KCUR
Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

What Rural Kansas Child Care And Cafes Say About Shrinking Smart, Rather Than Withering

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places. PHILLIPSBURG, Kansas — The opening of a child care center attracts little notice in a city or suburb. In rural Kansas, it’s cause for celebration. The focus on young families, and the hope that represents, is remarkably rare in small towns fighting for survival against forces largely beyond their control.

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Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Dwight Frizzell was a teenager when he realized he could hear the Liberty Bend Bridge singing.

The bridge spans the Missouri River just north of Independence. It's part of Highway 291, which runs above Sugar Creek’s LaBenite Park.

“I heard the rhythm of the traffic — ka-kaw, kla-klock — but then I was also hearing resonances like singing, like harmonics, almost like voices singing in harmony,” says Frizzell, who’s been returning to the site for decades.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A former top official of Leawood-based American Multi-Cinema Inc. says she was fired after she pointed out disparities between her pay and that of her male counterparts.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Tonya Mangels, who was vice president-product marketing before her termination on Sept. 30, says male vice presidents at AMC were paid between 56% and 72% more than she was and received bigger stock grants. The pay difference amounted to between $117,000 and $149,000, according to her complaint.

WICHITA — Ashley and Erin Watt have always enjoyed the outdoors.

Over the years, they’ve spent a lot of time floating down the Arkansas River in south-central Kansas. Because of record-setting rains this spring, the two didn’t make their first kayak trip down the river until mid-August.

But what started as a leisurely trip ended with a remarkable discovery.

Don Christensen / American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

By the time he was 14, David Steinberg had been constructing crossword puzzles for two years. He thought they were pretty good, so he began sending them to New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz.

Attempts one through 16 received a hard no.

"Then the 17th one came back as a 'maybe,' instead of a 'no,'" Steinberg said. "It was a code-related puzzle, it had kind of a coded message, and he wanted the message to be related to code somehow. I had to rethink the theme a little bit."

Evert Nelson / The Topeka-Capital-Journal

From cries of heartbreak to a call for the prosecution of men who pay for sex with girls, Kansas lawmakers said the story of Hope Zeferjohn, a teen victim of sex-trafficking who was prosecuted for sex crimes, focuses a harsh light on a state system that is supposed to protect children.

Illustration by David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s school report cards are out, and they don’t look anything like they did last year.

The redesigned Annual Performance Report (APR) does away with the percentile score that the state uses to make accreditation decisions and replaces it with color-coded bar graphs meant to give parents a more detailed look at how their school district or charter school is doing. 

But educators aren’t sure how accessible all that information really is.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

In a 3-2 decision divided on party lines, the Federal Communications Commission has formally approved the merger between Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc.

Although the FCC has telegraphed its approval of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger, that doesn't mean there isn't dissent within the agency.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks was one of two Democrats to cast a dissenting vote Wednesday, according to Law360.

Edmund D. Fountain

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.

On the last Tuesday of July, Tres Biggs stepped into the courthouse in Coffeyville, Kansas, for medical debt collection day, a monthly ritual in this quiet city of 9,000, just over the Oklahoma border. He was one of 90 people who had been summoned, sued by the local hospital, or doctors, or an ambulance service over unpaid bills. Some wore eye patches and bandages; others limped to their seats by the wood-paneled walls. Biggs, who is 41, had to take a day off from work to be there. He knew from experience that if he didn’t show up, he could be put in jail.

Agencies across Kansas are warning drivers to take additional caution as deer mating season begins, bringing higher levels of deer activity.

Sedgwick County had the highest reported cases of vehicle-deer collisions in the state last year with 418 cases. Butler County followed with 384 collisions.

Shawn Steward from the AAA of Kansas says the average cost per claim from car damage due to animal collisions is nearly $4,300.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Updated 12:30 p.m., Oct. 17, 2019 — Democrat Barry Grissom has dropped out and endorsed state Sen. Barbara Bollier.

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts says he will not run for re-election in 2020, opening the door to a parade of candidates announcing a run or considering jumping into the race to replace him. Multiple Republicans are eyeing the seat, and it could be the first time Democrats have a competitive U.S. Senate primary since the 1990s.

Here’s the rundown of who’s seeking the seat in Washington: 

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An Artist Takes On International Adoption Through Personal Stories

When Megan Rye stumbled upon the old referral photographs provided to her parents when they adopted her, she was inspired to use these artifacts to tell complex personal stories spanning continents.

How A Wyandotte County ID Could Ease Life For The Poor & Homeless

Advocates have been pushing the Unified Government for years to issue photo IDs. A county spokesperson says they're still researching the idea.