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Headlines for Monday, July 18, 2022


After Attracting Panasonic's $4 Billion Battery Plant, Kansas Could Attract other Big Projects

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Panasonic’s decision to build a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Kansas could open the door to other big business recruitment deals. Kansas Lieutenant Governor David Toland, who also heads the Department of Commerce, says the $830 million incentive package that helped seal the deal with Panasonic has changed the way other big companies look at the state. “Kansas is in the big leagues now. We have eight companies that are seeking to spend $1 billion or more that we are in conversations with.” Kansas Public Radio reports that those other companies range from additional electric vehicle battery makers to data-processing companies. Because the tax breaks given to Panasonic cost so much, Toland can offer a similar package to only one of the target companies. That, he says, means focusing on the one that would be the best fit for Kansas. (Read more.)


Kansas City Records Four Homicides in 24-Hour Span

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — It’s been a long weekend for the Kansas City Police Department, as homicide detectives investigate three shootings that left four people dead in a 24-hour period. WDAF TV reports that on Saturday, police were called to a car wash where officers found a man shot to death. Early Sunday morning, officers responded to a crash and found a woman shot to death in her car. Also Sunday morning, police responded to another call where two people were found shot and killed.  These latest homicides in Kansas City bring the total to 86 this year.


Two Killed in Early Morning Highway Crash in Jefferson County

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Kan. (LJW) - Two people were killed early Sunday morning in a crash on Kansas Highway 4 in Jefferson County.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the fatal accident happened at 2:25 am when a Nissan Xterra driven by 20-year-old Jeremy Burd, of Topeka, attempted to turn into a private driveway in front of a northbound Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by 27-year-old Joseph Platt, of Meriden, on K4 near Spring Creek Road about a mile north of U.S. Highway 24. The motorcycle struck the turning vehicle in the passenger side rear door. Platt and a passenger in the Xterra, 22-year-old Cameron Meinholdt, of Topeka, were killed. A passenger in the Xterra, 20-year-old Grace Sheets, of Topeka, was taken to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka for treatment of suspected serious injuries. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol report, Burd and a fourth passenger in the Xterra, 20-year-old Kaleigh Blades, of Topeka, suffered no apparent injuries from the crash.  Burd was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular homicide.


Missouri Swimmer Likely Infected with Deadly Amoeba in Iowa Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri resident who was infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba that likely happened after swimming in a southwestern Iowa lake has died. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says the patient died due to primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and usually fatal infection caused by the naegleria fowleri ameba. Health officials say they believe the parasite was contracted at Lake of Three Fires near Bedford, Iowa, about two hours north of Kansas City. The name and age of the patient will not be released, officials said. Iowa officials closed the Lake of Three Fires State Park near Taylor County as a precaution on July 7. The beach remains closed.


Health Officials: Most of Kansas at High Risk for West Nile Virus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a high-risk warning for West Nile virus infections for much of the state. Health officials say the virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne illness in the continental United States. It is most often spread to people through mosquito bites, but it is not spread from person to person.  KAKE TV reports that so far this year, there are no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in the state. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. In some cases, the virus in fatal.  There are no vaccines or medications to treat West Nile virus.  Most infections occur in the late summer and early fall.


Simmons Pet Food Expands Operations in Emporia, Edgerton

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Governor Laura Kelly says Simmons Pet Food is expanding operations in two Kansas communities, investing $115 million and creating 177 jobs. A new distribution hub will be built in Edgerton and a fourth, high-speed canning line will be added to the company’s existing facility in Emporia. The projects are part of the company’s $500 million strategic growth plan. Simmons is a contract manufacturer of wet pet food in North America. Simmons’ Emporia facility, which has been in operation since 1998, began with just one line. The operation has grown to employ more than 1,500 people.

Kansas Prison Placed on Lockdown Following Fight

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas prison in Lansing was placed on lockdown after a fight among inmates sent one prisoner to the hospital and left at least three corrections employees injured. The incident happened Friday night in a section of the facility that houses violent offenders. A state Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed that the hospitalized inmate was stabbed. The rest of the facility had been placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure. A tactical unit was deployed during the altercation and additional staffing brought in from other facilities. Officials say all men had returned to their cells "with minimal resistance" by about 10:30 pm Friday. Lansing is the state's largest and oldest prison for adult men.


Earthquake Reported Near Kansas, Nebraska State Line

NUCKOLLS COUNTY, Neb. (KPR) — The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake centered near the Kansas/Nebraska state line in Nuckolls County had a preliminary magnitude of 3.7. The quake was reported just before 8 am Sunday, about 4.3 miles southwest of Superior, Nebraska and was felt in many parts of Jewell County, Kansas. The Kansas Geological Survey indicated the quake measured magnitude 4.0. There were no immediate reports of damage.


Foul Odor in South Topeka Caused by Business’s Failing Water Pre-Treatment System

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A failing water pre-treatment system at a private business has created a foul odor in South Topeka. WIBW TV reports that the smell could spread to other areas. The City of Topeka says it has fielded various questions concerning the odor, but officials say there is no safety concern. The smell is a result of one business’s failing water treatment system. City staffers say they will work on ways to neutralize the odor as repairs to the system are being made. Due to the city's infrastructure, officials say the smell could spread to other parts of town.


Pilot Killed in Plane Crash Northeast of Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (Topeka Capital-Journal) - A plane crash in Shawnee County has claimed the life of the pilot.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the crash happened just before noon Saturday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 72-year-old Steven D. Stucky was killed in the crash shortly after takeoff from the private Buena Terra Airport in northeast Shawnee County. Satuday's fatality was the third linked to that airport since 2003. Stucky was alone flying the 2007 RV-7 airplane. The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to take over the investigation.


Pilot Arrested After Landing Plane on I-70 in Missouri

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say an intoxicated pilot landed a small aircraft on Interstate 70 southeast of Kansas City, Missouri, after radioing that he had run out of fuel. He was arrested after the landing about 2:30 am Friday.  The landing closed westbound lanes of I-70 for more than 2.5 hours. The Missouri State Highway Patrol tweeted that the plane had a "minor collision" with a guardrail but otherwise didn't hit anything. The pilot was the only person on board and suffered minor injuries. Online records showed he was flying from Warrensburg, about 20 miles southeast of the landing site.


South-Central Kansas Hospital Fires CEO

PRATT, Kan. (KAKE) - Pratt Regional Medical Center has fired its CEO, Darrell Lavender. The hospital's board of directors announced Lavender's termination on Friday in a letter to its employees. According to KAKE TV, the letter stated that for the past six months, the board met with doctors, administrators, staff and community members before making the decision.  The board said an interim CEO will be named until a new leader has been chosen. The hospital announced Lavender's appointment as CEO role in May 2021. He replaced longtime CEO Susan Page, who retired. Before joining Pratt Regional, Lavender's most recent role was COO of Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital in Michigan. (Read more.)


U.S. Agencies Temporarily Barred from Enforcing LGBTQ Guidance

UNDATED (AP) - A federal judge in Tennessee has issued an order barring two U.S. agencies from enforcing new federal guidance extending enforcement of discrimination in schools and workplaces based on gender identity. In an order issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. wrote that an executive order issued by President Joe Biden infringes on the rights of states to enact their own laws about whether transgender athletes can participate in sports matching their gender identities or whether schools and businesses must provide bathrooms and showers to accommodate LGBTQ people. The ruling comes after attorneys general from 20 states challenged Biden's executive order in a lawsuit filed last August.


Audio Recording Indicates Some Kansans Hope to Enact Abortion Ban

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KCUR) - Audio from a meeting last month of people supporting an abortion amendment to the Kansas constitution suggests they already have plans for a bill that would end abortion in the state. The recording of the meeting in Hutchinson was acquired by the Kansas Reflector. The audio features a woman identified by the Reflector as the regional director of the Value Them Both Coalition. In the recording, she tells the crowd if the Amendment passes next month, anti-abortion lawmakers have a bill ready to go that would ban most abortions. Also during the meeting, Republican state Senator Mark Steffen says the state Supreme Court highjacked the abortion issue in 2019 and his goal is crafting legislation that states life begins at conception.  A spokesperson for Value Them Both told the Reflector that the woman running the meeting is no longer with the group and reiterated the coalition’s position that the amendment does not ban abortion in Kansas.


Missouri Governor: No Special Session on Abortion

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican Governor Mike Parson says he won't call a special legislative session to address confusion over the state's new abortion ban. Parson told KTVI that the issue is too complicated to be solved during a special session, which typically last days or at most weeks. Missouri's abortion ban includes an exception when it's necessary to save the life of the mother. Doctors, patients and others have asked for clarity on what medical emergencies that covers. Parson says doctors should be given the power to use their best judgment.


Kansas City Struggles with Missouri over Police Funding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A power struggle over control of the Kansas City's police department is going before Missouri voters. In November, voters across the state will decide whether lawmakers have the authority to increase the minimum amount the city must pay its police force. Kansas City is the only city in Missouri without full control of its police department. The agency is run by a board including the mayor and four gubernatorial appointees. Lawmakers passed legislation this year to increase minimum funding for the police department from 20% to 25%. Voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow that change. Missouri forbids lawmakers from mandating extra local government spending without a public vote.


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, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

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