I meant to post this on Friday but I've been neglecting my blogging duties-- Sorry!!
So on Friday I did this story about a real life Superman. At least that's what 6 year old Ashlyn calls him, after he rescued her. She was pinned under a car that had hit her... and Nick Harris sprang into action, lifting the car off of her.
Does any kid aspire to fail, or dream of throwing their life away?
Kids who get kicked out of school are often discarded on the streets, with no where to go. But Genesis Charter School is offering something called a Virtual Academy, a place for kids to go to keep up with their education. I was really impressed with how motivated the kids were... motivated to learn, to catch up, to prove they can finish school.... They're just kids. They make mistakes. But that doesn't mean they're unteachable or unreachable.
I spent several days hanging out at Genesis Charter School and Mr A's Virtual Academy. The result is this in-depth sweeps piece:
I don't think I violate any kind of journalistic integrity by saying that there is a special place in hell for people who victimize the elderly and children. Can we all agree that beating up an old man for money is wrong? Because if we can't... then I don't think we can call ourselves a civilized society.
Harold was incredibly brave to share his story with the media today... he warns everyone to lock your doors at all times, because sadly you never know when someone will yank you out of your car and start beating you up for your wallet. Behind the swollen eyes, stitches, and cuts and bruises, you could see a very warm smile, and it made me sad that someone tried to beat that out of him.
SO I guess the scientific community has been discussing for a long time how cool it would be to build an elevator into space. With no more need for expensive rocket fuel to launch rockets, it could really open up space for exploration like never before. NASA's theory is you'd attach a cable to the equator and it would extend all the way into space, but then someone needs to come up with a way to get supplies up and down this cable.... thus, the elevator. This has been on NASA's back burner... it would be very expensive to develop the technology to create this elevator. (I'm sure someone with a lot more knowledge of science will find something wrong with my summary, but I think it's pretty close... Google "Space Elevator" if you want to know more.)
So... for the fourth time ever, NASA is hosting the Space Elevator Games. It's a way to recruit some of the best minds in the country to all work to find a way to make the elevator a reality. There are only three teams left in the country competing in the games next week, and a team from Kansas City is one of them! It was really cool meeting our local team, the KC Space Pirates. They've all got day jobs.. they're the only team in this race that is just doing this for fun... and if they win, NASA will give them two million dollars!!
Friday, my fiance Nate and I saw the KC Rep Production "Into the Woods" and we both thought it was just terrific. The sets and lighting and costumes were all top notch and the acting and singing was all superb. So I was pretty surprised when I found out that many of the actors have been battling bugs, and Sunday the Rep had to cancel one of its shows because an actor was too sick to go on.
I did a lot of theater when I was younger and through my college years. I remember one Christmas show I was one of the lead characters, and I caught a horrible flu. I was secluding myself backstage and putting on makeup at home to avoid contaminating other people. But there was one performance that I literally walked off stage and threw up immediately. Finally, I had to call it quits, and the director had to call a stand in for me. I was so upset, but everyone knew I was giving it my all, and just had no more to give. So I know what these actors are going through and how hard it is on them. I wish them all good health since they have time off today to recover. Whoops... I mean BREAK A LEG!!
Stories like this remind me of one of the reasons I love my job: telling the stories that make you feel connected to the human condition, honoring the humanity of every individual. Friday I did a story about a family who started a foundation to help provide musical instruments to low income kids. They did it in memory of a man who loved music more than anything, and died too young from a brain tumor. It's called Music 4 Jeremy's Cherubs; here is a link to the foundation's website: CLICK HERE
My brother died in a car accident, and my family felt it was important to start a scholarship fund for kids going to college to study film, to keep Jason's memory alive through his biggest passion: movies. So I understand how helpful and rewarding it is for families to do these kinds of things in honor of their loved ones.
A metro soldiers dream is coming true because Fox 4 viewers are helping make it happen. You might remember the story I did earlier this month about a soldier who wanted to bring Olathe's Patriots Run to Afghanistan, but needed help to get it done. Thanks to the story we did on Fox 4.... that help came pouring in. THIS is why I love my job... helping people do amazing things in their community:
Afghanistan is changing... things are improving in many ways. But the Afghan women are still struggling for equality. That became apparent to me when I was setting up this story, about an Afghan business woman who is working with a Lee's Summit woman who owns her own business, getting tips and lessons about things like setting up business plans. The Afghan woman didn't feel safe showing her face on tv though, because she said it's likely she could be beaten or killed if she went back to the states and someone recognized her. It's amazing to me that she's standing up to all the forces in her world that are telling her "no... you can't do this because you're a woman." But she's doing it anyway. It's a good reminder of all the things we take for granted as women in America.
I did this story yesterday about a farm called BadSeed Farm -- the property is in Kansas City off Bannister and State Line Road, and it's zoned for some agriculture use, even though it is in a residential area. The farmers have 125 different kinds of vegetables and herbs, and say they want to use the land to provide nutritious, organic food for themselves and others. There is actually an "urban farming" movement that is growing in popularity, and the farmers have a lot of support for what they're doing.
But some neighbors are upset saying it's gotten "out of hand." The garden is very large, but well maintained. The farmers call it natural and beautiful. But neighbors say it's not a personal garden, it's a commercial farm, because they sell the food from a storefront in the Crossroads.
But it's not the garden that has some people riled up. The neighbors are upset because there are three goats on the property, which they say isn't legal. Thursday morning, the farmers are going in front of an appeal board with the city, hoping to keep their goats.
THURSDAY UPDATE: The city ruled against the farmers... saying they don't have the proper space needed for livestock. The goats will have to go within the next 7 days. For now, their garden is legally within the zoning requirement, but I've heard rumblings that the city may be looking further into that too. The farmer's fight may not be over yet.
Fort Leavenworth will have an important role in developing the latest technology for soldiers in the field. The new Edge Innovation Center opened Tuesday in Leavenworth. It's the fourth Edge location in the country, and the group is already developing technology that helps soldiers do their jobs, and can even save lives. The next great innovative idea could come from soldiers in Leavenworth.
Today I got to witness a very happy homecoming... a soldier being reunited with his family after a long deployment. But after a few hugs and kisses... he was a man on a mission. He's one of the organizers of the local Patriot's Run that takes place on 9-11 in Olathe. When he was deployed in Iraq he started a race there. Now that he's back from Afghanistan, he's got people there fired up about doing a race. But there's no budget for it, and it's coming down to the wire.... he needs sponsors... he needs money... he needs shirts printed and shipped. He figures he has about ten days to round up support for this run in Afghanistan, or it might not happen.
How about it Kansas City? Know anyone who can help?
Monica Watrous from Ink (a KC Star publication) just interviewed me for a story about local bloggers. It was strange (and fun too!) for me to be an interviewee instead of the interviewer! I'm looking forward to seeing how the story comes together, and I'll make sure to post a link here when they publish it.
People who grew up in KC know "Uncle Ed" from the Channel 41 Treehouse show for kids back in the 70s and early 80s. But they may not know he left KC for Florida in the early 80s, and he was convicted of sexual battery of a 14 year-old boy in 1986. He now lives in South Carolina, and a local blogger Midtown Miscreant is raising concerns about Ed's youtube site... because it seems to be attracting kids. If you want to see the youtube site for yourself, you can find a link on MM's website.
I worked on a couple of interesting stories this week.
First, police are now working with a new tool that they hope will prevent domestic violence victims from becoming homicide victims:
CLICK HERE to see the story. ------- A local woman who started an orphanage in Africa is working to get local kids involved in helping those kids half a world away. And over the weekend, some orphans got the chance to tell those caring kids, "thanks."
CLICK HERE for that story. ------- And today, a story about neighbors working to help out neighbors. In an economic slump, people who lost their job may not be able to spend money on upkeep of their home. Neighborhood associations are recognizing that and hoping people take advantage of tool lending library programs:
Some local musicians are worried that a music industry crack down on bands will stifle live music events in Kansas City. Actually, I believe he says it will "kill" live music in Kansas City.
They say BMI (a group that says it collects fees to pay musicians for performance of their work) is demanding large fees from small businesses, even without proof that copyright law has been broken. But BMI says it is just enforcing the law.
People in Drexel are still recovering from the storm earlier this week, but the local animal shelter fears it can't recover. Warm Fuzzys needs to get all 25 cats new homes, because the storm blew the trailer off its foundation, and it is too unstable to house the cats. The damage to the building was so bad, they think it will have to be demolished, and since insurance didn't cover the building, their rescue shelter days are over. That is unless someone can help them.
I was in Lawrence yesterday covering the theft and vandalism of some fairly rare and valuable books on the KU Campus Watson Library. Hard to believe there's a market for illustrations and maps STOLEN OUT OF BOOKS!! That seems strange to me. You'd think being removed from the book would lessen its value, but what do I know. Just kind of sad to see taxpayer dollars wasted because of someone's selfishness.
I talked to a former friend of Roeder's who fanned the flames of some of the pro-life rhetoric going around now about Tiller's murder, namely that it's "a shame it didn't happen sooner." It's not included in the story, but I did ask her about the pro-life groups denouncing Tiller's death and she said that because they profit from abortion being in existence, they don't really want it abolished, and that's why they sympathize with Tiller.
My story also included our interview with the KCK clinic employee who was also familiar with Roeder, from his protests at the clinic. He carries a gun and said if "they" want to take this fight to the streets, he's ready to do that.
Today's story kind of worried me about the future of any abortion dialog in this country.
Dr. George Tiller, an abortion doctor well known throughout the country because he performed controversial late-term abortions, was shot in the head and killed Sunday. He was an usher at his church, when witnesses say a man walked up to him and ended his life. I went to Wichita today for a follow up story. You can watch it by CLICKING HERE
Swarming Bees on the Plaza... The Bee expert I talked to says the good news is a bee swarm isn't in a "stinging mood" -- they're just looking for a new home for their Queen. The video still creeps me out :-)
I recently did a special in-depth sweeps story about dog behavior problems called "Bad to the Bone." This was an important topic to me because it was a dog behavior expert who helped me save my dog. She was a rescue from a breeder kennel, and she was very nervous and peed in her kennel every single day, but refused to walk on a leash. This expert explained to me that since Madeline spent so much time in a kennel that probably had no bottom (so her waste fell through the holes) so now she thinks the kennel is broken and not her. He helped train me how to walk her on a leash without her fighting me the whole time and said that I should walk her everyday before she goes in her kennel. Four years later and Maddie and I are still going on our daily walks, and it's very rewarding for me to know I gave her a better life.
Even when I was in tears about my own problem, I never wanted to take Maddie back to the shelter. "Boomerang" animals are a huge problem in shelters, and often once an animal is returned, it makes it very difficult to adopt again. Experts like the ones I spoke to in my story can help people work with their new pet, to make sure both owner and animal are happy with their new living arrangement. I know adopting a dog can often seem like a daunting challenge, but with some love and dedication and sometimes expert advice, you too can give a shelter animal a better home.
I'm not sure if the video embed is working, so I've also included links to the story on Fox4kc.com here:
I went to the Cass County Courthouse today for what I thought would be a pretty typical arraignment. I was in the front row and watched as the defendant listened to the judge read the charges against him. But then two men walked past a bailiff and punched the defendant and then started kicking him. Five or six deputies rushed in and regained control of the courtroom. We didn't have approval for a camera in the courtroom, but our camera outside the courtroom caught much of the drama as it unfolded. Check out the story:
Earlier this week, the state of Kansas almost sent their budget into grid-lock, because Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree about how to go about paying their bills, since their main account was almost out of money. It was a lot of political posturing, and here's how it ended:
PS... Sebelius is also on a short list for possible Obama cabinet position, so keep your eyes on her in the future.
Parents are agonizing over what to do now that Our Lady of Peace Catholic School is closing at the end of the school year. After more than 60 years, the neighborhood near the school at 105th and Grandview Rd in Kansas City is changing and enrollment is sinking. Some parents said they moved to the neighborhood because it was close to this school, and now they're sad to see the school close its doors for good.
Sorry I haven't posted in a long time. Fox 4 now has a new website, so I wasn't posting anything for awhile, because I knew the old website was going to expire and I didn't want to post bad links. So change your bookmarks to Fox4KC.com
So here's your first link to one of my stories on our new site. A Blue Springs man is about to take center stage at the biggest opera competition in the US. You could call it the American Idol of the opera world. Especially apropos since he's an old high school buddy of David Cook, last year's American Idol winner.