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

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 money.......my 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.

Fairway, Kansas – Don Sifers can recall everything about the first time he encountered a latrine. He says it was on a hot summer day at camp: "Camp Cobble outside Benedict, Kansas. In June. It was 95 degrees. It was the worst smell I ever smelled. It was awful."

Standing in his garage, in a button-down, pin-stripe shirt and tie, Sifers goes over a small-scale model of what he's calling The Mountain Air Processor.

Kansas City – Kansas Citians joined hundreds around the country on Saturday at rallies on the health care debate.
Laura Ziegler has more.
The rallies were organized by conservative groups associated with anti-government Tea Party protesters. The Tea Parties became well known on Tax Day this year, when large crowds expressed anger over the government meltdown and bailouts.

The so called "Recess Rallies" on Saturday had a central website where protesters were encouraged to report from different cities on turnout.

Kansas City, MO – Elected officials heard indirectly from the grass roots over the weekend, as opponents and supporters of health care reform took to the streets.

Several hundred people lined both sides of 87th Street in front of Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore's office.

Roughly equal numbers of supporters and opponents on either side of the street peacefully waved signs and posters.

Chris Norton, who favors the Obama plan, said he was disappointed Congressman Moore didn't come out sooner in support of it.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – It wasn't on the agenda. But opponents of a plan to reduce the deer herd in Shawnee Mission Park showed up anyway at last night's Park Board meeting. More from Laura Ziegler.

Under threatening skies about 25 protestors from grandparents to teens gathered outside the Johnson County Parks Administration Building.

Kansas City , Mo. – Reports from the federal government last week underscore optimism about the farm economy. But for farm activists, there are lingering concerns.

The US Department of Agriculture and Federal Reserve reports suggest the farm economy is in relatively good shape. Among the reasons are stabilizing land and commodity values, greater demand for corn-based fuel because of higher prices for crude oil, and the potentially record crop harvests.

Kansas City , Mo. – More than a hundred people in the Kansas City area will be fasting today in protest to the genocide and repression in Darfur. They will also study the situation there, and write their elected officials.

Kansas City , Mo. – Scott Roeder will be back in a Wichita court today for a preliminary hearing. District Attorney Nola Foulson and attorneys for Roeder will present evidence in an attempt to persuade the judge to go forward with the trial. Roeder is suspected of shooting Dr. George Tiller, the controversial doctor who performed late-term abortions, in the lobby of his church on Sunday, May 31st.

Kansas City, MO – The man suspected of gunning down abortion Dr. George Tiller in his Wichita church in late May will have a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. Since his arrest, Scott Roeder has said from his jail cell in Witchita he's "being treated like a criminal," and that similar anti-abortion violence is in the works. The Department of Justice confirms it has increased security around abortion providers and clinics cross the country, but officials will not discuss the details.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Jewish Community Relations Bureau is working with the office of Springfield, Missouri representative Sara Lampe to send a message that Southwest, Missouri does not embrace white separatists.

Lenexa, Kansas – After testimony from dozens of angry Johnson County residents, the Park Board voted unanimously to approve a report that recommends sharpshooters and archers be used to cull the deer population in Shawnee Mission Park. Officials say there are roughly four hundred deer in park, eight times more than the park can sustain.

Many residents have testified that they think it would be immoral to carry out a controlled hunt to limit the deer population in Shawnee Mission Park. Others say it isn't necessary.

Shawnee Mission, Kansas – Driving the rolling roads of Shawnee Mission Park's two square miles isn't as serene as it used to be. On summer evenings at dusk, traffic and rowdy kids populate the roads as deer graze quietly nearby. A recent Park Board report says that killing some of the deer is the most effective and economical solution to the overpopulation problem. Johnson County's Park Board holds a public hearing on the matter.

Kansas City , Mo. – Kansas is among the majority of states that has a ban on abortions performed after 21 weeks. Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, says the ban isn't very well enforced, and the group's been paying extra attention to the issue since a jury recently acquitted Dr. George Tiller in a case challenging his use of second opinions.

But Culp says Sunday's killing is inconsistent with the way Kansans for Life operates.

Kansas City, Missouri – The conversation among pork producers these days is about how to survive the H1N1 crisis.

When the Centers for Disease Control released the first report of swine flu in late April, hog prices tumbled more than 17%.

Public health officials know the new strain began with swine, but beyond that, they know little about how it will behave.

Photo By Laura Ziegler

Overland Park, Kansas – Nearly 50 percent more workers in Johnson County are without jobs today than they were this time last year. The increase in unemployment is still well below the national average of 8.9%,and lower than that of neighboring Wyandotte County. But the job base in Johnson County historically has been high wage and highly skilled, and most are accustomed to job security.

Overland Park, Kansas – Pete Barrett's a casualty of the consolidating media market. A long - time marketing manager for a local television station, he was laid off 8 years ago. He looked around and saw the health care field was a potential growth industry, and went to work in marketing for a radiology office. Now, he's lost that job now, too.

Here's Pete Barrett's story for the latest in our occasional series, My 2 Cents.

Olathe, Kansas – The job of looking for a job... you don't think about how hard it is until you're actually doing it.

That's the experience of one man recently laid off from his sales job at a start-up company that after two years decided to close it's doors this past December.

Before that, Phillip Morgan had been drawing a salary, plus commission, in the low six figures with almost 20 years experience with one of the nation's largest telecom companies.

www.unity.org

Kansas City, MO – Prayer is in. Of course, for many people, it never went out. But with the anxiety and misery this economy is producing, there are reports of an increasing number of prayer websites and blogs. Pastors are devoting sermons to issues of economic distress. More than a hundred years ago, the co-founders of Unity Village in Lee's Summit, began a magazine promoting the power of prayer.

Kansas City , Mo. – We're in the habit of hearing mostly negative stories about the impact of the economy.Here's one with a more positive twist.

The proprietor of one hair salon on the Plaza has decided to offer FREE hair cuts and color, for as many unemployed women as she can for three days, through February 10th.

KCUR would like to hear from you. Are you changing the way you live because of the recession? Tell us how the economic climate has affected you, or your business. Join the discussion here.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan, Kan.

A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal for the facility's location. The Department of Homeland Security chose the Kansas proposal over four finalists from other states.

Manhattan, KS – The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, as it's known, is supposed to bring millions of dollars in economic development, hundreds of jobs and international prestige to Manhattan. A consortium of Kansas State University, the state of Kansas and a public-private "bioscience authority" wrote the proposal.

The Department of Homeland Security chose the Kansas proposal over four finalists from other states. Leading the effort were Senior Senator Pat Roberts, Governor Kathleen Sebelius and President of K-State, Jon Wefald.

The Foote Family

Lawson, Missouri – Autoworkers were relieved Friday when President Bush approved a 14.3 billion dollar loan to the Big 3 automakers.

Kansas City, Missouri – Thousands of autoworkers in the Kansas City area are watching the Washington debate over the proposed bailout closely, wondering what it will mean for their jobs. The Fairfax General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kansas, is already feeling the pinch. The company has added an additional two weeks to shut-down orders which would've kept the plant closed through mid January. Now workers won't be going back until February 9th.

Kansas City, MO – The commercial baking industry is watching closely as Interstate Bakeries Corporation creeps back out of bankruptcy. It was a shock when the Lenexa-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankcruptcy four years ago. The owners of Hostess and Wonder Bread, among other familiar lines, had long been the largest commercial bakery in the United States.

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