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Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

A quiet meeting with a few people on Saturday turned into a fervent discussion  between almost 20 area  residents and members of the mayor's Citizens Task Force on Violence.

“Unfortunately we’ve had more than our share of deadly violence in this area,” said former city councilman John Sharp, who thanked the task force for holding its second listening session with the community. This one was at the Hillcrest Community Center in south Kansas City.

bigstock.com

The Johnson County Election Office is coming up short on polling places to use come November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says he’s anticipating record-high turnout, possibly with more Kansans voting than in 2008.

“We would like to have 285 polling locations throughout our county,” Metsker says. “Right now we’re at about 195.”

Metsker says concerns about safety and security have crossed many places off his list.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is offering to stop spending state tax incentives to lure Missouri businesses across the state line but only if the Missouri General Assembly amends an offer to stop using tax breaks to poach Kansas jobs. Missouri extended the compromise two years ago, contingent on Kansas reciprocating.

Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, says what's been called an economic border war has been extremely wasteful.

“We’re using our incentives to move existing jobs, rather than trying to compete for new jobs,” says Hall.

Neerav Bhatt / Flickr--CC

Google got permission from the Kansas City Council Thursday to venture into high-speed wireless, building on the success of its Kansas City, Missouri, fiber optic network.

The Internet giant asked council members for permission to mount antennas on city-owned light poles to see if it could bounce connectivity off of them.

Though the ordinance ultimately passed, there was heated discussion about whether Google has kept its promises so far in Kansas City.

Councilman Dan Fowler doesn’t think so.

Wikimedia Commons

The Kansas Board of Regents has appointed retired U.S. Air Force General and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers as the interim president at Kansas State University.

Myers will take over from Kirk Schulz, who leaves next month for a job at Washington State University.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated on Wednesday at 9:59 a.m.

Two years after an avowed anti-Semite killed three people outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a memorial has been dedicated in their honor.

Artist Jesse Small sculpted the three stainless ripples to represent the three lives cut short on April 13, 2014, at the two Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish sites.

Jennifer Morrow / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 3:39 p.m.

The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to review an appeals court decision finding that the Kansas Constitution creates “a fundamental right to abortion.”

The decision by the high court was expected after the Kansas Court of Appeals, in an evenly divided vote, upheld a trial judge’s decision to block a Kansas law banning the second-trimester abortion method known as “dilation and evacuation.”

GM Media / Wikimedia Commons

General Motors plans to invest $245 million in its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, to manufacture a new sports utility vehicle, the firm confirmed Tuesday.

The new SUV, which industry analysts believe will be most likely sold as a Cadillac, according to published reports, had originally been slated to be built at a GM plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

“In January, we informed our employees that we would move production of an all-new vehicle planned for Orion Assembly to Fairfax Assembly in Kansas,” Christopher M. Bonelli, a GM spokesman, said in a statement.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89-three

Despite an intense week getting his bearings, Ahmad al-Abboud smiled and expressed his gratitude at a press event Monday morning in Kansas City. 

“God bless Kansas City!” he said through an interpreter.

The 45-year-old former construction worker, his wife and five children are the first Syrian family to be resettled in the United States as part of a refugee “surge operation.” They arrived last Wednesday evening.

The Health Inequality Project

A new study drawing on a massive trove of data confirms long-held notions that when it comes to life expectancy, income matters: The richest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest men and the richest American women live 10 years longer than the poorest women.

courtesy Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Spencer Fane LLP's commitment to arts funding dates back to 2006, and the early days of the campaign for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

"We made a $75,000 challenge grant at the beginning of their fundraising efforts. That obviously was a large donation for us," says Nate Orr, a partner at the firm's headquarters in Kansas City. He heads up the charitable giving program. 

Courtesy of KCP&L

Kansas City Power and Light has agreed to buy wind energy from two plants now under construction in northwest Missouri.

NextEra Energy Resources is building its Osborn wind farm east of St. Joseph. It’s expected to be up and running by the end of the year and provide 200 megawatts of energy. A little further north, Tradewind Energy plans to complete the 300 megawatt Rock Creak wind farm near Tarkio, Missouri by September 2017.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s economy hasn’t bounced back as quickly from the recession as similar U.S. cities.

Many metro-area businesses are unaware of global export opportunities in their own backyards.

Those findings and others from a 2014 report commissioned by the Mid-America Regional Council startled Kansas City’s business community into action.

The month of March was short on moisture and now drought is creeping across much of Kansas. Assistant State Climatologist Mary Knapp says March is normally a wet month, so last month's dry conditions had a big impact.

“Because it's the start of our wetter pattern, things go down very, very quickly when we don't get what we should be seeing,” says Knapp.

Knapp says the coming months are the normally the rainiest times of year for many parts of Kansas. Those months will be critical in determining whether the drought expands or is washed away by seasonal rains.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two things have emerged as Mark Bedell prepares to take over as superintendent for the Kansas City Public Schools; he has plenty of support from the district and he's ready to take over the growing charter school movement in the city.

“I’m very competitive. And we are losing kids to the charter schools so they are a competitor,” Bedell said at a news conference at Paseo Academy.

While Bedell said he would foster a "cordial" relationship with the city's charter schools, he says the district must do better in attracting them to KCPS.

The New Yorker magazine isn’t all stodgy, high-minded stuff — and comedian Andy Borowitz is proof. We speak with the award-winning humorist about the presidential election and the endless material it has provided him.

Andy Borowitz speaks tonight at the University of Kansas in Lawrence as part of The Commons' Lecture Series. The event is sold out, but there’s an overflow room. For information, visit The Commons website.

kcmo.org

The committee room in Jefferson City was packed with political, public safety, business and community leaders from Kansas City and St. Louis on Thursday. 

The Senate Ways and Means Committee was accepting testimony on a proposal sponsored by state Senator Kurt Schaefer to outlaw the earnings taxes that both cities.

The ban is supported by St. Louis libertarian activist Rex Sinquefield, who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to Schaefer and other lawmakers who are backing the plan.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Plans to transform the former King Louie bowling alley and ice skating rink in Overland Park into the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center are now underway.

On Thursday, a kickoff event marked the official start of re-purposing the 1960s-era building for a new use. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools didn't know what kind of crowd would come out to meet the two finalists for the top job in the district. Just how much interest would there be?

Joe Gratz / Flickr--CC

Kansas House and Senate committees moved quickly Thursday to keep funding intact for the state's courts.

Lawmakers last year tied the judicial budget to another bill changing how chief judges are selected in Kansas judicial districts. When that law was struck down, it also invalidated the court budget, threatening to shut down the court system.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would reinstate the court funding. 

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t specifically mention Medicaid expansion in his State of the State speech Tuesday night to a joint session of the Legislature.

But he made it clear that he remains opposed to expanding eligibility to cover more than 150,000 low-income adults, many of whom are uninsured.

Seeming to acknowledge that the closure of Mercy Hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence had increased support for expansion, Brownback said “Obamacare” was the main reason for its financial struggles and those of other rural hospitals.

We hear the stories and perspectives from area residents who were affected by some of the news events of 2015: The residents of an affordable housing project that was shut down, a photographer covering the protests at MU, a grocery store manager whose business was caught in a blaze and a doctor from Syria who can never go home again.

Guests:

Cody Newill/KCUR

Our Tell KCUR question was straightforward: What question would you like us to answer in 2016?  Your responses were insightful, challenging and sometimes surprising.

But bottom line, KCUR 89.3 has a lot of work to do.

This was an incredible year for journalists —  from the battle to legalize gay marriage, to the student protests at the University of Missouri and then, of course, Donald Trump. The Media Critics discuss how the biggest stories of the year were covered and how the public perceives the industry.

Guests: 

Class issues can be all over the headlines, even when the word 'class' never appears. So says Kansas writer Sarah Smarsh. A quick breakdown of recent headlines through the lens of class in Kansas.

Guest:

Tell KCUR: How Do You Keep Up With The News?

May 15, 2015
KCUR

You don't need a TV screen or a newspaper subscription to get your news anymore.

Gone are the days of waiting for a specific time or a delivery boy to check in on the day's weather or headlines.

Desktop computers and smartphones bring news to our fingertips via websites and apps, countless blogs and social media outlets.

So, do you need a quick hit of Twitter before starting your day or is the Huffington Post a must-read? What about your hometown newspaper or news stations?

courtesy: Johnson County Library

The Johnson County Library Foundation recently announced a $70,360 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The funds will boost the scope of the MakerSpace at the Central Resource Library, 9875 West 87th Street, Overland Park, Kan. 

The MakerSpace opened in 2013. It’s where you can learn to sew, record music, or print something in 3-D.

Kate McNair, teen services coordinating librarian, says demand for the MakerSpace, with its tools and technology, exceeds capacity. 

Landov / CBS

Many knew him as the “most trusted man in America,” but how well do you really know Walter Cronkite?

Walt's 'Loveable Joints' On KMBC

Apr 24, 2012

Walt Bodine has been a ubiquitous voice for Kansas City over the years, but he's also been a face as well. In these human-interest shorts that he did for KMBC starting in 1982, Walt reaches out to Kansas City by doing what he does best: telling stories and sharing information.

Jason Noble, Des Moines Register

It’s easy to lose interest in political campaigns, but it’s the news media’s responsibility to make it interesting – and get it right.

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