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Headlines for Thursday, September 15, 2022

 

KPR Celebrates 70 Years of Classical Music with Live Day!

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is celebrating its 70th birthday today (THUR). As part of the celebration, the station is broadcasting live classical music throughout the day from the KPR studios, the Lawrence Public Library and from the Lied Center. KPR began broadcasting as KANU FM on September 15, 1952. Since day one, classical music has been part of the station's programing. That tradition has continued for seven decades. (Read more.)

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Former KCK Police Detective Indicted for Sexual Assaults

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - A federal grand jury in Topeka has returned a six-count indictment, charging former Kansas City, Kansas Police detective Roger Golubski with federal civil rights crimes for sexually assaulting two victims. Federal prosecutors accuse Golubski of sexually assaulting the first victim on multiple occasions between 1998 and 2001. The remaining three counts of the indictment charge Golubski with sexually assaulting the second victim on multiple occasions between 1999 and 2002.  If convicted, Golubski faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The FBI Kansas City Field Office investigated the case in conjunction with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. (Read more.)

(–AP version–)

Ex-Kansas Police Detective Charged with Preying on Women

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective who has long been accused of sexually preying on Black women has been indicted on federal charges accusing him of using his position to sexually abuse two women. Sixty-nine-year-old Roger Golubski was arrested Thursday morning at his home in Edwardsville, Kansas, on six counts of civil rights violations. He is accused of sexually assaulting two women between 1998 and 2002. The indictment doesn't state the women's race. Lamont McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he didn't commit, sued Golubski and other officers this year. He and his mother alleged that Golubski framed McIntyre after his mother refused Golubski's sexual demands. The lawsuit was settled for $12.5 million.

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Former Lawrence Police Officer Will Now Stand Trial in Rape Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A former Lawrence police officer will stand trial for allegedly raping a woman in 2017 while he was on duty. A Douglas County judge has set a trial date of February 27, 2023 for Jonathan Mark Gardner, of Tonganoxie.  The former officer has been charged with raping a 19-year-old while giving her a ride home after she had been drinking in downtown Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Gardner is also charged with official misconduct and multiple counts of tampering with law enforcement computers.

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Flames Catch 3 Homes on Fire in Kansas City Early Thursday Morning

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A fire spread to three homes early Thursday morning in Kansas City, but everyone made it out safely.  Crews responded shortly after 6 am to a house fire near 28th Street and Van Brunt Avenue. The house was engulfed in heavy flames, and firefighters worked to clear the home and the surrounding area. KCTV reports that the flames spread to structures on either side of the house, catching them on fire as well. Those homes sustained damage, but the house where the fire originated was destroyed. Investigators remained on-scene after getting the fire under control in order to figure out how it started. No cause has yet been determined. It’s not yet clear how many people were displaced.

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Man Who Killed Eudora 10-Year-Old in Hit-and-Run Accepts Plea Deal

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A man who killed a Eudora child in a hit-and-run accident in May has accepted a plea deal for involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jose Alfredo Galiano Meza, of Overland Park, entered the plea deal Thursday in Douglas County. He's accused of hitting 10-year-old Brooklyn Brouhard with his van and fleeing the scene. The girl was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her grandfather, who was also injured. The girl died the next day from injuries suffered in the crash.  The 29-year-old Meza, who is in the country illegally, was originally charged with second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident. Sentencing has been set for November 8.

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Four Kansas City Gang Members Convicted of Drug Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — Four members of Kansas City street gang 246 have been convicted in federal court on several drug-trafficking charges. On Thursday, a jury found 35-year-old Ladele Smith, 33-year-old David Duncan IV, 31-year-old Roy Franklin, Jr. and 42-year-old Gary Toombs guilty of conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana from January 2011 to October 2019. KSHB TV reports that Smith, Duncan and Franklin were convicted on multiple firearm charges, including one involving a drive-by shooting. Toombs was convicted of firearm charges as well.  Smith and Duncan are local rap artists who broadcast their music on social media platforms with references to 246: a group made up of residents from 24th, 43rd and 68th streets. The rappers are known for flaunting firearms and cash, along with expensive 246 watches and apparel, to their audience. According to federal law, each of the four defendants must serve a minimum of 10 years in federal prison without parole, with a maximum sentence of life without parole. Eleven others have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in this case.

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Swatting Incidents Reported at Multiple Kansas, Missouri High Schools

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — The FBI is investigating after swatting calls about an active shooter forced high schools in Kansas and Missouri into precautionary lockdowns Thursday. Swatting is when someone makes a prank call in an effort to get police and emergency responders to respond to a fake emergency.  WDAF TV reports that police learned about a swatting call that mentioned North Kansas City High School Thursday morning. The high school was locked down while officers searched the school. No threats were found and the lockdown was lifted.  Other schools received similar swatting calls Thursday, including Turner High School in Kansas City, Kansas,  Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka and Wichita North High School. But in all cases, no threats were found. The FBI wouldn’t say how many schools across the two states were affected by swatting calls Thursday, but did acknowledge the bureau is involved in the investigation.

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Kansas School District Pulls Messaging App After Data Breach

ANDOVER, Kan. (KWCH) - Officials at Andover Public Schools say they have pulled the popular messaging app Seesaw after the app was hacked. According to the Seesaw website, the app is used by 10 million teachers, students and family members, but the company declined to say how many users were affected by the hack. KWCH TV reports that school officials sent a letter to parents that said some parents across the country had received explicit pictures through the messenger service. The school district said it pulled Seesaw from all student and staff accounts as it works with the company to resolve the issue.

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Joint KU, Wichita State Medical Complex Slated for Downtown Wichita Wins Initial Approval

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A plan by the University of Kansas and Wichita State University to create a new medical school complex in downtown Wichita has won its first round of approval from the Kansas Board of Regents. The Regents unanimously approved a program statement for the new $302 million facility. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the KU’s portion of the project is expected to cost about $146 million, while Wichita State’s portion would total $156 million. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod says the project will serve as a replacement for the KU Medical School campus in Wichita.

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KU Aerospace Engineering Students Earn Award in International Design Competition

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - A team of aerospace engineering students at the University of Kansas took second place in a prestigious international competition, continuing KU’s long history of success at the event. The students won recognition from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for their design of an unmanned hypersonic spy plane, which they named the “Hyperhawk” system. Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, professor of aerospace engineering, said the award is the 41st that KU students have received in the competition over the last decade. The KU team was led by graduate student Nathan Wolf, of Olathe. Other members of the team include KU students Isaac Beech, of Lenexa; Justin Clough, of Leawood; Garin McKenna, of Overland Park; Gerell Miller, of Goodland; Zach Rhodes, of Lawrence; and Jack Schneider, of Kansas City, Missouri. (Read more.)

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Kansas Lawmakers: New Audit Shows Questionable Spending of COVID-19 Relief Money

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - Hundreds of thousands of dollars of COVID-19 relief funds spent by state and local governments may have violated federal rules or was ill-advised. That's according to a report released Wednesday by the Legislature's nonpartisan auditing office. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the audit comes as state officials are still grappling with how to spend millions more in federal pandemic relief.  Of the $18 million in expenditures by county governments, nonprofits and businesses reviewed by the Division of Legislative Post Audit, officials flagged $1.1 million in spending as ill-advised, with an additional $264,000 considered wasteful or excessive. And while 85% of funding was considered to be allowable under federal guidelines, it was unclear whether $2.7 million in spending was acceptable. Another $48,000 was deemed to likely not be allowed.

Potentially problematic expenditures included a recipient of a small business grant who conducted a festival. Still other aid recipients purchased electronic signs, sports equipment and office supplies. In Bourbon County, officials gave a vendor $450,000 to start a grocery store in a part of Fort Scott considered to be a food desert. Despite concerns, the project was approved anyway but the store closed after a few months.

Kansas received roughly $34 billion in aid from the federal government over the five federal relief bills, though the majority of these funds were earmarked for specific uses. About $2.6 billion was considered discretionary, meaning the state had some flexibility in choosing where the money was spent.

Heidi Zimmerman, the auditor who handled the report, said part of the explanation for some of the questionable spending came from rules handed down by the federal government. Counties routinely complained during the process of a rushed timeframe for identifying needs and spending the funds, as well as confusing guidelines from Washington, D.C. Moreover, Zimmerman said, the funds had to be spent quickly or counties would lose them to the state.  "Often in these cases, recipients may decide to spend money on something that is less defensible, rather than lose the money," Zimmerman said. "And this can result in wasteful and unnecessary spending." (Read more.)

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Emporia State Will Cut Dozens of Faculty and Staff Positions in University Restructure

EMPORIA, Kan. (TCJ) - In what university officials acknowledge will be deeply unpopular cuts, Emporia State University (ESU) will begin a process of sweeping changes to the university’s program offerings after receiving the all-clear from the Kansas Board of Regents. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Regents unanimously approved a proposal Wednesday that will allow ESU to suspend its regular program review process and discontinue some majors, and lay off otherwise protected, tenured faculty.  While Emporia State has not yet identified which programs or faculty positions may be cut, the university plans to notify students and faculty in affected programs in the coming days. ESU President Ken Hush said the moves will affect only about 2% of students, who will all be given the opportunity to complete their programs of study at ESU. Hush said about 7% of the university’s approximately 800 faculty and staff positions will be eliminated, although any affected employees will be able to finish out the 2022-23 school year and receive three months of severance pay in May.

(Earlier reporting...)

Kansas Board of Regents Approves Emporia State Restructuring Proposal 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/Kansas Reflector) – The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously approved Emporia State University’s proposal to eliminate some majors and cut its workforce by about 7%. Emporia State President Ken Hush says student enrollment hasn’t kept pace with expenses, but the university doesn’t want to raise tuition. The answer, he says, is a massive overhaul. Officials didn’t say which majors could be cut. Affected employees will be allowed to work through May and will get a three-month severance. (Read more.)

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Southeast Kansas Town Declares Water Emergency, Bans Outdoor Water Use

CANEY, Kan. (KAKE) - A small southeast Kansas town has issued a "water emergency" and warned that residents could face disconnections or citations if they use water for outdoor purposes. KAKE TV reports that the city of Caney, in Montgomery County, has implemented a mandatory water conservation effort. The temporary ban on outdoor water use means water cannot be used for any outdoor purpose, including the watering of lawns, golf courses or washing vehicles. Violators could have their water service disconnected or receive citations.

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Kansas Office Monitoring Foster Care System Overwhelmed with Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The state office monitoring the Kansas foster care system has 69 open cases and has closed seven. The Kansas News Service reports that caseload is divided up among five people. Child advocate Kerrie Lonard says her team has had a hectic start. One completed case so far found inaccurate court documents and caseworkers failing to check up on kids. “These first couple of months, it does not feel sustainable," she said.  "But part of that is that because we are new, we're figuring out some of those barriers in our processes.” The office does not have the authority to overturn court cases, to interfere with those proceedings or change decisions. But Lonard says her office is being listened to by the agencies and private firms that run the state’s foster care system. (Read more.)

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KCK Police Investigate Shooting of Three Teenagers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department is investigating after three teenagers were shot Wednesday afternoon. According to WDAF TV, the incident was reported at North 61st Street and Farrow Avenue, just north of Leavenworth Road. The three shooting victims have been identified as students at Washington High School. Police say all the injuries are non-life threatening. This latest shooting in KCK comes on the heels of another shooting Tuesday afternoon in which two teens were seriously injured. No suspects have been arrested.

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Corrections Officer Arrested for Trafficking Contraband, Having Relationship with Inmate

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A corrections officer in Shawnee County has been arrested and jailed. WIBW reports it was discovered that the officer entered into an unlawful sexual relationship with one of her inmates. The Shawnee Co. Sheriff’s Office said 23-year-old Saterah R. Hampton, of Topeka, was arrested by its Criminal Investigations Division. Hampton, a local corrections officer, was booked into the Shawnee County Department of Corrections for unlawful sexual relations with an adult male inmate and trafficking contraband into a correctional facility. The case remains under investigation.

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Lenexa Police Standoff over Vehicle Theft Ends with Suspect Dead

LENEXA, Kan. (KMBC) — A suspected car thief is dead following a standoff with police in Lenexa. Police surrounded a vehicle believed to be stolen Tuesday morning. KMBC reports that officers were first called to investigate a suspicious vehicle in a business parking lot around 7:45 am. When officers arrived, they quickly determined the vehicle was, in fact, stolen, and a suspect was still inside. Police say the suspect showed a gun to officers. Negotiators were called to the scene, but by 10:30 am, negotiations ended and the suspect was found deceased.

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Woman Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run that Killed Father of 10

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A 27-year-old Wisconsin woman has been charged in the hit-and-run death of a Missouri middle school teacher. Missouri prosecutors say Kyrie Fields, of Oregon, Wisconsin, was charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and other crimes.  KCTV reports that Charles Criniere was struck and killed while riding his bike the morning of August 27. The husband and father of 10 children was a teacher at Martin City Middle School. Police believe the car that hit Criniere was set on fire the day after the fatal crash. Fields, the owner of the car, was arrested September 12. While being interviewed, she told police she was texting a friend, high on Percocet and had taken her eyes off the road when she struck Criniere.

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Pedestrian Hit and Killed by Dump Truck at Kansas City Shopping Center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — Kansas City police say a pedestrian was struck and killed by a dump truck in the early afternoon on Tuesday. KMBC TV reports that the incident occurred at the popular Zona Rosa shopping area. Police confirmed that the collision occurred in the center of the outdoor shopping outlet. Accident investigators say the pedestrian was attempting to cross the road as a Kenworth dump truck was turning left. Police say the driver of the dump truck did not see the pedestrian, but said he felt a bump. He got out of his truck and saw the pedestrian under his vehicle. The pedestrian died at the scene.

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UPDATED / CORRECTED: Number of Honeybee Colonies Decreases Nationwide but Remains Stable in Kansas

TOPEKA (KPR) – A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has some farmers worried. According to their recent findings, honeybee colonies nationwide dropped by 1% compared to the same time period last year. The report indicates the number of honeybee colonies in Kansas remained nearly flat year-over-year. Honeybees help pollinate crops in all 50 states. According to the National Honey Board, about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and honeybees are responsible for 80% of this pollination.

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Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Hosts Short Film Festival

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Film enthusiasts in Topeka will join more than 100,000 people around the world during the week of September 22 through October 2 when the 25th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival screens at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. People may attend one of the following three screenings in Marvin Auditorium:

  • Friday, September 30, 2-5 pm
  • Friday, September 30, 6-9 pm
  • Sunday, October 2, 1-4 pm

Audience members will vote on the best film and best actor along with participants at each of the more than 500 festival venues. By virtue of their selection by Manhattan Short, each short film is automatically Oscar-qualified. The Manhattan Short finalists hail from eight countries with films from Scotland, the Czech Republic & Slovakia, Spain, Australia, Finland and Lebanon, alongside two films each from France and the United States. These films represent the best short films from among 870 submissions from 70 countries. The library will send Manhattan Short audience votes to Manhattan Short headquarters in New York and the winners will be announced at ManhattanShort.com on Monday, October 3.

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Wichita Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession, Fentanyl Strips

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and fentanyl test strips. This week's vote means possession of marijuana cases or fentanyl test strips would no longer be filed in Wichita municipal courts. It would be up to the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office to file charges in those cases. The move would eliminate between 750 and 850 marijuana possession prosecutions in the city's courts. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett took no position before the vote but said his office does not have the resources to handle that many more cases. Marijuana remains illegal in Kansas and at the federal level.

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Kansas Proposal Would Create Drop Boxes for Unwanted Babies

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - A renewed push is underway in Kansas to change state law to allow drop boxes for unwanted babies.  They are simply called baby boxes. Proponents describe them as high tech drop boxes people might see their local library. They are temperature controlled and have alarms that immediately let emergency services know someone just dropped off a child. Kansas state law currently allows people to drop off their infants at fire stations or hospitals. But they have to hand the baby to someone. Lawmakers are interested in changing state law to allow babies to be dropped off in these baby boxes. Angie Malik is one of those pushing for the change. “Communities need safe haven baby boxes because it provides the opportunity to proactively save the lives of children," she said.  A bill was introduced last session to allow for creation of these drop boxes, but it died in committee. The proposal could resurface in the next session.

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EPA Conducting Free Lead Testing at Superfund Site in Southeast Kansas

LENEXA, Kan. (KPR) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will offer free residential lead testing, as part of a new assessment of a Cherokee County Superfund Site in southeast Kansas. Residents located within the area may sign up to have residential yards, private drinking water wells, agricultural land, and other areas (such as parks, playgrounds, streams, and mine wastes) tested for heavy metals associated with historic mining, such as lead, zinc and cadmium. Lead is the primary concern. The site in Cherokee County covers approximately 115 square miles and includes the Kansas portion of the former Tri-State Mining District (TSMD), a 2,500-square-mile area in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. At one time, the TSMD was one of the world’s largest producers of lead and zinc. (Read more.)

To obtain no-cost lead testing, residents must fill out a permission form by contacting the EPA at (800) 223-0425 or by emailing the EPA at R7-TSMD@epa.gov.

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KU Plans to Use $9 Million Grant to Help Student Mental Health in Southeast Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS/KCUR) - The University of Kansas Medical Center plans to use a $9 million grant to address student behavioral health needs in Southeast Kansas. The money comes from a federal grant that will be used to fund a multi-agency project focusing on 11 Kansas counties at high risk for poverty, violence, trauma, substance abuse and mental health concerns. As part of the five-year project, government agencies, health care providers, schools and advocacy organizations will collaborate to improve K-12 students’ mental health. Project leaders say many of these rural school communities have long-standing behavioral health needs which have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Read more.)

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Black Hills Energy Announces Commitment to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UNDATED (LJW) – Black Hills Energy committed Wednesday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a shorter timeline than originally expected. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Black Hills Energy plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its natural gas utility operations by 2035. The announcement was made as part of the company's annual sustainability report. Previously, the company had committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2035. Company officials said they intend to significantly increase efforts to prevent natural gas lines from leaking and to prevent lines and other infrastructure from becoming damaged, which may cause leaks and methane releases. Methane is considered a major cause of global warming. The program includes plans to replace all unprotected steel pipe in the Black Hills system with either plastic or protected steel lines. The company also plans to expand its efforts to capture and reuse methane. Black Hills operates natural gas systems in many areas in Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

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Some Kansas Education Officials Seek Change in High School Graduation Requirements

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Some high-ranking Kansas education officials want to shift high school graduation requirements to focus more on what will make students better future employees. A task force reviewing graduation requirements says employability and life skills should count more heavily toward a diploma than some more traditional subjects. The plan would also add financial literacy and reduce the number of required arts classes. Melanie Haas is a member of the state board of education. She wants to know more before she decides whether to support the idea. “How many art teachers are we going to lose if we cut back to a half-credit? How many districts are no longer going to offer art? Is it going to go online? What does that look like?," she said. The task force says schools should count other types of learning toward graduation, like apprenticeships or college prep test scores. The state board could vote on the plan later this year.

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NextEra Still Looking into Viability of Wind Farm Project in Southwest Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - NextEra Energy, a Florida-based energy company, has confirmed to the Lawrence Journal-World that it is still considering whether to build a wind farm in southwest Douglas County and part of Franklin County. Sara Cassidy, a spokesperson for NextEra, says her company is still assessing existing transmission infrastructure, gauging interest among landowners and county officials and conducting environmental surveys. Some area landowners are opposed to the project while others have already signed on to the idea. (Read more.)

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Group Raises Questions About Donations to Kansas GOP Candidate for Governor

UNDATED (KNS/Kansas Reflector) - A national advocacy group is raising concerns about some of the campaign donations collected by Kansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt. Schmidt is currently the Kansas attorney general, and he’s received campaign donations from law firms that won contracts from his office. That’s according to a Kansas Reflector report that describes the criticism from End Citizens United, an advocacy group opposed to the influence of money in politics. The group says Schmidt has received more than $46,000 from 20 law firms that his office awarded state contracts to, and that looks like a conflict of interest. A spokesman for Schmidt’s campaign says the office used an open bidding process, and points out that Schmidt’s opponent, Democratic Governor Laura Kelly, also received money from those same law firms. The Reflector reports Kelly got roughly half of the money Schmidt received.

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K-State on the Rise with Old-School Defensive-Minded Philosophy

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The hallmark of the early Bill Snyder teams at Kansas State University was a dominating defense. Turns out that’s becoming the hallmark of the early teams under Chris Klieman, too. The Wildcats opened the season with one of the handful of shutouts across Division I, a 34-0 victory over South Dakota that was even more lopsided than the final score. And they followed up with a 42-12 blowout of former Big 12 rival Missouri in which the only TD allowed came on an untimed down to finish the game. Next up is Tulane before a showdown at No. 6 Oklahoma in two weeks.

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KC Chiefs' Andy Reid Critical of Arizona Turf After 2 Injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid criticized the field inside State Farm Stadium this week after two Kansas City players slipped on the turf and sustained injuries during their 44-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Harrison Butker’s plant foot slipped awkwardly during a kickoff early in the game, forcing the Chiefs to use safety Justin Reid for most of their kickoffs and extra points the rest of the way. First-round pick Trent McDuffie hurt his hamstring when the young cornerback’s feet slipped during an otherwise impressive debut. The Chiefs have a short turnaround before facing the Los Angeles Chargers tonight (THUR) at Arrowhead Stadium, meaning it's unlikely that either will be available.

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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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