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.

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Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Right before James “Jimmy” Bowers died in 1995, his local dive, Jimmy's Jigger, was bought by a local restaurateur who converted it to a New Orleans-style food and drink joint called Jazz. The company preserved the booze-soaked wooden floor and bar and brought in live music seven nights a week.

Like "The Jigger," as it was called, Jazz remains a hangout for staff and students from KU Medical Center across State Line.

Jazz manager Marty Elton says the relationship with the hospital always has been — and continues to be — essential.

It may seem counterintuitive, but officials at the University of Kansas say they’re pleased they saw an increase in the number of discrimination complaints in 2014.

The office that handles allegations of discrimination received 169 complaints last year. In 2013, that number was 85.

Jane McQueeny, director of the KU Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, says most of the complaints are under the category of Title IX violations. That's the federal law regulating sexual harassment and violence on campuses.

About a third of the complaint were rape allegations.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

People who live near the University of Kansas Hospital — particularly those across the state line in the Kansas City, Mo., Volker neighborhood  — talk about the medical center as the "behemoth" in the neighborhood.

Linda Mawby isn't one of them. And she's arguably the person most affected — at least at this point — by the hospital's growth.

The 67-year-old former truck driver lives with her cats and a dog in a brown house at the top of a hill  just north of the hospital, right where plans are underway for the institution to build two new towers and additional parking.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Kansas Hospital and University of Kansas Medical Center run along State Line Road adjacent to Kansas City, Missouri's Volker neighborhood. A tight-knit few blocks, where students unwind in neighborhood bars and long-time homeowners chat while walking dogs.

The institution is growing, and like many "town and gown" situations, the expansion has created some challenges.

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Services for Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson have been scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 17. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The funeral will be at 1:00 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne Ave., Kansas City.

A giant of Kansas City's civil rights movement and an outspoken — often controversial — crusader against racism and discrimination has died.  

The Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson passed away early Sunday. He was 70 years old. 

Daniel Wildi / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Emergency room doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital say there are a few practical ways NOT to be one of the weather-related patients they’ve been seeing during this cold snap.

But doctors advise those who go outside to remember:

espie (on and off) / Flickr--CC

The United Way of Greater Kansas City is making a list of so-called "warming centers" available to those looking for respite from this week’s bitterly cold weather.

Courtesy photo / KCUR

Finn Bullers guides his $30,000 electric wheelchair by using the bright beam of a light lodged in its frame.

The 51-year-old has been battling Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy, since he was growing up in Iowa.

As a young boy, Bullers would stuff his clothes with pillows to defy his already atrophying body and spend hours on a frozen farm pond trying to skate like the other kids.

The University Of Kansas placed the Kappa Sigma fraternity on probation for two years on Wednesday because of violations of the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

The sanctions are the result of an investigation of alleged sexual assault at the fraternity the weekend of Sept. 26.

According to a statement from the University, the sanctions against the Kappa Sigma fraternity include:

Laura Ziegler / K

Kansas City, like many cities across the world, saw a public outcry to what many felt was an injustice in the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

As anticipated, the decision set off immediate violence in the St. Louis suburb. The ruling reverberated with demonstrations and protests from New York to San Diego, and as far away as Sydney, Australia.

Here in Kansas City, the response was quick and vocal, but mostly peaceful.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Martha Tolbert has lived directly across from the Linwood Presbyterian Church and adjacent Harold Thomas Center for more than 50 years.

The massive complex at Linwood Boulevard and U.S. Highway 71 has been an architectural icon in the Ivanhoe neighborhood since its construction around the turn of the century.  

But for decades, the buildings have been vacant, the majestic bell tower crumbling and the brick walls  increasingly dilapidated.

Julia Davis / KCUR

From the Country Club Plaza to the federal courthouse to a church at 46th and Benton Boulevard, activists in Kansas City, Mo., protested passionately, but generally with civility Tuesday in the wake of the controversial decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Four people were arrested for blocking traffic and one for assaulting a Kansas City police officer's horse, according to Kansas City Police Department spokesman Darin Snapp.  Otherwise, peaceful marches took place around Westport and the Plaza.  

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The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, calls Kansas City, Mo., “a beacon of hope” for the LGBT community.

Kansas City, Kan., however, represents a city “at the opposite end of the spectrum” in terms of LGBT rights, according to a new report.

“The simple reality is LGBT people in Kansas City are living in two completely different worlds divided by a line,” the Washington-based group says in a statement.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

As the future of our country, millennials have not distinguished themselves as a group vitally enthusiastic about participating in the electoral process.

Last week's mid-term elections proved to be no exception with young people turning out in significantly lower numbers than older voters.

Seventeen-year-old Ricardo Gonzales, a senior at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kan., blames part of the apathy on grown-ups who talk down to teenagers.

He said he's been told not to take elections seriously until he's of voting age.  He believes that's a mistake.

About 35 percent of Missouri voters took part in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to Secretary of State Jason Kander. That’s about 1.5 million of the state's 4 million registered voters.

Knox and Schuyler counties in northeast Missouri and Worth County in northwest Missouri had the largest turnout.

Missouri sent its two only Democratic house members, Lacy Clay in St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver in Kansas City, back to Washington.

Voters also approved two of four ballot amendments last night:

It’s still early to have much except anecdotal turnout numbers, but we are hearing back from people about their voting experiences.

Pretty uniformly, early voters are saying they've experienced a robust voting electorate. Some said they waited up to 30 minutes in line.

Jeffrey Benes told us when he voted in Westwood, Kan., at 7:10 a.m., he waited 20 minutes.

"It was good to see so many people turning out to vote," Benes said, "but I don't believe it is emblematic of the whole."

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Turnout for midterm elections typically lags behind turnout in a presidential election year, and this year appears to be no exception.

On the Kansas side, Secretary of State Kris Kobach estimates somewhere around 50 percent of the Kansas registered electorate will vote. That's slightly more than the average low to mid 40 percent who typically turnout for mid-terms.

BigStock image

Update: Nov. 4, 2014   2:30PM

On Election Day, respondents to a new Tell KC query told us their polling places were not well-equipped to help them vote.

Mary-Corinne Corely has cerebral-palsy-like symptoms in her legs due to an illness when she was an infant. Some days, she says, the symptoms make it impossible for her to do steps at all.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.,  Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo., Kansas State University, and Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., are all on a list of over 70 colleges and universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for violations of sex discrimination.

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As we explore the state line in our ongoing project looking at borders that unite and divide the metro, we’ve heard a number of times about the question of law enforcement.

How does the state line affect it?

Well, it depends.

In all cases, law enforcement departments say they collaborate closely across jurisdictions. When a crime occurs on or near the state line, dispatch officers from the city where the crime occurred immediately get in touch with dispatch across state line.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Lynda Callon, longtime director of the Community Action Center in Kansas City's Westside died Sunday after a very short illness.

Callon was a fierce advocate for Latino day workers and others in the community. She pushed to create a haven where day workers could get food and clothing as they gathered under the I-35 bridge waiting for work.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Avila University students said a meeting with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill Wednesday afternoon taught them important things about the definition of sexual assault, what their school was doing to combat it and how to involve law enforcement in the event of an attack.

With the national spotlight on the issue of sexual violence on campuses, McCaskill has been touring Missouri schools to discuss pending legislation she has co-sponsored on the issue.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Missouri Board of Curators unanimously ratified changes in rules governing sexual assault and discrimination Thursday.

The changes come from an executive order put forward last week by University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe aimed at toughening university responses to Title IX violations.

Wolfe told the curators he pledged at the beginning of the year to invest in making Missouri campuses safe and secure for students, faculty and staff.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

As KCUR looks at how the Kansas-Missouri border divides the Kansas City metropolitan area, we wanted to talk to locals about their daily experiences with State Line Road.

We spent some time on both sides this month, asking people: What are you doing on this side of the state line?

From shopping to jobs to restaurants, here’s what we heard back:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Our research into State Line Road as part of our ongoing exploration for Beyond Our Borders turned up some interesting things about the dividing line between the two very different states in our metro.

We are pretty evenly divided as a population by the state line, and our political differences pre-date the Civil War.  

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The iconic shafts of wheat and corn that have arched over the east entrance of the building that formerly held the Kansas City Board of Trade were pried off the wall Tuesday after a nearly 50-year running.

Workers with Belger Cartage Service of Kansas City – the same company that installed the art work in 1966 — spent the day wrenching loose bolts and heaving the 4,000-pound bronze sculptures onto flatbed trucks in the middle of Main Street on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Charlie Podrebarac

Local cartoonist Charlie Podrebarac is familiar with the tensions that sometimes arise over the Kansas-Missouri state line.

He lives on the Kansas side, but has often highlighted the border conflict in his Cowtown Cartoons. He’s been penning Cowtown since 1984 for the Kansas City Star.

In his series, “soldiers” take the battlefield on State Line Road armed with leaf blowers and rakes in an ironic statement about the “border war” between Missouri and Kansas. It’s part of a series of cartoons about metropolitan Kansas City that use a leaf motif.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

I’m someone who simply will just say "I’m from Kansas City.” But, sometimes people will ask "Kansas City, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri?"

Then I go into the convoluted explanation how I live in the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., but in Kansas, not far from the state line. It gets kind of boring.

But State Line is anything but boring.

I recently found Blue Springs, Mo., resident D.J. Lee at Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que (formally known as Oklahoma Joe's) in Kansas City, Kan.

"To cross the street and be in a different state ... pretty awesome!" says Lee.

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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."

Laura Ziegler

Three members of the Kansas Congressional delegation were in Manhattan, Kan., Friday to see the first stage of construction on the $1.2 billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, or the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Joining Senators Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts and Congressman Tim Huelskamp was Dr. Reginald Brothers. Brothers will oversee the facility as an undersecretary with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Talking to reporters after the tour, Brothers said he was happy with what he saw.

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