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KC News Features / Rhiannon Ross
Published 12/12/2008 - 9:26 a.m. CDT

Cedar Crest, Swearingen, Fairview Concerned Citizens Technical Advisor, Jim Thompson (center) raises a concern at the final public hearing over the rezoning of Cedar Crest along with their President, Lavonne Spicer and the association's Vice President, Jim Stone. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Score another round for David in his battle against Goliath.

Sugar Creek Planning Commissioners once again denied a rezoning request by Lafarge North America to subsurface mine for limestone on property that borders a heavily populated residential neighborhood in unincorporated Jackson County.

Published 11/21/2008 - 5:20 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Homeowners who live near a proposed underground mining venture made one thing perfectly clear at a public hearing last week at the Mike Onka Memorial Building in Sugar Creek, Mo.

"We just want LaFarge to go away and give us our homes back," said Lavonne Spicer, when asked by Sugar Creek Planning Commissioner Susan Davis if there were any concessions LaFarge North America might make that could sway homeowners.

Spicer’s comment was met by applause from more than 100 people who attended the third hearing in as many months to oppose a rezoning request made by LaFarge to mine limestone on property that borders a heavily populated residential area in unincorporated Jackson County.

Published 10/31/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Court Clerk Jessie Ray goes over the details with Phil Lindsey at the Independence Courthouse. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Voting rights activist Phil Lindsey, Independence, was recently convicted on a charge of disturbing the peace at his local polling place. He has appealed the conviction.

Lindsey was arrested in the August primary after his identification was rejected by election judges and he refused to leave the premises until he could vote. He said judges insisted he show a signature ID if he wanted to cast a vote and they would not accept the forms of ID he gave them – a postcard notification from the election board bearing his name and address and a utility bill. He said he also produced a bank statement. All of the IDs he presented are acceptable forms of ID under Missouri state law.

Published 10/17/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Like any smart warrior, Phil Lindsey is gearing up for battle – the battle to protect voter integrity and transparency in the November general election.

“Missouri is a bellwether state and my guess is if the election is stolen, it could be in St. Louis County and Eastern Jackson County (Mo.),” he said.

Lindsey, Independence, is director of Showmethevote!, a 501c (3) grassroots organization dedicated to voting rights. The group advocates hand-counting paper ballots to protect the integrity of the voting process. They also submitted petitions to the Missouri Legislature opposing photo voter ID, a former voting identification requirement the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional last year.

Published 10/03/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

The U.S. Census Bureau is actively seeking employees to conduct its 2010 census.

“There are so many job opportunities now and coming up,” said Sydnee Chattin-Reynolds, deputy regional director of the Kansas City Regional Census Center. “It’s a huge effort and a great opportunity economically for the community.”

Positions available range from census takers to management, with salaries ranging from a low of $11.50 to a high of $27.25, depending upon one’s experience and the position one is hired for. Jobs will be needed to complete the census through 2010.

Published 09/26/2008 - 5:13 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Most working parents have little time to spare for extra-curricular activities.

Melissa Eddy, Kansas City, is no different. She’s a wife, mother of two elementary-aged children, and a pre-school teacher.

But that didn’t stop her from assuming one more activity: holding the members of the Kansas City, Missouri, School District (KCMSD) Board of Education accountable for its actions.

“I am a huge stakeholder in the process,” she said. “I stand to lose the most.”

Eddy, along with former KCMSD board member Dr. Bill Eddy (no relation), formed the grassroots task force, “Do the Right Thing for Kids.” (https://www.kc4kids.wordpress.com)

The group seeks to keep the community informed about what the school board is or is not doing; replace the current elected school board with one that is appointed or a hybrid version of appointed and elected officials; and pursue state legislation that would support board appointments.

Published 09/19/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Standing in front of Southwest High School, Dr. Bill Eddy does not stand alone in his desire to affect major change in the Kansas City Missouri School District.Photo by Michael McClure. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Obama and McCain aren’t the only crusaders calling for change.

Former Kansas City, Mo. school district (KCMSD) board member and UMKC educator William Eddy, Ph.D., also is waving the banner.

But Eddy’s cry does not call for changes to the national economic landscape, nor is it a plea for health care for all. His task, however, is no less daunting: Eddy wants to reorganize the KCMSD.

Published 09/12/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Joy Kaestner protested Lafarge's plan to mine in her neighborhood. Her son, Michael Kaestner, 15, stands behind her. And even when mother and son later became soaked in the rain, they continued to wield their signs. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Pellets of rain didn’t appear to faze about 75 protesters lining both sides of Kentucky Road at the Missouri 291 intersection in Independence late Thursday afternoon. They sported rain slickers and sprouted umbrellas to protect them. And many of their protest signs were laminated in plastic.

But ask members of Cedar Crest, Swearingen, Farview Concerned Citizens how they feel about underground blasting in their backyards and their discontent thundered.

Lafarge North America, a cement giant headquartered in France but with operations in Sugar Creek and Independence, has been mining limestone beneath WinterStone Golf Course for eight years.

As the project nears completion, Lafarge once again is seeking zoning approval from the city of Sugar Creek to mine 167 acres of the Cedar Crest Dairy estate. The Sugar Creek Board of Alderman rejected the request in 2006.

Published 09/08/2008 - 8:57 p.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Homeowners in unincorporated Jackson County who live near a proposed, underground mining venture are prepared once again to fight for their homes and their children’s school.

Members of Cedar Crest, Swearingen, Farview Concerned Citizens will gather from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kentucky Road Lafarge Plant, Kentucky Road and Missouri 291, to protest yet another attempt by Lafarge North America to blast for limestone on the Cedar Crest Dairy property.

The protest is scheduled one week before a public hearing before the Sugar Creek Planning Commission. The hearing is scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Mike Onka Memorial Building, 11520 E. Putnam St., in Sugar Creek.

Published 10/21/2008 - 8:19 p.m. CDT

“We stand on tiptoe looking for a brighter age.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Rhiannon Ross

Democrats and Republicans alike gathered in Greater Kansas City on Saturday and Monday to show their support for the candidate they hope will be the next President of the United States.

Many stood on tiptoe or hoisted children onto their shoulders, for the chance to either see Sen. Barack Obama Saturday on the grounds of the Liberty Memorial WWI Museum in Kansas City, Mo., or Sen. John McCain Monday on a football field at the Heartland High School and Academy in the nearby Kansas City suburb of Belton, Mo.

Published 10/10/2008 - 10:59 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Media attention may appear to be waning but not so the impassioned voices of homeowners who live near a proposed underground mining site in Sugar Creek, Mo.

Approximately 200 people gathered Thursday at the Mike Onka Memorial Building in Sugar Creek to air their complaints at a second public hearing against Lafarge North America. The concrete giant wants to mine in a residential area that borders an elementary school, four churches and 1,400 homes in unincorporated Jackson County.

“I think if I played with an M-80, you guys would come to my house and have me arrested,” Ken Chapman, a resident and former mine worker, said. “But you guys are playing with dynamite!”

Published 10/03/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

It was no ordinary Wednesday afternoon this week in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine District.

At least not for Raymond Daniels.

“I was almost born on this street,” the life-long Kansas City man said, gesturing around him.

Daniels, 81, said he remembers a very different time on 18th & Vine. He was nearly 40 years old before Jim Crow segregation laws ended and the 1960s Civil Rights era began.

Published 09/26/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

Educator Ingrid Burnett said she wants to get the community’s attention.

And much like a school teacher clapping her hands to stir sleepy, apathetic students, she found a way to do it. Burnett resigned, unexpectedly, from the Kansas City, Missouri school board earlier this week, after serving six years.

“I wanted to make this clarion call to the community – ‘Hey, we’re not going the right way!’” she said.

Burnett was first elected to the school board in 2002 and again in 2006. An educator for 30 years, she is employed by the Independence School District as a school counselor at Procter Elementary School. She is married to Missouri state Rep. John P. Burnett.

Published 09/12/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Lindsey and Lawyer
(From left to right) Voting Rights activist Phil Lindsey, Independence, discusses his disappointment that his trial was continued with his attorney Joseph O'Hara, of Deluccie and O'Hara Law Firm of Independence. Lindsey's case was continued until October. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Phil Lindsey was looking forward to his day in court Thursday.

But he will have to wait at least another six weeks. His trial was continued to Oct. 22, as per the prosecution’s request.

Lindsey, a known voting rights activist from Independence, was in court defending himself on a charge of “disorderly conduct” at his local polling place in August.

Published 09/12/2008 - 5:00 a.m. CDT

Corey Weibel attempts to hand out educational flyers regarding The Power and Light district's allegedly racist dress code to mostly ambivalent American Idols on Tour concert goers. (Photo: Michael McClure)

By Rhiannon Ross

Fashion magazines are reporting that celebrity twin Ashley Olsen wore “a simple white T-shirt with matching black bra and skirt” to New York’s prestigious Fashion Week.

But if Olsen were to visit Kansas City’s Power & Light District in this get-up, her “simple white T-shirt” – according to the dress code for the new $850-million entertainment district – could get her banned from its restaurants and bars. It could prohibit her from entering the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley. And it could even get her booted out of the district altogether.

Or would it?

Published 09/08/2008 - 3:05 p.m. CDT

By Rhiannon Ross

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 10, 2:40 PM - Change of Venue

An Independence man, who was arrested while trying to vote in the August primary election, heads to trial Thursday. And his case has garnered interest from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Phil Lindsey, a known voting rights activist, was told by election judges he could not cast a vote because he did not submit a signature ID. However, Missouri election law does not require a signature or photo ID to vote.

Lindsey submitted two acceptable forms of voter ID under state law: a postcard notification from the election board bearing his name and address and a utility bill. When judges refused these, he produced a third acceptable ID under state law -- a bank statement. Acceptable Missouri ID's