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Headlines for Tuesday, July 5, 2022

 

Excessive Heat Warnings, Heat Advisories Issued for KPR Listening Area

Heat advisories and warnings are in effect for the entire KPR listening area for much of this week.  An Excessive Heat Warning has been issued for Anderson, Coffey, Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson, Lyon, Morris, Osage, Shawnee, and Wabaunsee Counties. It remains in effect until 9 pm Thursday. Dangerously hot conditions are forecast, with heat index readings of 103 to 100. This includes the cities of Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, and Council Grove.  An Excessive Heat Warning has been issued for Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami, and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas, and Clay, Jackson, and Platte Counties in Missouri. It remains in effect through 11 pm Thursday. Heat index readings up to 108 are expected. This includes the entire Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. An Excessive Heat Warning has been issued for Allen, Greenwood, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson Counties. It will be in effect until 8 pm Thursday. Heat index readings up to 108 are predicted. This includes the city of Chanute. 

heat advisory is in effect through 9 pm Wednesday for Brown, Clay, Dickinson, Geary, Jackson, Nemaha, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, and Riley Counties. Heat index readings up to 108 are expected.  A heat advisory is in effect through 11 pm Wednesday for Atchison and Doniphan Counties in Kansas and Andrew, Buchanan, Clay, Holt, and Ray Counties in Missouri. Heat index readings up to 106 are predicted. A heat advisory runs through 8 pm Wednesday for Chase and Saline Counties. Heat index values up to 105 are expected.  A heat advisory runs through 9 pm Wednesday for Cloud County. Heat index values up to 108 are expected. 

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All Kansas Counties Placed on Drought Watch as Heat Wave Creeps Across State

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - All 105 Kansas counties have been placed under at least a drought watch as a record heat wave makes its way across the state. Governor Laura Kelly signed an executive order which declared updated drought emergencies for all Kansas counties. The Kansas Water Office said the declaration puts all 105 counties in the state either on a watch, warning or emergency status. “A significant portion of the state of Kansas has experienced drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several months,” said Kelly. “Unfortunately, these conditions are forecast to persist or get worse, so I strongly encourage Kansans to be mindful of drought conditions while we work to minimize the threat of fires across the state.”  While most of the state has seen high precipitation throughout the month of June, the Office said a record-breaking heat wave has made its way across the area. It said most of eastern Kansas is currently drought-free, however, the forecasted hot and dry conditions will likely rapidly lead to intense drought conditions over the next few weeks. According to the Kansas Water Office, the order will remain in effect until it is rescinded by another Executive Order which ends or revises the drought stage status of affected counties.

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Kris Kobach Looks for Comeback in Kansas After Losing 2 Big Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Immigration hard-liner Kris Kobach is pursuing a political comeback in Kansas. Kobach is running for Kansas attorney general after losing a general election for governor in 2018 and a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2020. Opponents say Kobach could lose the seat to a Democrat given his past struggles with voters. Kobach says his two statewide wins for secretary of state show he can win in a conservative tide in November. Kobach's Republican primary opponents are state Sen. Kellie Warren and former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi, who lack his name recognition. Kobach helped lead a now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration.

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81-Year-Old Man Drowns at Lone Star Lake

LAWRENCE., Kan. (WIBW) -An 81-year-old Lawrence man died while swimming at Lone Star Lake Monday morning. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says deputies were called to the lake around 6:30 a.m. on July 4th after a boater found a man unresponsive in the water.  WIBW reports that the man was a regular swimmer at the lake and was with a group of other swimmers when he separated from the group and headed to shore.  A Sheriff’s Office spokesman said responders immediately took life saving measures, but those efforts were unsuccessful. The Sheriff’s Office says no foul play is suspected. The victim's name has not been released..

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Emporia State Football Player Dies in Cliff Diving Accident

EMPORIA, Kan. (Emporia Gazette) -  Emporia State University has announced that redshirt sophomore football player Brexten Green has died following a cliff diving accident at Grand Lake, Oklahoma on Saturday. The Emporia Gazette reports that Green was set to begin his second year at Emporia State after red-shirting last season. He was a  receiver from Cashion High School in Cashion, Oklahoma. Green was an All-State selection by the Oklahoma Coaches Association for the 2020 Oklahoma Class A State Champion Wildcats. He was also the District A-3 Player of the Year as a senior after gaining 1,720 receiving yards, 409 rushing yards and scoring 27 total touchdowns. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. 

(–AP Version–) 

Emporia State Football Player Dies in Cliff-Diving Accident

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — University officials say a wide receiver on the Emporia State football team died over the weekend in a cliff-diving accident. Brexten Green died Saturday at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He came to Emporia State from Cashion High School in Cashion, Oklahoma. Emporia State President Ken Hush said Tuesday in a campus-wide email that Green was set to start his second year after redshirting last season and was seeking a business administration degree. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Kansas Changes Legal Definition of Drug Possession

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas has changed the legal definition of drug possession to simplify the process of prosecuting people for drug charges. Prosecutors had complained that the old definition of possession was confusing for juries and had too many legal terms and requirements. Aaron Breitenbach, the deputy district attorney in Sedgwick County, told lawmakers that the old definition said people had to knowingly possess drugs. Breitenbach said that can create a legal loophole because defendants can argue they are innocent because they did not know the exact drug they were possessing. ”Possession is one of the most fundamental charges that we prosecute,"Breitenbach said. "To have a clear definition of what that means is really kind of a building block to a lot of our cases."  Some defense attorneys oppose the change but others says it simplifies state law and will not make it too easy to prosecute people. 

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Farmers Hoping for Better Weather in July, Ahead of Corn Harvest

AMES, Iowa  (Harvest Public Media) - Farmers across much of the Corn Belt got a late start planting their corn this year.  Cold and wet conditions across the Midwest in the spring put farmers behind schedule. The month of July is expected to be pivotal for this year’s crop  Many farmers have now caught up but some say their corn is slightly behind schedule. A poor harvest could have a ripple effect for consumers because corn is used in so many products, including ethanol for fuel. Dennis Todey, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Midwest Climate Hub, says July will be "make-or-break" for corn growers. "As we look into the middle part of July, warmer conditions are potentially going to cause more stress on the crop," Todey said. "It will keep pushing the corn along, but it could lead to some more stress on the crop." Todey says hotter temperatures can cause yield loss and mid-July, when corn reaches its reproductive phase, it's especially vulnerable to heat stress. (Read more).

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City of Lawrence Announces New Fire & Medical Chief

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Lawrence City Manager Craig Owens announced today (TUE) that Richard Llewellyn will be the new Chief of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department. Since 2018, Chief Llewellyn has served as the Assistant Chief of Administration for the Everett Fire Department in western Washington. Llewellyn is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 15. He replaces interim chief Tom Fagan. 
  
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Kansas Supreme Court Issues Setback to Big Box Retailers in Property Tax Case 

UNDATED (KNS) – The Kansas Supreme Court has issued a blow to big box retailers trying to lower their property taxes. The court's ruling on Friday reversed the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals' finding that Johnson County overtaxed Walmart properties by tens of millions of dollars. The Kansas News Service reports Walmart argued to the board that big box store properties should be valued as if they were vacant buildings, not operating businesses. But the state’s highest court said the board wrongly ruled in the company's favor, and did not fully consider evidence from Johnson County on how to value Walmart’s property. The court sent the case back to the board to reconsider, and the board could rule in Walmart’s favor again. Cities and counties in Kansas have concerns that if Walmart wins the case, it would allow other large retailers to push for lower property tax evaluations and payments. 

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Unified Government Will Pay $12.5 Million to Wrongfully Imprisoned KCK Man

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) - The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, unanimously approved a $12.5 million settlement Thursday night with Lamonte McIntyre, who was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 24 years for a double slaying he didn't commit. KCUR Radio reports the 45-year-old McIntyre had sought $93 million and his mother, Rose, had asked for $30 million in their civil lawsuit against the UG and various Kansas City, Kansas, police officers, including former Detective Roger Golubski, who allegedly framed the then-17-year-old McIntyre for the double homicide in 1994. The Wyandotte County Commission voted 9-0 to settle the case and to issue bonds to fund the payout. Commissioner Gayle Townsend said she reluctantly and “sadly” voted to approve it. “This would not mean the Unified Government is admitting to any wrongdoing. It brings final resolution,” Townsend said. “It’s an expensive choice." (Read more)

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Wichita Police Promote Officer Who Killed Man in "Swatting" Incident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department has promoted an officer who killed an unarmed man in a “swatting” incident. The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday that Justin Rapp was promoted to detective on June 25. Interim Chief Lem Moore said Rapp qualified for promotion based on written and oral examinations. He added that the killing didn’t disqualify Rapp for promotion since he wasn’t disciplined. Rapp shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch while responding to a fake call of a hostage situation at Finch’s address. Rapp initially told detectives that he thought Finch had a gun but testified later that he didn’t see a weapon and shot him based on his hand motions.

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Two Dead in Sedgwick County Shootings

DERBY, Kan. (AP) - Two people are dead and the third is wounded in a shooting near Wichita.  The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says deputies responded to a call reporting a shooting Saturday morning, where they found a man and a woman dead from apparent gunshot wounds.  Another man found at the scene was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.  Names of the victims have not been released.  Authorities have not disclosed any other information about the shooting.  The area was closed off for several hours as the shooting was investigated.

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Three Disabled Boats Rescued at Milford Lake

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - It was a dangerous weekend for some boaters as northeast Kansas residents headed to area lakes over the holiday weekend. Authorities in Geary County reported several incidents at Milford Lake.  WIBW reports that the Geary County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and the Junction City Fire Department responded to three separate incidents involving disabled boats taking on water.  All of the boats were escorted to shore and the occupants were unharmed.  Milford Lake near Fort Riley, is the largest man-made lake in Kansas and typically attracts large crowds on summer weekends. 

The Geary County Sheriff’s Office has issued a list of safety measures for boaters. The checklist includes:   

  • Make sure the boat plug is secure.
  • Make ou have plenty of fuel.
  • Make sure you have an undamaged throw cushion.
  • Make sure the boat has a functioning whistle or horn.
  • Make sure the boat has a functioning fire extinguisher.
  • Make sure you have a cell phone or other means of communication.
  • Let someone know where you will be launching and give them a rough time line of your return.
  • Make sure your vessel is properly registered.

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Lawsuits Filed Days After Deadly Missouri Amtrak Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawsuits are being filed after last week’s Amtrak train collision and derailment in rural northwest Missouri that left four people dead and injured up to 150 others. The Kansas City Star reports that Amtrak and BNSF Railway Company filed a federal lawsuit against the concrete contracting company that owns the dump truck hit by the passenger train last Monday afternoon (June 27th). That lawsuit blames MS Contracting, of Brookfield, Missouri, for the crash, saying the train was "clearly visible." The truck driver, 54-year-old Billy Barton II, died in the collision, along with three passengers on the train that was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. Also, Barton's widow filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in state court against Chariton County and a BNSF official.

(-Related-)

Olathe Couple Among First to File Lawsuit After Amtrak Train Derailment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — An Olathe couple has decided to sue Amtrak after last week's derailment. Passenger cars derailed after Amtrak's Southwest Chief struck a dump truck at a railroad crossing. Four people died, including the dump truck driver, and 150 others were taken to hospitals with various injuries in the June 27th crash. They have gone through something that's going to impact them for the rest of their life," said attorney Kristofer Riddle, of the Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. Riddle said that he's been contacted by an Olathe couple and other people affected by the crash. He said plans to file a series of lawsuits against Amtrak. KMBC TV reports that Mike Spencer owns farmland right next to the railroad. After working the last few years to get the crossing upgraded with lights and a gate, Spencer says he was told it was going to happen last fall but it never did. "This is something that I had predicted was going to happen. I mean, it was just inevitable, the writing was on the wall. I just can't believe it was so neglected," Spencer said. One challenge facing passengers thinking about suing is when they bought their tickets, they agreed to give up their right to take any issues to court. Instead, Amtrak could force those people to arbitration. It would mean somebody hired by Amtrak would decide the merits of any case against the railroad. (Read more)

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Court Permits Hays and Russell to Move Forward with Water Pipeline Plan

HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - Two northwest Kansas towns are one step closer to securing the water they need for their long-term survival. A plan for Hays and Russell to build a 70-mile water pipeline from a ranch three counties away has passed a major hurdle. Without the pipeline, officials in the two cities say, they face the possibility of running out of water over the next century. A district court has ruled, after decades of legal wrangling, that the plan can move forward. It’s a preview of what other western Kansas towns might have to do to survive as drought and aquifer depletion put municipal water sources at risk. Attorney John T. Bird led the Hays legal team. He says the impact of this decision on the future of life in northwest Kansas can’t be overstated. “It is one of the most important decisions by a court about water in the state of Kansas in the last 50 years” Bird says. City leaders promoting the project say securing a long-term water source is a matter of survival for Hays, which is the largest town and commercial center for northwest Kansas. Attorneys say it could take 3-5 years to get the remaining legal approvals and complete the pipeline.

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Invasive Asian Carp “Rebranded” to Entice Diners

URBANA Ill. (Harvest Public Media) - The fish species known as Asian carp has a new name. The rebrand is an effort to get more people to eat the invasive species.  Copi is the new name of the fish that has invaded Midwestern waterways and threatened native fish species since first being identified in the 1990’s. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is hoping the new name, along with a marketing campaign, will take more fish out of the water and onto our dinner plates. The department’s Joe Parkos says he supports the rebrand, but that it’s just a start. “We need to remove as many of these fish as possible, so you can consider this one tool in the toolbox,” Parkos says. As for what he’ll call the species going forward, Parkos says he’ll stick with its scientific name: “The Hypophthalmichthys molitrix.” (Read more.)

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Kansas Public Radio Is Hiring a New Membership Director

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is hiring a new Membership Director. The position is open due to an internal promotion.  Former Membership Director Joanna Fewins has become the station's new Development Director.   Learn more about this position and how to apply.  .  Unnamed sources tell KPR News that the University of Kansas-based radio station, on the air since 1952, is a "great place to work, with good benefits and mildly interesting employees."

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Blood Drive Begins Tuesday at National WW I Museum in Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Blood donations have decreased dramatically since the start of the pandemic but blood drives are popping up across Kansas and Missouri to restock supplies.  One such blood drive gets underway Tuesday at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. Blood was stored for future transfusions for the first time during World War I. In recognition of that blood event, the museum is partnering with the Community Blood Center for a similar event. Museum officials are hoping Americans will step up, just like soldiers did 100 years ago.  Organizers say donating blood is both a civic and patriotic duty.  Appointments are requested to donate blood at the museum Tuesday but walk-ins will also be accepted. Details about giving blood and making an appointment are available online at savealifenow.org

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Kansas City Royals Partner with Community Blood Center to Collect Blood Donations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) – The Kansas City Royals and Community Blood Center (CBC) are teaming up for a blood drive through July 9. Organizers say all donors at CBC donor centers will receive their choice of Royals tickets or a t-shirt. As the 4th of July holiday approaches, the blood supply continues to be impacted by low donor turn-out and local inventory currently stands at a 2-to-3-day level, well below the ideal inventory of 5-7 days.  For more than 20 years, the Royals and CBC have partnered for Royals Weeks, a two-week long blood donation celebration. The annual celebration began as a way to address the community’s critical need for blood around the 4th of July holiday and continues amidst an on-going 2-year blood shortage that continues to impact the region’s healthcare system. Organizers say donating blood typically takes one hour and a single donation can save multiple lives. Community members are encouraged to make an appointment online to donate during Royals Weeks by visiting www.savealifenow.org/centers or by calling (877) 468-6844.  Founded in 1958, Community Blood Center (CBC) provides over 90% of the blood used by hospitals throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

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Cleveland Cavaliers Officially Sign KU's Ochai Agbaji

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB)— The Cleveland Cavaliers and former Kansas Jayhawk star Ochai Agbaji made it official over the weekend as the Cavaliers formally signed the first-round pick on Saturday. The Cavs selected Agbaji as the 14th overall pick in the this year's draft. Agbaji played in 39 games his senior season at Kansas and helped the Jayhawks win their fourth national championship in program history. He was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2022 NCAA Tournament and as the 2021-22 Big 12 Player of the Year. KSHB reports that Agbaji was signed to the standard rookie-scale contract, a 4-year deal worth $18,726,365. 

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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. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

 

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