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Headlines for Monday, April 5, 2021

 

Storms Possible Mid-Week Following Temps Near 80 Degrees in Eastern Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR/WDAF) — After another nice warm day to kick off the work week, eastern Kansas will likely see a round of storms by mid-week. High temps will warm up to about 80 degrees today (MON), but rain and storms are possible Tuesday through Thursday, mostly south of I-70.   WDAF TV reports that small hail and gusty winds are possible early Wednesday.  Thursday could be the coolest day of the week, with highs in the mid 50s before temperatures return to nearly 70 again by next weekend.  

Get the latest weather for eastern Kansas from the National Weather Service office in Topeka.

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Kansas Governor: 'No Interest' in COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly says she has no plans to have Kansas issue vaccine passports, which are designed to help inoculated residents travel, shop and dine out more freely. Vaccine passports, which verify people’s immunization status, have become a political flashpoint in the U.S. as they’ve come into use in Israel and under development in Europe. Some Republicans in the U.S. see them as heavy-handed government intrusion. Kelly said Monday that she’s concentrating on making sure people get tested for and vaccinated against COVID-19. The Democratic governor also signed into law a largely symbolic Republican bill requiring public schools to offer full-time, in-person classes to all students for the rest of the current semester.

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Wichita State Drops Mask Rule After State Order is Toppled

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has announced it's dropping its coronavirus restrictions after GOP lawmakers overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's newly reissued mask order. The Wichita Eagle reports that Friday's announcement means masks are no longer required at the school and that there will be no limits on mass gatherings. In a letter posted on its website, the university encouraged persons on campus to "engage in these practices when possible" and encouraged "everyone to get the vaccine when eligible."

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Over 303,000 COVID-19 Cases and 4,900 Deaths Recorded in Kansas Since Pandemic Began

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports that there have been 303,227 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 4,927 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. That's an increase of 354 cases over the weekend. The death toll number has dropped to 4927 after a review of death certificates. Some deaths initially reported to KDHE/Local Health Departments as COVID-19 related were identified during the review process as not having COVID-19 as the main cause or contributing cause of death. Such revisions are normal and not indicative of larger count problems. Another update will be released on Wednesday. 

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Ex-Kansas GOP Chair Adkins Seeks Rematch with Congresswoman Sharice Davids

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas Republican Party chair wants a rematch in 2022 against Democratic Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids after losing to Davids last year.  Amanda Adkins has announced she is running again for the GOP nomination in the state's 3rd Congressional District in the Kansas City area. Adkins is a former executive with the medical information technology firm Cerner Corporation. She also served as the state GOP's state chair from 2009 to 2013 and as chair of the Kansas Children's Cabinet. She lost to Davids by 10 percentage points in the November 2020 general election. Davids first won the seat in 2018 by ousting four-term GOP incumbent Congressman Kevin Yoder.

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New Autopsy Finds Kansas Black Man's 2004 Death Was Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The case of a Black man who died following a party in rural Kansas more than 16 years ago has been ruled a homicide after his body was exhumed as federal authorities investigate his death as a possible hate crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday that a new autopsy on the body of Alonzo Brooks concluded the cause of death was homicide. His body was exhumed last year from a Topeka cemetery and transported to Dover Air Force Base for an examination. Brooks was 23 when he disappeared after attending a party near La Cygne, Kansas, in May 2004. His family later found his body in a creek near where the party was held. The FBI reopened the investigation in 2019.

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Topeka Man Charged in Traffic Crash That Killed Infant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Topeka man has been charged in connection to a two-car traffic collision last week that killed an infant and injured three others. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said Monday in a news release that 51-year-old Troy A. Vsetecka was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, leaving the scene of an accident, aggravated battery, aggravated endangering a child, among other charges. Vsetecka was allegedly speeding and driving the wrong way on a Topeka street on March 30 when he collided with another vehicle at an intersection.

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Daily Amtrak Service Will Return to Kansas in May

WICHITA, Kan, (AP) — Amtrak says it plans to resume daily passenger service on its Southwest Chief route in Kansas, beginning May 31. The service was reduced to three days a week in October in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Kansas News Service reports that new federal funding will allow Amtrak to restart the daily Southwest Chief route, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles with several stops in Kansas, including Kansas City, Topeka and Garden City.  Amtrak also announced this week that it plans to eventually add a new route that would connect the Southwest Chief to Oklahoma and Texas through a station in Newton, in south-central Kansas.  (Read more.)

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Mother, Father Charged in Death of 2-Year-Old Son in Johnson County

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A mother and father have been charged with first-degree murder in the alleged drug overdose death of their 2-year-old son in a Kansas City suburb. Twenty-nine-year-old Shelly Vallejo and 26-year-old Jean Morales, both of Shawnee, made a first appearance Friday. They also are charged with aggravated child endangerment and a felony charge alleging that they possessed Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is potentially deadly if misused. Each is jailed on a $1 million bond.

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With New Aid, Schools Across America Seek Solutions to Problems New and Old

UNDATED  (AP) — Schools across the U.S. are weighing how to use a windfall from the federal government's latest coronavirus relief package. Districts want to ease the harm of the pandemic and tackle problems that existed long before the coronavirus. The assistance that was approved this month totals $123 billion. The aid will help schools reopen and expand summer programs. It also offers a chance to pursue programs that have long been seen as too expensive, such as intensive tutoring, mental health services and major curriculum upgrades. Nathan Kuder is the chief financial officer of Boston Public Schools. He calls it "a once-in-a-generation opportunity."

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Wichita Man Arrested After 2 Shot at Closed Business

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they arrested the owner of a closed business after he allegedly shot two people on the property. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says police arrested 62-year-old Ken Thomas, the owner of the former TreatCo business, after a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old were shot Friday night when they entered the property. Their injuries are not considered life threatening. Davidson says Thomas faces possible charges of aggravated battery. TreatCo used to make pet treats. Three fires were reported at the property since 2011. And federal and state officials investigated the business several times in the past for alleged environmental violations.

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Sheriff's Office: Wichita Woman Killed While Walking on Road

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the circumstances of a vehicle accident that killed a 43-year-old woman in Sedgwick County. The sheriff's office says in a news release that deputies responding to the scene at about 10 pm Sunday learned that a northbound Toyota Camry struck Kandy Fairchild of Wichita as she was walking in the northbound lane of Broadway near the intersection with 119th Street South. Fairchild died at the scene. The 23-year-old driver of the Camry and her adult passenger were not injured.

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Texas Man Sentenced to 3 Years in Fatal Kansas Crash

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison in a deadly Kansas crash. The Hutchinson News reports that Benjamin Buzzini also was ordered Friday to pay about $2,090 in restitution. He pleaded no contest in January to involuntary manslaughter resulting from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the April 2017 crash that killed Stephanie Futral, of Wichita, A state trooper testified at the preliminary hearing that the sport utility had been traveling at a speed of 150 mph just seconds before it began to roll near South Hutchinson.

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Man Charged with Driving Mom into Lake Ruled Incompetent

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A judge ruled a Lawrence man accused of driving a car into a lake while his mother was a passenger is incompetent to stand trial. A Douglas County judge ruled last week (week beginning 03-28-21) that 22-year-old Jeremy Williams should receive treatment at Larned State Hospital. Williams is charged with second-degree attempted murder. Prosecutors allege Williams drove into Lone Star Lake on February 25.  A caller who reported seeing the car go into the lake rescued Williams's mother, who could not escape because she had a broken leg. The case will remain pending while Williams receives treatment.

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Haskell University Faculty Casts "No Confidence" Vote

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Haskell Indian Nations University faculty are signaling frustration with the college's top leader over free speech and governance issues with a vote of "no confidence." The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the resolution describing Ronald Graham's leadership style as "autocratic" was certified Thursday with a unanimous Faculty Senate vote. Graham began his presidency in May 2020. He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the Journal-World. Graham angered the faculty when he sent a memorandum last month forbidding employees from expressing derogatory opinions about the administration and others, contending that such expression is "inappropriate" and not protected by academic freedom.

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Lawrence Could Ban Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Minors

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence would ban so-called gay conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors under an ordinance that is headed to the city council for consideration. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city commission will take up the ordinance on Tuesday. The idea for such an ordinance was initially discussed last year, and several commissioners indicated at that time they were interested. Vice Mayor Courtney Shipley, who initially brought up the idea, said that she did so after a member of the public told her that the city of Roeland Park in Johnson County had passed such an ordinance and wanted to know if Lawrence could do the same.

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Missouri Police Chief Accused of Attacking Wife with Hammer

HOLDEN, Mo. (AP/KPR) — A western Missouri police chief has been placed on leave after being arrested on suspicion of attacking his wife with a hammer. Television station WDAF reports that Holden Police Chief Trent Neal was arrested after police were called about the Tuesday night attack. Authorities say the 29-year-old Neal is suspected hitting his wife in the head with a framing hammer while the pair were in their garage, rendering the woman unconscious. The woman told investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol that when she came to, Neal was no longer in the garage, and she called a friend who, in turn, called authorities. Neal has been charged with third-degree domestic assault and faces a court hearing on Wednesday.  Holden is a small town about 53 miles southeast of Kansas City.

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Missouri Police Officers Reprimanded After Cuffing Domestic Violence Victim

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Two Missouri police officers were reprimanded after handcuffing and ticketing a domestic violence victim in an incident that was captured on security video. St. Joseph police Captain Jeff Wilson told The St. Joseph News-Press that he couldn’t provide details about the discipline. Miranda Hicks uploaded security video from the incident to social media. She confirmed to the newspaper that she was the woman detained by police and initially given tickets for trespassing and destruction of property. The tickets were voided after she filed a complaint. She said: “Basically I was a victim of domestic assault where I was choked for approximately five minutes."

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Next Time You See a Tick, Don't Scream, Toss It in the Mail

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri conservation officials are asking people to save the ticks they come across while tromping through the woods and toss them in the mail. The Springfield News-Leader reports that the Missouri Department of Conservation and A.T. Still University in Kirksville have partnered in a two-year research study. It begins this month and will conclude in September 2022. During that time, residents are urged to mail live ticks to the university to be identified by species and life stage and tested for four species of bacterial pathogens.

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KU Taps Northwestern University Administrator Goff as Athletic Director

UNDATED (AP) — The University of Kansas has hired Northwestern University administrator Travis Goff to be its athletic director. Goff is a KU alumnus and a native of Dodge CIty. He has been at Northwestern since 2012, most recently as deputy athletic director and assistant vice president for development. He played a role in fundraising that led to massive facilities upgrades at Northwestern. KU has been searching for an athletic director since Jeff Long resigned almost a month ago. He was criticized for his hiring of longtime friend Les Miles, who parted ways with the University of Kansas amid allegations of sexual misconduct dating to the football coach's days at LSU.

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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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