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, Missouri – President Obama came to Kansas City to thank workers and executives of Smith Electric Vehicles for helping stimulate the economy with the production of electric trucks.

Smith Electric has received $32 million in stimulus funds in the form of grants from the Department of Energy.

In this Jan. 26, 1993 photo, New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing, right, is blocked by Philadelphia 76ers' Manute Bol during an NBA game at New York's Madison Square Garden.AP Photo/Jim Sulley

Kansas City, Missouri – Former NBA center Manute Bol will be buried in his village in Southern Sudan, family members said last night.

Bol, who died Saturday at the University of Virgina Charlottesville Medical Center, told his cousin Simon Deng that when he died, he wanted to be buried next to his father in their village of Turlai. Simon Deng is now helping Bol's family in Olathe make funeral arrangements. He explained that in Sudan, it's customary for people to be buried with their relatives.

Manute Bol with fellow Dinka tribesmen in Southern Sudan. Photo Credit Tom Prichard

Kansas City, MO – Manute Bol, at 7'7" one of the tallest men to play for the NBA, died this morning in a Charlottesville, Va. Hospital. He had been ill with a variety of problems and was hospitalized a month ago upon his return from his most recent trip to his home country of Sudan. According to family members, his death was caused from irrepressible internal bleeding - a complication from a rare skin disease called Stevens Johnson Syndrome. The syndrome simulates burning of the skin, and Bol was transferred to a burn unit in Charlottesville the day after his arrival in Washington, D.C.

Kansas City, Missouri – In case you haven't heard, The World Cup Soccer Tournament started Friday.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – June 10th, noon, was the filing deadline for Kansans who wanted to run for office. Some 25 hopeful state legislators, U.S. representatives, even 2 U.S. Senate candidates got in just under the gun.

There are 7 candidates - 6 of them Republican - running for the 1st Congressional district in Western Kansas. 9 filed for the Senate seat vacated by Sam Brownback.

Brownback, who is running for Governor, filed just 10 days ago. His primary opponent, Joan Heffington, filed yesterday.

Kansas City – It's unclear how news of financial mismanagement at the Kansas GOP will affect the race for Secretary of State.

The Topeka Capitol Journal reported earlier this week that an FEC audit revealed the Kansas GOP inappropriately or illegally handled hundreds of thousands of dollars during 2007 and 2008.

Kris Kobach, now a candidate for Secretary of State, was the party chair during that time.

Kobach said he knew the issue is a distraction, but said he wasn't concerned it would hurt him politically.

Kansas City, Mo. – As Gay Pride Week wraps up in Kansas City, events at the Power and Light District and Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park will feature local and national music headliners.

At a sit-down dinner under a massive tent tonight along the Missouri River, the walls will be lined with quilts. They are from The Names Project Foundation's Aids Memorial Quilt. The Aids Memorial Quilt is the living memorial to the thousands of men and women who've died of HIV-AIDS. Friends and family sew personal messages on quilt panels about victims of the disease.

Manute Bol being welcomed by villagers in his home town of Turalei,Southern Sudan. Photo by Tom Prichard- Sudan Sunrise.

Kansas City, Mo. – Manute Bol was recognized on the basketball court for his legendary skill as a center. Off the court, he's become known for his work helping to restore peace and prosperity in his native Sudan, as well as for his remarkable 7'7" height.

Bol was on his way home to Olathe from Southern Sudan when he fell ill.

He underwent emergency dialysis for kidney failure. He got immediate medication for a rare skin disease known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. It came on as an allergic reaction to pain medication.

Sarah Palin speaking in Independence tonight at a conference sponsored by the group \"Preserving American Liberty.\" Photo by Laura Ziegler

Independence, Mo. – Former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin brought her rock-star status to Independence last night. She told some 3 thousand supporters at the Winning America Back convention that the Tea Party movement had had a permanent impact. Not surprisingly, she said Tea Party activists would sway elections in November.

Kansas City , Mo. – This is the extended interview with Michael G. Long, editor of FIRST CLASS CITIZENSHIP: The Civil Rights Letters Of Jackie Robinson.

Dr.Long was at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum last weekend as part of a program commemorating Jackie Robinson Day on April 17th.

Kansas City, Mo. –
As baseball remembered the contributions of Jackie Robinson last week, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum brought in Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, and Professor Michael Long, for a forum on Robinson's life.

Professor Long edited FIRST CLASS CITIZENSHIP; the Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson.

Here he speaks with KCUR's Laura Ziegler.

Special Thanks to The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for recording the interview.

Kansas City, Kan. – Several thousand people turned out yesterday for the area's largest Tea Party rally at Community America Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas. Organizers had projected a crowd of some 10 to 12 thousand, but visitors came from as far away as Iowa.

The crowd roared and waved flags when event planner Alex Poulter warned the media from a platform on the T-Bones field that the program would include prayers, a salute to the military, and a lot of talk about the constitution.

Kansas City , Mo. – Kansas City will join the rest of the country this Tax Day by observing the one year anniversary of the first major Tea Party protests. Rallies are planned at the Community America Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas, the J.C. Nichols Fountain on the Plaza, and Johnson County Community College, among other places.

Tea Party activists here are in step with their colleagues nationwide in another way - many are running for office. At the same time, the major Republican candidates are courting the Tea Party vote.

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.

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