Community

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Johnson County's "JO" bus line is now managed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, effective Feb. 1. The consolidation effort has been in the works for more than a year.

Jameson Auten of the KCATA says that the merger isn't a total takeover, but just a managerial shift. 

"Johnson County remains in control of policy decisions, but the KCATA is able to provide recommendations on how to better coordinate services," Auten says. "This arrangement does provide cost savings to Johnson County."

Brrrr! It's cold out there. Temperatures across the area in the single digits. A few schools, mostly in rural areas, have canceled classes today. 

Cancelations:

Patrick Quick / KCUR

Kansas City’s downtown is like an adolescent going through an awkward phase.

It’s part of growing up, and we’re excited about where things are headed, but the process is at turns uncomfortable and confusing.

File the parking situation  under “uncomfortable.” That was the basis for Thursday’s conversation on Central Standard.

As the legislative sessions in both Kansas and Missouri get under way, lawmakers face a number of challenging and controversial issues.

In Kansas, education funding and state finances are at the center of debate. In Missouri, school transfers and ethics are at the top of a long agenda.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Right before James “Jimmy” Bowers died in 1995, his local dive, Jimmy's Jigger, was bought by a local restaurateur who converted it to a New Orleans-style food and drink joint called Jazz. The company preserved the booze-soaked wooden floor and bar and brought in live music seven nights a week.

Like "The Jigger," as it was called, Jazz remains a hangout for staff and students from KU Medical Center across State Line.

Jazz manager Marty Elton says the relationship with the hospital always has been — and continues to be — essential.

Courtesy / Zack Albetta

“Leaving Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of why people decided to live somewhere else. It follows our series “Going to Kansas City.”

Zack Albetta is originally from Santa Fe, N.M., but he came to Kansas City to get his master’s  at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. He worked closely with Bobby Watson exploring Kansas City’s deep jazz history, and he really loved Kansas City's music scene. 

Think of it as a census for people who don't have addresses.

Starting Wednesday and continuing into Thursday, volunteers with programs who aid Kansas City's homeless population will tally how many of the city's residents lack a permanent place to say. 

Teresa McClain is associate executive director of Community LINC, one of the organizations participating in the survey. Community LINC provides transitional housing, so McClain's staff knows how many people are using the organization's services and where to find homeless people.

But elsewhere it's more complicated.

The Women's Foundation & The University of Missouri / Community Commons

The Women's Foundation of Greater Kansas City has released the full results of its collaboration with the University of Missouri examining gender equality in Missouri. 

The study identifies five main areas of inequity: income, child care, health insurance, poverty and representation. Each area can be further broken down by county and even local tract maps to give a better idea of what issues affect specific areas.

It may seem counterintuitive, but officials at the University of Kansas say they’re pleased they saw an increase in the number of discrimination complaints in 2014.

The office that handles allegations of discrimination received 169 complaints last year. In 2013, that number was 85.

Jane McQueeny, director of the KU Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, says most of the complaints are under the category of Title IX violations. That's the federal law regulating sexual harassment and violence on campuses.

About a third of the complaint were rape allegations.

MoDOT Photos / Flickr-CC

Kansas and Missouri's transportation departments demolished another section of the Fairfax Bridge Saturday. 

The section was the second to be taken down with explosives this year. Both KDOT and MoDOT say the bridge, which crosses the state line, can no longer bear the weight of cars and trucks passing over it daily.

Several dozen people parked off of the 7th Street Trafficway in Kansas City, Kan., to get a view of the explosion. David Dumler brought his son to watch as a familiar bridge from his childhood was taken down.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo., ended 2014 with fewer homicides than the city had seen in nearly 50 years.

But that good news doesn’t lessen the tragedy of a death such as Angel Hooper’s. The 6-year-old was gunned down in the parking lot of a gas station at 107th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard in October, the first of four child victims of drive-by shootings in the metro in recent months.

Emotions run high when kids become innocent victims of violent crime, but the number of drive-by shootings in the metro has not risen.

Greyerbaby / Pixabay / CC

The Kansas-Missouri state line is one of the easiest state borders to cross. In fact, it's one of the only state dividers that has an actual road lying on most of it

But as Kansans and Missourians know, there are plenty of differences between the states.

Here are a few of the technicalities when it comes to state laws governing everyday life:

Alcohol

The family of a Shawnee Mission West student  who committed suicide in 2011 is holding a workshop Monday night for teens and their parents to talk about depression.

Joe Karlin created the Tom Karlin Foundation in memory of his 17-year-old son.

When it comes to teen suicide prevention, "the biggest thing is not so much a resource issue but the stigma that surrounds depression and mental health," says Karlin.

Ferguson Church Hosts Congressional Black Caucus

Jan 19, 2015

Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson hosted nine members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Sunday for a service commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The chair of the CBC, G.K. Butterfield, told the congregation that all 46 members of the caucus are committed to comprehensive criminal justice reform.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups in Kansas City are promising that the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will continue in the absence of The Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson.

Thompson was laid to rest Saturday, just two days before MLK Day. The long-time civil rights activist had a big hand in organizing Kansas City's events honoring the life and work of King. 

For nearly 50 years, the Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson fought for civil rights in America and abroad. Thompson was a follower of Martin Luther King Jr. and a major proponent of nonviolent protest. 

Thompson was laid to rest Saturday, just two days before Martin Luther King Day. We caught up with those who knew Thompson best at his memorial service. 

Voices:

In 2014, we launched a series to look at why people come to Kansas City and why they stay, called Going To Kansas City.

Missouri Valley Special Collection / Kansas City Public Library

For the past four months, KCUR's Beyond Our Borders project has examined how the Missouri-Kansas state line affects the lives of those around it

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Kansas Hospital and University of Kansas Medical Center run along State Line Road adjacent to Kansas City, Missouri's Volker neighborhood. A tight-knit few blocks, where students unwind in neighborhood bars and long-time homeowners chat while walking dogs.

The institution is growing, and like many "town and gown" situations, the expansion has created some challenges.

Missouri's black homicide rate is nearly twice the national average, according to a study released Wednesday from the Violence Policy Center.

There were 247 black homicide victims in Missouri in 2012, or about 35 deaths per 100,000 people.

"If you compare it to the overall rate of 4.5 per 100,000, basically all races across the country, it's seven times the number," says Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann.

Valentina Cala / Flickr-CC

The suspected shooters who killed 10 journalists from French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and two police officers in an attack Wednesday have been connected to Al-Qaeda by many sources.

The Council on American Islamic Relations cautions that jumping to conclusions about the attackers can deepen anti-Islamic sentiments both intentionally and unintentionally.

The co-owner of a Shawnee gun shop died Friday after being shot during a botched robbery attempt, according to police.

Three of the four suspects in the attempted robbery were also injured by gunfire.

Shawnee police Maj. Dan Tennis told the Associated Press four people tried to rob the She's A Pistol gun shop Friday afternoon. Three were shot and two of them were critically injured. Another had less-serious wounds and was arrested with the fourth suspect in a residential area nearby.

Ultimately, police arrested all four suspects.

Derek Jensen / Wikimedia Commons

Around 200,000 Kansas City metro residents who got caught running red-lights by traffic cameras are getting the chance for a partial refund of their tickets.

A class action lawsuit involving 27 municipalities across Missouri has been settled by American Traffic Solutions, the company that leases the state's red-light cameras.

The settlement requires ATS to pay 20 percent refunds to citizens who successfully apply for them. 

file photo / Harvest Public Media

Here at KCUR we grew a lot in 2014, not only in numbers but also in the way we go about reporting the news. Our Community Engagement team launched a long-term project and mobilized our staff to get out and meet you and to listen more to our community.

Donna Vestal

“Going to Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of how people came to Kansas City — and why they stayed.

No doubt, many people in Kansas City first came here as children, the result of a parent's job transfer. A family move, but with unique circumstances for each individual. Such was the case for Donna Steele Vestal, KCUR’s content director.

courtesy of Coshelle Greene

As the FBI investigates the murder of a young, gay, black man for a possible civil rights violation, friends of the victim are trying to start a broader conversation about race in Kansas City’s gay community.

Dionte Greene, 22, was found shot to death in his still-running car near the intersection of 69th Street and Bellefontaine Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., early Halloween morning.

People who knew Greene remember him as a loving son, devoted father and a caring friend. They say he was the last person they expected to be in trouble.

Updated: 5:38 a.m.

Hey kids, it's cold out there. There isn't much snow, but many schools are closed and some are delayed. Woot!

Here are the schools in the Kansas City metro that are closed or delayed on Jan. 7:

espie (on and off) / Flickr--CC

The United Way of Greater Kansas City is making a list of so-called "warming centers" available to those looking for respite from this week’s bitterly cold weather.

It's here, another year. 2015. 

Last year was a big one for KCUR. Our newsroom grew and grew; we launched a big project called Beyond Our Borders, a health collaborative called Heartland Health Monitor and a new talk show with a new host.

(Updated 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 6 with NAACP's request for an investigation.)

A grand juror is suing St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch in an effort to speak out on what happened in the Darren Wilson case. Under typical circumstances, grand jurors are prohibited by law from discussing cases they were involved in.

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