Audio Feature

Earl Bullington is an advisor for Focus Bank, which rescued the struggling Pemiscot County Hospital in 2013.
Bram Sable-Smith / for Harvest Public Media

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

Mike Tsai / Kansas City Actors Theatre

It was a year ago when the Kansas City Actors Theatre decided to produce Sam Shepard's play “A Lie of the Mind” this season. When Shepard died in July, company members were shocked at first, but then their feelings evolved.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Despite the ongoing fight over how much Kansas should spend on schools, the Legislature did at least one thing this year that almost all educators were pleased with: For the first time, it included all-day kindergarten in the school funding formula.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the Midwest this week on a hastily-planned “Rethink Schools” tour that’s left Kansas and Missouri school leaders scrambling.

To say the call Kansas City Academy received the Friday before Labor Day was unexpected would be an understatement.

Someone from DeVos’ staff wanted to know if the education secretary could visit the tiny private school in Kansas City, Missouri, in two weeks’ time. Head of School Kory Gallagher says he was given until 5 p.m. to decide.

It was already 3:55.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Stinson Dean, an entrepreneur from Independence, Missouri, is used to risks. He buys Canadian softwood framing lumber to sell to lumberyards in the US and says coping with the ups and downs of the market is an inevitable part of doing business.

But when he started the company about a year and a half ago, he laid down a firm rule.

“One of the things I wasn’t willing to risk was the health of my family,” Dean says.

Hy-Vee has opened 115 Market Grille restaurants in its grocery stores, including this one in Columbia, Mo., in an effort to provide a more full-service food experience for its customers.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Imagine going to the grocery store for dinner, not to pick up a rotisserie chicken to take home, but to actually eat at the store. As online grocery shopping grows, many supermarkets are adding sit-down restaurants – and the trend is changing how food retail and food service work together.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Armed militia groups are getting more and more involved in political protests. That can aggravate, even scare protesters, but the militia members themselves say they are misunderstood.

courtesy: Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The musical Between the Lines has been in development for the past three years. This weekend marks its debut at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

The show is based on the bestselling book, co-written by Jodi Picoult and her (then teenage) daughter, Samantha van Leer. In the novel, a teenager, Delilah, gets a crush on a fairytale character, Prince Oliver — and the lines blur between fantasy and reality. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

If you pull a fire alarm in any large U.S. city, it's likely that paid firefighters waiting at a nearby station will quickly respond.

But seven out of 10 American firefighters are actually volunteers. They cover vast sections of the country, making up an aging network that is increasingly understaffed and overworked.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Emily Dumler, a 36-year-old mother of three, is petite, energetic and appears to be the very picture of health. To look at her, you’d never know that four years ago she was at death’s door.

Local Boy Scouts carry flags down Illinois Street in a parage marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of Sidney, Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Sidney, Nebraska, has prospered while many rural cities have struggled. For decades, the city has been home to Cabela’s, a major outdoor retail chain.

As Cabela’s completes a deal in which it will be bought by a rival, however, the future of Sidney’s economic engine is in doubt. As in other rural cities that have faced the loss or closure of major industry, the question is how the community will move on and grow in the 21st Century.

Courtesy Kartez Marcel

Four kids are writing intently, their heads buried in paper. If it weren't a Saturday night and a hip-hop instrumental wasn't drowning out all other sounds, you might think school is in session at the Gregg/Klice Community Center.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Nestled between Kansas City’s downtown business district and the River Market are a bunch of buildings that once literally hummed with the sound of fashion.

From the 1940s through the early 1980s, Kansas City had one of the largest garment industries in the nation. It spanned the area roughly from Wyandotte to Washington and Sixth to Ninth Streets. The local manufacturers there created some of the country’s best-known brands: The Donnelly Garment Company, commonly known as Nelly Don, and YouthCraft, maker of coats and dresses. At its peak the industry was estimated to support over 75 companies.

Courtesy the Clark family

Pretty Pennington was killed by a girl fight, a handgun and an AK-47.

She’d been to a friend's wedding that Saturday night, Nov. 12, 2016 — a fun party where she danced all night, picking up her phone only to post pictures to Snapchat. Her mother, Marvella Clark, was sitting at a table and noticed Pennington’s cell phone buzzed constantly.  

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Confederate monuments have been coming down around the country, including the one formerly on Ward Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri. But, with the current political turmoil, the scope of monuments coming in for new scrutiny is expanding fast.

The fight over Confederate statues got Bill Savage thinking about his own hometown.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

In May, local Drug Enforcement Administration agents, along with Kansas City police, raided a house in Kansas City, Kansas.

What they found surprised them: 16 pounds of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

"We had no idea that it was 100 percent fentanyl," says DEA special agent Troy Derby.

But they were certainly aware of the risks of even a minute amount of the powerful opioid.

Courtesty of Delray Beach Open

The top five men’s tennis players in the world are at least 30 or older. Twenty-four year old Jack Sock of Overland Park is part of the sport’s next generation hoping to change that.

When the U.S. Open Championships begin today, Sock has big ambitions. But in Kansas City where he digs in, Sock isn’t alone in his efforts.

Jack Sock routinely plays against the world’s best. Earlier this year, Sock faced Roger Federer, the eventual winner at Wimbledon this summer. In three matches against Federer, Sock has yet to beat him. But at the age of 35, Federer rarely loses.

In June, online retail giant Amazon announced its intent to buy Whole Foods Market for nearly $14 billion.
Marco Verch / Creative Commons

The online retail giant Amazon announced a deal in June that showed its latest ambition: to completely change how America gets its food.

The latest step toward that goal is a proposed merger with Whole Foods Market, worth nearly $14 billion. The deal recently passed a key hurdle after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided the sale  would not hamper competition or provide an unfair advantage.

Courtesy Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Land-locked Kansas City might not have obvious connections with the Caribbean Sea. But in creating her new wall-sized installation at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, an artist based in New York – by way of Haiti and the Dominican Republic – found connections that run deep.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This summer, Kansas City Public Schools made a significant investment in one of two district-operated Montessori schools in an attempt to address long-standing inequities between the programs.

“Right here in KCPS we have a jewel, but Border Star is the Montessori program everyone knows about,” KaLinda Bass-Barlow, principal at Holliday Montessori, says.

Holliday was built specifically for Montessori education, opening as a magnet school in 1992, back when district officials thought state-of-the-art facilities might convince white families to stay.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the cooler section of any Whole Foods store or maybe the cup holder of your crunchy neighbor’s VW bus, you can find Kombucha, the yeast-fermented tea sold with some pretty over-the-top marketing claims.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3 FM

Getting the pipe organ Opus 22 installed and settled in its new Prairie Village home at Village Presbyterian Church was no small task.

It's a massive instrument. Standing 24 feet tall, it takes up the whole back wall of the church. It weighs 17 tons, and has 3,600 pipes inside. Some of the pipes are as tall as 16 feet, while others are just a few inches. And each pipe has been carefully voiced so it sounds just right, a process that took 40,000 hours of labor.

During the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, spectators will turn their eyes upward to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

But many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras to the plants and animals here on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution

Joe Jones doesn’t sound like the name of a great artist – it sounds like the name of a house painter, which is what Jones was during his early days in St. Louis. But an exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in St. Joseph argues that Jones' name deserves to be as well known as his regionalist contemporaries: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and "American Gothic" painter Grant Wood.

Danielle Hogerty / KCUR 89.3

The lunch crowd boarded the streetcar at Union Station on a busy Wednesday afternoon. Every seat was taken and people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder. The doors shut, but instead of taking off, the train idled. Four mysterious riders in dress coats and fedoras approached the car. The doors opened again, and, with one uniform step, they boarded the train.

These mysterious travelers were actually dancers. They remained fairly still for the first minute, but as soon as someone signaled for a stop, the dancers broke out in random movements.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is on the verge of breaking the team’s home run record. Former slugger Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni’s record of 36 home runs in one season has stood since 1985.

But if you consider the Kansas City A’s era, the record is further away — but still within reach. Some die-hard Kansas City fans don’t want that record to fall.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Michelle Tyrene Johnson scrolls back to a Facebook post she made in July with news about the national NAACP supporting a travel advisory in a single state for the first time.

“My comment with this is: ‘I have always had the policy that I don't travel in Missouri at night unless I'm on I-70 because parts of the state are just that openly racist,’” she says

FILE: STEPHANIE PAIGE OGBURN FOR HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

It has been a rough few months for the world’s largest meat company.

Known for its rapid expansion across the globe, Brazil-based meatpacking giant JBS has been embroiled in scandal for much of 2017. The company is so large it is difficult to avoid for those who eat meat. As of 2014, JBS’s U.S. subsidiary held a 22 percent market-share in U.S. beef processing and an 18 percent market-share in poultry processing.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

After four years of planning for concealed carry in Kansas government buildings, you might expect that officials would have the wrinkles ironed out -- that they would have considered all the possibilities. 

But there is still confusion, and it starts at Cedar Crest, the stately governor’s mansion on the west side of Topeka.

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