Dodge City | KCUR

Dodge City

GARDEN CITY — In the 1940s and ’50s, people of color couldn’t use the public swimming pool here. If they went to the movie theater in Garden City, Hispanic patrons could only sit in the balcony.

A few generations later, Garden City School Board member Tim Cruz served on the city commission and as mayor. He played a role in dealing with leaks in the city’s swimming pool, known as The Big Pool.

Long-running frustration about Amtrak’s willingness to keep a rail passenger line running through remote parts of the country has politicians threatening to block new directors to the agency.

A handful of U.S. senators demanded specifics by this week about how Amtrak plans to spend an added $50 million to keep the Southwest Chief line running from Chicago, through Kansas, to Los Angeles.

Wind scrapes across the plains of southwest Kansas like few places in the country.

It drives a booming new industry of turbines that feeds electricity across the region. But at times, the wind gets out of hand.

This week, it plowed across the landscape, causing trucks to swerve on highways, kicking up dust clouds and freeing family pets by knocking down fences.

Bethany Wood / For the Kansas News Service

DODGE CITY — Check out Dodge City.

A new $12 million waterpark. A shiny new craft brewery — not far from the new whiskey distillery. And, yes, that trendy new downtown cafe.

A nearly $6 million addition to Boot Hill Museum just kicked off last fall. That’s about when Dodge City wrapped up $86 million in renovations and expansions to its schools.

Segment 1: What happens to a community without access to a four-year college?

The majority of college freshmen enroll at schools within 50 miles from home. But what if there isn't a four-year university nearby? In this conversation, we take a look at the effects education deserts have on communities and how Dodge City, Kansas, is looking to address theirs.

A few days before the November midterm election, Alejandro Rangel-Lopez turned 18.

But before he cast that first ballot, local election officials moved Dodge City’s only polling location from the relatively convenient center town to its outskirts.

The move caused confusion, drew national criticism and raised questions about voting access governed by white elected officials in a town where nearly two-thirds of the population is Latino.

RideKC

Kansas Citians that don't have a way to get to the polls on Election Day can look to public transportation and ride-sharing companies for free or discounted rides to the polls.

Offering free and discounted transportation to polls has become one effort of many to increase voter turnout on Election Day.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Dodged an order

A federal judge shot down a plea from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas to force the opening of a second polling place in Dodge City.

There’s just too little time, the judge ruled, to open another location, print ballots, split up voters between the two locations, and tell those voters about that change without making things worse.

Google Street View

A federal judge has ruled that Ford County, Kansas, does not have to provide a second polling place in Dodge City on Election Day.

In a ruling late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in late October on behalf of a Dodge City resident and a Latino community organization. 

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Of Trump, bomb plots and Twinkies

Lawyers for one of the men convicted of a Kansas terror plot are essentially arguing: the president made me do it. And that their client should get less time in prison because President Donald Trump’s rhetoric inspired a plan to set off explosives at an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants live.

Prosecutors say, um, no. That Patrick Stein deserves life in prison for his role in the attack.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Vote the heck out of Dodge

The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a temporary restraining order requiring Ford County officials to increase the number of polling places in Dodge City for next Tuesday’s election to two instead of just one.

Google

Local organizers in Dodge City fought for more, and more accessible, polling places even before their lone, out-of-the-way voting location drew national attention.

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued County Clerk Debbie Cox.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Money, money, money

People, apparently, still give money to the campaigns of congressional candidates. But the real action these days comes from different directions.

Consider, for instance, Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District. Sure, Democrat Paul Davis pulled in about $1.3 million over the last three months. And that’s more than four times Republican Steve Watkins collected from donors.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Who’s in 1st in the 3rd?

The New York Times’ “live” poll of Kansas 3rd Congressional District shows incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder possibly trailing Democrat and lawyer Sharice Davids by eight points. The sample is relatively small -- fewer than 500 respondents.

Amtrak may end passenger rail service through Dodge City, Garden City and destinations to the west.

The agency told a congressional delegation last week that it might shut down parts of the Southwest Chief route that runs across Kansas on its way between Chicago and Los Angeles. That news followed ongoing disputes about track maintenance and upgrades.

Two people stand in front of a small white prop plane. The background is a blue sky.
James and Deborah Fallows

Segment 1: What Missouri lawmakers passed — and what they didn't — during last week's end-of-session chaos. 

There was certainly lots of news coming out of Jefferson City this year, but much of it didn't have a whole lot to do with legislation. Today, two regular faces around the Missouri Capitol tell us about the bills lawmakers pushed through, and what was lost or ignored this session in the wake of controversies swirling around Gov. Eric Greitens.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Three militia members accused of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex in southwest Kansas go on trial Tuesday in Wichita.

Their alleged plot laid bare tiny pockets of the ugliest, potentially violent, racism in a region that’s seen immigrants drawn to tough meatpacking jobs for decades.

The raw hate exposed in the alleged plan shocked some of the refugees who were targeted, reminding them of violence they fled in Somalia and sparking an exodus from one of the prairie towns.

It also prompted more people to talk with admiration of the workforce that keeps the meatpacking industry, and the region’s economy, alive. They’ve reached out to the would-be targets of domestic terrorism.

“We all give each other a chance here,” says LeVita Rohlman, who directs the Catholic Agency for Migration and Refugee Services in Garden City. “Even when things go wrong. I believe that this community stands united.”

The plot took root near Dodge City, at the easternmost point of a the Kansas meatpacking triangle formed with Liberal and Dodge City. All three Great Plains cities have for generations drawn immigrants for the smelly, dangerous work of transforming cattle into steaks and hamburger. It’s work that few U.S.-born Americans take on.

Carol Cox / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: How and why people fall in love with places.

There are all kinds of love affairs, including the ones we have with the cities where we live. While there isn't a perfect recipe, there are certain ingredients that endear people to the places they call home, including "walkability," rituals and traditions, and being able to share the space with other people who are enthusiastic about building a life there.

Ben Kuebrich / Kansas News Service/Harvest Public Media

A new, widely debated federal mandate requires truckers to electronically track the number of hours they’re on the road — a rule that’s meant to make highways safer. But there’s a big difference between hauling a load of TVs and a load of cattle destined for meatpacking plants.

Livestock haulers, who have a soon-to-end temporary exemption from the rule, argue enforcing it will upend their industry and put animals at risk. There’s also a good chance, experts say, that the prices of meat at the grocery store will go up.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The saying "let's get the hell out of Dodge" exists for a reason. Back in its day, Dodge City, Kansas, was the roughest, toughest town people dared to stop in. Author Tom Clavin, used his obsession with the Wild West to write a book on how the city got its infamous reputation. Also, we speak with the new sheriff of Johnson County, Calvin Hayden, about how he's balancing the safety of his deputies with increasing staffing shortfalls and overtime pay.