Kansas | KCUR

Kansas

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Few things capture the respect that nature commands than a massive, looming tree. But the trees found on this list are special. They’re “champion trees” — the largest recorded living trees of their kinds.

 

Courtesy Kansas International Film Festival

Kansas Citians who know Bev Chapman from her days as a reporter at KMBC TV are likely to be impressed with her 14-minute documentary film "Soaring Back: Message to the Future." With spectacular footage, it chronicles Kansans’ successful efforts to revitalize the area’s population of bald eagles.

Bigstock

The Federal Public Defender’s office is asking a judge to hold the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt after it stopped cooperating with an investigation of attorney-client tapings at a Leavenworth prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s decision was disclosed earlier this week in a report by the special master, Cleveland attorney David R. Cohen, who was appointed by the judge to look into the tapings.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

More than 3,000 students in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools stand to improve their chances of graduating from high school and pursuing higher education, thanks to an $18 million federal grant that will allow tutoring, mentoring and other services for students from sixth grade through their first year of college.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas has stopped cooperating with an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial detention facility in Leavenworth, according to the special master looking into the matter.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Officials with the UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday announced they would bring 500 jobs to Kansas.

Around 150 of the positions will be at OptumRx's Overland Park facility at 6860 West 115th Street, where renovations have opened up a floor full of cubicles waiting to be filled.

"We're very, very deeply committed to Kansas," said John Mahrt, OptumRx's chief operating officer. "Kansas is a fantastic place for our people to live and work."

headshot of Rep Kevin Yoder
yoder.house.gov

National Democrats are targeting four-term Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder as vulnerable in their attempt to retake Congress in 2018.

Six Democrats are competing for the right to challenge Yoder next November.

If third quarter campaign finance reports are any indication, the Republican incumbent's campaign is mounting a serious defense. By the filing deadline Sunday, the campaign says Yoder out-raised all six of the potential Democratic challengers with a war chest of roughly $1.4 million. The Center for Responsive Politics shows that contributions to the 3rd District race are significantly higher than those in the other three Kansas districts at this point.

C.J. Janovy

As a kid, Andrew McKenzie had an unusual affinity for languages.

He took French in high school (because everyone else was taking Spanish). But that wasn't enough.

"I started to teach myself different languages, like Latin and Greek and Basque and Turkish," he remembers. "I would drive into the city to a bookstore, and they’d have a section with language books. I'd say, 'I'm just going to learn this language because the book has the prettiest font.'"

Courtesy Brad Norman

Lawrence once had a legendary punk club where bands like Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Fugazi played. But it was no CBGB or Whiskey a Go Go. It was east of downtown, tucked between a pumpkin patch and seemingly endless fields of crops, in a windowless, low-slung concrete building that sat back a bit from the road.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Geneva Wilson has struggled her entire life with health problems, including a blood disorder, depression and a painful misalignment of the hip joint called hip dysplasia. But she’s found peace living in a small cabin in the woods of western Missouri.

Wilson keeps chickens, raises rabbits and has a garden. She says her long-term goal is to live off her land by selling what she raises at farmers’ markets.

A "Love Kansas City" mural on Southwest Boulevard was recently vandalized. What the artist did to repair the damage, and address the possible reasons for the vandalism. 

Plus, one woman has collected over a century of Kansas recipes. She joins us ahead of her speaking event on October 4 in Shawnee, Kansas.

Morgan Dameron / Different Flowers

What does it mean for a film to be “a love letter to the Heartland”?  

That's how "Different Flowers" is being pitched. Director Morgan Dameron grew up spending summers at her grandparents’ farm in Moberly, Missouri, and last summer the Kansas City native spent 18 days shooting her first feature film here.  

The American Humanist Association on Wednesday sued Kansas prison officials, alleging the Topeka Correctional Facility promotes Christianity in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, claims the prison displays prayers and messages on prison bulletin boards, has erected an eight-foot cross in one of its multi-purpose rooms and often broadcasts movies with Christian themes on inmates’ televisions.

Stephen Koranda

Over the last year, more than 100 Kansas kids placed in the foster care system had to spend the night in offices instead of homes. Kids slept on couches or makeshift beds in the offices of the private organizations that handle foster care placement. It happened because there weren't other facilities available to immediately take them.

Lawmakers and child advocates heard about the issue during a meeting of a foster care task force in Topeka. Republican Rep. Linda Gallagher is one of the group’s members.

Joe Brusky / Flickr — CC

Many organizations and schools in Missouri and Kansas that serve Latino families blasted the announcement Tuesday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months if Congress fails to act.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Take me out to the ball game . . . or not? Salina, Kansas is home to one of the worst professional baseball teams in the country. Why the Salina Stockade team is still proud. 

Plus, the Buck O'Neil Bridge is reaching the end of its projected lifespan. What does the future hold?

Guests:

Courtesy Zachary Stevenson

Outside a Small Circle of Friends,” by Phil Ochs, is not a typical protest song.

The song tells the biting, sardonic tale of all-too-normal people walking away from tragedies without helping — because, after all, “outside a small circle of friends,” who would care? The message is simple: just help.

"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) / MGM

When you start a show called "Midwesternish," at some point there'll be an episode about The Wizard of Oz. If this film defines Kansas for the entire world, what exactly does it say and do we believe it? 

Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play and Stitcher.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Shona Banda, a Garden City, Kansas, mother who drew national attention after losing custody of her son over her use of cannabis, has pleaded no contest to felony charges in exchange for probation.

Banda, who has Crohn’s disease, has been a vocal advocate of medical marijuana and self-published a book about her use of cannabis oil to treat her condition, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.

University of Kansas Hospital

Two area hospitals earned spots on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.

The University of Kansas Hospital was deemed to be the best hospital in Kansas and in metro Kansas City, while Saint Luke’s was ranked the second best hospital in Missouri, behind Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka was deemed the second best hospital in Kansas, the only other hospital in the state to earn top honors.   

Courtesy CLIC Abroad Foundation

Fewer than 750,000 elephants are left in the world, according to conservationists’ estimates. And the average American drinks more than 1,100 cups of coffee very year, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study.

These statistics might seem unrelated, but D.K. Bhaskar, a Lenexa photographer, author and now filmmaker, shows they are crucially connected.

Angie Jennings

73-year-old Mike Hartung has been producing art in his studio in Lindsborg, Kansas since the 1970s. 700 paintings later, he's finally having his first exhibit: "Gas Stations, Laundromats and the Spaces Between."

Plus, Crick Camera Shop closed its doors for good back in January. We'll hear from a former employee who photographed the final days as an homage to film in the era of digital.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

El Dean Holthus knows what people might think of a town like Smith Center, Kansas.

At nearly the exact geographic center of the contiguous United States, it's an hour from the nearest Interstate. It's home to about 1,600 people, but that population is declining like most of rural America's.

They probably think, he says, that "it's just a little hole in the ground."

From Oxford-educated surgeon to body-builder to Cerner executive, Daphne Bascom joins us to talk about the journey that now brings her to community health at the YMCA.

Plus, Dodge City, Kansas-native Robert Rebein just published a new memoir on his home state.

Guests:

Courtesy Oskar Landi / Urban Romances, A Sundance Selects Release

Recently, the Columbia Journalism Review dedicated an entire issue to the state of local news, featuring a map revealing "news deserts" in the U.S. What is the status of local news sources in our small Midwestern towns?

Plus, ballet icon and Kansas City native Misty Copeland is back in town touring her new book, Ballerina Body

Guests:

Courtesy Kari Wahlgren

As a little girl growing up in central Kansas, Kari Wahlgren dreamed of becoming a voice actor. She landed her first role at 11 years old, and now, she’s working professionally in Los Angeles.

From her lead role in the anime cartoon series, FLCL, to her first Disney series, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Wahlgren has voiced hundreds of characters since she moved to Los Angeles.

An Illinois farmer harvests his corn crop in this file photo. Average net farm income has tumbled in recent years.
File: Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Of all the expensive machinery Tom Giessel worked during the 2017 wheat harvest, his favorite sits in the office of his home.

It’s a microfilm machine, the kind found in a high school library. Giessel uses it for his work as the historian of the National Farmers Union, the nation’s second-largest farm group.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says wording on a state website might leave voters confused about whether they’re eligible to cast a ballot. The group wants Secretary of State Kris Kobach to make changes.

At issue is information about Kansas’ requirement that new voters prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport. Court rulings say that requirement currently doesn’t apply to people who register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles or use the federal voter registration form.

Orlin Wagner / Associated Press

If you weren’t paying really close attention to the oral arguments in the Gannon v. Kansas school funding case before the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday, you probably missed a little question from Justice Dan Biles about a provision of the new school funding formula that exclusively benefits two Johnson County districts.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit of a former Haskell Indian Nations University student who says she was raped by two of the school’s football players. She sought damages from the school, the federal government, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Haskell employees.

The 21-page order by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled that the government and university were immune from damages under the doctrine of sovereign immunity and that the ex-student had other remedies against the employees.

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