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Headlines for Thursday, November 18, 2021

 

Governor Says All Kansas Adults Eligible for COVID Boosters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — All Kansas adults who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are now eligible for booster shots. Gov. Laura Kelly announced the expansion of eligibility Wednesday. The announcement came days before an influential U.S. advisory panel on vaccines is set to consider expanded eligibility nationwide, and at least five other states and New York City already have made all adults eligible for boosters. Kansas had been following federal guidelines that recommended booster shots for people 65 and older and adults 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes that put them at greater risk of being hospitalized from a COVID-19 infection.

(–Related–)

Kansas Governor Gets COVID Booster, Urges Vaccinations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has received her COVID-19 booster shot and is urging others to get vaccinated as well. Kelly said in a statement that she “wouldn’t ask any Kansan to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself” after getting the Moderna booster last week. Federal health officials recommend boosters for people who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations at least six months ago if they’re 65 or older, or are at high risk of COVID-19 because of health problems or their job or living conditions. Any Johnson & Johnson recipient can get a booster at least two months later.  

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Affidavit: Kansas Lawmaker Hit Brother in Fight over Baptism

MISSION, Kan. (AP) _ Newly released court documents say a 21-year-old Kansas lawmaker who is charged with domestic battery pushed, hit and spit on his 18-year-old brother in a fight that erupted because the brother was going to get baptized. The probable cause affidavit that was released Tuesday also says Representative Aaron Coleman of Kansas City was ``uncooperative'' with police during the October 30 fight. Coleman has acknowledged past abuses against girls and young women. And he took a temporary ``leave of absence'' earlier this month following a Johnson County district judge's order that he undergo a mental health evaluation. 

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Missouri Attorney General Sues Springfield Schools over Critical Race Theory Request

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt alleges in a lawsuit that the Springfield school district violated the state's Sunshine Law in its response to his office's request for records related to critical race theory and anti-racist teaching. Schmidt alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the school district violated the law by asking for a deposit for items or services before it would make public records available to his office. Schmitt alleges that the district includes critical race theory in its teacher training and hasn't revealed how or whether the theory is taught to students. The district says critical race theory isn't taught in its schools and called Schmitt's lawsuit an attack on public education. 

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Kansas Student Test Scores Plummet During Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – State education officials are hoping Kansas student test scores can rebound after falling during the pandemic.  Educators say they expected declines in student achievement as many students lost learning time when districts switched to remote or hybrid learning plans. Statewide last spring, only 28 percent of students were considered on track for college or career in math, and about 35 percent in language arts. That’s a drop of four percentage points in math and one in English since 2019. Education Commissioner Randy Watson says every school system in the country has seen student achievement benchmarks decline and Kansas is not an exception. “The last 18 months have been the hardest on our state, and schools are a microcosm of that,” Watson said. School enrollment and attendance are also down statewide, and more than 17 percent of students were chronically absent during the pandemic. Kansas districts are receiving more than $1 billion in federal funding aimed at helping students catch up.

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Report: Magnitude 4 Earthquake Shakes Southeast Missouri

WILLIAMSVILLE, Mo. (AP) _ The U.S. Geological Survey says a minor earthquake shook residents of southeastern Missouri. The survey says a 4.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded around 9 p.m. Wednesday in Wayne County, Missouri, with the epicenter near Williamsville. The Missouri Department of Public Safety said in a statement that no injuries had been reported, but that some people reported ``pictures being knocked off walls.'' The department said people as far away as Springfield, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee, reported feeling the quake. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the earthquake occurred at a depth of about 10.6 miles.  Williamsville is about 150 miles south of St. Louis

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Deere Workers Approve 3rd Contract Offer, Will End Strike

 DETROIT (AP) - Deere workers approved a new contract Wednesday that will deliver 10% raises immediately and end a monthlong strike for more than 10,000 employees. The United Auto Workers union members voted 61% in favor of the deal with the tractor maker. It was the third vote on a contract offer. Workers recently rejected an offer that was similar to the one approved Wednesday. This latest proposal made only modest changes to the details of Deere's internal incentive pay plan. The new contract covers 12 plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas where the Moline, Illinois-based company's iconic John Deere equipment is made. The workers had been on strike since Oct. 14. 

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Workers Join Class Action Lawsuit Against Penn National Gaming

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) – At least 1,500 casino workers in Kansas, Missouri and other states will become part of a class-action lawsuit alleging their wages were illegally reduced because they smoke. US District Judge Stephen Bough, in Kansas City, Missouri granted the workers certification as a class in their lawsuit against Penn National Gaming. PNG has18,000 workers and operates 41 casinos in 19 states. In the Kansas City area, the company operates Argosy Casino in Riverside, Missouri, and Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The lawsuit alleges PNG illegally deducted $50 a month from smokers' wages, in violation of the federal law governing private employee health plans.  Although workers could avoid the surcharge by completing a smoking cessation program, they say they weren't entitled to reimbursement of past surcharges. A lawyer of the workers called it "ironic" that they were penalized, since many of them work in casinos where smoking is pervasive. 

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Suspected Serial Killer Charged in Two Kansas Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suspected serial killer has been charged with killing two people in Kansas. Wyandotte County authorities announced Thursday that 26-year-old Perez Reed was charged with killing two people at an apartment complex in Kansas City, Kansas. He has already been charged with four killings in the St. Louis area and the FBI has labeled him a suspected serial killer. Reed was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Damon Washington Irvin and Rau'daja De'Naya Farrow. Their bodies were found during the same week in early November in separate apartments at the Wyandotte Towers Apartments in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

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Lansing Inmate Who Escaped Sentenced to Nearly 11 More Years

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old man who escaped from the Lansing Correctional Facility for about nine hours has been sentenced to nearly 11 additional years in prison. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said Dustin Frank Robinson escaped from the prison in July 2019 by climbing over a 20-foot fence that had two sections of barbed wire. KCTV reports he cut himself on the wire and called 911 after feeling “woozy” from the cut. Investigators later found him at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Thompson said authorities need to send the message that people who escape will face serious consequences.

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Authorities Identify 2 Killed in Fiery Crash with Combine

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people who died in a fiery crash with a combine were Wichita residents. The Cowley County Sheriff's office said Thursday that dental records were used to identify 28-year-old Lucas Connor Walker and 33-year-old Sarah Laurella Deere. They died November 7 after the car Walker was driving collided with and then went under a combine and burst into flames. The collision occurred on a road just north of Winfield. The driver of the combine was not injured.

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Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Throwing Caged Dog in River

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has pleaded guilty to a felony for throwing his ex-girlfriend's caged miniature poodle in a river. Leavenworth County prosecutors say 24-year-old Davion Simpson pleaded guilty Wednesday to animal cruelty in the case and faces possible jail time when he's sentenced Dec. 17. Witnesses told police that on July 31, Simpson dragged a kennel with the dog inside it out of the back of his car at Riverfront Park in Leavenworth and threw the kennel into the Missouri River. Bystanders rescued the dog. Police say Simpson had recently ended his relationship with the girlfriend and had texted a friend of hers that the dog was “gone."

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Topeka Police Find Woman Dead After She Was Hit by Vehicle

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka say a woman has died after being hit by a vehicle. Police say in a news release that the accident happened around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday a few blocks south of Childrens Park. Officers called to the scene found 42-year-old Gretchen Cabrera, of Topeka, unresponsive in the roadway. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are not calling the crash a hit-and-run. The investigation into the deadly accident continues.

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Verdict to Be Announced in Trial of Kansas City Officer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A verdict will be announced Friday in the trial of a white Kansas City police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man. Jackson County Judge Dale Youngs will make the announcement in the case against Officer Eric J. DeValkenaere at a 1 p.m. hearing. He also is charged with armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb. The shooting happened as the 26-year-old was backing into his garage on December 3, 2019, after police said he chased his girlfriend’s convertible in a stolen pickup truck. DeValkenaere said he fired after Lamb pointed a gun at another detective. But prosecutors argued that police staged the scene to support their claims that Lamb was armed.

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Woman Pleads Guilty to 2020 Shooting Death of Wichita Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2020 shooting death of a Wichita man. Television station KAKE reports that 42-year-old Amber Ahrens also pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Prosecutors had earlier charged Aherns with those counts, as well as possession with intent to distribute opiates. Police say the shooting happened June 17, 2020, when officers found 53-year-old David Leddy in front of a northeastern Wichita home with a fatal gunshot wound. Police said Ahrens' 19-year-old son had been involved in a fight with Leddy earlier in the day. Ahrens and three friends later arrived at the home, and Leddy was shot.

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Kansas District Approves $295,000 Settlement in Case of Girl Stalked by Teacher

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City, Kansas, school district secretly agreed earlier this year to pay $295,000 to the family of an Olathe elementary student who was stalked by a now-jailed former teacher. The Kansas City Star reports that Olathe Public Schools finalized the settlement back in May to avoid a lawsuit, but kept the settlement a secret until the newspaper filed an open records request that revealed it. Although heavily redacted, the Star says the settlement was made in the case of former Olathe teacher James Loganbill, who was sentenced earlier this month to one year in county jail for reckless stalking of a then-10-year-old girl and ordered to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years.

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Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Throwing Caged Dog in River

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) _ A northeast Kansas man has pleaded guilty to a felony for throwing his ex-girlfriend's caged miniature poodle in a river.  Leavenworth County prosecutors say 24-year-old Davion Simpson pleaded guilty Wednesday to animal cruelty in the case and faces possible jail time. Witnesses told police that on July 31, Simpson dragged a kennel with the dog inside it out of the back of his car at Riverfront Park in Leavenworth and threw the kennel into the Missouri River.  Bystanders rescued the dog from drowning.  Police say Simpson had recently ended his relationship with the girlfriend and had texted a friend of hers that the dog was ``gone.`` Simpson will be sentenced December 17.

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Police Say One Killed, Another Wounded in KCK Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Police say officers responding to reports of a shooting in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, found one person critically wounded and later found another person dead from gunshot wounds. The shooting happened around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, and officers called to the scene found a wounded man outside of a home. He was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Officers later found a second victim already dead inside a vehicle about a mile away from the shooting scene. Police have not released the identity of the person killed, and no arrests have been announced. 

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Man Charged with Threatening Topeka Officers with Knife, Saw

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 59-year-old man is charged with threatening Topeka police officers with a knife and hand saw at a hotel. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said Wednesday that Norman Kelly, of Topeka, was arrested after a confrontation at the Hotel Topeka at City Center. Police say Kelly was banned from the property last week after he was fired. Police were called to the hotel, formerly known as the Capital Plaza, on Saturday after reports that Kelly was armed with a large kitchen knife and a hand saw. Police say he swung the weapons at officers in the parking lot. Police were able to subdue Kelly with Tasers and impact munitions such as bean bags

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Survey Shows Continued Growth in Rural Economy in November

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states suggests rising economic growth in the region, but confidence in the economy's future continued to drop. The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index rose in November to 67.7 from October’s 66.1. Any score above 50 suggests growth. The survey's confidence index, which reflects bank CEO expectations for the economy six months out, sank for the fifth straight month to 48.4 in November. That's the lowest level since August of last year and down from October’s 51.8. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Former Wichita Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita high school teacher has pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. Forty-nine-year-old Shawn Wingfield entered his plea on Wednesday. Wingfield resigned in July from teaching gifted English and debate at Wichita Northwest High School. The Wichita Eagle reports the investigation began after a woman Wingfield dated turned over what she considered worrisome text messages to police. A court affidavit said Winfield admitted to being sexually attracted to 11- to 14-year-old children. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 11.

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5-Year-Old Liberal Boy Dies After Vehicle Hits Him Near School

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 5-year-old boy died when he was hit by a vehicle in front of an elementary school in Liberal. The patrol says Nathaniel Garro Rivera was in a crosswalk in front of Prairie View Elementary School Wednesday when the driver of a pickup truck made a turn and struck him. Nathaniel was a kindergartner at the school. Liberal Public Schools officials said in a news release the district was “overcome with grief at this devastating accident” and would be providing counselors for those affected.

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UPDATE: Man Arrested After Roommate's Suicide Released from Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who was arrested after his suicidal roommate shot himself has been released from jail. Police arrested a 28-year-old Charles Burnham on Tuesday and held him on $500,000 bond on a possible first-degree murder charge. Investigators alleged that after a 27-year-old man shot himself, Burnham retrieved the gun and shot him two more times. District Attorney Marc Bennett said Burnham was released after his office determined more investigation was needed.

(–Earlier reporting–)

Wichita Man Accused of Killing Man Who Had Shot Himself

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they have arrested a man who shot his roommate who was suicidal and had just shot himself. Police said 28-year-old Charles Burnham was arrested Tuesday and is being held on $500,000 bond facing a possible charge of first-degree murder. Officers who went to a home just west of downtown Wichita early Tuesday found 27-year-old Matthew Rodriguez . He was pronounced dead at the scene. Captain Jason Stephens said officers learned the victim was suicidal and had shot himself once in the head. Stephens said Burnham then took the gun and shot the man two more times. First-degree murder requires premeditation.  Police say this is not a random incident and the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

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Missouri Man Sentenced for Threatening 2 Congressmen

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A 63-year-old southwest Missouri man who threatened two U.S. Democratic congressmen has been sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison. Kenneth Hubert, of Marionville, Missouri, was sentenced Tuesday for threatening Representative Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee. Hubert pleaded guilty in June to two counts of threatening to injure federal officials. Both threats were made over the phone. Hubert called Cleaver's office in Independence, Missouri, in January and called Cohen's office in Washington D.C. in 2019. Among other things, he suggested both men should be hung by a noose. Federal prosecutors have said Hubert made similar threats to other politicians, a federal judge and political organizations dating back to 2014. 

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Records Found of Native American Students who Died at Nebraska School

GENOA, Neb. (AP) - Researchers say they have uncovered the names of 102 Native American students who died at a federally operated boarding school in Nebraska.  The Omaha World-Herald reports that the discovery comes as ground-penetrating radar has been used in recent weeks to search for a cemetery once used by the school that operated in Genoa from 1884 to 1934.  So far, no graves have been found.  The Genoa school was one of the largest in a system of 25 federally-run boarding schools for Native Americans.  A number of Genoa students transferred to the Haskell Institute in Lawrence.

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U.S. Population Center Moves 12 Miles, Still in Missouri

HARTVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Some people might describe Hartville, Missouri, as being in the middle of nowhere, but the U.S. Census Bureau says it's the closest town to the middle of the nation. The Census Bureau said Tuesday that the hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks was located about 15 miles from the center of the U.S. population distribution. The nation's population center is calculated every 10 years after the once-a-decade census shows where people are living. The heart of America has been located in Missouri since 1980. The center moved only 11.8 miles from 2010 to 2020.  Hartville is about 230 miles southeast of Kansas City.

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Chiefs to Discuss Future of Arrowhead Stadium in Coming Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs plan to begin discussing the future of Arrowhead Stadium within the next year after the neighboring Royals announced plans earlier this year to explore moving to a new downtown ballpark. Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said during his annual midseason availability Thursday that Royals owner John Sherman called him to discuss the baseball team’s plans. Kauffman Stadium sits just across the parking lot from Arrowhead Stadium in the Truman Sports Complex, which is surrounded by sprawling parking lots just outside of Kansas City. The Chiefs and Royals have leases with Jackson County in Missouri that expire in 2031, at which point the clubs are free to move.

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Kansas State Could Set Up OU and Oklahoma State for Big 12 Title

UNDATED (AP) – Kansas State has the longest winning streak in the Big 12 Conference at four wins in a row. If the 7-3 Wildcats extend that with a win over No. 11 Baylor, they could open the door for No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Oklahoma to lock up the two spots in the Big 12 title game. Baylor is still in contention for its second Big 12 title game appearance in three years after beating Oklahoma last week. Oklahoma State plays Saturday night at Texas Tech, and Oklahoma hosts Iowa State in a rematch of last year's league championship game.

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Chiefs Rely on Overlooked Draft Class Amid Rise in AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have a first-round draft pick after shipping it to Baltimore for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. They used their second-round choice on a local linebacker, loaded up with a couple of offensive lineman and added a project at defensive end and a tight end in the later rounds that perhaps could help spell Travis Kelce down the road. Yet their draft class is a big reason why the Chiefs are currently atop the AFC West. Nick Bolton leads all rookies in tackles and Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith have helped solidify an entirely rebuilt offensive line that has succeeded in protecting Patrick Mahomes this season.

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Cowboys Visit Chiefs for Showdown of NFL Heavyweights

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Cowboys bring their league-leading offense to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs certainly have plenty of firepower of their own with Patrick Mahomes directing an offense that features Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. But it has been Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott that have the Cowboys leading the NFL in yards and points through the first 10 weeks of the regular season. The Cowboys are coming off a blowout of the Falcons while the Chiefs are coming off a romp over the Raiders so both teams should have some momentum heading into this week's game.

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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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  

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