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Headlines for Tuesday, July 28, 2020

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Kansas Governor Eyes More Restrictions

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The number of new coronavirus cases in Kansas rose by more than a thousand over the weekend. That uptick has the governor thinking it’s time to cut back on public gatherings. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says that if she doesn’t see a decline in new cases by the end of the week, she’ll recommend moving the state back into Phase 2, which limits gatherings to 15 people and closes bars and nightclubs. "We’ve got to do better than this," she said. "Elected leaders in Kansas cannot continue to sit back in silence. The health and safety of Kansans depends on it.” But since late May, Kansas counties have been able to accept or reject the governor’s recommendations. While most people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered, Kansas has seen 335 people die from the virus, with nine added over the weekend.  

AP version

As COVID-19 Spreads, Kansas Governor Considers More Restrictions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Laura Kelly says she's considering recommending that Kansas counties shut down bars again -- and... limit public gatherings to 15 people. All in hopes of reversing a resurgence in reported coronavirus cases. The governor said Monday that the resurgence in cases is making the state's previous work to contain the virus "all for naught." Kelly says she'll push next week to close bars and lower the limit on gatherings if the state doesn't get the spread of the novel coronavirus under better control. The Democratic governor has issued previous orders calling for statewide restrictions, but Kansas law allows the state's 105 counties to opt out of her directives.  

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COVID-19 Case Numbers in Kansas Now Exceed 26,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Since the pandemic began, more than 26,000 Kansans have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Kansas health officials released the latest numbers Monday, revealing 26,172 people have now tested positive. The vast majority of those cases represent patients who have recovered from COVID-19, but 335 people in Kansas have died.  A new round of data will be released Wednesday.   

(Kansas health officials release new data on COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Reopening of Kansas City, Kansas, Public School Buildings Delayed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A local health official has ordered public schools in the Kansas City, Kansas, area not to reopen their buildings until after Labor Day because of the coronavirus pandemic. Wyandotte County Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Allen Greiner said Monday that he issued the order to give the county’s four school districts more time to prepare for the reopening of in-person classes with health and safety precautions. His order came as Kansas reported another bad week-long spike in COVID-19-related deaths and its total number of reported coronavirus cases rose past 26,000. The state health department said Kansas had another nine deaths since Friday to bring the total to 335.

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Lawrence Schools to Begin Online Classes After Labor Day

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence school district has decided to start its school year after Labor Day with at least six weeks of online learning because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The Lawrence Journal-World reports school board members voted Monday to begin with fully remote learning and consider later in the year whether to adopt a hybrid model that would allow for students to spend some school days in classrooms and others at home with remote learning. Three of Kansas’s largest school districts voted last week not to resume their classes until after the holiday.

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Kansas Congressman Says He Didn't Lie About Voting Form

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins of Kansas says he didn't tell authorities that a staff member submitted an incorrect voting registration form on his behalf, adding that his voter registration form was a “collegial effort” with his staff. Watkins is facing three felony charges and one misdemeanor after a voter registration form listed a post office box in Topeka as his home when he voted in a Topeka City Council race in November 2019. In an interview Tuesday with The Kansas City Star, Watkins acknowledged that he voted in the wrong district but he said listing the incorrect address was a mistake, not a felony.

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More Kansans Voting Early or by Mail Amid Virus Outbreak

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is seeing an increase in advance voting for the Aug. 4 primary amid the coronavirus outbreak. As of Tuesday, the number of ballots voters returned by mail is six times more than the ballots returned in 2016, according to data collected by the Associated Press. The number of ballots returned by mail is also six times more than the ballots returned in 2018. The number of advance ballots cast in person is slightly ahead of those cast in 2016. Kansas is one of 30 states that don’t require a voter to have a reason to vote absentee. 

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Kansas Agency Balks at Releasing Records for Slain Child

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s child welfare agency balked at releasing its records about a 3-year-old girl whose battered body was found this month, despite a 2018 law that aimed to make such documents more transparent. That law says Kansas Department for Children and Families’ documents are public records in the event child abuse or neglect results in a child fatality or near fatality. However, the agency has declined to release to The Associated Press records pertaining to Olivia Ann Jansen, saying it's still investigating. The girl's remains were found in a shallow grave on July 10. Her dad and his girlfriend are charged with murder.

(–Related–)

KCK 3-Year-Old Died from Brain Bleed; Father Charged

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Investigators say a 3-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, girl whose body was found earlier this month was covered in bruises and died of a brain bleed. The remains of Olivia Ann Jansen were discovered after her father, Howard Jansen III, reported her missing. The 29-year-old father and his girlfriend have since been charged with felony murder and other crimes.  WDAF-TV reports that a court affidavit from investigators reveals Olivia's face, arms and legs were covered in bruises. An autopsy showed significant bleeding on the back of her brain. The young girl's grandparents said they had raised concerns about Olivia's safety and well-being with child protective services.  

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Kansas City Man Charged in Shooting of Woman Riding an ATV

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with fatally shooting a woman as she rode on an all-terrain vehicle. Prosecutors announced Monday that 38-year-old Glenn Darren Rucker is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the July 1 shooting of 41-year-old Sharon Heifner-Douglas. The Kansas City Star reports that witnesses told police she was riding the ATV with her dog walking alongside her in the grass when a sport utility vehicle pulled up and fired shots at her. The witnesses said they did not hear or see any conflict between anyone in the vehicle and Heifner-Douglas.

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Police Oversight Meeting Grows Heated After Friday Protest

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An Overland Park police oversight meeting has grown heated after exchanges over arrests at a protest for racial justice. About 14 protesters attended the meeting Monday, the Kansas City Star reports. Protesters said police at the Friday protest didn’t act with professionalism and some were not wearing name badges. The police department in a statement said that officers were allowed to remove their name badges because they were concerned that their personal information would be posted online. Friday night’s demonstration grew tense when some protesters refused to walk on the sidewalk. 

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Missouri Woman Sues City, Ex-Cop Who Groped Her

ELWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri woman is suing a northeastern Kansas city and one of its former police officers who pleaded guilty to sexual battery for groping her during an arrest two years ago. The Kansas City Star reports that woman is suing the city of Elwood and former Officer Aaron Newberry for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit accuses them of negligent infliction of emotional distress. The woman details in the lawsuit that Newberry arrested her at a party in Elwood in July 2018 for having a small amount of marijuana. She says once they were in his patrol car, he groped her breasts under her shirt while she was handcuffed. Newberry was fired the day he was charged.

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Murder Suspect Arrested in Kansas City Through New Federal Law Enforcement Program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — FBI agents in Kansas City assisted local police in the arrest of a homicide suspect. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri praised the apprehension of 44-year-old Joel Roseberry as “good work” in a tweet Monday.  He is jailed on $200,000 bond on charges of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and evidence tampering in the March 1 fatal shooting of 28-year-old Frederick Outley outside of a convenience store. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.  The federal agents are in Kansas City as part of new controversial federal crime fighting effort.   

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Fight Ends over Water Rights at Central Kansas Wildlife Refuge

ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP/KPR) - Irrigators in central Kansas have been battling over water with a wildlife refuge in central Kansas. But that battle may be coming to an end. An agreement over water rights at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has been signed. The Hutchinson News reports the agreement between the federal government and local farmers over water rights at the refuge was signed Saturday. The plan is to end water rights in sensitive areas of the wildlife refuge and allow water rights in less sensitive areas. Quivira is a water-filled refuge and a hotspot for wildlife migration. The agreement means local farmers can continue irrigating their crops. The next step in the water-rights agreement is to conduct environmental testing. Not everyone is happy with this latest arrangement. Critics point out that Quivira has one of the oldest -- or most senior -- water rights in the area and should get all the water it needs, even if that means cutting off water to those holding junior water rights.

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Police Investigate Medicine Lodge Woman's Death as Homicide

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas state police are investigating the death of a woman in a small, south-central Kansas town as a homicide. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says police were called Monday afternoon to a Medicine Lodge residence after a family member found 61-year-old Joyce Foulkrod dead inside the home. A preliminary investigation indicates Foulkrod's death was a homicide. Authorities have not said how she may have died. An autopsy is scheduled. The KBI, Medicine Lodge police and the Barber County Sheriff's Office are investigating the death.

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Ruling: Kansas Must Release Names of Provisional Voters

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab must release the names of people who cast provisional ballots in the 2018 general election, including whether their votes were counted. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas called the court's decision a “resounding rebuke” to Schwab’s office and a victory for all Kansas voters. Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson issued her ruling Friday in a lawsuit filed last month on behalf of Loud Light, a nonprofit that seeks to increase voter turnout, and a voting rights advocate. Schwab called the entitlement to confidential information “sad.”

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Far Fewer Tornadoes Have Touched Down in Kansas This Year

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - There have been far fewer tornadoes in Kansas this year than normal. So far in 2020, there have only been 24 reported tornadoes in Kansas. That’s about half of the 10-year average. Bill Bunting is the chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. He says the number of tornadoes varies greatly each year. Couple that with only three or four decades of good data, and it’s hard to find long-term trends. He says some factors associated with climate change make tornadoes more likely, while others point to fewer. “And so the net effect of changing climate on tornado frequency is one we really can’t answer conclusively at this point,” Bunting said. He also says where a tornado happens matters more than how many touch down. Though nationally the number of tornadoes is down this year, tornado deaths are three times higher than the recent average.  

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KDHE Treats Milford Lake for Blue-Green Algae

CLAY CENTER, Kan. (KFRM) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) says it will conduct a spot treatment for blue-green algae today (TUE) at Milford Lake, the state's largest reservoir. Tom Stiles is the director of the department's Bureau of Water. He says this is the first time the state has ever used this treatment on a body of water bigger than a city lake. Stiles says an Indiana contractor will inject hydrogen peroxide three feet under the water's surface to oxidize the harmful algal bloom. But Stiles said, "When it's applied to the lake water, it’ll dilute very quickly to concentrations that won’t harm fish, certainly not the game fish.” The treatment will cost around $100,000 to cover 250 to 275 acres of the lake. Algae blooms can be detrimental to the public water supply. Milford Reservoir empties into the Kansas River, which in turn, supports the public water supply for Manhattan, Topeka and Lawrence.

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Missouri Man Charged in Shooting Death of Wife in Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ Police in the Kansas City suburb of Independence say a 41-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife over the weekend. Ryan Smith is also charged with armed criminal action following the Sunday shooting. Police say officers were called to Smith's home Sunday night, and arriving officers found Smith leaving the home in a black Jeep. Police say as he was backing out of the driveway, another man at the home yelled, "That man shot my mom!" Police say Smith initially refused to pull over, but eventually stopped and was arrested. Officers found 52-year-old Daina Smith dead from a gunshot wound inside the home.

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Worker Fatally Shot at Wichita AutoZone Store

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police say an employee at an AutoZone store was fatally shot Sunday night in southeast Wichita. Police say three employees were in the business at the time of the shooting. One worker was in the restroom, another was in the back, getting a part. Emergency crews responded to the scene around 9 pm Sunday after an employee found a co-worker with a gunshot wound on the main floor and called police. The victim has been identified as 40-year-old Nicholas Blue of Wichita.

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Tractor / Train Accident Claims One Life in Central Kansas

HALSTEAD, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say one person was killed when a train and tractor collided in central Kansas. The crash happened Monday afternoon in Harvey County, south of U.S. Highway 50 between Burrton and Halstead. The tractor / train accident derailed the train. The driver of the tractor, a 21-year-old man, died at the scene.  

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Protesters Gather in Westport, Call for Police Accountability

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - At least 100 people gathered in the Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood of Westport this weekend to call for police accountability. The Kansas City Star reports protesters chanted Saturday night the names of men killed by Kansas City police. Organizer Oluwatoyin Keji Akinmoladun said they were there to tell the stories of those killed by Kansas City police: Ryan Stokes, Donnie Sanders, Terrance Bridges and Cameron Lamb. Another speaker questioned why officers needed to wear riot gear for a group of 30 protesters who came out Friday night in in neighboring Overland Park, Kansas.  

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Lawrence Makes Addressing Systemic Racism Budget Priority

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - City leaders in Lawrence say one of their budget priorities in the coming years will be addressing systemic racism. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city commission outlined that goal over the weekend, as part of the city's new strategic plan. The plan will be used to guide city budget decisions for the next three years. Protesters in Kansas and across the U.S. have taken to the streets to speak out against the death of George Floyd in Minnesota police custody. Lawrence Commissioner Lisa Larsen says the city now needs to take bold action against systemic racism.

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Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) Identified in Horses and Cattle in at Least 20 Kansas Counties

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has now identified positive cases of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in 20 Kansas counties. The virus primarily affects horses and cattle. The KDA's Division of Animal Health continues to respond to the VSV outbreak that began in south central Kansas in mid-June and has now spread to the north and east. VSV is a viral disease which primarily affects horses, but can also affect cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas. At this time, the vast majority of confirmed cases of VSV in Kansas have been horses, although some cattle have also been diagnosed. KDA has advised the beef industry to be vigilant in monitoring their cattle for symptoms. In horses, VSV is typically characterized by lesions which appear as crusting scabs on the muzzle, lips, ears, coronary bands, or ventral abdomen. (Read more.)

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Patrick Mahomes Becoming Part Owner of Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is joining the ownership group of the Kansas City Royals. The Royals announced the addition of Mahomes, the star quarterback who led the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl title last season, on Tuesday. Mahomes was once a baseball prospect and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2014. He says he loves the people of Kansas City and is excited to deepen his roots in the community. Mahomes’s decision to focus on football certainly worked out for him, but his baseball ties run deep. His father Pat pitched in more than 300 big league games, mostly as a reliever.

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