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Headlines for Monday, June 22, 2020

Governor: Kansas Staying in "Phase 3" of COVID-19 Reopening

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR)  Governor Laura Kelly is recommending that communities not loosen current restrictions on mass gatherings -- not yet, anyway. The next phase of the state's "Ad Astra" plan to reopen was set to begin today (MON).  Instead, Governor Kelly announced this afternoon that her administration is suggesting communities stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks.  That includes the recommendation against mass gatherings of over 45 people and recommendations on staffing and travel.  Kelly cited a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the recommendation not to move to the "Phase Out" stage.

KDOL Secretary Resigns After Agency Makes Duplicate Unemployment Payments to Thousands

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Embattled Kansas Labor Secretary Delia Garcia has resigned amid escalating problems with the state's unemployment insurance caseload. Governor Laura Kelly announced today (MON) that she had accepted Garcia's resignation and appointed the governor's Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Wright as acting secretary until a permanent candidate is nominated. On June 10, duplicate payments totaling $7 million were made to more than 4,500 claimants of pandemic unemployment assistance and compensation programs. The Labor department last week reversed those payments, causing some recipients' bank accounts to be overdrawn.  (Read more.)


12 Test Positive for COVID-19 at KNI

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR)  At least 12 people at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka have tested positive for COVID-19.  The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says five staff members and seven residents at KNI tested positive.  The agency is also reporting the first case of coronavirus at Osawatomie State Hospital, where one staff members tested positive.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KNI, and local health officials are expanding testing, with a goal of testing 200 staff by the end of the day today (MON).


Kansas Closes in on 12,500 Cases of COVID-19, Including 259 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — State health officials released new data today (MON), indicating there have been 12,465 cases of COVID-19 in Kansas since the pandemic began.  That number includes 259 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 92 of the state's 105 counties.  The next update is expected Wednesday.  Wyandotte, Ford and Finney counties have recorded the highest number of cases (Wyandotte County = 1,934, Ford County = 1,926, Finney County = 1,523).

(The Kansas Department of Health and Environment releases new data on COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)


KCK Police: 31-Year-Old Man Shot and Killed After Argument

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old man from Kansas City, Kansas, was shot and killed Saturday. Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand said officers found 31-year-old Vincent Locke inside a home around 4:30 pm Saturday. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. Chartrand said Locke and a 51-year-old man had an argument before the shooting. The older man fled the scene before officers arrived, but he was arrested later. Police detectives were talking to family members, who were home at the time of the shooting, to learn more about what led to the fatal confrontation.


1 Man Killed, Another Injured in Kansas City Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say one man was killed and another man was injured in a shooting early Sunday in Kansas City.  A Kansas City Police spokeswoman, Officer Doaa El-Ashkar, said the shooting happened around 1:45 am Sunday near 18th and Vine streets. A man with a gunshot wound was found in a parking lot where he died. Another man who was injured at the same location was taken to a hospital by a private car. Police detectives were speaking with witnesses Sunday to gather more information about the shooting. Few other details were released, and no arrests were announced Sunday morning.


Topeka Police Investigate Weekend Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a weekend homicide in Topeka. Police Lt. Jerry Monasmith says officers were called around 5:45 am Saturday to a central Topeka neighborhood, where they found a person had been shot to death. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the victim later was identified as 55-year-old Terry Tignor. No other details were immediately released.


Kansas City Police: Pedestrian Killed by Racing Car

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police said a 23-year-old woman was struck and killed by a car racing down the street early Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri.  Police say the crash happened around 2:30 am Sunday near 43rd and Main streets. Witnesses told police that two vehicles were racing southbound on Main Street, and one of the vehicles struck the victim as she crossed the street. The woman died at the scene. The black Ford Focus that struck the woman left the scene of the crash. It was found abandoned several blocks away later Sunday morning.


5 Injured in Wichita Hotel Shooting Saturday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say five people have been hurt in a shooting at a northeast Wichita hotel, including a woman who was in her room when a bullet went through her wall and hit her. KAKE-TV reports that police responded around around 3 am Saturday to a Super 8 and found shell casings scattered over the parking lot. Police say the shooting stemmed from a disturbance that erupted during a party. Some of the victims have already been discharged from the hospital. Wichita Police Sgt. Paul Kimble says that the victims who remain in medical care are expected to be OK.


Motorcycle Collision Kills 2 in Northeast Kansas

OTTAWA, Kan. (KNSS) - Two people from Ottawa were killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday in Osage County.  KNSS Radio reports the crash happened at the junction of K-268 and K-368, just after 2 pm.  Authorities say the driver of a motorcycle failed to stop at the intersection and struck a pickup truck.  The driver of the motorcycle, 49-year-old Bryan Holland, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The passenger, 48-year-old Stacy Holland, was taken to the hospital where she died as a result of her injuries.  The driver of the truck suffered no injuries.


Authorities Identify Man Killed at Kansas Rock Quarry

MELVERN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the man killed in an accident at a rock quarry in eastern Kansas. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn said that 68-year-old Frank Rockers Jr. was killed in the incident. Rockers was taking samples at the bottom of a chat pile when it gave way and buried him at the Harshman Construction rock quarry near Melvern. Two workers immediately began to recover Rockers and were joined by fire rescue units. But Rockers didn't survive.


Kansas City Area Couple Accused of Abandoning Handicapped Son

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City couple left their 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy behind for weeks after they moved, returning only periodically to bring him food, according to court records. 30-year-old Janine Allen and 29-year-old Brendon Luke were charged last week with felony abuse or neglect of a child after police learned the boy was left by himself in a Blue Springs home while they monitored him with an in-home video system from their new home a couple of miles away. Their bond is set at $250,000.


T-Mobile Says Overland Park Layoffs Will Affect More than 200
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KC Business Journal) - T-Mobile was cagey about the number of area employees affected by recent layoff announcements.  The Kansas City Business Journal reports T-Mobile told the state of Kansas it will lay off more than 200 in the state.  The company said layoffs could affect 241 employees in Overland Park, according to a WARN Act filing with Kansas. According to the filing, the affected employees work on what had been the Sprint Corporation headquarters campus.  Officials with the Seattle-based wireless carrier notified employees last week in a series of short conference calls of plans of layoffs involving national retail account executives, indirect sales managers and indirect account executives. In one call, T-Mobile said it would eliminate Sprint’s Business Inside Sales Organization, according to TechCrunch.  While it pursued its merger with Sprint, T-Mobile officials said that the combined company would be based in the Seattle area, but would have a “second headquarters” in Overland Park. However, there has been little said publicly about what that will look like.  (Read more.) 

- AP version -

T-Mobile Lays Off More than 200 Sprint Employees in Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — More than 200 Sprint employees in Overland Park have been laid off since the company merged with T-Mobile The Kansas City Star reports a June 17 notification to state regulators shows T-Mobile cut 241 positions at the former Sprint headquarters. A judge approved a merger of the two companies in February and it became official in April.  A T-Mobile spokesperson says the company plans to eventually hire 5,000 new workers across the organization. In a statement, the company said the layoffs in Overland Park were part of an overall study of where to best place the company's resources.


Some Kansans Eligible for Extended Unemployment Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans struggling to find work amid the coronavirus pandemic can receive unemployment for 13 more weeks. The Kansas Department of Labor has announced that the state qualified for a program that provides federal reimbursement for extended benefits during periods of high unemployment.  The Wichita Eagle reports that workers must have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits to qualify. New data released Friday shows Kansas has more than 12,000 coronavirus cases.  That was up 3%, or 378 cases, from Wednesday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by seven to 254.


Teenager Wanted for Shooting at Sioux Falls Police During Protest Arrested in Kansas

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Sioux Falls police say a 17-year-old wanted for allegedly shooting at officers during riots over the death of George Floyd has been arrested in Kansas. Police say the Sioux Falls teen was arrested Friday at a home in Holcomb, Kansas, without incident. The teen was wanted on an arrest warrant for attempted murder, aggravated assault on law enforcement, and riot. Police said they have a video of the teen throwing rocks at police, then pulling a handgun from his pants and firing in the direction of police officers during a riot in Sioux Falls on May 31 that developed from a protest over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.


Kansas City to Drop Charges Against Nonviolent Protesters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials have voted to drop misdemeanor charges against those who took part in street protests to decry racial injustice following the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Kansas City Star reports that the City Council voted 9-2 Thursday to bar the city from prosecuting protesters, as long as they didn’t commit a violent crime or damage property. More than 220 people who took to the streets from May 29th through June 2nd were arrested. Supporters of the move have said police incited unrest by showing up in riot gear, pepper spraying the crowd and deploying tear gas. The police union had opposed dropping the charges against protesters.


KC-Area Brothers Plead Guilty to Oil, Gas Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City-area brothers have pleaded guilty in a scheme to defraud oil and gas investors out of millions of dollars. The Kansas City Star reports that 49-year-old Phil Hudnall, of Lenexa, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. 43-year-old Brian Hudnall, of Kansas City, Missouri, pleaded guilty midweek to the same charge. A third man accused in the scheme, Duc Nguyen, of Houston, Texas, pleaded not guilty this month to wire fraud. Under their plea agreements, the Hudnalls must repay their victims and forfeit $3.8 million. Sentencing dates have not been set.


Fake Doctor Signed Medical Pot Paperwork for 600 Patients

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Officials say about 600 patients seeking authorization to purchase medical marijuana in Missouri had their paperwork signed by a fake doctor. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says there's no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician listed was not the physician who met with them. The affected patients will be notified and given 30 days to submit a valid certificate before their license is revoked. The agency also said it has referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts for further action.


Investigation Continues into Fiery Crash Near Lawrence that Killed Six People

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are still investigating a fiery, head-on car crash that killed six people and seriously injured another on a highway in northeast Kansas.  The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened Thursday night when a Ford Fusion and another vehicle collided on Kansas Highway 10 southwest of Lawrence. Both vehicles were on fire when deputies arrived.  The sheriff’s office says one vehicle was completely burned and the six people inside had died. The other vehicle was partially burned and its female driver, the sole occupant, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Authorities have not said how the collision happened.


Man Killed by Kansas Officers Linked to 2 Nebraska Deaths

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police say man who was shot and killed by Kansas law enforcement officers has now also been tied to a second homicide in Nebraska. Police identified the man killed last week in Lawrence as 31-year-old Nicholas Hirsh, who faced a first-degree murder charges for the shooting death of 41-year-old John Miles of Council Bluffs, Iowa. During their homicide investigation, detectives also discovered the body of 68-year-old John Clanton in the Ponca Hills area of Douglas County in Nebraska. Clanton had been reported missing on June 10th.


Wichita Man Receives Probation in 2018 Crash that Killed 2

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to three years of probation in a 2018 crash that killed two women. Prosecutors said 40-year-old Tito Kyando was sentenced Friday for two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 21-year-old Uriel Salabao and 20-year-old Miyah Latney. Jurors convicted him of the charges in March. Police found Kyando was driving 88 mph in a 40 mph zone shortly before ramming his sport utility vehicle into the subcompact car in which the women were riding. They had been turning left. If Kyando violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to two years and eight months in prison.


Topeka Woman Seeks to Represent Self in Double Homicide Retrial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A woman charged with killing her ex-husband and his fiancée in 2002 in Topeka has taken over her own defense in her retrial. WIBW-TV reports that 60-year-old Dana Lynn Chandler told Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios on Friday that she didn’t want two attorneys who are experienced in criminal law representing her. But Rios immediately instructed the two to remain on the case as Chandler’s standby counsel. Chandler was convicted in 2012 of the 2002 killings of Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness. But the Kansas Supreme Court overturned her conviction in 2018 because of misconduct by the prosecutor.


Major Railroad Expansion Tearing up Flint Hills

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a century after the arrival of the railroads to the Flint Hills of Kansas, a large-scale track expansion is tearing up a scenic stretch in the last remaining tallgrass prairie left in the nation. The BNSF Railway is laying nearly 42-miles of track from Ellinor to El Dorado. The railroad says the work is occurring along its right-of-way and 19 parcels of land it is acquiring. Documents show the project involves eight wetland fills, realignment of streams at three locations, seven new bridges and 36 culvert extensions. No environmental impact study was required.  But BNSF officials say the prairie will be restored and returned to its former state after construction is finished.  (Read more.)


University of Kansas Enacts Sweeping Salary Cuts 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR/KNS) - The University of Kansas has announced sweeping salary cuts for all employees making $50,000 a year or more.  KU is the latest school where employees have been affected by COVID-related financial issues.  KU expects a $120 million budget shortfall because of the pandemic and the pay cuts are expected to save about half that amount.  The new salary cuts will begin in late August and will last at least six months.  KU employees making less than  $50,000 a year are unaffected.  Those who make $50,000 to $59,999 will see a 1% reduction in pay.  Higher-paid employees will see steeper cuts on a graduated basis.  The salary reductions won’t affect student employees or those working on a visa. KU officials have not ruled out furloughs.  Already, Kansas State University has furloughed 430 employees since May. Both schools have also instituted hiring freezes.

Salary Tiers  / Salary Adjustment

< $50,000                   = 0%
   $50,000 to $59,999 = 1% cut
   $60,000 to $69,999 = 2%
   $70,000 to $79,999 = 3%
   $80,000 to $89,999 = 4%
   $90,000 to $99,999 = 5%

$100,000 to $119,999 = 6% cut
$120,000 to $139,999 = 7%
$140,000 to $159,999 = 8%
$160,000 to $179,999 = 9%
$180,000 to $199,999 = 10%
$200,000 or more        = 11%

KU says the temporary salary reductions will not impact employee health insurance coverage or premiums or leave accruals. Employer and employee contributions to the mandatory retirement plans will be adjusted as contributions are based on a percentage applied to an employee's gross salary. (Visit KU's FAQ webpage for more information.)


Kansas Regents Approve Tuition Increase at 4 of 6 Public Universities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tuition will remain flat at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University but will increase slightly this fall at the state’s other four public universities. The Kansas Board of Regents has approved an increase of 2% at Wichita State University, 2.4% at Emporia State University, 2.5% at Pittsburg State University and 3.7% at Fort Hays State. The University of Kansas announced its plans not to raise tuition last month, saying the school needs to stay competitive and that it wasn’t right to raise tuition as students and their families deal with lost jobs and income caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Kansas State offered similar reasons.


KU Implements Mandatory Mask Policy for All of Those on Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Effective immediately, anyone on the University of Kansas campus is required to wear a mask or face covering to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  KU Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer made the announcement late last week.  KU officials are drafting new personal safety requirements for the Lawrence campus and the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.  The face-covering policy will likely be in effect for the next academic year.  This new requirement applies to all faculty, staff, students and visitors while they are in common areas of a building and within 6 feet of any person on campus.  Additional public health policies are being finalized and will be released soon. 


Kansas-Based Theater Chain to Require Masks

LEAWOOD, Kan. (KPR) - Leawood-based AMC Theaters is changing course on masks, saying they will be required when their theaters reopen next month. AMC is the largest movie theater company, with bout 600 locations nationwide. Yesterday, the CEO of the company said it would not require masks because that would draw the company into a "political controversy." That drew backlash, and the company how says it has consulted with experts and will require everyone visiting AMC theaters to wear a mask. 


Amtrak's "Daily" Southwest Chief Won't be Running Daily Route Anymore

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Amtrak passenger service across Kansas will likely slow down this fall.  Right now, the Southwest Chief runs daily from Chicago to Los Angeles, with stops in a half-dozen Kansas towns, including Topeka, Lawrence and Dodge City.  Amtrak says it will scale back service in October.  The Washington Post reports Amtrak will start offering service along the route just three times a week.  The Kansas News Service reports Amtrak ticket sales have suffered nationally amid the pandemic.


Construction Underway on New Addition to Wind Farm in Southwest Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Governor Laura Kelly says construction has begun on a new addition to an existing wind farm in southwest Kansas.  Kelly announced that Enel Green Power has started building a 199 Megawatt addition to the Cimarron Bend wind farm in Clark County. The $281 million expansion will consist of 74 wind turbines.  Kansas currently ranks No. 2 in the nation for wind energy production as a share of total electricity generation.  Last year, wind energy surpassed coal for the first time as the largest energy source for generating electricity in Kansas. Wind energy provided 41% of electricity generation in Kansas, the second-largest share for any state.  


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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