Local

Transit
5:03 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Clay Chastain Asks Judge To Put His Light-Rail Plan On The Ballot

Transit activist Clay Chastain talks to reporters at the Jackson County Courthouse. A judge is considering the fate of Chastain's petition to put a light-rail plan before vote.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Transit advocate Clay Chastain got his day in court Thursday, but it's still unclear if his plan to build a light-rail system will go before voters.

For three years, Chastain has been locked in a battle with city officials who say the 3/8-cent sales tax increase he's proposed isn't enough to pay for light-rail. The Missouri Supreme Court weighed in earlier this year, ruling that even if voters approved the plan, the city wouldn't have to build it.

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Economy
3:42 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Report: Kansas City Economy Lags Behind That Of Other U.S. Cities

Credit MARC

The Mid-America Regional Council presented a sobering assessment of the Kansas City area economy Thursday, one showing the metro is having trouble bouncing back from the recession.

The report, called "Prosperity at the Crossroads," says that fewer than half of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, including the greater Kansas City region, had recovered all the jobs they lost during the recession by the end of 2013. 

Data in the report show that Kansas City employment rates, wage growth and job growth are all down.

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Health
2:12 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Hospital Association Execs: Medicaid Expansion Would Aid Thousands Of Vets

Tom Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association.
Credit Kansas Hospital Association

The chief executives of  the Missouri and Kansas hospital associations say thousands of uninsured veterans would be eligible for coverage if Medicaid were expanded in those states. 

In an opinion piece that ran in The Kansas City Star on Tuesday, they estimated that more than 37,000 veterans in Missouri and Kansas would qualify for Medicaid coverage under expansion.

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Central Standard
1:11 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Near Space Ballooners To Gather For Kansas 'Super Launch'

The Sangre de Cristo Range, as seen from John Flaig's near space balloon that he launched in Colorado last April.
Credit John Flaig

When most people pick a hobby, it's usually something simple like knitting or playing a sport recreationally. With John Flaig's hobby, it's a little more complicated.

Flaig and over 70 others like him will gather in Hutchinson, Kan., this weekend to practice "near space ballooning" or "ham ballooning."

The hobbyists send helium filled weather balloons into near space, which is between 60,000 and 328,000 feet above sea level.

Flaig's balloon has several cameras inside a Styrofoam payload box, taking pictures from all angles and altitudes along the way.

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Arts & Culture
12:54 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Senate Approves Jane Chu As NEA Chair

Kauffman Center president and CEO was confirmed today as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Credit courtesy: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The nomination was approved by a voice vote on the Senate floor.

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Harvest Public Media
12:24 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Beef Sent To Kansas City Restaurant Recalled Due To Mad Cow Fear

Food safety regulators are recalling beef that could be tainted by parts of cattle nervous system that can carry mad cow disease and a Kansas City restaurant may be affected.

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Missouri Statehouse
8:08 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Nixon Vetoes Bills That Would Have Cut State, Local Revenue By $776 Million A Year

Jay Nixon

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 9:14 pm

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon followed through with his earlier threat by vetoing on Wednesday 10 bills passed during the last day of the legislative session. The bills set up special tax breaks for a variety of businesses, from restaurants to data centers.

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Government
8:07 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Homeless Advocates Question Kansas City 'Food Sharing Permit' Plan

A number of organizations that help feed the homeless were heard but not heeded Wednesday as a city council committee revisited an ordinance requiring setting standards for charitable food sharing.

The plan would require all individuals and organizations providing food for the homeless to have a city food sharing permit, that all food preparation areas meet city standards. The organizations would be responsible for trash disposal and other sanitation matters.

The pleas of the two dozen people who spoke against the food sharing permit ordinance were often impassioned.

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Government
8:02 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Cantor Upset May Enliven Tea Party Challenge To Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts

U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat this week could revitalize a challenge to Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts faces a Tea Party backed primary challenge from Milton Wolf.

Most political types consider the three-term Senator pretty safe, but then they felt the same way about Virgina's Eric Cantor. Bob Beatty at Washburn University says Cantor’s upset could make Milton Wolf look like a contender.

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World Cup KC
7:55 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Brazilians In Kansas City Watch The World Cup With Divided Hearts

David dos Santos is teaching his three-year-old daughter Ariana the best of Brazilian and American soccer.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

As the FIFA 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil, we have the first installment in a series checking in on some of Kansas City’s international communities and how they’re cheering their home teams from afar.

It’s been a rocky path to the World Cup for host country Brazil: there were questions about whether the stadiums would be ready; ongoing crime concerns; and mixed emotions from Brazilians. 

Many Brazilians in Kansas City are a little sad to be watching the championship tournament from a continent away, but some are quite ambivalent about the games.

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Thu June 12, 2014

5 Things To Know About 'The Winter's Tale'

Sidonie Garrett, executive artistic director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, holds a model of the set for "The Winter's Tale."
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

This summer, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival presents the tragicomedy, The Winter's Tale, in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo.

It marks the first time the 22-year-old festival has staged the play, which explores the nature of jealousy.

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School Lunch
5:18 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Menu Changes Mean Fewer Kansas City Kids Are Buying Lunch At School

Schools are now required to serve more fruits and vegetables. But cafeteria workers say the healthy foods are ending up in the trash.
Credit Bob Nichols / United States Department of Agriculture

Two years ago, sweeping changes to federal school lunch guidelines put more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on cafeteria trays.

But the healthful options haven't been popular with students (you might remember the catchy video some Kansas kids made blasting the changes). And for the first time in 30 years, the number of meals purchased in school cafeterias is in decline.

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Sports
2:40 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

The Best Places To Watch The World Cup In Kansas City

An estimated 12,000 people gathered in Kansas City's Power and Light district to watch the United States take on Ghana in the 2010 World Cup.
Credit dustjelly / Flickr-CC

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off this week in Brazil, many soccer fans in Kansas City will be cheering for the U.S. men's team and Sporting KC players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

But many other Kansas Citians will cheer on teams from around the globe.

For optimum World Cup viewing, we've rounded up a list of local places to go for a more international soccer experience:

Brazil: Taste of Brazil Market, 25 E. 3rd St, Kansas City, Mo. 

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Health
2:01 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

New Federal Rules Likely To Impact Kansas Assisted Living Facilities

Cindy Luxem, chief executive of the Kansas Health Care Association, says new regulations could have major consequences for senior care providers.
Credit KHI News Service

Providers of home and community-based (HCBS) Medicaid services and their state overseers are preparing for a raft of new federal rules that are intended to assure that the people who receive the services have more say in how they are helped and that their living conditions are “non-institutional.”

The regulations could have major consequences for many beneficiaries and the businesses and organizations that help them, particularly for some senior care providers who operate assisted living facilities attached to or in near proximity to nursing homes.

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Politics
11:31 am
Wed June 11, 2014

A Look Back At The 3 Times Kansas City Hosted National Political Conventions

State delegates, party members, and reporters filled nearly every seat in Convention Hall during the 1928 Republican National Convention.
State Historical Society of Missouri, Kansas City Convention Hall Records KO269

The Republican National Committee is eyeing Kansas City as a potential site for the 2016 Republican National Convention, and after a visit last week, the delegates’ first impressions seem positive.

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Arts & Culture
9:27 am
Wed June 11, 2014

7 Questions For Doug Frost On Beer And The First-Ever Boulevardia

Music, food, and craft beer will jostle for center stage this weekend at Boulevardia, a three-day festival in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Mo.

More than three dozen brewers from 11 states, from Oregon to Maine, as well as two Belgian breweries, will be on tap to provide samples. And – of course — there will be beer from local favorites in Kansas and Missouri (such as Boulevard Brewing Co., the organizer of the event).

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Beyond Our Borders
5:33 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Program Offers Grief Counseling For Kansas City Teens Affected By Homicide

(From left) Tanee, 14, Makala, 14, Mantez, 17, and Audrey, 17, speak at a forum at a Kansas City public library at 30th and Prospect streets. All have lost siblings to homicide.
Credit (Peggy Lowe/KCUR)

There’s a hush in the community room at the Lucile H. Bluford Public Library at 30th and Prospect streets, something like the quiet in a church just before the service starts.

The two dozen folks gathered here at 6 p.m. on a Monday night in June want to hear from the four sitting as a panel in the front of the room, people that despite their young ages, have years of mourning to share.

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Agriculture
4:20 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Recent Heavy Rains Won't Eliminate Drought In Kansas

This map shows dry conditions covering most of the state of Kansas.
Credit Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

Despite recent heavy rains across the state of Kansas, officials say the precipitation is likely not enough to end the drought.

Assistant State Climatologist Mary Knapp says Kansas has seen almost double what would be a normal amount of rain for the first part of June. But she says the rains won’t be enough to bring conditions back to normal, as the first five months of the year were very dry.

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Health
3:56 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Want Medicaid Expansion? You Can Move, Missouri Senator Says

Missouri Senator Ed Emery's letter explains his reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion.
Credit Debbie Cole

How divisive was the debate over Medicaid expansion in Missouri this year?

Just ask Debbie Cole, a 51-year-old mother of four who lives in Butler, Mo., and signed a petition asking state legislators to extend Medicaid to cover more low-income residents.

“We all live different lives, and some people out there may be working two or three jobs and have no insurance, and they need it to survive,” she says.

About a month after signing the petition, Cole got a letter from her state senator, Republican Ed Emery of Lamar.

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Sprint
3:19 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse On T-Mobile, HD Audio And Work-Life Balance

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse sat down with Steve Kraske to talk about the recent rumors and changes surrounding the company.
Credit John Taylor / Flickr-CC

When Sprint Corp. CEO Dan Hesse took the helm of an ailing telecommunications corporation seven years ago, he had his work cut out for him.

In the past year, things have moved very quickly for the company, with a majority buyout by Japan-based SoftBank Corp., layoffs and recent rumors of a merger deal with T-Mobile.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sat down with Hesse to discuss the whirlwind of activity surrounding Sprint, and what it all means for consumers.

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Poverty
2:46 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Johnson County Demonstrates Sharp Uptick In Suburban Poverty

Poverty in suburban Johnson County doesn't look like it does in urban Kansas City, Kan., or rural parts of the state. 

And that makes it harder to address a growing problem in a part of the metro seen as affluent, says County Manager Hannes Zacharias.

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Harvest Public Media
8:24 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Drought Hammers Winter Wheat Across The Plains

Farmer Jim Haarberg of Imperial, Neb., compares the heads of wheat from two different stalks to demonstrate the stunting effects of drought.
Ariana Brocious Harvest Public Media

Much of the Midwest and the Plains have been battling drought for years. And the current winter wheat crop looks like it will be one of the worst in recent memory, stressing farmers in the heart of the Wheat Belt – from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

In Nebraska, a full quarter of the winter wheat crop is rated poor to very poor, and Nebraska farmers are doing comparatively well. More than 40 percent of the wheat acres in Colorado are poor or worse; nearly 60 percent in Kansas and Texas; and an incredible 80 percent in Oklahoma.

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Education
8:01 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Kansas Teachers Union Promises Lawsuit

The largest teachers union in Kansas is promising a legal challenge to part of a controversial education funding law. The legislation includes additional school funding in response to a court ruling, but lawmakers also added policy changes that angered many teachers.

The bill makes it easier to fire teachers in Kansas, by eliminating the guarantee of a due process hearing before a teacher is removed, if the teacher requests it. The KNEA says the provision was added to the bill in an improper manner.

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Harvest Public Media
7:52 am
Tue June 10, 2014

A Signal To Hog Producers: Cargill To Stop Use Of Gestation Crates

Barns like this one often house more than a thousand pregnant sows in gestation crates.
Credit Sarah McCammon / Harvest Public Media

Cargill, one of the country’s largest pork producers,announced Monday that it will stop using gestation crates, the controversial narrow cages meant to house and separate sows. Cargill is joining other major meatpackers, like competitors Tyson and Smithfield Foods, in planning to move away from hog crates.

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Veterans
9:16 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Veterans Say Long Wait Times Are Just Part Of The Problem At VA

VFW Adjunct General John Hamilton, center, speaks at a town hall meeting convened to discuss issues with veterans' care.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

For months, Kansas City resident Cherie Fishback has been writing letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of her boyfriend, Lee Murphy, who last year had to have emergency gallbladder surgery.

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Health
7:36 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Area Legislator: Missouri Lawmakers Nearly Reached Medicaid Expansion Deal

Missouri state Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Republican from Lamar, says lawmakers came close to expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Credit Missouri News Horizon / Flickr--CC

A last-minute deal to expand Medicaid in Missouri almost materialized in the waning days of this year’s legislative session, briefly breathing life into an issue that had seemed all but doomed.

Missouri State Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, provided a behind-the-scenes look at high-level negotiations that occurred just before the session ended without an agreement to expand Medicaid eligibility.

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Foster Care
2:31 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Number Of Children In Kansas Foster Care Hits Record High

The number of Kansas children in foster care is at an all-time high.
Credit Cathy Mores / KHI News Service

The number of Kansas children in foster care has reached an all-time high. The explanations why vary.

In April, there were 6,156 children in the system. That’s 356 more children than in April 2013 and 872 more than two years earlier.

Dona Booe, chief executive of the Kansas Children's Service League, sees the escalating numbers as evidence of a building crisis.

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Animal Health
12:01 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Missouri Conservation Commission Tries To Stop Chronic Wasting Disease In Wild Deer

Originally published on Sun June 8, 2014 5:59 pm

Missouri's Conservation Commission voted unanimously Friday to adopt a list of recommendations designed to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, from captive white tail deer to the wild population.

The recommendations primarily target privately owned fields, pens and reserves where trophy deer are raised to be hunted.  Mike Hubbard, chief of the Department of Conservation's (MDC) Resource Science Division, says the recommendations include banning the import of white tail deer, mule deer and their hybrids into Missouri.

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Health
9:44 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Foundation President Sounds Alarm On State’s Drop In Health Rankings

Dr. David Kessler, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, led an effort to reduce tobacco use and now sees obesity as a top threat to Americans' health.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

Kansas Health Foundation President Steve Coen was blunt and to the point.

“Kansas is sick,” Coen said in opening remarks Thursday at the foundation’s 2014 Health Symposium in Wichita. “Something has gone seriously wrong in the state of Kansas, and we’ve got to do something to get it back on track.”

Coen’s diagnosis was based on the 2013 health rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation, which listed Kansas as the 27th healthiest state in the nation.

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Central Standard
8:40 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Low-Income Neighborhoods In Kansas City Have More Parks, Fewer Playgrounds

Dion Hardiman goes five miles from home to take his daughters to Loose Park, because they love the high slides and sand pit.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Recently, Kansas State University researchers visited every park in Kansas City, Mo., to analyze the distribution of parks and park amenities throughout the city.

They found low-income neighborhoods, including Kansas City's east side, have fewer playgrounds than high-income neighborhoods. That’s in spite of having a higher concentration of parkland in those same neighborhoods. Researchers studied 219 parks and about 12,000 acres of parkland.

Green space in low-income areas

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