Laura Ziegler | KCUR

Laura Ziegler

Community Reporter

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and  in 1988,  went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

In 1993, she came back to Kansas City as the Midwest correspondent for National Public Radio. Among the stories she covered - the floods of 1993, the ongoing farm crisis and rural affairs, and presidential campaigns.

After the birth of her 3rd child, Laura returned to KCUR as producer of Under the Clock, a weekly talk show broadcast live from Union Station. It was hosted by former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. When he was elected 5th district Congressman in 2002, Laura returned to KCUR as a part-time reporter and producer.

Laura has won numerous awards for her work, including three regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

In 1992, Laura was awarded a Jefferson Fellowship in Journalism with the East West Center at the University of Hawaii which took her to China, Japan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand.  In 1990, she was part of a reporting trip to the then -Soviet Union with the American Center for International Leadership.

Laura graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from Vassar College.

She, her husband, and their three children - Julia, Ellie, and Benjamin, live with Laura's father in the house in which she was born.

Ways to Connect

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.8

In a week when the first concrete is being poured to extend Kansas City's MAX bus line from downtown to Prospect Avenue, the Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) met with residents to let them know when buildings might be blocked and where protected walkways will be.

A visit to the town of Liberty, Missouri and its outlying areas to hear about a growing Mormon community, a legendary teacher in the city’s formerly segregated schools and William Jewell College’s evolving role in the town.

Guests: 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Just off the historic Town Square in Liberty, Missouri, there is a spot that every year draws thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s a replica of the jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and a handful of his followers were imprisoned for several months through the winter of 1838 – 1839.

The story is that Smith and his flock, having migrated from New York, clashed violently with militia in the Midwest.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Royal Theater, once called The Fox Theater, opened in Atchison, Kansas, in 1912 as a vaudeville theater. It later showed films on the silent screen, complete with an in house piano player. They added talkies when they came along in the 1920s.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

For decades, except for an occasional festival along the banks of the Missouri River, few Kansas Citians had much reason to visit Berkley Riverfront Park. And even if people wanted to visit the park named for former Mayor Richard L. Berkley, it was hard to get there.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.8

Catholics in and around Kansas City said for the most part they support Pope Francis’ declaration Thursday, in which he officially changed Catholic doctrine to say the death penalty is wrong in all cases.

This is a departure for the church, which has historically accepted the death penalty for the most heinous crimes.

Courtesy Photo / KCATA

Johnson County commissioners voted Thursday to expand paratransit bus service to all disabled and elderly Johnson County residents.

Previously, the service was limited to residents living within the boundaries of 47th and 159th Streets and K-7 Highway and State Line Road.

Johnson County spokesman Joshua Powers says Johnson County's rapid growth requires better service for everyone, but those dependent on public transit in particular.

Courtesy photo / Bruce Matthews

Elmwood Cemetery covers 43 acres shaded by centuries-old trees at the corner of Van Brunt Boulevard and Truman Road in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood. Anywhere from 35,000 to 38,000 people are buried there, including mayors, local pioneers and scions of Kansas City's business and civic communites.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith identified the suspect who died after a violent spree of gunfire in two different locations on Sunday as 25-year-old Marlin Mack.

Smith said officers had identified Mack as a person of interest in last week’s killing of Sarath Koppu, a native of India who was an engineering student at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

GO FUND ME

Kansas City police confirmed that Sunday’s exchanges of gunfire involved a man suspected of killing University of Missouri-Kansas City student Sharath Koppu on July 6 in Kansas City. The suspect was killed and three police officers were injured.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard revisits a road trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.8

When Dr. Philip L. Stevens, the family doctor in Tonganoxie, Kansas, passed away in 2015, his family decided his office was worth preserving. After 60 years in practice in the small town 35 miles west of Kansas City, he'd delivered generations of babies and cared for just about everybody in town.

Doc Stevens was beloved in Tonganoxie. He was considered a pillar of the community. 

Leaving his examining table, medical instruments and scale just as they'd been for decades, Doc Steven's family created a mini-museum after his death.

File photo / Kansas News Service

Stories of small-town Kansas usually deal with issues like population decline, the brain drain or boarded up downtowns and food deserts. A different story played out last year in Tonganoxie, a growing town of about 5,000 people that rejected a proposal for a chicken plant that would offer more than 1,000 jobs. On this episode, we dig into Tonganoxie, a town where the population is changing and where the controversy over a poultry plant has raised questions about what that change will look like in the future.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

Last September, the ground shifted under the small town of Tonganoxie, Kansas, about 35 miles due west of Kansas City.

When word got out that Tyson Foods, Inc. was ready to announce it would soon break ground just outside town on a $320 million poultry complex — a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill — opponents organized immediately.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.8

Years of effort on the part of local activists and historians to designate the Quindaro ruins in Kansas City, Kansas, as a National Historic Landmark may be entering the final stages.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, along with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, have co-sponsored legislation to give the site the prestigious status. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

High poverty rates, aging infrastructure and vacant homes.

These are problems that commonly occur together and that discourage community revitilization.

The Marlborough Community Coalition in south Kansas City, five neighborhoods come together as one, is trying to do things differently.

FEMA

A handful of Johnson County's 197 sirens designed to warn residents of a tornado didn’t go off in South Johnson County, where an EF-1 tornado touched down the night of May 2.

“There were some sirens that we found out didn’t activate when they were supposed to and we’re running that down right now,” says Trent Pittman, Johnson County's assistant director of Community Preparedness.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

With the help of a rented plane, Jerry Eisterhold found the perfect place to start a vineyard with grapes native to the Midwest, grapes that no one had cultivated for more than 150 years.

Wikipedia / Creative Commons

This month has brought renewed attention to the historic Underground Railroad site known as the Quindaro Ruins in Kansas City, Kansas.

After a gathering of community members, historians and scholars sought to raise awareness about the importance of the site last week, Congressman Kevin Yoder has announced that he would introduce legislation to designate Quindaro a National Historic Landmark.

The Old Quindaro Township in Kansas City, Kansas, finally may be getting the recognition it deserves.

Between 1857 and 1862, Quindaro was a busy commercial port on the Missouri River. It was a mecca for abolitionists and settlers and considered a melting pot of Indians, European-Americans and freed slaves.  New England progressives came in the hopes of making Kansas an anti-slave state. It's best known as an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

Pete O'Neal

In an interview from his remote village in Tanzania, Kansas City native and self-exiled founder of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panthers, Lindsey “Pete” O’Neal, says he regrets some of the actions for which he's been vilified and feared.

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Carmen Xavier, a candidate for the Board of Education in Smithville, Missouri, has been very deliberate about letting voters know she is transgender. But she’s also been very clear that she believes her decades of public service qualify her for the job.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

The total number of homicides has been rising and falling for decades here in Kansas City, Missouri. Right now, we're in the midst of a scary climb. It's easy in times like these to ask, why? We always seem to start there. We want to change the conversation. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Law enforcement officers in Kansas City are engaged in an innovative approach to fighting violent crime.

In 2016, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Kansas City Police Department won grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to use data and community involvement to attack the city’s violent crime rate. Funds are being matched locally.

It’s led by a Yale Law School graduate with roots in the Mennonite community of Newton, Kansas.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Leaders of the India Association of Kansas City were meeting at a Scooter's Coffee in south Overland Park Wednesday night to plan the first India Day celebration.

Most of these men did not know Srinivas Kutchibhotla, the 32 year old Garmin engineer and Indian immigrant who was shot and killed on Feb. 22, 2017, at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe. Nor did they know his best friend, Alok Madasini, or Ian Grillot, a bar patron who intervened.

Harvest Public Media

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security has had authority over the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, under construction on the campus of Kansas State University.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County Commissioners on Thursday morning committed $300,000 to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for expanded bus service to south Johnson County.

The additional routes will cater to the fast-growing labor market at Logistics Park KC, a massive transportation and distribution hub in Edgerton, Kansas, and to the New Century Air Center in Olathe.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

OK, so we're not Hershey, Pennsylvania.

But Kansas City has a respectable history of candy-making. We all know about Russell Stover, but several other vintage candies are, or have been, made in the area, and there's no better time than Valentine's Day for making note of that legacy. 

Love them or hate them, these are confectionary standards that your great-grandparents might have bought (for a nickel).

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Employers in Johnson County, Kan., had a problem: lots of jobs, but no way to get their workers from Kansas City, Mo., to this mushrooming suburban job market.

So transit authorities in both areas – along with some private companies – have cooked up a possible solution to the staffing problem.

Ride KC Job Access, a customized public transit system created by Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Johnson County Transportation Council and private vehicle rental companies, will provide vans that accommodate a greater variety of work schedules.

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