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Headlines for Friday, May 29, 2020

Flash Flooding in Kansas City Area Traps Drivers in Vehicles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP / KMBC) — Officials in the Kansas City area say police and rescue crews responded to dozens of reports of drivers becoming trapped in their vehicles by flash flooding following heavy rains. The flooding on Thursday hit low-lying streets in Westport and other sections of Kansas City as the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings across parts of Johnson, Wyandotte and Jackson counties. Cass, Clay and Platte counties were also included in the flash flood warnings. Television station KMBC reports that the Kansas City Fire Department responded to 30 or 40 calls for water rescues, while Kansas City police responded to 22 calls for help.  No injuries were reported.

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Susan Wagle Drops Out of the U.S. Senate Race in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle says she will not seek election to the U.S. Senate. Wagle said Thursday that "personal and political trials" in the last year and her concern that a divisive Republican primary could give the seat to a Democrat prompted her decision not to run. The announcement leaves Kansas 1st District Congressman Roger Marshall and former Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the main GOP rivals for the nomination. Wagle cited difficulty raising campaign funds, her fight with Democratic Governor Laura Kelly over the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and her daughter's death as factors in her decision.

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Kansas Health Secretary Wanted to Keep State COVID-19 Limits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s top public health administrator acknowledges that he would have preferred that she not lift statewide coronavirus restrictions on businesses. State Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman also said Friday that local officials shouldn’t allow bars and nightclubs to reopen yet. Norman said said he advised Kelly on “public health principles” before she acted Tuesday to end statewide restrictions that would have kept bars and night clubs from reopening and would have limited mass gatherings. Health officers in each of the state’s 105 counties now decide the rules. The Democratic governor had faced weeks of criticism from the Republican-controlled Legislature. 

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Wichita Mayor Upset with County's Easing Coronavirus Rules

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of Kansas’s largest city is upset that his local county commissioners have eased coronavirus restrictions so that bars and nightclubs can reopen. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said he wishes cities had more power to drive public health decisions. Whipple was responding to the Sedgwick County Commission’s decision this week to lift all restrictions on businesses and individuals. The commission rejected the advice of county Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns to keep nightclubs and bars closed for now and to continue limiting mass gatherings. The commission instead only recommended that businesses follow guidelines for reopening.

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KCK Officials to Meet with Clergy over George Floyd's Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Wyandotte County said Friday that they plan to meet with clergy early next week in the wake of a black Minnesota man's death after a white police officer knelt on his neck. Wyandotte County Sheriff Donald Ash, Interim Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Michael York and county-city Unified Government Mayor David Alvey expect to participate in Monday’s meeting. They said they want to discuss how to ensure police respect the “life and dignity” of all people. The Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck was arrested on murder charges Friday. A protest is planned Saturday at the Kansas Statehouse. 

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Kansas Oil Refinery Pays $4 Million Fine for Violating Clean Air Regulations

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The owners of an oil refining plant in El Dorado have agreed to pay a $4 million fine for violations of federal clean air regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Kansas announced the agreement with HollyFrontier on Thursday. Regulators say the plant exceeded emission limits and did not comply with chemical accident prevention and safety requirements. As part of the agreement, the company agreed to make improvements at the refinery to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, and to improve risk management practices. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.   

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Kansas Reports More Than 9,700 COVID-19 Cases, Including 208 Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — As of Friday, state health officials had reported 9,719 cases of COVID-19, including 208 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 88 of the state's 105 counties.  (Updated COVID-19 case numbers for Kansas are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)  

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Construction Resumes at National Biosecurity Lab in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Construction has resumed at the national biosecurity lab in Manhattan after a brief shutdown because a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Officials stopped the work Tuesday to clean potentially contaminated areas where the worker might have been. Work resumed on Wednesday. Project officials did not provide the ill worker's gender, age or county of residence. Workers at the site are not being routinely tested for COVID-19 but they are required to wear face coverings, follow social distancing and answer health screening questions when they arrive at work.

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Missouri Great Clips Sites Close After Virus-Related Threats

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Great Clips has temporarily closed its salons in Springfield, Missouri, after receiving threatening messages following the news that two hairstylists at one of the locations tested positive for the coronavirus and may have exposed 140 customers. Great Clips Inc. announced the closure on Thursday. It wasn't clear when the franchises would reopen. One threat came in a Facebook message to an employee on Saturday. The other was phoned to a salon Wednesday. Police are investigating. Health officials announced last week that a hairstylist served 84 clients over eight days while experiencing symptoms. A co-worker of that stylist is now sick and health officials say 56 other clients were potentially exposed by the second stylist.

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At Least 8 Lawsuits Filed Against Kansas Care Center over COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — At least eight wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against a Kansas care facility where 36 people have died from the coronavirus. The lawsuits allege Riverbend Post-Acute Rehabilitation in Kansas City was negligent in its handling of the spread of the coronavirus. They say the home lacked adequate staff and failed to notify residents' families of the outbreak. Another 132 residents and staff have tested positive for the virus at the home. Riverbend officials have said its staff took reasonable actions given the information about the virus available at the time. Attorneys representing the home have transferred the lawsuits to federal court.

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UPDATE: Missouri Man Charged with 9 Felonies in Bridge Shooting

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and eight other felonies after authorities say he randomly fired into traffic on a bridge that connects Kansas and Missouri. The charges filed Friday in Leavenworth County, Kansas, District Court against Jason Randell Westrem, of Houston City, Missouri, include four counts of firing into an occupied vehicle, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. One person was wounded in the shooting on the Centennial Bridge near Fort Leavenworth before a soldier stationed at the the Army post hit the shooter with his car to stop the firing. 

(–earlier reporting–)

Police: Fort Leavenworth Soldier Saved Lives by Stopping Shooter on Bridge

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Leavenworth soldier is being credited with saving lives after he stopped a person who was randomly shooting on a bridge that connects Kansas and Missouri. Leavenworth police chief Patrick Kitchens says officers responding to the Centennial Bridge Wednesday found one person with a gunshot wound and the suspect seriously injured under a car. Kitchens says a man was randomly shooting at people on the bridge when the soldier hit the shooter with his car, putting an end to the situation. Kitchens says the person who was shot, who is also a Fort Leavenworth soldier, was a random victim. The suspect and the soldier are both in serious condition.

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Police: Wichita Man Killed When Motorcycle Hits Car

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 21-year-old Wichita man has died after his motorcycle collided with a car in south Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened Wednesday night, killing Gauge Fuqua. Investigators say Fuqua had been operating a motorcycle when a car driven by a 37-year-old woman turned in front of him and the two collided. Fuqua was pronounced dead at the scene. Officer Charley Davidson says it appeared “speed involving the motorcycle and alcohol involving the driver” of the car contributed to the crash.

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Kansas Boy Trapped Under Vehicle that Crashed into His Room

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 9-year-old Kansas boy was trapped for more than an hour under a vehicle that crashed through his bedroom wall this week. Television station WDAF reports that the crash happened around 2 am Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas. The boy, Jamison Langley, tells the station he was awake and watching online videos when he suddenly found himself under the crashed Jeep, unable to move and having trouble breathing. After about an hour, rescue crews were able to free Jamison, who suffered only cuts and bruises. But almost everything in his room — and even his bike that had been parked outside the house — was destroyed or damaged in the crash.

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UMKC to Repopulate 2 Kansas City Campuses in Coming Weeks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City says it will begin bringing back faculty, staff and students to its two campuses in Kansas City starting next week following its shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak. The university said Thursday that the campuses will open in three phases. The first phase will begin Monday, when a small group of employees engaged in critical operations will be brought back through July 5. The second phase will bring back senior administration and departmental leaders from July 6 through August 2. The final phase would bring back all remaining faculty, staff and students from August 3-24, except for those with individual medical exemptions.

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Man Charged in Death of 17-Year-Old in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old man is charged with killing a teenager in Wichita during a drug deal. Malcolm Louis Ganther was charged this week with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of 17-year-old Marcus Sain. Police say two teenagers got into the back of Ganther's car on May 20. A disturbance led another suspect to get out of a different car and shoot the teenagers in Ganther's car. Sain died the next day. The second teenager was treated and released at a hospital. Prosecutors say the shooting occurred as part of a marijuana deal. Police are searching for the second suspect, whose name has not been released.

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Wichita Man Accused of Kidnapping, Raping Runaway Girl

WICHITA, Kan (AP) — Police say a 26-year-old Wichita man has been charged with the kidnapping and rape of a runaway girl he lured into his car. KAKE reported that Gerardo Aguero-Hernandez was arrested Thursday on charges of rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. Police say the victim was younger than 14. The girl told police she had run away from a foster home on May 22 and was walking along a Wichita road when Aguero-Hernandez offered to give her a ride. Police say that instead of taking her to the place she asked to be driven, Aguero-Hernandez drove to a park and assaulted her in the car. She was later able to escape and have someone call 911.

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Shooting, Chase Ends in Fatal Crash in Kansas City Suburb

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City say a domestic disturbance led to a shooting, then a car chase that ended in a fatal crash. The Kansas City Star reports that the incident began in Independence on Wednesday when police received calls of the dispute, then of shots fired in an Independence home. Police say that before officers could reach the home, those involved in the disturbance left in two different vehicles, with one chasing the other through city streets. Investigators say one of the cars was westbound on U.S. 24 when it went through an intersection and crashed into a southbound car not involved in the shooting. The driver of the southbound car was killed.

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2 Companies Each Fined $1 Million in Atchison Chemical Leak

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two companies that caused a chlorine gas leak over Atchison in 2016 have each been fined $1 million. Harcos Chemicals and MGP Ingredients had pleaded guilty earlier to negligently violating the Clean Air Act. They were officially fined this week during a court hearing.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said the fines have been paid. The chlorine gas cloud formed over Atchison in October 2016 when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid was mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite at MGP's plant. Nearby homes and schools were evacuated and residents were told to shelter in place. About 140 people sought medical attention.

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Not in Missouri Anymore?  Royals Move Legal Home to Delaware

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have moved -- not actually, but legally. The Royals changed their legal home from Missouri to Delaware last fall during the process of the team’s sale from David Glass to a group headed by John Sherman. The switch was mentioned in court papers in a lawsuit by minor leaguers against Major League Baseball.  Kansas City Royals Baseball Corporation, a Missouri corporation, became Kansas City Royals Baseball Club Inc., a Delaware corporation, on November 19. That corporation became Kansas City Royals Baseball Club LLC, a Delaware limited liability company.

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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.  

 

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