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Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Ragtime Was All The Rage A Century Ago — In Sedalia, Missouri, It Still Is

Ragtime is big with the kids in Sedalia. One day this spring, about 100 of them cheered for William McNally , a two-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. His performance at Sacred Heart School quickly won them over with the lively music that was all the rage 120 years ago. “It’s kind of like making you want more," said Thomas Jenkins, 11, who had been taking piano lessons for about a year.

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Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

Whether money’s tight or you have more moolah than you need, why pay more for your go-and-do than you have to?

Free, or nearly so, activities in the coming days and weeks range from expressions of national patriotism and promising local talent to appreciations of veggies, Italy and the entertainment value of William Shakespeare’s hypothetical love life.

Indeed, you don’t have to deplete yourself to enjoy yourself. So take a look – no charge!

1. Celebration at the Station

Last year, Missouri's hotline for reports about abuse of elderly adults, as well as abuse of residents with disabilities, answered only half of its calls.

More than 17,000 callers heard the message, "All agents are busy, please call back," and the calls were disconnected.

Back to school will be a little later in Missouri next year if lawmakers get their way.

The Missouri General Assembly passed a law pushing school start dates back about a week over the opposition of school administrators. It’s part of an effort to encourage families to fit one more weekend of trips to amusement parks and lakeside cabins around the state.

Andrea Allen / Wikimedia Commons, bit.ly/2M4AQBz

In April, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s constitution gives women a right to abortion.

That landmark ruling bolsters an ongoing lawsuit to expand access to abortion in Wichita. The case aims to clear the way for a clinic there — unable to find any willing, local doctors — to lean more on physicians in other states.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Counties across Missouri hoped this was the year that the Department of Corrections would make headway on the $20-$30 million they’re owed for housing inmates who eventually go to state prisons.

But legislators allocated only $1.75 million more to address the backlog. Missouri's practice of reimbursing counties in this way is unique in the United States, and local sheriffs and county leaders say it’s time for a better solution.

Updated 7:30 a.m. ET

A devastating series of storms late Wednesday spawned multiple tornadoes that caused extensive damage to several buildings and led to three deaths in Missouri.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Gov. Mike Parson told reporters at a morning press briefing. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state."

He added: "But three is too many."

Passenger trains will keep rolling through rural communities in Kansas, for now. But Amtrak still hasn’t committed to operating the long-distance routes that connect small towns to larger cities long-term.

Earlier this year, Congress agreed to an additional $50 million to keep the Southwest Chief, which travels from Chicago to Los Angeles with stops in several small Kansas cities, running through September.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Lee’s Summit school board remains deeply divided over issues of race and equity, a week after voting down a plan to bring in consultants for diversity training.

At a tense work session Wednesday night, newly elected board member Mike Allen accused the district’s first black superintendent, Dennis Carpenter, of only caring about black students.

Carpenter responded, “I will not let you do this. Tell me when I said I was here for the black kids only.”

Kansas City Public Library

Matt Staub considers himself to be a forward-thinking guy.

And lately, he's been wondering whether, if he'd been a city leader in the 1950s, would he have wanted to build the downtown loop — those four highway arteries that form a boundary around Kansas City, Missouri's central business district.

Courtesy of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

Updated, 10:30 a.m. Thursday: The meeting this week ended with a commitment to resist the plan approved in February at the General Conference; the church leaders present are not yet calling for a split. Some churches will continue to marry and ordain LGBTQ members.

The original post continues below.

The United Methodist Church is in crisis.

In February, the General Conference of the church held a special session in St. Louis, Missouri, to decide whether to allow marriage and ordination for its LGBTQ members.

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Advice For High School Graduates Now That 'There Are No Rules'

Changes to the political, economic and technological landscape have made age-old advice obsolete. So what's the advice now? Kansas Citians young and old weigh in.

Former Lenexa Principal Wants Others To Learn From His Mistakes

After his depression led to a DUI charge and the loss of his job, Cory Strathman decided to use his personal story as a way to destigmatize major depressive disorder.