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

Julie Denesha / KCUR

When the first blankets of tulips bloomed along Troost Avenue as part of the Tulips on Troost street beautification program, national, even international press paid attention.

But the program was never supposed to be just about flowers. It was also an effort to reimagine Troost, which for years has been thought of as an economic and racial dividing line.

Today, the program is all but defunct, lacking funds and human capital to keep it alive.

Driving north along Troost from 75th street, there aren't many signs of tulips. 

Police say there might be as many as 20 victims in the spree of highway shootings around the Kansas City area.

Captain Tye Grant says since the shootings have been widely publicized, a number of people have come forward who think they may have been involved in a similar incident.

Police are now looking into 20 possible shootings on area highways, but Grant emphasizes the number is extremely fluid.

“Because honestly that is changing so much by the time I give it to you and the time you report it, it’s going to change," says Grant.

Creative Commons

Kansas Citians go to the polls Tuesday and one of the things they will be deciding is whether to update an aging network of underground water pipes.

Backers of the water revenue bonds say it’s critical to maintaining the city’s infrastructure.

Kansas City’s underground pipes, along with some fire hydrants and other facilities, date back to the Civil War years, say water department officials.

And, they say, the system is breaking down. Officials report there were more than 1,000 water main breaks just last year.

Courtesy / 49-63 Neighborhood Coaltion

Right off the bat, you know one thing about everyone who’s part of the 49-63 neighborhood coalition  — a collective of residential associations in Kansas City, Mo. They all  live between 49th and 63rd Streets.

It’s their east–west borders that may be most interesting, however. Those lines are Paseo and Oak.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

As KCUR begins its in-depth look at how Troost Avenue divides Kansas City, we wanted to talk to people about their perceptions of the area east of the thoroughfare.  

We spent some time east of Troost this month, asking about the realities and misconceptions of life near one of Kansas City’s most prominent racial and economic dividing lines.

Here are some of the highlights of what we heard back:

guidestar.org

                                                                                          

 The nation’s largest education and advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has recognized Children’s Mercy Hospital for its progressive policies toward LGBT patients, employees, and families.

The Human Rights Campaign will honor Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Mo., with the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Award.

Foster children often overcome a great deal in life. Many have to take charge of their own wellbeing at a young age, and learn to navigate a complex system of care-providers from state to local agencies.

But the real obstacles can begin when they leave the system. In a number of states, children age of out foster care at 21 years old, but in Kansas it is 18. 

On today's Central Standard, we explore the foster care system in Kansas.

Guests: 

Laura Ziegler

A small group of residents crowded into the basement of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Swope Parkway Tuesday night to learn about the proposed MAX bus line along Prospect.

The 2005 Main Street MAX and 2011 Troost MAX have been popular with riders, and residents east of Troost seem equally enthusiastic about having the upgraded express line in their neighborhoods.

MAX buses don't make as many stops and have upgraded terminals; the lighting and shelter is better; and there are talking notifications about when the next bus is arriving.

Courtesy: Stowers Institute for Medical Research

James "Jim" Stowers, Jr., the founder of American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, died Monday of natural causes according to a joint release from both institutions. He was 90.

www.skisnowcreek.com

                                                                                    

Jason Myers crosses the finish line at the bottom of the race course at Snow Creek in Weston, Mo., so fast that you almost can’t tell he’s sitting on his ski.

eschipul / Flickr--CC

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday afternoon against The Cordish Companies, the Baltimore-based developer who owns and operates the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

It follows a suit filed less than two weeks ago by Glen Cusimano, who claims he was wrongfully terminated for failing to enforce what he alleges was a pattern of racial  discrimination

eschipul / Flickr--Creative Commons

The Cordish Companies, owner-operator of the popular Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, is again facing allegations of discrimination. Cordish vehemently denies as “complete fabrication” the latest charges, which are part of wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed late Friday.

How do we define ourselves, Kansas City? Are we a community made of rich and poor, black and white? Are we defined and divided by the languages we speak at home? Do neighborhoods, suburbs or rural communities signify who we are?

On today's Central Standard, we’ll explore the ways our communities have changed and are changing. Also, we'll talk about the lines that separate and unite us as the beginning of a longer conversation between KCUR and the greater Kansas City about borders and boundaries.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler

 

Alpine skiing is the most commonly practiced Winter Olympic sport. But, as Midwesterners our "alpine" options leave much to be desired. Still, if you want to feel the air through your hair as you barrel down a mountain on skis or a snowboard, we have some options. The mountain just won't be quite be the size of those found in Sochi.

Where to go:
Snow Creek Park, Weston, Mo. 

Cost:
Adult lift ticket: $43
Child lift ticket: $28
Equipment rentals: $10-$25

As populations continue to grow in urban areas, the demand for a more efficient traffic system has been brought to the forefront of modern transportation issues. There is simply not enough room to add more lanes to highways or to build new roads.

Innovative updates to existing infrastructures are a work in progress right here in our backyard. Today we discuss what is being done to allow for safer and faster transportation in our cities. 

Guest:

There is a growing trend of atheists who also recognize the importance and impact of the communal nature of faith based worship. As a result Sunday Assemblies have popped up throughout the United States. Now their popularity is spurring others to offer even different options, with even less of a focus on communal worship. Oasis is one such group that will begin meeting in April.

Photo Credit Creative Commons

The Salvation Army of Johnson County has expanded and improved its facilities for the homeless. Their existing shelter is 60-years-old and does not meet the needs of the county, which is the fastest growing county in Kansas.

The chapter's Major Mark Martsolf says the county wanted to provide a more dignified environment while the growing number of homeless families are trying to get back on their feet. He says the new Olathe facility will upgrade broken amenities and fixtures, as well as add square footage.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Thousands of miles from renewed violence in South Sudan, Sudanese residents of Kansas City are trying stay on top of the rapidly changing news from their homeland and learn what they can about family and friends.

Kansas City has one of the largest Sudanese communities in the country, mainly refugees from decades of brutal civil war. It was almost incomprehensible when fighting broke out over a political dispute among differing tribes in the new Southern Sudanese capital of Juba last month.

Reunited For The First Time

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Finally — a chunk of federal funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), has made it through Congress.  The $1.1 trillion appropriations bill that sailed through Congress this week makes it possible for construction to begin on the animal disease lab in Manhattan, Kansas.

It would be the first federal funding for the controversial project since 2011.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Kansas City native Alvin Sykes is a self-taught civil rights activist who has done instrumental work with the justice system, particularly with unsolved civil rights crimes, including the high-profile murder of Emmett Till, and the 1980 murder of Kansas City musician Steve Harvey.

This month he is giving a talk at the Kansas City Public library, where he was the 2013 scholar in residence. Sykes educated himself in law and civil rights using resources from the city's public library system.

Courtesy / The Kemper family

R. Crosby Kemper Jr., banker, philanthropist, and giant of Kansas City civic life, died last week at his friend's home in Indian Wells, Calif. He was 86.

Kemper was born in 1927 in Kansas City, the only son of R. Crosby Kemper Sr. and Enid Jackson Kemper.

Throughout his active life, many of his preoccupations reflected his family's legacy  — a long line of Kansas City aristocrats and leaders involved in banking, agriculture and politics. 

A banker's life

The Midwest Transplant Network

A Lee’s Summit, Mo., woman will be remembered in a special way at Wednesday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Lezlie McLendon’s family hopes the memorial will send a message to others  about the benefit of organ donation.

The family says it not only saves lives, but helps those grieving.

Lezlie McLendon was driving with her sister earlier this year when she suddenly passed out. Her sister got her out of the car and tried to administer CPR, but Lezlie’s cardiac arrest left her in a coma she never woke up from.

At 45, Lezlie had never been seriously ill.

Laura Ziegler

Some fissures have erupted among the Kansas Congressional delegation over how the House budget bill might affect the proposed National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF). 

The Department of Homeland Security project is currently under construction in Manhattan, Kan., but is behind schedule and underfunded.

Courtesy / Connecting for Good

While Google has cast a spotlight on Kansas City that has the country excited about high speed internet, like most cities around the country, access is not equally available.

Internet activists believe that the arrival of Google Fiber has highlighted the so-called digital divide. But Google says it wants to work with the communities and organizations involved in bridging the gap.

Digital training, a life necessity 

Laura Ziegler

One Million Cups, a weekly showcase and get-together for Kansas City's startup community, a has become the place to be and be seen. Every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation opens its doors, puts on coffee, and some weeks, welcomes as many as 400.

Last week, a few of the regular entrepreneurs, Brendan Reilly, Jonny Kot and George Brooks, join others hovering around the Kauffman Foundation’s long coffee bar before presentations begin. Engrossed in excited conversations, they trade twitter handles and the occasional business card.

Laura Ziegler

Black Friday was  ….well… Thanksgiving Thursday as many stores opened their doors for the holiday shop-a-ganza anywhere between 3 and 9 p.m.

I went out to Best Buy and Wal Mart at 10:30 p.m. expecting to find the fabled Black Friday frenzy. Instead, I found what looked to be a pretty typical Saturday or Sunday’s parking lot and customer traffic.

The craziness, I was told, happened earlier in the day.

Heart to Heart International

A group of doctors from Olathe-based relief agency Heart to Heart International is in the hardest hit areas of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines this week. 

Founder Dr. Gary Morsch, Kansas City family practice physician Dr. Rick Randolph, and nurse Susan Mangicaro began on the island of Ormoc, administering tetanus shots and antibiotics due to secondary infections. 

"There is so much debris, (like) rusted tin, that infection secondary to cuts and wound punctures can be septic and deadly within a few weeks," Mangicaro said.

International Relations Council

Linda Trout, long-time Executive Director of International Relations Council (IRC) in Kansas City, Mo. has been named Director of Strategic Engagement at the National World War I Museum.

In the new post for the museum, Trout will oversee planning and implementation of the centennial celebration of WWI, beginning next year.

What is Global Entrepreneurship Week?

It’s a mash-up of dozens of classes, speakers, workshops and competitions that extend through Saturday in Kansas City. Other cities across the U.S. and 139 different countries also are sponsoring a Global Entrepreneurship Week to celebrate innovators and startups.

Some of the highlights from the week in Kansas City:

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