Spot | KCUR


Anne Boyer

Kansas City poet and essayist Anne Boyer, who teaches writing at the Kansas City Art Institute, is among this year's winners of the Whiting Award, a prestigious honor that comes with $50,000.

The awards, presented to emerging writers, "are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come," according to the Whiting Foundation. Boyer is one of ten winners announced Wednesday evening at a ceremony in New York City.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

On Wednesday morning, Dennis Vallejo, a police officer in Kansas City, Kansas, removed the tarp covering a statue of abolitionist John Brown to reveal stark black markings sprawled across the monument's otherwise pure white marble. 

The historic statue, at North 27th Street and Sewell Ave. near the Quindaro Townsite, was vandalized over the weekend. Among several markings, two were overtly racist and anti-Semitic: a swastika on the statue's head and the N-word on its feet.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eight measles cases have now been identified in Johnson County, with another two in Linn and Miami counties, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Health departments in the three counties have pinpointed where and when the individuals were infected. Because people can acquire measles anywhere from a week to three weeks after exposure, KDHE said there are concerns that additional cases may be identified.

The agency is urging people who are ill or exhibiting symptoms to remain at home unless they’re seeking medical care.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 FM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.

Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders.

Updated March 21, 5:55 p.m. – Russell Bucklew's scheduled execution has been called off.

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay Tuesday evening, based on Bucklew's assertion that Missouri's lethal injection protocol would cause bleeding and suffocation due to a medical condition he suffers.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Kansas Lawmakers moved Tuesday to make a bill to release information about the deaths of children in state custody more transparent.

In response to several high-profile cases where a child had been brought to the attention of the Department for Children and Families and later died, the bill requires the agency to release information about kids who die as a result of abuse or neglect.


A bill before Kansas lawmakers says faith-based child agencies should not be required to place children in families if it conflicts with the religious values of the organization.

The private groups currently can choose not to serve some people, such as single parents or same-sex couples.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are considering creating a watchdog based outside the state’s child welfare agency, but with access to inside information.

A bill to create a child advocate to review the Department for Children and Families comes after years of horror stories of abused children who ended up injured, missing or dead.

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law

Syed Jamal, the Bangladeshi-born scientist whom the federal government is trying to deport, must be released from jail, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Now that Republican leaders have a report they commissioned on school funding, it’s not clear they’ll pursue its recommendations to spend more for better student performance.

Lawmakers continued digging into the numbers Monday and quizzed the study’s authors for the first time since the document was unveiled Friday.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Wonderscope Children's Museum is moving to south Kansas City.

Around 70 people gathered Monday morning for a groundbreaking in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. The new 35,000 square-foot facility will double the size of the museum's current location near Johnson Drive and Nieman Road in Shawnee, Kansas.

"We're creating a significant regional attraction, as well as a community resource for the neighborhood," says Roxane Hill, Wonderscope executive director.

Kansas’ child welfare agency wants to hire a second full-time investigator to track down kids missing from the state’s foster system.

The move comes in the wake of reports last October, when the Department for Children and Families was run by Phyllis Gilmore, that the agency had lost track of three sisters who’d run away from a Tonganoxie foster home.

Jeff and Laura Jacobsen / Kansas Athletics

Coming out of the weekend, lots of fans in Lawrence and Manhattan were thrilled as their basketball teams advanced in the NCAA tournament.

But that also means some coaches are putting extra money in their pockets.

Most big time college coaches have lucrative bonuses in their contracts.

Kansas State University's Bruce Weber has already done very well.

He has earned an additional $344,000 dollars for making the Sweet 16, according to his contract.

Weber’s contract calls for a 16 percent bonus on top of his $2.15 million salary.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Getting most Kansas schoolchildren doing well enough in math and reading to stay on track for college could cost an extra $2 billion a year — or roughly half what the state already spends on aid to local schools.

The figure comes from a report released Friday that lawmakers commissioned to help them judge the costs of getting better classroom results and to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Leaders in City Hall and Kansas City Public Schools are just beginning to piece together a connection between Kansas City’s high numbers of evictions and the academic performance of children affected by forced moves.

The data is preliminary, but Michael Reynolds, chief research and accountability officer for the school district, says a relationship is coming into focus.

“Without a question, students who get evicted have worse academic outcomes, according to the state and according to standard testing, than students who don’t,” Reynolds says.

Henry County Sheriff's Office

Tammy Widger, the 37-year-old Clinton, Missouri, woman who was in the house when police responded to a 911 call resulting in the shooting death of officer Christopher Ryan Morton on March 6, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Henry County Prosecuting Attorney Richard Shields announced the new charge on Wednesday.

Last week, Widger was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and keeping a public nuisance, both felonies.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responsible for extensive property damage caused as a result of recurring floods along the Missouri River. 

A group of 372 farmers, landowners and business owners in several Midwestern states filed suit against the Corps of Engineers in March 2014, alleging that the federal agency's actions contributed to five floods along the Missouri River since 2007. Senior Judge Nancy Firestone ruled on Tuesday that the Corps of Engineers was liable for damages caused by recurring floods.

Matt Kleinmann / Community Health Council of Wyandotte County

New county health rankings once again show Wyandotte County as one of the least healthy counties in Kansas. The good news: It’s no longer the worst.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Students throughout the Kansas City metro exercised their right to free speech on Wednesday morning, leaving their schools to observe 17 minutes of silence in recognition of those killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week.

The mere threat of launching debate on Medicaid expansion in Kansas has caged up a measure to suspend, rather than terminate, coverage for people while they’re locked up.

So legislators have created a policy work-around that doles out some extra money with direction to the state healthy agency to keep that coverage waiting for people when they get free.

file photo / Sam Zeff KCUR 89.3

March madness has many Kansans filling out their NCAA brackets. Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation that could tap into that market by legalizing sports gambling in the state.

A bill before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee would allow sports betting through the Kansas Lottery. At least one major professional league says it wants some input on the rules, and a cut of the winnings.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons-Flickr

Three infants in Johnson County are among the first reported cases of measles in the United States this year.

The Johnson County Health Department said Tuesday that the three infants, all under a year old, had been at the same day care center in Overland Park.

This story was updated at 2:43 p.m. to include the comments of ACLU of Missouri legal director Tony Rothert.  

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt has lost his bid to unseal documents over Missouri’s execution protocol.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the safety of members of Missouri’s execution team, as well as the state’s interest in carrying out its executions, overcame the general presumption that the public should have access to judicial records.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

It’s been five months since Missouri’s attorney general, Josh Hawley, announced in a video that he was challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Hawley took aim at McCaskill's tenure and political leanings in a populist stump speech during his first public rally for the Senate.

file photo / Harvest Public Media

Kansas politicians are closely watching developing trade policies with an eye to whether they could start a trade war that might hurt industries in the state that rely on exports.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been in talks with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

“NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere,” Trump said while campaigning for office, “but certainly ever signed in this country,”

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

A resolution pending in the Kansas Legislature would urge, but not require, state regulators to make electric rates more competitive.

In 2017, Kansas electric utility rates averaged 10.58 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s higher than any other state in the region. It’s also slightly higher than the national average of 10.54 cents per kilowatt hour.

Missouri Department of Public Safety

It’s still unclear what role technology might have played in the "nightmare" scenario that unfolded in Clinton, Missouri, this week, when an officer was killed responding to a disturbance call after 911 dispatchers gave police an incorrect address.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sprint Corp. will cut 500 jobs from its Overland Park headquarters in the coming weeks, the Kansas City Business Journal Reports.

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service

Students in Kansas are bearing more than two-thirds of the cost of their education at public universities in the state.

That’s a sharp increase over the last 16 years. In 2001, revenue from tuition was little more than a third of the cost of education — about 35 percent. Today it's just over 71 percent.

courtesy: Helix Architecture + HGA Architects

The Missouri Legislature might once again consider funding for a proposed downtown campus of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.