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Headlines for Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Kansas A-G: Kansas Universities Violating New Vaccine Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas attorney general is telling some universities that they are violating a new state law granting no-questions-asked exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The law says Kansas workers can get religious exemptions to vaccine mandates with no questions asked. Attorney General Derek Schmidt sent a letter to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University saying their policies for requesting exemptions are too onerous and violate the law. The letter was obtained by the Kansas Reflector. Some universities in Kansas require the shot to comply with a federal COVID vaccine mandate. The schools have said they risk losing federal contracts if they don’t comply.

(AP version...)

Schmidt: Kansas universities violating state's new COVID law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says some of the state's public universities are violating a new state law regarding medical and religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccinations. Schmidt sent a letter to the state Board of Regents saying the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are violating a law passed during a special legislative session last week that made it easier for employees to acquire medical or religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines. Schmidt says forms requiring employees to explain in detail their religious beliefs violate the law. He also says the universities cannot set arbitrary deadlines to comply with their requirements.


Kansas Corrections Officer Hospitalized After Attack

LANSING, Kan. (KCUR) - The union that represents state employees in Kansas says not enough is being done to protect workers at the Lansing Correctional Facility, where an officer was hospitalized after an attack this week -- the second attack on a Kansas prison guard in the last month. Union president Sarah LaFrenz says the officer was working alone Monday inside a maximum-security unit with 100 inmates, when he was assaulted by an inmate swinging a bar of soap inside a sock. On November 3rd, a female officer was sent to the ICU after being attacked by an inmate wielding a padlock attached to a belt. Since then, LaFrenz said that she’s heard no reports of staffing changes, policy updates or any other measures to alleviate dangerous conditions at Lansing.


Wichita Man Dies 2 Days After Bar Fight; Suspect Arrested

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has died two days after a bar fight, and police say the man he fought with is now facing a manslaughter charge. Police say 31-year-old Alonzo Haywood died Sunday from injuries he received in a 2 am Friday fight outside Mulligan's Pub. Police say Haywood had been arguing with 51-year-old James Elbert Thomas, also of Wichita, when Thomas punched Haywood, causing the younger man to fall to the ground and hit his head. Police say a melee then broke out involving multiple people. Haywood was taken to a Wichita hospital by friends. Thomas was arrested Friday, initially on suspicion of aggravated battery. That count was amended to reckless involuntary manslaughter after Haywood's death.


13-Year-Old Wichita Boy Dies After Shooting at Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 13-year-old child who was shot at a south Wichita home has died. Police say the shooting happened Monday evening. Wichita police Lt. Jeff Gilmore says a 16-year-old came home with a handgun and he and the 13-year-old were handling the firearm when it went off. Emergency responders found the younger child suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Gilmore says the shooting is believed to be accidental but an investigation is continuing. He says adults were at home at the time but were not aware a gun was in the house.


Texas Woman Sentenced in Death of 2 Kansas Carnival Vendors

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A 55-year-old Texas woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for her role in the death of a Kansas couple who were vendors at a county fair. Kimberley Stacy Younger, of Aransas Pass, Texas, was sentenced Monday for capital murder and other charges. She was one of four carnival workers convicted in the July 2018 killings of 78-year-old Alfred Carpenter and his 79-year-old wife, Pauline, of Wichita. They were killed after working at the Barton County Fair in Kansas. Their bodies were later found in northwest Arkansas. Investigators said one of the suspects ordered their deaths as part of an initiation into a "carnival mafia," which did not exist.


Biden Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers Put on Hold in Kansas, Missouri, 8 Other States

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has blocked President Joe Biden's administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on health care workers in 10 states that had brought the first legal challenge against the requirement. The preliminary injunction issued Monday applies to Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Those states all have either a Republican attorney general or governor. A federal judge in Missouri said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for health care providers that participate in the two government programs. The rule requires workers to receive their first dose by December 6 and their second by January 4.


Governor Appoints Former Hospital Executive as New Kansas Health Secretary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Laura Kelly has appointed a former Topeka hospital executive as the new secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Janet Stanek has most recently been director of the state employee health benefits program. She replaces Dr. Lee Norman, who announced his resignation November 19. He'd been the health department's top administrator since Kelly took office in January 2019. Kelly's office says Stanek has held healthcare leadership positions in Pennsylvania, New York and Kansas. Stanek spent 21 years at Stormont Vail Health Topeka, where she last was chief operating officer and senior vice president. Stanek will serve as acting secretary until the Senate confirms her appointment.


Man Fatally Struck by Train in Lenexa

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Lenexa police are investigating after a man was fatally struck by a train. The Kansas City Star reports that police were called Monday morning after a BNSF train struck a pedestrian on the tracks. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. No further information was released and it wasn’t immediately clear why the man was on the tracks.


Kansas Utility Commission Criticizes Hedge Fund Influence on Evergy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas utility regulators have issued an order requiring Evergy to explain and justify a plan to spend $10.4 billion on its electrical system and report quality of service measures on a quarterly basis amid concerns that the plan is designed largely to benefit a hedge fund investor. The Wichita Eagle reports that members of the Kansas Corporation Commission sent a strong signal Tuesday that they won't tolerate efforts to increase shareholder profits at the expense of unreasonably high rates for Evergy's 1 million Kansas customers. In a written statement, Evergy said it was reviewing the commission's order before identifying "if there are appropriate next steps." (Read more.)


Mexican Regulators Approve $31 Billion Railroad Merger Deal Between KC Southern, Canadian Pacific

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mexican regulators have approved Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion plan to acquire Kansas City Southern and create a railroad linking Mexico, Canada and the United States. The deal could close as soon as mid-December if shareholders of both companies approve it. Then Kansas City Southern would be held by a voting trust while the U.S. Surface Transportation Board conducts its lengthy review of the transaction but its shareholders would be paid right away. The railroads say the STB’s review of the deal is expected to continue into the fourth quarter of next year.


Teen Girl in Critical Condition After Shooting in KC Suburb

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A teenage girl was taken to a hospital in critical condition after a Sunday afternoon shooting in the Kansas City suburb of Independence, Missouri. Independence Police spokesman Jack Taylor said the shooting happened near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Blue Ridge Boulevard around noon Sunday. Few details about the shooting were immediately available.  The name and age of the victim wasn’t released. No suspect information was available.


Wichita Police Suspect Speed, Alcohol Were Factors in Fatal Wreck

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say speed and alcohol use are suspected to be factors in a Thanksgiving night accident that killed a man and critically injured a woman. KSNW-TV reports that the accident happened Thursday night at 13th Street and Hillside. Lt. Chris Marceau says a pickup truck struck an SUV from behind at a stoplight, causing the SUV to roll over. A 65-year-old man died and a 67-year-old passenger is hospitalized in critical condition. The 37-year-old driver of the pickup truck was taken into custody. Police say the investigation is ongoing.


Kansas City Area Man Dies After Firefighters Find Him in Apartment

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a man who firefighters found inside an apartment after smoke was reported in the building. Firefighters were called to the building in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone shortly before 8 pm Saturday. The 33-year-old man was found unresponsive in an apartment before he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Gladstone Police Department is investigating the man’s death, but officials didn’t immediately release details about how he died. The man’s name has not been released.


Embattled Kansas Lawmaker Arrested for Second Time

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old Kansas lawmaker has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving — his second arrest in less than a month. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a trooper arrested Aaron Coleman early Saturday morning on Interstate 70 near Lawrence and took him to the Douglas County Jail, where he bonded out hours later. Coleman was already out on bond from an October 30 domestic battery arrest following a fight with his brother. The Kansas City, Kansas, Democrat has been embroiled in controversy since before he took office after being elected in 2020. Coleman did not immediately return phone and email messages left Monday morning by The Associated Press. His latest arrest prompted fresh calls for his resignation or removal from office.


Missouri Wants to Keep Outsourcing Unemployment Call Center

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials want to continue having a private company handle calls about jobless benefits in the state even though the unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is asking companies to bid on a contract to run a call center that would help officials process unemployment claims. A California company called Protiviti has been handling those duties since October 2020, and it has been paid $18 million. The unemployment rate reached as high as 12.5% in April 2020. Currently, it is down to 3.7%, which is equal to the rate in March 2020 before the pandemic began.


Kansas Football Team Shakes Up Coaching Staff After 2-10 Finish to Season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas defensive line coach Kwahn Drake and cornerback coach Chevis Jackson have been fired. The move comes two days after the Jayhawks finished their first season under Lance Leipold with a competitive loss to bowl-bound West Virginia. Jordan Peterson and Taiwo Onatolu were promoted to fill their roles after spending the season as senior analysts. Drake and Jackson were hired at Kansas by former coach Les Miles, then retained when Leipold took over this year. Kansas finished 2-10 this season, but showed significant improvement from the start of the season.

The Jayhawks only won two games this year, including one against lower-level South Dakota, but they showed more competitiveness under Leipold than they had under Miles and former coaches Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beaty.  They took then-No. 3 Oklahoma deep into the second half in a 35-23 loss in Norman, then upset Texas three weeks later in Austin when walk-on tight end Jared Casey caught a two-point conversion pass in overtime. The Jayhawks lost to TCU by a field goal on the road the next week, then ended the season with a 34-28 loss to West Virginia.  "I think consistently people have seen that we've improved as a football program. That said, we have a lot to work on yet," Leipold said. "We'll continue to do everything we can to make ourselves a better football team."


Red-Hot Chiefs Brimming with Optimism After Late-Season Bye

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last time the Kansas City Chiefs had a week off at this point in the year they didn't lose again until the next season. There's a lot of reasons to believe this year's team can follow in the footsteps of the 2019 championship bunch. Whether it's the return of several players from injuries to the continued involvement of newcomers, the improvement that was evident before the break to coach Andy Reid's downright incredible record after a bye, the Chiefs returned to work Monday brimming with optimism about the stretch run they're about to begin.

On the injury front, Chiefs right tackle Lucas Niang could return from a rib injury and be available for Sunday night's game against the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. He began the season as the starter, lost the job to Mike Remmers, then started again when Remmers was knocked out for a couple of games with an injury of his own.  Niang's return would give the Chiefs valuable experience up front. And the way their offensive line was decimated by injury by the time last year's Super Bowl kicked off, they'll take all the help they can get at the position.  That could include the addition of Kyle Long, too. The veteran came out of a year-long retirement with the hopes of earning a starting job in Kansas City. But Long broke his leg in training camp and wasn't designated for return from injured reserve until earlier this month, and his window to be added to the roster closes this week. "We'll see how all of that goes here. We're sorting through all of that today," Reid said. "I appreciate having him here and doing what he's doing, and how he's handled everything."

On the other side of the ball, three-time All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu played through a knee injury in the Chiefs' 19-9 win over the Cowboys that sent them barreling into the bye with four consecutive victories.  Mathieu should be much closer to 100% when the Chiefs kick off a game against Denver that was flexed to prime time.

The Chiefs also hope the bye allowed wide receiver Josh Gordon and defensive end Melvin Ingram to get more comfortable.  Gordon returned from his NFL suspension to sign with Kansas City after the season began, and he was active for the first time in Week 5. Despite playing every game since then, Gordon still has just two catches for 18 yards.  Ingram has had more of an impact since arriving from Pittsburgh earlier this month. He's played the last three games, and while his numbers aren't necessarily amazing, he's allowed defensive tackle Chris Jones to slide from the outside back to the interior of the line. That has helped the entire Kansas City pass rush.

The Chiefs, who have a one-game lead on the Chargers, Broncos and Raiders in the AFC West race, face each of those teams in the next three week: Denver and Las Vegas visiting Arrowhead Stadium, then the Chiefs heading to Los Angeles.  After playing the Steelers, the Chiefs finish with playoff contenders Cincinnati and Denver on the road.  The Chiefs already were rolling into their bye behind that resurgent defense, which has held three straight opponents to 17 points or fewer. Their underwhelming offense is almost certain to be better after a week to digest the season. Why? Reid has a 19-3 record when his teams are coming off a bye.


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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!    


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