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Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Just off the historic Town Square in Liberty, Missouri, there is a spot that every year draws thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s a replica of the jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and a handful of his followers were imprisoned for several months through the winter of 1838 – 1839.

The story is that Smith and his flock, having migrated from New York, clashed violently with militia in the Midwest.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

For decades, except for an occasional festival along the banks of the Missouri River, few Kansas Citians had much reason to visit Berkley Riverfront Park. And even if people wanted to visit the park named for former Mayor Richard L. Berkley, it was hard to get there.

Courtesy photo / Bruce Matthews

Elmwood Cemetery covers 43 acres shaded by centuries-old trees at the corner of Van Brunt Boulevard and Truman Road in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood. Anywhere from 35,000 to 38,000 people are buried there, including mayors, local pioneers and scions of Kansas City's business and civic communites.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

High poverty rates, aging infrastructure and vacant homes.

These are problems that commonly occur together and that discourage community revitilization.

The Marlborough Community Coalition in south Kansas City, five neighborhoods come together as one, is trying to do things differently.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, city leaders on Thursday celebrated what they called major improvements to the urban core: $8 million spent over two years on a program to sell abandoned or dangerous houses for $1 each.

The program, designed to not just clean up neighborhoods but to cut down on crime, showcased one of its first graduates.

Laurie Schwab bought a home on East 29th Terrace in 2016 during the Kansas City, Missouri, Land Bank's $1 sale and has poured $21,000 into it so she can operate it as a transitional living stop for homeless people.

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Gary Reese has spent more than two decades as a firefighter, but he's apparently been thinking about the job all his life.

"(My mom) sent me a picture of me as about a four-year-old, and I had a fire truck and I had said, 'I want to be an army man and a fireman,'" Reece told Up to Date host Steve Kraske on Thursday.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Police Department faces two big problems, violent crime and putting enough officers on the street to fight it.

But the department is coming up with new ways to recruit and is trying to find new paths to recruit minorities and women.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

As Kansas City continues to see increases in violent crime, new Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Rick Smith says he’s doubling down on community policing.

The chief, who was selected in July, says he wants to expand the number of community interaction officers.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Calling 911 hold times “unacceptable” and citing a need for more patrol officers, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith asked for an additional $9.3 million in funding in the budget he submitted to the city manager last week.

In a blog post explaining why appropriations should increase 3.6 percent for the fiscal year that begins May 1, 2018, Smith noted that the average hold time for a 911 caller was 30 seconds in September.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

There's no doubt that violence can have a profound impact on young people. But accessing feelings doesn't always come easy.

Toward that end, the Kansas City Public School District has created a special class at Central Academy of Excellence to give students an opportunity to create an artistic expression that might unlock hidden feelings about violence.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At Kansas City Academy on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made veggie burgers in culinary class and a clay pot in ceramics, but she didn’t explain how a private liberal arts school known for its progressive values landed on her radar.

Courtesy photo / facebook

Steve Glorioso, a political operative known and respected by officials and movers and shakers of every political stripe, died Thursday night, according to The Kansas City Star.  He was 70 years old.

Mayor Sly James said Glorioso was dedicated to improving Kansas City throughout his long career.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the Midwest this week on a hastily-planned “Rethink Schools” tour that’s left Kansas and Missouri school leaders scrambling.

To say the call Kansas City Academy received the Friday before Labor Day was unexpected would be an understatement.

Someone from DeVos’ staff wanted to know if the education secretary could visit the tiny private school in Kansas City, Missouri, in two weeks’ time. Head of School Kory Gallagher says he was given until 5 p.m. to decide.

It was already 3:55.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

After hearing more than five hours of testimony late Friday afternoon, Kansas City Municipal Judge Joseph H. Locascio handed down a decision in a matter of minutes: With a few quick words, he found Steven Paul Woolfolk, director of programming and marketing at the Kansas City Public Library, not guilty of three charges stemming from an incident at a library event in May 2016.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Nestled between Kansas City’s downtown business district and the River Market are a bunch of buildings that once literally hummed with the sound of fashion.

From the 1940s through the early 1980s, Kansas City had one of the largest garment industries in the nation. It spanned the area roughly from Wyandotte to Washington and Sixth to Ninth Streets. The local manufacturers there created some of the country’s best-known brands: The Donnelly Garment Company, commonly known as Nelly Don, and YouthCraft, maker of coats and dresses. At its peak the industry was estimated to support over 75 companies.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday: The ethics complaint against Councilwoman Jolie Justus has been dismissed.

A citizen filed the complaint on Sunday, alleging Justus had a conflict of interest serving on the airport selection committee because the law firm she works for, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, represented proposer Burns & McDonnell in litigation involving the Branson airport in 2013.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two councilmembers who represent constituents along Indian Creek say Kansas City needs a regional approach to flood control.

Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus, both of whom live in south Kansas City, Missouri, held a news conference Tuesday urging city leaders to work with other municipalities to keep Indian Creek from flooding again, as it has twice this summer. They plan to introduce a resolution at Thursday’s city council meeting.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This summer, Kansas City Public Schools made a significant investment in one of two district-operated Montessori schools in an attempt to address long-standing inequities between the programs.

“Right here in KCPS we have a jewel, but Border Star is the Montessori program everyone knows about,” KaLinda Bass-Barlow, principal at Holliday Montessori, says.

Holliday was built specifically for Montessori education, opening as a magnet school in 1992, back when district officials thought state-of-the-art facilities might convince white families to stay.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At 8:55 a.m., five minutes before school was supposed to start Monday, the line of parents trying to enroll their kids at Banneker Elementary was out the front door.

“We’re 140 students over our enrollment, which is a good problem to have,” Principal Harrison Neal says, walking a preschooler to her classroom. “We were projected at 333 students. We’re currently at 462.”

Then he’s back on his walkie-talkie to ask how many students are still at breakfast.

Courtesy photo / Le'Andrew Vaughn family

Sixteen-year-old Adarius Barber was set to be a junior at Washington High School, where he was to have his first football practice on Monday.

His 17-year-old cousin, Le’Andrew M. Vaughn, was a promising baseball player, a rising senior at F.L. Schlagle High School. 

Both boys were college-bound, according to a spokesman for the Kansas City, Kansas, Public School District.

Norman, Oklahoma, Police Department & The City of Kansas City

Maybe the most obvious difference between the two finalists for the top job at the Kansas City Police Department is one’s an insider and one comes from out of state.

Norman, Oklahoma, Police Department & The City of Kansas City

Major Rick Smith of the Kansas City Police Department and Chief Keith Humphrey of the Norman, Oklahoma, Police Department are the two finalists for the police chief job in Kansas City.

Leland Shurin, president of the Board of Police Commissioners, said during a press conference Thursday that there were 42 candidates. Of those, ten were disqualified by state statute and the rest were interviewed by California-based consultants Ralph Anderson and Associates.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

We've been hearing a lot about Kansas City's program to demolish or sell off dilapidated homes. Around 800 properties are on the "dangerous buildings" list and thousands more are vacant or abandoned.

The large amount of blighted homes in Kansas City has a lot to do with the housing crisis, and a lingering question is whether outside investors have been part of the problem or part of the solution.

A local contractor seeking local buyer