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Headlines for Monday, February 19, 2024

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Emily Fisher

Two KC Teens Charged in Parade Shooting; Child Victims Discharged from the Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Two juveniles have been charged in connection with last week's shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade. More charges are expected. The shooting killed one woman - a mother of two - and injured 22 others, half of them children. Over the weekend, Children's Mercy Hospital announced that all 12 shooting patients had been released. A patient at another hospital remains in critical condition.


Moms Rally Against Gun Violence in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - Close to 200 people attended a rally over the weekend across from Union Station to bring awareness to gun violence in Kansas City. Saturday's rally comes in the wake of last week's fatal mass shooting at the end of the Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade. KCUR Radio reports that the gun safety group Moms Demand Action organized the rally in response to the shooting that left one dead and 22 injured. Sarah Deeder is a Kansas City resident and Navy veteran. She says Missouri has a long way to go to improve its gun laws compared to more liberal states. “The only way we can make that change is to put that pressure on our lawmakers. Show and tell them we are more than the money they line their pockets with," she said. Two teenagers have been charged in connection with the shooting. All the children shot have been released from Children's Mercy Hospital and are expected to make a full recovery.


Registration Deadline for Kansas Presidential Primary Election Is Tuesday

UNDATED (KNS) – In Kansas, Tuesday, February 20, is the last day to register to vote, or update your registration, before the presidential primary. The Kansas News Service reports that it’s also the last day to apply for an advance voting mail ballot. The presidential primary will assign delegates to candidates, and those delegates will then nominate a presidential candidate at their party’s national convention. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab says it’s possible that this year the party’s nominees will already be secured by the Kansas presidential primary on March 19th. “It’s always good to go vote if you get a chance to vote, right? But the point of the vote is to do whatever you can to get your person to win. And if your person is no longer even running, I don’t know what you do,” he added. This year, it’s a state-run primary. Voters must be registered as a Republican or Democrat to vote in this primary. Unaffiliated voters can choose to join a party on Election Day and then vote in the presidential primary. Voters can check their registration online at VoterView via the Kansas Secretary of State's office.


Kansas Legislature Examining Grants to Boost Home Daycare Programs

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas lawmakers are considering a new grant program aimed at increasing the amount of home-based daycares in the state. The Kansas News Service reports that the program would provide grants to agencies that help train and assist home-based child care providers, starting as soon as this summer. Kansas has a significant shortage of child care, and options that are available can cost parents as much as a mortgage payment every month. The proposed grant program has support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. They say it would help recruit new providers and retain existing ones. If lawmakers approve the grant program, it would receive about $10 million in annual funding.


Kansas Awards Foster Care Contracts

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Department for Children and Families has awarded new contracts for agencies that provide foster care services. The existing four contractors – TFI, KVC Kansas, Cornerstones of Care, and Saint Francis Ministries – will continue their work, with one exception. In Sedgwick County, EmberHope will replace Saint Francis Ministries as the provider of foster care services. Nearly 6,000 (5,895) children are currently in foster care in Kansas. That's the fewest number in 10 years.


Pending Bill Would Allow Public Schools to Hire Chaplains

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Public schools in Kansas would be able to hire school chaplains under a bill being considered by state lawmakers. According to the Kansas News Service, supporters say chaplains would enhance mental health services for students and teachers. They could volunteer or be paid by a local school board. Leah Fliter with the Kansas Association of School Boards opposes the measure. She says unlicensed chaplains could impose their religious beliefs on kids, adding that “...we would not like to see the presence of a chaplain end up substituting for the school mental health professionals that are working in our schools.” Republican Rep. Bill Rhiley of Wellington says chaplains would not espouse a specific religion. He says they would provide much-needed mental health support for students and teachers, and that “...chaplains will be in schools as a moral compass and a moral spiritual guide.” Texas passed a law last year allowing chaplains to be school counselors. Since then, more than a dozen states have floated similar proposals.


Kansas Legislation Supported by Anti-Abortion Groups Set to Advance

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas lawmakers are poised to advance several bills that anti-abortion groups say would help support pregnant women. The pro-life groups want to reduce the number of abortions in Kansas. Anti-abortion counseling centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, offer things like free diapers and emotional support to women with unplanned pregnancies. Those centers would get $4 million per year from the Kansas general fund if lawmakers create a proposed pregnancy compassion program that would promote childbirth instead of abortion. But Taylor Morton, with Planned Parenthood Great Plains, says that would be a mistake. “Crisis pregnancy centers rely on pressure and scare tactics to coerce and intimidate pregnant people as a means of preventing them from seeking abortion care," Morton said. It’s one of several proposals designed by anti-abortion advocates that lawmakers could advance this week.


Feds Consider Expanded Passenger Rail Service from KC to OK City

TULSA, Okla. (KOKI) - The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a new map that proposes a route connecting Kansas City with Tulsa and Oklahoma City. KOKI TV in Tulsa reports that the route would be an extension of the Heartland Flyer that currently connects Fort Worth, Texas, with Oklahoma City. Right now, the train doesn't go any further than that. The map is only preliminary, but passenger rail advocates say it shows the federal government is open to the idea of expanding Amtrak service.


KBI: Kansas Man Charged in Death of Newborn Son

OTTAWA, Kan. (KPR/WDAF) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says a 23-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the death of his newborn son. The KBI says 24-year-old Jason Marnell, of Richmond, Kansas, was arrested in Franklin County last week. He's now charged with first degree murder and abuse of a child. The KBI identified the victim as the defendant's one-month-old son, Waylon S. Marnell. (Read more from WDAF TV.)


Inmate Dies at Lansing Prison

LANSING, Kan. (KPR) – An inmate at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF) has died. The Department of Corrections says 28-year-old Kaydin Varland-Hazelton died Saturday. The cause of death is pending the results of an independent autopsy, but a preliminary assessment indicates the death was not related to COVID-19. Per protocol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will examine the circumstances of the death. Varland-Hazelton was serving a seven year sentence for several drug convictions one count of battery in Sedgwick County.


Lawrence Woman Reported Missing Later Found Dead in WY CO

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSHB) - A Lawrence women reported missing last Friday was later found dead in Wyandotte County. The Lawrence Police Department issued a Silver Alert for 71-year-old Viki Peterson. KSHB TV reports that Peterson's body was later located in Wyandotte County, but authorities say no foul play is suspected.


Kansas Bill Would Stop HOA Bans on Solar Panels

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Homeowners associations in Kansas can block people from installing solar panels, but a bill in the legislature would change that. The bill was introduced by an Olathe Republican. It would let homeowners associations set some rules about solar panels - but they wouldn’t be able to block solar power or make it more expensive and less efficient for residents. Zack Pistora is a lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Kansas. He says Kansas is a sunny state that’s underutilizing solar power. “And it’s just a shame when we have an in-state solution that people can harness themselves and help the electrical grid," he said. No one testified against the bill. Missouri passed a similar law in 2022.


Nitrates Likely on the Rise in Rural Kansas Drinking Water

LIBERAL, Kan. (KNS) - Water monitoring suggests some small towns in Kansas could see an increase of nitrate in their drinking water, largely due to farming practices. The small town of Satanta in southwest Kansas was recently notified by the state of high nitrate levels in its drinking water. It’s not the first time. The town had the same problem in 2015. Most of the contamination comes from fertilizer used on crops like corn that seeps into the soil. Matthew Kirk, a geology professor at Kansas State University, says that due to unregulated fertilizer use, the chance of seeing more contamination as time goes on is likely. “There's a good chance of that. It's called the nitrate time bomb. I know it's a little bit, it's hyperbolic. But like, this is something that's out there," he said. High nitrate levels can have a serious impact on health. Kansans living in rural communities are usually affected the most.


High-Speeders in Kansas Could Face Harsher Penalties

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Motoirists in Kansas caught driving 100 miles an hour or faster could soon face harsher penalties. State lawmakers are considering a bill to stiffen those penalties. In each year since 2021, the Kansas Highway Patrol has given more than 3,000 tickets to drivers going at least 100 miles per hour. A bill the Legislature creates the new crime of excessive speeding. Those convicted would have their license restricted for 15 days, meaning they could only drive to places like school and work. That’s in addition to existing fines for speeding. A second conviction would result in a 30-day license restriction. A person’s license would be completely suspended on a third offense.

Chris Bortz, with the Kansas Bureau of Transportation Safety, says traveling at higher speeds affects a person’s reaction time. “These higher speeds also increase the likelihood of a driver and others will sustain more serious injuries, including fatalities, in the event of a crash," he said.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers. Our headlines are generally published by 10 am weekdays and are updated through 7 pm. This ad-free news summary is made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.