Peggy Lowe | KCUR

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

Children Of Meatpackers Dream Big, Cultivate Opportunity

Oct 30, 2013
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Not yet 9 a.m. on a warm fall day, freshmen Binh Hua and My Nguyen are in protective goggles, long hair pulled back, ready for their chemistry class in a Garden City Community College lab.

The teacher calls the class to order, calling the students “Busters,” short for “Broncbusters,” the college’s mascot and a reminder of this old West town’s history of raising cattle.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Thome puts 125,000 miles a year on this car, picking up boxes from the food pantry, finding a mattress for a newcomer, delivering a sick soul to a doctor’s appointment. All the while, she fields emergency calls on her flip phone, responding to her mission to serve the poor of Garden City, out on the plains of southwest Kansas.

This day, Thome is teaching her teen parenting class at the alternative high school.

Jean Peters Baker, the Jackson County prosecutor, was named Monday to launch a second investigation into a controversial rape case in Maryville, Mo.

Baker, a Democrat and former state legislator from Kansas City, Mo., was chosen for the high-profile job after online outrage focused on the case of Daisy Coleman, a then-14-year-old Maryville girl who says she was raped by a 17-year-old boy in January 2012.

Nearly two years after allegations of a sexual assault rocked a small Missouri town, the case may be reopened.

A county prosecutor in Maryville, Mo., has requested that an independent attorney look at accusations of rape and other charges against two former high school athletes — despite his earlier decision to drop the case.

The Internet activist group Anonymous, which crusaded for another high-profile rape case, is taking credit for this turnaround.

The Events

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

A Missouri county prosecutor under fire for dropping charges in a controversial rape case is blaming the failure on the victims’ refusal to testify, contradicting an earlier statement.

Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice issued a press release Tuesday, defending his actions on insufficient evidence because “the state's witnesses refused to cooperate and invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege to not testify.”

Peggy Lowe/KCUR

Online outrage is focusing on a central Missouri town and its top law enforcement officers after news of the alleged rape of two teenage girls garnered national attention.

As first reported by KCUR, a 17-year-old football player, Matthew Barnett, was charged with raping Daisy Coleman, 14, after a drunken night at the Barnett home in January 2012. Another boy, Jordan Zech, then 17, was also charged in the case, accused of videotaping Barnett and Coleman on his iPhone.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Five years ago, Howard G. Buffett was at a meeting of an international food aid agency when he was told that feeding the millions of starving people in Africa was simple.

Just give them better seeds, someone said.

That advice might work on some philanthropists. But Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, happens to be an Illinois farmer.

“This guy was explaining to me how to farm and he’d never been on a farm in his life,” he said. “So it really kind of irritated me. I came home and said, ‘OK, I’m going to have data to show these guys.’”

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Tyson Foods, Inc., announced this week that it would soon suspend purchases of cattle that had been treated with a controversial drug, citing animal welfare concerns.

But many in the industry wonder if the real reason is not about cattle, but rather the battle for sales in other countries, where using drugs for meat production is banned.

“I really do think this is more a marketing ploy from Tyson to raise some awareness so they can garner some export business from our overseas export partners,” said Dan Norcini, an independent commodities broker.

Tyson Foods Inc. announced this week that it would soon suspend purchases of cattle that had been treated with a controversial drug, citing animal welfare concerns.

But many in the industry wonder if the real reason is the battle for sales in other countries, where certain drugs that make livestock grow faster are banned.

"I really do think this is more of a marketing ploy from Tyson to raise some awareness so they can garner some export business from our overseas export partners," says Dan Norcini, an independent commodities broker.

Looking At The Maryville Rape Case

Jul 15, 2013
Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Cases involving teen sexual assault have been on the national radar lately, and one town in the Kansas City area is under that microscope. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Read our full investigative report on this story here.

January 8, 2012

1 a.m. — Daisy Coleman, 14, and a 13-year-old girlfriend sneak out of the Coleman’s home after texting with Matthew Barnett, 17. They go through a basement window at the Barnett home and begin drinking out of what is referred to as the “bitch cup.” Including Barnett, present were Nick Groumoutis, Cole Forney, Jordan Zech and a minor boy.

Why Was The Maryville Rape Case Dropped?

Jul 11, 2013
Peggy Lowe / KCUR

  

The first thing Daisy Coleman remembers is her surprise that she was still alive.

“I was just like, I thought I was dead at first,” she said.

An incoherent Coleman, then 14, crawled to the front door of her family’s home in Maryville, Mo. It was a Sunday morning, Jan. 8, 2012, 5 a.m. Her younger brother, Tristin, and mother, Melinda, heard a thumping and at first thought it was their dogs trying to come in.

goatling / Flickr--Creative Commons

The open pit trading of winter wheat at the Kansas City Board of Trade has quieted down during its 157 year history, not quite silenced from its loud, rowdy past, when one journalist wrote that traders were “yelling as if a panther were at them.”

But on Friday (June 28) it will go silent, with the final ring of the trading day at 1:15 p.m. Central time, ending an era when this city put its name on a crop that became the crucial piece of our daily bread.

Popular food writer Mark Bittman took the pulpit at the Unity Temple in Kansas City Thursday night, preaching his gospel of progressive food policy and offering denunciations of what he calls “Big Food.”

The motorized growl from an idling John Deere tractor drowned out the sounds of nature on a recent morning on Chris Webber’s central Missouri family farm.

As he checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant that day, Webber worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

“The drought is over at the moment,” he said, “but in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That’s how fast it can get back to dry.”

As Chris Webber checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant on a recent morning, he worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

"The drought is over at the moment," he says. "But in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That's how fast it can get back to dry."

There were questions Wednesday about whether U.S. regulators will approve the takeover of Smithfield Foods Inc., the company that sells all-American hams, hot dogs and bacon, by China's Shuanghui International.

The local food movement has a powerful new poster girl.

More glowing than American Gothic, Oprah Winfrey and her pal, Bob Greene, appear on the cover of the June issue of The Oprah Magazine, standing in what looks to be a field of kale.

"Oprah's New Farm!" reads the headline splashed across the pair's checkered shirts. "How She's Growing Healthier — and You Can Too."

The devastating drought in the Midwest last summer is a story often told by the numbers, with statistics on large crop failures, days without rain and thousands of parched acres.

This story is also about a tree — a bur oak in rural Columbia, Mo., that everyone calls "The Big Tree." Although it's survived all kinds of punishments during its 350 years on the prairie, last year's record drought was especially tough.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

The Kansas City Fire Department on Thursday made a major change in the way it responds to gas leaks, after it was highly questioned for its response to the JJ’s restaurant explosion. 

In what he said will be his final statement on the event, Fire Chief Paul Berardi announced that the department will stay on the scene of any gas leak until the situation posing a risk is resolved.  The department will also begin sending a battalion chief and a fire unit with monitoring equipment to all gas leak calls.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

JJ’s restaurant was leveled by an unintentional explosion that probably was ignited by pilot lights in the kitchen, thanks to the nick in the natural gas line outside the building, according to a report released by the Kansas City Fire Department on Wednesday.

 

Elana Gordon / KCUR

As several investigations continue into the explosion of JJ’s Restaurant, the role Missouri Gas Energy played in its response to the emergency is being questioned by experts and a witness who say the utility didn’t follow industry standards or its own advice.

Although its own safety instructions for gas leaks to its customers call for evacuating the premises immediately, MGE didn’t do that at the Feb. 19 incident. In fact, the MGE workers on the scene didn’t suggest that people leave the popular wine bar until 51 minutes after the initial 911 call.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When a group of small farmers in the southeastern U.S. banded together to sue a powerful dairy cooperative a few years ago, many hoped that the case would bring big changes to the milk industry.

But the recent settlement of the case involving Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America Inc., resulted in little long-term reform, even as the farmers received some monetary damages.

Local Butchers in KC

Feb 21, 2013
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media and KCUR

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Professions once so famous that they made it into nursery rhymes, but how does modern commerce accommodate traditional business? Butchers and meat shops are still present in town, but how has the independent butcher shop changed with meat preparation moved into grocery stores and other superstores?


Elana Gordon / KCUR

The best eye-witnesses to the explosion at JJ’s yesterday were also the people who were in the most danger – the restaurant’s workers. Bartenders, busboys, a hostess and others were the last ones out of that burning building.

Farmers who had hoped to get some answers on why prices for their raw milk went into free fall a decade ago were disappointed Tuesday by the settlement of a case accusing Dairy Farmers of America Inc. of creating a milk monopoly in the Southeast.

Dairy farmers and industry observers had hoped for their day in court after years of delays in the large class-action suit. But the day before the trial was to start in federal court in Tennessee, DFA announced a $158.6 million deal, saying it didn't want to risk going to trial.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Dairy Farmers of America settled an anti-trust lawsuit Tuesday for $158.6 million, ending a long-running case that accused the country’s largest dairy cooperative of creating a monopoly in the Southeast, driving prices down for its own farmers and forcing many out of business.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s call in his State of the State speech for phasing out the state income tax had a high-profile advocate in the audience.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-tax group, met with Brownback and House and Senate leadership before the speech in Topeka Tuesday night.

Kansas could be a leader in the zero income tax policy fight, Norquist said, thanks to the governor, as well as the House and Senate, committed to “reforming some of the mistakes of the last several decades.”

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

When Allen Berry brought his 11 yearlings to the Green City Livestock Market in central Missouri last month, he paid into a fund that at first blush, seems a bargain.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Agricultural colleges in the top five beef-producing states have become quasi-arms of the cattle industry, selling science to corporate bidders who set the research agenda with their dollars.

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