Johnson County

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Lots of people have stores they remember going to when they were a kid— for you maybe it was the video store, the arcade, a comic shop, an ice cream stand or corner store.

In this episode, co-host Suzanne Hogan goes on her first quest to find out what happened to a zany skate and surf shop in Kansas that many remember fondly today. 

Andrea Tudhope / File photo

One person is dead and eight others were injured in two separate shooting incidents in the Kansas City metro this weekend.

Around 3:20 a.m. Sunday, a gunman fired into a crowd of people walking in Kansas City's Westport district, injuring six people, one critically. The Westport gunman used a semi-automatic weapon, Kansas City police chief Darryl Forte said in a Tweet.

Courtesy Sharon Rodriguez

As election season cranks into post-Labor Day fury, the Johnson County Library wants to provoke conversations about democracy and activism.

It's doing so with events titled Bear Witness, kicking off on Thursday with an art opening intended to “bear witness to the events and issues of the past and present, and to postulate those in the future.”

One literal witness is photographer Sharon Rodriguez, who has spent the past year interviewing and taking photographs of homeless people in Johnson County.

Sergio Jordá Gregori / Flickr -- CC

Whether it’s served as a side or as the base of a dish — or even sweetened for breakfast or dessert — rice is part of many beloved dishes around the world.

“From a Midwestern perspective, a lot of it is used as a filler,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

“I think what makes a hero rice dish stand out is something that absolutely makes rice the centerpiece,” she added.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, the Director of Johnson County Mental Health talks about the state of mental healthcare in Kansas.


Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The postmortem on the primary election in Kansas is still going on. How did moderates oust so many incumbent conservatives?

One big reason is the unexpected emergence of a couple of grassroots education groups in Johnson County, especially one that sprang up just a few months ago.

On primary election night, Johnson County Republicans were gathered at the Marriott, their traditional place.

One by one, moderates picked off conservative seats in the Kansas House and Senate.

And in one corner, a group of moms was a little giddy.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Earlier this month, a hacker published U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s personal cell phone number and home address, spurring an onslaught of racist phone calls and e-mails directed at the Missouri politician.

“With the good sometimes comes ugly and to be sure, the internet offers people an opportunity to do anonymous ugly things,” Cleaver told host Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date

He says it’s not the first time his personal information has been shared. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Congress is in recess until September but the upcoming general election, ongoing data breaches, and sustained congressional unpopularity means our elected officials won't get much time to relax. While they sit on opposing sides of the aisle, Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, and Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, agree there's plenty of work left to be done.

Matt Hodap / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, the Director of Johnson County Mental Health talks about the state of mental healthcare in Kansas.


KCUR 89.3

Think we would all get along better if we lived under one flag – from Olathe to Leavenworth, Liberty to Grandview?

Some young Kansas City-metro entrepreneurs do.

Thirty-three year old Graham Ripple and some of his buddies have started a website – — to raise funds and solicit designs for a banner that every municipality in the metro could fly — one flag that would represent all 14 counties in the Kansas City Region.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

About a dozen people gathered at the Johnson County Public Library on Saturday to learn how to start a child care businesses.

Several area organizations led people through the process of starting a business, obtaining proper licenses and getting certified to care for young children. 

It's part of an effort to support low-income families in Johnson County, says Chris Schneweis, a senior management analyst with the Johnson County manager’s office. 

He says a work group at the county Board of Commissioners identified a need for more at-home child care providers. 

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

Schools around Kansas are just a couple of weeks from opening for the new school year, but about three dozen districts say they need more state aid and have applied for extraordinary needs funding.

In all, 37 districts are asking for about $8.4 million from the state Board of Education. There is about $15 million in the pool. All districts contribute a small portion of their state aid to the pool.

Two of the biggest requests come from the two of the smaller districts in this area: Spring Hill in Johnson County and Basehor-Linwood in Leavenworth County. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3


“Because of this game, for the first time in a long time, people weren’t uncomfortable with my presence.”

That's the title of a popular post on the social network news site Reddit that was voted to the top of the page about Pokemon Go, a newly released augmented reality game for mobile phones. It was written by Marcellus King, a 40-year-old black man living in Johnson County, Kansas.


Americans tend to think that each election is a littler dirtier than the last. Certainly that is the feeling among many candidates running for the Kansas Legislature as attack postcards fill mailboxes as the Aug. 2 primary quickly approaches.

This year the postcards often focus on education. Who is for kids and who is against them? Let's use the Republican primary for House District 21, which includes Prairie Village, Mission Hills plus chunks of Overland Park and Leawood, as an example.

Shawnee Mission Health / Facebook

Federal health officials today released much anticipated – and controversial – quality ratings for 4,000 hospitals in the United States, and just one in greater Kansas City, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, received the top rating of five stars.

The ratings, published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are intended to enable consumers to comparison shop and to encourage hospitals to improve their quality of care.

Did conservative incumbents really put a stop to secret property tax increases, as postcards that started going out last week to Johnson County residents claim?

Depends on your definition of “secret.”

“There’s nothing secret about a public vote undertaken by public officials after public meetings are held,” says County Manager Hannes Zacharias. “It’s campaign material.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Dorothy Hughes and Neil Melton are the Republican candidates facing off in the Kansas District 21 House race in northeast Johnson County. Guest host Sam Zeff gets their positions on education, tax breaks and more on the run up to the primary on August 2. 

Kicking styles in FootGolf vary with some players kicking straight-on and others using a soccer-style kick.
Steve Bell / KCUR 89.3

In July, Tomahawk Hills became the third area golf course offering FootGolf, a variation of golf played with soccer balls.

Like regular golf, FootGolf is played on a nine or 18-hole course. At Tomahawk Hills, the new nine-hole green wends its way around and between golf course fairways.

Heart of America golf pro Nate Richardson at Swope Park says fairways are shared at that course, which opened in 2014.

Within the year, the soccer-golf hybrid was drawing almost as many players as regular golf.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Incumbents and political hopefuls lined up Monday morning before the 2016 Lenexa Community Days Parade.

Kansas Sen. Greg Smith was near the front, right behind U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

“It’s just a fun event,” Smith said, adding that he participates even in non-election years. “If you’re in Northeast Johnson County, this is the place to be.”

Smith’s primary challenger, Dinah Sykes, was in the middle of the parade pack, marching alongside other moderate Republicans campaigning on public education.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia.

“Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.”

Johnson County Election Needs Election Workers

Jun 29, 2016
Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Johnson County Election Office reports it is in need of more than 2,000 election workers for the coming elections in August and November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says besides civic pride, the job pays a stipend of at least $135 for each election worked.

“A person can feel like, “I'm doing my civic duty, getting enough money to go out to dinner a couple of times... and I'm giving back to my country,” Metsker says.

The election commissioner emphasized that a 4-hour training class is provided and skills are not hard to master.

  The dog days of summer are just around the corner ... or maybe they’re already here. One way that kids can beat them is with a great book. Our panel of librarians were here again with their favorite titles of the summer.


  • Debbie McLeod, retired librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, director of youth services at the Johnson County Public Library.
  • Lacie Griffin, collection development specialist at the Johnson County Public Library. 


Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Earlier this month, a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and injuring 53 more in a mass shooting. The vast majority of the victims were LGBTQ individuals, mainly Latino or other people of color.

When news broke that the gunman's name was Omar Mateen, another group came into the spotlight: the Muslim community.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County superintendents and local chambers of commerce are asking for a return to Kansas's old school funding formula and for a provision that would “hold all districts harmless.”

The Kansas Supreme Court has given lawmakers until June 30 to come up with an equitable funding formula or risk closure of the state’s schools. As it stands, Blue Valley, De Soto, Gardner-Edgerton, Olathe and Shawnee Mission will lose money under state lawmakers’ plan to equalize funding.

Unsplash / Pixabay

More Kansans are commuting to work than were in 2010.

That’s the latest from the Wichita State-based Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which on Thursday released an occasional report on Kansans’ commuting patterns.

“The choices about where we work are driven by the business cycle and what’s happening in that industry,” Pattie Bradley, senior research economist, says. “The choices we make about where to live are much more varied.”

Schools, crime, the cost and availability of housing, other amenities – all factor into the decisions people make.

Henry Fortunato / Indian Creek Trail Interpretive Signage Project

The Indian Creek Trail, which spans about 10 miles in Overland Park is about to get a facelift — new outdoor exhibit panels that will teach hikers and bikers about some little-known tidbits of Johnson County history.

For example, did you know that an off-handed remark turned 111th street into College Boulevard?

Maybe not, according to Henry Fortunato, founder of Sunflower Republic, LLC, and director of the Indian Creek Trail Interpretive Signage Project, because most schools teach very little about local history.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

While many school districts in Kansas are preparing plans for a possible shutdown by the state Supreme Court, the Shawnee Mission School District in Johnson County, Kansas, says it will be open on July 1.

Superintendent Jim Hinson says he’s making no contingency plans in case the high court says schools must cease operating.

"We will be open on July 1 and we will start on time in August," says Hinson.

Courtesy of

Most departments in Johnson County, Kansas, will no longer ask questions about criminal convictions on their job applications. The move is in support of the Fair Chance Hiring initiative, a campaign started by the National Employment Labor Project to give people with criminal records better access to jobs.

Brian Gordon /

In his 18 years working for Hallmark, Brian Gordon saw plenty of people get fired.

Even so, he'd convinced himself that it wasn't his turn.

"Well, surely Hallmark thinks so highly of me they wouldn't dream of letting me go in a million years," he told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date.

But in June of 2015, he received an email informing him that his time with the company was finished.

"You would have thought I'd get a card or something," Gordon says.