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Nick’s Picks | High-Profile Court Cases, Whataburger and Milestones And KC's Top Monumental Milestones

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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6 minute read

Lucas At The White House

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will be at the White House today. He’s been asked to stand next to President Biden as he signs into law the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

Around $14 billion of that will be headed to Kansas and Missouri. In addition to boosting funding for roads and bridges in both states, there’s money to support expanding rural internet access and to upgrade city water systems. There’s also cash to expand electric vehicle charging stations and to purchase electric buses.

Closer to home, Kansas City officials say the infrastructure windfall could help jumpstart planning of an East-West streetcar line and reignite a proposal to install a deck over the I-670 Highway that divides downtown. 

Several cities including Chicago have successfully built over highways and installed parks and other public amenities over the top.

Did you see Wyandotte County has plans too? The County’s Planning Director has proposed an aerial gondola that would connect downtown Kansas City, Kansas with downtown Kansas City, Missouri. 

It’s definitely a “high in the sky idea” but Wyandotte County officials say the construction cost per mile is half that of the Kansas City streetcar line.

The End Of Masks In The Metro? 

Is this the week the metro finally gives up on masks?

On Friday, the Jackson County legislature voted to set aside advice from the CDC and end its mask mandate 10 days ahead of schedule. 

Within hours, school districts from Blue Springs to Grain Valley dropped their face-covering requirements.

That means there are very few places left requiring you to wear a mask, and those remaining mandates could be dropped by the end of the week.

Wyandotte County’s mask mandate is scheduled to expire on Thursday.

In Johnson County, Roeland Park is the only city requiring face coverings. That mandate is scheduled to expire at midnight tonight.

Children under the age of 12 are still required to wear masks to school in Johnson County. But it’s uncertain how long that rule will remain in place. The Johnson County Commission could vote to remove the requirement when they meet on Thursday morning.

Wait For Rulings

We’re waiting for judges to rule this week in two high-profile court cases. 

A Jackson County judge will deliver a verdict this week in the involuntary manslaughter trial of a Kansas City police detective who fatally shot Cameron Lamb, a 26-year-old Black man who was leaving the garage of his home in 2019.

Also this week, the fate of Kevin Strickland could be decided. Strickland has spent the last 43 years in prison for a crime the Jackson County Prosecutor claims he didn’t commit.  

Whataburger Wait Is Over

Kansas City’s first Whataburger opens this week.

If you’ve never been to Whataburger, it may be hard to understand why the San Antonio-based restaurant chain has such a cult following, including Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Kansas Citians will get their first taste today when the Lee’s Summit store opens. 

A second location will open in Independence in the next two weeks.

The first Kansas side store will open on the site of the former Salty Iguana restaurant on 135th Street in Overland Park in late December or early January.

Around a dozen Whataburger locations are planned around the metro by 2023.

Monumental Milestones

We in the media love to make a big deal about the latest thing, but shouldn’t we also celebrate our local businesses and institutions that have thrived against the odds and are marking monumental milestones?

Here are three big headlines to celebrate this week:

30th Anniversary of the opening of the Arabia Steamboat Museum 

When it opened in the River Market in November of 1991, it was touted as the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.  It may not be around forever.  Museum owner David Hawley told Fox 4 News in 2019 that when the lease is up on the city-owned building in 2026, the popular tourist attraction will leave Kansas City.

100 years since construction began on Liberty Memorial

You could call it Kansas City’s first “crowd-funding” project. Over the course of a 10-day fundraising campaign, 83,000 Kansas Citians collectively raised $2.5 million to begin work on America’s largest monument to “the fallen” in World War 1 and to mark the “dawn of an era of peace.”

25th Anniversary of Bi-State Tax election to reopen and restore Union Station

It’s hard for us to remember now, but at the time of that vote in November of 1996, Union Station had been closed for more than a decade. Amtrak had moved out of the decaying building and it had been sitting vacant.  

“Bad Boys” On Tour?

Is there a statute of limitations on bad behavior? If there is such a timeframe, it’s a very short one when it comes to our celebrities.

Having been accused in the New York Times of sexual misconduct with five women, comedian Louis C.K. is back on stage in Kansas City this week. 

Netflix and HBO may have cut ties to the comic but the Uptown Theater shows no such concern. Seats to his Kansas City show Monday night are selling for between $50 and $80.

Kansas City is also part of a “redemption” tour this week for former comic turned politician Al Franken.

In 2018, Franken gave up his U.S. Senate seat after several women accused him of groping and inappropriate kissing. He now says he “absolutely” regrets his decision to resign.

Franken will appear Friday night at the Uptown Theater. 

Christmas Carol Returns

Is it possible to be forgiven and redeemed for your past misdeeds?

This week the Kansas City Rep presents what is arguably the most famous story of “second chances.”

Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he is transformed from a greedy, selfish miser into a generous, good-natured character in “A Christmas Carol.”

The show begins its holiday run at The Rep this Friday and runs through December 26th.

Celebrations of Life

This week Kansas Citians will get together to remember the life of Dennis Moore.

The longtime Kansas Congressman died after battling Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. He was 75.

A public memorial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Yardley Hall, on the campus of Johnson County Community College.

Also being remembered this week is philanthropist G. Kenneth Baum. 

The former CEO of Kansas City investment bank George K. Baum & Co died last week at the age of 91. 

Nelson Museum leader Julián Zugazagoitia says Baum was a transformative figure in the arts community.

A celebration of his life will take place at the Nelson at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Netflix Premieres Kansas City Film

This week Netflix will spotlight Kansas City as its premieres a new film about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

The documentary is called, “Procession” and follows the stories of six men who say they were abused by priests when they were children.  

The film is shot in and around Kansas City, including inside some of the churches where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. 

“Procession” will begin streaming on Netflix this Friday.

The Ever-Shifting American Population

Will Missouri continue to be the population epicenter of the United States?


You didn’t know that it was?

On Tuesday of this week, the U.S. Census Bureau will reveal where the new center of the U.S. population is located.

The last time Census statisticians made their calculations it was in the Missouri town of Plato, about 70 miles northeast of Springfield. 

According to the Census Bureau, knowing the center of the population helps geographers, demographers and others quantify how fast and in what direction Americans are moving.

The geographical statistic was first calculated in 1790, when it was located in the colonial town of Chestertown, Maryland.

Since then, the center has moved steadily westward, through Ohio, Indiana and then Illinois.

It’s been centered in Missouri since 1980.

Fleming, Lynch, Flannery And Sudeikis….

This is not the name of a new Kansas City law firm. It’s just a snapshot of the big names heading to Kansas City this week.

World famous opera singer Renée Fleming is in town. She performs at the Kauffman Center Thursday night.

This Saturday, Jason Sudeikis can be seen at the fifth annual Thundergong music and comedy show benefiting Steps of Faith Foundation, which supports military and civilian amputees. Lingering Covid concerns has upended the show for the second straight year. It will be online only Saturday night.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you can frolic with TV comedy legend Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery from TV’s “The Office.” They’re at the Folly Theater Saturday. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Jason Sudeikis sings into a microphone
Jason Sudeikis (right) returns to Kansas City for Thundergong! ( Contributed | Thundergong!)

Playoffs For Sporting KC

While Kansas Citians fixate on the Chiefs, Sporting KC heads into the playoffs this week. 

Sporting has clinched the third seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

They battle it out against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. The kickoff is at 4 p.m.


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