Community

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Black Bob Elementary is one of Olathe’s flagship schools. It’s in the middle of the city, surrounded by neighborhoods, and just a few blocks away, there's a big shopping center with  a Starbucks and Walgreens.

But it didn’t always look that way. Dr. Alison Banikowski, deputy superintendent of Olathe Schools, remembers what the city looked like when she first arrived in 1982. 

“I served for the first year I was here with Blackbob Elementary, and it was really literally out in a field,”

CC--Wikimedia

Misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence were enough to invoke a federal ban on firearms, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Annie Sturby is the community safety assessment coordinator for the Kansas City-based Rose Brooks Center. She works with police, prosecutors and others in the community who interact with victims of domestic abuse.

Rarely do women ask for help obtaining a gun of their own, Sturby says.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The musicianKristie Stremel, singer-songwriter

The song: "Orlando (Keep Dancing)"

Courtesy photo - Creative Commons

A top official with Kansas City, Missouri, says the city is committed to moving forward with digital innovations.

That's despite this week's news that Kansas City lost it's bid for a $50 million grant to create a so-called "Smart City." Columbus, Ohio, won the prize.

Bob Bennett, the city's Chief Innovation Officer, says private partners have committed somewhere in the neighborhood of $36 million toward executing important parts of the city's proposal.

Courtesy Photo: Kansas City Zoo

Yes, it's going to be a warm weekend, but at 11 o'clock Saturday morning, you'll be treated to something special if you're at the Kansas City Zoo. Some of the zoo's penguins will be parading around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, greeting guests.

"The birds actually seem to like it," says Director of Zoological Operations, Sean Putney."When we go in to get them, they don't quite smile, but when we walk toward the door, they follow us immediately." 

U.S. Department of Transportation

Kansas City lost out to Columbus, Ohio, in a bid to become the first Smart City, but it’ll still get help from the U.S. Department of Transportation to turn its ideas into reality.

On Tuesday, as Columbus media reported their city won the $50 million challenge, the DOT said it would back all seven finalists as they build better-connected cities.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The biggest priority on Kansas City's $27.6 million proposal for tuning up the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has nothing to do with bricks and mortar.

It’s about assuming ownership of most of the properties in the six-block district and forging a common approach to marketing and managing the area, according to City Manager Troy Schulte.

RECIPE: Indonesian 'Gado Gado' Salad

Jun 17, 2016
Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

When chef Matt Chatfield got married, he gained a new cuisine. His wife is Indonesian, and he soon learned to appreciate this classic Indonesian take on a hearty salad. 

“It’s a little bit of a peasant salad,” Chatfield said. “It doesn’t have any ‘fancy’ ingredients in it.”

Indonesian gado gado typically includes boiled eggs, potatoes and a peanut dressing.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A few years ago, Blue Springs police officers were fielding daily calls about disturbances at two apartment complexes near Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road.

Now disturbances are down at the complexes, which are  under new management. Both have been renovated recently .

Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Muenz credits the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, a national initiative to clean up apartment complexes.

Participating landlords attend training and attach a “crime-free” addendum to their lease.

Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3

As late afternoon sun streamed through the towering church windows of the Village Presbytarian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, Wednesday, more than a hundred people gathered to remember the dead and pray for survivors.

"For those grieving, those clinging to life, and those welcomed into God's hands, let us gather to worship," said Rev. Tom Are, Jr., softly. "We've learned that when life is broken, it's important to be in God's presence as a source of healing."

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Horrified. Sad. Distraught.

That’s how Kansas Citians felt Sunday after a weekend shooting at an Orlando gay club left 50 people dead.

But they also weren’t surprised.

“I just feel like mass shooting in this country happens really often,” John Lim said.

The alleged gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had ties to ISIS, NPR reported. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after a nearly 3-hour standoff.

Another 53 people were injured.

Paul Mullenex, walking on the Country Club Plaza Sunday afternoon, took a grim view of what happened in Florida.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Courtesy photo - Creative Commons

If you're a Kansas City, Kansas resident, you may have noticed your trash got picked up late this week.

A spokesperson for Deffenbaugh Industries, Inc., which contracts for trash pick-up in the area, says the recent Memorial Day holiday and severe storms have caused delays in trash pick- up.

And Deffenbaugh spokesperson Lisa Disbrow says it may happen again.

"We are working to get back on track but there may still be some delays this week," she says.

Anton Novoselov / Flickr--CC

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon returned from a trade mission to Cuba Wednesday with high hopes the state’s farmers will find an export market there.

“This is a country that imports about 50 percent of its food right now,” said Nixon, who spoke to reporters on a conference line from Miami. “They have not yet moved toward modern, productive agriculture at anything near the same level as farmers and ranchers in Missouri.”

Nixon rattled off a long list of products he thinks could be sold in Cuba: soybeans, corn, rice, beef, dairy, poultry, hogs, cotton, wine and biodiesel.

Kevin Collison for KCUR

Lawyer Mike White remembers the community reaction in 1984 to the first tax-increment financing project in Kansas City.

“It was pretty much a yawner,” he said. “No one knew what TIF was.”

More than 30 years later, TIF may be almost as well-known an acronym as the IRS in Kansas City, and in some quarters, equally unpopular.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City nonprofit that helps connect homeless veterans with housing and jobs held a “stand down” Friday outside the World War I Museum and Memorial.

“We have an extraordinarily high homeless population,” says Art Fillmore, founder and co-chairman of Heart of America Stand Down. “A couple of years ago, it was up to around 1,700 homeless veterans.”

Fillmore says while city and county leaders have been proactive in addressing homelessness, that number is mostly going down as Vietnam veterans die.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Congressman Kevin Yoder says it remains to be seen if Kansans will back presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Though Yoder has endorsed Trump, he waited to do so until after Ted Cruz and other candidates had dropped out of the race.

“My position is I support the nominee,” says Yoder.

Yoder says while Trump wasn’t his first choice, he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton reflects Kansas values.

Claire Banderas / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Parks and Recreation plan to open their water parks, pools and spraygrounds, some with improvements, on Saturday. But first, the water has to be warm enough. 

Doug Schroeder, Director of Golf Services and Aquatics, says they can’t open the pools until water temperatures reach 70 degrees.

“We have concerns, especially with the weather for the next few days not being that warm and with the chances of rain, that the pool temperatures might not get up to the required 70 degrees,” says Schroeder.

With large hail, rain and even one confirmed tornado sweeping through the Kansas City area Thursday, local Twitter users took to their cell phones with the hashtag #kswx to capture photos of the swirling, gray skies.

We put together a few highlights — or lowlights depending on your tolerance for storms — of the weather.

Much of metro Kansas City is experiencing severe weather with multiple watches and warnings throughout the listening area.

“Some of these storms are capable of producing tornadoes," says Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. "All of them are capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and large hail, and we’ve had reports of up to baseball-size hail over Northeast Kansas.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Collaboration. Open data. Public private partnerships. Streetcars.

These are a handful of reasons local leaders today told Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx  why Kansas City deserves the $40 million the U.S. Department of Transportation will award to one city later this year.

The secretary picked on one of these points after an hour-long  pitch in which officials, community leaders and tech businesses praised the local plan. 

The streetcar, he told them, had Kansas City moving.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

United Methodist leaders are trying to avoid a church schism over gay rights.

“We have gay and lesbian people who are married,” says Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. “They have children. We welcome them. We’re not going to tell them they should get divorced and divide up the children. We’re going to say, ‘We’re glad you made a lifelong covenant.’”

But Hamilton acknowledges that his congregation, the largest of United Methodists in the United States, has many conservative members who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Barbara Haze

When Stan Lee appears at this weekend’s Planet Comicon, fans will pay hundreds of dollars each to enter an exclusive area to get an autograph from and have their picture taken with the Marvel Comics legend.

Meanwhile, Neal Haze will be roaming the crowded floor of Kansas City’s largest annual comic book and pop culture convention. It’s where he’ll be garnering curious double takes and spontaneous snapshot requests from those who recognize his unmistakable resemblance to the 93-year-old creator or co-creator of such iconic superheroes as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A plan to turn Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex received a warm reception Wednesday at a city council committee meeting held at the facility.

Large, framed photos from soccer games, livestock shows and concerts line the walls – a glimpse of what the old West Bottoms arena used to be.

But with its only tenant, the American Royal, seemingly poised to move to Kansas, Kemper has sat largely empty in recent years.

Kathleen Masterson / NPR

This story was updated at 5:22 p.m.   

Thanks to an unusual feature of class action law, the Midwest Innocence Project and Legal Aid of Western Missouri have received nearly $659,000 apiece in leftover proceeds from a consumer fraud case.

The money represents the single largest donation in the roughly 15-year history of Midwest Innocence Project (MIP), a Kansas City-based nonprofit that works to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners and whose total operating budget last year was $550,000.

Missouri Department of Transportation

The aging Grand Avenue bridge over Interstate 670 will have to be replaced, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The bridge has been closed since May 6, when small pieces of concrete started falling off of it, District Engineer Dan Niec says.

It cannot be repaired.

“The current design of that bridge was modern for that time, for that era, when it was built back in the ’60s,” Niec says. “Those types of bridges are no longer built.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Tuesday night, around 70 students from Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC) attended the school’s final graduation ceremony at Unity Temple. They entered the room to "Pomp and Circumstance," dressed in traditional black gowns.

As they took their seats, one seat remained empty in the front row.

“Towards the end of the year, we lost one of our special students,” principal Earl Williams said in the welcome address.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The American Royal World Series of Barbecue is moving to the Kansas Speedway.

The annual barbecue contest was held last year at the Truman Sports Complex after it outgrew the West Bottoms, its home for 36 years.

Carolyn Wells with the Kansas City Barbecue Society says having enough space to accommodate everyone is the most important consideration.

“Accommodate them, and accommodate them well. Barbecue teams need electricity, they need water, and they need real estate,” Wells says.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The historic district at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri , a half mile east of the flourishing Crossroads Arts District , is itself at a crossroads.    

Again. 

The city will soon hold hearings on a $28 million dollar package of renovations. Projects include improvements for the Negro Leagues and American Jazz Museums, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and beautification projects.

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