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courtesy InterUrban Art House

After a rocky decade, state funding for the arts in Kansas has begun to improve.

As of July 1, the start of a new fiscal year, state funding for the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission increased to $500,000, up from just over $190,000 over the last few years. It marks the highest state appropriation since 2013.

Christopher Smith for KHN

One Monday in February, 65-year-old Karen Endicott-Coyan gripped the wheel of her black 2014 Ford Taurus with both hands as she made the hour-long drive from her farm near Fort Scott to Chanute. With a rare form of multiple myeloma, she requires weekly chemotherapy injections to keep the cancer at bay.

She made the trip in pain, having skipped her morphine for the day to be able to drive safely. Since she sometimes “gets the pukes” after treatment, she had her neighbor and friend Shirley Palmer, 76, come along to drive her back.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

COFFEYVILLE — More than one in 10 kindergartners in Kansas in the 2017-2018 school year lacked at least some of the shots that the state requires to shield students against outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and more.

The state’s most recent annual report pegged the figure at 15%.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It all started in August 2016.

Natasha Hays, a young mother of three, was killed in her sleep in a drive-by shooting in Northeast Kansas City, Kansas.

Days later, another drive-by took the life of 15-year-old Brannae Browne. Hays’ teenage son, Michael Adams Jr., was charged with first-degree murder, though a jury later found him not guilty.

What followed was a string of killings that left four teenagers dead in less than a year — one that doesn’t seem to be over yet.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

On Sunday, LGBTQ organizations hosted the first pride picnic in Johnson County, Kansas, in a large pavilion at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park in Lenexa. 

Lori McGee, of Overland Park, sat on a blanket in the grass near a bubble machine, with her nine-month-old daughter, Ellie. 

"We've been looking for family events in Johnson County," said McGee, "and saw the pride event and thought, 'Wow, this would be wonderful for our daughter, and we would be able to hang out with other families that are like us."

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

If Superintendent Dennis Carpenter's relationship with the Lee's Summit R-7 Board of Education is strained, he's not saying so publicly.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's big Open Spaces arts festival last summer was supposed to be a temporary, biennial event. But seven pieces of art are still on view.

For ten weeks last August through October, Open Spaces featured visual arts as well as performing arts across the city, including 40 public art installations in Swope Park and inside and outside cultural venues such as the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

MoDOT Photos / Flickr - CC

“Ooh!” “Ahh!” Repeat.

Once again, it’s time to practice that familiar vocal exercise at dozens of local fireworks displays honoring the Founding Fathers’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Once again, blankets, lawn chairs and a sense of history-meets-destiny will accompany the patriotic proceedings, with powdered wigs entirely optional yet fancifully encouraged.

Food Critics: The Best Salads In Kansas City In 2019

Jun 29, 2019
The Mixx / Facebook

Salads might be simple ingredients prepared simply, but they can be so much more than that. A salad must have more vegetables than grains, but from there the ingredient possibilities are endless.

That includes meat, especially in Kansas City.

“We are a meat and potatoes town to begin with,” says Jenny Vergara of Feast Magazine. “So what better way to eat your vegetables than to put a little steak with it?”

Christina Elias / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Public Library is doing away with fees for overdue materials starting July 1.

Library representatives announced they will also forgive any previously-incurred late fees. The move is part of an effort to increase library traffic by removing one obstacle that keeps patrons from returning to the library.

Director of the Kansas City Library Crosby Kemper III said they are making the change one reason.

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3 file photo

There’ll likely be a special election in Missouri this fall to fill three Democrat-held House seats, two of which represent Kansas City. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Members of the Jackson County Legislature on Friday unanimously called on the county executive to discard all recently issued property reassessments.

It was the newest move in an ongoing controversy surrounding Jackson County's reassessment of the 300,000 parcels of land in the county.

"It's become clear there are numerous grave errors in the 2019 reassessment values," legislators wrote in a statement to County Executive Frank White on Friday afternoon. They said White should "provide a resolution to this situation" although no specifics actions were suggested.

At 74 years old, Kansas City pianist Jay McShann was still performing the joyous music that had entertained audiences around the world for decades.

One of those concerts was in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990, where a woman named Yoko Takemura was in the audience.

“People should know Jay McShann much more,” says Takemura, a devotee of Kansas City jazz.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado.

The national measles outbreak — numbering more than 1,000 cases so far — hasn't hit Kansas yet, but it has crept awfully close to home.

KCMO Public Works

A cold, snowy winter left Kansas City roadways riddled with potholes. Now, historic amounts of rain have delayed public works crews' ability to fix them.

Some city departments, such as those in Overland Park, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, are sending crews out on rainy days to try to patch them. Other municipalities don’t even bother.

“If it’s raining all day, crews aren’t going to be able to get out and patch potholes,” said Dave Reno, the Public Works community engagement officer for the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There are now 22,000 informal appeals related to the growing reassessment mess in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE), which decides formal appeals of property valuations, is now bracing to hear the cases from people who believe their property was overvalued in the recent reassessment.

"Twenty thousand cases is overwhelming," board vice chair Marilyn Shapiro said at a BOE meeting Thursday in Independence.

Anzacosf2010 / Wikimedia Commons

Free public transportation is a bold initiative, and the head of Kansas City's regional transit agency thinks it's viable for Kansas City.

Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has been a leading proponent of several programs aiming to improve the efficiency of bus service in the region.

But he wants improvements to go beyond the physical transportation itself.

Jeremy Enlow / Van Cliburn

Kansas City pianist Kenny Broberg came in third on Thursday afternoon in the final round of the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow, Russia. Judges awarded ties for both second and third place, including a three-way tie for third

Broberg, a piano master's candidate at Park University's International Center for Music in Parkville, Missouri, was the only American to make it to the finals. 

Frank Morris / NPR and KCUR

Out on the vast Kansas Flint Hills, Christy Davis trudges through a muddy cow pasture on the site of a big concert that never happened.

“We took a hit with the weather. The one thing that we couldn't control,” says Davis, outgoing director of Symphony in the Flint Hills, an annual event drawing thousands to see live classical music on the open prairie.

BNIM and HOK

A new office tower and parking garage may be on the way to the Power & Light District after the Kansas City Council's Finance and Governance Committee passed a development financing agreement.

Facebook.com

A judge has awarded former Kansas City television reporter Lisa Benson Cooper $110,000 in lost wages and her attorneys nearly $692,000 in legal fees in her retaliation case against KSHB-TV Channel 41.

The judge, however, denied their requests for larger amounts.

Cooper, who is African American, was a general assignment reporter at Channel 41 for 14 years before she was let go in mid-2018. She went by Lisa Benson on the air.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Build higher, build stronger — it pays off big in Kansas.

Disaster mitigation investments in Kansas yielded more savings than efforts in any other state, a new study found. The Pew Charitable Trusts listed Missouri as a close second.

Missouri Department of Corrections

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday set an execution date of Oct. 1 for Russell Bucklew, whose challenge to the state’s lethal injection method was rejected three months ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If carried out, Bucklew will be the first Missouri prisoner executed since January 2017, when Mark Anthony Christeson was put to death for the 1998 murders in south-central Missouri of a mother and her two children.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They may have each spent only a single session in their respective statehouses, but Kansas Rep. Rui Xu and Missouri Rep. Matt Sain have already learned some important lessons about how state government works, why it sometimes doesn't, and what their responsibilities are to the people back home.

Those lessons are colored by the fact that both lawmakers are in the minority party (Sain is in the superminority), but they're still worth paying attention to. Politics is cyclical, after all, and today's legislative rules will affect the way future politicians do their jobs.

Sam Zeff

Jackson County says the reassessment of 15,000 pieces of property are now being disputed."We're now looking at the entire Westside," said Gail McCann Beatty, the county's director of assessment. 

On Tuesday, the county clarified its plans for the neighborhood.

“It is important that everyone know that no area of the county is getting a ‘redo,’” Jackson County spokesperson Marshanna Hester said in a statement. She noted the county was reviewing some residential properties with adjoining vacant lots, which are mainly situated in the city’s urban core, including the Westside.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Kansas has agreed to change its policy and allow transgender people born in the state to update the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday entered into a consent decree that ends a lawsuit brought by four native Kansans and the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, Inc. (K-STEP).

The policy change is significant because birth certificates can determine access to education, employment, health care, travel and the ability to obtain other identification documents.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Quinton Lucas takes office as Kansas City mayor on August 1. No matter how politically skilled and well prepared Lucas is, he's likely to discover that the job is harder than he thought.

Before the election, KCUR asked former mayors Charles Wheeler, Emanuel Cleaver, Kay Barnes, Mark Funkhouser and Sly James for their insights and lessons learned. They said their advice would apply no matter who won. (Richard Berkley did not respond to interview requests).

Records of the War Department General and Special. Staffs.

One day in September of 1918, First Lieutenant George Robb's job was to take a French town called Sechault from the Germans who'd claimed it. At the time, he was commanding a group of African-American soldiers of the 369th Infantry called the Harlem Hellfighters.

Robb was wounded in what became a machine-gun fight that day, as were many of the men he fought beside. Some of them, including Robb, were recommended for the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy, and typically presented by the president of the United States.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"Trans rights are human rights." 

That was the rallying cry as Kansas City's first trans pride march kicked off late Saturday afternoon at Hamburger Mary's on Broadway. 

It was a colorful crowd of more than 100 people, many toting the pink, white and blue transgender flag and signs that read "I'm Here, I'm Queer" and "Black Trans Lives Matter."

"I am impressed and blown away by each and every person who showed up today," said march organizer Faith Matthews.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

The official opening of Meadowbrook Park on Saturday more than doubles Prairie Village’s park acreage, giving the landlocked city of 22,000 some 82 additional acres of open green space.  

The park at 91st Street and Nall Avenue, in an older and established part of the city, occupies much of the old Meadowbrook Country Club, which closed more than a decade ago.

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