It's Election Day in Kansas and Across America
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - It's Election Day and voters across Kansas are headed to the polls. For voters who plan to use a mail-in ballot, Tuesday is also the final day to send it in. Ballots need to be postmarked by today (TUE) to be counted. And because of the Veterans Day holiday later this week, mailed ballots will have until Monday the 14th to arrive. Those mail-in ballots could make the difference in some close races, so Ellis County election officer Bobbi Dreiling says voters should be prepared for the possibility of not finding out results on election night. "Not only do we have advanced mail ballots coming in, you know, later than usual. But we also have provisionals that we're going to be counting, and that won't happen until canvas on November 17," she said. Around 13% of voters in Ellis County have already cast their ballots. That's up from 10% turnout here during early voting in this summer’s primary when the state voted on the abortion amendment. Dreiling expects polling places in Hays to stay busy throughout Election Day. “I'm going to assume they're going to be steady all day long. Especially prior to work and lunch hours and after five o'clock. Those are always the busy times," she said. For Kansans who want to vote in-person, polls are required to be open until 7 pm, although local governments can extend those hours. To find your polling place, contact the county election office or visit the Kansas Secretary of State’s website at voteks.gov.
NPR and KPR will be offering Election Night coverage starting at 7 pm. KPR News Director J. Schafer and KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief Jim McLean will provide election results on the major Kansas races.
Democratic Governor Laura Kelly Seeks 2nd Term in GOP-Leaning Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan., (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is hoping to win a second term in Republican-leaning Kansas against three-term GOP state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Their race Tuesday turns on how many independent and moderate GOP voters stayed with Kelly after lifting her to victory four years ago. Schmidt sought to tie Kelly to President Joe Biden and blamed both Democrats for high inflation. He later highlighted her vetoes of proposed bans on transgender athletes in girls' and women's sports and then made crime a big issue. Democrats were energized in August when voters decisively rejected a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution that Schmidt supported and Kelly opposed.
GOP Hard-Liner Kris Kobach Seeks Political Comeback in Race for Kansas Attorney General
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach is seeking to win a comeback bid for Kansas attorney general after two big losses raised the question of whether he was electable in his home state. Kobach is a former two-term Kansas secretary of state. He faces Democrat Chris Mann, a former police officer and local prosecutor making his first run for elective office, in Tuesday's election. Kobach is coming off losses in the Kansas governor's race in 2018 and a U.S. Senate primary in 2020. Many Republicans said they've seen a calmer and steadier Kobach this year.
Kansas Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids Seeks 3rd Term in GOP-Redrawn District
MISSION, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas Republicans are hoping that a midterm election wave will sweep Democrat Sharice Davids out of her Kansas City-area congressional seat. Davids is the only Kansas Democrat in Congress and in Tuesday's election faces a rematch with 2020 Republican challenger Amanda Adkins. Redistricting has made winning harder for Davids. Adkins is following other GOP candidates in focusing on high inflation, illegal immigration and crime as big issues. Davids and other Democrats have attacked Adkins for supporting an anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution that voters rejected in August. The three Kansas Republicans serving in the U.S. House are expected to win reelection.
Kansas GOP Senator Jerry Moran Expected to Cruise to Reelection
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Neither major party expects Kansas Republican Jerry Moran to have any trouble winning a third term to the U.S. Senate. Moran faces Democrat and former Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland in Tuesday's election. This year's election marked 90 years since a Democrat won a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas. Moran represented a western and central Kansas district in the U.S. House for 14 years before winning his first Senate term in 2010. He's become visible in recent years on veterans issues, and former President Donald Trump endorsed him early in 2021.
Johnny’s Tavern to Close North Lawrence Location Until City Makes Changes to Growing Homeless Camp
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The owners of Johnny’s Tavern are closing the business’s iconic North Lawrence location for the foreseeable future in an effort to pressure local officials to make changes to a city-operated homeless camp next to the bar. Johnny's owner Rick Renfro told the Lawrence Journal-World Monday that he plans to close the original Johnny’s Tavern location. How long the tavern will be closed depends on how receptive the city is to making changes to a homeless encampment it has been operating behind Johnny’s parking lot since October. "We’re going to stay closed for as long as it takes,” Renfro said.
Renfro said the homeless camp along the Kansas River has grown from 40 tents when the city opened it on October 1 to about 90 tents today. “I’ve finally just reached my breaking point,” Renfro said. He is not asking the city to move the camp, but he does want the city to install fencing around the campsite, provide professional staff for the campsite daily, and allow professional homeless coordinators to have the final say on how many people the camp can safely accommodate. A temporary fence was being erected at the camp Monday afternoon. Renfro said he does plan to continue to pay Johnny’s employees while the restaurant and bar is closed. Johnny's Tavern dates back to 1953.
Case Dismissed Against Lawrence Woman Accused of Child Sex Crime Against 4-Year-Old
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A case against a Lawrence woman accused of fondling a 4-year-old has been dismissed in Douglas County District Court. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the woman, 30-year-old Ashlyn Marie Sloan, had been charged with one felony count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child by lewd fondling or touching. The charge relates to an incident between July and December of 2021. Judge Stacey Donovan dismissed the charge without prejudice, which means the case may be refiled later. The dismissal was requested by Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden, who listed “insufficient evidence to proceed at this time” as the reason. As previously reported by the Journal-World, Sloan was booked into the Douglas County Jail on the charge on April 19 and was released on a $100,000 bond.
Kansas City Officer Appeals Conviction in Shooting Death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City police detective convicted of shooting and killing a Black man in 2019 is asking that his conviction be overturned or that he be given a new trial. A Jackson County judge convicted Eric DeValkenaere in March of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb. His attorneys argue in a brief filed Oct. 27 with the Missouri Court of Appeals that Circuit Judge Dale Youngs' decision was flawed. They say DeValkenaere, who is white, and his partner had probable cause to be on Lamb's property and arrest him, and that his death was lawful use of force by a police officer.
UPDATE: Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Southern California Snags Record $2 Billion Prize
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Someone who bought a Powerball ticket in southern California has won a record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot. The winning numbers drawn Tuesday morning at the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee were: white balls 10, 33, 41, 47 and 56, and the red Powerball was 10. The jackpot ticket was sold at Joe's Service Center in Altadena, northeast of Los Angeles. A voicemail left for Joe's Service Center was not immediately returned. The Multi-State Lottery Association said Monday night's scheduled drawing was delayed by nearly 10 hours until Tuesday because a participating lottery had issues processing sales. The jackpot was by far the largest lottery jackpot ever won, topping the previous record $1.586 billion prize won by three Powerball ticketholders in 2016.
Numbers for $2 Billion Powerball Jackpot Drawn After Delay, Still Not Clear If Winning Ticket Was Sold
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The numbers for a record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot have been drawn following a nearly 10-hour delay and players were awaiting the announcement of a possible winner. The numbers for the drawing held at the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee were: white balls 10, 33, 41, 47 and 56, and the red Powerball was 10. The Multi-State Lottery Association says Monday night's Powerball drawing was delayed until Tuesday morning because a participating lottery had issues processing sales. The association said it was against its policy to say which lottery had the delay. The jackpot was reported as an estimated $1.9 billion on Monday, but was $2.04 billion Tuesday morning. It wasn't immediately known whether any jackpot-winning tickets were sold.
KC Chiefs Owner Speaks Out About Former Assistant Coach's DUI Conviction
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR/KPR) - Kansas City Chiefs owner and chairman of the board Clark Hunt says his organization was compliant with the NFL's alcohol policy the night former assistant coach Britt Reid drove drunk, severely injuring a 5-year-old girl. For the first time, Hunt acknowledged that the Chiefs conducted an internal investigation shortly after the night in February last year, when Britt Reid crashed his pickup truck into two vehicles parked on the entrance ramp of I-435 near Arrowhead Stadium. "That investigation showed that there was no gathering of employees either at the practice or the stadium where alcohol was consumed," Hunt said. He says the NFL has rules against players and staff consuming alcohol at team facilities. He also says he does not expect any further action from the league as a result of Reid's conviction. Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, was sentenced last week to three years in prison after pleading guilty in September to a felony charge of driving while intoxicated.
Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Runaway Foster Child
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A Kansas foster child died last week after running away from custody, stealing a car and getting into a car crash. The Kansas News Service reports that the foster child was under the care of Successful Dreams, an agency in the southeast Kansas town of Parsons. The 13-year-old was at a Halloween event, and as the child and agency staff were returning home, the child got away and stole a car. The car swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a semi-truck in Oklahoma. The child died days later from his injuries. The Department for Children and Families is investigating the incident, but would not comment further.
Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Foster Child Who Fled
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are investigating the death of a foster child who left a residential treatment facility, stole a truck and crashed into a semi-truck in Oklahoma last month. The state Department of Children and Families confirmed it is investigating what happened to determine if there were any regulatory violations at the facility the 13-year-old walked away from on October 27. The teen had gone to a Halloween party in Independence, Kansas, on the day of the crash that was sponsored by the residential treatment program where he was living in Parsons. Officials say the teen went to a car dealership and stole the truck before driving to Oklahoma. He died two days after the crash in a Tulsa hospital.
Midwest Wildfires Exhaust Volunteer Firefighters
UNDATED (HPM) - More than half of the U.S. is currently experiencing a drought and that means more wildfires. Harvest Public Media reports that volunteer firefighters across the Midwest are especially feeling the pressure. It’s not unusual for wildfires to spark during the fall season, but the prolonged dry conditions are only making it worse. So far this year, wildfires have burned more than 7 million acres across the U.S.
Chip Redmond, a volunteer fire captain and meteorologist with Kansas Mesonet, says volunteer firefighters across the state are exhausted from putting out so many fires this past spring, summer, and now fall. “You have to get that enjoyment of being an aide to your community. If you don't get that anymore because you think it's too dangerous. You're just putting yourself at risk then it has a big impact," he said. Redmond says fire prevention efforts by the public go further than what a fire department can do. He says people can avoid fire risks by making sure their yards don’t overgrow or by driving through tall dry grass.
Volunteer firefighter Derek Rothe says he’s noticed the increase in wildfires first-hand in rural Iowa. He helped put out a 3,000-acre field fire late last month alongside a dozen other volunteer fire departments. He says busy wildfire seasons like this one can take a toll on volunteer fire fighters. “If you go and make every call, you're gonna' burn yourself out of how many hours that you can physically handle going and putting towards this," he said. Nearly 70% of fire departments are made up of volunteer firefighters.
High Schooler Killed in Mass Shooting at KCK Halloween Party Remembered at Vigil
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) - A crowd of about 150 people gathered for a candle light vigil Sunday outside New Story Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Six days earlier, about two miles north of the church, multiple people wearing costumes and masks entered a home where a Halloween party attended by nearly 100 high school students was underway. Before the night was over, a group of unwelcome guests had shot and killed 17-year-old Katron Harris, a senior at Turner High School. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting also injured half a dozen other teens. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.
At school, Harris, known for his friendliness, served drinks to his peers at the school’s coffee shop. After school, they cheered him on as he played wide receiver and special teams receiver on the football team. At home, he was a big brother to his 14-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother. He loved to dance and sing with his cousins. Harris’s family said he spoke eagerly of his plans post-graduation. Harris hoped to launch his own t-shirt business, already in contact with printers and preparing merchandise.
On Thursday, 22-year-old Daijon Estell, was charged with first degree murder in Harris’s killing, as well as one count of aggravated assault, eight counts of child endangerment and two counts of aggravated child endangerment. At a news conference last week, Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Karl Oakman said detectives were searching for as many as six suspects — all of whom showed up disguised in costume for the event. The homeowner noticed the group was made of individuals older than the rest of the party-goers and asked them to leave, police have said. The suspects left the home, then sprayed the house with bullets. Students, mostly younger teens between 14-16 years old, were both inside and outside the home at the time, and several were shot.
Kansas Man Ordered to Pay $15 Million for National Insurance Fraud Scheme
PHILADELPHIA (WIBW) - A Kansas man has been ordered to pay more than $15.2 million for a national insurance fraud scheme. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania says that last week, the Honorable Mitchell S. Goldberg entered a default judgment against Timothy Warren, of Wichita, and his company Titan Medical Compliance. Warren was ordered to pay a total of $15,270,066 for violations of the False Claims Act. According to WIBW TV, this is the latest action in the national investigation into a scheme of improper billing involving electro-acupuncture devices. Federal healthcare programs do not reimburse for such devices. Prosecutors say Warren - a Wichita chiropractor - and his company, falsely promoted the acupuncture devices as reimbursable by Medicare and other federal insurers as approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Prosecutors say Warren and his company knew that the devices were not reimbursable but continued to promote them regardless.
Prosecutors filed a complaint against Warren in October 2021 and have litigated the case ever since. The U.S. moved for default judgment after Warren’s counsel withdrew and the defendants failed to respond. Warren and his company are now responsible for penalties that total $15.2 million for causing about 1,200 claims to be falsely submitted for reimbursement to federal healthcare programs. (For more information about the judgment, click here.)
Small Kansas College Receives $500 Million Anonymous Gift
MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP/KPR) — An anonymous donor is pledging up to $500 million to a small liberal arts college in central Kansas. McPherson College officials announced the gift Friday. In May, California philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist announced they were giving $25 million to the school's Building Community Campaign. Melanie Lundquist returned to the school Friday and said she had been authorized to speak on the anonymous donor's behalf. She also announced that she and her husband will increase their original donation to $50 million. The new donation is a double-match estate commitment. If the college raises $250 million by June 30, it will receive the donor's entire pledged $500 million, for a total of $750 million in donations.
College officials say the half-billion-dollar pledge is the single largest monetary commitment to a small liberal arts college in the United States. The anonymous donor will contribute two dollars for every dollar given by others, up to $500 million. The school has raised $130 million dollars so far. McPherson College is known for its automotive restoration technology degree program. Officials say the gift will allow the college to reimagine and reinvent its campus.
Wichita Searches for New School Superintendent
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - The Wichita school district is searching for a new superintendent. Alicia Thompson announced last week that she plans to retire at the end of this school year. Thompson has served as superintendent of the state's largest school district since 2017. School board member Sheril Logan says the board will begin public discussions Monday about the search process for finding a new leader. "The board respects her decision to retire, but she has huge shoes to fill," Logan said. Thompson graduated from Heights High School and started her career as a third-grade teacher in Wichita. She is the first Black woman to serve as superintendent of Wichita schools. During her tenure, Thompson guided the district through school closures and the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's Election Day. Polls in Kansas will remain open until 7 pm. 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.