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This week's closure of Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, caps a year of worse financial troubles than were previously known.

Over the last year, the hospital has been sued by vendors for nonpayment, by the Missouri Division of Employment Security for failing to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance program and, most recently, by employees for failing to pay their health insurance premiums.

“There’s considerably more to this story than what’s currently in the public domain,” said an attorney for the employees, North Kansas City lawyer Blake Green.

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Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, says it has voluntarily closed the facility, including its rural health clinic, outpatient clinic and emergency department.

In a terse “To whom it may concern” letter, Pinnacle CEO Joseph Conigliaro said the hospital had decided the “economic hardship” of complying with recent demands by Missouri health regulators was “too great to make the appropriate repairs necessary.”

The first phase of a new trade agreement between the United States and China is scheduled for a White House signing ceremony Wednesday and many in the agriculture community are hoping the deal will bring some relief to the farm economy.

Lee's Summit R-7 Schools

Updated, 3:51 p.m. Tuesday – The Lee’s Summit school board has hired a new superintendent, David Buck.

Buck has served as superintendent for the Wright City schools, a tiny district about 40 miles west of St. Louis, since 2015. He’ll start in Lee’s Summit on July 1.

Dennis Carpenter, the district’s first black superintendent, resigned in July amid ongoing tension over diversity training for teachers and staff.

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri’s religious exemption form for vaccinations.

Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs on Friday dismissed the case brought on behalf of a student at the Crossroads Academy.

The student, identified as W.B., and his parents, Zach and Audrey Baker, objected to language in the Missouri form encouraging parents to immunize their children and warning of the adverse public health risks of failing to vaccinate.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council this week will discuss an ambitious proposal to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2030.

The measure, dubbed Vision Zero, was introduced following the death of a well-known Kansas City cyclist late last year.

The strategy, first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, has seen success in Europe, but American cities that have followed suit have struggled to lower traffic fatalities.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

For the second time in two years, Planned Parenthood is challenging Missouri’s denial of its claims for Medicaid payments.

The first time Missouri cut off the organization’s Medicaid funding was in fiscal 2019, after the legislature enacted an appropriations bill denying it reimbursement under the program.

Now Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park affiliates are challenging the state’s cutoff of their fiscal 2020 funding. An administrative law judge ruled against them last month and Planned Parenthood wants a Jackson County judge to overturn the ruling.

Lynn Horsley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, is calling on financial regulators to strengthen protections against a possible cyberattack from Iran. 

In a letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Cleaver urged the department to "take all possible precautions" to protect the country's financial infrastructure.

This comes in the wake of Iran firing ballistic missiles Tuesday night at bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops as retaliation for the American assassination of Qasem Soleimani.

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The Shawnee Mission School District and four district officials have  agreed to pay $165,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging school officials failed to take action against a middle school student accused of sexually assaulting another student.

The district and officials agreed to the settlement in September but the amount was not disclosed until Monday, when U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree approved the settlement.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar has come under fire for comments she made about a bike infrastructure plan in the wake of a well-known bicyclist’s death.

Pablo Sanders died last month after being struck by a car while crossing Southwest Trafficway on his bike on Christmas Eve.

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Missouri health regulators have told a Boonville, Missouri, hospital that specializes in bariatric surgery and is affiliated with a similar privately owned hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, to discontinue performing surgery.

The directive was issued last month, after the regulators conducted an inspection at Pinnacle Regional Hospital and cited it for sterile processing procedures.

Health Forward Foundation

The Health Forward Foundation, which distributes more than $20 million in grants annually, has named Qiana Thomason as its new president and CEO.

Thomason succeeds Bridget McCandless, who announced a year ago that she would be stepping down after six years as leader of the organization.

Formerly known as the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the foundation changed its name 14 months ago to better reflect its forward-looking focus on mental health, safety-net institutions and fostering healthier communities.

Kansas City-Based Hallmark Will Eliminate 400 Jobs

Jan 6, 2020
Andrew Grumke / Kansas City Business Journal

Hallmark Cards Inc. plans to eliminate approximately 400 jobs — including about 325 at its Kansas City headquarters — as the company thinks strategically about the future.

Last year, the Kansas City-based business shuttered its Home and Gifts division, which employed approximately 60 people, and it eliminated fewer than a dozen positions in its Hallmark Retail division in an effort to streamline operations and adapt to a challenging retail industry.

Adam Hamilton

Key Methodist leaders in the Kansas City area say it will be business as usual for them when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, after an announcement on Friday that the United Methodist Church would split to allow a new, "traditionalist-minded" denomination for congregations who don't support same-sex marriage or allow LGBTQ clergy.

Adam Hamilton, pastor of the 22,000-member, five-campus Church of the Resurrection, said he predicts only a handful of churches in the Kansas City area will split off from the existing denomination.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

As construction continues on a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport, aviation officials are considering different ways to make the trip from the parking lot to the terminal more efficient.

As part of an agreement with the rental car companies, the department is considering an automated people mover, or APM, that would run on a fixed schedule.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

With a day and a half to go before Christmas, the Salvation Army of Kansas and Western Missouri needs a late push to meet its yearly fundraising goal of $1.2 million.

Major David Harvey says they still need to raise around $400,000.

Adding insult to injury, the Salvation Army vans in the Northland were damaged over the weekend — vandals stole catalytic converters and punched holes in the gas tanks. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials agreed to a scaled-back tax incentive package Thursday for financial services firm Waddell & Reed to build a new $140 million headquarters in downtown.

It’s the second time in recent months the Kansas City Council has been able to renegotiate fewer incentives, and a sign it may approach economic development deals with higher scrutiny than councils in the past. The council also took action Thursday to curb the ability of the Kansas City Port Authority to grant incentives. 

Courtesy Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

The heirs of famed Kansas City artist Thomas Hart Benton are suing UMB Bank, claiming it mismanaged his estate, failed to track and maximize the value of his artwork, lost track of more than 100 irreplaceable pieces of art and impermissibly used his art to promote the bank.

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For the second time in four months, Truman Medical Centers has suffered a data breach, this one involving more than 114,000 patients.

The Kansas City safety net hospital informed the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights that the cause of the breach was a laptop theft on Dec. 5.

Leslie Carto, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the work-issued laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle.

The computer was password-protected, Carto said, and “there’s no evidence that any unauthorized party accessed, viewed or misused the information.”

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of a presidential impeachment vote in the U.S. House, and with a trial looming in the Senate, hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday evening outside the Overland Park, Kansas, office of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in an effort to convince him to break with his Republican colleagues.

The House vote is expected to fall largely along party lines.

Roberts, who plans to retire when his fourth term expires next year, has not publicly stated how he intends to vote.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A Shawnee County district judge was named Monday to one of the vacancies on the Kansas Supreme Court.

Though the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group opposed Shawnee County District Court Judge Evelyn Wilson, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly Chose Wilson from among the three candidates recommended by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. It’s a choice that could fuel efforts to change how Kansas’ Supreme Court justices get their seats.

Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department

Updated at 6 a.m. Dec. 15 with suspect in Wyandotte County jail — Two months after a fatal shooting left four dead at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar, the second suspect has been arrested. 

Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, was taken into custody Wednesday by Michoacan State Police in Mexico, about 1,700 miles from Tequila KC. He and Javier Alatorre, 23, allegedly opened fire in the bar around 1:30 a.m. on October 6, killing Martin Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Alfredo Calderon, Ebar Meza-Aguirre and Francisco Anaya-Garcia.

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A church whose request to operate a temporary homeless shelter was opposed by the city of Lenexa will be able to do so after all.

Under a settlement reached on Friday, Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church will be allowed to use its building, a former elementary school, to house up to 30 homeless adults overnight from Dec. 13 through April 1 and for the next three years.

Courtesy Wilson Vance

A roach- and mold-infested apartment complex in Kansas City, Kansas, is under new management after a judge appointed a receiver to run it.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council on Thursday resoundingly passed what advocates are calling a historic resolution, codifying protections for renters.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, who often talks about his lack of stable housing growing up in Kansas City, made affordable housing a flagship issue of his campaign.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Waddell & Reed will have a week to get city officials and Kansas City Public Schools on board with an incentive deal for its new headquarters.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday reduced the company's incentive package and delayed a vote on tax breaks for the project.

The financial services firm is seeking $40 million in incentives to move from its current headquarters in Overland Park to downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It  already has been awarded $62 million by the state of Missouri.

Silvia Ines Gonzalez

Rashida Phillips, a St. Louis native who has worked with a range of cultural organizations, has been named the new executive director of the American Jazz Museum. She is also a jazz singer.

In a letter, the museum's board of directors said that "after a thorough and thoughtful" national search process, Phillips "rose to the top" of the field of more than 25 candidates. 

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After nearly 18 years, the families of five patients who died under mysterious circumstances at a Chillicothe, Missouri, hospital have reached the end of the road.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled their lawsuits accusing the hospital of fraudulently concealing the true cause of their loved ones’ deaths were filed too late.

The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday to decide whether the state’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics should receive federal funding. 

John Sauer argued on behalf of the state, asking the court to back the Republican-led Legislature’s 2018 decision to deny funding to all Planned Parenthood facilities but not other providers that care for the state’s Medicaid population. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The Interstate Crosscheck system, a controversial voter registration tracking program championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was labeled effectively “dead” after a legal agreement was announced Tuesday.  

As part of the settlement in a lawsuit brought last year by the ACLU of Kansas, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab agreed to complete a series of information safeguards and issue an “acknowledgement of error.”

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