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Headlines for Thursday, February 13, 2020


McClatchy, Publisher of Kansas City Star & Miami Herald, Files for Bankruptcy

UNDATED (AP) - The publisher of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers nationwide is filing for bankruptcy protection. McClatchy said Thursday it will continue to run normally as it pursues approval of its restructuring plan under Chapter 11. Its 30 newsrooms, including The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer in Raleigh, and The Star-Telegram in  Fort Worth, will continue to operate as usual. McClatchy expects fourth-quarter revenue of $183.9 million, down 14% from a year earlier. Its 2019 revenue is anticipated to slide 12.1% from the previous year. The publisher's origins date to 1857 when it first began publishing a four-page paper in Sacramento, California, following the California Gold Rush. That paper became The Sacramento Bee.


McClatchy Has 30 Papers in 14 States, Operations Continue

UNDATED (AP) - McClatchy, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, operates 30 newspapers in 14 states. Its papers include The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and The Sacramento Bee. The company says the newspapers will continue to operate as it reorganizes under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The newspaper industry has been devastated by changing technology that has sent the vast majority of people online in search of news. McClatchy's origins date to 1857 when it began publishing a four-page paper in Sacramento, California, following the California Gold Rush. That paper became The Sacramento Bee.


NWS: More Flooding Expected this Year Along Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The National Weather Service says there's an elevated flood risk along the eastern Missouri River basin this spring. That's because the soil remains wet and significant snow is on the ground in North Dakota and South Dakota.  Communities along the lower Missouri River already were bracing for the prospect of more flooding this spring because many of their levees remain in poor shape after last year's massive flooding.  The National Weather Service says nearly every place that flooded last year in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri is at some risk to flood again, because of the extensive damage to levees.  

Earlier reporting...

Flooding Seems Certain for Some Along Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The National Weather Service says there's an elevated flood risk along the eastern Missouri River basin this spring. That's because the soil remains wet and significant snow is on the ground in North Dakota and South Dakota. Communities along the lower Missouri River already were bracing for the prospect of more flooding this spring because many of their levees remain in poor shape after last year's massive flooding. Nearly everywhere that flooded last year in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri is at some risk to flood again because of the extensive damage to levees.


Former Kansas Researcher Accused of Experimenting on Patients with Intellectual Disabilities in Iowa

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A child psychologist who formerly worked at the state hospitals in Osawatomie and Parsons is under fire in Iowa, where he's facing a federal lawsuit.  Jerry Rea (Ray) is accused of conducting sexual arousal experiments on vulnerable residents at an Iowa center for people with intellectual disabilities.  Rea (Ray) conducted similar research in Kansas while running the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.  The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says its initial investigation of sexual arousal research in Kansas suggests ethics guidelines and proper protocols were followed.  Six former employees of the Glenwood Resource center in Iowa filed the federal lawsuit this week, alleging they were fired or forced to resign because they questioned Rea's activities.  They also claim Rea didn't get consent from the center's residents before conducting his research experiments.

Earlier reporting...

Kansas Connection to Lawsuit Against Iowa Center Accused of Exploitation

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP/KPR) — A lawsuit, filed by former staffers, claims a medical care facility in Iowa exploited disabled patients in order to conduct research into sexual arousal.  Former director Jerry Rea, who was fired in December, is a child psychologist who used to work in Kansas.  According to allegations in the lawsuit, the problems at the Glenwood Resource Center began when Rea was put in charge as the new superintendent.  The former researcher at the University of Kansas was hired in 2017 to oversee the facility, which treats people with intellectual disabilities.  The AP reports that former staffers, including two doctors, accuse Rea of conducting medical experimentation on fragile and dependent residents - without their consent.  They claim Rea’s goal was to transform Glenwood “from a facility focused on patient care, into a research facility to further Rea's longstanding interest into research involving sexual arousal and sexual deviancy."


Iowa Governor Won't Discuss Center's Sexual Arousal Research

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds isn’t commenting on accusations made against state officials in a federal lawsuit involving sexual arousal experiments performed on residents of a state care center for people with intellectual disabilities. Two doctors and other former employees of Glenwood Resource Center sued a state agency and several officials this week, alleging conspiracy to silence complaints about sexual arousal research conducted by Jerry Rea. Rea is the former superintendent of the center. Reynolds says she can't comment on the lawsuit. She wouldn't answer questions about when she learned of experimentation on patients and how much of Rea’s background was checked before he was hired.


Bill Would Let Kansans Buy Fireworks All Year Long

TOPEKA, Kan.(KPR/KNS) - State lawmakers might let Kansans buy fireworks all year long.  A bill in a Senate committee also extends the calendar for seasonal fireworks sellers to set up shop.  Brent Aiello (EE-low) sells fireworks seasonally in southeast Kansas. He says the state is losing tax revenue to Missouri, where sales can start earlier.  Under the proposal, local governments would still be able to regulate the sale and use of fireworks.  Dodge City officials oppose the bill, telling lawmakers it could mean more injuries and more work for police and firefighters.


Kansas Secretary of State: More Time Needed for Change in Polling Options

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The man in charge of Kansas elections says the state needs more time -- maybe another year -- before it tries to give voters a choice of polling places on Election Day.  Secretary of State Scott Schwab's position has sparked a new fight over voting rights because it's been nearly 10 months since the Legislature enacted a law aimed at making voting more convenient.  Even some of Schwab's fellow Republicans believe that at least the state's largest city of Wichita is ready to allow voters to cast their ballots at any of its polling places.  Schwab says he's moving carefully to prevent big Election Day problems.  


Missouri Couple Accused of Keeping Autistic Girl in Cage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two women have been charged with locking a 9-year-old autistic girl in a cage in their filthy and roach infested home in northwest Missouri.  The girl's mother, 35-year-old Katrina England, and her wife, 39-year-old Debra England, were charged this week with child abuse and child endangerment.  Court records don't list attorneys for either of the women, who are free on bond. The DeKalb County sheriff's office says deputies and child welfare workers went to the family's home in Maysville on Tuesday to investigate abuse allegations.  They found a bunk bed that had been modified with boards to keep the girl from escaping and animal droppings and cigarette butts all over the floor.


6 Kansas City Employees Plead Guilty to Overtime Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Six Kansas City public works employees have admitted taking part in a conspiracy to fraudulently collect overtime pay. Federal authorities say the six conspired to claim $58,000 in overtime they didn't earn between January 2013 and November 2016. The city calls in employees on overtime to replace or repair essential signs, such as stop signs or yield signs. Prosecutors say the six employees admitted that they reported damaged signs on evenings or weekends in order to be called out to fix them. They then submitted time sheets and work orders to indicate they had fixed the signs when they hadn't done so.


Ambulance Driver Crashes on Slushy Kansas Highway

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an ambulance has crashed on a slushy stretch of Interstate 35 near El Dorado in central Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the driver lost control around 10:30 am Wednesday as the area was under a winter weather advisory. The crash report says the driver then overcorrected and struck the barrier wall and the guard rail. The ambulance driver went to a hospital with a suspected minor injury. No mention was made in the report of a patient in the ambulance. The patrol says a tractor-trailer also was involved in the wreck. That driver had no apparent injury.


Patrol: Several Injured in School Bus Accident Near Emporia

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says several children suffered minor injuries when a school bus rolled onto its side near Emporia. Patrol Lt. Dave Hundley says 36 students, two teachers, a chaperone and the driver were on the bus when it went into a ditch off a slushy Kansas Turnpike Wednesday morning about 14 miles south of Emporia. Seventeen children were taken to a hospital in Newton for treatment. The bus was carrying students from Park Elementary School in Wichita. The Emporia Gazette reports the students were on their way to a Topeka for a field trip.


Wichita Police: 25-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Wichita.  Police responded Wednesday evening to the scene in southeast Wichita where they found a 25-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police didn't immediately release the name of the victim or a motive.


Judge: Kansas City Officer Justified in Death of Unarmed Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A judge says a Kansas City police officer used reasonable force when he fatally shot an unarmed man because the officer believed the man was armed and posed a threat.  Officer William Thompson shot and killed Ryan Stokes in July 2013. The victim, Stokes, was black.  The officer, Thomson, is biracial.  24-year-old Ryan Stokes was falsely accused of stealing a cellphone when a foot chase ensued and the officer killed him.  U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes issued a ruling this week in response to a wrongful death lawsuit from Stokes' mother. Her attorney plans to appeal.


Man Arrested After Standoff at Kansas Indoor Water Park

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been taken into custody at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kansas, after a standoff that led to a temporary lockdown at the indoor water park and hotel. Police said in a news release that officers responded shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday to reports of an armed disturbance when the man refused to leave. After efforts to negotiate with him failed, a special operations unit went into the room and took him into custody. During the standoff, the wing of the hotel where the man barricaded himself was evacuated. No one was hurt. The name of the man wasn't immediately released.


Former Wichita Teacher Accused of Sex Crimes with Teenager

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A fired Wichita teacher and recent city council candidate has been charged with sex crimes with a teenage student. The Wichita Eagle reports that 39-year-old Rodney Wren made a first appearance Monday on three counts of having unlawful sexual relations with a student 16 or older in 2015. At the time, the girl was attending Wichita Collegiate School, where Wren taught debate and forensics. Police began investigating when the girl reported the allegations last month. He was terminated when the school learned of his arrest Friday.


Kansas Sheriff: 8 Deputies Suspended for Illegal Steroids

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says eight jail deputies have been suspended in connection with the sale and possession of illegal steroids. The activity had been going on for a year and apparently took place outside the facility. It does not appear any illegal steroids were introduced into the jail. Seven men and and one woman have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of any charges. Three of them are believed to have sold the illegal steroids. The officers include two corporals, range in ages from 27 to 48. No charges have been filed.


Woman Admits to Getting Paid to Care for Jailed Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid by claiming she was caring for a man when he was in jail. The Kansas attorney general's office said in a news release that 52-year-old Gretta Elaine Smith entered the guilty plea Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court. The release said an investigation found that she fraudulently collected money by claiming to be providing in-home personal care to 65-year-old Joe Ross Mitchell last year when was incarcerated on unrelated charges. The release said Smith put at least some of the money and possibly all of it in Mitchell's jail commissary account.  


Man Accused of Attacking Shawnee County Guard Going to Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 56-year-old man who is jailed for a 2012 attack at WIBW-TV will go to trial for allegedly attacking a Shawnee County corrections officer. Ray Anthony Miles' trial will start June 9 on charges of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery against a corrections officer. Prosecutors say Miles attacked a female corrections officer in July 2019 and also tried to stab her several times with a pen. The officer was treated and released for injuries to her face and head. Miles has been in jail since November 2018 serving the remainder of a misdemeanor sentence related to the attack at WIBW-TV.


Kansas Trooper Finds Nearly $350,000 of Suspected Drug Money

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  Authorities say a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper found nearly $350,000 of suspected drug money hidden in the gas tank of a pickup truck after pulling over the driver on Interstate 70. The Wichita Eagle reports that federal prosecutors filed a civil asset forfeiture case Tuesday, asking a judge to give the money to the government. The money was found in December after a trooper pulled over the driver for a traffic violation. The affidavit says the cash was "rubber-banded" and "wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic bags" hidden in the fuel tank. The driver told the trooper he was headed from Chicago to Pasco, Washington, but declined to answer questions about the money. He has a criminal history involving money laundering.  


Lawsuit: Missouri Firefighter Accuses Coworkers of Sexual Harassment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A lawsuit says a firefighter in Missouri is accusing her coworkers of sexual harassment, including watching pornography at the station and showing her nude photos. The Kansas City Star reports that Dana Osborne, the first firefighter in the Nixa Fire Protection District, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. Western District Court of Missouri. The lawsuit states Osborne was hired in 2017 and almost immediately was treated differently and critiqued on a different basis than her male colleagues. It also includes accusations that Osborne was denied training and female-appropriate equipment


Gay Missouri Cop to Finish Career on His Own Term After Lawsuit

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A St. Louis County police lieutenant who was passed over for promotion 23 times said he has no plans to leave the department after he settled a discrimination lawsuit for $10.25 million. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Keith Wildhaber says he's happy with his new job as commander of the department's new diversity and inclusion unit. He was named to that unit after jurors awarded him $20 million. Both sides entered into settlement talks about the verdict. The 47-year-old Wildhaber says he wanted to finish his career on his own terms.


Lawrence Officials Consider Illegal Camping Ordinance Change

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are looking into changing or possibly repealing ordinances that make it illegal to camp or sleep on public land, in city parks and in downtown Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that city commissioners discussed the issue Tuesday amid an increased focus on the homeless population after the city's shelter sharply reduced its capacity last year. Commissioners asked city staff to bring them back research regarding the effects of repealing the ordinances, as well as the effects of changing the ordinances to make them unenforceable if local homeless shelters are at capacity.


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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