Sidney Steele | KBIA

Sidney Steele

United States House of Representatives Communications

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s chronic lack of funding isn’t very surprising anymore. Just last November, Missouri voters rejected Proposition D, which would have increased the state’s gas tax by 10 cents and used the funds to boost spending on roads and bridges.

Without the additional funding, MoDOT counts on federal grant money to address infrastructure problems like the one posed by Missouri’s aging bridges.

In his Aug. 29 newsletter, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., announced that MoDOT will receive a $20.7 million federal grant for the state’s bridge replacement program. To highlight the significance of the challenges, Graves said, “The average bridge in Missouri is 48 years old—most were only designed to last for 50 years.”

The problem sounds severe and a little dangerous, so we decided to see if the numbers hold up. To a degree, they do — Graves took the sentence from the MoDOT website.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic every time you drive over a bridge.

Sidney Steele / KBIA

On this edition of Intersection, we talk with state Reps. Martha Stevens and Kip Kendrick, both Democrats from mid-Missouri leveraging their local community involvement into their legislative work in the superminority party in Jefferson City.

Stevens has worked as a professional social worker and has focused on health care policy since being elected to the state legislature in November 2016. Kendrick has served in the legislature since November 2014, focusing on health care policy and serving on the House Ethics and Higher Education committees. 

Producer Sidney Steele talks with the two legislators about payday lending, Medicaid, health care access, and their plans for the upcoming state legislative session in January 2020. 

Sidney Steele / KBIA News


 Last month, Columbia saw the deadliest month from gun violence since 2001. There were more deaths in September 2019 than the entire previous year.

As gun violence rises, addressing mental health continues to be discussed in tandem with gun control. On Friday, the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield met with Governor Mike Parson to address the problem of violent crime in their communities.

This week on Talking Politics, Sidney Steele sits down with MU Professor of Communications Dr. Cassandra Kearney to discuss her research on the construction of rhetoric surrounding mass shootings and how legislators have been discussing increasing gun violence in Missouri.


Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

The local group Race Matters, Friends is calling for the resignation of Columbia Public Schools’ chief equity officer Carla London.

The group officially made the call last week in a letter saying, “The district has been unable to provide RMF with evidence that Ms. London’s equity training program is meaningfully addressing the racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions, harassment, bullying and attendance.”

Sidney Steele / KBIA

On campuses across mid-Missouri students and faculty are wrapping up the semester, and on this edition of Off the Clock we visit a unique end-of-term tradition hosted by MU's Ancient Mediterranean Studies department: The Homer-athon. It's a celebration of "The Iliad," in multiple languages, and KBIA's Olivia Love captured the languages and the sounds of the recent 25th annual Homer-athon, on May 10th. 

KBIA file photo

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for many counties in mid-Missouri through Thursday morning.

Operators of Bagnell Dam have been increasing the amount of water they release to avoid flooding at Lake of the Ozarks and on the Missouri River. In preparation for heavy rainfall, Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks operated at its maximum water output, which is 37,000 cubic feet per second, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia City Council voted unanimously to approve option one for the Flat Branch Park Expansion. The council discussed four options for plans for the Flat Branch Park Expansion. The primary difference between the plans is what to do with a city-owned parking lot at the corner of Providence and Broadway.

Columbia transit bus
File Photo / KBIA

The Columbia Board of Education and City Council are supporting a Missouri House bill that would allow cities and schools to split costs for city buses. House Bill 606 would allow the city and school district to make more efficient bus routes, and allow high school students to ride city buses.

Columbia Board of Education Vice President Jonathan Sessions said this is common practice in other cities across the country, including Kansas City. Kansas City Area Transit Authority offers unlimited free bus rides for metro-area high school students. Sessions wants the state legislature to expand that option to every city in Missouri.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

On today's episode of Talking Politics, KBIA's Sidney Steele visits Mexico, Missouri to get to know Mayor Ayanna Shivers. Shivers is the first African-American woman to be mayor of Mexico. She discusses her concerns and goals for the community. You can see the full story here.

The University of Missouri’s Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity will be stepping down in July. Dr. Kevin McDonald has accepted a new position at the University of Virginia. He will be leaving MU after three years in his position.

In a letter to the MU campus community, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said, “Dr. McDonald and his team have been instrumental in committing resources and sharing best practices to help us increase our diversity pool among faculty, staff, students and administrative searches across campus.”

Meiying Wu / KBIA

After 16 months of research and planning, the Mayor’s Task Force for Climate Action and Adaptation Planning has completed its plan to make Columbia a carbon neutral city by the year 2060. The task force presented its plan to the public Monday night.

Energy consumption accounts for 70 percent of Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The largest change the city is expected to make is a shift to 100 percent clean energy sources. The plan calls for Columbia Water and Light to purchase and produce 100 percent renewable energy.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

As a part of the Unbound Book Festival, eight authors will be speaking to Columbia Public Schools Students in classrooms across the district on Friday. For the third year, the “Authors in the Schools” project will be coming to Columbia.

Middle schoolers will hear author Jacqueline Woodson speak at the Missouri Theatre as a part of the Unbound Book Festival. Woodson is a children’s and young adult author and will be the keynote speaker for the event. 

Sara Shahriari / KBIA

The Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, is criticizing the Missouri House for advancing legislation that would allow concealed firearms on college campuses. The Missouri House advances HB575 Monday, which will allow colleges to arm faculty and force public colleges to allow people to carry concealed handguns on campus.

Moms Demand Action has sent representatives to Jefferson City to testify in opposition of the bill and uses social media to drive calls to state legislators.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Fair Housing Task Force, formed last July, presented its findings about housing disparities in Columbia and a plan of action to provide more affordable housing.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Beginning next school year, sex education curriculum in Columbia Public Schools will include education on sexual harassment, sexual violence, and consent.

House Bill 1606 requires that by July, any course relating to human sexuality include these topics. The Columbia Board of Education voted unanimously to implement the updated curriculum, and to approve academic calendars for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years required by the state law. The board also approved a contract with a new substitute employer service.

Sidney Steele / KBIA

Blake Willoughby is the youngest candidate for the Columbia Board of Education, by a sizeable margin. While some might see this as negative, Willoughby sees this as one of his greatest advantages.

“I bring a fresh perspective of being a young, community engaged, artist-educator,” Willoughby said. “I am the closest in age to understanding what our kids are navigating when they graduate high school and become life-ready.”

Following videos showing child abuse in St. Louis daycare facilities, Governor Mike Parson is announcing the creation of the Safe and Quality Child Care Working Group to combat future abuse. The group is made up of staff from the departments of Health and Senior Services, Social Services, Public Safety, Elementary and Secondary Education and the Attorney General’s office.

Randall Williams, the Director of the Department Health and Senior Services, said his department hopes to make improvements, such as increasing the required number of training hours for daycare workers and creating report cards so parents know the quality of care a daycare provides before enrolling their child.

“While our North Star is always to help people have access to healthcare and to child care, safety has to be the most important thing on our minds.”

The working group will meet to discuss necessary changes and make recommendations by June 1.

The MU Women*s Leadership Conference emphasizes diversity and inclusivity, starting with its name. Executive Director Jordan Weinberg said replacing the apostrophe in “Women’s” with an asterisk reflects the theme of the conference: More to Learn.

“It means there's always more to something than the surface level,” Weinberg said. “Historically, our conference has been kind of geared towards a certain type of woman. We really wanted to emphasize our commitment to being more inclusive.”

A roundup of regional headlines, including: 

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Columbia Police Department is working to become accredited by The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The Police Department held the second Police Policy Public Review and Input meeting Thursday to discuss policy changes required for accreditation.

CALEA accreditation sets standards for police department policy, said Columbia Police Department spokesperson Jeffery Pitts. Currently, MU Police Department is the only agency in Boone County with this accreditation.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

The Columbia School Board race narrowed to three candidates after Brian Jones’ withdrawal from the race Thursday.

Jones sent a statement to the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Columbia Missourian announcing his withdrawal from the race. In the statement Jones said he has accepted an “unexpected employment opportunity” and will be relocating to Wisconsin at the end of February. He says this is in the best interests of his family. 

Regional headlines from the KBIA Newsroom, including: 

A proposal that one lawmaker worries will exempt most correspondence by elected officials from the Sunshine Law was preliminarily approved by the Missouri House of Representatives on Monday.