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Headlines for Tuesday, August 3, 2021



Kansas AG Seeks to Keep Limits on Governor's COVID-19 Powers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt is taking his fight to curb the power of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and local officials to impose COVID-19 restrictions in Kansas to the state's highest court.  Schmidt announced Tuesday that he has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to keep in place a law that limits Kelly's power and local officials' authority even though a Johnson County trial-court judge struck it down last month. Schmidt is appealing District Judge David Hauber's ruling and wants the decision put on hold in the meantime. The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the law earlier this year to prevent Kelly from restricting businesses or imposing a statewide mask mandate.


Partisan Sniping Marks Kansas Redistricting Before It Starts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Partisan bickering among Kansas legislators over redistricting has intensified even before their first public hearings on how to redraw the state's political boundaries. Democrats are complaining that 14 town hall meetings across the state are scheduled over only five days next week. Each is an hour and 15 minutes and 10 of the events are during the day. Democrats see an attempt to limit public input. Republicans accuse Democrats of politicizing the redistricting process and say additional virtual town hall meetings will be held during the fall. Lawmakers must redraw congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts next year. 


Delta Variant Has K-12 Schools in Kansas Imposing Mask Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A growing number of Kansas public school districts are imposing mask mandates because of the more contagious COVID-19 delta variant. At least nine local districts with more than 92,000 students as of Tuesday had imposed a mask requirement for at least students under 12, who can’t get vaccinated. Most are requiring masks for everyone indoors. The nine districts have more than 19% of the state’s 476,000 students. Kansas has seen new COVID-19 cases increase over the past six weeks, and state data shows that confirmed delta variant cases have doubled or nearly doubled every two weeks. Governor Laura Kelly is recommending that K-12 schools require everyone to wear masks indoors.


COVID-19 Vaccines Going to Waste Across Kansas City Metro as Demand Drops

MISSION, Kan. (WDAF) — When vaccines for COVID-19 first became available, demand for shots was high. But things have changed.  WDAF TV reports that now, there's a glut of doses but patients are not as easy to find. The issue is that vials of the vaccine need to be defrosted and diluted but at walk-in clinics, there's no guarantee people will come in. The result is that the acceptability for vaccine waste has risen.  Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said,"We have vaccine clinics every week. For instance, we had one yesterday – (and) we had six people come. We are not seeing the demand for the vaccine that we are encouraging. We have had a very difficult time utilizing the vaccine that we have available. It’s sitting in a freezer getting closer and closer to its expiration date. And we’ve had to discard vaccine that wasn’t used by its expiration date."  In Johnson County, Health Services Division Director Stacie Province said they are offering the vaccine to patients who come for other services at their Olathe location. But they also still offer walk-in opportunities now in Mission, Kansas.


St. Louis Mask Mandate Temporarily on Hold; Missouri A-G Sues Kansas City 

UNDATED (AP) —  A judge has put St. Louis County's new mask requirement on hold for at least two weeks. Circuit Judge Ellen “Nellie” Ribaudo on Tuesday sided with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in issuing a temporary restraining order of a mask mandate that was issued by St. Louis County health officials in July. The St. Louis County Council voted last week to rescind the mask order, but County Executive Sam Page insisted it was still in place. Hours after that ruling, Schmitt filed a lawsuit against a new mask mandate in Kansas City, arguing that it was unreasonable government overreach.


Smoke from Western Wildfires Affecting Kansas Air Quality

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Smoke from wildfires in the Western United States is impacting air quality in Kansas.  WIBW TV reports that the Air Quality Index for Northeast Kansas on Monday was ranging between 130-150 (0-500 scale), similar to Sunday. Winds from the south are expected to blow the smoke from the area today (TUE) and Wednesday.  According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, atmospheric winds are pushing smoke all the way to the Midwest.  While most is staying in the upper atmosphere, some is making it to the surface.  KDHE says smoke can cause health problems in even healthy individuals, however, those with breathing issues, heart and lung diseases, the elderly, and children are at most risk.  Common problems include burning eyes, runny nose, and coughing.  KDHE recommends limiting strenuous outdoor exercise, drink lots of water and contact your doctor should you experience chest pains, tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.  For those with heart or respiratory issues, KDHE recommends staying indoors.


Kansas Voters Go to the Polls for Primary Election Day

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Today (TUE) is primary Election Day in Kansas. Among the numerous races throughout the state, Shawnee County residents may vote in as many as three races depending upon their precinct. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that five candidates are in the running for Topeka Mayor. There are also five candidates on the ballot in the Topeka city council district three race and four candidates are in the running for the school board in the Seaman School District. In Douglas County, the Lawrence Journal World reports that voters will choose their candidates for Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board.  Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says more than 1,400 advance ballots have already been cast, and about 1,300 advance mail-in ballots could returned to the clerk’s office this week. KCUR Radio reports that there are two mayoral races in Johnson County. Four candidates are in the running for Overland Park mayor and four mayoral hopefuls are on the ballot in Edgerton. The Kansas City Star reports that Johnson County residents will also be voting on several school board races. Two Olathe City Council seats are on the ballot and there are city council races in Lenexa and Merriam. Polls are open until 7:00 pm.


Kansas Sees Tax Collections Beat Expectations by 11% in July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections in July were 11% greater than expected. That's good news even as the spread of the more contagious COVID-19 delta variant has some officials worried about the economy. The state Department of Revenue says Kansas collected nearly $603 million in general tax revenues last month. Its official forecast predicted $543 million so that the surplus was $60 million. Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart said consumer spending on goods and services has not slowed down. But he added that department economists are watching to see whether a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases because of the delta variant hurts the economy. 


Major Food Supplier Halts Deliveries, Affecting Kansas Restaurants

MCPHERSON, Kan. (KWCH) - Major food distributor Sysco is halting deliveries to a number of restaurants in Kansas citing labor shortages in the industry.  KWCH TV reports that small businesses, like JD’s Kwik Burger, in McPherson, are left scrambling to find other options.  Owner Chaz Clark said she’s angry after just learning Sunday that she would not be getting her delivery for the week.  “My first reaction was to cry, just because it’s really overwhelming,” she said. Clark says her phone has been ringing constantly, she’s losing business and there’s nothing she can do about it.  “Until I can find another vendor that can give me what my customers expect of me, until all of that works, I just have to roll with the punches right now,” she said.  KWCH reached out to Sysco for more details on the issue. The company sent the following statement: “Sysco regrets that we have had to delay or pause service for a limited number of customers in various locations. This is mainly due to unprecedented labor shortages in the industry. We are aggressively recruiting delivery partners and warehouse associates, and our goal is to restore service to our impacted customers as soon as possible.”  Other restaurants in the Wichita area say they too are impacted by Sysco’s halted deliveries.  Sysco would not say how many businesses are impacted or how long it will take to restore service.


2 Charged with Killing, Dismembering Woman in Missouri

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man and woman have been indicted for first-degree murder for allegedly strangling a woman and dismembering her body. On Monday, the Jackson County prosecutor announced a grand jury indictment against 40-year-old Michael Hendricks and 30-year-old Maggie Ybarra. They're charged with killing 32-year-old Kensie Renee Aubry last year, among other charges. A teenage girl who says Hendricks sexually assaulted her helped police find Aubry's dismembered body, which was buried in garbage bags in Hendricks' Kansas City-area property. Hendricks's lawyer says he'll get a robust defense. Ybarra's public defender didn't immediately return an Associated Press call Monday.


Police: Missouri Toddler Killed After Finding Gun in Home

INDEPENDENCE, Mo (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City say a toddler has died after finding an unsecured gun inside a home. Officials say the shooting happened Sunday night in Independence. First responders arrived shortly before 9:30 pm Sunday at the home to find a 2-year-old child with a gunshot wound. The child was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead. The child's name was not immediately released. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office and police are working together to determine whether any charges will be filed.


Two Dead After Early Morning Shooting in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — Police in Kansas City police found two people dead inside an apartment building early Monday morning.  KMBC TV reports that officers were called to 1600 Citadel Drive shortly at 6 am after neighbors reported hearing an argument and then gunshots.  Police say two people were shot and killed inside one of the units.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (816) 234-5043 or the TIPS Hotline anonymously at 474-TIPS. There is a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest.


FBI Investigates Bank Robbery in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — The FBI is investigating a robbery that happened on Monday at a Commerce Bank in Kansas City, Kansas (1906 West 43rd Avenue).   According to the FBI, the suspect walked into the bank a handed a teller a demand note.  He then left the scene with an unknown amount of money. KSHB TV reports that The suspect did not show any weapons and no injuries were reported.  The suspect was between 5 feet 5 inches, or 5 feet 8 inches tall. He was bald and was wearing a dark green shirt long sleeve shirt, jeans and dark shoes.  Anyone with information is asked to contact authorities.


Four Killed in Cass County Crash Involving Tractor-Trailer

GARDEN CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say at least four people have died following a crash on Missouri Highway 7 in Cass County.  KMBC-TV reports the preliminary investigation indicates a tractor-trailer headed south lost control and went off the road the Garden City bridge late Monday morning.  The tractor-trailer crossed the grassy median that divides the highway, entered the northbound lanes and struck an SUV head-on. Three people were declared dead at the scene and two others were taken to an area hospital, where one of them died a short time later.


No Masks, Thousands of Fans: Doctors Share Concerns Ahead of Garth Brooks Concert at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Thousands of fans plan to welcome one of country music’s biggest stars to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium this weekend. More than 60,000 people are expected to be cheering when Garth Brooks takes the stage Saturday nightWDAF TV reports that while the Kansas City Chiefs recommend masks for anyone attending the concert who isn’t vaccinated, masks are not required inside the stadium, even with Kansas City’s mask mandate. Arrowhead is considered an outdoor facility, and the city’s emergency order only mandates masks indoors. But the anticipated lack of masks at the popular concert concerns some Kansas City doctors.  “Here’s my personal preference: If you’re in a really big public space like that, with a whole lot of people, I think I’m gonna wear a mask there,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System.  Stites also pointed out that the concert is outdoors and said that’s the one promising aspect of it from a safety standpoint. According to the Chiefs’ website, workers will sanitize high-touch areas before and during the concert. There will also be hand sanitizer available throughout the stadium.  One thing that some might not be aware of is the state of Kansas still requires people to quarantine if they are not vaccinated, but are attending a mass gathering out of state where masks and social distancing are not practiced.  The Garth Brooks concert at Arrowhead meets those quarantine requirements.  The Chiefs and Kansas City, Missouri Health Department plan to hold a vaccination clinic Saturday before the concert begins.  Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted that he expects anyone vaccinated at Saturday’s clinic to have a chance to win seat upgrades in a raffle.


Police: Man Arrested for Baseball Bat Attack in Garden City

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 36-year-old man is under arrest after breaking into a Garden City home and chasing people inside while wielding a baseball bat.  The Wichita Eagle reports that police say the man smashed the bat into a large window, climbed into the residence and chased two people. When the people ran outside, he followed and began hitting two vehicles. Police say he also attempted to swing the bat at responding police officers. He was arrested on possible charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, criminal threat and criminal damage to property.


Woman Charged with Murder for Crash that Killed Toddler 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas woman has been charged with murder for a car crash that killed a toddler. KSNT-TV on Monday reported Jhanae Alexus Tate was charged with crimes including first-degree murder and driving under the influence for the May 9 Topeka crash. Police say Tate veered off the road and hit a mailbox. She overcorrected and drove into oncoming traffic, hitting another vehicle head-on. An 18-month-old child in Tate's car died. Two adults and two children in the other car were hospitalized. Tate's jailed on a $1 million bond. Her lawyer didn't immediately return Associated Press requests for comment Tuesday. 


Evictions Expected to Spike in Kansas, Elsewhere as Federal Moratorium Ends

BOSTON (AP/KPR) — Housing courts around the country are expected to get busy after the federal eviction moratorium was lifted over the weekend. Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted in the coming weeks. But most expect an uptick in filings in the coming days rather than a wave of evictions. The Biden administration announced last week that it would allow a nationwide ban to expire on Saturday. It argued that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month.

Thousands of Kansas tenants are now in danger of losing their homes. As many as 24,000 Kansas renters who are behind on their rent could be forced to find a new place to live in the coming days. But financial assistance is available to help Kansas tenants and landlords avoid the eviction process.  


Moratorium's End May Mean Thousands of Evictions in Missouri

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Across Missouri, thousands of families face potential eviction with the expiration of the federal moratorium imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The freeze that ended Saturday was meant to provide relief to tenants unable to keep up with their rent during the coronavirus pandemic. The Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which tracks evictions nationwide, shows that more than 13,000 eviction filings have been issued against tenants in Missouri’s two metropolitan areas since March 15, 2020. That includes nearly 8,300 filings in St. Louis city and county combined, and more than 5,100 in Kansas City and the rest of Jackson County.

Protesters Demand Help to Stop Evictions in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Protesters are demanding St. Louis officials do more to prevent evictions. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports about 40 protesters occupied the mayor's office Monday. There are more than 3,000 pending St. Louis eviction cases. A federal suspension on evictions ended over the weekend.  Residents now can apply for housing assistance directly through the city. Mayor Tishaura Jones also set aside another $1.5 million to speed the application process. But protesters say that's too little too late. A protest organizer says the application is tedious and help is delayed, if any comes at all.


Kansas AG Vows to Prosecute Any Violation of Election Laws in Douglas County

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he will prosecute any violations of election laws in Douglas County that the district attorney refuses to act upon. Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said last week her office will not prosecute violations of new voting laws that took effect on July 1.  She said the law is too vague and too broad. Among its provisions is one that makes it illegal to "give the appearance of being an election official.” State-level voter engagement groups contend the provision could criminalize their work if Kansans mistake volunteers for election officials. Schmidt is a Republican seeking his party’s nomination for governor. He urged law enforcement agencies in the county to refer election law cases to him.


Kansas Man Drowns at Lake of the Ozarks

LAKE OZARK, Mo. (KMIZ) - A Kansas man went missing Saturday night at the Shady Gators Bar and Grill and his body was found two days later according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  According to the drowning incident report, 20-year-old Cornelious Anderson, of Elwood, Kansas, was last seen entering the water by contracted security at Shady Gators Saturday evening. Anderson's body was recovered Monday morning and pronounced dead by a Camden County medical examiner.  This is the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F's fifth reported drowning in July and seventh drowning this year.  (Read more.)


Two Deaths in Kansas City, Kansas, Ruled Homicides

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas City, Kansas, police are investigating the deaths of two people last week as homicides. Twenty-four-year-old Jordan Horton and 22-year-old Heather Miller, both of Kansas City, Kansas, were found dead at an apartment on Thursday. Police initially called the case a death investigation but said Tuesday it is now a double homicide case. Police say the initial investigation indicates the victims were dead for several days before their bodies were found after Miller's family requested a welfare check. No suspects were in custody as of Tuesday afternoon. 


Man Sentenced to Five Years for Crash That Killed Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 37-year-old Wichita man has been sentenced to five years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed a woman and injured two others. Jeremey Crowder pleaded guilty in May to involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence and two counts of aggravated battery. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office said Crowder ran a red light in Wichita on March 19, 2019, and hit another car. Fifty-seven-year-old Yvonne Recchio died at the scene. Her husband and another passenger in the car were injured. Prosecutors said Crowder's blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was more than double the legal limit. 


Sheriff IDs Man Who Drowned at Kansas Lake

RENO COUNTY, Kan. (Hays Post) — The body of a missing person at Cheney Lake has been recovered, according to the Reno County Sherriff's Department.  Just before 8 am Monday, a fisherman reported finding the man missing since Saturday.  The Hays Post reports that several Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks boats responded to the location and performed the recovery.  Authorities identified the victim as 48-year-old Ty Freel, of Wichita.  


Kansas Man Dies After Crash with a Semi

GRAHAM COUNTY, Kan. (JC Post) — A Kansas man died in an accident Monday afternoon in Graham County.  According to the JC Post, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2005 Chevy Cobalt driven by 35-year-old Cody J. Johnson, of Hays, was southbound on U.S. 283 nine miles north of Hill City.  The vehicle traveled left of center and struck a northbound 2005 International semi driven by 75-year-old Kenneth L. Schemper, of Prairie View, on the left front corner of the truck.  The Chevy came to rest in the east ditch and the semi came to rest in the west ditch.  Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene and was transported to Stinemetz Funeral Home in Hill City.  Schemper was not injured. Investigators say Johnson was not wearing a seat belt.


Third Former Kansas Jail Employee Arrested in Theft Probe

CONCORDIA, Kan. (KPR) - A third person has been arrested in connection with the theft of public money at the Cloud County Jail.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 33-year-old Nicholas Clanin, of Concordia, was arrested in Belleville and booked into the Republic County Jail facing possible charges of theft, misuse of public funds, official misconduct, and other charges.  KBI agents say Clanin was a Cloud County jail lieutenant when the alleged crimes occurred.  Agents also arrested the jail's former administrator, 40-year-old Amber Lindberg, of Concordia, in Minneapolis, Kansas, on Wednesday on suspicion of theft, misuse of public funds, official misconduct and several other counts. Lindberg’s mother, 62-year-old Joyce Jasper, of Concordia, was arrested on suspicion of theft.  An arrest warrant has been issued for 22-year-old Alexandra Wilcox, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, a former corrections officer at the jail. She faces a possible misdemeanor theft charge.The KBI did not provide details about the alleged theft.  The Lincoln County Attorney has been appointed as special prosecutor for the case.


Remains of Emporia Marine Killed During World War II Identified

EMPORIA, Kan. (KWCH) - The remains of a Kansas marine killed during World War II have been identified. KWCH TV reports that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) said 19-year-old Marine Corps Private First Class Glenn F. White, of Emporia, was accounted for on June 7, 2021.  In November 1943, White was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated.  White died on the third day of battle, November 22, 1943. He was reported to have been buried in Row D of the East Division Cemetery, later renamed Cemetery 33.  In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation. However, almost half of the known casualties were never found. No recovered remains could be associated with White, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”  In 2009, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, discovered a burial site on Betio Island believed to be Cemetery 33, which has been the site of numerous excavations ever since. In March 2019, excavations west of Cemetery 33 revealed a previously undiscovered burial site that has since been identified as Row D. The remains recovered at this site were transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. 

To identify White’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.  White’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.  White will be buried in his hometown. The date is yet to be determined.


Lawrence Library Lands Grant to Help Black, Indigenous and POC Pursue Library Careers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The Lawrence Public Library has received a grant worth nearly $100,000 to fund a pilot program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Northeast Kansas interested in pursuing careers in libraries.  Earlier this year, library staffers submitted a grant proposal to The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund the program.  Last week, the library got word that the project had been selected and awarded funding of $93,950.  “Historically, library professionals have been overwhelmingly white. There are a lot of barriers to entering the profession, especially for marginalized folks,” said Brad Allen, the library’s Executive Director. “The goal of this program is to break down those barriers and help recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects and represents our community.”  The program will pay for two BIPOC community members to obtain their Master’s in Library Science from Emporia State University. The program will run for two years and participants will be employed with paid internships at Lawrence Public Library for the duration. Students will visit partner sites so they can gain a variety of library experience, including KU Libraries, Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Northeast Kansas Library System. The library will announce details soon for how to apply. "I’m thrilled at the opportunities this program will bring to BIPOC members of our community,” said Frankie Haynes, the library’s Diversity and Equity Coordinator. “I hope that we can set an example for other libraries and show them that investing in diversity pays off.”


Fort Scott National Historic Site Plans Geophysical Survey

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — Fort Scott National Historic Site is conducting a geophysical survey to better understand how the fort looked in the 1840s. A four-person crew from the Nebraska-based Midwest Archeological Center plans to look into the ground using ground-penetrating radar and other technology to survey the area known as the Quartermaster’s Quadrangle. They will also survey for other features such as latrines, washhouses and other buildings. Fort Scott said in a news release that the survey work begins Monday and will continue through August 13. The crew plans to return next spring to survey areas in the restored prairie.


AP Sources: Pac-12, Big 12 Commissioners Consider Alliances

The commissioners of the Pac-12 and Big 12 are discussing how the two conferences might benefit from working together or maybe even merging. Two people with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press about the talks between Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and George Kliavkoff from the Pac-12. The Big 12 is trying to rebound after learning Texas and Oklahoma plan to leave for the Southeastern Conference in 2025. The Big 12 has to start looking at how to move forward without their flagship programs immediately.  The Pac-12 has not indicated it is in a rush to add members.


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 and by 1 pm on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  


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