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Audio Feature

While top scientists from around the world point to data that says the drier rangeland climate found west of the 100th Meridian has shifted east in the last three decades, those living and farming in eastern South Dakota feel they are seeing the opposite: A wetter weather pattern.

As precipitation has increased, farmers with their boots on the ground, like Paul Hetland near Mt. Vernon, South Dakota, say they’re struggling to adapt and stay in business.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Zach Garrett, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist in archery, is one of a handful of athletes in the Kansas City metro affected by the postponement of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo until 2021. But it has also affected others in Kansas City who participate in and follow archery.

Garrett, who hails from Wellington, Missouri, just east of Kansas City, has been training in southern California under the tutelage of USA Archery’s national team coach, Kisik Lee.

Though he’s disappointed by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to postpone the games, Garrett said he understands why.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Restaurants and bars have closed and gatherings larger than 10 people have been banned. The entire Kansas City metro is under orders to stay at home. Among many profound changes brought by the coronavirus: The interaction between musicians and their audiences at live shows.

"We're shutdown for the foreseeable future, at least two weeks. Could be a month, could be two months, who knows?" said Steve Tulipana, co-owner of RecordBar in downtown Kansas City. "So we're all just trying to figure out ways to keep doing what we do to keep sane, really."

In North Dakota, A Changing Climate Threatens Crop Diversity

Mar 23, 2020

As Doyle Lentz drives out over his farm, just 20 miles south of the Canadian border, he expects to see snow and ice for miles. This is January, after all, in Rolette County, North Dakota. But this year, the horizon is broken up by fields of windblown wheat, piles of snow-packed, cut canola and stands of corn and sunflowers.

“That whole field should have been waist high when we harvested. As the rains and snows came, it just continued to flatten it. And of course, the quality just became terrible,” says Lentz, who farms around 6,000 acres that also includes barley and soybeans. “Consequently, it wasn’t worth harvesting. We hope to burn it, but with all the rain and snow, we don’t know what we’re going to do with it.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The lobby of the Bank of Labor, in the old Boilermakers Union Building at 754 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, smelled like disinfectant.

“You never know what people bring in,” said Gabriel Naba.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s live music community was just beginning to understand how hard the scene would be hit by coronavirus cancelations on March 14. Then came news that a fire had gutted Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club in Midtown.

Owner Michele Markowitz says she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support, and plans to rebuild just as soon as she can.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The 83rd annual NAIA men’s basketball tournament was canceled last week as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It was supposed to start Wednesday and run this week through next Tuesday. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Remote rural towns are a good place to be early in a pandemic, according to epidemiologists, but that flips as the people in those towns begin to get sick.

Fredonia, Kansas, and other rural towns tend to be more spread out, lowering the chances that people are in close enough contact to catch the novel coronavirus.

“I always say it’s a hundred miles from anywhere,” quips Cassie Edson, with the Wilson County Health Department. “It’s a hundred miles from Wichita, a hundred miles to Joplin, a hundred miles to Tulsa.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Logan Richardson left Kansas City to become a star.

Now, twenty years later, having lived in New York City and Italy and toured internationally, the ascendant saxophonist has made a move toward re-establishing himself in a city whose jazz scene has not always been comfortable for him. His re-entry could not be packed with more portent.

Richardson has set up a home — and a studio — in the apartment where Charlie Parker, the city's first iconic jazz saxophonist, once lived.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

As the United States struggled with a crisis of addiction to opioids and other drugs over the past few years, scientists began to learn how addiction and loneliness can feed one another.

That was true for the Kansas City women in recovery whose stories support researchers’ findings about how loneliness and addiction work together to create a downward spiral.

“It isolated me from my family,” Monica says of her addiction. “They did not want to be bothered with me because of my behaviors. It caused me to lose good friends.”

Todd Weddle; Terry Griffin / Northwest Missouri State; Drury Sports Communication

Diego and Daejah Bernard of St. Joseph, Missouri, have a shot to do something never accomplished in college basketball at any NCAA level: A brother and sister duo winning national championships at two different schools in the same season.

Each of the Bernard siblings is a starting guard for their respective teams at the NCAA Division II level.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Alissia Canady is a black woman from Kansas City’s east side. In the crowded primary race for mayor last year — there were 11 candidates — she was the only woman of color.

Canady, who is 40, came in third. But don’t call that outcome a failure.

Quinton Lucas was one of Canady’s opponents in the primary race to be Kansas City’s mayor. Lucas ultimately won the election, and made Canady the chairperson of the very prominent Tax Increment Financing Commission.

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.'"

For many farmers, 2019 was the first year of growing hemp, since it became legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition to the normal challenges of farming, hemp growers have had to deal with a different kind of problem: theft.

 

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.

The more than 13 million American households that get their drinking water from private wells aren’t required by state or federal environmental agencies to test their water, sometimes leaving dangerous contamination unchecked for years. Now high school students and other community members are learning to test their own water. 

Sebastian Martinez Valdivia / Side Effects Public Media

It's a cold and windy January morning in Boonville, Missouri, and Thomas Talent has driven close to an hour to Pinnacle Regional Hospital for an appointment. The only problem: the hospital closed suddenly the day before.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The fourth grader in Amanda Whiting’s chair had never been to the dentist, so she was a little nervous to be seen at the clinic at her school, J.A. Rogers Elementary.

“We don't use scary terms when we are treating a kiddo,” said Whiting, the dental director at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, which runs the clinic for Kansas City Public Schools.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Kansas City Chiefs fans are among the tens of thousands of people pouring into South Florida this week, joining Midwest expats already here for a celebration of the team’s first Super Bowl appearance in half a century.

Charlie Riedel
AP Photo

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl in Miami, giving Kansas City a moment of relative unity in a divisive time for the country. But the good feelings are tempered for Native Americans, some of whom find the imagery surrounding the team racist and demeaning.

Union Station is festooned with banners and signs honoring the Chiefs. Cheery fans filled the historic train station over the weekend, trading phones to take pictures of each other’s families.

Jose Lepe / AP Photo

Katie Sowers’ childhood passion for football has carried her from Hesston, Kansas, to Miami — and the Super Bowl, where she’ll be the first woman to ever coach in the title game.

Sowers is an assistant coach on offense for the rival San Francisco 49ers, and will be in the skybox with the other coaches strategizing against the Kansas City Chiefs, and the city she loves so much the skyline is tattooed on her left forearm. She’s also the first openly LGBTQ coach in the NFL and, thus, Super Bowl LIV.

File photo by Julie Denesha

Kansas City journalist and bon vivant Charles Ferruzza, known to newspaper and radio audiences for his restaurant reviews that were infused with a deep knowledge of the city’s history and idiosyncrasies of its high- and low-society denizens, died early Tuesday. He was 62.

A frequent guest on KCUR’s Central Standard food critics panel, Ferruzza’s role as a radio personality dated back to the days of The Walt Bodine Show.

"I clicked with Kansas City right away," Ferruzza told KCUR's Gina Kaufmann.

Courtesy / Stram family

The Kansas City Chiefs are preparing to play in the franchise's first Super Bowl since Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Hank Stram led the team to a title in Super Bowl IV 50 years ago.

Stram's sons — Dale, now 64; Stu, 62; and Gary, 58 — were three of the six children raised by Phyllis and Hank Stram in Prairie Village in the 1960s and 1970s.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

What if you accidentally cut off a piece of your finger, and two weeks later that piece grew into your clone? Tiny creatures with that ability are swimming in tanks at Kansas City's Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and they've inspired a new collaboration between scientists and artists.

Many farmers are wrapping up a frustrating first year of growing hemp, which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s kind of a good way to start, in that that’s about as bad as it can get,” said Jeff Cox, Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “There’s a lack of expertise, just a general lack of knowledge as to how to grow hemp the best way."

Associated Press

Not since Len Dawson guided the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl IV title has the team had such an elite quarterback at the centerpiece of the offense and the team. 

But even Patrick Mahomes, who’s been the starting QB since 2018, knows he’s not the sum of all the parts on offense and defense. Here are five guys not named Mahomes who also bring something special to the Chiefs:

Frank Morris / KCUR

Lots of people in Kansas City are ramping up for the AFC Championship game on Sunday. If the Chiefs win, they’ll play in the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Some area business are betting on a win, one they hope will trigger a shopping frenzy.

It’s easy to spot team logos around town. Season ticket-holder Greg O’Neal has about a dozen of them on his SUV alone.

“I’ve got six Chiefs flags, I got three Chiefs arrows, Chief’s name and another helmet,” chuckles O’Neal, who’s also wearing a Chiefs cap. “You can see me coming a mile away.”

Jenna and Martin / Facebook

Jenna Rae and Martin Farrell both grew up in cities. But when the two got serious about playing music together as the folk duo Jenna & Martin, they ended up living the life they were singing about.

Rae is from Merriam, Kansas, and Farrell is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. The two met four years ago on the sprawling campgrounds of the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas. They soon started performing together, and onstage, they’re young and carefree with a chemistry that’s easy to see and hear.

Facebook/Aviva Okeson-Haberman

The Missouri Senate conservative caucus formed just last year, but its six senators are already shaping the direction of Jefferson City politics. The caucus was among the staunchest supporters of a sweeping anti-abortion bill, which is being challenged in court. They also broke with their party to oppose one of Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s key workforce development proposals (though it eventually passed). 

And the caucus could get some concessions in the 2020 session using their threat to filibuster as a bargaining chip, though it also could further the division within the Republican Party if they kill priorities like a prescription drug monitoring program. 

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