© 2023 Kansas Public Radio

91.5 FM | KANU | Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
96.1 FM | K241AR | Lawrence (KPR2)
89.7 FM | KANH | Emporia
99.5 FM | K258BT | Manhattan
97.9 FM | K250AY | Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM | KANV | Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM | K210CR | Atchison
90.3 FM | KANQ | Chanute

See the Coverage Map for more details

FCC On-line Public Inspection Files Sites:

Questions about KPR's Public Inspection Files?
Contact General Manager Dan Skinner at skinner@ku.edu
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Headlines for Monday, December 12, 2022

Kansas news summary for staff and wire reports.

Investigators Search for Cause of Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill in Kansas

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Kan. (ABC) - Federal and state environmental officials worked over the weekend to mitigate the fallout from last Wednesday's Keystone Pipeline rupture that leaked about 14,000 barrels of crude oil into a Kansas creek. ABC News reports that officials have not yet determined the cause of the incident, TC Energy, the Canadian pipeline operator, said Sunday. The spill, near Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas, had been "contained" by about 250 people working at the site, TC Energy said in a statement. Some of the thousands of barrels of unrefined oil product ran downhill into the creek, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the company. Third-party environmental specialists were among the hundreds of people who responded to clean up the mess, the company said in its Sunday update. The leak in the 36-inch pipeline was first detected at 9:01 pm Wednesday, according to an order issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. A trip alarm was received six minutes later, the order said. The pipeline was shut down and its isolation valves were closed at 9:08 pm, according to officials.


Kansas Family Farm Affected by Massive Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Officials are calling it the biggest oil spill in Keystone Pipeline history and it took place in Washington County, in north-central Kansas. KWCH TV reports that the pipeline leaked about 20 miles south of the Kansas-Nebraska state line and has affected farmers, ranchers and others who live in the area. “We know we have pasture grass that’s black, that will probably have to be removed,” said Chris Pannbacker, who owns a farm near the spill. “It’s our land; it’s our livelihood. Our kids grew up there. There is a lot of heritage and history and our families worked hard to be good stewards of the land. So, we just want to do whatever we can to restore it,” said Pannbacker. Nearly 150 crew members in Washington County are working to help fix the spill. Officials are also investigating what led to it. According to Washington County’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, water is safe to drink for those in the area. People are asked to avoid the area while crews continue to work.


Kansas City Emergency Rooms at Capacity from "Tripledemic"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) COVID-19, RSV and the flu cases are filling up emergency rooms in the Kansas City metro. Many area hospitals are at capacity, with some even putting beds in the hallways. KCUR Radio reports that all of this is overwhelming nurses already stretched thin. The combination of COVID-19, RSV and the flu has created a “tripledemic” filling up hospital beds across the metro. According to the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), more than 82% of all area hospital beds are currently full. The CDC reports that flu activity in Missouri and Kansas is very high. During the week of November 27 - December 3, Kansas City, Missouri, and surrounding counties had 1,486 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. MARC has reported a 17% increase in COVID cases from the week of November 26. This increase is especially pressing in emergency departments.

Children’s Mercy reported last week that its downtown hospital was at capacity due to the strain of respiratory infections. An overflow of emergency care patients and admitted patients needing beds in the emergency department has pushed Saint Luke’s and The University of Kansas Hospital to put patients on beds in the hallways. Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, said the hospital has had no choice but to temporarily use hallway beds.


Kansas Pharmacies Running Short of Tamiflu, Antibiotics

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - A shortage of drugs, especially those that treat childhood illnesses, is straining Kansas pharmacies. The Kansas News Service reports the shortage is coming just as the flu, RSV and COVID-19 continue to spread across the state. Tamiflu, which treats the flu, is in short supply nationally and in Kansas. So is Amoxicillin, a common antibiotic and one often prescribed to kids with chest infections. Mandilyn Coffman is the pharmacy manager at Dandurand Drugs Wellness in Wichita. She says that’s forcing pharmacists to find workarounds. “So we’re doing a lot of compounding, we’re having to make things that we haven’t had to make in the past," she said. "But we’re
also switching up antibiotics as best as we can.” Hospital officials say some people are also finding it harder to locate certain over-the-counter medications, like children’s Tylenol and ibuprofen.


Man Killed in Early Sunday Morning Shooting in Independence, Missouri

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (WDAF) — A man is dead after a deadly shooting early Sunday morning in Independence, Missouri. WDAF TV reports that officers were called to a shooting in the 4600 block of S. Brentwood Avenue around 2 am and found an adult male inside the residence suffering from gunshot wounds. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators also said the suspect was inside the residence at the time of the shooting but fled the scene prior to the arrival of officers.


Fentanyl Crisis Hitting Lawrence Hard

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - In May of last year, the Lawrence Police Department warned the community about a potent drug that was killing area residents. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that it was not the usual “stay away from drugs” message directed at teens, but something far more urgent and directed at everyone: “About three to five grains of table salt — that’s the potential fatal dose of fentanyl for an adult,” a department news release stated. “We’re not trying to scare people,” interim Chief of Police Adam Heffley was quick to say. “What we’re trying to do is save someone’s life.” A year and a half later, the dire warning has largely gone unheeded — with devastating results for many local families. “It is truly dangerous,” Sgt. Josh Guile said. “It is killing people,” right here in Lawrence, as well as across the nation.

“In Kansas, there’s been a 43% increase in overdose deaths, many of which have been attributed to fentanyl,” according to Senior Assistant Douglas County District Attorney David Greenwald. From the beginning of this year, the Lawrence Police Department has seen an estimated 15 deaths, according to Laura McCabe, a spokesperson with LPD. In 2018, for context, the number of opioid deaths in Lawrence was two.

What’s driving this deadly epidemic? Largely ignorance, authorities say, in that people believe they are taking one kind of drug — say prescription Xanax or OxyContin or even heroin — but are actually consuming a substance that has been laced with fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Read more)


KPR Still Seeking Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to Join Station's Award-Winning News Team

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio, located at the University of Kansas, is looking for a new Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to cover all aspects of state government in Topeka for KPR and its statewide reporting partners. This exciting position requires skill, professional experience and curiosity. To apply, log on to: https://employment.ku.edu/staff/23463BR. A review of applications began in October and will continue until a robust pool of qualified applicants is identified.

KU is an EO/AAE. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin, disability, genetic information or protected Veteran status.


Does Kansas Pay State Workers Enough? Salary Survey Says "No"

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - A salary survey of various state government jobs indicates that it’s past time for Kansas lawmakers to give raises to several classes of public employees. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas is underpaying workers in most of the 100-plus job classifications in this year's market survey. That's based on data presented last month to a legislative committee). The revelation comes after lawmakers appropriated $225 million to increase salaries this fiscal year. According to the survey, law clerks for state government are compensated 32% below their peers, accountants are paid 24% below market, both administrative officers and senior equipment mechanics are 21% below, social workers 20% below, drivers license examiners and epidemiologists are 19% below, among others.

Meanwhile, job classes compensated above market rates include Kansas Highway Patrol master troopers 30% above market, Capitol area guards 27% above their peers, economic development representatives 17% above, graphic designers 16% above and database administrators 14% above.

State Senator Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, suggested there should be more focus on increasing compensation for the lowest-paid positions. (Read more.)


Kansas Man Charged in 1980 Killing of Nursing Student

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged in the 1980 shooting death of a 23-year-old neighbor after investigators who reexamined her death turned up new evidence, authorities said. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrested 68-year-old Steven Hanks, of Burden, on Thursday on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Mary Robin Walter, who was a wife, mother and nursing school student when she was killed, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir says Hanks is jailed on $500,000 bond. Bellendir said Detective Sgt. Adam Hales decided in April to reopen the investigation into the January 24, 1980, killing, which happened at a trailer park near the airport in Great Bend, a city of about 15,000 residents in central Kansas. “After taking a fresh look at the case, it became evident that some of the information had been initially overlooked and some had been added at a later date,” the sheriff said. “This was unknown to the original investigators.” Bellendir directed two additional officers to join the investigation. In October, new evidence was discovered, though authorities declined to disclose it. Bellendir said Hanks was investigated as a suspect immediately after the shooting, “but the case went cold." He didn't disclose a possible motive for the killing.

Hanks spent time in prison for another crime. He was arrested in 1981 and charged with rape, battery, robbery and burglary. He was sentenced in 1983 and discharged in 1993, according to online records from the Kansas Department of Corrections.


Kansas College Mourns Passing of Head Football Coach

HIGHLAND, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas college is mourning the untimely passing of its head football coach. WIBW TV reports that Highland Community College Head Football Coach Jared Powers passed away unexpectedly on Saturday. The college issued a statement that read, in part: “His loss will be felt deeply throughout the Highland campus community, but none more than by his assistant coaches and the student-athletes he coached." Powers joined the team after he served as Offensive Coordinator at Mississippi Delta Community College in 2020 and Mississippi Valley State University in 2019.

He also had coaching experience in High School, Junior College, NAIA, NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division I-FCS and NCAA Divison I-FBS levels. Powers was also a 3-time All-Conference Offensive Lineman for Ferrum College in Virginia and William Jewell College in Missouri. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from William Jewell.


Overland Park Removing Trees to Fight Invasive Emerald Ash Borer

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) - Overland Park has a plan to remove thousands of trees being wiped out by an invasive beetle. According to KCTV, there are about 8,000 ash trees on the streets throughout the city, but
some have been eliminated in recent years. The root of the problem is a tiny green beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that’s been sweeping through ash trees in the Midwest. The beetle has swept through ash trees in Missouri and Kansas, with few options for prevention. That’s why Overland Park and other communities are trying to get ahead of the problem. The city is using funds to hire contractors to help tackle the problem faster. About $2 million will be used to eliminate ash trees and plant replacement trees.


20-Year Search Continues for "Kansas College Rapist"

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — College students at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are preparing for finals and the holiday break. Police in both college towns are using the time to remind and warn the public about a series of crimes that have haunted both communities for decades. WDAF TV reports that investigators have been searching for 20 years for a man who either raped, or tried to rape, 14 female college students between 2000 and 2015. While police don’t know his name, he is referred to as the
"Kansas College Rapist."

Survivors describe the person as a white man between 5-foot-9 and 6 feet tall. In July 2015, the most recent case, the man had a medium to thick build, a slight stomach, and noticeable muscle tone in the thigh area. Investigators say the description matches frequently mentioned characteristics from other cases. They believe he is now at least 40 years old. Survivors say the man carried out the assaults in a cold, calm, calculated manner. All of the victims lived off campus in
Manhattan or Lawrence. Most of the crimes happened between 2 am and 4:30 am as the victims were sleeping. Detectives say that in most cases the attacker used a handgun and threatened the victims. In all but two cases, investigators say the victim was home alone.

Authorities say there are indications that victims were watched and followed before they were attacked. All of the cases, except for the very first attack, happened during a break in classes at either KU or K-State. The cases remain open, but police have not received the key clue needed to identify the suspect and solve the crimes. Officers are asking all students at the universities to be cautious and report any suspicious activity during the winter break.

Anyone with information about the unsolved crimes is asked to call Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers at (785) 539-7777.  Text tips are also accepted by sending a text to “CRIMES” (274637) and starting the body of your message with “TIP353.” Online tips can be provided by visiting the Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers online. (Read more.)


Lawrence Woman, Three Florida Residents Indicted on Medicare Fraud

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas woman and three Florida residents have been indicted in connection with a scheme to defraud Medicare. WIBW TV reports that a federal grand jury in Topeka has returned an indictment -- charging 42-year-old Fawn J. Lickteig, of Lawrence, and three residents of Florida with multiple health care fraud charges, wire fraud and mail fraud. Federal prosecutors say the defendants are also accused of establishing a fraudulent mail-order pharmacy. The defendants allegedly used Freestate Pharmacy to submit false claims to Medicare, so the pharmacy can fill prescription orders for patients that had not spoken to a doctor and had not requested the medications.


Chiefs Beat Broncos but the Game Wasn't Very Pretty

DENVER, Colo. (KPR) - The Kansas City Chiefs scored a 34-28 road win Sunday night over the Denver Broncos, but fell shy of winning the AFC West when the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs’ closest pursuers, won their Sunday night game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns. But he also tied a career-high with three interceptions. The Chiefs held on, even after the Broncos made it a
close game. "The guys stepped up. I didn’t play my best football, especially at certain points of the game," Mahomes said. "But the guys stepped up around me and we won as a team." Mahomes had a softball-like
toss to Jerick McKinnon for one of the Chiefs touchdowns that helped them build a 27-0 lead. The Chiefs will be back on the road next Sunday in Houston to take on the Texans.

(-AP version-)

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Outlast Broncos 34-28; Russell Wilson in Concussion Protocol

DENVER (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs own the Denver Broncos — even when Patrick Mahomes throws three interceptions. Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City to their 14th consecutive win over the Denver Broncos
despite throwing three interceptions. The Chiefs won 34-28 and the Broncos lost quarterback Russell Wilson to a concussion. Mahomes threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns as the Chiefs improved to 10-3. He led a clock-chewing drive after L'Jarius Sneed's interception of Brett Rypien's pass late in the fourth quarter. Rypien came in after Wilson was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter. Wilson got hurt at the end of a 14-yard scramble to the Kansas City 2-yard line.

Mahomes counterbalanced his mistakes with a trio of touchdown passes and the Chiefs (10-3) outlasted the Broncos 34-28 on Sunday. "Just three bad decisions," Mahomes said. "Luckily for me, the rest of the team
stepped up. Defense made a lot of stops in some critical moments when we were putting them in some bad situations. Even my special teams. (Punter) Tommy (Townsend) flipped the field a couple of times for us."

Mahomes improved to 10-0 against Denver, becoming the fourth QB to ever beat one team 10 times without a loss. The Chiefs reached double digits in wins for the eighth straight season and they inched closer to their seventh consecutive AFC West crown. By improving to 10-0 against the Broncos, Mahomes joined Andrew Luck, who started 11-0 against the Titans; Tom Brady, who went 10-0 against the Falcons; and John Elway, who won his first 10 against the Patriots.


Chiefs: At Houston next Sunday.
Broncos: Host Arizona next Sunday.


UPDATE: Jayhawks Return to AP Poll for First Time Since 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – On the heels of a 9-0 start to the season, the Kansas Women’s Basketball team moved into the Associated Press Top 25 poll on Monday as the No. 22-ranked team in the country. The national ranking is the first for the program since January 14, 2013, when the Jayhawks occupied the No. 23 spot in the AP Poll. Kansas was ranked for nine weeks during the 2012-13 season. The Jayhawks were also named the ESPN Team of the Week following a 2-0 week with victories over Wichita State, 72-52 on Sunday, and at No. 12 Arizona, 77-50 on Thursday night in Tucson. Kansas is now 9-0 for the fourth time in program history and first since opening the 2019-20 season with a record of 11-0. The Jayhawks have not only been winning games but winning decisively with seven-straight victories by 20 or more points. The last time KU had a seven-game streak with a winning margin of 20+ points came during the 1980-81 season.

(–Earlier reporting–)

Jayhawks Remain Perfect as Kansas Women Take Down Wichita State

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – The undefeated Kansas women’s basketball team improved to 9-0 Sunday afternoon, defeating Wichita State in convincing fashion, 72-52 at Allen Field House. The Jayhawks are now 9-0 for just the fourth time in program history. The 20-point rout over Wichita State is good for KU's seventh-straight win over an opponent by 20 or more points. The last time the Jayhawks had a seven-game streak with a winning margin of 20+ points came in 1980. On Sunday, Kansas was led by the senior duo of Zakiyah Franklin and Holly Kersgieter, who both poured in 16 points against the Shockers. Chandler Prater also added 10 points and four rebounds, while Taiyanna Jackson posted seven points and 13 rebounds.

The Associated Press Top 25 poll will be released Monday while the WBCA Coaches Poll will be released Tuesday afternoon. The 9-0 Jayhawks are in position to garner a spot in the AP Poll for the first time since January 14, 2013. Kansas will then close out the non-conference home schedule on Friday, December 16, against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. That game will tip off at 7 pm.


These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.