Top Stories Of The Week | KCUR

Top Stories Of The Week

Jul 20, 2012

Kansas City revised its billboards ordinance. Fire chief Smokey Dyer announced his retirement. Those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.

Drought Brings Fires, Worries, Water Shortages

By mid-week, every county in Missouri and 82 in Kansas were officially drought disaster areas.

Forecasts called for triple-digit highs and no rainfall through Thursday of the coming week. Grass fires, water main breaks and forest fires became a concern.

Rick Case, assistant forest fire management officer for the Mark Twain National Forest said many fires are being started by mowing. He said the grass is so dry that if a mower hits a rock the spark can ignite it.

Megan Kawby with Water One, which serves 400,000 area customers in the Kansas side said water consumption has hit twice that of a a typical summer. On Friday, Water One asked customers to only water lawns before 6 AM and After 6PM. The cities of Lawrence and Topeka requested that residents reduce water use, and Olathe requested residents to observe an every-other-day watering schedule.

There were also complaints of hot, thirsty deer and raccoons foraging in the cities and several people were bitten by snakes made restless by the heat.

Young Edgerton Mothers Murdered

A tragic Edgerton murder case was solved quickly, but that didn't ease the heartache for family members now taking care of the children of sisters Britany Haarup and Ashley Key. Clifford Miller of Trimble, Missouri admitted he went to Haarup's home while high on meth and killed the two young women. Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd said the claim of drug impairment is not allowable as a defense in Missouri, and that he is considering seeking the death penalty for Miller.

Guatemalan Mother Loses Custody Battle

A Missouri judge terminated the parental rights of a Guatemalan woman whose son was adopted by a Carthage couple four years ago after she was caught in an immigration sweep.

Marsha Zug, family and immigration law specialist, said the ruling was disappointing but not surprising. Zug told K.C. Currents that undocumented immigrants “often have a lot of strikes against them, including being poor and of limited education, so they don't fit strereotypical concepts of “a good parent.”

The boy's mother, Encarnacion Bail Romero will appeal the decision.

Council Eases Some Kansas City Billboard Rules

The city council revised Kansas City's billboard ordinance so that companies don't have to give up sign locations condemned for eminent domain. Carol Winteroad of Citizens Against Billboard Blight said the plan became more acceptable after the council resolved to police billboard restrictions more aggressively and consider a 2 percent billboard tax to pay for enforcement. She said she hoped the tax would pass and provide significant funds for beautification and for removal of condemned billboards,

Under the revised ordinance, owners would still have to do away with equivalent square-footage of signs in other locations.

Fire Chief Smokey Dyer And 29 Supervisors To Retire

Kansas City, Missouri Fire Chief Smokey Dyer confirmed that he will retire, and announced the date: July 30th. He also announced that 29 chiefs and supervisors will take early retirement on the same date. Dyer commented that the department would lose a combined total of 1,000 years of experience, and that such a loss would definitely have an impact on its operations. The city council recently cut $7.5 million from next year's fire department budget.

All-Star Game Final Report Positive Except For St. Louis Rivalry

Kansas City got the official final report on the All-Star Game. It drew 150,000 out-of-towners, pumped up hotel revenues by $2 million in 2 days, and drew as many to the Negro Leagues Museum in 2 weeks as usually visit it in a month. The only disappointment: attendance at the Fan Fest didn't top that in St. Louis three years ago.