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Headlines for Monday, January 1, 2018

Here's what's happening.

Brutally Cold Weather Grips Midwest

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Bone-chilling cold gripped the middle of the U.S. as 2018 began, breaking low temperature records, icing some New Year's celebrations and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the elements.  The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories for Monday covering a vast area from South Texas all the way to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming in the west through New England in the east.  Dangerously low temperatures enveloped eight Midwest states including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska along with nearly all of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.  The weather service said Omaha's temperature low of 15 below zero (-9 Celsius) before midnight broke a record that had stood since 1884.


Power Outages Reported as Temperatures Plunge 

FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV/AP) - The temperature reached 11 degrees below zero on Monday, the second coldest New Year’s Day in Kansas City history. Wind chills were over 20-degrees below zero. As the frigid cold temperatures rocked the metro, KCTV-5 reported that multiple power outages were being addressed throughout the area. Kansas City Power and Light sent crews to restore power for 3,112 people in the area of NW Barry Road and NW Waukomis Drive. Power has been restored. KCP&L is currently working to restore power to 1,485 people in northwestern Missouri. Monday morning, crews assisted 1,856 people who had lost power near Missouri-7 Highway, north of Interstate 70. Their power has been restored. KCP&L reported that 1,006 people were without power in Shawnee. Those customers, who live between Shawnee Mission Parkway and Lamar Avenue and between 63rd Street and Mission Road, have had their power restored. In St. Joseph, 2,500 people lost power. Their power has been restored. Independence Power and Light reported early Monday morning that 1,077 people were without power in the area of MO-291 Highway and U.S. Route 24. Those customers have had their power restored.


Suspect Arrested in Lawrence Shooting Death 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested in the shooting death of a woman at a Lawrence apartment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the man had been sought since the death Wednesday night of 30-year-old Lei Ala Turner. The suspect was booked into jail early Monday morning on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Police have said initial information indicated the shooting might have been accidental but did not explain further.


Dead Body Found in Burning Vehicle in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka police are investigating the suspicious death of a person whose body was found in a burning vehicle.  Topeka police Lt. Aaron Jones told the Topeka Capital-Journal that firefighters noticed a person inside the burning vehicle while putting out the flames early Saturday morning. Jones said the person was already dead.  Authorities are still trying to identify the body.


L.A. Man Arrested After Fatal Kansas Police Shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles police say they've arrested a man they suspect made a hoax phone call that resulted in a fatal police shooting in Wichita.  Police in Los Angeles and in Wichita have confirmed the arrest of 25-year-old Tyler Barriss. Police did not provide any additional information on charges.  Authorities haven't released the name of the man who was killed Thursday in Wichita, but relatives identified him as 28-year-old Andrew Finch.  Police blamed a "prankster" who called 911 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at the victim's address. A SWAT team responded and Andrew Finch was killed.  Finch had nothing to do with the prank.  The suspect in L.A. -- Tyler Barriss -- was convicted in 2016 on two counts of making a false bomb report to a TV station in California.


Roberts, Moran: NAFTA Changes Could Hurt Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Both Republican senators in Kansas are expressing concerns that any major changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement could have a negative impact on the state's economy.  Republican President Donald Trump has been a persistent critic of NAFTA. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran say they're open to improvements but agree that NAFTA needs to preserve or expand export opportunities.  Moran says that withdrawing from the agreement would hurt farmers and ranchers, and cost the state jobs.  Roberts says the U.S. economy has grown because of agreements such as NAFTA.


KC Animal Shelters Offer Discounts After Cold Snap

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Animal shelters in the Kansas City area are offering discounts on adoptions because the cold weather has them crowded with dogs and cats that need a home.  The Kansas City Star reports that the KC Pet Project is caring for more than 500 animals because of the recent frigid temperatures.  So all dogs are being offered for $35 and cats are being offered for $15 at the main shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.  The shelter's marketing director Tori Fugate says there's a huge need for families to adopt pets to free up space at the shelters.


Christmas Trees Turn Lawrence Landfill into Wildlife Habitat

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence is using its Christmas trees to provide a habitat for wildlife where an old landfill used to sit. The city's Christmas tree recycling program began in the early 1990s, the Lawrence Journal-World reported . As many as 50,000 trees have been saved from the city's new landfill and brought to the site, according to Craig Pruett, operations supervisor for the city's solid waste division. "They don't weight a lot, but do take up space," Pruett said. "It's just one less thing that is going to the landfill." The old landfill was abandoned decades ago and is located in what's now Riverfront Park near the Kansas River. Pruett said trees are deposited into rows to create a wildlife habitat. "So there is this long tube of Christmas trees that are compressed and pushed up against each other," he said. "And so that creates a bit of a barrier for a larger animal to try to get into. Birds can fly in there or rabbits may make their bedding in the areas underneath." The city has picked up about 2,000 Christmas trees annually in the past few years, according to the solid waste department. Pruett said the number of collected trees is trending downward because of increased demand in artificial trees. The city's solid waste department will do its annual collection of live-cut Christmas trees in the first week of January. Residents are reminded to remove artificial items like tinsel, lights and ornaments.


Vandals Topple Headstones in Cemetery Vandalism 

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a vandal or vandals knocked over dozens of headstones and tore emblems off veterans markers in a night of vandalism. The Wichita Eagle reports that residents discovered the vandalism Richland Township cemetery Friday. Graves had been urinated upon and memorial flowers had been shredded, and the cemetery's U.S. flag had been stolen. Mary Staab helps care for the cemetery, and she says some of the tombstones date back to the 1800s. No arrests have been reported.


Kansas City Police Find Man's Body

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City police say officers have found the body of an apparent homicide victim. The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reports that officers responding to a report of shooting around 1:20 a.m. Monday found the body of a Hispanic man in his 20s. His name and other information about the crime have not been released. No arrests have been reported.


Topeka Men Discover Sports Artist's Work in Storage Unit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two men in Topeka have found several signed works by prominent sports artist Ted Watts among the contents they purchased of a storage unit. Joseph Joslin Sr. and Mike Schoep said they came across some of Watts's works after responding in October to an ad by a woman offering to sell everything in her unit at a self-storage business. The men bought all the storage unit's contents for $600, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. They found the unit had a box containing black-and-white drawings by Watts that include a depiction of the 1956 World Series in Major League Baseball. Other drawings included the Milwaukee Braves' World Championship win in 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates' victory in the 1960 World Series and the Brooklyn Dodgers' victory in the 1955 World Series. Watts gained a nationwide reputation through decades of creating handcrafted sports artworks at his studio in southeast Kansas. He created art for more than 250 buyers, including more than 25 professional sports teams, according to his studio's website. The College Football Hall of Fame in Indiana holds more than 75 paintings of Heisman Trophy winners created by Watts, who died in 2015. Joslin said he's negotiating to sell the artwork to a relative of Watts who hopes to help preserve his legacy.


Multi-Million Dollar Lotteries Climbing

Two lottery jackpots have been climbing.  The Mega Millions jackpot has surpassed $340 million for tomorrow (TUE) night's drawing.  And the Powerball jackpot has climbed to a whopping $440 million for Wednesday's drawing. If you win, we hope you'll remember your hard-working friends in public radio!


ACLU: Kansas School Boards' Rules Violate Free Speech Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The ACLU of Kansas argues that local school boards are violating free speech rights with policies that restrict negative public comments.  The group is pushing the Shawnee Mission district in the Kansas City area to change a policy the ACLU views as especially restrictive. It requires speakers participating in open forums at meetings to make comments in a "positive" and "constructive way." Complaints against board members or employees can't be aired in the forums.  Legal director Lauren Bonds said other districts have restrictions, including Topeka and Wichita.  Bonds said the ACLU of Kansas is waiting for a response from the Shawnee Mission board after three new members take office in January.  KCUR-FM reports there isn't a tally of how many of school boards prohibit speakers from airing grievances in public.


Ailing Grandpa in Wichita Gets to See Grandson's Military Promotion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A soldier stationed in Hawaii flew to Wichita for his military promotion so that his ailing grandfather could participate in the ceremony.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Army nurse practitioner Jason Marquart was promoted to lieutenant colonel on December 27 in front of the Korean War Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park. He made special arrangements for the ceremony to take place in Wichita because his grandfather, Marvin Keeler, couldn't travel due to health complications.  Keeler served as a Marine in Korea from 1951 to 1954. He participated in Marquart's promotion by pinning an insignia on his grandson's uniform.  Marquart says Keeler is "my male role model in my life, and he's the only one I've had."  Keeler says he's proud of how far his grandson has come.


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