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Headlines for Friday, September 10, 2021

 

Kansas A-G Ready to Join GOP Fight Against US Vaccine Mandate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is signaling that he’s likely to join other Republican state officials in challenging President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Schmidt issued a statement Friday saying that no president has the authority to issue the mandate that Biden did Thursday. The Democratic president's mandate affects as many as 100 million Americans, including employees in companies with 100 or more workers. GOP officials in other states already have vowed to fight the mandate, and Kansas Republicans were critical. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce's CEO said the decision about requiring vaccines for private-sector workers should be left to their employers.

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GOP Group Held 'War Games' for State Attorneys General Before Trump Loss

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association held a special meeting weeks before the election to discuss its strategies if then-President Donald Trump lost. The Rule of Law Defense Fund later gained notoriety for sending a robocall urging people to support Trump at the January 6 rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Its two-day conference in September 2020 was among 20-plus meetings the group held in the four months before the November presidential election for senior aides to Republican state attorneys general. It was a special event with “off the record” conversations and expenses covered. It was in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines months away.

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Kansas Pandemic Response Panel Approves Extra Nurses’ Pay

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hospitals will receive $50 million to provide extra pay for nurses, but a plan approved by a state task force will require them to report monthly on how many nurses they’ve lost and why.  The money comes from federal COVID-19 relief funds, and Kansas law required a bipartisan pandemic response task force to spell out how it would be spent. The task force added the reporting requirement during a Friday meeting. The meeting came a day after President Joe Biden imposed new vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt signaled that he's likely to join other Republican officials in challenging Biden's mandates.

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KU Student Leader Rejects Resignation Calls over Tweet

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas education officials are criticizing the president of the University of Kansas student body for retweeting a message that included the phrase “death to america.” Student Body President Niya McAdoo says she doesn't regret retweeting the message, “happy friday everybody. death to america," last week and that she doesn't intend to resign. McAdoo, who is Black, says America has a long history of mistreating minorities and is not a country that supports her. Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and Cheryl Harrison-Lee, the chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, say McAdoo has a right to express her views, but that those views don't represent the university or the regents' beliefs.

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Former Kansas Legislator Charged with COVID Relief Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted former Kansas state Rep. Michael Capps on 19 counts alleging that he tried to defraud federal, state and county government organizations out of more than $450,000 in coronavirus relief funding. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas said in a news release Thursday that the Wichita Republican filed forms inflating the number of employees he had at two businesses and a sports foundation, and then applied for loans to pay the non-existent employees. Capps is charged with multiple counts of making a false statement, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The Associated Press couldn't immediately find a phone number for Capps to reach out to him for comment about the charges.

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Biden Administration Takes on Texas Abortion Law

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Abortion clinics in neighboring Oklahoma and nearby Kansas say they're still seeing a high volume of patients from Texas as a new state law there banning most abortions remains in effect. The Biden administration this week sued Texas over the law, arguing it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution." The Justice Department is asking a judge to quickly declare the law invalid, although it is unknown how quickly a court might rule. In the meantime, the Trust Women abortion clinics in Oklahoma and Kansas say at least half their patients at both locations this week were from Texas. And appointments are booked through the end of the month.

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Wichita Man Dies in Shooting near University of Kansas Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police are investigating the shooting death of a 21-year-old man near the University of Kansas campus. The police department said officers found the body of Christian Willis, of Wichita, Wednesday evening after responding to a report of a possible shooting. Police say no arrests have been made. The  shooting site on Kentucky Street is about two blocks east of campus and less than a mile from Memorial Union. Officials say the victim was not a KU student.  Police are requesting that anyone with information about the shooting call the Crime Stoppers line at (785) 843-TIPS.  

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Herington Police Chief Resigns Amid Cloud of Controversy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) – City officials say the Herington police chief is resigning after facing charges for allegedly entering a home without a search warrant. The Kansas News Service reports that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation looked into the incident in the town southwest of Manhattan. Court documents show that Herington Police Chief John Matula and the assistant police chief are being charged with misdemeanors. Matula is charged with trespassing and damaging property for allegedly breaking a door and camera and entering a home in May. Assistant police chief Curtis Tyra is accused of criminal trespassing. Herington City Manager Branden Dross confirmed the resignation and says the charges haven’t hurt the city’s police services. The officers were helping post condemnation notices on the property when the alleged incident happened

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Douglas County Approves Use of Hotels to Shelter Homeless People with COVID

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Douglas County Commission has voted unanimously to approve an emergency order allowing the city to open alternative shelter options, such as motels for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and are experiencing homelessness.  The Lawrence Journal World reports that Douglas County’s Emergency Management Director Robert Bieniecki told the commission that community shelters currently need to provide isolation housing for homeless people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Social distancing measures have limited the ability of community shelters to provide adequate space within their facilities that do not put staff, other clients and the larger community at risk.

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UPDATE: Homicide Suspect Dies After Being Shot by Topeka Police

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a homicide suspect who was shot by officers has died. Police said in a news release Friday afternoon that 33-year-old Jesse Lees died hours after several officers shot at him. Interim Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles said multiple officers were involved in the shooting Friday morning. No officers were injured. Police said Lees had been wanted for questioning in the death of Jennifer Morris. Her body was found inside a Topeka home Wednesday evening. No other information was immediately released. Wheeles said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will take over the investigation into the shooting.

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Lawyer Demands Kansas School District Alter COVID Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A lawyer who has filed lawsuits challenging mask mandates in two Kansas counties is demanding that a Kansas City-area school district revise its COVID-19 policies. Attorney Ryan Kriegshauser argues that the policies imposed by the Gardner-Edgerton school district in southwestern Johnson County are discriminatory and violate state and federal laws. The district's policies say people who've had contact with others with COVID-19 won't be quarantined if they're fully vaccinated or wear masks. Kriegshauser sent a letter this week demanding a response by today (FRI). A district spokesperson says its attorney is reviewing the letter. Kriegshauser filed lawsuits last week against mask requirements in Johnson and Morris counties.

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Kansas School Districts Working to Attract Substitute Teachers

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas school districts are still scrambling to fill vacancies for teachers who are sick with COVID or under quarantine. Some schools are hiring long-term substitute teachers and are giving them full-time pay and benefits. School districts, including the state’s largest, Wichita, and several in the Kansas City area, have assembled teams of their most experienced substitute teachers to help with the staffing shortages. Many districts are also boosting pay to attract more qualified subs. Andover School District Superintendent Brett White said he started hiring substitutes as soon as the pandemic hit last year. “We hired 25 substitutes and basically said, ‘Every day you’re going to be working at one of our schools’” White said. The Shawnee Mission School Board recently contracted with out-of-state temp agencies to help fill teacher vacancies.

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Kansas Official: Unemployment Claims Grew More Complicated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Kansas Department of Labor official isn’t disputing a legislative audit’s finding that hiring hundreds of workers during the coronavirus pandemic didn’t appear to result in the agency answering more calls from unemployed workers seeking benefits. But Deputy Labor Secretary Peter Brady says calls to the department became more complicated as the federal government created six programs to help workers after COVID-19 restrictions on businesses in the spring of 2020 caused unemployment to surge.  He also said some of the 500 workers hired by the department sometimes were diverted to resolving problems with individual claims so that people would get benefits.

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Kansas Abortion Opponents Say They Will Not Try to Copy Texas Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – A new law in Texas, which essentially bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, could intensify the fight over a proposed change in the Kansas constitution. Leaders of a major Kansas anti-abortion group say they will not attempt to copy the Texas legislation. Instead, pro-life activists say they are focused on changing the state constitution to say there is no right to an abortion in Kansas. Voters will decide that issue when they vote in the primary election next August.  Abortion opponents in some other states are already pushing for legislation that would duplicate the Texas law, but Danielle Underwood from Kansans for Life says they are not. She says the group is working to pass the constitutional amendment because it will stop court challenges from overturning Kansas abortion laws. “We have one and only goal,” Underwood says. “That is to support the amendment to protect our life-saving laws currently in place.” Critics of the amendment say it could leave no protection for abortion rights in Kansas and could clear a path for more abortion restrictions in Kansas.

(-Related-)

Missouri Lawmakers Could Consider Copying Texas Abortion Law

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri lawmakers could soon be considering legislation similar to a new Texas law that bans most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. Abortion-rights advocates protested that possibility Thursday in St. Louis. Republican Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman says she’ll file a bill next session to allow citizens to sue abortion clinics, as in the Texas law.  The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity. Courts have blocked similar restrictions elsewhere. But Texas’ law leaves enforcement up to private citizens through civil lawsuits, which could help it survive legal challenges. A 2019 Missouri law banning abortions as early as eight weeks of pregnancy is tangled up in court.

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Arrest Made in Fatal Drive-By Shooting of Wichita Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have announced an arrest in the drive-by shooting death of a Wichita man earlier this week. Police say 21-year-old Jesus Manzano-Legarda was arrested early this (FRI) morning on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Jacquez Carter. Investigators have said Carter was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon as he sat inside his vehicle at a Wichita intersection. Police believe Carter was shot by a passenger in a white sport utility vehicle that pulled up beside his car. Carter was shot several times. He sped away, then crashed into a utility pole a few blocks away and died inside his vehicle. Police have said they don't believe the shooting was random.

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UPDATE: Sedgwick County Inmate Facing Charges After Attack on Officers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An inmate in the Sedgwick County jail is facing more charges after he allegedly used a metal shank while attacking three jail employees. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lt. Benjamin Blick said 56-year-old James Brown faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder after the altercation. The sheriff's office says three deputies were taking Brown back to his cell Wednesday night when he pulled out a metal shank and began swinging it. Two of the deputies suffered injuries to their hands. Brown was treated at a hospital before being returned to jail. He was originally jailed after he allegedly struck his girlfriend and her dog with a sword during a fight in March.

(Earlier reporting...)

Two Sedgwick County Deputies Injured by Jail Inmate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County sheriff's officials say two detention center officers suffered injuries to their hands when they were attacked by an inmate at the county jail. The department says two corporals and a deputy were escorting a 56-year-old male inmate to his cell Wednesday evening when the inmate swung a metal shank at them. The deputies scuffled with the inmate and eventually ended the assault. The inmate, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital for treatment before being returned to the jail. The inmate is being held on charges of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery and cruelty to animals.

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Kansas Man Gets 30-Year Term for Murder of Emaciated Mother

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Olathe man has been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison in the killing of his 75-year-old mother, who was emaciated and riddled with infected bed sores when she died in 2019. The Kansas City Star reports that 54-year-old Raymond McManness was sentenced Wednesday to 374 months. He pleaded no contest in July to second-degree murder and physical mistreatment of his mother, Sharon McManness. Police say McManness didn’t seek medical care for his mother before she died weighing just 58 pounds. The medical examiner’s office found she died from an infection due to open bed sores.

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Ex-Kansas Youth Volleyball Coach Accused of Sex Exploitation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A former Kansas City, Kansas, youth volleyball coach has been arrested after turning himself in on a warrant charging him with sexual exploitation of a child. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 27-year-old Levinson ``Levi'' Gibson drove from his home in Indianapolis on Wednesday to Leavenworth County to face the charge. The KBI says authorities launched an investigation after receiving a report in July 2020 of Gibson soliciting a nude photo of an underage girl he coached at Dynasty Volleyball Academy in Kansas City, Kansas. Following a search of Gibson's workplace that month, he resigned. The KBI says an arrest warrant was issued for Gibson last week.

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Former Olathe Teacher Found Guilty of Stalking 10-Year-Old Female Student

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Olathe teacher has been convicted of reckless stalking of a young girl he taught at an elementary school. Fifty-nine-year-old James Loganbill of Lenexa was found guilty Wednesday after the girl, who is now 12, testified against him. Loganbill admitted to police in March 2020 that he was obsessed with the girl in his classroom at Meadow Lane Elementary School. He took 230 photos and 31 videos of the girl's legs and buttocks. The girl was 10 at the time.  Loganbill's sentencing is set for November. 3. His attorney said he would try to overturn the conviction on appeal.

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Lawmakers Consider Renovation of Docking Office Building

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) – State lawmakers are discussing what to do with the Docking State Office Building. Legislators are considering several options for the long-delayed renovation of the 62-year-old building in downtown Topeka. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that two proposals are currently on the table. One would renovate the entire building. Another, less expensive, option reduce the building’s size from 13 stories to just six. Many lawmakers say they favor the plan for a smaller building saying it would cost about $15 million less to renovate and would also be cheaper to maintain. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $120 million in bond sales to fund the overhaul of the building but stipulated that lawmakers approve a plan for the building and start spending that money by 2026. A legislative committee is expected to make recommendations on the proposals next month.

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Wichita State’s Aviation Research Institute to Convert 777 Passenger Plane

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Wichita State’s National Institute for Aviation Research, known as NIAR, received its first Boeing 777 passenger aircraft this week.  The project marks the next step in NIAR's Maintenance Repair and Overhaul program. The institute’s plan is to convert the passenger airliner into a freighter. It's expected to help address a growing demand for cargo planes as the e-commerce industry continues to expand. Governor Laura Kelly was in Wichita Wednesday to celebrate the rapidly growing WSU program. Kelly says it will strengthen the state's aviation sector. “There is no better state than Kansas to take full advantage of the 777 passenger to freighter project” Kelly said. “The opportunity is tailor-made for our state and our aerospace assets."  The conversion program will provide learning opportunities for WSU engineering and WSU Tech students. The program is based out of facilities adjacent to McConnell Air Force Base.

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Missouri Teacher Quits After Complaints About Gay Pride Flag

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri teacher says he resigned after he was told to take down a gay pride flag in his classroom and to sign a letter saying he would not discuss human sexuality or gender. John Wallis was in his first week as a speech and debate, theater and world mythology teacher at Neosho Junior High School when he was told to remove the flag and a sign saying “everyone is welcome” because parents had complained. The 22-year-old said he resigned rather than sign the letter about his classroom curriculum. He has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

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Farmers Restore Native Grasslands as Groundwater Disappears

MULESHOE, Texas (AP) — To avoid Dust Bowl conditions, more farmers are restoring native grasslands in areas where the nation’s largest aquifer is drying up and rainfall is often scarce. Groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer has sustained farming for generations in the Plains states, even through droughts. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to grow crops that require irrigation. A recent study projects that more than half of currently irrigated land in portions of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma could be lost by the end of the century. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified a Dust Bowl zone where grasslands conservation is a priority.

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UPDATE: Big 12 Welcomes BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston

UNDATED (AP) – The Big 12 approved membership applications from BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. The league has moved quickly after learning it will lose Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference no later than 2025. BYU says all of its sports will begin Big 12 schedules in the 2023-24 athletic season. The other three schools compete in the American Athletic Conference. That league requires 27 months' notice for schools that want to leave. That means they will join the Big  12 no later than July 1, 2024.

(Earlier reporting...)

Big 12 Invites BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston to Join Conference

UNDATED, (AP) - The Big 12 has extended membership invitations to BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston to join the Power Five league. That comes in advance of the league losing Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference. The eight continuing members of the Big 12 unanimously approved on the applications of the four schools on Friday. That came only six weeks after the SEC invited Texas and Oklahoma to join its league in time for the 2025-26 season.

Big 12 Quickly Working to Expand Before Texas, OU Departures

UNDATED (AP) — The Big 12 quickly moved into expansion mode with Texas and Oklahoma preparing to leave for the SEC. There will be no perfect replacements for the only two Big 12 teams to win national championships. And there will be no teams coming from other Power Five leagues. Cincinnati, Central Florida, BYU and Houston are four likely expansion candidates. That's a top 10 team, a huge school that recently had a perfect season, an independent with a nationwide fan base and a Texas team in the nation's fourth-largest city. Texas and Oklahoma will start SEC play no later than 2025.

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No. 17 Coastal Carolina Looks to Keep Rolling vs KU

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — No. 17 Coastal Carolina looks to continue its rise, this time with its first home game against a Power Five conference opponent. The Chanticleers host the University of Kansas tonight (FRI) and have won 12 of their past 13 games. They opened the season with a 52-14 victory over The Citadel. Coastal Carolina has won both games against the Jayhawks the past two seasons, and both contests were played in Lawrence.  The school has called for fans to wear white for a “White-Out” this week. Coastal Carolina is hoping to set an attendance record at its 20,000-seat Brooks Stadium.

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K-State Set for Home Opener Against Southern Illinois

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University head football coach Chris Klieman knows better than just about anyone the perils of overlooking Southern Illinois. Klieman spent most of his career in the Missouri Valley, first as a player and assistant coach at Northern Iowa and later as the head coach at North Dakota State. Along the way, Klieman's teams made it a habit of beating teams from Power Five conferences, including a road upset of the Wildcats when he was in charge of the Bison. So it hardly matters that Kansas State looked so good in a season-opening win over Stanford last weekend. All that matters now is making sure there is no letdown with the Salukis coming to town for the Wildcats' home opener Saturday night.  “The Missouri Valley is a really good league. I think a lot of our teams in our league know that," Klieman said earlier this week, gazing out at a room full of skeptical reporters. “I wish you guys had the appreciation I do for the eight years I spent at NDSU and how good the football really was.”  Southern Illinois, the eighth-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, certainly looked good in its opener. Its quarterback, Nic Baker, set a school record with 460 yards passing in a 47-21 blowout of Southeast Missouri State. But just as Klieman knows the danger in overlooking the Salukis, so does Southern Illinois coach Nick Hill know that the Wildcats and Redhawks are hardly the same level of opponent. Kansas State rolled to a 24-7 win over the Cardinal last weekend, earning votes in the Top 25 for the Football Bowl Subdivision in Tuesday's poll.

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Cleveland Browns' New-Look Defense Faces Tough First Test with Kansas City Chiefs

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Browns upgraded their defense during the offseason. Its first test on Sunday is a tough one — the Kansas City Chiefs. With as many as nine new starters, Cleveland will take on the NFL's top-rated offense featuring quarterback Patrick Mahomes, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and speedy receiver Tyreek Hill. It's a tall order for the Browns, who lost to the Chiefs in last year's playoffs. Cleveland changed its defensive personnel from front to back and added some speed in rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.  The Browns face the Chiefs at 3pm Sunday.  

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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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today! 

 

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