News | KCUR

News

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In February 1920, the owners of eight independently owned black baseball teams met in Kansas City at the Paseo YMCA and the Negro National League was born. It was not the first all-black baseball league, but it's the one that modernized the negro leagues and it was the last before integration.

The Negro Leagues Baseball centennial is being celebrated this year all over the country. But if it weren't for a Kansas City man who grew up in the same neighborhood as a handful of former players for the Kansas City Monarchs, we might not even know this history.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

With less than four months remaining in the school year, a teary-eyed Amanda Coffman explained why she would no longer be in the hallways to greet students at the morning bell.

The Indian Woods Middle School teacher stood before the Shawnee Mission School Board and announced her resignation – effective immediately.

Coffman expected to receive feedback from her community and her parents in Michigan, but said she didn’t expect the video of the event to go farther than her parents' house.

Listen to this episode of A People's History Of Kansas City, a new podcast from KCUR 89.3. For more stories like this one, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Last July, Frank Sereno, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri's Waldo neighborhood, gathered his neighbors and threw a three-month anniversary party for a pothole, complete with birthday cake.

He was fed up. He had reported this specific pothole, which was outside his house, to City Hall's 311 Action Center three months earlier to no avail. After the story of the pothole birthday party went viral, the pothole was fixed almost immediately.

Gordon Parks / Gordon Parks Foundation

Before Cassius Clay took the name Muhammad Ali, he was a 22-year-old who’d been rechristened “the champ,” the greatest boxer in the world.

Long-time Life magazine photojournalist and renaissance man Gordon Parks was assigned to cover the young man twice, once in 1966 and again in 1970. What Parks found after many meetings was a 24-year-old with bruised fists looking for approval — a side of the superstar the public hadn't seen.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Women are partly responsible for the private art gallery scene that's flourished in Kansas City over the past 20 years. And despite the stereotype of the artist working alone in a studio, they've been networking just like professionals in other industries.

“That’s what people do in the business world when they want to find a job or make contacts,” says CJ Charbonneau.

Shannon Lockwood / Courtesy of Emily Brown

Emily Brown runs a nonprofit in the Kansas City area. She is a black woman who wears her hair naturally. In 2016, she was invited to speak at a national conference, but one of the board members pulled her aside.

"'You know, I think you’re smart,'" Brown told the story recently on KCUR's Central Standard. "'But I’m concerned, you know, that people in the room may not fully hear you because of your hair. You should consider straightening your hair, you know, before you take this trip.'"

MoDOT

If your weekend travel plans typically include I-70 in Independence, you'll want to find an alternate route this weekend. 

That's because the Missouri Department of Transporation is shutting down a seven-mile stretch of one of the metro's busiest roadways to make way for a major construction project where I-70 meets I-435 near the Truman Sports Complex. 

Here's what you need to know: 

WHERE: MoDOT plans to shut down westbound I-70 between where Route 291 meets I-470 in Independence to the I-435/I-70 interchange near the stadiums. 

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Taxpayers in Kansas City, Missouri, have a chance between now and March 3 to influence how the city spends their money.

Mayor Quinton Lucas released his proposed budget last week. The budget prioritizes fighting violent crime, increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing and fixing potholes, but it falls roughly $3 million short of another of the mayor's priorities: eliminating bus fares.

K-State Sports

Scott Frantz has been quietly preparing for what lies ahead since Kansas State’s football season ended at a bowl game on Dec. 31. It’s a future that could change NFL history.

Frantz, an offensive lineman from Lawrence, is gay. His teammates and the Wildcat faithful have known that for three years. But not since Mizzou’s Michael Sam has a college football player been out publicly before seeking a pro career. 

KCUR 89.3 file photo

As city and state governments across the country legalize marijuana, Kansas City’s mayor wants to make it easier to clean the slate for people convicted of some cannabis-related offenses.

Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced an online system Tuesday afternoon that lets people convicted on municipal marijuana possession charges in Kansas City ask for pardons — free of charge.

“What I want to be able to do for these folks is to say, ‘You might’ve made a mistake at some point, but that we’re going to be fair in how we apply the law in Kansas City and in Missouri,’” Lucas said.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A crossing guard employed by the city of Kansas City, Kansas, died Tuesday after he pushed two schoolchildren out of the way of an oncoming car. 

The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. along the 5400 block of Leavenworth Road outside the Christ the King Catholic School. Kansas City, Kansas, Police have identified the victim as 88-year-old Bob Nill. 

Julie Denesha

A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, who was publicly reprimanded last year for workplace misconduct is resigning after more than 20 years on the bench.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia tendered his resignation effective April 1, 2020, in a letter to President Trump that was released by the federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Tuesday afternoon.  

leyla.a / Flickr - CC

If you placed a Super Bowl wager in Missouri or Kansas this year, chances are good it was probably illegal.

But in Missouri, the smart money is increasingly on legal sports betting. That might become a reality by the end of the year, thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court case that gave states the right to organize sports betting.

Screenshot from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations' website

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas is unmatched in its tracking of ex-convicts, resulting in more than 21,000 people convicted of sex, drug or violent crimes being registered on a public database.

One of them is Marc Schultz, who was convicted of manslaughter for hitting and killing a cyclist while driving drunk in 2010.

“I will forever live with the burden of taking a man’s life for a decision that I made,” Schultz said Monday. “But I didn’t intend for this to happen.”

Courtesy Dee Jackson

Former KSHB-TV Channel 41 sports anchor Demetrice “Dee” Jackson has settled his race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the station.

Jackson’s attorneys said the matter had been “resolved,” but declined further comment.

Jackson, who is no longer employed at the station, confirmed that the case was over and that he was “pleased with the end result.”

“I’m happy it’s been resolved,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty much all I can say off the top of my head without saying too much.”

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — When it comes to cybersecurity, most Kansas counties are behind. Overall, only eight county websites end in .gov, a domain extension that’s only given to governments.

Most of Kansas’ 105 counties have websites ending in .org or .com. And 60 counties don’t use a basic security protocol called SSL; their website URLs start with “http” rather than the more secure “https.” Both make it easier for hackers to impersonate websites in an effort to install malware, trick citizens into giving out personal data or sway elections.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Two top Clay County officials who make more than $100,000 a year live rent-free at county-managed properties, according to leases obtained by KCUR through a records request. 

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s transportation plan isn’t as bold as those that came before it.

Since the 1990s, Kansas has spent tens of billions of dollars on three successive 10-year programs. Each required a tax increase and launched with a commitment to complete a long list of new building projects.

But Kelly, a Democrat who won election on a promise to restore the state’s finances, isn’t proposing a bunch of new projects. And she isn’t seeking a tax increase to help pay for her plan.

Gary Scott

Desperate for a better connection with his kids, writer and editor Dan Kois uprooted his family from their busy lives. Kois documents this journey in his book, "How To Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together.”

Before hitting the road, Kois said, his family was in "crisis." Though they lived under the same roof in Arlington, Virginia, everyone seemed to be living apart from one another.

Coronavirus Tests Public Health Infrastructure In The Heartland

Feb 16, 2020
DigitalVision/Vectors / Getty Images

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Every weekday at noon since Jan. 27, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams gathers his outbreak response team for a meeting on coronavirus.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

By some measures, the United States' economy is in great shape. President Donald Trump touts record low unemployment as evidence that things have never been better. His argument is bolstered by historic stock market increases over the last year.

And if Esther George has one word to describe her 2020 economic outlook, it would be "positive."

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas legislative session began with what seemed like a done deal for expanding Medicaid. Gov. Laura Kelly and a top Republican senator had forged a compromise to offer health coverage for up to 130,000 low-income Kansans.

About a month later, the deal has ground to a halt — and even the state budget could be held up — because of abortion politics. 

Ca Va/Facebook

If you appreciate your own company but dining solo in a restaurant intimidates you, you're not alone. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try.

"I love dining alone. I'm almost evangelical about it," Liz Cook said on KCUR's Central Standard. "One of the reasons I love it is that I'm alone so seldom in my daily life.... This is a time to completely carve out for yourself."

J.E. Miller / Courtesy of Missouri Valley Room, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.

Listen to this episode of A People's History Of Kansas City, a new podcast from KCUR 89.3. For more stories like this one, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas Department of Labor has sided with the teachers union in an ongoing contract dispute with the Shawnee Mission School District.

The Department of Labor found that the district committed a “prohibited labor practice” when it imposed a three-year unilateral contract on teachers late last month.

The labor board’s ruling came just minutes before a 4 p.m. deadline for teachers to sign that contract. Only one teacher had tendered her resignation as of mid-afternoon Friday, according to a district spokesman. Most teachers had already signed the three-year contract.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's relatively new problem of affordable housing is also squeezing artists out of studios.

That's especially noticeable in the Crossroads Arts District, which was a mostly abandoned area south of downtown when artists began to establish galleries and studios there in the mid-1980s. Their arrival signaled the beginning of the neighborhood's revival, but now the Crossroads' days as the center of the city’s arts community may be coming to an end.

Lynn Horsley / KCUR 89.3

As Overland Park marks its 60th anniversary, Mayor Carl Gerlach gave a decidedly upbeat assessment Thursday, touting downtown’s renaissance and record construction investment in recent years as proof of the suburb’s success.

In his “State of the City” address to more than 500 people at the Overland Park Convention Center, Gerlach said creating one of the nation’s most livable communities hasn’t happened by accident but from shrewd, forward-thinking “intentional leadership.”

Courtesy Overland Park Historical Society

The Kansas City Star’s front page on December 7, 1997, made a big splash about the $500 million construction just starting in the southern metro area.  

“Sprint makes history with its headquarters,” the headline read, adding that it was “so big it will have its own ZIP code and power substation."

This week, two more headlines showed that the respective heydays for Sprint and the Star are now history, as Sprint lurches closer to a merger with a competitor and the Star announced the bankruptcy of its parent company.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Near-record precipitation last year has set the stage for renewed flooding along the Missouri River and its tributaries, according to a forecast released Thursday.

In 2019, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries raged through towns and farms for months.  Forecaster Kevin Low at the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center said this year could be just as bad.

Pages