Topeka

courtesy: Mulvane Art Museum

Artist Rita Blitt made a significant gift to the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas — a bulk of her life’s work, an estimated 2,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures and film, as well as archival material. It represents preserving a legacy and a lifetime of giving. 

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback took a secretive, state-funded trip to Israel a month ago, but we only know that because The Hutchinson News broke the story on Oct. 1.

The paper reports that Governor Brownback, his wife, daughter and a few state officials got to Israel on Aug. 26 and were there through Sept. 2. 

The Lawrence Police Department is investigating the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old Topeka man by police officers in the capital city. A crime lab in Johnson County is providing forensic assistance. 

The federal government is the largest employer in Kansas City. Who are these employees and what do they do? A talk with federal employees in the Midwest, and what the government looks like from their perspective.

Plus, a local artist is reviving the video store. She operates a VHS lending library out of her bedroom, and she'll be going mobile to bring VHS tapes across the plains.

Guests:

Anonymous / AP

Half a century ago war, protests, and political scandal rocked the United States. Sound familiar? But, out of all that a small-time hoodlum from Butte, Montana rocketed into national prominence, on a motorbike. Evel Knievel's career took off like a rocket, but crashed even faster. Now a new museum celebrates all that is Evel.

As small-town populations decrease, what happens to those schools that are the anchors of their communities? We look at the challenges that rural schools in Kansas and Missouri face.

Guests:

Howard Simmons / Courtesy Washburn University

Gwendolyn Brooks lived in Topeka for just a few weeks after she was born. But the iconic poet – Brooks was the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize — still has relatives in Kansas, and they’re ready to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.

“I’m very happy and proud when I hear so many people here in Topeka that really had a lot of respect for her and the gift God had given her,” says Carolyn Wims Campbell, Brooks’ first cousin once removed (Brooks and Campbell’s father were cousins).

Can the arts survive without federal funding? With the potential elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, a look at how Brownback's Kansas might be a test case for art ... and a model for the rest of the country.

Guests:

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. 

Ken Doll / Kansas Center for Economic Growth

The Sunflower State's budget is a mess and lawmakers in Topeka are struggling to solve the state's fiscal woes. Today, a former budget director evaluates the precarious situation. Also, we speak with novelist Ellen Hopkins, who experienced the kidnapping of one daughter and the drug addiction of another.

Yukiko Matsuoka / Flickr -- CC

How do you get information from the government, especially after the recent lockdown on communication from federal agencies? Two veteran investigative reporters explain how they deal with governmental transparency and secrecy.

Plus, a chat with local musician Kenn Jankowski about his new group, Jaenki.

Guests:

Crazy Fred ET / Wikipedia Commons and Jim Bowen / Flickr - CC

As the 115th U.S. Congress meets in Washington for the first time, new state legislatures will soon take the reins in Jefferson City and Topeka. Today, we look forward to possible political developments and legislation likely to arise in the Missouri and Kansas capitals.

Susie Fagan / KHI News Service

Former Democratic Gov. John Carlin and former Republican House Speaker Mike O’Neal have starkly different views on the condition of Kansas government. That divergence was plain as the two met in Topeka Thursday for a discussion about the size of government recorded for KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Kansas podcast.

 

O’Neal and Carlin agree on one thing -- that they don’t know exactly what the “right size” of state government is.

 

As part of a series on mental health care in Kansas by Heartland Health Monitor, we take a look at the history of Topeka's landmark mental health center: the Menninger Clinic.

Guest:

  • Roy Menninger, former president, Menninger Clinic

 Julia Szabo
KCUR 89.3

The number of teachers leaving Kansas or simply quitting the profession has dramatically increased over the last four years.

The annual Licensed Personnel Report was released Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Education. While it was provided to the Board of Education meeting in Topeka Tuesday, the report was buried in board documents and not addressed by either staff or the board.

The report shows that 1,075 teachers left the profession last year, up from 669 four years ago. That's a 61 percent increase.

In researching Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, Arkansas State University sociologist Rebecca Barrett-Fox got an intimate view of the ministry's operations. Despite what most people think, Barrett-Fox found the congregation and its roots aren't that far off the beaten path.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A state Senate race in the Topeka area shows how complicated this election cycle can be for some candidates. Kansas Republicans are running at a time when polls are showing the state’s Republican governor – and the Legislature itself – with pretty low approval ratings.

Senator Vicki Schmidt, a moderate Republican from Topeka’s 20th District, is not shy about the fact that she often doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Gov. Sam Brownback.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

A federal judge blocked Kansas’ effort to cut off two regional Planned Parenthood affiliates’ Medicaid funding, ruling the move likely violates federal law.

In a 54-page decision handed down late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (now known as Planned Parenthood Great Plains) and by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Four former governors have banded together to “Save Kansas” from Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters.

In a letter circulated Friday, former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Graves, Mike Hayden and John Carlin urged Kansas Democrats, Republicans and Independents to band together “to regain our fiscal health and stop the calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.

flickr user Peter Musolino

Many teenagers seek out jobs, often for the first time, in the summer. Writer and novelist Thomas Fox Averill was 16 when he started his first job at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas.

Averill, a writer-in-residence and professor of English at Washburn University, spent three summers as part of the grounds crew at Mount Hope. He told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam that the experience shaped his life and his approach to writing.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The stage is set for what many believe could be a pivotal 2016 election season in Kansas.

With campaigns for all 165 seats in the Legislature, the opportunity for change is reflected in the roster of candidates certified by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after Wednesday’s filing deadline.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Now that the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the Legislature failed to fix inequity, school districts must seriously plan for a possible shut down on June 30.

Here's some questions school officials and parents may be asking.

Are the schools really going to close on June 30?

Dyche Hall, University of Kansas
Ajohnson360 / CC

The regular meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday already had a bit of a somber tone; all six universities came in with tuition hike requests between 3.3 percent and 5 percent. In a 109-page document the schools detailed increased expenses and an anticipated 3 percent cut from the state.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

Most school districts have moved to comply with stricter nutrition standards since the U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed them almost four years ago. 

But many still lack kitchen equipment necessary to make the healthier school breakfasts and lunches appealing.

There's a lot to talk about in politics right now. The Kansas Legislative session is over, Missouri's session is in its final week, and the race for the presidential nomination is headed for the finish line. Up To Date's political pundits hash it all out. 

Guests:

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was processing a crime scene Sunday  at a Topeka hotel where three federal agents suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while trying to make an arrest on Saturday night.

According to a statement by the FBI, members of the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force were executing a federal arrest warrant for Orlando J. Collins, 28, who was on the Kansas most-wanted list and was considered armed and dangerous. The warrant had been issued for Collins on April 20, charging him with two counts of robbery.

mariathemexican.com

Maria Elena Cuevas calls her sound "roots music." In her case, roots have special significance. Her grandmother founded one of the first all-female mariachi bands in the country. That's where Cuevas and her sister/bandmate, Tess, got an early start. Hear songs from Maria the Mexican's new album, including a live in-studio performance.

  • Maria Elena Cuevas, frontwoman, Maria the Mexican, out with a new album called South of the Border Moonlight

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Residents of St. John, Kansas packed a room in late January for an emotional, standing-room-only town hall meeting.

A week later Topekans gathered for an eerily similar meeting .

It is still unknown what the impact of the landmark Gannon school finance case will be, since the Kansas Supreme Court won't ultimately decide on it until sometime next year. 

What is clearer now, though, is the state's stance on what role the Court should play in determining funding for Kansas public education. In short, the state thinks the Court has no role. Briefs filed in Gannon Monday by the state essentially tell the Court to stay out of its legislative business. 

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