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Headlines for Friday, September 25, 2020

COVID-19 Has Kansas Lawmakers Pondering Broader Oversight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas have started pushing to give more of their colleagues a say in how the state manages protracted emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic. Their discussions Thursday came after months of conflict between GOP lawmakers and Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. A Republican-led legislative committee studying the state’s emergency management laws agreed Thursday that the GOP-controlled Legislature should consider creating a new panel with permanent oversight of how the governor handles months-long emergencies. The study committee also said lawmakers should look at making it easier for them to reconvene later in the year after their annual spring session has concluded.


COVID-19 Case Total in Kansas Exceeds 56,000, Includes 632 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials say Kansas has identified more than 56,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reported today (FRI)  that Kansas has recorded 56,592 cases, including 632 deaths. That's an increase of 1,366 cases and 11 deaths since Wednesday. Another update on case numbers will be released on Monday.  


Kansas COVID-19 Cases Jump by over 1,300 with Rural Spikes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says it had more than 1,300 new coronavirus cases over two days, and most of the biggest spikes over the past two weeks occurred in rural counties in the central and western parts of the state. The state health department said Kansas has had 56,592 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases for an increase of 1,366 or 2.5% from Wednesday. The state averaged 615 new cases a day during the seven days ending Friday. The biggest spikes per 1,000 residents for the two weeks ending Friday were in Cheyenne County in the state’s far northwestern corner and Pawnee County in central Kansas.


Virus Cases Rise in US Heartland, Where Anti-Mask Feelings Run High 

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — The latest hot spot for the coronavirus in the United States is the heartland, where cases are rising in a worrying trend. The pandemic began with devastation in the New York City area, and was followed by a summertime crisis in the Sun Belt. But it is now striking cities with much smaller populations, often in conservative corners of America where anti-mask sentiment runs high, creating problems at hospitals and schools in the Midwest and West. Wisconsin is averaging more than 2,000 new cases a day over the last week, compared with 675 just three weeks earlier, and hospitalizations are at the highest level since March.


Nursing Homes Lead List of Reported Kansas COVID-19 Clusters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Nearly half of the places reported by Kansas as linked to active coronavirus clusters of five or more cases are nursing homes. A state official has told legislators some homes still are struggling to find testing supplies despite heightened federal testing requirements. The state Department of Health and Environment's latest weekly report on places linked to coronavirus clusters was issued Wednesday and named 29 with 14 tied to nursing homes. Meanwhile, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services administrator told a legislative committee Wednesday that some nursing homes are struggling to meet a federal benchmark to test staff at least once a week.


COVID-19 Cases Increasing at Kansas Prisons

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —Coronavirus numbers at Kansas prisons began to rise again in mid-September. Currently, the state Department of Corrections says there are about 130 cases among inmates and staff at the prison in El Dorado, Kansas. There are also dozens of cases among inmates at the prisons in Hutchinson, Lansing and Larned. Throughout the spring and summer, these four prisons previously were home to outbreaks numbering in the hundreds. Across the state, five inmates and three staff members have died from the virus this year.


Kansas Foster Care System Cuts Worker Turnover Rate by Nearly Half Since 2018

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —The Kansas Department for Children and Families says 18 percent of child welfare workers have left their jobs so far in 2020. That’s down from 33 percent of workers who quit in 2018. The department told a committee of state legislators this week that investments in training and recruiting social workers have paid off. But the private nonprofit organizations that contract with the state to provide foster care say there are still challenges in recruiting and retaining employees. The agencies cite employee burnout, low salaries compared with the private sector and meeting licensing requirements in rural areas.


1,500 Mail Ballots Arrived Too Late to Count in Kansas Primary

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Election data shows more than 1,500 Kansans did not have their votes counted in the August primary because their mail ballots arrived too late, but many of them were uncounted because voters didn’t mail them on time. A 2017 state law that aims to mitigate the impact of mail delays allows ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted as long as they are received in local election offices within three days. That means that ballots postmarked on or before Aug. 4 would have been counted had they arrived by Aug. 7. 


Kansas Supreme Court Affirms Convictions in 2015 Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed convictions for first-degree murder and battery stemming from a 2015 shooting at the Roxy bar in Overland Park. The court ruled Friday that Dale Willis’s claims of jury instruction errors were barred because he had requested and agreed to those jury instructions. The state’s highest court also said none of the statements made by the state during the trial constituted prosecutorial error and the court properly admitted testimony and evidence. The case stems from a dispute that erupted on Sept. 16, 2015 that ended with Jurl Carter being fatally shot multiple times in his car. 


Wichita State University President Resigns

UNDATED (AP) – The Kansas Board of Regents has announced the resignation of Wichita State University President Jay Golden. Regents chair Bill Feuerborn issued a brief statement Friday saying the board is thankful for his service and appreciative of his hard work and dedication to the university. Golden took over the position in January. He replaced former President John Bardo, who died last spring. The regents' statement said Wichita State Provost Rick Muma will serve as acting president while the Board considers options for an interim president.

(–Additional Reporting–)

Kansas College President Who Cancelled Ivanka Trump Speech Resigns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state university president in Kansas whose decision this year to cancel a virtual speech by Ivanka Trump angered donors has resigned after less than a year in the job. The board overseeing the Kansas higher education system did not say why Wichita State University President Jay Golden stepped down in announcing the move Friday. The university in June received national attention and plenty of criticism for dropping a virtual speech by President Donald Trump's elder daughter for its technical school graduation. Regent and Wichita restaurateur Jon Rolph told The Wichita Eagle that Golden’s resignation was not related to the Ivanka Trump controversy.


Police Investigating 2 Kidnapping Attempts in Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating two separate reports of attempted child abductions in Hutchinson in recent days. The Hutchinson News reports the first incident on Sept. 17 involved an 11-year- old girl who was playing in her yard when a man grabbed her by her wrist. She got away. The next reported incident happened this past Thursday at a Kwik Shop in Hutchinson after a mother put a 3-year-old boy into his car seat after shopping. The suspect reached into the van towards the child before the door shut, but fled after the mother yelled.


Missouri Governor, Opponent of Mandatory Masks, Has COVID-19

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson, who has refused to require residents to wear masks, has tested positive for the coronavirus. His office confirmed the positive test Wednesday. Parson was tested after his wife, Teresa, tested positive earlier Wednesday. Teresa Parson had experienced mild symptoms, including a cough and nasal congestion. Governor Parson postponed several events through the remainder of the week. Parson is 65. He has repeatedly urged residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, but he has been an outspoken opponent of mask mandates, sometimes appearing at functions without one.


Federal Authorities to Investigate Overland Park Teen's 2018 Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating possible civil rights violations in the January 2018 shooting death of a Kansas teenager by an Overland Park police officer. An FBI spokeswoman said Thursday the agency, its Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney in Kansas are investigating the death of 17-year-old John Albers. Albers was shot to death by officer Clayton Jenison as he backed out of the driveway of his Overland Park home. Officers went to the home when friends reported Albers was threatening to hurt himself. Jenison was later cleared of any wrongdoing but left the department. Albers's family reached a $2.3 million settlement with the city of Overland Park over the shooting.


Missouri Governor Parson Activates National Guard as Precaution

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Mike Parson has activated the state's National Guard as a precaution against civil unrest. Parson said in a news release Thursday that the order will allow the Guard, along with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, to assist local law enforcement if needed. It was not immediately clear what prompted the declaration. Parson said his administration supports people's right to protest peacefully but he was taking the step as a "proactive" approach in case local law enforcement needs assistance. Demonstrations broke out in Kansas City, St. Louis and other cities across the country this week after a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky declined to charge police officers in the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in March.


Missouri Man Charged in Killing of His Girlfriend

UNDATED (AP) – Prosecutors say a Kansas City, Missouri, man who told an off-duty police officer that something had happened and someone was dead has been charged in the killing of his girlfriend. The Jackson County prosecutors office said in a news release Friday that 28-year-old Kelshaun D. Moseley was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Keva Hill. The Kansas City Star reports that Hill’s mother told police that the two had been dating for about a month and that her daughter had just moved in with him about a week prior to her death.


Woman's Death in Southeast Kansas Investigated as Homicide

LONGTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a homicide in southeast Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that a relative of 34-year-old Amy Lammon called 911 Thursday morning to report that she was dead. Deputies with the Elk County Sherriff’s Office responded and found her body inside a home. No details were released about how she died or whether a suspect had been identified.


Motorcyclist Killed in Traffic Accident in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man riding a motorcycle was killed in a traffic accident in southeast Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports officers responded about 7:30 p.m. Thursday to the scene of a crash involving the motorcycle and another vehicle. The motorcyclist died at the scene. No further details were available.


Former City Clerk Sentenced in Meth Conspiracy

EVERTON, Mo. (AP) _ The former city clerk of a small southwestern Missouri town has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in a money-laundering conspiracy related to a methamphetamine ring. KYTV reports that 35-year-old Kristy A. Conn of Everton was sentenced Wednesday in federal court. She pleaded guilty in November to money laundering charges. Conn admitted to participating in the scheme throughout most of 2017. Court records show that she directed another woman to send wire transfers of proceeds from the distribution of methamphetamine to members of a drug trafficking organization in California and Mexico. Conn was Everton's city clerk at the time of the crime. Everton, Missouri is 60 miles east of Pittsburg, Kansas.


Tinder App Helps Lead Police to Kansas Murder Suspect

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a man during a drug deal, and authorities say the Tinder dating app played a key role in tracking him down. The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old Tanner Mora of Wichita was sentenced Wednesday for the killing in a health club parking lot. Lorenzo Wade's body was found by a plastic bag of marijuana on February 6, 2019.  Prosecutors say Wade was killed during a drug deal that went wrong and turned into a robbery. A cellphone found with Wade included information from a Tinder account that helped lead police to the suspect. 


Kansas City Civil Rights Leader Rosemary Lowe Dies at 94

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Longtime Kansas City civil rights leader Rosemary Lowe has died. She was 94. Family and a funeral home confirmed that she died Tuesday, but did not provide details. The Kansas City Star reports that Lowe served for decades as president of the Santa Fe Area Council. She also worked behind the scenes to help with the founding of Freedom Inc., a Black political club. Lowe was a Democratic committee representative for the city's 14th Ward. Lowe served on numerous boards and volunteer committees and helped with the appointment of police chiefs and policymakers.


Kansas Farm Device Triggers Police Response to Shooting Call

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities responding to a call about sheriffs deputies being shot at briefly shut down the Kansas Turnpike Wednesday night and sent an armored vehicle and drone to the scene. The Wichita Eagle reports it turned out the ruckus was coming from a propane cannon an 87-year-old watermelon farmer uses to scare away raccoons and coyotes from his crops near Haysville. About 10-12 watermelons were disappearing each night, so about a week ago Kenneth Simmons put a propane cannon in their field east of the Turnpike to scare off the predators The device can be put on a timer to set off a loud bang.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Shatters Diplomatic Norms with Political Appearances

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is ignoring criticism and forging ahead with events that have overtly political overtones ahead of the presidential election. Pompeo is casting aside a long tradition of the nation's top diplomat shunning partisan politics. On Wednesday, he gave a speech in the swing state of Wisconsin, marking the fourth such event this month alone. While his speeches have stopped short of blatant calls for President Donald Trump's reelection, the venues Pompeo has chosen have raised eyebrows and sparked allegations of potential violations of federal law.  Before becoming Secretary of State, Pompeo served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  Before that, the West Point graduate served as a Kansas congressman, representing Wichita and the south-central Kansas area.  


Alex Gordon Retiring After Playing Entire Career with Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will retire after the season. The player who spent his entire 14-year career with Kansas City made the announcement Thursday. While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon turned himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He helped the Royals to two World Series trips and a championship in 2015. Gordon is 36 and says his decision to retire was influenced by the pandemic. He now wants to spend more time with his family and “catch up on things I’ve missed my whole life.”


Big 12 Conference Openers Include 1st Games for Baylor, TCU

UNDATED (AP) - The Big 12 is ready to open conference play in its 25th season. All 10 teams are set to play in league games Saturday. TCU and Baylor will be playing their season openers after being unable to play their scheduled non-conference games because of COVID-19. Among the games, Kansas State is at No. 3 Oklahoma. The Sooners last season had their five-year road winning streak ended in a 48-41 loss at K-State. Dave Aranda will make his head coaching debut at Baylor against Kansas and his former boss Les Miles. TCU tries for its 19th consecutive home-opening win against Iowa State.


Oklahoma Football Team Prepares for Comeback Against Kansas State

NORMAN, Okla. -- Last year, Oklahoma wasn’t fully focused on Kansas State. After the Sooners left Manhattan with a stunning loss that nearly cost them a shot at the College Football Playoff, the team says there will be no such problem this year. Third-ranked Oklahoma will host the Wildcats in the Big 12 opener for both teams. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler passed for 290 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start as Oklahoma defeated Missouri State. The same day, Arkansas State scored with less than a minute remaining to shock the Wildcats two weeks ago.


Kansas Jayhawks to Face Baylor in Big 12 College Football Opener

WACO, Texas — Baylor University coach Dave Aranda is hoping the third time’s a charm for his debut as Baylor coach with the Bears set to play Kansas in the Big 12 opener Saturday after non-conference games against Louisiana Tech and Houston were called off because of COVID-19 concerns.


Kansas City Chiefs to Face Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night

BALTIMORE — It’s the defending Super Bowl champs against a team that’s won 14 straight regular season games. Maybe it’s a look ahead at the AFC title game. Mostly, though, the most alluring aspect of Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens is the captivating quarterback duel between 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson.


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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