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Tanner Martine

In 2016, Simon Fink and his band, Under the Big Oak Tree, performed a holiday concert in their hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri.

One of the songs they played was “The Little Drummer Boy,” which was composed by Katherine K. Davis. As it turned out, she was born and raised in St. Joseph.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In light of newly passed legislation impacting gun laws and school funding, many college students in Kansas and Missouri may not feel like lawmakers are hearing their concerns. 

Two student lobbyists are hoping to change that.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There seem to be two competing groups in Kansas City when it comes to deciding how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A petition drive, backed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, seeks to rename The Paseo, an iconic Kansas City boulevard, after the slain civil rights leader. 

But on Friday, Mayor Sly James named an 11-person advisory group to explore other ways to honor King. And it has turned a bit controversial. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How do university students ensure their priorities have a voice in state government?

Students in Kansas and Missouri have concerns that go beyond their next exams and life after graduation. They point to soaring tuition rates, concealed weapons on campus, sexual harassment and assault, and state support for higher education. To communicate their concerns, student lobbyists work the hallways in both state Capitols. Today, we met the students who do this important work.

Segment 1: A new art exhibit encourages people to write down their wishes.

A group of local artists has created a public altar at the Kansas City Public Library, where visitors are invited to write down their wishes and leave objects of personal significance. One of the artists behind this project shares his vision for it.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

It was an appropriate week for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s trade expert to address a gaggle of Nebraska farmers — even if their responses tended toward frustration.

Menemsha Films

This time of the month comes with so many opportunities for entertainment that it's hard to pick just one. There's First Fridays, the Kansas City Ballet's Celebration of Dance, a footrace from Kansas City to Lawrence, even mixed martial arts and tribute-band blowout.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. to add a statement from the Shawnee County District Attorney.  

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday threw out the first-degree murder convictions of a woman accused of killing her ex-husband and his fiancée, ruling the prosecutor had engaged in prejudicial misconduct.

In 2012, a Shawnee County jury convicted Dana L. Chandler for the killings of Mike Sisco and Karen Harkness a decade earlier. Both victims were shot at least five times in a bed at Harkness’ Topeka home.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As he fights to retain control of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, Jorge Perez’s woes continue to pile up at other rural hospitals where he was once hailed as a hero.

Last month, in the second of a three-part series, CBS News aired a piece about Empower, a Perez-run company whose affiliates have been involved in many of the rural hospital takeovers orchestrated by Perez and his associates.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A battle royale has erupted in tiny Unionville, Missouri, over the town’s endangered community hospital.

Trustees of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in the north central community are trying to get rid of the company that took over the ailing institution in 2016 and then ran more than $90 million in questionable lab billings through the hospital.

H.C. Palmer

H.C. Palmer had graduated from medical school but hadn't yet finished his residency when the Army drafted him in the mid-1960s.

President Lyndon Johnson's administration took 1,500 men from medical training programs across the country and sent them to Vietnam as surgeons.

By August 1965, Palmer found himself in a war zone as part of the First Infantry Division. All these years later, he says he’ll never completely find his way out — nor will others who’ve been similarly exposed to the “many horrific things that happen in war,” he told me in a recent interview.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges related to the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab on a 17-story waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas. Judge Robert Burns made Jeff Henry  surrender his passport, but he declined to make Henry wear a GPS ankle monitor.

americanjazzmuseum.com

The Kansas City council voted Thursday afternoon to allow more bars into the city's Historic 18th and Vine district. 

Councilman Jermaine Reed, who represents the district, sponsored the proposal, which makes it easier to obtain a liquor license in the historic district.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Arm wrestling over a final deal on Kansas school spending begins in earnest Friday after the Senate settled on a figure that’s much lower than the House’s position.

The bill squeaked through after hours of discussion, winning the last vote necessary only after leaders forced lawmakers who initially abstained to weigh in.

Earlier, with the bill’s fate unclear, Republican leaders in the Senate issued stern direction to members of their party. Some were called into a closed-door meeting with Senate President Susan Wagle.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Kansas officials have received a court order Friday to expedite their takeover of 15 financially troubled nursing homes. State regulators say they need to move quickly to protect hundreds of elderly and disabled Kansans who reside in the facilities.

Normally, the state would need orders from 15 separate judges to take control of the facilities, which are scattered across the state. But the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was granted an order from the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday  consolidating all the cases under a single Johnson County District Court judge.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, city leaders on Thursday celebrated what they called major improvements to the urban core: $8 million spent over two years on a program to sell abandoned or dangerous houses for $1 each.

The program, designed to not just clean up neighborhoods but to cut down on crime, showcased one of its first graduates.

Laurie Schwab bought a home on East 29th Terrace in 2016 during the Kansas City, Missouri, Land Bank's $1 sale and has poured $21,000 into it so she can operate it as a transitional living stop for homeless people.

Jimmy Emerson
Flickr-CC

Liberal arts professors at the University of Central Missouri say a proposed reorganization that moves them into the College of Education would weaken instruction in the humanities and social science and threaten the school’s standing as a regional comprehensive university.

But it may be the only way to balance a budget that shrinks every year with declining state appropriations, UCM President Charles Ambrose says.

Claire Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Why global warming may be our military’s biggest threat.

While climate change may harm food production and lead to more intense wildfires, it also poses a hazard to our military. How can our armed forces respond? Today, we asked former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, who was director of the Marine Corps War College, to shed light on how our nation's military leadership is changing its approach to environmental issues.

Segment 1: A Screentime show on Love, Simon.

Love, Simon is the first big-budget romantic comedy for teens where the central love story is between two boys. We hear what the movie means to Kansas Citians.

Segment 2, beginning at 36:43: A new coloring book features women from KC history.

Kaylin Idora Photography / Flickr — CC

To rock or not to rock?

That is not the question this weekend, thanks to rocking bands, rocking comedy acts and rocking mixed martial arts action.

So are you ready to rock? Those paying attention will recognize the previous sentence as yet another unnecessary query. Never ask – just rock!

1. North Mississippi Allstars

Maj Lindström / Music Box Films

Early on in the documentary “Chavela,” a cabaret owner describes the voice of Chavela Vargas: “She wasn’t a little fountain. She was more like a tremendous canyon.… She sounded as if she’d been born with the wounds of life and death.”

Vargas was born in Costa Rica and moved to Mexico at 17 to pursue music. At first, she presented herself as a traditional, feminine cabaret and ranchera singer, but found the style unnatural and uncomfortable.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

Farmers at Betty’s Truck Stop near Sweet Springs, Missouri, took their coffee with a side of bad news early Wednesday morning.

In response to the Trump administration's threats to place tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods — including farm implements — China threatened to sanction $50 billion in U.S. exports, this time targeting airplanes, cars, chemicals and soybeans.

“Beans are down 50 cents overnight, and corn’s down 14 because of this trade thing with China,” Jim Bridges said as he took a seat at a large table in the center of the restaurant. Bridges, who grows corn and soybeans, made a few calculations and reckoned his potential losses at about $50,000.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A push to elbow the judiciary out of school spending by rewording the Kansas Constitution cleared a legislative committee Wednesday.

Yet the effort likely won’t get a full House vote this week and could be doomed on a roll call.

It’ll need two-thirds support in both the House and Senate, something that may prove even harder after Democrats and moderate Republicans swept up more seats in the 2016 elections.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Prosecutors on both sides of the state line that runs through Kansas City announced homicide and other charges Wednesday against a 30-year-old man who had walked free last year after two mistrials on a different murder charge.

Joe Carson/Courtesy of Bob Hughes Jr.

On Jan. 19, 1968, Chester Owens Jr., and several other Kansas City leaders posed for a photo with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a TWA lounge. King was passing through due to a speech at Kansas State University. The men had been summoned, “really just there to make him comfortable,” as Owens put it on KCUR’s Central Standard.

KC Pet Project

Kansas City’s over-crowded animal shelter is a step closer to becoming a state-of-the-art animal “campus.”

Kansas City's Finance and Governance committee advanced an ordinance Wednesday to begin design and construction for the new animal facility.

The $26 million dollar project is partially funded with $18 million in GO KC bonds from the city. Voters approved the $800 million infrastructure bond package last year.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A roiling debate over how to assess big box stores — their worth when occupied, or their value as vacant properties — could upend property tax systems across Kansas.

At the heart is the “dark store theory,” as critics call the strategy. It contends property valuations should look at what an empty store could fetch on the open market.

That would dramatically cut their property tax bills, forcing county and local governments either to get by on smaller budgets or shift a heavier burden to other property owners.

Social Good Week / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: How hyper-connectivity and technology have democratized power.

Our world has changed a lot in the 21st century. New technologies like Twitter and KickStarter have enabled worldwide social movements. But how does this new power work?  One activist described the ways public influence is shifting, and what it might mean for our future.

Joe Carson

Segment 1: Local stories of Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Kansas in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. stopped by Kansas in January of 1968 to speak with a number of leaders from throughout Wyandotte County. Today, we hear from a couple of leaders about what that day was like and how meeting the civil rights activist influenced their lives.

  • Robert Hughes
  • Chester Owens Jr.

Segment 2, beginning at 34:49: Why we behave the way we do.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3 / File Photo

The Midwest has a reputation for being a neutral and accent-free place. But that simply isn't true.

Everybody has an accent and everybody has a dialect, and, yes, that includes the Midwest.

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