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Headlines for Monday, October 17, 2022


Mental Health Report Ranks Kansas Worst in the Nation for Mental Illness, Access to Care

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - A new report by Mental Health America ranks Kansas worst in the country on measures like the prevalence of mental illness and access to care. The Kansas News Service reports that on top of of high rates of youth substance abuse and adult mental illness, the report found it’s harder to access mental health care in Kansas than almost anywhere else in the country. Mary Jones, with the Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas, says that’s partially due to a shortage of mental health workers. Nearly a third of the group’s positions are unfilled at any given time. “It has been going on for years, but I think it hit a crisis point during the pandemic," she said. The report also found many Kansans can’t afford the care they need. Debbie Plotnick, with Mental Health America, points to the state’s failure to expand Medicaid. “Medicaid is the largest payer of mental health services in the entire country. So, states that have not expanded (Medicaid) tend to have much lower access," she said. (Read more.)


Kansas Historical Society to Search Grounds of Former Native American School

FAIRWAY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Historical Society plans to search the grounds of a former Native American boarding school to determine if any children were buried there. The site in Fairway, Kansas, housed students from several tribes in the 1800s and early 1900s. It was one of many schools across the country designed to assimilate Indigenous children into white American culture and Christianity. Leaders of Native American tribes want to determine if children were buried in unmarked graves at the site. Leaders of the Shawnee Tribe raised concerns about the proposal, saying they were not consulted about the search. Kansas officials contend they have consulted with the tribes.


1 Killed, 1 Wounded in Sunday Shooting at Busy Intersection in KC’s Northland

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - One person was killed and another was critically wounded in a shooting Sunday afternoon in Kansas City’s Northland. The Kansas City Star reports that police were called just before 3:30 pm to the area of North Oak Trafficway and Northeast Vivion Road on a reported shooting. Authorities came upon the scene of a multi-vehicle crash just north of the intersection. Two victims suffering from gunshot wounds were found inside one of the vehicles. Both victims were taken to the hospital where one victim, a man, was pronounced dead. The other victim, who has not been identified, suffered critical wounds. The killing marks the 133rd homicide reported this year in Kansas City.

Investigators don't know yet if the crash preceded the shooting. Detectives were also investigating where the shooting happened. Police also found some evidence up the road and marked off a secondary crime scene there. As homicide detectives walked around the area, one car inside the police tape sat with its doors open. A shoe, turned on its side, was nearby. The back passenger door was riddled with about a dozen bullet holes. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call KCPD detectives at (816) 234-5043 or the anonymous Tips Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.


Two People Found Dead Sunday in Kansas City's Northland Woods

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - Police are investigating after two people were found dead Sunday in Kansas City’s Northland. The Kansas City Star reports that officers responded to a medical call just before 2 pm in the area of Northeast 48th Street and Randolph Road. Citizens near the scene flagged down officers and took them to an area in the woods where two bodies were found suffering from “apparent trauma.” Both victims, neither of whom have been publicly identified, were declared dead at the scene.


Blue Springs Police: Teen Killed, Another Person Injured in Shooting Near Church of the Resurrection  

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (KC Star) - A teenager was killed in a shooting Saturday night in Blue Springs. The Kansas City Star reports the victim was a 15-year-old boy. One other person was wounded. Officers responded around 6:40 pm Saturday (to the 600 block of Northeast Jefferson Street) where they found a 15-year-old boy dead. A spokeswoman for the Blue Springs Police Department, Jennifer Brady, said the shooting is not related to the nearby Church of the Resurrection and police don’t believe there is an ongoing threat to the community. Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at (816) 228-0151 or the anonymous TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-8477.


Trial for Accused Kansas City Serial Killer Set for January
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — The trial for a man accused in multiple killings is scheduled to begin early next year. WDAF TV reports that Fredrick Scott is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, John Palmer, David Lenox, Timothy Rice and Michael Darby. The five men were killed along Indian Creek Trail in 2017. Scott is also charged with first-degree murder for the death of Karen Harmeyer. She was killed in Grandview. Scott was in court Friday for a pretrial conference. A judge scheduled Scott’s trial to begin January 9, 2023. There have been multiple delays in the case that was originally scheduled to go to trial in September.


Nationwide Railroad Strike Still Possible

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - Railroad workers continue to vote on a tentative agreement with the five major U.S. freight railroads. That includes Kansas City Southern and BNSF. So far, one union has voted not to ratify the proposed agreement and that could trigger a costly, nationwide rail strike. The Biden administration hashed out the proposed labor agreement last month, narrowly averting a rail strike. It would boost workers’ pay by 24%, but it leaves work rules that union members consider to be harsh largely unchanged. So far, one of the 12 unions representing railroad workers has rejected the agreement, and six have approved it. But if one strikes, the others will strike in solidarity. The two largest unions, the ones representing locomotive engineers and conductors, won’t finish voting until mid-November. If there is a strike, it will likely come sometime afterward. A freight rail strike would be costly, but likely short lived. Congress has authority to impose a settlement if workers and railroads reach an impasse.


Advocates: Easier for Wealthy Kansans to Avoid Legal Trouble, Get Diversion Agreements

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Avoiding criminal charges in Kansas can cost hundreds of dollars. Advocates say that makes it easier for wealthy Kansans to avoid legal trouble. The Kansas News Service reports that Kansans charged with some crimes, like DUIs or misdemeanor charges, can avoid harsher punishments through diversion programs. This court process will substitute time in jail for community service or other forms of restitution. But these programs often come with a charge, sometimes topping $1,000. Joanna Weiss, with the Fines and Fees Justice Center, says diversion should be free so anyone can access it. “For most people going through the criminal legal system, any amount is the difference between paying your bills and supporting your family and not being able to," she said. Cities that run these diversion programs say they offer flexible payment options and diversion programs are not free to run, so the person using it should pay.


Help Wanted: Kansas Public Radio Seeks New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is seeking a new Statehouse Bureau Chief. This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners. Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.


Just Food Changes Thanksgiving Meal Distribution Plan Due to Inflation, Supply Chain Issues

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Just Food, the Lawrence food pantry, is adjusting its Thanksgiving meal distribution this year in response to ongoing inflation and supply chain issues. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Thanksgiving food items will be distributed based on a “holiday points” system, similar to the points that patrons typically use to shop at the food bank. Each shopper who has signed up for Thanksgiving meals prior to October 31 will receive 14 of those “holiday points” at check-in. The following items will be stocked separately from Just Food’s general merchandise and marked with orange point stickers:

     • Frozen turkeys (10-12 pounds): 6 points
     • Frozen chickens (5 pounds): 3 points
     • Vegetarian lasagna: 6 points
     • Canned goods: 1 point
     • Bagged produce: 1-3 points
     • Gravy packets: two for 1 point
     • Rice (one-pound bags): 2 points

Supplies are limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons are also limited to one turkey or chicken per household. “Holiday points” can only be used during a single visit to Just Food. Thanksgiving meal distribution will be available for six weekdays in mid-November — Tuesday, November 15, through Tuesday, November 22. Just Food will be open from 9 am to 6 pm on November 15, 17 and 22, and from 9 am to 3 pm on November 16, 18 and 21.

Only existing Just Food patrons with an account in the food bank’s database prior to November 1 can sign up for this year’s Thanksgiving meal distribution. Enrollment forms are available at the food bank, 1000 E. 11th St., during normal business hours or online here.


Buffalo Bills Escape Arrowhead with Victory over KC Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs fully believe they'll see each other again in the playoffs. The latest showdown in a burgeoning rivalry between AFC titans went to the Bills on Sunday when Josh Allen rallied his team for a 24-20 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. It was the fifth meeting of the two teams in less than two years, and came nine months after Kansas City ended Buffalo's season for the second consecutive year in the same building. The Bills are 5-1 and atop the AFC heading into their bye while the Chiefs are 4-2 with a trip to San Francisco on deck.


North Carolina No. 1 in Preseason AP Top 25 Men's Basketball; KU Tied for Fifth

UNDATED (AP) – North Carolina is No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25 men's basketball poll. The national runner-up from last season returns four of five starters and received 47 of 62 first-place votes. Gonzaga is No. 2, followed by Houston and Kentucky. Kansas and Baylor, the last two national champions, are tied for fifth. Duke, led by new coach Jon Scheyer, is seventh with UCLA, Creighton and Arkansas rounding out the top 10. The Big 12 and SEC lead the way with five teams apiece in the Top 25.


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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