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Headlines for Monday, March 15, 2021


Tornado Damages Roofs, Siding in Johnson County, Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms rolled through the Kansas City area Monday afternoon, spawning at least one tornado touchdown that damaged some homes and downed fences and tree limbs. The National Weather Service said on Twitter that law enforcement reported a tornado touched down Monday near 199th Street and Switzer Road in rural southeast Johnson County south of Overland Park, Kansas. KMBC-TV reports about 20 homes had roofing and siding damage. Early television footage showed minor structural damage and other debris on the ground.


Governor: Kansas Speeding up COVID Shots to Hit May Target

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas will give COVID-19 vaccinations faster than planned so that all adults with medical conditions can seek shots next week. Kelly also announced Monday that the state will aim for President Joe Biden’s goal of having inoculations available for all adults May 1. Kelly said the state will launch both the third and the fourth phase of its planned vaccine distribution next week. That's a week before the expected arrival of 100,000 doses of a single-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. The combined phase will cover about 600,000 of the state’s 2.9 million residents, after the first two phases covered twice that number.


Official: Kansas Can Handle 5 Times as Much COVID-19 Vaccine

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top public health administrator in Kansas says the state could distribute five times as many COVID-19 vaccine doses as it is receiving now from the federal government. State health department secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, told legislators today (MON) that the biggest issue facing in getting people inoculated is the vaccine supply. His comments came four days after President Joe Biden vowed to make all adult Americans eligible for vaccinations by May 1. The GOP-controlled Legislature has criticized what it sees as a slow distribution of vaccines by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's administration. Kelly and Norman said the state has had trouble keeping up with recording shots.


UPDATE: Cluster of Wichita Earthquakes Rattles South Central Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A cluster of earthquakes with epicenters in Wichita has rattled south-central Kansas. Kansas geologists say the shaking started about 6:30 a.m. Sunday and resumed Monday morning with recorded magnitudes ranging from 2.2 to 3.9. People reported feeling the strongest quakes throughout south-central Kansas, with some reports coming from near Salina and Emporia. The two highest magnitude earthquakes ever recorded in Kansas were a roughly magnitude 5.2 in Manhattan in 1867 and one of around magnitude 5.0 in Sumner County in 2014.


I-70 Shut Down in Goodland Sunday Due to Winter Weather

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Department of Transportation closed the westbound lanes of I-70 at Goodland Sunday because of winter weather conditions in Colorado.  WIBW TV reports that drivers traveling west were advised to use alternate routes or delay travel. The National Weather Service placed Northeastern Colorado under a Blizzard Warning on Sunday as significant snowfall had taken place and more was expected.


Rainy Week in Store for Eastern Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - A rainy week is in store for eastern Kansas.  The National Weather Service in Kansas City says rain totals of 1 to 2 inches will be widespread, with locally higher amounts possible.  There's a chance for showers every day or night through Thursday, when the forecast includes a 40% chance of rain and snow showers.  Sunny and drier conditions are expected by Friday. 

Get the latest weather from the National Weather Service.  


Heavy Rains Lead to Flooding, Water Rescues in Southwest Missouri

TIFF CITY, Mo. (AP) - Portions of southwest Missouri have been hit hard by heavy rains, which flooded some highways.  Two people had to be rescued after their cars were swept away by high creek waters.  Authorities say the two cars were driving on State Highway 43 near Oklahoma's border when they were swept downstream in Buffalo Creek.  The creek's waters were about 15 feet high over the highway.  One driver escaped to the top of his truck. The other grabbed a tree as his vehicle sank below him.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Tiff City Fire Department and McDonald emergency management rescued the drivers. Neither motorist suffered significant injuries.  


Police Identify Woman Killed While Checking on Injured Driver

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have identified the woman who was hit and killed while trying to help the victim of an earlier car crash. Police said Monday that 58-year-old Cynthia M. Goulding of Kansas City, Kansas, came upon the wrecked SUV Sunday and stopped to check on its driver. As she was standing next to the SUV, it was struck again by a pickup truck. Goulding was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the SUV was taken to an area hospital. The driver of the pickup was taken into custody.

(–Earlier Story–)

Woman Killed in KCK Crash While Checking on Hurt Driver

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A woman trying to help a car crash victim has died after being hit by another vehicle in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police say an SUV was headed south on North 59th Street on Sunday when it was hit by a sedan going the opposite direction. A KCK police spokeswoman says the sedan's driver and its passengers fled on foot. A woman in her 50s stopped to check on the SUV's driver. While she was out of her car, a pickup truck hit the SUV and her. She was declared dead at the scene.


Kansas Records Nearly 300,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,835 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Monday that there have been 298,218 cases of COVID-19, including 4,835 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic. Johnson County continues to report the highest number of cases in Kansas, with 55,287. KDHE will provide another update Wednesday. 


Kansas Hospital Will Get Replacement Vaccines After Facility Was Forced to Toss Doses

MISSION, Kan. (KPR/AP) - Kansas Health officials say Lawrence Memorial Hospital is getting a replacement shipment of coronavirus vaccines after the facility was forced to throw away nearly 600 doses.  Last week, the hospital received a shipment of 570 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but due to an error in the way those doses were stored at the hospital, the vaccines had to be discarded.  


Missouri Virus Cases Tick Upward After Months of Decline

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri's rate of new coronavirus cases is ticking upward after months of decline.  The state's coronavirus infection rate has tumbled since the fall, when Missouri hit a peak seven-day average of 4,700 new confirmed cases on November 20.  That average fell as low as 343 on March 6, but has since edged slightly upward, to nearly 400 (395) on Friday.  

Kansas has recorded nearly 300,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 4,800 deaths since the pandemic began.  A new round of coronavirus data will be released this (MON) afternoon.  


Topeka Settles Lawsuit in 2016 Police Crash for $335,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka official says the city has settled a lawsuit over a 2016 crash involving a police cruiser that left two people injured. Topeka City Manager Brent Trout says the city has agreed to pay $335,000 to settle the case. The incident stemmed from an April 2016 crash in which an officer sped through a red light and hit a car driven by Jesus Meza. The collision caused the car to roll several times and seriously injured Meza and a passenger, Mayra Meraz. In 2018, the pair sued the city for $5 million.


Kansas District Named After KKK Leader to Discuss New Name

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Leaders of a Topeka area school district named after an early 20th century Ku Klux Klan leader are meeting today (MON) to discuss whether to ditch the name.  The discussions come after student journalists at Seaman High School found information confirming that the district's namesake, Fred Seaman, had a racist past.  The student newspaper, The Clipper, reported last fall that Seaman had been an "exalted cyclops," or chief officer, in the Topeka KKK.  Rumors of Seaman's ties to the Klan  had circulated for years in the Topeka district before the student newspaper confirmed it through newspaper clippings from the 1920s. A group of students plans to protest the current school name before today's (MON) school board meeting.


Former Wichita State University President Dies at 86

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A man who served as president of state universities in Kansas and Arizona has died in Flagstaff.  Eugene Hughes was 86.  Northern Arizona University announced his death on its website.  Hughes died Wednesday but the cause of death was not stated.  Hughes served as NAU president from 1979 to 1993 while grappling with state budget cuts and expanding student enrollment and academic programs.  Hughes left Northern Arizona to become president of Wichita State University, where he served about 5 1/2 years before retiring in 1998. NAU said services will be announced at a later date.  


Kansas Lawmakers Consider Gun Training for Students

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas lawmakers are making a move to tell schools what kind of firearms training can be provided to students. A House committee has advanced a bill to require training for younger students provided by the National Rifle Association.  The measure says if Kansas schools offer gun safety training, then young students must get the "Eddie Eagle" program from the National Rifle Association (NRA).  Republican Rep. Patrick Penn says it makes sense to require the NRA program because it’s one of the best. "Right now, the gold standard that we have is the Eddie Eagle program. It meets the need and it meets the intent,” he said.  Older kids would get state hunter safety lessons.  Critics of the idea say lawmakers should not be telling local school districts what kind of gun training they must use.


Police ID Man Found Fatally Shot in Kansas City Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City have identified a man found shot to death inside a north Kansas City home at the start of the weekend. Police say officers were called Friday evening to the home near the Jefferson Highlands neighborhood for a welfare check that was upgraded to a report of a shooting as the officers were on their way to the home. Arriving officers found 29-year-old Caleb Meroney with gunshot injuries. He was declared dead at the scene. Detectives gathered evidence at the scene and canvassed the area for any witnesses, but have not announced any arrests or named any suspects in the case.


Police Say Man Died of Injuries in Missouri Double Shooting

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City say a man has died of his injuries in a shooting at a Blue Springs home that also killed a woman. Blue Springs police say a tactical team sent into the home after repeated attempts to make contact with people inside found 46-year-old Denine McCord dead from gunshot injuries. Police also found 57-year-old Joseph Patterson critically injured from a gunshot wound. Patterson was taken to a hospital, where he died later Friday. Police Lt. John Kingsolver told The Examiner of Independence that police believe the shooting was a murder-suicide, but are still investigating.


Lawrence Agrees to Pay Nearly $1 Million in Back Overtime

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials have agreed to pay nearly $1 million in back overtime to dozens of firefighter captains, police sergeants and other city employees. The city determined it had mistakenly misclassified some jobs as not eligible for overtime when they actually were. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the back payments will be made next month. The issue goes back to the summer of 2019, when captains from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical requested a formal review of their status as exempt from overtime, thinking that the city may have overlooked a change in federal standards.


500 U.S. Immigration Agency Jobs to Return to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal immigration agency says it plans to restore 500 jobs in the Kansas City region that were cut last year. The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service laid off 800 workers last year because of budget concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has a National Benefits Center in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and in Overland Park.  Employees process immigration-related paperwork, including international adoptions. The agency is funded by fees on immigration applications. It blamed last year's layoff on a decline in immigration activity during the pandemic. Some of the jobs had been restored in December.


K-State Forward Antonio Gordon Transferring After 'Health Issues'

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State forward Antonio Gordon has been released from his scholarship and will transfer for his junior season. The 6-foot-9 forward from Lawton, Oklahoma, started 21 games and appeared in 27 more during his first two seasons with the Wildcats. The former three-star prospect averaged 4.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. He started 12 of 21 games this past season, averaging 5.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, before missing the regular-season finale with unspecified health issues.


Kansas Jayhawks Enter 2021 NCAA Tournament Seeded 3rd in the West

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR/LJW) - The 11th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks enter the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a No. 3 seed in the West.  KU will face 14th-seeded Eastern Washington in the first round Saturday in Indianapolis.  Game times will be announced later.  KU is in a region with No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga, No. 2 seed Iowa, No. 4 seed Virginia, the defending champs from 2019, and No. 5 seed Creighton.  No. 6 seed USC is also in the region and could face Kansas in a second-round matchup if both teams advance in their openers.  Wichita State (11), Oklahoma (8) and Missouri (9) are also teams of note in KU’s region.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU’s inclusion in this year’s bracket pushes the program’s NCAA-record streak of consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament to 31 straight.  It would be at 32 in a row if not for the cancelation of last year’s NCAA Tournament at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. KU was 28-3 and ranked No. 1 in the nation when last year’s tourney was canceled. KU was poised to be the No. 1 overall seed in the 2020 tournament.  (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)


KU Headed to NCAA Tourney Trying to Put Bad Week to Bed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — It began with the resignation of University of Kansas football coach Les Miles amid accusations of sexual harassment at a prior position. It continued with the resignation of athletic director Jeff Long, who was tied to the fiasco. It ended with the men’s basketball team withdrawing from the Big 12 Tournament due to COVID-19. Now, after one of the worst weeks imaginable for the Jayhawks, coach Bill Self’s team has a chance to make it all a bad memory.  The Jayhawks earned the No. 3 seed in the West Region and will play No. 14 seed Eastern Washington on Saturday.


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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