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Headlines for Thursday, March 11, 2021

 

Grass Fire Burns Through 7,000 Acres, 2 Homes in Kansas

CEDAR POINT, Kan. (AP) — A fire fueled by dry grasses and strong winds burned some 7,000 acres of grassland and two homes in east-central Kansas Wednesday. Several fire departments were called to the area in Marion and Chase counties for what was dubbed the Clover Fire. Marion County Emergency Management Director Randy Frank told station KWCH that two homes were destroyed by the fire, but fire crews were able to save several other homes. The two homes destroyed were described as abandoned, and no injuries from the fire were reported. The fire was first reported around 2:30 pm Wednesday near Burns in southeast Marion County and was pushed east into Chase County by high winds. Officials had the fire under control by Wednesday night.

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KU Picks Emmett Jones as Interim Football Coach

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Emmett Jones will serve as the interim football coach at the University of Kansas as the beleaguered school searches for a new athletic director and head football coach following a scandal-plagued week. Jones is entering his third season with the Jayhawks, serving first as the wide receivers coach and most recently as the passing game coordinator. He also has coached at Texas Tech along with several high schools in Texas.

(–Related–)

KU Athletic Director Steps Down Following Les Miles Departure 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Jeff Long is out as Director of Athletics at the University of Kansas.  Chancellor Doug Girod announced via press release Wednesday afternoon that Long had stepped down from his position. The move comes days after the school parted ways with its head football coach, Les Miles, following accusations that he engaged in inappropriate behavior toward female students at his prior head coaching position at Louisiana State University. Earlier reports indicated that Long had been fired. Kurt Watson, a KU alumnus and prominent donor, will serve as interim athletic director as KU begins a nationwide search for a new athletic director and a new head football coach.

(AP version)

Kansas AD Jeff Long Resigns After Les Miles Debacle

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas athletic director Jeff Long resigned Wednesday, less than two days after the school mutually parted with Les Miles amid sexual misconduct allegations dating to the football coach's time at LSU and one day after Long vowed he would lead the Jayhawks' search for a replacement. Kurt Watson will serve as the interim athletic director as the school begins searching for both a new AD and new football coach.

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Kansas Businesses Hurt by COVID Closures Could Get Paid Under Proposed Legislation

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas businesses that were ordered to shut down or limit capacity because of the pandemic could receive financial relief under two bills in the state Legislature that would address pending litigation but have riled up county leaders who could be forced to pay out millions. Both bills provide businesses the chance to apply for property tax reimbursements, although the details vary. Eric Stafford, a lobbyist for the influential Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday at a hearing that a lawsuit is pending. He said the state could be “on the hook for a significant amount of money if something isn’t resolved."

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Family Wants Topeka Officers Returned to Shooting Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a man who was shot and killed by Topeka police are asking a judge to reinstate two officers as defendants in a lawsuit they filed over his death. Attorneys for the family of Dominique White filed a motion seeking to add a wrongful death count against officers Justin Mackey and Michael Cruse. A federal judge last September removed the two officers from the lawsuit. The officers shot White after a struggle in September 2017. Attorneys for the city said in a motion March 1 that they object to the officers being reinstated to the lawsuit.

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1 Man Dead in Police Shooting in Southwest Kansas

MINNEOLA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officers fatally shot a driver in southwest Kansas when he got out of his sport utility vehicle with a gun after a chase, authorities say. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 67-year-old Jim Wright, of Fowler, was pronounced dead Tuesday night at the scene in Minneola. Deputies tracked Wright down after his relatives called the Meade County Sheriff's Office expressing concerns about his welfare, but he drove off when he saw them. The chase ended in Minneola after Wright drove over tire-puncturing spike strips. The KBI said Wright then exited his vehicle holding a firearm and was shot.

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Police: Wichita Man Shot 2 Before Turning Gun on Himself

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say an investigation into a weekend shooting has shown that a man shot two people — including one who later died — before turning the gun on himself. The shooting happened Saturday night, when police were called to an area for reports of a shooting. Arriving officers found 20-year-old Christopher Terrell and a 16-year-old boy with gunshot wounds, as well as the shooting suspect, 26-year-old DeAdrian Johnson, with a gunshot wound. All three were taken to hospitals, where Terrell died of his injuries. Police say Johnson remains hospitalized in critical condition, and is under arrest in the hospital on suspicion of second-degree murder. Police say a disturbance among the three preceded the shooting.

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Sedgwick County Sheriff: Crash in Derby Kills Man, Injures Woman

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Sheriff's investigators in suburban Wichita say a man has died in a two-vehicle crash in the city of Derby. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened late Tuesday morning, when a southbound minivan ran a red light and crashed into a Jeep that was turning left. The sheriff's office says the 65-year-old man who was driving the van died at the scene of the crash. He was identified as Carl C. Miller II, of Hutchinson. Authorities say the 29-year-old woman driving the Jeep was not seriously injured.

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GOP Lawmaker Pushes Plan to Undo Kansas Policy on Vaccines

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in Kansas outlined a measure Wednesday that would overturn Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s policy of withholding doses of COVID-19 vaccines from counties wanting to move to a new phase of inoculations before the rest of the state. Senate Health Committee Chair Richard Hilderbrand of Galena called the policy “blackmail or extortion.” The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has described withholding vaccine doses as an “enforcement mechanism” and Kelly says the goal is to “keep the train running as smoothly as we possibly can.”

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Kansas Records More than 297,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,851 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Wednesday that there have been 297,229 cases of COVID-19, including 4,851 deaths, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. That's an increase of 778 cases and 35 deaths since Monday. Johnson County has the highest number of recorded cases in the state with nearly 55,100.  KDHE will provide another update Friday.  Health officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to drop in the state while vaccination efforts are expanding.

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COVID-19 Variant Found in Only 1 Missouri Wastewater System

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Weeks after the faster-spreading U.K. variant of the coronavirus was found in 15 Missouri wastewater systems, new testing has found it only in one. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has been testing wastewater for clues about the spread of COVID-19. The latest results, released Tuesday, found that testing could be done only at 10 wastewater systems in Missouri because of declining levels of COVID-19 particles. Of the 10 tested, only the Coldwater Creek system in St. Louis County indicated the presence of the U.K. variant. Testing in February found 15 of 23 systems tested across Missouri showed evidence of the variant.

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Missouri Reform School Owners Charged with Abusing Residents

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — The owners of a former reform school in southwest Missouri are facing more than 100 charges alleging they abused girls at the facility. Boyd and Stephanie Householder, who operated the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County, were charged Tuesday. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says the charges involve 16 former residents. Boyd Householder faces 80 charges, including statutory rape and statutory sodomy. His wife has been charged with 22 counts, most involving abuse or neglect of a child. They both pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Wednesday afternoon. The home outside Humansville was closed shortly after state investigators removed about two dozen girls in August.

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Kansas House Speaker's Father Sworn in as New State Senator

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr.’s father is now serving in the Kansas Senate. Republican Sen. Ron Ryckman Sr. of Meade took his oath of office during the Senate’s brief Senate session as family members watched, including the House speaker. The elder Ryckman also served in the House from 2011 through 2016, when he decided not to seek reelection. He and his son served together in the House for four years, starting in 2013. The younger Ryckman grew up in western Kansas but lives in Olathe. The elder Ryckman replaces the late Republican Sen. Bud Estes of Dodge City, who died last month.

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Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft Won't Run for U.S. Senate

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says he won't run for the U.S. Senate. The Republican said in a statement Wednesday that he'll continue serving as the state's top elections official. Ashcroft was eyed as a top candidate to run for Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt's seat. Blunt says he's not seeking reelection. Blunt's decision has opened the door for a number of ambitious Missouri Republicans interested in making a bid for the Senate. Republicans who have said they're interested include former Republican Governor Eric Greitens. He resigned in 2018 amid the fallout of a sex scandal and ethics investigation.

( Related )

Is Missouri Senator Roy Blunt's Exit an Opening for Ex-Governor Eric Greitens to Return to Politics?

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Eric Greitens’ political future seemed doomed by scandal when he resigned as Missouri governor, but now he appears primed to test whether Senator Roy Blunt's retirement provides a path for redemption.  Greitens was a political outsider when he was elected governor in 2016. By the end of his first year in office, he was getting buzz as a potential future presidential contender. His political fortunes turned upside down in 2018 after reports surfaced about an affair in which he allegedly took a compromising photo and threatened to blackmail the woman with whom he was involved.  

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Police Find Woman Fatally Shot in Kansas City Neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say a woman is the city's latest homicide victim after officers found her fatally shot in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood. Police say the officers were on patrol nearby around 10 p.m. Wednesday when they heard gunshots and searched the area. They found the woman lying in the street in the 500 block of Wabash Avenue. Arriving paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene. The victim's name was not immediately released. Homicide detectives were called to the scene to gather evidence and canvass the area for witnesses. No arrests or suspects in the shooting had been announced by Thursday morning.

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Death of 4-Month-Old Kansas City Boy Ruled a Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating the death of a 4-month-old boy as a homicide. Officers went to a Kansas City home early Tuesday after receiving a call that a baby wasn't breathing. Police say the officers and medical crews found no obvious signs of injuries or trauma to the child, who died at a hospital on Wednesday night. Police announced Thursday that the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide after finding evidence of internal injuries.

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Missouri Lawmaker Faces Complaint for Saying "China Virus"

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A complaint has been filed against a Missouri lawmaker for describing COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” Kansas City Democratic Rep. Emily Weber filed the complaint against Branson Republican Rep. Brian Seitz with House human resources Wednesday. Seitz didn't immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Wednesday. Weber says the term stigmatizes and denigrates people who look like her. Weber was born in South Korea. She was adopted and raised in Kansas. Seitz is one of several Missouri lawmakers who have described the coronavirus as Chinese. Former President Donald Trump often called COVID-19 the “China virus” or the "Wuhan virus." Wuhan is the name of the city in China where COVID-19 was first detected.

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State Worker Finds Alligator Carcass in Southern Kansas River

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The carcass of an American alligator has been found in a south-central Kansas river, and wildlife officials say the animal was likely being kept as a pet before being released into the wild when it got too big. Kansas City television station WDAF reports that a Kansas Department of Transportation worker recently discovered the carcass in the Ninnescah River in Sumner County as he worked along the river bank. A zoologist determined the reptile, which is native to the southeastern U.S., was about 3 years old. Alligators can't survive the harsh winters of the Midwest and Plains states out in the wild.

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No. 11 KU Without McCormack, Enaruna for Big 12 Tournament

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas men's basketball team will be without starting center David McCormack and backup forward Tristan Enaruna for the Big 12 Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. The No. 11 Jayhawks hope to have both players back for next week’s NCAA Tournament. Jayhawks coach Bill Self says the pair entered the protocol “semi-recently” but did not say whether either tested positive for the virus. The No. 2 seed Jayhawks open tournament play in today's (THU) quarterfinals. 

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No. 2 Baylor Holds off K-State 74-68 in Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — MaCio Teague scored 24 points, Davion Mitchell added 23 and second-ranked Baylor held on to beat Kansas State 74-68 and avoid what would have been one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Big 12 Tournament. The top-seeded Bears didn't put the game away until Kansas State threw away a pass in the final minute with a chance to make it a one-possession game. The Bears advanced to play No. 12 Oklahoma State in the semifinals. Nijel Pack led the Wildcats with six 3-pointers and 18 points.

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No. 11 KU Holds off No. 25 Oklahoma in Big 12 Quarterfinals, 69-62

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 26 points, Marcus Garrett added 17, and No. 11 Kansas held on after blowing most of a 20-point halftime lead to beat No. 25 Oklahoma 69-62 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Mitch Lightfoot added 11 points for the No. 2 seed Jayhawks, who played without big man David McCormack and backup forward Tristan Enaruna. Both players were caught up in COVID-19 protocols leading up to the tournament. KU will play Texas or Texas Tech in the semifinals. Brady Manek and Austin Reaves scored 19 points apiece to lead Oklahoma. In the opening round of the Big 12 women's tournament Thursday, the KU women lost to TCU, 75-72. 

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