Laura Ziegler

Special Correspondent

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways to Connect

Kansas City , Mo. – Facilities at Community America Ballpark in Wyandotte County -- bathrooms and security, made it the desirable location for this afternoon's Tea Party rally, according to organizers with Political Chips, one of the largest Tea Party groups in Kansas.
There will be a number of gatherings around the metro, but the T-Bones ballpark is expected to host the largest.

Social media has been key in creating the Tea Party phenomenon, so it's fitting that this event was pulled together largely on line.

Kansas City, Mo. – Opponents say they'll appeal the decision to approve Overland Park's annexation of 8 square miles of semi-rural land.

A Johnson County District Court last week ruled neither the city nor Johnson County did anything illegal by annexing the land.

But Norman Pishner a member of a committee that campaigned vigorously against the annexation, says opponents believe they can prove residents were denied due process.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Department of Energy has awarded the Smith Electric Vehicle Company in Kansas City another significant grant to continue research and development of electric delivery trucks.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill got a tour of the Smith Electric Plant yesterday from executives and workers, after announcing DOE would add $22 million to the $10 million it had already given Smith.

The company manufactures delivery trucks, with electric engines.

Kansas City – While many Tea Party activists went to protest the health care debate in Washington this week, activists in this area are shifting directions. They're moving away from protests and rallies in favor of election campaigns.

The Kansas City Tea Party provides a picture of what some Tea Party activism may look like as the campaign season unfolds.

At the center of the local effort is a 21 year old college student named Andrea Plunkett.

Learning The Basics From Family

Kansas City , Mo. – Scientists and business people are sharing research among institutions and across disciplines. That was the message at this weeks Life Sciences Summit sponsored by the University of Missouri campuses.

Collaborating is already happening . Working together has produced some tremendous breakthroughs in animal and human health.

Kansas City, Mo. – Chick Elementary School opened in 1991 as the district's first African Centered Education school. Three years ago, the program expanded to include a 6th grade, and a 7th through 11th grade program on what's known as the ACE Collegium Campus.

Recently, the schools have been in the news because the district wants to combine the 786 students into one building, as part of is "right-sizing" plan, which parents and the school's administrators vehemently oppose.

Kansas City , Mo. – Voters in Gardner, Kansas will go to the polls tomorrow to decide weather to recall 2 of their 5 city council members.

Kansas City , Mo. – The latest feather in the cap for the so-called "animal health corridor" is the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD.

The center is a $12 million dollar investment by the Department of Homeland Security at K-State. It will compliment the work of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility. The so-called NBAF is the high-security lab Manhattan recently won in a competitive bidding process that will be researching foreign and domestic animal diseases and vaccines.

St. Joseph , Mo. – With this weeks national convention in Nashville and some major electoral successes, the The Tea Party has moved away from the political margin. Locally, Tea Party activists have also been organizing over the last several months. They're turning their attention to candidates and campaigns - and away from protests and rallies.

Prairie Village, Kan. – Police closed off a 600 foot area of the Corinth Square Shopping Center this morning at 83rd and Somerset in Prairie Village after reports of an an unidentified object. Officers who had seen the object said it was wired and could be explosive, but upon investigation by a bomb squad, found the object to be harmless.

About 11:45 AM, police evacuated the busy parking lot as well as The Hen House Grocery Store, Hattie's Coffee Shop, a tailor, nail salon, cleaners, optical shop, and shoe repair.

Overland Park, Kansas – This story aired as part of a series we've been doing on the local economy. Johnson County, Kansas has some of the fastest growing and affluent cities in the country. Thousands of layoffs at local corporations like Sprint/Nextel and smaller technology companies have created unemployment Johnson County isn't accustomed to.

Kansas City – Members of the Kansas Bioscience Authority told Governor Mark Parkinson, legislators, researchers and entrepreneurs last night they have been successful in recruiting investment from biotech and animal health companies for Kansas.

That's the mission of the KBA, which was established as a result of the $581 million dollar Economic Growth Act of 2004.

Kansas City – Springfield Representative Sara Lampe introduced highway-naming legislation today in an ongoing effort to counter the publicity a regional Nazi group has received for cleaning up the highway.

Representative Lampe introduced House Bill 1668 today in Jefferson City. The bill has 76 cosigners from both parties, and will name a stretch of Highway 160 after Jewish historian and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Overland Park, Kansas – As it continued to blizzard well into Wednesday night and Thursday morning, snow crews and public officials metro-wide were saying they thought they'd be working into the weekend. Temperatures are supposed to drop below zero while winds are expected to pick up.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – The deer bow hunt at Shawnee Mission Park continues, but animal rights activists say they're pulling back from any future protests. Sharpshooters harvested more than 300 deer in the first phase of the cull, and expect the bow hunt to reduce the herd by another 75 or 80. They expect the deer harvest to save the overpopulated herd from starving, and from further damaging the park's ecosystem. Animal rights activists say they may have lost this battle, but they're not giving up the war to protect the deer.

Olathe, Kansas – Now there are officially two centers under construction at the Kansas Bioscience Park in Olathe. The Kansas Bioscience Venture Accelerator officially broke ground this afternoon on a windy field adjacent to the K-State extension campus that will become The Olathe Innovation Center. Both are part of the Kansas Bioscience Park aimed at promoting the biosciences in the region.

The public-private Kansas Bioscience Authority plans for The Venture Accelerator to turn research into products and take those products to the market.

Olathe, Kansas – The Kansas Bioscience Park in Olathe got a jump on its second main part this afternoon with the groundbreaking of the "Venture Accelerator." It's to be an incubator for business ideas and strategies that will take research and turn it into profit.
The center is to be located next to an extension campus of K-State where officials plan to do cutting edge reserach on food safety, food security, and animal health.

Kansas City – Those on the inner circle may have known Dennis Moore was considering retirement, but for many who watch the politics of the complicated Kansas 3rd district, it was an abrupt announcement that caught them off guard. Republican National Congressional Committee spokesman Tom Erickson called Moore's decision "a welcome surprise." He said Republicans believe Democrats can't win the 3rd District without Dennis Moore, who has held the seat with the help of moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Kansas Johnson County for six terms.

Olathe, Kansas – The Congressman reiterated that the only reason he was retiring was to spend more time with his family - his wife, children and grandchildren.

Moore spoke quietly as he said again that he was tired, that this had been a particularly frustrating and grueling session of Congress.

Kansas City – If you feed your dog Science Diet, or protect him with the flea and tick control Advantix, you're using products made in the Animal Health Corridor.

The Corridor is an official area, recognized by an act of Congress, between Kansas City, Manhattan, and Columbia. Over 200 animal health and related companies are located in the region, and they're responsible for almost a third of the sales in the 19 billion dollar industry.

If you feed your dog Science Diet or protect him with the flea and tick control Advantix, you’re using products made in the Animal Health Corridor.

Kansas City , Mo. – Officials with the Kansas Bioscience Authority and K-State are breaking ground later this morning for an animal health and food safety center in Olathe. It's the first building of the so-called Olathe Innovation Center, funded with revenue generated by the one-eighth cent sales tax Johnson Countians approved last year. CEO Dan Richardson says the center will become be a destination spot for people interested in learning what's happening around animal health and food safety.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas –

The Johnson County Park Board said yesterday Phase One of the deer management program was over in Shawnee Mission Park. Sharpshooters and county police killed 313 deer in efforts to reduce overpopulation.

The Park Board said yesterday deer were shot at night under tight security. They didn't reduce the herd enough, however, and the park's ecosystem is in danger, according to wildlife biologists.

Laura Owen wears traditional Saudi abaya and jibab given to her as a gift.

Lenexa, Kansas – Laura Owen and her husband own a company called ICOP,Inc. in Lenexa, Kansas. What they sell is an innovative digital recorder for use in law enforcement vehicles.

Saudi Arabia is ICOP's first international market. The company has already sold the equipment to police and State Troopers throughout the U.S., including to the Prairie Village police.

Sound inside Police Car

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – Jason Miller, clean cut with glasses and dark-hair, can come across as a humorless evangelist for animal rights. But at last week's protest outside the Johnson County Park Board, the devout vegan and self-described animal liberationist made a joke about weather he had a day job:

Miller: "Yeah I do.. animal activism doesn't have a lot of money. Animals don't have a lot of clients so to speak."

Kansas City, MO – Johnson County Park officials say the meat and hides from the deer harvest at Shawnee Mission Park will be put to good use.

The Park Board released a statement yesterday saying meat from the deer killed during the harvest would be processed at USDA-approved facilities and donated to Harvesters Food Bank.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – County law enforcement officers will be trained by an outside agency in order to carry out the harvest as safely and humanely as possible, according to spokesman Randy Knight. The park will be closed at the time of the shooting, and officers will operate in small, remote sections of the park where officials have spread bait to attract the animals.

Kansas City, MO – Officials with the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department say there will be tight security as efforts to reduce the deer herd in Shawnee Mission Park get under way.

Lenexa, KS – Laura Owen is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Lenexa-based company ICOP Digital, which makes digital surveillance equipment. She's also the first woman to seal a major business deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.