Dry conditions and high winds put the area at risk for grass fires

The National Weather Service on Wednesday issued a red flag warning, expecting a “critical fire danger” across northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. Through all of 2013, the Kansas City Fire Department responded to 296 wildland, brush or grass fires. Through just the first three months of 2014, the department responded to 177 such fires.

KCK health care worker is accused of bilking Medicaid

Federal authorities on Wednesday accused a 54-year-old Kansas City, Kan., woman of bilking the government of more than $587,000 in fraudulent Medicaid payments. Authorities allege that personal care attendant Doris Betts documented more than 750 workdays that exceeded 24 hours. The longest was 39.5 hours, prosecutors said.

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approve all five ballot questions

Kansas City will be able to replace about 28 miles of water mains each year for the next decade and make other crucial water facility improvements after voters agreed to authorize up to $500 million in additional water bonds. Question 1 was among five ballot questions that city voters considered in a low-turnout election. All five were approved by comfortable margins.

Democrats turn up the pressure for pay equity

President Barack Obama signed executive actions barring federal contractors from retaliating against workers for comparing salaries and requiring those employers to report compensation data to the government by gender and race. That came as Democratic lawmakers blasted congressional Republicans for opposing legislation to expand measures aimed at preventing gender-based pay discrimination.

Hickman Mills elects school board members despite smear campaign

Voters went to the polls to settle money issues in several school districts and elect board members around the area, including in Hickman Mills, where a last-minute mailing turned things nasty. In Hickman Mills, the winners were incumbents Dan Osman and Bonnaye Mims and newcomer Karry Palmer.

Voters favor many ballot issues in Missouri

Lee’s Summit will get a new highway interchange, and Excelsior Springs was on its way to approving a community center. Peculiar will seek a recount after falling just short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a fuel tax.

Police link some of the 13 recent shootings on area highways and roadways

Investigators won’t say how many they’ve linked or whether they used suspect descriptions, ballistic comparisons or other means to connect them. Elsewhere, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives donated $5,000 to a reward fund for information leading to an arrest in connection to the highway and roadway shootings. The donation brings the total available reward to $7,000.

‘Lost’ history of Panama Canal is now found in exhibit at KC’s Linda Hall Library

To mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, Kansas City’s Linda Hall Library is showing a collection of photographs, blueprints, maps and journals from A.B. Nichols, the office engineer for the canal’s Culebra Cut. And to make the centennial more fun, a functioning scale model of a Panama Canal lock is being built on the north lawn of the library.

Kansas lawmakers pass school finance bill merging funding equity with education reforms

Kansas lawmakers late Sunday narrowly passed a school finance bill that ties reforms championed by conservatives to fixing a spending gap between rich and poor schools. The House and Senate passed a bill that spends $126 million to bridge wealth-based disparities in the school funding formula, strips teachers of due process rights and promotes school choice. The bill now goes to the governor to sign.

Ex-massage parlor worker thanks her federal accusers

Xiuqing Tian of Framingham, Mass., is sentenced in Wichita to time served and probation. She thanks the government for its help in rebuilding her life. Since moving to a halfway house, she has gotten a full-time job and found an apartment where she can live.

With funds restored, Kansas City’s film office will roll again

Kansas City government quit funding a film office more than a decade ago, but the new budget provides money to reopen that office, in partnership with the Convention and Visitors Association. Film advocates say it’s a welcome and crucial move to give Kansas City a foot in the door for all sorts of film opportunities.

Medicaid change sought for disabled, elderly in Missouri

Some Missouri Republicans have remained adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of adults by tapping into billions of federal dollars available under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Yet support has been quietly growing among some of those same Republicans for a mini Medicaid expansion.

Family of baby with rare cancer is amazed by global support for Plunge for Landon

People across the nation (and in several other countries) are posting videos of themselves jumping into frigid water to show support for a 5-month-old northwest Missouri boy who is battling cancer. Landon Shaw, of rural Tarkio is battling a rare cancer that first hit his kidney and now is in his brain. His family is on Medicaid, which won’t cover all of the costs coming in.