Kansas Governor Sends Some State Employees Home Early as Winter Storm Arrives
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Due to safety concerns regarding the pending winter storm, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has implemented the inclement weather policy, sending some state workers home early. State offices in Topeka closed at noon today (FRI) and non-essential state employees in Shawnee County were released from work. The governor's declaration does not include employees in the Board of Regents, Regents Institutions, the Judicial Branch, nor the Legislative Branch of Government. Their designated representative will make a separate declaration for their employees if appropriate. Appointing authorities in offices located outside Shawnee County have the option to declare Inclement Weather for those counties.
Several schools in eastern Kansas are releasing students early today (FRI) and have canceled evening and weekend activities.
UPDATE: Wichita Aircraft Parts Supplier Lays Off 2,800 as Boeing's Woes Begin to Spread
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems is laying off 2,800 employees at its Wichita facility due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max. That's 20% of its workforce in Kansas. Employees will be paid for the 60-day notice period. Affected employees will leave the company beginning January 22.
Grounding of 737 Max Aircraft Takes Growing Toll on Kansas Parts Suppliers
WICHTA, Kan. (AP) — The suspension of production of the Boeing 737 Max is taking a growing toll on suppliers in Kansas, where more than 40 aerospace companies provide parts and services for production of that aircraft. Wichita bills itself as the "Air Capital of the World" for its concentration of aerospace manufacturers. It is home to parts maker Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., the city's largest employer, which this week asked employees if they would take voluntary buyouts. Dozens of smaller aerospace companies, mostly clustered in south-central Kansas, are also beginning to shed jobs.
Lawrence Developer of Oread Hotel Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy in Tax Fraud Case
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The developer of a seven-story hotel adjacent to the University of Kansas has pleaded guilty in a scheme to collect fraudulent tax refunds from the city of Lawrence. The U.S. attorney's office says 54-year-old Thomas Fritzel pleaded guilty Thursday to one county of criminal conspiracy. At issue is a Tax Increment Financing district that the city established to reimburse Fritzel for development costs for the Oread Hotel. The indictment alleges that Fritzel and others defrauded the city by seeking reimbursements for hundreds of transactions that were not generated within the redevelopment district. (Read the news release about this case from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas.)
Kansas Teenager Sentenced in Drug Deal that Led to Another Teen's Death
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teenager has been sentenced to more than four years in juvenile corrections for his part in an $8 Xanax deal that led to another teen's shooting death. Seventeen-year-old Rolland Kobelo was sentenced Thursday. He faces 10 years in adult prison if he doesn't successfully complete his time in the juvenile system. Kobelo was originally charged with felony murder in the March 2019 death of 17-year-old Rowan Padgett outside a home in Olathe. Police say Padgett was shot by a man who wanted to buy the drugs. Kobelo was accused of helping to set up the drug deal that led to Padgett's death.
New Kansas Proposal Breaks Impasse on Expanding Medicaid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic governor of Kansas and a top Republican lawmaker have outlined a new proposal for expanding the state's Medicaid program. The deal between Governor Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning announced Thursday breaks an impasse that had allowed a handful of GOP leaders to thwart bipartisan legislative majorities. The plan would give Kelly the straightforward expansion of state health coverage that she has advocated and cover up to 150,000 additional people. Denning would get a version of a program that he has proposed for driving down private health insurance premiums to keep people from dropping existing private plans for Medicaid.
Former Sheriff's Deputy Pleads Guilty to Beating His Wife
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Johnson County sheriff's deputy has pleaded guilty to aggravated battery after his wife was beaten in May. In his plea this week, 38-year-old Eric Leon Walker admitted he beat his wife in May. As part of the plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend that Walker be sentenced to probation. Walker was placed on administrative leave after his arrest and has not worked for the department since November 22. According to court records, Walker beat his wife and threatened to kill her during an argument at their home. Their son was home for part of the altercation.
Report: Kansas Farmers Plant Same Amount of Wheat Acreage
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers seeded an estimated 6.9 million acres into winter wheat. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that this winter wheat acreage is equal to the area planted a year earlier in Kansas. Winter wheat is planted in the fall for harvest the following year.
Emaciated Dog Found in Locked Cage in Wichita Dumpster
Authorities say an emaciated dog has been rescued after it was found in a locked kennel that was thrown in an apartment dumpster in Kansas. Lt. Brian Sigman, the Wichita Animal Control commander, said surveillance video obtained Thursday shows two suspects putting the male pit bull mix in the dumpster around 7:15 pm Wednesday. A good Samaritan found the dog later that night and took it to an emergency veterinarian for treatment. Investigators are following up on information gleaned from the video. He weighs just over 20 pounds, less than half the amount a dog of his size should weigh.
Winter Storm Slamming into Kansas Will Likely Take Toll on KPR's Transmitters
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - A winter storm moving across Kansas is expected to bring freezing rain and snow - and that could spell trouble for the FM transmitters operated by Kansas Public Radio. According to KPR's chief engineer, Steve Kincaid, "ice and FM don't work or play well together." "As freezing rain begins to fall, the transmitters will begin lowering their output power levels," Kincaid said. "Ice on an antenna also changes its electrical characteristic, causing it to become detuned to the transmitter’s output." The net effect is that some broadcast transmissions won't be as strong and clear as usual -- or worse, the signal may be knocked off the air entirely, at least until the ice melts.
KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.