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Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The defendant in a murder and arson trial was involved in five other fires for which she collected insurance money, an expert witness testified Thursday.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. July 19 to correct numbers in 2nd paragraph —There are few places better to see the effects of an intensifying drought than a hulking, 200-plus-acre complex just off of Interstate 44 in southwest Missouri.

This is the Joplin Regional Stockyards, one of the biggest in the country, selling more than 430,000 head of cattle in 2017 alone. Usually, they’ll have 800 to 900 cows on the block at weekly Wednesday sales. On July 11, they had double that.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County Administrator Dean Brookshier resigned Wednesday.

Brookshier will be paid more than $240,000 in severance pay, unused vacation pay and unused sick time. This is despite Brookshier not giving the county the 90 days of notice required by his employment contract. Under his employment contract, failing to give 90 days of notice meant that he wouldn’t be “entitled to any benefits in addition to those afforded him under the law and County policy.”

In a 2-1 vote in executive session Wednesday, the county commissioners waived this requirement.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a boost in his run for Kansas governor from Donald Trump Jr. at an event Tuesday night in Wichita.

As the crowd cheered "U-S-A! U-S-A!," Kobach introduced Trump as a man who "needs no introduction."

Westar has reached an agreement with staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission and several other interested parties that would reduce Westar’s annual revenue by $66 million.

For the average residential customer, that will mean a decrease of about $3.50 a month.

Westar's original request was for a $52 million increase.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A new system for hiring agencies to coordinate adoptions and foster care placements in Kansas will continue to let some groups cite religious beliefs to exclude some prospective parents — including gay couples.

The Department for Children and Families earlier this week had left lawmakers confused about whether a new grant system would extend those religious protections to the agencies taking over statewide foster care and family preservation contracts.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bipartisan bill last week because the detailed standards for an online STEM curriculum program seemed “narrowly tailored to apply to only one company.” And that company helped create that criteria, according to one of the bill’s handlers.

Cattle producers in drought-stricken Kansas counties may now cut hay or graze on land normally set aside for conservation.

A federal judge has frozen the assets  of 10 Kansas City-area companies that allegedly ran phony sweepstakes contests, preying mainly on the elderly.

U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Tuesday also ordered the appointment of a temporary receiver to take charge of the businesses and imposed conditions on their operation.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Lora McDonald says she had to live with mold in her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment for six months before her landlord took any action.

“It is a long time to live with mold outside my son’s bedroom,” McDonald says.

McDonald, executive director of More2 and an advocate for equitable housing, says she took her concerns all the way to the director of the Kansas City health department, who told her that aside from testing for mold and advising the landlord to fix it, there was nothing the city could do.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

On the second day of a murder and arson trial in Kansas City, prosecutors sparred with defense attorneys over how the blaze that led to the deaths of  two firefighters began.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The historic Savoy Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, re-opened Tuesday with a new name: 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City.

“We never dreamed that there’d be more than one when we started,” says founder Steve Wilson, who launched the first 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2006, with his wife, Laura Lee Brown. 

There are now eight boutique hotels in the chain, and each includes curated gallery spaces and site-specific installations of 21st century art.

Screenshot

Tooling through parades in a flag-themed Jeep with a faux machine gun mounted on the back apparently wasn’t enough for Secretary of State Kris Kobach to win over the National Rifle Association in the Kansas governor’s race

The country’s largest and most influential gun lobby on Monday instead endorsed Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in his Republican primary. That left Kobach claiming that he still has the backing of grassroots gun rights voters.

The NRA said its endorsement reflected Colyer’s “strong support for the Second Amendment and the hunting heritage of Kansas.”

This story has been updated. An earlier version listed incorrect fundraising totals for two candidates.

Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s most recent campaign finance report shows him far ahead of challengers in raising funds to hold the seat representing Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

In the race to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in a district covering Topeka, Lawrence and much of the rest of eastern Kansas, the lone Democrat enjoys a money advantage over Republicans who first must elbow past each other.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County is pledging $500,000 over two years to build a Law Enforcement Memorial Garden in Kansas City, Missouri, despite concerns over the budget.

The Clay County Commissioners voted 2-1 today in favor of the funding the memorial in a contentious meeting. Critics worried about pledging money before the 2020 budget process and donating to the memorial after reducing funding to the sheriff’s office.

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.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A revival of rural Kansas can come from drawing businesses and housing to the centers of small cities and by building better highways, gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly said Monday.

In a plan she says could invigorate rural areas, the Democrat also calls for propping up small grocery stores, expanding Medicaid coverage, reopening state offices closed in recent years and fixing deteriorating housing in those areas.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A restructuring of how Kansas hires agencies to manage foster care and adoptions could allow widespread exclusion of placements with gay parents — a revelation Monday that prompted objections from some lawmakers.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

In front of a crowd of hundreds Saturday afternoon, Jason Kander emphasized his political experience in his run for Kansas City, Missouri, mayor.

The former Missouri secretary of state and Missouri representative officially launched his campaign at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, entering the crowded field of mayoral candidates in the June 2019 election.

Helix Architecture + Design, Inc.

The Kansas City Art Institute broke ground on new student housing Thursday across the street from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

"The last time we did this was 1968 when we built that," said Art Institute president Tony Jones, pointing to the current residence hall. "To say that it's a little bit out of date ... would be an understatement." 

The old dorm will be repurposed for academic space, said Jones, and a "brand new living center" will be created to better fit the needs of contemporary students in art, design, craft, and technology.     

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Schlitterbahn will tear down the Verrückt water slide in Kansas City, Kansas, nearly two years after 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died on it.

Over the last six years, enough opioids were shipped to the state of Missouri to give every resident 260 pills.

The finding comes from a report released Thursday by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. It's the latest in a series of investigations by the senator into the role of drugmakers, distributors and other industry players in fueling the opioid epidemic.

Updated July 12 with brief response from plaintiffs' attorney - A Cole County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Mike Kehoe as Missouri’s lieutenant governor.

In a ruling issued late Wednesday, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said that Gov. Mike Parson had the authority to appoint fellow Republican Kehoe to the state’s No. 2 office, under the Missouri Constitution.

Kansas Department of Revenue

Kansas is set to roll out a modified license plate Aug. 1. It's not the look of the plates that will be changing, so much as the process by which they are produced, a move that state officials say will save money.

James Cavallini / Science Source

Kansas has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the state’s Medicaid program sets too many barriers for hepatitis C patients to receive potentially life-saving but expensive medications.

Terms of the settlement have yet to be finalized, but the parties filed a notice with the court Tuesday afternoon that they had resolved the case after mediation. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Nearly a year after Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway released a scathing audit of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, the tiny hospital is still struggling to recover from a lab billing scheme that's now the subject of criminal investigations. 

The Republican chairman of the now-defunct House panel that investigated then-Gov. Eric Greitens has filed a formal complaint with the state Ethics Commission accusing Greitens of running an illegal shadow campaign operation to avoid the state’s campaign-donation laws.

“With the ethics complaint that has been filed based on the work of the House investigative committee, the Missouri Ethics Commission has overwhelming evidence to conclude that Eric Greitens, his campaign committee and affiliated dark-money organization broke state campaign-finance laws,” said Democratic committee members Gina Mitten and Tommie Pierson Jr.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons file photo

President Donald Trump will headline a July 24 fundraiser for Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley, Cass County Republican Party chairman Bill Kartsonis told KCUR in an email.

Missouri charter schools will now be able to give preference to poor or struggling students in its lottery admissions system.

That change was part of an omnibus education bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Parson. Some charter schools in St. Louis have struggled to maintain their mission as they increased in popularity and surrounding neighborhoods gentrified.

Bigstock

Platte County taxpayers are on the hook for at least $70,000 in legal fees incurred by Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd in connection with an ethics complaint filed against him in May 2016.

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