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Headlines for Thursday, June 30, 2022

 

Kansas Will Pay $1.25 Million After Child in Foster Care Was Sexually Assaulted

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - A Kansas foster child was sexually assaulted while left unattended in 2018. The Kansas News Service reports that now, the state and its private contractor are settling the case.  A court settlement Thursday will require the Kansas foster care system to pay $1.25 million after a child sleeping in a contractor’s office was sexually assaulted. The child, referred to as D.D. in court documents, spent a month sleeping in the office of foster care contractor KVC Kansas before the assault. The child, who was 13 years old at the time, was removed from home as the state investigated allegations of child abuse. An 18-year-old with a history of sexual abusing others, referred to M.H. in court documents, was put at the same office, attorneys said in court documents. KVC was understaffed and didn’t have enough people to watch all the children at once, and the sexual assault happened while D.D. was left unattended. A separate lawsuit settlement in 2020 was supposed to end the practice of putting children in offices, but it hasn’t stopped. (Read more.)

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Paola Man Sentenced for Hate Crime Targeting Black Man

UNDATED (KPR) - A Kansas man has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for threatening a Black man with a knife because of the man’s race, in order to intimidate and interfere with the man’s right to fair housing. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Colton Donner, of Paola, was sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in prison plus 18 months of supervised release. According to the court documents, on September 11, 2019, Donner was driving through a residential area of Paola when he saw the victim, a Black man, walking on the sidewalk. Donner stopped, got out of the car, and approached the victim while brandishing a knife. Donner threatened the victim, yelled racial slurs, and told the victim that Paola is a “white town.” The case was investigated by the Paola Police Department and the Kansas City Field Office of the FBI.

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Victims of Missouri Amtrak Crash and Derailment Identified

UNDATED (KPR) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified victims involved in Monday's fatal Amtrak train crash and derailment near Mendon, Missouri. Authorities say two women from De Soto, Kansas, and a man from Kansas City, Missouri, were killed. The victim from Kansas City died from his injuries at the hospital. The two women died at the scene of the crash. The driver of the dump truck hit by Amtrak's Southwest Chief was also pronounced dead at the scene. The victims are:

  • 56-year-old Kim Holsapple, De Soto, Kansas, Amtrak passenger
  • 57-year-old Rochelle Cook, De Soto, Kansas, Amtrak passenger
  • 82-year-old Binh Pham, Kansas City, Missouri, Amtrak passenger
  • 53-year-old Billy Barton II, Brookfield, Missouri, truck driver

(-Related-)

NTSB: Amtrak Train Was Below Speed Limit Before Fatal Crash

MENDON, Mo. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says an Amtrak passenger train was going about 87 mph when it collided with a dump truck at a rural Missouri railway crossing, killing four people. NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said Wednesday that the speed limit is 90 mph at the crossing where the collision occurred Monday in western Missouri. The Southwest Chief was traveling about 89 mph when it began blowing its horn about a quarter mile from the collision site. The early investigation found no concerns with the train's brakes or other mechanical issues.

Olathe Couple Among First to File Lawsuit After Amtrak Train Derailment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — An Olathe couple has decided to sue Amtrak after Monday's derailment. Passenger cars derailed after Amtrak's Southwest Chief 4 struck a dump truck at a railroad crossing. Four people died, including the dump truck driver, and 150 others were taken to hospitals with various injuries. "They have gone through something that's going to impact them for the rest of their life," said attorney Kristofer Riddle, of the Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. Riddle said that he's been contacted by an Olathe couple and other people affected by Monday's tragedy. He said plans to file a series of lawsuits against Amtrak.  KMBC TV reports that Mike Spencer owns farmland right next to the railroad. After working the last few years to get the crossing upgraded with lights and a gate, Spencer says he was told it was going to happen last fall but it never did. "This is something that I had predicted was going to happen. I mean, it was just inevitable, the writing was on the wall. I just can't believe it was so neglected," Spencer said. One challenge facing passengers thinking about suing is when they bought their tickets, they agreed to give up their right to take any issues to court. Instead, Amtrak could force those people to arbitration. It would mean somebody hired by Amtrak would decide the merits of any case against the railroad. (Read more.)

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KBI Identifies Man Killed in Topeka Officer-Involved Shooting        

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has identified the man killed in the June 24 officer-involved shooting in Topeka. The victim has been identified as 38-year-old Christopher D. Kelley, of Topeka.  Authorities say the investigation is ongoing. Once it concludes, the findings will be turned over to the Shawnee County District Attorney for review.  Topeka police say officers responded to reports of a knife-wielding man near the Amtrak train station in Topeka who was allegedly threatening others.  Police say officers tried to persuade the man to drop the knife but failed. Then, officers used non-lethal force to subdue him, but to no avail.  Police say the man then lunged at officers who fatally shot him. As per departmental policy, the three officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave.

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9 Charged in Kansas Poaching Case

PRATT, Kan. (KSNT) — Following a three-year poaching investigation, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has charged nine people. KSNT TV reports that game wardens with the KDWP were responsible for conducting an investigation spanning multiple counties in Northwest Kansas in connection with numerous poached animals. The KDWP managed both physical and electronic search warrants during the investigation, along with several interviews, which lead to the discovery of many poached animals. These consisted of 25 deer, one antelope, eight turkeys and other wildlife that had been taken illegally. Many of the deer were shown to have been shot out of season and with firearms by the guilty parties involved who were in possession of archery permits only. Many of the deer were also taken without a permit. Of the 13 deer scored, the game wardens identified an average antler size of 173 inches.

A total of 140 charges were filed for nine individuals for violations that occurred between 2015 and 2019. Three of those charged received more than four charges. This includes the following individuals:

  • Tayton Weeter: 58 charges relating to the illegal taking of wildlife. Tayton pled guilty to 22 charges and was ordered to pay $45,000 in fines and restitution. Tayton also received a 10-year hunting revocation.
  • Tracy Weeter: 46 charges relating to the illegal taking of wildlife. Tracy pled guilty to 12 charges and was ordered to pay $750 in fines and $1,688 in court costs. Tracy also received a two-year hunting revocation.
  • Sean Winter: 18 charges relating to the illegal taking of wildlife. Winter pled guilty to six charges and was ordered to pay $5,800 in fines and restitution. Winter also received a 12-month hunting revocation and forfeited a firearm.

This investigation took place in Cheyenne, Sherman, Wallace and Logan counties. Investigators say public tips played a large part in the investigation.

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Blood Drive Begins Tuesday at National WW I Museum in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Blood donations have decreased dramatically since the start of the pandemic but blood drives are popping up across Kansas and Missouri to restock supplies.  One such blood drive gets underway Tuesday at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. Blood was stored for future transfusions for the first time during World War I. In recognition of that blood event, the museum is partnering with the Community Blood Center for a similar event. Museum officials are hoping Americans will step up, just like soldiers did 100 years ago.  Organizers say donating blood is both a civic and patriotic duty.  Appointments are requested to donate blood at the museum Tuesday, but walk-ins will also be accepted. Details about giving blood and making an appointment are available online at savealifenow.org.

(-Related-)

Kansas City Royals Partner with Community Blood Center to Collect Blood Donations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) – The Kansas City Royals and Community Blood Center (CBC) are teaming up for a blood drive through July 9. Organizers say all donors at CBC donor centers will receive their choice of Royals tickets or a t-shirt. As the 4th of July holiday approaches, the blood supply continues to be impacted by low donor turn-out and local inventory currently stands at a 2-to-3-day level, well below the ideal inventory of 5-7 days.  For more than 20 years, the Royals and CBC have partnered for Royals Weeks, a two-week long blood donation celebration. The annual celebration began as a way to address the community’s critical need for blood around the 4th of July holiday and continues amidst an on-going 2-year blood shortage that continues to impact the region’s healthcare system. Organizers say donating blood typically takes one hour and a single donation can save multiple lives. Community members are encouraged to make an appointment online to donate during Royals Weeks by visiting www.savealifenow.org/centers or by calling (877) 468-6844.  
 
Founded in 1958, Community Blood Center (CBC) provides over 90% of the blood used by hospitals throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

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Value Them Both Signs Stolen, Vandalized Across Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Signs showing support for the controversial Value Them Both amendment in Kansas are being stolen and vandalized. People have been expressing their anger against the Value Them Both movement in Kansas this year with the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court's ruling puts the decision of laws regulating abortion back into the hands of each individual state, including Kansas. Citizens of the Sunflower State will have the option of voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the Value Them Both amendment on August 2. KSNT TV reports that this has led some to vandalize or steal signs showing support for Value Them Both, often by writing ‘No’ on the signs with spray paint.  Both churches and individuals have been targeted by these incidents. Mackenzie Haddix, with the Value Them Both movement, told KSNT TV that these reports have come from across the state. She listed Baxter Springs, Wichita, Overland Park and Garden City as some of the places where the signs have been stolen and vandalized. KSNT TV also found a sign that had been spray-painted at the Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Topeka. Melinda Lavon, a member of the Vote No organization in Kansas, also told KSNT TV that signs advocating for a negative vote towards Value Them Both have also been stolen and vandalized. She said that this has mostly been seen in places like Pittsburg and Kansas City.

The Kansas Supreme Court made the abortion procedure a constitutional right in 2019. This decision is still in place today and gives women the right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies in Kansas. It also means abortions are still legal even though Roe v. Wade has been overturned. The Kansas Legislature cannot currently make laws related to abortion. The Value Them Both amendment will need a majority of Kansans to approve of it in August in order to pass the discussion to the Legislature. If it is voted for positively, then the Legislature will have the authority to make abortion laws. The last day to register to vote in Kansas is July 12.

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Clinics Scramble to Divert Patients as States Ban Abortion

UNDATED (AP/KPR) - The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing states to regulate abortion has set off a travel scramble in some parts of the U.S., as abortion providers redirect patients to states that still allow the procedure. A growing number of states are moving to restrict or ban abortion. Clinics operators are moving, doctors are counseling patients, donations are pouring into nonprofits and one group is dispatching vans to administer abortion pills. Some cities - like Kansas City and St. Louis - also are drafting plans to help with the travel logistics. Groups are trying to help with everything from gas cards for travel to connecting patients with small aircraft pilots willing to transport them to a clinic in another state.

(-Related-)

St. Luke's Health Kansas Briefly Halts Emergency Contraception Distribution

UNDATED (AP) – A large Missouri hospital chain briefly stopped providing emergency contraception amid confusion over whether the state’s abortion ban could put doctors at risk of criminal charges for providing the medication, even for sexual assault victims. St. Luke’s Health Kansas City said in a statement Wednesday that it would resume offering the medication known as the morning after pill. That came a day after it told The Kansas City Star that its Missouri hospitals would halt emergency contraception. Wednesday's announcement came after the state’s attorney general issued a statement stating unequivocally that emergency contraception is not illegal under an abortion ban that was enacted minutes after Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

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All Kansas Counties Placed on Drought Watch as Heat Wave Creeps Across State

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - All 105 Kansas counties have been placed under at least a drought watch as a record heat wave makes its way across the Sunflower State. WIBW TV reports that this week, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order #22-06, which declared updated drought emergencies for all Kansas counties. The Kansas Water Office said the declaration puts all 105 counties in the Sunflower State either on a watch, warning or emergency status. “A significant portion of the state of Kansas has experienced drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several months,” said Kelly. “Unfortunately, these conditions are forecast to persist or get worse, so I strongly encourage Kansans to be mindful of drought conditions while we work to minimize the threat of fires across the state.”

While most of the state has seen high precipitation throughout the month of June, the Office said a record-breaking heat wave has made its way across the area. It said most of eastern Kansas is currently drought-free, however, the forecasted hot and dry conditions will likely rapidly lead to intense drought conditions over the next few weeks. According to the Kansas Water Office, the order will remain in effect until it is rescinded by another Executive Order which ends or revises the drought stage status of affected counties.

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Kansas City Named Best Place on Earth to Work Remotely

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Business Insider) - Kansas City has been voted the best place on earth to work remotely, according to new research from Icelandair. The city, which is home to around 500,000 people, was one of 150 analyzed by the airline, which ranked cities according to how easy, safe and healthy it is to work in them. Factors including internet speeds, quality of life, cost of living, and healthcare were all considered in the ranking, according to the research.  Business Insider magazine reports that Kansas City beat better-known international hubs like Vienna, Copenhagen, and Wellington to become the world's best city for accommodating remote workers. As well as Kansas City, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Wellington, the top 10 list was made up of Edinburgh, Perth, Frankfurt, Brisbane, Helsinki, and Victoria in Canada. (Read more.)

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Kansas Public Radio Is Hiring a New Membership Director

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is hiring a new Membership Director. The position is open due to an internal promotion.  Former Membership Director Joanna Fewins has become the station's new Development Director.  Learn more about this position and how to apply.  Unnamed sources tell KPR News that the University of Kansas-based radio station, on the air since 1952, is a "great place to work, with good benefits and mildly interesting employees."

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KPR Completes "Quiet" Summer Fund Drive

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - With support from listeners, Kansas Public Radio raised more than $20,000 in what the station called its "quiet" summer membership drive. KPR Development Director Joanna Fewins said the station raised at least $22,245 in the past week or so, thanks to a $20,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant provided by existing KPR listener-members. With the challenge grant and new money raised, the station reeled in more than $42,000. In the past few years, the University of Kansas, which owns the radio station, has reduced university funding to KPR by a half million dollars. Fewins says the station now relies on listeners and local business underwriters for more than 84% of its operating budget. The station continues to take pledges from listeners on its website: KansasPublicRadio.org.

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Ex-Kansas City Wizards Player Scott Vermillion Had CTE, a 1st in MLS

BOSTON (AP) — Researchers have diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a Major League Soccer player for the first time. The Boston University CTE Center says defender Scott Vermillion suffered from the degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head. Vermillion died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020 at the age of 44. CTE has been found in more than 100 former NFL players as well as semi-pro and high school soccer players. Vermillion is the first from MLS. He played in four MLS seasons for D.C. United, the Colorado Rapids and the Kansas City Wizards before retiring in 2001 with an ankle injury.

**An earlier version of this story from the Associated Press misidentified Scott Vermillion as having played for Sporting KC. He played for the Kansas City Wizards. 

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Former KU Basketball Head Coach Roy Williams Among Coaches Headed to College Hoops Hall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun will join John Beilein and Lon Kruger in a star-studded cast of coaches that will be inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November. Coach Jerry Krause of Eastern Washington will join the quartet. The players to be inducted are Richard Hamilton of UConn, Larry Miller of North Carolina, Frank Selvy of Furman and Jimmy Walker of Providence. The date of the induction ceremony has not been announced, but it typically coincides with the Hall of Fame Classic, which is set for November 21-22 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Big 12 Picks Roc Nation's Brett Yormark as Next Commissioner

DALLAS (AP) — The Big 12 is going with an unconventional hire for commissioner in Roc Nation executive Brett Yormark. He is taking over for Bob Bowlsby, who came to the league a decade ago after stints as a college athletic director. Yormark's background isn't in college sports. His work in marketing and brand management could play an interesting role. The Big 12 faces challenges in revenue with the impending departure of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. The college game also is adjusting to athletes cashing in on name, image and likeness.

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Greinke Sharp in 500th Career Start; Royals Beat Rangers 2-1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Zach Greinke allowed just one run on four hits, helping the Kansas City Royals avoid a three-game sweep by beating the Texas Rangers 2-1. Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel provided the winning cushion with his second home run in as many games. Greinke (2-4) made his 500th career start, becoming the 48th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to do so and the only active pitcher to reach that milestone. He went six innings, striking out three and walking one. Scott Barlow picked up his 10th save in 12 chances with a perfect ninth inning. Texas’ Dane Dunning suffered his first loss when allowing fewer than three runs this season. He gave up six hits in six innings, walking three and striking out three.

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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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