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Headlines for Friday, September 18, 2020


COVID-19 Case Total in Kansas Tops 52,000 and Includes 596 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has now recorded more than 52,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that the state has 52,285 cases, including 596 deaths.  That's an increase of 1415 confirmed cases since Wednesday. Another update on Kansas case numbers will be released Monday.


Kansas Pauses Release of Data About Coronavirus Clusters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ health department has suspended its reporting on individual businesses and other locations where clusters of coronavirus cases have occurred.  The agency says it wants to make sure the data does not include cases that aren’t current. The Kansas City Star reports that top department administrator Dr. Lee Norman acknowledged that the data the agency began releasing September 9 about coronavirus clusters could leave the impression that some outbreaks currently are more severe than they are. Norman said the department wants the data to better reflect current cases. The department said it expects to resume releasing cluster information next week.


Lawrence Ordinance Makes It Easier to Crack Down on Partiers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are giving police more power to enforce crowd size limits and other health orders designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The moves come after neighbors raised concerns about large house parties near the University of Kansas campus. The university reported 882 positive cases as of Friday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that commissioners voted Thursday to approve an ordinance that gives police the authority to issue up to a $500 ticket to violators. The ordinance takes effect Saturday. Also on Friday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced it would be conducting checks to make sure bars and restaurants are complying with orders to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m.


Motorcycle Rally at Lake of the Ozarks Spurs Concerns

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A gathering at the Lake of the Ozarks is bringing tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to Missouri, generating worry that the state’s already fast-growing number of coronavirus cases could spike even higher. Bikefest Lake of the Ozarks drew about 125,000 people last year. The event, which began Wednesday,  bills itself as the largest motorcycle rally in the Midwest. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that it includes five days of rides, vendor fairs, concerts and stops at area bars and restaurants. Missouri has no statewide mask requirement nor capacity limitations, though several local governments have implemented their own restrictions.


Johnson County Rebukes Commissioner over Anarchy Post

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Johnson County Commission has agreed to rebuke one of its members for a Facebook post where he warned of impending anarchy and a “coming war.” The Kansas City Star reports that the 4-3 vote to rebuke Commissioner Mike Brown was approved Thursday. Brown, a Republican, wrote the post last weekend after two sheriff’s deputies were shot in California. He warned of a violent uprising and conflict with the left, then urged constituents to “buy a firearm and ammunition” and “learn how to safely use it to defend yourself and your property.”


Kansas Congresswoman Will Reimburse Campaign for Clothing Purchases

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids will reimburse her campaign for two clothing purchases after Republican challenger Amanda Adkins' campaign questioned the expenditures. At issue is a $412 payment to Banana Republic and $376 to White House Black Market that are listed in Davids' 2018 campaign finance records as "Personal Items for Candidate Debate." The Kansas City Star reports that campaign staff for Adkins argued Thursday that the expenditures potentially violated a federal law that prohibits the use of campaign funds for such expenses.


Kansas Supreme Court Weighs Guidelines for Injured Workers  

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court waded into the fray over obscure medical guidelines that will determine how much money workers injured on the job can collect. Justices heard legal arguments Thursday on Zoom over which edition of the American Medical Association guide should be used for evaluating injuries in determining compensation to injured workers in Kansas. Critics argue that the Sixth Edition of the AMA guide adopted by the Legislature unfairly limits compensation to injured workers, reducing compensation by as much as 40 to 70 percent for work-related injuries. Supporters of it contend it better reflects technical advancements by replacing the outdated medical guidelines.   


Auditor: Police Use of Force in Topeka Appropriate in Black Woman's Arrest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Topeka’s independent police auditor has found that two officers didn’t violate excessive force policies while arresting a Black woman in a case that angered a local Black Lives Matter group. The city announced Thursday that the auditor thoroughly reviewed officer and witness statements and seven police body camera videos before making the determination. At issue is the August 23 arrest of Tamiko Mitchell.  She claims she was slammed to the ground, leaving her with a fractured nose and eye injuries. WIBW reports that a sergeant at the scene asked her to exit her vehicle six times before she complied and that Mitchell met the criteria of resisting arrest.


Feds: Inadequately Treated Sewage Released into Kansas River

WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) — A federal indictment alleges that a wastewater operator discharged inadequately treated sewage into the Kansas River and falsified discharge reports in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Forty-seven-year-old David Schleif, of Belvue, was charged this week in a 20-count indictment. One count stems from the releases of untreated or inadequately treated sewage from the Wamego Wastewater Treatment Facility from May 2017 through August 2019. The other 19 counts allege that he falsified data in discharge monitoring reports, including by showing lower E. coli amounts than indicated by actual tests results.


Judge Awards Tenants $52 Million for "Horrendous" Conditions at KC Housing Complex

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has awarded $52 million in damages to people who lived in “horrendous” conditions at a Kansas City low-income housing complex. Jackson County Judge Joel Fahenestock ruled against KM-T.E.H. Realty 8 and Michael Fein in a class-action lawsuit over conditions at Ruskin Place Apartments. During testimony earlier this month, tenants said the owners never responded to complaints about mold, raw sewage, roaches and rats, and the lack of heat and air conditioning. T.E.H. and Fein ignored court orders during the case and did not appear at the trial. An arrest warrant has been issued for Fein, who is believed to be out of the country.


National Memorial to President Eisenhower Opens to Public

WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — After several delays, a national monument to President Dwight Eisenhower is set to open in Washington D.C. The memorial to Kansas' native son opened to the public today (FRI) after a dedication ceremony Thursday. The memorial, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, commemorates Eisenhower's legacy as the country's 34th president and as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II. But it also includes a statue and information noting Eisenhower's love for Kansas. It was originally scheduled to be dedicated in May but those plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The memorial was funded in 1999 but construction was delayed by controversy over the original design.


Effort Underway to Create Additional Historic Sites Honoring Brown v. Board Ruling on Desegregation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill introduced in Congress would create additional historic sites to honor the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that banned racial segregation in schools. The National Park Service maintains just one historic site linked to the 1954 ruling, in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, on Thursday announced their effort seeking historic site designations in four other places. While the Brown case was out of Topeka, it was actually combined with four similar cases for the Supreme Court, cases out of South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C.


Baseball Field Named in Honor of Kansas Coach Who Died of COVID-19

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A baseball field in suburban Kansas City is being named after a longtime coach who recently died after battling the coronavirus. WDAF-TV reports that Derek Leppert was an assistant baseball coach and a front office staff member at Olathe West High School in Olathe, Kansas. He died Sept. 10 from complications related to COVID-19. On Thursday, the high school announced it was naming its baseball field Derek Leppert Memorial Field. The Kansas Baseball Coaches Association also plans to present the Derek Leppert Assistant Coach of the Year Award every year in his honor.


Pedestrian Fatally Struck in Southeast Kansas While Walking Along Highway

CHERRYVALE, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old man is dead after being struck by a vehicle as he walked along a Kansas highway. KAKE-TV reports that Derrin Kebert Jr. was walking on the shoulder of U.S. 169 near Cherryville around 8 pm Thursday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a northbound Dodge Journey sought to avoid an airborne object and struck Kebert. A Chevrolet Impala then struck the SUV. Kebert, of Cherryvale, died at the scene. The drivers were unhurt, as were two children in the SUV. The patrol did not identify the airborne object the SUV was avoiding.


Trial Moved for Missouri Man Charged in Killing of Wisconsin Brothers

KINGSTON, Mo.. (AP) — The trial of a Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin is being moved because of extensive pre-trial publicity. Online court records show that a change of venue was granted this week, relocating Garland Nelson’s trial to Johnson County from Caldwell County, where the crime happened. Nelson is facing the death penalty in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. They disappeared in July 2019 after visiting Nelson’s farm in Braymer to collect a $250,000 debt stemming from a cattle deal. Their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska. Nelson has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.  


KPR Collects Pledges to Celebrate this Week's 68th Birthday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - This week, Kansas Public Radio is celebrating its 68th birthday.  The station, which began broadcasting on September 15, 1952, started with a single, donated, FM transmitter, called KANU, and operated on one frequency (91.5).  More transmitters, translators and frequencies have been added over the years.  KPR now operates on eight exciting FM frequencies., including those in Emporia, Junction City, Chanute and Atchison.  KPR also operates on two FM frequencies in Manhattan and two in Lawrence.  Listeners can help us celebrate our 68th birthday by making a pledge and becoming a member.  Thanks for supporting the Kansas Association of Broadcasters' Station of the Year for 2020.  KPR has earned the KAB's coveted Station of the Year title a record 19 times, more than any other radio or TV station in Kansas.  

(KPR Coverage Map and frequencies.) 


Survey: Economy Sees Improvement in Rural Parts of 10 States 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers shows the economy making some improvements but remaining weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The Rural Mainstreet Survey's overall index remained negative at 46.9 in September, even though it improved from August's 44.7 and marked continued improvement since March, when the index bottomed out at 35.5 as the coronavirus pandemic emerged. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy. Bankers from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed. 


Former Kansas GOP Senator Nancy Kassebaum Backs Democrat in U.S. Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum has again broken again with fellow Kansas Republicans to support Democrat Barbara Bollier for the seat Kassebaum once held. Kassebaum said in a statement that Bollier shares her belief in working with members of both parties. Kassebaum also endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 Kansas governor’s race. Republican Congressman and GOP Senate nominee Roger Marshall's campaign manager said Kassebaum's move wasn't a surprise and noted Marshall's endorsement from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. Bollier is a Kansas City-area state senator who switched to the Democratic Party at the end of 2018. Kassebaum served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997.


Kansas Relays Postponed from 2021 Date Due to COVID-19

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Relays, one of the longest-running track and field events in the country, will be postponed in the spring as the University of Kansas tries to deal with a massive budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The school said in announcing its decision Wednesday that postponing the relays will save at least $300,000 from the Kansas Athletics budget, and perhaps more given the likely COVID-19 testing requirements.


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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91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute

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