Peggy Lowe

Investigations Editor, Harvest Public Media

Peggy Lowe is Harvest Public Media's investigations editor. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now, and Latino USA.

Before her return to the Midwest in 2011, she was a multimedia producer and writer at The Orange County Register in Southern California.

Until 2005, she was in Denver, where she was a reporter for the late, great Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, KBCO and the Associated Press. Lowe was the Mike Wallace Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the University of Michigan in 2008-2009. 

Ways To Connect

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

  Who murdered Paula Beverly Davis?

This week, KCUR looked at a case that began as a missing person in 1987, only to be discovered 22 years later as a homicide.

Davis’ two sisters, Stephanie Clack and Alice Beverly, found her as an identified person, Englewood Jane Doe, in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, in 2009.  We told that story on Tuesday. (The story is here.)

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

This is the second of a two-part series. For part one of this story, click here.

Some 28 years after the murder of her sister, Stephanie Clack has her cold case close at hand, in a large cardboard box she carries in her car.

“This is how serious I am,” she said, pulling out reports and photos and old newspaper clippings about the disappearance of her oldest sister.

Courtesy of Stephanie Clack

When Alan Meade made police detective in Englewood, Ohio, in 2003, he inherited the department’s only unidentified person case.

“Englewood Jane Doe,” named after the small suburb of Dayton, was a 20-something white woman, wearing only blue jeans and a bandanna, found by two passers-by on Aug. 10, 1987. She was strangled and dumped down a hill near an off-ramp to Interstate 70

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Kansas City, Mo., on July 18 had it all: an indie pop band onstage, long lines at the beer booths. It was like a Grateful Dead concert, only with free burritos.

But this and the three other Chipotle Cultivate events held across the country this summer were more than just a classic summertime music festival. Billed as offering "food, ideas and music," the festival offers a chance to "learn a free burrito," by going through four exhibits.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Check out this good scoop on Kansas State University’s failure to adhere to federal safety regulations while doing research on dangerous bioterror pathogens.

A federal judge formally tossed out Kansas’ gay marriage ban on Monday, forcing Gov. Sam Brownback to allow state agencies to offer benefits to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled the provision in the state’s constitution that prohibits issuing marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival had it all: an indie pop band on stage, long lines at the beer booths, folks hanging out on a hot summer day.

Sort of like a Grateful Dead concert, only with free burritos.

But the Chipotle Cultivate events, with four held across the country this summer, aims to do a little more than just than just the classic summertime music festival. Billed as offering “food, ideas and music,” the festival offers a chance to “learn a free burrito” after going through four exhibits.

Sheridan's Frozen Custard / via Twitter

Even as government officials brace for a recurrence of bird flu this fall, the massive spring outbreak is still affecting food producers.

Kansas City residents, flocking to local favorite Sheridan’s 12 frozen custard stands because of this week’s heat wave, are met with notices that the custard recipe has been changed because of an egg shortage.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that the federal government is preparing for a bird flu outbreak this fall that would be two times as bad as the one experienced by Midwestern states this spring.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Farm dog? Check.

Barn cats? Check.

Muddy work books lined up at the back door? Five checks.

We kick off our fourth season of “My Farm Roots” with the Renyer Family, five farm kids I had the pleasure of meeting last week.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at protecting "religious freedom"  for clergy that refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The order will protect the religious liberty of those who feel they may be forced to sanctify such unions after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, Brownback said.

"Today’s executive order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs," Brownback said in a statement.

The order comes a day after Brownback quietly allowed state agencies to comply with the high court's ruling, so couples can now do things like place state workers’ spouses on health care plans.

PROMO Missouri

Some Missouri counties are going slow – and two are outright refusing – to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Of the state’s 114 counties, 11 have yet to implement the changes brought on by last Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning bans on same-sex marriage.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Marriage equality advocates in Missouri and Kansas rejoiced Friday as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states are not allowed to place bans on unions by same-sex couples.

Ludovic Bertron/Flickr

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage pending, many people in Kansas and Missouri are confused about the state of the unions here.

In shorthand, whether same-sex couples can get married depends on where you live. Both states are a marriage mixed bag, with some counties offering licenses and others refusing to allow gay weddings.

To clear up some of the confusion as we await word from the high court, here’s our FAQs on TTK (tying the knot):

Q: Just what is the high court deciding?

Two issues: whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage; and whether states can refuse to recognize those marriages performed in other states. 

Put another way, to quote SCOTUSblog: “1.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”

Q: Where can same-sex couples get marriage licenses now?

Missouri —  three places: the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County.

Kansas — Johnson County and 60 other counties (out of a total of 105 counties), where clerks or judges decided to honor a federal appellate court decision.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Agriculture officials don’t know just how the massive outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest was spread, but believe the culprits include humans breaking biosecurity measures and the virus going airborne.

Matthew Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas City Police Department has quietly changed its training for responding to volatile situations, arming officers with something other than a gun: distance, discretion and diplomacy.

Even as the backlash from the high-profile police shooting in Ferguson continues to reverberate on the other side of Missouri, Kansas City has already instituted what’s called “tactical disengagement.”

USDA / Flickr--CC

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

What does the U.S. Supreme Court decision on extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples, expected in late June, mean for Missouri and Kansas?

For months, the hodgepodge of counties where gay couples may – or may not – get a marriage license in both states has been confusing. That’s thanks to numerous court decisions on both sides of the state line. Most of the rulings overturned laws that bar gay couples from marrying, so licenses have been allowed in some counties.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

I had lunch at the Golden Ox just a couple days before the old steakhouse closed in December.

The Golden Ox is set smack dab in the Kansas City Stockyards, now long closed, but which for 120 years churned out billions of pounds of beef.

As the name would suggest, the Golden Ox is not a place of, well, subtleties. There were large aerial black-and-white photos of the stockyards in the entry way, the brass sconces were shaped as cow skulls and the specially-made carpets have a wagon wheel design.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Doug Bonney keeps the envelope close by, tucked on top of the left side of his desk, about an inch thick and marked with his own handwriting: “Marriage Equality Case.”

Bonney, the legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, keeps it handy because he’s been busy filling it up. Over nearly five months, Bonney has represented two gay couples in their case against the state, who have succeeded, little by by little, in overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

A grand jury on Friday indicted a Kansas City Police officer on a felony assault charge for the shooting of a 37-year-old man last year.

Elle Boatman

Elle Boatman was scrolling through her Facebook news feed Tuesday afternoon during a break from her job at Wichita State.

There she learned that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had rescinded an earlier executive order by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that offered protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered state workers. Boatman is a transwoman and said she was floored by the news.

“I was really just devastated,” Boatman recalled on Wednesday.

Ranchers Rebel Over Beef Checkoff

Jan 20, 2015
Courtesy Jill Toyoshiba / The Kansas City Star

NEMAHA COUNTY, Kan. – From their small farms set in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas, two ranchers are raising a few cattle, and a lot of Cain.

David Pfrang and Jim Dobbins turned themselves into activists, launched a shadow corporation, got hauled into federal court and had to hire a lawyer.

All over $1.

That buck, though, divides the beef industry. And may influence what you decide to have for dinner.

Wikimedia Commons

Even the lunch ladies got political in 2014.

KCUR's Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest.

This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The Golden Ox, once the center of the Kansas City Stockyards in Missouri and one of the oldest restaurants in the area, is set to close Saturday night.

The steakhouse, a kitschy mix of cowtown and commerce, has been busy for the past couple weeks, in response to word getting out that it was closing.

The West Bottoms restaurant has struggled attracting folks to the area, especially since Kemper Arena stopped holding events, said Mike Holland, the Golden Ox general manager.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Gay marriage in Missouri is moving in fits and starts, allowed in just three areas and refused in others.

Attorney General Chris Koster has yet to appeal the federal court decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Koster has said he plans to appeal but has yet to do so. He has until Dec. 10.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Although gay and lesbian couples are getting married in at least 24 Kansas counties, Gov. Sam Brownback won’t allow any state recognition of the unions.

Brownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”

Equality Kansas

A limited ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court Tuesday opened the door for more gay marriages, yet left in place a patchwork of counties where some judges are approving licenses and some are not.

The court lifted a stay on issuing licenses to same-sex couples in Johnson County, the first county to do so in Kansas back in early October. Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty was "within his jurisdiction" to order clerks to accept applications from and issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the high court ruled.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Updated at 2:34 p.m.

At least six of Kansas' 105 counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, a day after  the U.S. Supreme Court let take effect an order overturning  a ban state officials had feverishly hoped to keep in place.

Flickr, Creative Commons

  Updated 2:51 p.m. Nov. 25

The whirlwind of gay marriage decisions in Missouri and Kansas has left same-sex couples, court watchers and even reporters a bit breathless.

In an effort to keep us all up-to-date with these quick-moving issues, KCUR has pieced together this timeline, which highlights significant legal developments in both Missouri and Kansas in the state and federal courts. The list is not exhaustive but represents our best attempt to make sense of the rush of events while offering a look back at some of our coverage.