Kansas

Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

The social and health effects of isolation on some rural Kansas residents spurred three Catholic nuns to convert a storefront in Concordia into a drop-in center where women can find support and resources. 

Seven years after the center opened, two dozen women on average come through each day in the town of about 5,000 to socialize, do laundry, get a cooking lesson, or simply connect with others.

Kansas lawmakers know they are late to the Medicaid expansion party, but they appear determined to show up anyway.

"I feel like now is as good a time as any," says Anthony Hensley, the leader of the Democratic minority in the state Senate.

For the past three years, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders were able to block debate on expanding health care for the disabled and working poor via Medicaid, a component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Not anymore.

Courtesy of Mid-America Arts Alliance

With President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mid-America Arts Alliance will widen its advocacy efforts in hopes of preserving funding for the agencies, says Todd Stein, M-AAA's interim chief executive officer.

The Missouri Department of Transport (MoDOT)

Kansas City’s newest bridge officially opens Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The U.S. 69 Missouri River Bridge connects Platte and Wyandotte Counties. The crossing opened to traffic in December but the finishing touches to a ramp and a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists were just completed.

Missouri is busy upgrading or replacing historic bridges build from the 1930s to the 1950s. A new bridge was recently finished upstream in Atchison and engineers are currently looking at downtown’s 60-year-old Buck O’Neil Bridge.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

There have always been Americans worried about some pending religious, social or natural cataclysm. But, the business of catering to those fears, and helping people prepare to survive the next big calamity, has changed substantially in the age of Donald Trump.

And that change is evident on a particular county road in Kansas, near the center of the continental United States.  Here, what looks like a grassy mound is protected by barbed wire fence and a heavily armed guard. A massive concrete entrance frames big, heavy steel blast doors.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A western Kansas man accused of voting in two states has agreed to a plea bargain, saying he “simply made a mistake.”

Lincoln Wilson, a 65-year-old Republican from Sherman County, will plead guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voting without being qualified and two misdemeanor counts of false swearing to an affidavit, according to his lawyer, Jerry Fairbanks.

The lone African-American charged in Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s voter fraud crusade, Wilson faced the most charges, including three felonies and six misdemeanors.

file photo / Kansas News Service

At a time when Kansas is facing a serious budget deficit and a court order saying school funding is inadequate, Gov. Sam Brownback may be leaving the state for a job in Italy. A former high-ranking government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells Kansas Public Radio that Brownback will be named the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture in Rome.

Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

Fire crews battled hot spots overnight Tuesday in Reno County, but residents of one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods were allowed back to their houses.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the county, but eight homes were destroyed.

Velera Adams and her husband got the call, along with thousands of others, to evacuate from rural Hutchinson just as night fell Monday. She said they drove to a church parking lot just outside the evacuation zone.

“And we could see the fire, all along north of there,” said Velera Adams. “It was pretty scary.”

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.

Courtesy Mello Music Group

Stik Figa
Central Standard (Mello Music Group)

Central Standard, the latest release by the Topeka-based rapper Stik Figa, chronicles the struggles of a man begrudgingly beginning to accept that his musical career is unlikely to yield fame and fortune.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

In deep-red Kansas, state Democrats threw their most energized annual meeting in years in Topeka on Saturday, largely thanks to the featured speaker: Vermont senator and former presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Courtesy photo / Facebook, Srinivas Kuchibhotla

The shooting on Wednesday of three men at an Olathe, Kansas, bar has been headline news in India — in newspapers, broadcast outlets and on social media.

Two of the victims of the attack, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, had moved to Kansas from India. The third, Ian Grillot, is from the United States.

Adam Purinton, 51, is currently being held on charges of first-degree murder. 

At Field Hearing, Kansas Farmers Talk Farm Bill

Feb 24, 2017
Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts speak to the crowd at a field hearing on the Farm Bill in Manhattan, Kan.
Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

At a stressful time for U.S. farmers, the government’s efforts at calming the agricultural waters took center stage Thursday, when the heads of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture Committee left Washington for the Midwest to solicit opinions on priorities for the next Farm Bill.

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts, R-KS, and Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, heard from Midwest farmers at their first field hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

David Slusky and Donna Ginther

The Affordable Care Act has been credited – and blamed – for lots of things, but lowering the divorce rate generally hasn’t been one of them.

Not until now, anyway. A paper co-authored by two KU economists suggests that states that expanded Medicaid saw fewer so-called medical divorces than states, like Kansas and Missouri, that didn’t expand Medicaid.

How so?

Used to be Medicaid had an asset limit. The program’s income eligibility requirements limited the maximum amount of assets and income individuals could possess.

Laura Patterson / Wikimedia Commons

From her home in Kansas' Flint Hills, Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum reads news about politics (in paper form, "I don't do e-mail ... Facebook")  with a touch of sadness. 

"We have to find ways to come together," she told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date

Known as a voice of reason during her 18 years as a senator, Kassebaum left public life in 1997. Twenty years later, she says politics have fundamentally changed and she's not sure she'd make it out of a Republican Primary if she ran today.

Jefferson County farmer Phil Holman-Hebert raises hens and sells their eggs for a premium at farmers markets and restaurants.
Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Courtesy National Orphan Train Complex

There’s only one train line left in Concordia, Kansas (population just over 5,000), and it hauls grain. But more than a hundred years ago there were four train lines. Some of them were passenger trains, and in the 1880s, one carried a group of unaccompanied children from New York.

It stopped in nearby Wayne, Kansas, where strangers were waiting to choose the children.

Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

The day before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, reports surfaced that his administration might cut funding for, or eliminate, federal arts agencies.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Reacting to several of his own false claims of voter fraud, President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed it further, asking for a “major investigation” into unsubstantiated claims that some three million people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton.

Few Republicans or even his staff support Trump’s insistence on voting irregularities, but he does have one backer: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

file photo

A filmmaker from Poland and a former journalist from Kansas hope a combination essay-contest-and-documentary-film-project will help bridge the state's (and the country's) well-documented divides.

That's what happened in Europe and New York state, says Ewa Zadrzynska, the filmmaker who started Poetry Unites in Poland in 2006. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach filed a ninth case of reported voter fraud this week, criminally charging a man who allegedly voted illegally in Kansas and Texas.

A criminal complaint filed in Shawnee County District Court charges Preston G. Christensen with three misdemeanor counts of improper voting between Oct. 19, 2012, to Nov. 6, 2012, in Shawnee County, Kansas.

Airbnb

It’s going to be easier for the state of Kansas to get its cut of profits from hosts who use the home-sharing platform Airbnb.

On Monday, Airbnb announced it would automatically collect Kansas short-term occupancy and sales taxes on bookings.

“This is something that became very clear: the hosts do not want to deal with these taxes,” Airbnb Midwest spokesman Ben Breit says. “No one wants to spend the money they’re earning on home sharing on a tax attorney.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveils his official portrait at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2016.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

And then there was Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary is the only post in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet without a nominee, mystifying many in rural America and spurring worries that agriculture and rural issues will land near the end of the line among the new president’s priorities.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served for all 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, announced Friday was his last day in office.

Note: Today's show originally ran in October 2014.

Sam Brownback cut taxes dramatically in Kansas. As a Republican governor of a Republican state, he was going to enact the dream. Taxes on small businesses went down to zero. Personal income taxes went down. The tax rate on the highest income bracket went down about 25 percent. Brownback promised prosperous times for the state once government got out of the way.

Courtesy Lincoln Marshall / Facebook

Lincoln Marshall is the Kansas-based rap duo of Approach (Sean Hunt) and MilkDrop ( John-Alan Suter). They're on the bill for this weekend's Sound Machine concert, a monthly event that's envisioned as a miniature version of the annual Middle of the Map Fest.

3 reasons we're listening to Lincoln Marshall this week:

Kansas doctors who mistakenly diagnose a case of child abuse are not liable for malpractice, a court has ruled.

In a case of first impression, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the Kansas law requiring health providers to report suspected cases of physical, mental or emotional abuse of children protects physicians and other health providers from civil liability.

The case involved the parents of a nine-month-old girl who brought her to The University of Kansas Hospital for a respiratory infection.

From left: Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kansas Farm Bureau CEO Terry Holdren, Gov. Sam Brownback and Overland Park Regional Medical Center CEO Kevin Hicks.
Andy Marso / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled a two-part plan Friday to bring more doctors to the state and quell health care shortages that he said threaten to kill rural communities.

Brownback, flanked by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a hospital executive and the head of the Kansas Farm Bureau, harkened back to his days growing up in Parker — population 250 — to personalize the push for more rural doctors.

Courtesy Lansing Historical Museum

When Jennifer Myer looks at the photographs along the wall of her tiny museum next to the Lansing Correctional Facility, the experience is "humbling," she says.

Others who've seen the images say they're "haunting."

www.haysmed.com

Extending its growing reach in Kansas, The University of Kansas Hospital has finalized its agreement to partner with Hays Medical Center in the northwest part of the state.

In September, the two institutions signed a letter of intent to join forces, with HaysMed maintaining its name and separate ownership structure.

NIAID / www.flickr.com/photos/niaid/15138207362

A new report from the nonprofit Trust For America’s Health says Kansas meets six of 10 measures related to public health threats while Missouri meets five.

The “Ready or Not” report says Kansas and Nebraska are among 17 states, along with the District of Columbia, that meet six indicators. Missouri was among four states that meet only five.

Download the Trust for America's Health Report: Ready or Not

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