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Headlines for Thursday, September 3, 2020

 

Kansas Reports Nearly 44,000 COVID-19 Cases, 458 Deaths, Since Pandemic Began

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has now recorded nearly 44,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reports that there are now 43,940 cases, including 458 deaths. Coronavirus cases have been reported in all 105 Kansas counties.  The Top 5 hardest-hit counties are Johnson (8,495 cases), Sedgwick (7,399), Wyandotte (6,180), Ford (2,373) and Shawnee (2,251).  Douglas County reports 1,383 cases.  The state health department updates the coronavirus numbers for Kansas on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  (Find those updates here.)  

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Assistant High School Coach in Topeka Charged with Producing Child Porn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An assistant boys high school basketball coach in Topeka has been charged with federal child pornography counts. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Kansas says 40-year-old Jeffrey Pierce, of Topeka, is charged with two counts of producing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Pierce is a coach at Seaman High School in Topeka; a district spokeswoman says Pierce has been suspended and that the school board will soon vote on a resolution to fire him. Prosecutors say the production crimes occurred March 10 and March 14 and the possession crime occurred September 2. Officials have not given other details about the alleged crimes.

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Douglas County Tightens Rules on Alcohol Sales

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Douglas County is tightening rules on serving alcohol to help control the coronavirus. The county previously closed bars. Now it will require any business with a liquor license to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close in-person facilities by 10. Restaurants that don't serve alcohol are unaffected. In a news release, the county said there have been risky behaviors that could spread the coronavirus in places serving alcohol, leading to the new rules. 

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Wichita Man Dies in City's Third Hit-and-Run This Week

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 56-year-old man died after he was hit by a vehicle that didn't stop. Police say Harold Long was crossing a street Wednesday night when he was struck. The vehicle involved is believed to be a dark-colored Chevy Tahoe. The city had two other hit-and-run reports this week but this is the first fatality. A woman was hit by a car Monday evening and a bicyclist was hit early Wednesday.

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Spencer Finney, the First, "First Gentleman" of Kansas, Dead at 89

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Spencer W. Finney Jr., husband of the late Governor Joan Finney and the state's first “first gentleman,” has died. He was 89. His daughter, Mary Holladay of Topeka, says her father died today (THUR) of natural causes at his home in Topeka. He served as the state's first gentleman from 1991 to 1995, when his wife served a single term as Kansas governor — the first woman in the state to hold that office. Spencer Finney was born on January 20, 1931, in Chanute.  He graduated from Topeka High School in 1949 and went on to work for the Santa Fe Railroad for 30 years. A private funeral service is planned.

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Kansas to Release Locations of Coronavirus Outbreaks

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says the state will start releasing information on where coronavirus outbreaks are coming from. The governor’s office says the state will publish outbreak locations on its official coronavirus website every Wednesday, starting next week. Kelly said in a news release that she hopes to help Kansans be better informed about the virus to prevent further spread. Kansas health officials say the state has now recorded nearly 44,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

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University of Missouri Students Face Discipline over Virus Guideline Violations

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) - With nearly 700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among students at the University of Missouri's Columbia campus, several students and organizations are facing potential discipline after being accused of violating guidelines aimed at slowing the virus's spread. The university's COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday cited 683 confirmed cases since classes resumed in mid-August. The university is threatening to discipline students for violating guidelines on wearing masks and participating in large gatherings. University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi says 330 alleged violations have been referred to the student accountability office. Students found in violation face punishment ranging from a verbal reprimand to suspension or expulsion. 

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Tyson Foods to Open Medical Clinic at Holcomb and Other Meat Processing Plants

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Tyson Foods says it is planning to open medical clinics at its plant in Holcomb, Kansas and at several of its other U.S. plants to better protect its workers from the coronavirus. The Springdale, Arkansas-based company, which processes about 20% of all beef, pork and chicken in the U.S., says that its plan to open the clinics was in the works before the coronavirus struck this year, but that they will undoubtedly help the company respond to the pandemic. Tyson says it would initially set up clinics near seven of its plants, including in Storm Lake, Iowa, and Holcomb, Kansas, in a pilot program. Tyson joins a long list of companies that have clinics on or near their work-sites.

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Missouri Pays Pandemic Consultant More than $500,000

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri has paid a consulting firm more than $500,000 in federal funds designed for coronavirus pandemic-related expenses. In early May, Republican Governor Mike Parson said an independent foundation was paying the firm, but Missouri took over payments on May 31. State payroll records show Missouri has paid the McChrystal Group $522,000 for its help in coordinating a response to the coronavirus. The governor's office says the company will continue to be paid nearly $250,000 a month for its work under a no-bid contract it signed with the state. The consulting firm was founded by retired four-star Army General Stanley McChrystal.

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PAC to Spend Thousands to Defeat Controversial Teenage Candidate for the Kansas House

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — A political action committee says it will spend $50,000 to try to defeat a controversial Democratic teenager who’s running for a state legislative seat in Kansas. Aaron Coleman, a 19-year-old from Wyandotte County, narrowly beat incumbent House member Stan Frownfelter in the August 4th Democratic primary. Coleman has been accused of harassing and abusing women, and said he would drop out of the race before changing his mind. United Forward PAC says it will spend $50,000 on ads against Coleman and for Frownfelter, who’s trying to mount a write-in campaign. Coleman says pushing Frownfelter disregards voters’ wishes. 

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Judge Denies Former Kansas City Pharmacist's Bid for Early Release from Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) _ A federal judge has denied former Kansas City pharmacist Robert Courtney’s request for compassionate release from prison. Courtney is serving a 30-year prison sentence in Englewood, Colorado, for diluting cancer drugs and other medications. He was sentenced in December 2002 and is due to be released in 2027 due to time off and other considerations. Courtney asked to be released early because he suffers from numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure and heart disease, and is at risk of contracting COVID-19. But Judge Ortrie Smith, who sentenced him nearly 19 years ago, found neither of those reasons sufficiently compelling. Courtney also said he had rehabilitated himself in prison but Smith also rejected that claim. The Bureau of Prisons had planned to release Courtney to home confinement but, after families of Courtney’s victims expressed outrage, the BOP rescinded its decision.

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Lead-Contaminated Town in Southeast Kansas Prioritized for Cleanup

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials have added a lead-contaminated southeast Kansas community to a list of hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup through the federal Superfund program. Besides the newly added site in the town of Caney, the Environmental Protection Agency also has proposed adding another site in the southeast Kansas town of Weir to the Superfund list. Both communities were the scene of smelting operations a century ago. The concern is that the smelting operations caused lead particles to become airborne and settle onto area properties. Lead exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

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Wichita Man Sentenced for Stabbing Roommate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 45-year-old Wichita man who stabbed his roommate to death while police were outside his house has been sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors said Jason Leigh McCaleb stabbed 28-year-old Devin Andrea Cook up to 50 times in November 2019. The stabbing occurred right after police suggested McCaleb evict Cook if he wanted her out of the home. Officer were leaving the scene when they heard Cook calling for help but were not able to get back into the home. McCaleb pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder on July 24. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

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Kansas City Police: Man Found Fatally Shot Inside Burning Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say a man has been found fatally shot inside a burning vehicle near U.S. 71 in Kansas City, Missouri. Police were called to the area early this (THUR) morning for a report of a shooting and found the vehicle in flames. Officers then found a man inside the vehicle who had been shot and pulled him from the burning vehicle. Officers rendered medical aid in an effort to save his life. The man was taken by medics to a hospital, where he died. Police have not released the victim's identity. No arrests in the case have been reported. 

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays. 
 

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