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Headlines for Thursday, September 5, 2019


Wichita to Join Lawsuit Against Pain-Killer Industry

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita plans to join a massive lawsuit against opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the city council approved a law firm Tuesday to represent it in federal litigation in Ohio, where the flood of cases over the opioid epidemic is being handled. Attorney Andrew Hutton says the city's complaint could be filed by the end of the week.  Hutton said in a statement that opioid manufacturers used deceptive marketing to maximize profits. He says doctors were convinced to prescribe opioids, not just for cancer patients or those recovering from surgery, but also for chronic-pain sufferers, despite the risk of addiction.  The city wants to be compensated for costs such as opioid-related emergency calls. At the county level, the Wichita area had 148 opioid-related deaths last year.


Kansas Treasurer Drops U.S. Senate Bid to Challenge Kansas Congressman

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' Republican state treasurer has abandoned a campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat to challenge a first-term GOP congressman he describes as vulnerable to Democratic defeat.  Treasurer Jake LaTurner says Representative Steve Watkins isn't likely to win re-election.  LaTurner's announcement Wednesday comes a week after former Governor Jeff Colyer called on him to run for the eastern Kansas seat that Watkins narrowly won last year.  Watkins has faced internet rumors and speculation that he would resign but has tweeted that he is not stepping down.  LaTurner told The Associated Press that the speculation played no role in his decision. LaTurner says he worries that Democrats will win the seat if Watkins is the GOP nominee.  Watkins won by less than a percentage point last year as a political unknown.


Kansas Child Welfare Agency Had Repeated Involvement Before Wichita Toddler Died

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas child welfare officials say they received repeated reports about a Wichita toddler before he died of an overdose of the addiction treatment medication methadone.  The Kansas Department of Children and Families released a summary Tuesday of its involvement with 2-year-old Zayden JayNesahkluah in response to a records request from The Associated Press. Zayden's mother, 23-year-old Kimberly Compass , was charged last month with first-degree murder.  The agency says the initial reports in December 2018 and January 2019 were about neglect and lack of supervision. Later, the agency received reports that Compass' then-partner was physically abusive, and more that Compass was neglectful.  Although the reports weren't substantiated, Compass received a mental health referral. The agency says a service provider attempted to contact her on May 31, the day Zayden was found dead at a motel.


Kansas City's Cerner Laying Off 255 Workers in Wider Cost-Cutting Effort

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cerner Corporation will lay off 255 workers as part of a wider effort to cut costs.  Cerner officials said the layoffs will occur across the country with about half affecting the Kansas City area. The affected employees were told Wednesday that their last official day will be November 5.  The health care technologies company is Kansas City's largest employer, with about 14,000 workers in the area.  It has a global workforce of about 30,000.  The Kansas City Star reports Cerner is currently considering ways to diversify and is undergoing a review of its operations. CFO Marc Naughton said the company wants to cut more than $200 million in expenses.  The company continues to grow. Cerner has already hired several thousand workers this year and plans to hire hundreds this year.


Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome Creeping into Central Kansas Fields

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (The Hutch News) -- The Hutchinson News reports that sudden death syndrome in soybeans is hurting farmers in Central Kansas. As heavy rains continue, SDS is spreading beyond Pawnee County and the Kansas River Valley into Central Kansas.  “Historically, areas along the Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas rivers fare the worst,” said Doug Jardine, Ph.D., professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University. “Reno and Sedgwick counties are hotspots for SDS. I’d be surprised if SDS wasn’t showing up.”  Although Jardine is not seeing specific cases in both Reno and Sedgwick County, he said he expects the disease has hit the area.  “It’s a high likelihood that they are seeing SDS in the Arkansas River Valley,” said Jardine, who has worked at Kansas State since 1985.  SDS tends to hit hardest on well-managed fields with high yield potential.  (Read more here.)


About 30 Dogs Rescued from Filthy Home in Kingman County

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — The Humane Society says about 30 dogs were rescued from an alleged animal cruelty situation in south-central Kansas.  The organization said in a news release the animals were removed Wednesday from a residential property in Kingman County. The exact location wasn't disclosed.  The animals were found when the Kingman County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at the property after concerns were raised about the animals' welfare.  The release says the dogs appeared to have skin conditions from living in a filthy environment. Some of the dogs were kept in makeshift pens and crawled under trailers for shade.  The animals will be examined and taken to an undisclosed location.  Kingman County law enforcement and several animal advocacy groups helped with the rescue.


Sedgwick County Won't Vote on Adding Slot Machines at Greyhound Park

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County commissioners have bet against a request to add slot machines to dog racing at the defunct Wichita Greyhound Park.  The commission was asked to consider putting the issue on the November ballot. The track's owner, Phil Ruffin, has said allowing slot machines is the key to reopening the track.  The Wichita Eagle reports the commission on Wednesday indefinitely tabled action on the proposal after hearing strong opposition from animal-rights and anti-gambling advocates.  The greyhound park has been closed since shortly after an August 2007 election, when voters overwhelmingly rejected a casino in the county and narrowly voted down bringing slot machines to the greyhound track.  Forty-one states have banned dog racing. Several others, including Kansas, don't have racing but still have legislation allowing it.


Woman Found Strangled in Hutchinson Alley in August Has Died

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say a 29-year-old woman who was found unconscious in an alley in August has died. The Hutchinson News reports Lora Beth Stratton had been on life support at a Wichita hospital since she was found strangled on Aug. 24. She died Wednesday. Two people were arrested in Stratton's assault. Reno County Deputy District Attorney Tom Stanton says he has filed a motion to amend the charge against Isaac Granville Ervin but a hearing on that motion has not been set. Stanton said he will seek a first-degree murder charge against Ervin, who is currently is charged with attempted premeditated murder. Delshay Ronda Vinsonhaler remains charged with aggravated battery and obstruction. Stanton said he doesn't plan to amend those charges but did not say why.


Man Convicted of Drug Crimes in Lyon County Dies at Larned

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — Kansas prison officials say a 29-year-old man convicted of drug crimes in Lyon County died at the Larned Correctional Mental Health facility.  Michael Jared Fancher was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon.  An autopsy will be conducted to determine Fancher's cause of death.  Fancher was convicted in Lyon County in 2018 for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The Kansas Department of Corrections says he was transferred from El Dorado to Larned in February and would have been eligible for parole in July 2024.  He had previous convictions for drug possession and drug sales.  The corrections department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are conducting a joint inquiry into Fancher's death, which is normal protocol in such cases.


Kansas High School Custodian Charged with Child Sex Crimes

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A custodian at a south-central Kansas high school has been charged with child sex crimes. Twenty-one-year-old Brenden Jantzen was charged Wednesday with one count indecent liberties with a child, a girl under the age of 16. Winfield Police say he was arrested over the weekend after the allegations were reported to law enforcement. His job duties at Winfield High School also included working in the in-school suspension program.


Judge: Kansas Man's Review of Branson Attraction Was Not Defamatory

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a Kansas cattle farmer did not defame a Branson attraction by leaving a three-star TripAdvisor review.  Owners of Bigfoot on the Strip sued Randy Winchester and his daughter in June 2018, claiming the review was libelous and defamatory.  Winchester had written that he was disappointed by a tour of Bigfoot Farms and its cattle. Owners of the attraction contended some of the details in Winchester's review were inaccurate.  Winchester said after tour owner's contacted him to complain, he changed it to a one-star review.  The Springfield News-Leader reports U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beth Phillips ruled late last month that Winchester's statements were factually correct and/or didn't diminish the company's reputation in the community.  An attorney representing Bigfoot's owners did not return a call seeking comment.


Kansas Girl Injured While Tubing on Nebraska Lake

ALMA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say an 11-year-old girl was injured while tubing with family and friends at Harlan County Lake in south-central Nebraska.  The Harlan County Sheriff's Office says the girl from Phillipsburg, Kansas, was struck by a boat propeller on Monday.  She was taken to Republican City and then flown to a Lincoln hospital. Her name hasn't been released.  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is investigating the accident.  


Superstar Hopefuls Compete in Wichita for Spot on "Idol"

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of superstar hopefuls have auditioned in Wichita to appear on the television show "American Idol."  The Wichita Eagle reports that the stop Wednesday in Wichita was the show's first scouting visit to the city since it started 17 years ago.  Among those in line were hopefuls from Wichita, like Zephaniah Moore, an aspiring R&B singer who polled friends and family on Facebook about whether he should audition for "Idol." They said he should.  Also in line was Sharane Calister, a 26-year-old singer from Des Moines, Iowa, who in the spring of 2018 placed 11th on another singing competition, NBC's "The Voice."  Those given the green light in Wichita will have to survive several more rounds before they get a chance to sing in front of the celebrity judges.


Judge Orders Anheuser-Busch to Halt "Corn Syrup" Labels

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Anheuser-Busch to stop using packaging that implies MillerCoors' light beers contain corn syrup.  U.S. District Judge William Conley granted a preliminary injunction sought by MillerCoors.  Bud Light's packaging says "No Corn Syrup" in bold letters.  Conley says Anheuser-Busch can use the packaging it had on hand June 6 until it runs out, or until March 2020, whichever comes first.  The ruling extends a previous injunction Conley issued in May. Conley said then that Anheuser-Busch should stop mentioning "corn syrup" in ads without further context.  MillerCoors sued its rival in March, saying Anheuser-Busch has spent as much as $30 million on a "false and misleading" campaign.  MillerCoors uses corn syrup in the brewing process for Miller Lite and Coors Lite. Bud Light uses rice.


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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