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Headlines for Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Kansas Governor Urges Communities to Slow Reopening Plans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is recommending that communities wait a little bit longer before moving to the next phase of reopening as coronavirus cases increase. The "Phase Out" stage of Kelly's Ad Astra reopening plan was set to begin Monday, but Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are now advising communities to stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks. The main difference is that Phase 3 limits mass gatherings to no more than 45 people. The "Phase Out" stage merely urges social distancing but doesn't limit the size of crowds. The ultimate decision, though, rests with local officials.

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12 Test Positive for COVID-19 at KNI 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR)  At least 12 people at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka have tested positive for COVID-19.  The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says five staff members and seven residents at KNI tested positive.  The agency is also reporting the first case of coronavirus at Osawatomie State Hospital, where one staff member tested positive.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KNI, and local health officials are expanding testing, with a goal of testing all staff members as soon as possible. 

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Kansas Closes in on 12,500 Cases of COVID-19, Including 259 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas has recorded 12,465 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  That number includes 259 deaths.  State health officials released those numbers Monday.  Cases have been reported in 92 of the state's 105 counties.  The next update is expected Wednesday.  Wyandotte, Ford and Finney counties have recorded the highest number of cases (Wyandotte County = 1,934, Ford County = 1,926, Finney County = 1,523).

(The Kansas Department of Health and Environment releases new data on COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)

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KDOL Secretary Resigns After Agency Makes Duplicate Unemployment Payments to Thousands

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Embattled Kansas Labor Secretary Delia Garcia has resigned amid escalating problems with the state's unemployment insurance caseload. Governor Laura Kelly announced today (MON) that she had accepted Garcia's resignation and appointed the governor's Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Wright as acting secretary until a permanent candidate is nominated. On June 10, duplicate payments totaling $7 million were made to more than 4,500 claimants of pandemic unemployment assistance and compensation programs. The Labor department last week reversed those payments, causing some recipients' bank accounts to be overdrawn.  (Read more.)

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T-Mobile Says Overland Park Layoffs Will Affect More than 200

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KC Business Journal) - T-Mobile was cagey about the number of area employees affected by recent layoff announcements.  The Kansas City Business Journal reports T-Mobile told the state of Kansas it will lay off more than 200 in the state.  The company said layoffs could affect 241 employees in Overland Park, according to a WARN Act filing with Kansas. According to the filing, the affected employees work on what had been the Sprint Corporation headquarters campus.  Officials with the Seattle-based wireless carrier notified employees last week in a series of short conference calls of plans of layoffs involving national retail account executives, indirect sales managers and indirect account executives. In one call, T-Mobile said it would eliminate Sprint’s Business Inside Sales Organization, according to TechCrunch.  While it pursued its merger with Sprint, T-Mobile officials said that the combined company would be based in the Seattle area, but would have a “second headquarters” in Overland Park. However, there has been little said publicly about what that will look like.  (Read more.) 

- AP version -

T-Mobile Lays Off More than 200 Sprint Employees in Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — More than 200 Sprint employees in Overland Park have been laid off since the company merged with T-Mobile The Kansas City Star reports a June 17 notification to state regulators shows T-Mobile cut 241 positions at the former Sprint headquarters. A judge approved a merger of the two companies in February and it became official in April.  A T-Mobile spokesperson says the company plans to eventually hire 5,000 new workers across the organization. In a statement, the company said the layoffs in Overland Park were part of an overall study of where to best place the company's resources.

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Some Kansans Eligible for Extended Unemployment Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans struggling to find work amid the coronavirus pandemic can receive unemployment for 13 more weeks. The Kansas Department of Labor has announced that the state qualified for a program that provides federal reimbursement for extended benefits during periods of high unemployment.  The Wichita Eagle reports that workers must have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits to qualify. New data released Friday shows Kansas has more than 12,000 coronavirus cases.  That was up 3%, or 378 cases, from Wednesday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by seven to 254.

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Bagged Grocery Store Salad Sickens More than 100 in 7 States

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has recalled bagged salad distributed to a dozen Midwestern states by Hy-Vee, Aldi and Jewel-Osco grocery stores after 122 people in seven states were sickened.  Nineteen have been hospitalized. The salad mix is contaminated with cyclospora, a parasite that can cause severe diarrhea. The salad mix is packaged as Hy-Vee Brand Garden Salads, Jewel-Osco Signature Farms Brand Garden Salads, and ALDI Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salads. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the most people sickened are in Iowa with 54 and Illinois with 30. Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin also have reported illnesses.

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Business Partner's Son Helped Reduce Charge for Future Rep. Roger Marshall

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Court records show that future western Kansas Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Roger Marshall pleaded no contest in 2008 to a misdemeanor reckless driving charge stemming from a confrontation with a landowner who accused Marshall of hitting him with his pickup. But The Kansas City Star reports that a local prosecutor who was the son of one of Marshall's business partners in Great Bend later successfully asked a judge to reduce Marshall's conviction to a less serious traffic infraction. Marshall denies he hit the other man, and the case was only briefly an issue during Marshall's first successful run for Congress in 2016.

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6 Killed in Kansas Crash Were Finishing Cross-Country Drive

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Relatives say three adults and three children had been driving for nearly 20 hours when they were killed in a fiery crash in Kansas less than an hour from their destination. They collided with another vehicle Thursday evening on the Kansas 10 bypass. Sheriff's officials say the driver of the other vehicle was seriously hurt. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the victims were Anico Kirk; her three daughters, 11-year-old Yamel Kirk, 9-year-old Umariel Lee and 4-year-old Nah’Liyah Cay; Kirk’s brother, Maurice Ross; and longtime family friend Felecia Harvey. Kirk's uncle says the six were driving from Lakeland, Florida, to Topeka.

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Wichita Police: 3 People in Different Motel Rooms Shot, Wounded

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three people staying in different rooms of a Wichita motel were shot and wounded early Tuesday. Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said in a news release that the three heard shots being fired outside the Afton Motel and were struck around 1 am Tuesday when they exited their rooms. The victims - two men, ages 26 and 60, and a 25-year-old woman - were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No arrests have been made. Davidson said the shooting remains under investigation.

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Second Arrest Warrant Issued in Western Kansas Killing

SYRACUSE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have issued a second arrest warrant in a western Kansas killing. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced in a news release that it is seeking 43-year-old Ismael Gomez-Carvajal on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and criminal solicitation in the death of 21-year-old Kevin Palma-Rodriguez. He was found fatally shot Friday at the Country Café apartments in Syracuse. A first-degree murder arrest warrant also has been issued for 25-year-old Amner Tejada-Vigil, also known as Jeovany Vijil. The KBI says Gomez-Carvajal and Tejada-Vigil may be driving a purple or blue 2007 Chevrolet Equinox bearing Kansas tag 513MMN.

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Report: 25% of Kansas Wheat Harvested

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Farmers have harvested a quarter of the winter wheat crop in Kansas, making about average progress for this time of year. The National Agricultural Statistics Service also reports that 68% of the wheat in Kansas is now mature. It rated the condition of the wheat still out in the field as 6% excellent, 38% good and 33% fair. The agency reported that 16% was in poor condition, with another 7% of the crop rated as very poor.

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Kansas City Police: Pedestrian Killed by Racing Car

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police said a 23-year-old woman was struck and killed by a car racing down the street early Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri.  Police say the crash happened around 2:30 am Sunday near 43rd and Main streets. Witnesses told police that two vehicles were racing southbound on Main Street, and one of the vehicles struck the victim as she crossed the street. The woman died at the scene. The black Ford Focus that struck the woman left the scene of the crash. It was found abandoned several blocks away later Sunday morning.

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Authorities Identify Man Killed at Kansas Rock Quarry

MELVERN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the man killed in an accident at a rock quarry in eastern Kansas. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn said that 68-year-old Frank Rockers Jr. was killed in the incident. Rockers was taking samples at the bottom of a chat pile when it gave way and buried him at the Harshman Construction rock quarry near Melvern. Two workers immediately began to recover Rockers and were joined by fire rescue units. But Rockers didn't survive.

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Kansas Fishing, Hunting License Sales Spike Amid Pandemic

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas fishing and hunting industry has seen a sharp increase in license sales since the coronavirus pandemic began. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says that between March 1 and June 1 the state sold 11,049 residential combo hunting and fishing licenses, up from 8,870 in 2019. The increase comes as good fiscal news for the agency after the sale of out-of-state turkey hunting permits were suspended in April after Governor Laura Kelly passed an executive order to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The Hutchinson News reports widespread flooding also affected the state, preventing camping and cabin rentals in many state parks.

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Passenger in Stolen Car Killed After Police Halt Pursuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a passenger in a car that was reported stolen has been killed in a Topeka crash after police called off a pursuit. Police said in a news release that an officer attempted to stop the speeding car around 5:20 am Monday, about an hour after receiving a report that the the vehicle had been stolen at gunpoint. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the officer lost sight of the vehicle and ended the pursuit. But a separate officer then observed the stolen vehicle being driven at a high rate of speed before it crashed into a pickup truck. Police said in the release that officers weren’t in pursuit of the car at the time of the crash.

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Fake Doctor Signed Medical Pot Paperwork for 600 Patients

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Officials say about 600 patients seeking authorization to purchase medical marijuana in Missouri had their paperwork signed by a fake doctor. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says there's no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician listed was not the physician who met with them. The affected patients will be notified and given 30 days to submit a valid certificate before their license is revoked. The agency also said it has referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts for further action.

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Amtrak's "Daily" Southwest Chief Won't be Running Daily Route Anymore

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Amtrak passenger service across Kansas will likely slow down this fall.  Right now, the Southwest Chief runs daily from Chicago to Los Angeles, with stops in a half-dozen Kansas towns, including Topeka, Lawrence and Dodge City.  Amtrak says it will scale back service in October.  The Washington Post reports Amtrak will start offering service along the route just three times a week.  The Kansas News Service reports Amtrak ticket sales have suffered nationally amid the pandemic.

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ACLU Urges Missouri Schools to Drop Resource Officers

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is urging school districts to remove police officers from schools. St. Louis Public Radio reports that the ACLU has circulated a letter to nine school administrators so far, mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. The ACLU says money spent on school resource officers should instead go to the social-emotional needs of children, such as by hiring more social workers and counselors. Luz María Henríquez, executive director of ACLU Missouri, said there is “no evidence that increased police presence in schools improves school safety.”

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Teen Wanted for Shooting at Police Arrested in Kansas

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Police in South Dakota say a 17-year-old accused of shooting at police during a recent protest over the death of George Floyd has been arrested in Kansas. A peaceful protest in Sioux Falls May 31 became unruly when some in the crowd began throwing large rocks and bottles. An arrest warrant says officers saw one person pull a firearm from his waistband and point it toward officers before firing several shots. Officers were not hit by the gunfire. The Sioux Falls teen, arrested in Holcomb, Kansas Friday, is wanted for attempted murder, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and riot. 

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Former Kansas State Guard Patrick Transfers to DePaul

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Kansas State University guard Brian Patrick is headed to DePaul as a graduate transfer. Patrick will be eligible to play immediately after spending two years at Kansas State and last season at Purdue Fort Wayne. He played in 49 games as a backup at Kansas State before transferring, and averaged 11.1 points for Purdue Fort Wayne after sitting out a year. DePaul went 16-16 overall and finished last in the Big East at 3-15.

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Royals Sign 6-Man Draft Class, Add 7 Undrafted Free Agents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have signed all six of their draft picks, including first-rounder Asa Lacy, along with seven undrafted free agents that together give the rebuilding franchise one of the best incoming crops of first-year players in the majors. The club announced the 13 signings on Tuesday with Lacy being the headliner. The big, rangy left-hander out of Texas A&M was widely considered the top college arm in the draft, yet he slid to the Royals at the fourth overall pick.

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

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