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Top Of The Morning News: January 28, 2013

The CEO of General Motors will announce details of a major expansion at its Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is slated address education, mental health, and Medicaid in his State of the State address this evening. City leaders in Kansas City will host several public meetings this week, aimed at strengthening arts and culture in the region.

Major Announcement At Fairfax Auto Plant Today

Top officials at General Motors and the United Auto Workers are slated to make a major announcement today at the company’s Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan. The plant is the largest private employer in KCK, with nearly 4,000 workers. Fairfax, along with the Ford Claycomo plant, are responsible for thousands of spin-off jobs at suppliers around the region.  City officials are specifically expecting to hear more about a major expansion at Fairax. Last year, the city okayed $120 million in revenue bonds to finance a proposed 400,000-square-foot paint shop at the plant. The expansion is not expected to create a lot more jobs at the plant, but city leaders see it as a huge vote of confidence by General Motors that it will continue making vehicles at Fairfax for a long time. The plant makes the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu.

Missouri Governor To Outline Budget In State Of The State Address

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will lay out his proposed budget tonight when he delivers his annual State of the State Address.  The address will include his call for expanding Medicaid coverage, which GOP leaders in both chambers have already said won’t happen.  He will also call for more education funding from Kindergarten through college. That marks an about-face for Higher Education, which has undergone budget cuts for the past three years, including a $9 million cut last year.  Nixon is also expected to ask lawmakers to spend money on mental health training as a means of improving school safety.

Few Details In Proposed KTA-KDOT Merger

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has proposed merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) and the state's highway department (KDOT), but so far few details have been released. Michael Johnston, head of the KTA, says he hasn’t taken a stance on the proposal. Merging the KTA and KDOT will create around $15 million in annual efficiencies, according to Brownback. Johnston says the KTA is running efficiently in its current form.

City Initiative Aims To Bolster The Arts

Kansas City is kicking off the first in a series of public meetings today, aimed at bolstering arts and culture in the region and building a comprehensive vision for the future. The project is part of Mayor Sly James' recently created task force on the arts. The group will be looking at several issues, including urban planning, education, and technology and the arts. It’s also expected to review whether the municipal arts commission, which has been around for nearly 90 years, should have a more prominent role in the arts, aside from approving new public arts projects.

Police In Search Of Witness To Attack On Metro Bus

Police are looking for a man who might have witnessed the attack of a rider on a Metro bus earlier this month. A 61-year-old male passenger was critically injured after an assault and robbery on the evening of January 18, near 57th Street and Prospect Avenue. Police want to talk to a man who got off at the same time as the victim. The man is thought to be in his mid-20s to mid-30s and at the time, wore a black leather jacket and red baseball hat.

White-Nose Syndrome Found In Another Missouri Bat

A bat found in a southern Missouri cave has tested positive for the deadly white-nose syndrome. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the bat was found in the entrance of a Cave about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis. White-nose syndrome doesn’t infect people or livestock but it has killed more than 5 million bats nationwide since it first was identified in 2006. The disease is caused by a fungus. It’s mainly spread through bat-to-bat contact but can be carried between caves through human clothing and equipment. Conservation officials say signs of white-nose syndrome have now been confirmed in 15 bats in six Missouri counties. The disease has been confirmed in 19 states.

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