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Headlines for Friday, October 2, 2020

 

Police Shoot Man During Standoff in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Manhattan, Kansas, man is hospitalized in critical condition after being shot by police following a lengthy standoff. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the shooting happened early Friday after the man allegedly used a gun to threaten a relative. The name of the man who was shot has not been released. Riley County Police spokeswoman Rachel Pate said the two officers who fired at the man are on administrative leave and another department, the Lawrence Police Department, is handling the investigation of the shooting. The officers' names were not released.

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$73 Million Tax Revenue Surplus in Kansas but Recovery Still Seen as Fragile

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas collected nearly $73 million more in taxes than expected in September, suggesting that its economy is bouncing back faster than the state had initially anticipated, though officials still warned Thursday that the recovery is fragile.  The coronavirus pandemic's arrival in Kansas in March scrambled the state's financial picture, leading to a statewide stay-at-home order that Governor Laura Kelly kept in place for five weeks. State officials and university economists then slashed the state's revenue projections in April, creating a projected shortfall in the state budget.  The financial picture has since brightened, with better-than-anticipated tax collections during five of the past six months.  

But Kansas last month saw its biggest average numbers of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March, peaking at 667 per day for the seven days ending Monday. And the director of the state health department told reporters Wednesday that the state could see an average of 800 or 900 new cases a day in the coming months.  By mid-week, Kansas reported nearly 60,000 cases and 678 COVID-19-related deaths.  “The impact that the pandemic will have on the economy during the fall and winter months is uncertain at best,” Mark Burghart, the head of the state Department of Revenue, said Thursday in a statement.  The Department of Revenue said Kansas collected nearly $729 million in taxes last month, when it expected to take in $656 million. The surplus of 11% for the month was tied largely to better-than-expected income tax collections.

A monthly Creighton University survey of business leaders released Thursday suggested that the economy continues to improve in nine Midwest and Plains states, including Kansas, though it remains less robust than before the pandemics starts.  The unemployment rate in Kansas, hovering at about 3% for months and dipping to 2.8% in March, spiked at 11.9% in April. That month the state had 125,500 fewer private-sector, nonfarm jobs — nearly 11% less than in April 2019.  The numbers have gotten better since. But the unemployment rate still was 6.9% in August, and the state had 53,800 fewer private-sector nonfarm jobs than in August 2019, a decline of 4.6%.

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Kansas Reports Over 61,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including Almost 700 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials say Kansas has now recorded more than 61,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that the state now has 61,111 cases, including 698 deaths. That's an increase of 1,362 cases and 20 deaths since Wednesday.  The next update will be released Monday.

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Officials: Older Kids in Johnson County Can Go to Class

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Health officials in Kansas’s most populous county are making it easier for older students to head back to class even as coronavirus outbreaks in schools and sports infect hundreds statewide. The Kansas City Star reports that Johnson County’s health department released new criteria Thursday that allow middle and high schoolers to switch to a hybrid mode in which they go in-person part of the time and learn at home the rest as long as there are safety precautions in place such as masks and daily symptoms screenings. Statewide, Kansas added 1,362 new confirmed and probable cases from Wednesday to Friday, bringing the total to 61,111. Kansas also added 20 more deaths to bring the total to 698.

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Kansas Colleges and Universities See Drop in Fall Enrollment Numbers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents reports enrollment at the state's universities and colleges fell 8.1% this fall. School leaders had expected a drop in enrollment because of the coronavirus outbreak. Enrollment at the state's six universities declined 3.6%; community colleges saw a drop of 11.7% and enrollment at technical colleges dropped 8.7%. Regents president and CEO Blake Flanders said it was a challenge this fall to recruit international students and new students while also trying to retain current students. He says the institutions also face long-term issues such as a decline in the number of Kansas high school students going to college.

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Enrollment Falls at Kansas Regents Schools but Not as Much as Officials Initially Feared

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Enrollment for the fall semester fell at state universities in Kansas due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Lawrence Journal-World reports the decline was not nearly as drastic as higher education experts had predicted it could be.  The Kansas Board of Regents reports that overall, KU's enrollment fell by just under 3%. The state's flagship university enrolled a total of 27,619 students enrolled across all of its campuses, a decrease of 804 students from 2019.  Earlier in the pandemic, higher education officials, including KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, had publicly predicted enrollment could fall by anywhere from 8 to 12%. And at one point in mid-May, KU's largest school, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, told faculty members that its credit hour enrollment at that time was 12% lower than at the same point a year prior.  University officials are concerned about a significant decrease in enrollment for first-time freshmen and for international students.  International students, which have to pay the highest rate of tuition and required fees at the university, saw enrollment dip by just over 18% for the fall semester, which accounted for over half of the 804 student decrease.  First-time freshmen also saw enrollment drop by just over 7%, a figure which includes a 29.3% drop in freshmen international students. This figure, KU said, contributed to over a third of the 804 student decrease.

Kansas Board of Regents 2020 Enrollment Data

• KU: 24,629 students in 2019 to 23,964 students in 2020, a 2.7% decrease
• Kansas State University: 21,252 students in 2019 to 20,377 students in 2020, a 4.1% decrease
• Wichita State University: 16,058 students in 2019 to 15,550 students in 2020, a 3.2% decrease
• Fort Hays State University: 15,908 students in 2019 to 15,033 students in 2020, a 5.5% decrease
• Pittsburg State University: 6,645 students in 2019 to 6,398 students in 2020, a 3.7% decrease
• Emporia State University: 5,877 students in 2019 to 5,828 students in 2020, a 0.8% decrease

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Kansas Program to Provide Extra Unemployment Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans who are eligible for an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus pandemic can begin applying for the funds today (FRI).  Governor Laura Kelly has announced the state will start processing applications for the Lost Wages Assistance funds.  The payments are in addition to regular federal unemployment benefits under the federal Lost Wages program. To be eligible, applicants will have to certify they are unemployed because of problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The benefits will be retroactive and to the week ending August 1, with funds available through the week ending September 5.

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Judge: Census Bureau Violated Order; Commands Agency to Send Mass Text Messages to Employees

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge is instructing the Census Bureau to text every 2020 census worker by today (FRI), letting them know the count of every U.S. resident is continuing through the end of the month and not ending next week, as the agency previously had announced in violation of her injunction. The new order issued late Thursday by U.S. District Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, instructs the Census Bureau to send out a mass text saying an October 5 target data for finishing the nation's head count is not in effect. She says the text should also say people can still answer the questionnaire through October 31.  The judge's order, in effect nationwide, means people in Kansas have until the end of the month to fill out the census form. 

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Kansas City Police Criticized for Kneeling on Pregnant Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say they are investigating after videos on social media show officers kneeling on a pregnant woman during an arrest. The video shows an officer kneeling on the back of the woman with her belly on the ground while handcuffing her during a confrontation Wednesday night. Police Captain David Jackson says the officers were arresting a man when the woman began grabbing and touching the officers.  He said the woman was arrested for hindering and interfering with law enforcement. She was then evaluated at a hospital before being released.

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Kansas City Police Arrest of Pregnant Woman Criticized

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Video of a Kansas City police officer kneeling on the back of a pregnant Black woman while arresting her have led to calls for the officer involved to be fired and reignited demands that the police chief resign. Civil rights groups and the police tell different versions of what happened Wednesday night when the woman was arrested. Police say she interfered while they were trying to arrest a man and while they were trying to handcuff her. The woman's attorney, Stacy Shaw, and others ridiculed that story Friday and said the arrest was another example of the police department's abuse of Black citizens in Kansas City.

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Killing at Dollar Store Under Investigation in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are investigating a fatal shooting at a dollar store. Police say officers were called Tuesday night to a Dollar Tree store for a report of a shooting. Officers found 31-year-old Terrel Henderson injured at the scene. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. Police say the shooting happened inside the business after Henderson and the gunman became involved in a dispute. No arrests have been made.

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KC Police Chief: Budget Cuts Would be "Devastating"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The police chief in Missouri’s largest city says his department would have to cut staff by 400 people, close divisions and eliminate services to meet proposed budget cuts due to the coronavirus. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, in a blog post, wrote that the cuts would be “devastating.” All city departments, including police, were asked to provide scenarios for what an estimated 11% budget cut would look like. At issue is a $60 million decline in tax revenue created by the fallout from the coronavirus. The city’s next fiscal year starts May 1.

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Topeka Police Announce Arrest in 2017 Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Topeka man is now in custody and facing charges for a killing that happened more than three years ago. Authorities on Thursday announced that Javon A. Smith has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Police say Smith was arrested Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney. On March 4, 2017, Topeka police found five people injured in a shooting. One of them, 18-year-old Kianna C. Hodge, was found in a vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The other four victims survived.

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Abilene's Historic Brookville Hotel Restaurant Closing After 125 Years; Victim of Pandemic

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — An iconic Kansas restaurant with a long history is closing, a casualty of the coronavirus. The Brookville Hotel in Abilene announced its closure in a Facebook post Thursday. The Martin family has operated the restaurant for 125 years. The Facebook post cited the COVID-19 pandemic, "and the lack of traffic" resulting from the virus. "We hung on as long as we could, but the writing was on the wall," the post said. The restaurant moved from Brookville to Abilene about 20 years ago.

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Months Later, Still No Charges After Car Drove into Protesters in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Douglas County district attorney's office is still deciding whether to file charges for two incidents earlier this year where vehicles drove into protests in Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that meanwhile, at least three defendants have been charged for similar allegations that weren't protest-related. On May 31, video showed a woman accelerating an SUV into protesters during a march against police brutality. On June 29, another woman drove an SUV through protesters' makeshift barricades and into a crowd. No serious injuries were reported. An official with the DA's office says there were differences between the cases involving the protests and the other cases.

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Remains Found in Kansas City Home; Homicide Not Suspected

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating after a decomposing body was found in a home on the city’s south side, but officers say initial evidence does not indicate it was a homicide. Officers on Wednesday responded to a burglary call. They found a man who said he went to check on a friend he had not head from in a few days. The man said he went inside the house and found the body. Police have not identified the victim. Police initially labeled the death as suspicious. A police spokesman says that while the death doesn’t appear to be a homicide, an investigation continues.

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Victim Killed in Kansas City, Kansas Identified

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a man whose body was found earlier this week. Police on Thursday said the victim was 43-year-old Lolester Mitchell. His body was found Tuesday inside a home. Police are investigating the death as a homicide and say suspects are in custody. Their names have not been released. No further information was released.

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Pulled over for Speeding in Kansas, Man with $1 Million Hidden in Truck Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges after more than $1 million in plastic-wrapped bundles were found in his pickup truck during a traffic stop in Kansas. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Topeka on Thursday announced the guilty plea by 41-year-old Joseph Michael Martin of Euclid, Ohio. He faces sentencing in January. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stopped Martin for speeding on Interstate 70 in Ellsworth County on September 20, 2018. A search of Martin’s 2016 GM pickup found $1.1 million in bundles hidden in metal pipes with welded caps that were in the bed of the truck.

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Kansas Man Accused of Making Deadly Threat over Breonna Taylor Case  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A 29-year-old Kansas man was indicted Thursday on charges that he made a threat over the Breonna Taylor investigation during a phone call to the Kentucky attorney general's office, a federal prosecutor's office said.  Wesley Forrest Clay, of Olathe, was accused of calling a phone line in Frankfort dedicated to the Taylor investigation.  According to the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Kentucky, Clay stated his name, telephone number, and then said among other things, "You will die if you do not give Breonna Taylor justice. That is a threat. Try me."  A criminal complaint in the case alleged the call was made on September 23, the same day Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury indicted a former police officer on three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a home next to Taylor's.  No one was charged in the March 13 death of Taylor, a Black woman who was shot multiple times by police who burst into her apartment during a drug raid.  While there were no drugs in Taylor's apartment, her boyfriend shot and wounded a police officer. Cameron said the officers' shots that killed Taylor were fired in self-defense.  Her death has sparked months of protest in Louisville and other cities.  Clay was charged with sending threatening communications in interstate commerce, the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.  It wasn't immediately known if Clay had an attorney who could comment for him.

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Man Wanted in 2 Arkansas Killings Captured in Kansas

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say a man charged with shooting and killing two people in Arkansas was captured in Kansas and sent back to stand trial. Bryant Lamont Smith was arrested Friday in Parsons, Kansas, in an operation that included officials from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the 33-year-old was taken back to Pine Bluff on Tuesday and was being held in jail without bail in Jefferson County. Prosecutor Kyle Hunter says Smith was charged Sept. 24 in Jefferson County Circuit Court with two counts of capital murder in the fatal shootings of Kavon Mitchell and Emonya Moten.

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Spirit AeroSystems to Close Plant in Oklahoma

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit Aerosystems plans to close its plant in McAlester, Oklahoma, which employs about 175 people.  Spirit president Tom Gentile said in a message to employees Thursday that the closure was the result of a decline in commercial aviation during the COVID—19 pandemic, as well as the grounding of the 737 Max airplane. Spirit will consolidate the work done in McAlester at its plants in Wichita and Tulsa. The Wichita-based company plans to close the Oklahoma plant in the second quarter of next year. Gentile said in the message that employment at the McAlester plant had already dropped by 50% this year.

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Two Organizations Join Forces to Overturn Wrongful Convictions in Missouri, Midwest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two well-known organizations that work to overturn wrongful convictions are joining forces. The Midwest Innocence Project and the MacArthur Justice Center announced Thursday that they will work together to expand efforts to overturn criminal wrongful convictions in Missouri and the Midwest. The two organizations are already working together to overturn the conviction of Michael Politte, who is serving a life sentence in the murder of his mother in 1998 death of his mother in Hopewell, Missouri. He was 14 at the time. The organizations argue evidence shows Politte was innocent of the crime. They have filed a court motion seeking his release or further court action on his case.

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Former Wichita State President Will Keep Getting Paid as a Consultant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wichita State University president who abruptly resigned last week will be paid a reduced salary until June 2021 for unspecified consulting services. The agreement with the Kansas Board of Regents also requires Jay Golden to limit his presence on the Wichita State University campus. It prohibits him from having official communications with faculty, staff or friends of the university - except for those related to consulting services the interim or acting president may request. The agreement was provided to The Associated Press in response to an open records request.

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Wichita State's Crash Evokes Moving Memories 50 Years Later

SILVER PLUME, Colo. (AP) _ It's been 50 years since 31 people died when an airplane carrying the Wichita State football team crashed in Colorado while traveling to a game at Utah State on October 2, 1970. Among the casualties were 14 players along with coaches, boosters, administrators, trainers and three crew members. The school will hold a remembrance at Cessna Stadium this Friday. It's where the Shockers played until the football program was disbanded for cost-cutting reasons in 1986. Many touched by the tragedy will be there.

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ACLU Sues over Missouri Order on Evictions During Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing over a Missouri court order allowing some Kansas City area evictions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. The ACLU on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court. The organization is fighting a Jackson Court Circuit Court order allowing some evictions to continue, even against people asking for leniency because of the pandemic. The order still allows evictions if tenants don't ask for leniency or the eviction is based on tenants breaking the law, damaging property or violating a contract. A spokeswoman says the court can't comment on the pending lawsuit.

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