Kansas City

Courtesy @MLB_Players Twitter

There was a ceremonial presentation of a $1 million check to officials with The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine neighborhood Wednesday. It happened again before the Kansas City Royals game at Kauffman Stadium later that afternoon.

Courtesy photo / Louis Memorial Chapel

Beth K. Smith, who died Wednesday at age 96, was out front as an activist before many women of her generation.

Smith was a civil rights and social justice pioneer in the 1960s, pushing for fair housing and taking an active role in helping to pass public accommodations in Kansas City.

She was an early advocate for women in the workplace and public life.  In 1980, she helped found the Central Exchange, which began in Crown Center as an unusual networking women’s club that received national recognition.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Hate speech directed at the Islamic community should not be ignored, FBI and other federal officials told about 50 members of the Islamic Center of  Johnson County at a forum Saturday.

Wikimedia Commons

In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating the interstate highway system that links just about every major city in the United States. The very first stretch of this was an eight-mile stretch of I-70, which started in Missouri and ended in Topeka, Kansas.  

Now, at 2,151 miles, I-70 runs from Baltimore, Maryland, to Provo, Utah. Since it was finished, Kansas and Missouri have been shaped by I-70.

EVA WILSON / LEAWOOD BAPTIST CHURCH

In 2016, the homicide rate in Kansas City, Missouri, was the highest it had been in a decade. Twelve of the people killed that year were under the age of 16. Meet some of the people whose lives have become intertwined with this ongoing violence.

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Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

A family of nine Somali refugees, their journey interrupted by an executive order barring refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia, arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule at KCI Wednesday night.

They were welcomed by cheers and hand-made signs of good will. Some read “Welcome Home,” “You Matter” and "You Are Loved." The group of several dozen men, women and a few children smiled and waved.

One greeter handed one of the children, a young boy, a teddy bear.

Kurt Albin and his wife, Sarah were at the front of the crowd.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, Alvin Sykes sent a text followed by a phone call to North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr who was still on the floor of the Senate.

He didn’t hear back, so he assumed the worst. His bill was dead.

But at 5:33 a.m. Kansas City time, Burr responded. 

“He sent a text,” Sykes told me over coffee at a Kansas City, Kansas diner.

”He said 'It just happened. Sorry it took all night, but it’s done.’”

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The new Grand Boulevard Bridge over I-670 in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, re-opened on Friday morning. 

Structural issues, such as falling chunks of concrete and cracks, led to an emergency bridge closure in May. The Missouri Department of Transportation decided the aging bridge should be torn down and replaced.

Brian Kidwell, assistant district engineer for MODOT, says projects like this can take years, but a city-state partnership expedited it.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Some started preparing their turn-of-the-century homes along stately Gladstone Boulevard on Sunday; others planned to start as early as 6 a.m. on Halloween morning.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill plastic skeletons or blow-up black cats.

Homeowners along the boulevard near the Kansas City Museum have worked for years with the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association to create Halloween blowouts featuring music, sound effects and displays with multiple moving pieces.

The Kansas Department of Transportation opened bids Wednesday on a highway project that is key to legislative races in southeast Kansas.

The project would expand U.S. Highway 69 from two lanes to four between Kansas City and Pittsburg — something residents of that part of southeast Kansas say is essential for safe movement of people and goods.

Tex Texin / Wikimedia -- CC

Kansas City’s murder rate is getting a lot of attention.

The number of lives lost to murder in Kansas City, Missouri, spiked 40 percent between 2014 and 2015.  And that put the murder rate at 23 per 100,000 residents — among the nation’s leaders, according to FBI data released last month.  

Courtesy photo - KCMO

The White House on Monday recognized  Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, as places where innovative tech things are happening.

On the first day of the Smart Cities Week conference in Washington, D.C., the White House unveiled a broad set of  initiatives to support internet-based efforts nationwide. And metro Kansas City is involved directly or tangentially in a number of them.

Just what is a “Smart City?” 

If you've been paying attention since Google rolled out its first-in-the-country high speed internet in the Kansas City area five years ago,  you're probably familiar with smart city technology.

As the city prepares to roll out the second phase of the project, we wanted to see wanted to see what's happened so far.

What we found  are a lot of questions from  citizens and even the project's promoters.

Downtown: The epicenter

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Hillary Clinton brought her campaign for president to the National Baptist Convention USA in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday. The Democratic nominee used gospel verses and personal stories to distinguish herself from Donald Trump.

People attending the convention are almost entirely African-American, conservative, middle-aged and dressed to the nines. In her address, Clinton, a life-long Methodist, quoted scripture to knowing smiles and nods. Some audience members even recited lines along with her. 

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.

Tyler Koonce / Twitter

Rounds of heavy rain fell Friday evening leading to flash flooding in parts of the Kansas City metro area. Up to six inches fell in just two hours on parts of the city, leaving some downtown and Midtown roads impassable.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for the immediate downtown Kansas City area. It was the first flash flood emergency ever issued for the Kansas City area by the NWS.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The National Park Service has added the Kansas City, Missouri, parks and boulevard system to its National Register of Historic Places.

The historic district includes parks and boulevards dating from 1895 to 1965. Three parks are on the list: Kessler Park, Penn Valley Park, and The Parade, as well as seven boulevards: Gladstone, Linwood, Armour, The Paseo, Benton, and Broadway.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Last week, in an interview with The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forté blamed recent police shootings of young black men on what he called “unreasonable fear” by some officers and “institutional racism” in law enforcement. 

The comments drew the ire of both the Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri police unions.

KCK Fraternal Order of Police President Scott Kirkpatrick posted a long open letter on the union's Facebook Page. In it he calls Forté's remarks "misguided, ridiculous and uninformed," and says the chief had "torn ...healing wounds wide open," in reference to the recent shooting death of two of their colleagues.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Supreme Court transformed the landscape of the abortion debate this summer with a sweeping decision throwing a broad class of abortion restrictions into question, and thrusting Missouri back into the center of the abortion debate.

The Planned Parenthood clinic at Cleaver Boulevard and Troost Avenue in Midtown Kansas City dispenses birth control and provides reproductive health exams, but doesn’t do everything a woman might expect from Planned Parenthood. 

KCUR 89.3

Steve Bell, a mainstay of radio broadcasting in Kansas City for four decades, died Monday. He was 77.

Bell collapsed while doing what he loved most – working in the KCUR newsroom and preparing for the day’s afternoon newscast.

“We are in shock. Steve was such an integral part of KCUR,” said Donna Vestal, the station’s director of content strategy. “He was a proud, accomplished journalist who had a tremendous influence on all of us. He will be missed every day.”

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

The Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family foundation will donate more than $1.5 million over two years to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, a new charter school serving East Kansas City.

The Kauffman Foundation is donating $1 million while the Hall Family Foundation is donating $600,000.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for our new school,” says Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. UNI was created by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in order to revitalize Kansas City neighborhoods.

Courtesy photo - Storycorps

This story was updated on Tuesday to add remarks by U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs. 

Scott Wright, a federal judge in Kansas City for 35 years, died today. He was 93.

Wright was nominated to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He was chief judge from 1985 to 1990 and took senior status in 1991, but continued to handle a full caseload until ill health forced him to step down a couple of years ago.

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.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said Tuesday that low public support has prompted the city to abandon plans to build a new airport.

James said the city would shift its priorities to other issues after polls last week showed just 39 percent of voters supporting a ballot question on issuing airport revenue bonds to construct a new terminal.

“Although I still feel that a new air terminal is inevitable, it's clear that the time is not now,” James said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Health Care Cost Institute

Kansas City-area residents needing a knee replacement might find it worthwhile to drive to St. Louis.

That’s because the average price of the procedure in the KC area is $26,601. In the St. Louis area, it’s $23,114 – a $3,487 difference.

On the other hand, the average cost of an ultrasound in metro St. Louis is $375. That compares with $271 in metro Kansas City, a $74 difference.

Courtesy Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

Elaine McIntosh, president and CEO of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care, says she’s stepping down after 24 years at the helm of the area’s largest nonprofit hospice organization.

McIntosh, 66, will stay on until a successor is found. The hospice’s board has formed a committee to lead a national search.

McIntosh said in a telephone interview that she was leaving the organization in “very strong shape” and decided now was an opportune time to leave.

KCAVP

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Congress voted in 2013 to require domestic abuse service providers who receive federal funds to offer help to people in same-sex relationships. But many advocates say LGBT people still have far fewer resources available to them than what’s traditionally been available for woman escaping violence from men. To help fill that gap, the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project opened a center earlier this year in Westport to provide support for LGBT people living in the Great Plains region. But the group’s executive director, Justin Shaw, tells KCUR’s Alex Smith that there’s still a lot of unwillingness – both inside and outside the community – to face up to the problem.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

HCA Midwest Health, which operates seven hospitals in metropolitan Kansas City, says it will invest $93 million in three of the hospitals.

In a news release Wednesday, the company says it plans to put $59 million into Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, $23 million in Research Medical Center in Kansas City and $11 million in Lee’s Summit Medical Center.

The money will be used for additional beds, emergency room expansion and other infrastructure improvements.

Eschipul / Creative Commons-Flickr

A Jackson County judge has thrown out an incendiary lawsuit alleging that the owner of the Power & Light District discriminated against black patrons and ginned up disturbances as a pretext to eject them from its bars and restaurants.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel P. Fahnestock last week granted motions for summary judgment filed by The Cordish Companies of Baltimore and other defendants, ruling that plaintiff Glenn E. Cusimano had failed to substantiate his claims.

steve9567 / Flickr -- CC

Feeling a little funny in the head?

You might as well go with it this weekend, with help from brain-frying guitar players, crazy thrill rides and more.

Keep in mind, you could get carried away and totally lose your mind with all the insane fun out there. But something tells me you can handle it – yeah, that funny little voice in my head. Good luck!

1. Generation Axe: A Night with Guitars

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