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Headlines for Monday, November 15, 2021


Kansas Governor Gets COVID Booster, Urges Vaccinations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has received her COVID-19 booster shot and is urging others to get vaccinated as well. Kelly said in a statement that she “wouldn’t ask any Kansan to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself” after getting the Moderna booster Friday. Federal health officials recommend boosters for people who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations at least six months ago if they’re 65 or older, or are at high risk of COVID-19 because of health problems or their job or living conditions. Any Johnson & Johnson recipient can get a booster at least two months later.  


Biden Infrastructure Bill Includes $1 Trillion for Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —The $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden will sign today (MON) includes nearly $4 billion for Kansas. The federal funding will be spent on a long list of improvements to everything from highways to water pipes.  Kansas will get at least $2.7 billion over the next five years to spend on highways, crumbling bridges and airports.  About $450 million is on the way to improve the safety of drinking water in towns and cities with aging lead pipes.  $100 million will be used to fill gaps in the state’s spotty broadband network.  Millions more dollars are earmarked for wildfire prevention, cyberattack protection and the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations.  U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, a Democrat from the Kansas City area, was the only Kansas member of Congress to support the massive bill.  The rest of the delegation, all Republicans, voted against it because they said it was too expensive.  


Striking Deere Workers in Kansas Prepare to Vote on 3rd Contract

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Deere & Co. and union officials have reached a third preliminary contract agreement that workers who began striking four weeks ago will vote on soon. The United Auto Workers says that the proposed contract with the agricultural machinery giant “includes modest modifications” to the latest rejected proposal, which included immediate 10% raises. The union described the new proposal as the company’s “last, best and final offer." The contract, which union members will vote on on Wednesday, would cover more than 10,000 Deere workers at 12 facilities in Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois who make the company’s iconic John Deere green tractors and other equipment.


Lawrence School Board Extends Thanksgiving Break

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas school district is extending its Thanksgiving break to a full week to give overwhelmed staff a reprieve. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the school board approved a plan Friday to turn November 22nd and 23rd into wellness and self-care days. Staff already had the rest of the week off. Superintendent Anthony Lewis told the board during the meeting that the time off was needed because faculty and staff were at a breaking point from the stress and other difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


Records Found of Native American Students who Died at Nebraska School

GENOA, Neb. (AP) - Researchers say they have uncovered the names of 102 Native American students who died at a federally operated boarding school in Nebraska.  The Omaha World-Herald reports that the discovery comes as ground-penetrating radar has been used in recent weeks to search for a cemetery once used by the school that operated in Genoa from 1884 to 1934.  So far, no graves have been found.  The Genoa school was one of the largest in a system of 25 federally-run boarding schools for Native Americans.  A number of Genoa students transferred to the Haskell Institute in Lawrence.


Kansas Legislature to Have Special Session on COVID Mandates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers have succeeded in forcing a Thanksgiving-week special session of the Kansas Legislature to consider financially protecting workers who refuse to comply with federal vaccine mandates. GOP legislative leaders announced that all Republicans in both the House and the Senate have signed a petition demanding a special session starting November 22. Governors call special sessions, but the Kansas Constitution requires them to do it if two-thirds of both chambers demand it — and the GOP holds more than enough seats. There are GOP proposals to make it easier for workers to claim religious exemptions to vaccine mandates and to provide unemployment benefits to employees fired for not getting inoculated.


GOP Proposals on COVID Mandates Worry Kansas Business Groups

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Influential Kansas business groups have strong misgivings about Republican proposals aimed at financially protecting workers who refuse COVID-19 inoculations. A joint legislative committee had hearings Friday on a proposal to make it easier for workers to claim religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and another to provide unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for refusing to get vaccinated. Both are a response to federal mandates. Both drew opposition from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. Their lobbyists said businesses shouldn't have to choose between complying with federal mandates or state rules. Anti-mandate activists think the measures aren't strong enough.


New Forecast Boosts Kansas Tax Revenue Projections by $1.3 Billion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas fiscal forecast predicts that state government will be awash in cash more than enough to allow big tax cuts that Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican legislators already planned to pursue. The new forecast increased the projection for the state’s total tax collections by $1.3 billion for the current 2022 budget year that began July 1. The new projection of $8.9 billion is 17.1% higher than the $7.6 billion predicted previously. The forecasters also predicted a 3.2% increase in tax collections for the 2023 budget year. Kelly wants to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and Republicans like that idea and cutting income taxes as well.


Wichita State Lab to Begin Charging for COVID Tests

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) —A lab at Wichita State University is one of several that will soon start charging for COVID-19 tests.  Pandemic relief funding that has bankrolled COVID-19 tests at several labs in Kansas is ending at the end of this month (NOV) and that means labs will have to pass on the costs to local businesses and organizations. The tests cost between $75 and $100 each and the lab at WSU has averaged 6,000 tests per week. Funding from the state department of health let local businesses and organizations get employees tested there at no cost but that money is running out and the cost for keeping the Wichita State lab running at the same level would be nearly a half a million dollars each week. Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said he’s frustrated the money is running out as the pandemic drags on. “I don't understand why there's any shortfall for testing for COVID. That to me, of all the things we do priority-wise, that's top of the list,”  Howell said. The lab at WSU has processed more than 250,000 COVID tests since opening last fall. COVID testing will continue to be free for schools because funding is still available for that service.


2 Men Charged with Native American Art Exhibit Theft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two University of Kansas students have been charged with stealing part of a Native American art exhibit that also was vandalized while displayed outside a campus museum. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Samuel McKnight and John Wichlenski were charged Wednesday in Douglas County District Court with theft of property of a value of at least $1,500 but less than $25,000. The exhibit, titled “Native Hosts,” by artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, is installed outside the Spencer Museum of Art. One of the pieces went missing in late September, several weeks after four pieces were vandalized.


Kansas City Police Officer's Shooting Trial Goes to Judge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The fate of a white Kansas City police detective charged in the fatal shooting of a Black man is now in the hands of a judge. Closing arguments were held Friday in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Eric DeValkenaere. Prosecutors said DeValkenaere violated the rights of Cameron Lamb when he shot him in December 2019 as Lamb sat in a pickup truck in his backyard. They say two detectives who saw Lamb speeding followed him into his yard and shot him and suggested that police might have planted evidence. Attorneys for DeValkenaere argued that he fired because he believed Lamb was pointing a gun at another detective.


Mayor of Wichita Suburb Arrested on Suspicion of DUI

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The mayor of a Wichita suburb was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  A report released by the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office Sunday shows that Goddard Mayor Hunter Larkin was arrested by the Kansas Highway Patrol Saturday near the intersection of Tyler Road and Kellogg Drive in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reported that no other details about the 22-year-old's arrest were immediately available Sunday morning. Larkin did not immediately respond to phone and email messages from the newspaper. Larkin was appointed Goddard mayor in August 2020. He had previously served as president of the Goddard City Council. 


Driver Dies After Two Semitrailer Trucks Crash in NW Kansas

PALCO, Kan. (AP) - Two semitrailer trucks crashed into each other in northwest Kansas on Friday killing one of the drivers. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the crash happened at an intersection of two county roads about a mile south of Palco in Rooks County shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.  Palco is a small town about 125 miles northwest of Salina. According to the crash report, the driver of a 2019 Freightliner truck failed to yield to a 2000 Sterling semitrailer truck. The impact of the crash sent the two trucks into a field where they hit a power pole. The driver of the Sterling truck, 69-year-old Michael Towns of Palco, was killed. The other driver sustained minor injuries. 


Fifty-Seven-Year-Old Kansas Man Dies in SUV Accident

LINN COUNTY, Kan. (AP) - A 57-year-old Mound City man died after his SUV rolled when it veered off a highway in east-central Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the crash happened about 75 miles south of Kansas City near the Missouri state line along Kansas Highway 7 in Linn County on Friday evening. The crash report says that Thomas McCarty's 2004 Toyota Highlander drifted off the road before he overcorrected and lost control of the SUV. The vehicle rolled several times after it left the highway. 


Man Convicted in Assault on Corrections Officer Sentenced

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 58-year-old Kansas inmate convicted of attempted murder for assaulting a corrections officer in 2019 has been sentenced to more than 54 years in prison for the attack. Ray Miles, of Topeka, was convicted in August of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and battery against a corrections officer. Prosecutors said Miles tried to stab Shawnee County corrections officer Kourtney Flynn several times with a pen in July 2019 before other workers restrained him. Miles was in the jail to serve the remaining year of his sentences for attacking several employees of a Topeka television station in 2012, stabbing two of them.


Woman Charged in Shooting Death of Church Volunteer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old woman is charged with killing a Kansas City, Kansas, woman who was on her way home from volunteering at church. Authorities announced Monday that Melanie Perry is charged with first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm. Investigators allege she killed 62-year-old Lillian Jackson on September18. Jackson was driving home from Mount Zion Baptist Church when she was caught in a rolling gun battle. Her car was hit several times, killing her instantly. Perry, of Kansas City, Kansas, faces other unrelated charges and has been in the Wyandotte County jail since October 20.


More Women Turn to Abortion Pills by Mail, with Legality Uncertain

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - COVID-19 and state abortion restrictions, like a near total ban that took effect in Texas in September, have women with unwanted pregnancies increasingly considering getting abortion pills by mail. The legality of mail delivery is uncertain in much of the U.S. because of the patchwork of state abortion laws, and Republican lawmakers and governors in Texas and five other states have moved this year to specifically ban delivery by mail. The co-founder of the abortion medication information website Plan C says the site had nine times as many hits in September as it had before a near-ban on abortion took effect early that month. 


KU Jayhawks Upset Texas Longhorns in College Football

AUSTIN,Tex. (KPR) _The college football upset of the weekend was the Kansas Jayhawks’ overtime victory against the Texas Longhorns in Austin.  The Jayhawks scored the most points in a road game in program history Saturday night and defeated Texas 57-56 in overtime.  Before the Saturday night shocker, the Jayhawks had not won a road game in the Big 12 since 2008.  KU coach Lance Leipold knows the perception when it comes to footbal " We’re David. They’re Goliath. We go out there and play." Leipold said. "We played well against OU as well, but we didn’t finish. That was a heartbreaker." That game was on October 23 when Oklahoma won, 35-23. The win marks the first time ever Kansas won in Austin and marks the most points the Jayhawks have scored in a game since scoring 76 against Nebraska in 2007.  KU is now 2-8 with two games left.  


Kansas City Chiefs Top AFC West After Beating Raiders

LAS VEGAS,Nev.  (KNS) —The Kansas City Chiefs took command of the AFC West after a 41-14 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday night.  With the win, the Chiefs are in first place in the division with a 6-4 record.  Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu says it feels good, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead. "They’re not crowning anybody in November. We’ve got a lot more games left,"   Mathieu said. "We’ve got some big games coming up and that’s really where our focus should be." The Chiefs are back at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday afternoon for a 3:25 kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys, who beat Atlanta Sunday, 43-3. 


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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  


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