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. – 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 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.

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