ask for higher wages.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A group of Kansas City women clergy called for healing in Ferguson, Mo., during an interfaith service and prayer vigil Tuesday night.

Volunteers with the faith-based Communities Creating Opportunity went to Ferguson last month after the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown to help register voters and train community leaders.

"The African Methodist Episcopal Church has as a part of its motto that we are a liberating and reconciling church," says Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, whose church hosted the service. "So we are more involved in justice activities."

State of Missouri

Updated, 3:45 p.m. Monday:

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro is retiring at the end of the year, according to a statement out Monday from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Nicastro has led DESE since 2009. During her tenure, the department oversaw the first transfers under a Missouri law that allows students from unaccredited school districts to leave for neighboring accredited districts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

How do you get 18 tigers, 20 horses, 16 poodles and a half-dozen Asian elephants to downtown Kansas City, Mo.?

By circus train, of course.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Assistant Animal Superintendent Ryan Henning says the logistics of bringing so many animals to town are almost as interesting as the show itself.

Henning answered a few of our questions while showing us around the temporary horse enclosures at the Sprint Center.

How do you get that many animals to town?

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City officials hope nine new soccer fields in Kansas City's urban core can make Swope Park a destination for youth sports.

"So many of these venues are out in the suburban areas as you get over in western Wyandotte County or Overland Park or southeast of here, but you're in the heart of the city right here," says Parks Director Mark McHenry.

Ground crews spent Thursday putting the finishing touches on the new Swope Soccer Village at 63rd Street and Lewis Road. McHenry reaches down and scoops little rubber pieces from the synthetic grass.

Law enforcement officials are investigating after someone threw two bottles through a window at Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's Kansas City, Mo., office early Thursday morning.

The bottles resembled Molotov cocktails, but they did not ignite and did not cause damage other than the broken window.

John Jones, Cleaver's chief of staff, said in a statement it's the second time something like this has happened in the past three years.

J.S. Clark / Flickr--CC

The developer who wants to rehab Kemper Arena and turn it into a youth sports complex made a pitch for his company's plan to a downtown lunch club Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Foutch told the Kansas City Downtowners it's possible city council members could move forward with a plan that both preserves Kemper and gives the American Royal the new arena it wants.

"Our designs show both buildings can co-exist in the location," Foutch says. "It's all about the logistics of the operation."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

If your morning commute takes you through Merriam, Kan., expect delays Wednesday as IKEA opens and draws additional traffic to the area.

Merriam Police will be routing customers in along Johnson Drive and out on Shawnee Mission Parkway for the next several days, which will likely slow traffic along both roads and Interstate 35.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA opens in Merriam, Kan., at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and a line has been forming outside of the store since Monday.

IKEA's promotion for the grand opening includes giving away free furniture to people who start standing in line up to 48 hours in advance of the opening. The first 40 people in line will get a free couch worth $399, the next 100 people will get a $69 chair. On Thursday, the second day the store will be open to the public, IKEA will give the first 40 people a $299 mattress and the next 100 people $59 towards home delivery.

Updated, 2:03 p.m. Tuesday:

The Kansas City Police Department says two more people have died after last week's crime spree in South Kansas City, Mo., bringing the total number of victims to five.

The police department tweeted that Ann Taylor, 86, and George Taylor, 80, died Tuesday of injuries allegedly sustained when Brandon B. Howell, 34, broke into their home.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James and other city officials gathered near 44th Street and Montgall Avenue Tuesday morning to blast gun legislation state lawmakers will consider in Jefferson City on Wednesday.

Missouri legislators already approved a package of gun law changes that would let 19-year-olds obtain concealed carry permits, bar cities from enacting open carry ordinances and allow school districts to arm designated classroom teachers.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This year on Central Standard, we'll be following three teenagers through their senior year of high school, from the beginning of the year through graduation in May, 2015.

Harold Burgos: High school and college at the same time

Age: 17

School: Ruskin High School, Hickman Mills School District, Kansas City, Mo.

Updated, 6:01 p.m. Thursday: 

Police began releasing occupants of buildings at Johnson County Community College one by one Thursday evening after a campus-wide lockdown.

The original post continues below.

Overland Park Police Department officers helped search the campus after JCCC police received reports of a suspicious person with a weapon.

At 4:30 p.m., the Kansas college tweeted that police had ordered a full campus lockdown.

Wikimedia Commons -- CC

A Wednesday shake-up in Kansas politics even has seasoned pundits amazed. 

Chad Taylor, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, has withdrawn from the race, leaving Kansas Republican Pat Roberts facing his toughest political test in decades.

Steve Kraske, host of Up To Date on KCUR and Kansas City Star political commentator, says the change spells bad news for the incumbent.

"Pat Roberts is suddenly in very deep trouble in Kansas," Kraske says. "His polling numbers have not been good. He was ahead only because he was in a three-way contest."

Elle Moxley / KCur

Update, 3:24 p.m. Wednesday: 

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has announced three first degree murder charges against Brandon B. Howell, 34, in Tuesday's triple homicide.

Peters Baker also charged Howell with two counts of assault in the first degree for causing serious injury to George and Anna Taylor.

Howell faces four additional counts of armed criminal action, one count of burglary in the first degree, one count of stealing a motor vehicle and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City faith leaders are calling on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to halt an execution scheduled for next week.

A dozen religious leaders met Tuesday to deliver a letter to Nixon's downtown Kansas City office asking for a meeting with the governor to discuss a moratorium on the death penalty in Missouri.

"Each time the state of Missouri executes, whether the person is guilty or innocent, I am made a murderer, just like any other, and my faith convicts me to say no," says retired United Church of Christ minister Jane Fisler Hoffman, the organizer of the event.

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