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Headlines for Thursday, February 11, 2021

 

UPDATE: 5 Linked to Kansas City Metro Chapter of Proud Boys Arrested

UNDATED (AP) — Five people prosecutors have linked to a Kansas City metro chapter of the Proud Boys have been arrested on federal charges for their roles in the January 6 breach at the U.S. Capitol. A probable cause affidavit alleges they conspired to impede certification of the Electoral College vote. William Norman Chrestman and Christopher Charles Kuehn, both of Olathe, Kansas, and Louis Enrique Colon, of Blue Springs, Missouri, were charged with conspiracy civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding, among other charges. Chrestman also separately faces an additional charge of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. Also arrested in Arizona were Felicia and Cory Konold, who prosecutors linked to the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys.

(–Earlier Report–)

Three Kansas City-Area Men Arrested in Connection with Capitol Violence 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (FBI/KPR) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday that FBI Special Agents and members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested three Kansas City-area men on federal charges related to the violence on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 of this year. William Norman Chrestman, of Olathe, was arrested on federal charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Christopher Charles Kuehn of Olathe was arrested on federal charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Louis Enrique Colon, of Blue Springs, Missouri, was arrested on federal charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. All three were taken into custody without incident. 

The federal complaints against the men are available at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s website

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Bombardier to End Learjet Production, Cut 1,600 Jobs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The iconic Learjet, which carried generations of business executives and was made famous in pop songs, is about to fade into aviation history. Canada’s Bombardier said Thursday it will end production of the Learjet later this year. The company will eliminate 1,600 jobs in Canada and the United States. The plane first flew in the 1960s and was among the first private luxury jets. Frank Sinatra let Elvis Presley borrow his Learjet to elope with Priscilla Beaulieu. But the Learjet’s fate was sealed in 2015 when Bombardier dropped plans to build a new model. The pandemic also hurt demand for planes. Bombardier said it will continue to fully support the Learjet fleet well into the future.

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Kansas Highway Patrol: 2 Killed, Child Seriously Injured in Crash North of Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two people were killed and an 8-year-old girl seriously injured in a head-on crash in north-central Kansas. Investigators say the crash happened around 7 pm Wednesday on U.S. 81 north of Salina. Officials say it was caused when a sport utility vehicle driven by 96-year-old Thomas Huiett of Salina was traveling the wrong way in the northbound lanes of the highway. His SUV hit another SUV, driven by 30-year-old Tasha Meitler, of Delphos. Both Huiett and Meitler were pronounced dead at the scene. An 8-year-old girl in Meitler's vehicle was taken to a Wichita hospital with serious injuries.

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Sheriff: 2 Dead in Small Plane Crash in Northern Missouri

TRENTON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in northern Missouri say two people have been killed in a small plane crash. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the crash happened Tuesday afternoon near Trenton. The Grundy County Sheriff’s Office says the wreckage of the small Cessna aircraft was found near Missouri Highway 6 and Missouri 139 north, east of Trenton. Officials say the Cessna left Humphreys, Missouri, for Kirksville, Missouri, when it crashed. The release says the two killed were a father and son. Their names were not immediately released. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

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Body of Missing Missouri Man Found in Kansas Backyard

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The body of a Kansas City, Missouri, man who was reported missing last month was found the same day 112 miles away in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reported authorities have identified the victim as 33-year-old Derrick A. Yule. Police say he had been reported missing from an apartment in Kansas City. His body was found January 13 in the backyard of a home in Arcadia, Kansas, after deputies received a tip.

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Missouri Man Charged in Death of Man Found Inside Crashed Car

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 53-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in last month’s shooting of a man whose body was found inside a car that had crashed into a home in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that Curtis Harris of Kansas City, Missouri, was also charged Tuesday with armed criminal action in the January 26 killing of 38-year-old Charles Blakey. Harris allegedly told detectives he and Blakey had purchased marijuana and then struggled over a gun. Harris claimed that he feared for his life when he fired several shots. Court records do not show a defense attorney listed yet.

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Kansas Schools Rush to Vaccinate Teachers Ahead of Reopening

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas school districts are rushing to vaccinate their teachers in preparation for an eventual return to a full reopening of classrooms and before more a contagious strain of the coronavirus can spread throughout the state. Governor Laura Kelly told the State Finance Council on Wednesday that about 60% of the state’s school districts have started vaccinating their teachers and staff. She discussed the push a day after the state Department of Education recommended that districts allow middle and high school students to resume full-time in-person instruction if precautions are taken. Several of the state’s largest districts have been offering in-person classes only part-time or teaching students only online.

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Number of COVID-19 Cases in Kansas Increases by Nearly 2,000 from Monday to Wednesday  

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Wednesday that there have been 284,894 cases of COVID-19, including 4,303 deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 1,934 cases and 106 deaths since Monday.  KDHE will provide another update Friday.

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Nursing Home Protections Limit Families Who Want to Sue

UNDATED (AP) — As the coronavirus takes a devastating toll on seniors in nursing homes, many attorneys are turning down grieving families seeking to sue long-term care providers for wrongful death. That's because more than half of U.S. states have granted nursing homes and other health providers protection from lawsuits during the pandemic. The federal government says COVID-19 has killed about 162,000 nursing home residents and workers, accounting for roughly 1-in-3 virus deaths in the U.S. The national association representing nursing home operators says many would be forced to close under the financial strain of litigation. But the AARP and other advocates for nursing home residents say states have essentially made negligent care acceptable.

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Nursing Homes Begin Slow Return to Normal in Kansas

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are making tentative, cautious first steps toward easing visitor restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus as health officials finish the first round of vaccinations. Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state health department, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday that 83% of residents have received a first dose and 53% a second dose, with some turning down the vaccination at least for now. He said the most recent data shows 56% of staff had agreed to the vaccine.

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Missouri Officials: Vaccine Rollout Will Expand Soon

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri health officials say they are optimistic efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccines will expand soon, both in terms of increased vaccine availability and the number of approved vaccinators. Dr. Randall Williams, head of the state health department, said Wednesday Missouri expects to receive a significant amount of a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one shot, next month.  At the same time, vaccinations will begin Friday at some Walmart and Sam's Clubs, and the state will begin using retired health care workers to administer the shots. The positive message came as Gov. Mike Parson complained to Missouri mayors about constant criticism in the media about the state's vaccination efforts.

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Officials: Man Drowns After Falling Through Ice in Northern Kansas

KIRWIN, Kan. (AP) — Officials in northern Kansas say a man has drowned after falling through the ice at the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge. Wichita television station KAKE reports that the incident happened Tuesday afternoon at the national wildlife refuge near Kirwin in Phillips County. The Phillips County Sheriff's Office says it was a 67-year-old man who fell through the ice on Kirwin Reservoir, but officials have not released his name or details about what he was doing on the ice. Officials say his body was recovered with help from the Phillipsburg Fire Department, Kirwin Fire Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

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Prosecutors: Ex-KUMC Employee Embezzled More than $500,000

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say a former University of Kansas Medical Center administrator has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return in a scheme that saw him embezzle more than $500,000 from the institution. Federal prosecutors said in a news release that 49-year-old Michael Tae Kim Ahlers, of Lenexa, was the administrative officer for the occupational therapy education department at KUMC in Kansas City from 2009 through 2015, when he stole more than $500,000 for his personal use. Investigators say Ahlers deposited the funds into a KUMC Credit Union account that allowed him to avoid oversight and conceal his fraud. 

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Kansas Tax-Cutting Fight Revives Memories of Previous GOP Tax-Cutting Experiment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Many Republican lawmakers in Kansas want to slash state income taxes. But the effort is also reviving memories of a previous tax-cutting experiment that failed to energize the economy.  Some Republicans are worried that action on a tax bill by the GOP-controlled Senate has moved them a step backward in their efforts to provide relief to individuals and businesses paying higher state taxes because of federal tax changes in 2017. On Tuesday, Senators tripled the size of a GOP tax relief bill so that it would cost the state more than $1.3 billion in revenues over three years.

(-Related-)

Kansas' Democratic Governor Offers Rival to GOP Tax-Cutting Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is denouncing a Republican plan for cutting Kansas income taxes as “unthinkable” during the COVID-19 pandemic. She proposed an alternative plan this week that would pay for its relief by taxing online music, movies and streaming services. Kelly outlined her proposal just hours before the Kansas Senate was set to debate the GOP’s tax-cutting proposal. The Republican plan is aimed at providing $423 million in relief over three years to businesses and individuals paying more to the state since an overhaul of federal tax laws in 2017.  Kelly's plan targets its relief only to individuals and is designed to not cost the state any net revenues.

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Kansas Bill Advances; Legislation Would Recognize Gun Permits from Other States

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has advanced a bill to expand recognition of other states’ concealed carry permits. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the bill would help Kansas maintain reciprocity agreements with other states, which would help Kansans carry concealed firearms elsewhere. The bill is drawing pushback from Democrats and gun control groups that worry the bill would allow people from states with looser gun laws to carry concealed weapons in Kansas. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted to advance the bill to the full House for a vote.

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Black Farmers Unconvinced by Ag Secretary Vilsack's 'Root Out' Racism Vow

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nomination of Tom Vilsack to lead the Agriculture Department is getting a chilly reaction from many Black farmers who contend he didn’t do enough to help them the last time he had the job. The former Iowa governor served eight years as agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama. Vilsack is trying to assure minority farming groups and the senators who will vote on his confirmation that he will work to “root out generations of systemic racism” in the agency. But many Black farmers fault him for failing to address a backlog of discrimination complaints in the department and for firing a Black woman for remarks that he later learned were taken out of context.

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