Peggy Lowe

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.

From cries of heartbreak to a call for the prosecution of men who pay for sex with girls, Kansas lawmakers said the story of Hope Zeferjohn, a teen victim of sex-trafficking who was prosecuted for sex crimes, focuses a harsh light on a state system that is supposed to protect children.

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor.

It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month.

Zeferjohn’s parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownback’s efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

At first, they wanted to save her.

Then, after she fled the Kansas foster care system at age 16 and fell victim to the commercial sex trade, social workers told her she was going to prison forever.

"When I went into foster care and they wanted to take me away from my family, I ran," she said. "I ran away, and that's how I really started to get into all of this trouble. After I ran away, that's when they started treating me like, 'Oh, you're a suspect and you're not innocent.'

A detainee at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Chase County, Kansas, has tested positive for mumps, and 22 other migrants may have been exposed.

ICE discovered the detainee with the mumps on June 18, then identified the others who came into contact with that person, said Shawn A. Neudauer, an ICE public affairs officer.

The 22 other detainees are not sick but have been “cohorted,” or separated from the general population, and will remain there until July 16, he said.

A small city in Kansas is determined to prove The Onion wrong.

Folks in Emporia, Kansas, weren’t laughing when the satirical paper named it “best town to escape from” in 2017. In fact, the “brain drain” from rural areas has been a problem across the country for decades. Since 2000, Emporia's population has declined more than 7 percent. It's now home to 24,724 people.

Come in and sit down at Anita Parsa’s kitchen table. Help yourself to the chocolate chip cookies and she’ll get you an iced tea. Might as well make yourself comfortable.

Because for the next hour, she’s going to school you on a massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  

“I like to figure out puzzles,” Parsa says. “I like to crack things, and that’s what this is all about.”

A massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — which purports to help states keep voter rolls accurate — has halted operations over concerns about its own accuracy and security.

The Interstate Crosscheck system, which Kobach’s office promised would be working ahead of the 2018 elections, has been sidelined while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a security assessment following the unintended release of hundreds of voters’ private information.

EARL DOTTER / OXFAM

A congressional watchdog agency called on the federal government this week to better protect meatpacking workers, who are often exposed to dangerous chemicals, not allowed bathroom breaks and refused medical treatment.

COURTESY: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

For the first time in its annual survey of rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that mortality rates of working-age adults are on the rise because of opioid and heroin overdoses.

Continuing longtime trends, rural areas are still seeing declining populations, the rebound from the Great Recession is slow and poverty remains a persistent problem, according to the USDA’s “Rural America at a Glance,” released Thursday.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

On a feedlot in far southwest Kansas, two cowboys on horseback move cattle on the high dusty plains, spread out like dozens of football fields stitched together with miles of fences. Their “Buenos dias! Buenos dias!” greetings mix with moos on a hot summer morning.

They’re two of the 400 employees who work on the feedlot, which is one of the largest in the U.S. in a state that ranks third in meat production.

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