Kansas City Kansas

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To an observer, Mahlet Yeshitla is sitting in a chair with a large headset covering most of her face, waving her arms at the empty space in front of her.

But from her perspective, she's using cubes to create building blocks.

“It does feel like you’re in a room, at a table, just building things,” Yeshitla said.

bluhawk.com

Just think, for a moment, about how many great sports stories begin with an open field, or an empty stretch of asphalt. Maybe a cornfield. An old sandlot.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Amazon is building another huge facility in the Kansas City area, this one in Kansas City, Kansas, and it will bring more than 1,000 new jobs to an underutilized part of Wyandotte County.

Those jobs will start above minimum wage, come with benefits, and steep community college tuition discounts. They’ll be at a new facility south of I-70 near the Turner Diagonal, which is good news to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Javier Giribet-Vargas / KERA News Special Contributor

After a deadly night for police officers in Dallas, a frustrated Sly James addressed reporters at Union Station Friday morning.

“You’ve got police officers being shot at from high altitudes by people with killing machines,” says James. “Weapons that were meant for war. The type of weapon I used when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City innovators will have an opportunity to develop business ideas in a new program for people who want to change the energy industry.

Digital Sandbox KC is partnering with GXP Investments, an area energy investor. They’re collaborating to create Energy Sandbox, which will help entrepreneurs take ideas, test their feasibility and develop prototypes.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Unified Government broke ground Friday on a new police station in Argentine, next to the Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened in 2014.

“This facility is the second police station command center we have opened in my tenure, the last three years,” Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland said at a ceremony. “It’s putting the police in a place that is most effective for the community and most effective for customer service.”

Dawayne Gilley

Singer Linda Shell has long been described as the "Queen of Kansas City Blues." This weekend, Shell will be crowned Queen, and her husband, K.C. Kelsey Hill, will be King, when the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival returns after a six-year hiatus

Religion remains central to many lives in Kansas City, despite a continued rise in the number of people not affiliated with a particular faith. A new documentary called Beyond Belief, produced by Steve Mencher, examines how some locals are using their faith as a bridge to connect seemingly disparate communities.

Little Hatch, a.k.a. Provine Hatch, Jr., was Kansas City’s premier blues musician during a popular resurgence of the form in the 1990s. Born in Mississippi in 1921, the harmonica player, vocalist and bandleader died in 2003.

Why we're listening to him this week:

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.

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.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

William Conway. Charles Luken. Frank Rohrback. Maurice Bedell. Wesley Walden. Thomas Medina. James Reynolds.

“Those are the men, the deputies, who are carved in this monument,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 40 President David Toland said Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring fallen Wyandotte County sheriff deputies. “I hope these are the last.”

An emotional Rick Whitby, president emeritus of FOP Lodge 40, shared personal stories about two of the fallen deputies.

Whitby said he was the last to talk to Reynolds before he died in 1984.

overlandpark.com

To celebrate or not to celebrate is not the question this weekend. Only how.

Answers include a Memorial Day weekend party hosted by the Kansas City Symphony, a sprawling American roots music jamboree and a sentimental arena rock concert that might have fans “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” anyone who’s handy – which is always one way to make a new friend.

Let the celebrations begin!  

1. Celebration at the Station

Courtesy Dawayne Gilley

The Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival has had a hard life. In fact, fans of the scrappy two-day concert featuring all-local musicians probably thought it was dead, since it hasn't graced the corner of 13th and State with baleful riffs and barbecue smoke since 2009.

But like the characters in its performers' songs, it's found a way to survive. After seven years of silence, festival founder Dawayne Gilley says he's bringing it back this summer.

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.

She survived a person's worst nightmare. KCUR's investigative team brings us the story of how one woman’s vicious attacker was finally found after 17 years, and of the mistake that left the case open for so long.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Wyandotte County prosecutors filed charges Wednesday in connection with the shooting death of Kansas City, Kansas Det. Brad Lancaster.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman charged Curtis Ayers of Tonganoxie, Kansas with capital murder, two counts of aggravated robbery and burglary, two counts of kidnapping, aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm.

At a press conference, Gorman said Ayers' bond was set at $10 million. He also said the case could be prolonged if Ayers fights extradition from Jackson County back to Wyandotte County.

Illustration by Jacob Joslyn

Juliette was startled awake on August 17, 1999, and faced a woman’s worst nightmare: a man was in her bedroom, brandishing a large knife.

“He said, ‘Be quiet and I won’t hurt you,’” says Juliette (a pseudonym). “I thought that meant he was going to rape me and leave.”

Maria Carter / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night at a candlelight vigil outside the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall to remember police detective Brad Lancaster, who was shot and killed as he pursued a suspect near the Kansas Speedway on Monday.

Mayor Pro Tem Hal Walker says he first met Lancaster just after he graduated from the police academy. “It was clear then as it was clear throughout his career what great potential, what great service he gave to his community,” says Walker.

thecollectivefunds.co

About a year ago, a group of Kansas City entrepreneurs noticed a troubling pattern — they were having the same conversations over and over again with their peers.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

A child care co-op. An eHarmony for high school mentors. An avatar that shows kids how the food they eat affects them.

On Friday, all of these were just ideas. By Sunday night, they’ll be reality.

Entrepreneurs from all over the region gathered this weekend to re-imagine the future of education by developing tools, apps, and educational resources — all in 54 hours.

courtesy of Heidi Holliday / Rosedale Development Association

A gas explosion Tuesday morning destroyed one of the buildings in the Rosedale Ridge housing complex, an affordable housing project which closed in 2015 due to poor conditions.

The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department reported heavy damage to the building, one of six in the complex. The building has been torn down.

In the 1950s, Delano Lewis was a student at segregated Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas. Since then, he's held top positions in the Peace Corps, served as president of NPR, was a board member at Apple and served as the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.  

Delano Lewis speaks about the power of education on his life tonight at 5 p.m. at the Kauffman Foundation. To register to attend go to www.kauffman.org.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

In a much anticipated filing with the Kansas Supreme Court,  state Attorney General Derek Schmidt says problems with equity in school funding have been solved and there's no reason for the high court to consider shutting down public education on June 30.

“The Legislature’s good-faith, careful, reasoned and well-documented determination should be given substantial deference,” said Schmidt's 25-page brief filed late Friday afternoon.

What would you do with $50 million?

Kansas City Chief Innovation officer Bob Bennett would incorporate autonomous vehicles into public transportation, enable your car to connect with other vehicles, and create a “smart” Prospect bus line that’s Wi-Fi enabled and can sense what’s going on around it.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

July 2017 may seem like a long ways away, but when you’re planning to allow guns on college campuses, it might as well be just around the corner.

How Kansas colleges will comply with the law allowing guns on campus while maintaining security is complicated.

But it’s perhaps most complex at the KU Medical Center and the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.

Since Kansas lawmakers passed a bill that would allow almost anyone to carry a concealed gun on college campuses, we've been hearing the arguments against it.

Fresh off his third State of the Government address, Mayor and CEO of Wyandotte County Mark Holland is thinking about health care, small businesses and the need for population growth.

For the last 25 years, Bob Marcusse has been at the helm of the Kansas City Area Development Council. We look back on his career and talk about how the city has become more marketable since he began his position.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in October 2015.   

Near a greasy spoon restaurant in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, two young men were killed in a drive-by shooting on a sunny afternoon earlier this year. Two more killings after what had already been a violent stretch of months.

Pastor Sheldrick Walker was in his church a few miles away when he got the news from fellow pastor Adrion Roberson.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 100 people met at the Adrion Roberson Athletic Field off North 9th Street and Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas, for a community healing and prayer event Saturday.

The metro area has seen at least 16 children killed over the last year, many in drive-by shootings. Minister LaRon Thompson said it was simply time to speak out against the violence.

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