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Headlines for Tuesday, January 25, 2022

 

UPDATE: Westbound I-70 Has Reopened at Goodland 

Wintry Weather in Colorado Forces I-70 to Close at Goodland

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) has closed westbound traffic on I-70 at Goodland because of winter weather conditions in Colorado. Motorists traveling west on I-70 are advised to use alternate routes or delay travel if possible.  Additional closures may be necessary if conditions worsen. Please follow Northwest Kansas KDOT on Facebook or follow Northwest Kansas KDOT on Twitter for updates.  For up-to-date information on road closures and road conditions, visit www.kandrive.org, or call 511 in Kansas or (866) 511-5368 outside Kansas.

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Kansas Governor Requests a Federal Disaster Declaration for December Storms

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Governor Laura Kelly is asking President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster for the state of Kansas because of damage resulting from severe storms with extreme high winds on December 15, 2021.  In her request, Kelly said the storm system generated wind gusts ranging from 60 to 100 mph, causing widespread damage. The high winds and dry conditions also led to wildfires that burned more than 160,000 acres and resulted in the deaths of two people. Kelly’s letter said the weather event was of an extremely rare nature, citing information from the Topeka office of the National Weather Service that registered 90 mph winds at 4,000 feet, which was stronger that any winds recorded at that level since 1955.  Preliminary estimates placed the total damage for all involved counties in excess of $15 million. Kelly’s request is for federal funding to help restore damaged public utilities, roads and bridges. “Severe storm damages can be bad enough,” Kelly said, “but to add to that the losses caused by wildfires creates a heavy financial burden on our Kansas counties. I am requesting this disaster declaration to help our counties repair the damages caused by these storms and wildfires and get things back to normal for our citizens.”

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Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline Led Effort to Promote Fake Trump Electors in 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR/KNS) - Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is back in the news.  Kline is director of a group called The Amistad Project, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading election integrity watchdog.” Recent news reports reveal that The Amistad Project was active in promoting fake slates of pro-Trump electors.  On Friday, The New York Times reported that as members of the Electoral College were set to meet on December 14, 2020, and certify electors in all 50 states, a lawyer for The Amistad Project tried to deliver a fake slate of pro-Trump electors to the Michigan Legislature but was turned away by state troopers. The Times reported that Kline on the same day fanned across right-wing media outlets promoting the fake elector plan.  The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has been looking into the role the fake elector slates played in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  Documents obtained by American Oversight, a government watchdog group, show that Republicans in seven states sought to replace valid presidential electors from those states with pro-Trump slates. Earlier this month, the attorneys general of Michigan and New Mexico asked federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into the matter. (Read more.)

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Kansas Health Officials Report Second Child COVID Death in a Week

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Another Kansas child’s death has been linked to COVID-19. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the death is in the 10-to-17-year-old age group. Last Wednesday, the KDHE reported a death in the 0-to-9-year-old age group.  KSNW TV reports that the two deaths bring the total number of COVID-19 pediatric deaths to eight in Kansas. The KDHE does not release victims’ genders, locations, exact ages, or the date of their deaths.  Since Friday, KDHE reports a total of 17 more deaths and 71 new hospitalizations linked to COVID-19. The KDHE samples about two percent of the positive cases for variants. Of the recent positive cases, 104 are the omicron variant, while seven are the delta variant.  Of Kansans eligible to get vaccinated, 65.03% have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 55.91% have completed a vaccine series.

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Kansas Governor Calls for Investigation into Teen's Death

UNDATED (AP) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has ordered the state agency that oversees foster care to investigate the death of a 17-year-old who was restrained facedown for more than 30 minutes last fall at a Wichita juvenile intake center after his foster father called begging for help because the teen was hallucinating. Kelly called the situation ``tragic`` in calling for the Kansas Department for Children and Families to review the case of Cedric Lofton and see if policies needed to be changed. Her comments come one week after Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett expressed concerns about the handling of Lofton's case when he announced that he wouldn't file any criminal charges. 

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GOP Redistricting Map Pairs Progressive Lawrence with Trump-Loving Rural Areas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas are close to passing a congressional redistricting plan that ties a community known for its so-called “woke” politics to Trump-loving small towns and farms five or hours more west by car on the expansive plains. Lawrence is a city of nearly 95,000 people in northeast Kansas that’s home to the main University of Kansas campus and it has a reputation for liberal politics. It would become part of the sprawling district for western and central Kansas. That means it would join counties where former President Donald Trump received more than 80% of the vote in 2020. Democrats don’t have the political strength to prevent the plan's passage.

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Police Identify Man Accused in Wichita Hotel Shootout with Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities have identified a man accused of exchanging gunfire with deputies outside a Wichita hotel before he was arrested following a seven-hour standoff. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Kory Anziana, of Wichita, was arrested and faces a count of aggravated assault and several other charges. Officials say the confrontation began early Monday when Anziana fled a traffic stop. Police say when Anziana's vehicle became high-centered near a Regency Inn, he got out and fired at two deputies, who returned fire. No one was injured. Authorities say Anziana ran into a hotel room where five people loosely associated with him were staying. After several hours, those people left the room and Anziana was arrested.

(–Earlier reporting–)

Standoff After Gunfire at Wichita Hotel Ends Peacefully

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a man who exchanged gunfire with officers was arrested after a seven-hour standoff at a west Wichita hotel. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lt.  Benjamin Blick said the confrontation began early Monday when a driver fled after a deputy tried to stop him for a traffic violation. After a short pursuit, the suspect's vehicle became high-centered near a Regency Inn. Blick says the man got out of the vehicle and fired at two deputies, who returned fire. No one was injured. Blick says the suspect fled into a hotel room where five people loosely associated with him were staying. After several hours, those people left the room and the suspect was taken into custody.

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Police Identify Man Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have identified a man shot to death in Kansas City, Kansas, near the Missouri border over the weekend. Police say 24-year-old Alec Byers, of Kansas City, Missouri, died in the shooting that happened after 11 p.m. Sunday near State Line Road. Officials say emergency dispatchers received calls about a person having been shot inside a vehicle, and arriving officers discovered Byers, who had already died from gunshot wounds. No other information about the shooting has been given. No arrests or suspect information has been reported in the case.

(–Earlier reporting–)

Police: Man Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas, Sunday Night

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating the late-night shooting death of a man in Kansas City, Kansas, near the Missouri border. Police say the shooting happened after 11 pm Sunday near State Line Road, when emergency dispatchers received calls about a person having been shot inside a vehicle. Arriving officers discovered a man who had already died from gunshot wounds. Police have not released the man's name, and no other information about the shooting has been given. No arrests or suspect information has been reported in the case, and investigators have asked for the public's help to get more information on the shooting.

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Police: Man Shot and Killed in Kansas City, Kansas, Saturday Night

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating a fatal shooting in Kansas City, Kansas this weekend. Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman Officer T.J. Tomasic said officers were called to a home in the 1100 block of South 47th Terrace shortly after 11 pm Saturday because a man was lying in the driveway. Officers determined that the man had been shot and was dead. His name and age were not immediately released. The shooting is being investigated by the police department's Major Case Unit. Police did not immediately release any additional details about the shooting, and no arrests were reported Sunday.

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CNN’s Sanjay Gupta to Receive KU’s Top Journalism Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, will come to the University of Kansas this spring to receive KU's top journalism award.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Gupta has been selected to receive the 2022 William Allen White Foundation National Citation.  He's scheduled to come to KU April 21 to receive the award.  “The William Allen White Foundation Board of Trustees continues their tradition of selecting a journalist who is making an impact on the profession,” Ann Brill, dean of the School of Journalism, said in a news release. “In Dr. Gupta’s case, that impact extends to the entire world.”  Gupta has investigated multiple health trends and phenomena, including the COVID-19 pandemic.  Gupta joined CNN in 2001.  He continues to be a practicing neurosurgeon.  

Gupta was selected for the national citation by a vote of the William Allen White Foundation Board of Trustees. The award, named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Emporia, has been recognizing outstanding journalists since 1950. Past winners include Cokie Roberts, Seymour Hersh, Walter Cronkite, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Helen Thomas, Charles Kuralt, Bernard Shaw, Bob Woodward, Gordon Parks, Bob Dotson and Frank Deford.

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Topeka Man to Face Murder Charge After Toddler Shoots Teenager

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man will stand trial for murder after a toddler used a gun to accidentally kill a teenager in June. Shawnee County District Judge David Debenham ruled Monday that prosecutors had enough evidence to try DeJuan Yelverton for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Yelverton pleaded not guilty to the two charges. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon by a felon. Prosecutors allege Yelverton left a gun hanging off the top of a refrigerator. A toddler later got the loaded gun and accidentally shot 13-year-old DaMya Hudnall in the head. She died a few days later.

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Ex-Coach Admits Posing as Girl to Get Explicit Photos from Teen Boys

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former assistant boys high school basketball coach in Topeka has admitted to posing as a teenage girl on social media to get explicit photos from other teens. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 41-year-old Jeffrey Pierce pleaded guilty Friday to one count of producing child pornography in exchange for the dismissal of 11 other federal charges he faced. Pierce taught ninth-grade social studies and was an assistant basketball coach at Seaman. He was fired after he was arrested in September 2020. He admitted through his plea that he asked nine 14-to 16-year-old boys for sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves while pretending to be a teenage girl on Snapchat, Instagram and other social media platforms.

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Mother of Kansas City Woman Killed in Firetruck Crash Sues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The mother of a woman killed in a firetruck crash in Kansas City is suing the city, the fire department and the employee who was driving the truck. The Kansas City Star reports that Judy Holland, mother of 41-year-old Tami Knight, alleges in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last week that the fire pumper driver was negligent in the minutes before the truck hit another vehicle and then hit Knight, who was walking in the city's Westport district. Two people inside the vehicle also died in the December 15 crash. The fire department said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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Missouri Man Allegedly Released over COVID-19 Diagnosis Lands Back in Jail

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police officials are conducting an internal investigation to determine why a man suspected of domestic assault was released from a St. Louis jail without being charged. A St. Louis police union official alleged that 36-year-old Mac Payne was released from jail January 4 because he tested positive for COVID-19. Payne was arrested again on Friday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Payne pleaded not guilty Monday to second- and third-degree domestic assault. Payne’s attorney confirmed during the hearing that he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Interim Public Safety Director Dan Isom said Monday that Payne's release was a “poor decision” and that an internal affairs investigation has begun.

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Kidnapping Suspect Dies in Custody at Wichita Hospital

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man charged with trying to kidnap a 10-year-old boy in 2020 has died in custody while awaiting trial. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County Sheriff's office said 64-year-old Webb Wray Ketcherside died Thursday at a Wichita hospital where he was being treated for an undisclosed "serious chronic illness." Ketcherside had been in custody since his arrest in July 2020. Prosecutors had said Ketcherside approached the boy, made sexually explicit comments and grabbed his arm, but the boy was able to break free and run to a QuikTrip for help. Ketcherside, who had a 1998 sex crime conviction out of Smith County, was arrested at his apartment later.

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Ex Waste Management Worker Sues over Racial Discrimination

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Black former Waste Management employee said in a federal lawsuit that his supervisor and coworkers in Topeka discriminated against him because of his race. The Wichita Eagle reports that Robert Smith worked for the trash company for 13 years before he was fired last year. Smith's lawsuit describes a series of incidents including coworkers calling him obscenities and playing racist videos when he was around. He said he reported the incidents to supervisors who didn't investigate them. But Waste Management said in a response to the lawsuit that the company didn't discriminate against Smith and its lawyers defended the decision to fire him.

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Ochai Agbaji Helps No. 5 Kansas Beat No. 13 Texas Tech 94-91 in Double Overtime

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 37 points to help No. 5 Kansas avenge its only conference loss of the season with a 94-91 double overtime win over No. 13 Texas Tech. Agbaji outdueled Bryson Williams, who poured in 33 points for Tech. Kansas led by one in the second overtime when Williams banked in a 3-pointer. KJ Adams tipped in a miss to tie the game at 91 with 1:39 left. Jalen Wilson gave the Jayhawks (17-2, 6-1 Big 12) the lead, hitting the second of two free throws 21 seconds later. After both teams went scoreless over the next 50 seconds, Christian Braun hit two free throws with 10.1 seconds remaining to make it a 94-91. Terrence Shannon missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it a few seconds later and Kansas held on.

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Bills-Chiefs Most-Watched TV Program Since Super Bowl

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL's epic playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs was the most-watched event on television since the last Super Bowl. Nielsen said it reached nearly 43 million television viewers on Sunday night. During the fourth quarter in Kansas City, the game's audience share was 90 — meaning 90 percent of the television sets on at the time were tuned in to the game. All four games ended with a score breaking up a tie game, so the television audiences swelled instead of falling off. As the Bills-Chiefs game went into overtime, for instance, the Nielsen company said an estimated 51.7 million people were watching.

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Chiefs' Harrison Butker Coming Through in Clutch Once Again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After three divisional playoff games had been decided on last-second field goals, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker had to know that fate was probably going to send him onto the field for a pressure-laden try against Buffalo on Sunday night. The rest went down in playoff history: Butker split the uprights from 49 yards as time expired to send the game to overtime, and Mahomes and Co. took care of the rest, marching for the decisive touchdown in a wild 42-36 victory. It was just the latest clutch kick for Butker, who is already one of the most accurate in NFL history.

"As a kicker, I try to be ready for every moment," Butker said, "whether that's the first series, an extra point, the last series, a game-tying kick to go to overtime. I have to prepare every series like I'm going to have a big kick, and if we have the ball, I have to be ready to go. And when you have 13 seconds, you're going to need to be ready in a hurry."  Butker's stone-cold kick on a chilly night at Arrowhead Stadium has been overshadowed by the back-and-forth drama of Mahomes and Buffalo counterpart Josh Allen, who might as well have been playing H-O-R-S-E the way they were going at it.

Also forgotten: The fact that Butker had earlier missed an extra point and 50-yard field goal try.  And that 50-yarder came from nearly the exact same spot on the field as his kick to force overtime. "You know, I think it was actually a blessing," he said. "When you have a missed kick, you're able to think about what you need to change, what you need to adjust. The 50-yard, left-hash kick, I adjusted my aiming point too much, deviated from a game plan I had in the warm-up. After that I kind of kicked myself in the butt and said, 'Stay with what you did in the warm-up.' I took what I could from the miss and that helped me with the 49-yard, left-hash, same-direction kick."

The two misses notwithstanding, Butker has been nearly perfect for Kansas City all season. He missed just two PATs on 49 tries, and he was 25 of 28 on field-goal attempts, good for one of the best percentages in the NFL.  He's currently third in career field-goal percentage behind only the Ravens' Justin Tucker.

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Even Winning Coach Andy Reid Questions NFL's Overtime Setup

UNDATED (AP) – Even Andy Reid, the winning coach in Sunday night's playoff matchup between the Bills and Chiefs, is questioning the NFL’s overtime setup. One day after Reid’s Chiefs won the OT coin toss, then marched downfield for Travis Kelce’s 8-yard touchdown reception to end an epic divisional round game with Buffalo, Reid recognized how fortunate Kansas City was. He said he expects the league to look at the rules that end the game if the team with the first possession of OT scores a touchdown. Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins is hopeful some changes will be coming.  The Chiefs were on the losing end of the NFL's overtime rules during the playoffs in 2018, when they lost a close game to the New England Patriots without ever having a chance to posses the ball in overtime.

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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! 

 

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