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Headlines for Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Tornadoes Cause Damage in Oklahoma; Severe Storms Slam Central U.S.

COWETA, Okla. (AP) - Several reported tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma causing damage late Sunday into early Monday morning. The severe weather system also brought heavy rain, lightning and wind to parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. News outlets report a possible tornado struck Coweta, Oklahoma, late Sunday causing significant damage to a high school, homes and a gas station.  A hail storm earlier in the evening caused damage to homes, cars and businesses in Norman. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. The National Weather Service says crews are heading out to rural areas in southwestern Missouri to determine if tornadoes caused damage being reported late Sunday night. Weather radar indicated possible tornadoes near Neosho and Golden City before dawn Monday.

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National Weather Service Confirms Tornado Strike in Southwest Missouri

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Cleanup continues after two small tornadoes touched down early Monday morning in rural areas of southwest Missouri. The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 twister touched down around 1:00 am in Newton County, Missouri, carrying 90 mph winds. A mobile home and farm outbuilding were damaged. The weather service says another, smaller tornado with winds of 85 mph touched down in Jasper County, Missouri, near Dudenville around 4:45 am Monday. Trees were knocked over, the roof was torn off of a barn, and an irrigation system was damaged. There were no reports of injuries.


First Lady Jill Biden Visits KCK Pre-School

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — First lady Jill Biden visited a Kansas City, Kansas, school as part of a tour to emphasize the Biden administration's interest in the Hispanic community. Biden met Tuesday with Hispanic representatives during a visit to El Centro Academy, a dual-language early childhood education program. Her visit is part of a series of stops she is making to hear the concerns of the Hispanic Americans during National Hispanic Heritage Month. U.S. Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas and U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Garcias Guzman joined Biden for the “charla” at El Centro. Charla is Spanish for chat.


Kansas Senator Criticized for Dispensing Disputed Medical Advice on Virus Immunity

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Roger Marshall won't let people forget he’s a doctor. That's clear because the obstetrician puts “Doc” in the letterhead of his U.S. Senate office news releases. But when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, other doctors say the Kansas Republican sounds far more like a politician than a physician. Marshall says people who've had COVID-19 don't need to get vaccinated because they have natural immunity that'll last longer than what the shots provide. But that belief is disputed and defies official U.S. government guidance. Marshall has company from other doctors, dentists and pharmacists, but critics say such statements are dangerous and unethical.


Kansas Hospitals Get Retention Funding for Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas hospitals will split $50 million meant to retain and attract frontline hospital workers as the pandemic continues. During the pandemic, health care workers have often faced too many patients with not enough resources along with the other challenges that come with being a frontline worker. The money from federal COVID-19 relief funding can be used to increase pay to nurses to entice them to stay or to return from retirement. The money will be distributed among hospitals based on the number of beds in the facilities. The amounts vary widely. Ascension Via Christi hospital in Wichita is set to get more than $7 million. The University of Kansas Health System will get around $5 million. The much smaller Edwards County Hospital will receive less than $50,000. While the latest surge in COVID-19 cases is beginning to wane, many hospitals are still strained. 


Kansas Legislators Seek Halt to Gas Payment Plans for Utilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —A group of Kansas lawmakers is asking state regulators to stop approving payments to utilities to recover the costs associated with spikes in natural gas prices during a winter storm in February. During the storm, the price of natural gas from one of the main pipelines in Kansas went from around $2.00 per unit to more than $600.00.The current plans allow gas utilities to pass their costs on to customers. Kansas legislators are asking for a pause while the federal government finishes its investigation into potential price gouging and market manipulation. Kansans are currently on the hook for about $1 billion in gas bills due to those spikes. But if federal regulators find the market was manipulated, that bill could be significantly decreased. The major gas utilities in Kansas are asking regulators to approve payment plans that would have customers pay the extra costs over a period of 10 - 15 years. 


Wichita Passes Ordinance Aimed at Banning Discrimination

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has passed an ordinance aimed at banning discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The Wichita Eagle reports that after four months of delays, the council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to approve the measure. Council member Jeff Blubaugh cast the lone dissenting vote. Council members rejected a proposed exemption that would have allowed religious groups to fire or refuse to hire LGBTQ individuals. The measure seeks to prohibit discrimination based on age, color, disability, familial status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, veteran status or any other factor protected by law. The city will begin accepting complaints under the ordinance on January 1.


Most Missouri COVID Vaccine Lottery Entrants Immunized Before Program Started

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Data show that most of the people who participated in Missouri's COVID-19 vaccine lottery were already immunized before the program started. The incentive program was started in July as Missouri struggled to control a surge in cases driven by the more transmissible Delta variant in less-vaccinated communities. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services conducted the last of the drawings in the program Friday. The Kansas City Star reports that among the participants, 57,117 adults got the shot after the program was announced, while nearly 600,000 got the shot beforehand. 


Mass COVID Vaccination Site to Open in Springfield

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A mass COVID-19 vaccination site will soon open in Springfield, Missouri, as vaccine mandates and boosters have increased the number of people seeking a shot.  Jon Mooney, assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said that 500 people a day will be vaccinated at a site that once housed a Gordmans and Toys “R” Us store. It’s not just that more people must get the vaccine to keep their jobs or that boosters are now available for a group that includes frontline medical workers and those with immune system issues. Part of the demand is also expected to come from parents. Pfizer has submitted research on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds.


Former KCK Mayor Holland Announces Bid for U.S. Senate

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) _Mark Holland, former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, has launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate, taking on Republican Senator Jerry Moran. With a heavily Democratic base in Wyandotte County, Holland has a strong shot at winning his party’s nomination. But he faces a difficult challenge in the general election race against Moran, who has held the seat since 2011. Holland said in his campaign announcement that Moran failed to stand up for Kansans against COVID-19 and helped spread “despicable lies around our election integrity.” As KCK mayor, Holland faced criticism that he alienated public service workers before incumbent Mayor David Alvey defeated him in 2017.  Kansas is also still a solidly red state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930’s.


Kansas Lawmakers to Consider Relaxing Some Liquor Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) _ Kansas lawmakers loosened state liquor laws to help bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now there’s pressure to go even further. Now, grocery store chains and liquor companies want more changes during the legislative session that starts in January.  Dillons, HyVee, Walmart and Whole Foods want the Legislature’s approval to include beer with groceries they deliver to their Kansas customers. Liquor companies, both small local distillers and large national firms, want to do what wineries can already do, sell directly to consumers online. The industry’s lobbyists say Kansans have been purchasing wine directly for years and they want the same convenient access to liquor. Opponents say that such a move would threaten the survival of local liquor stores and overwhelm state regulators, who are already struggling to collect taxes on a flood of illegal wine sales.


Wichita Boil Advisory Lifted, Concerns About Water Infrastructure Remain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A boil order for Wichita has been lifted, about 36 hours after a large water main break.  The city issued the boil order last Thursday, closing Wichita-area schools. The Wichita Eagle reports that the boil order was lifted for Wichita early Saturday after all water samples came back free of bacterial contamination, but several surrounding communities remained under an advisory. The water line break highlights concerns about Wichita's aging infrastructure. The water main break that forced the boil order happened after the city's water plant lost part of its power supply, so the pumps sending water throughout the system automatically shut down before restarting abruptly when power was restored. A 2017 assessment found 99% of Wichita's water treatment plant was in poor condition and the entire raw water pipe system was in very poor condition.


Jay-Z's Group Raises $1 Million to Investigate Wrongful Convictions

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An organization run by rapper Jay-Z has facilitated donations totaling $1 million for the local innocence project to investigate wrongful convictions in Wyandotte County. The Kansas City Star reports the money was raised by Team Roc, which is the criminal justice division of Jay-Z’s entertainment organization, Roc Nation. Tricia Rojo Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, calls it “a huge investment.” She says the ability to look at these cases is going to shine a light on what the group needs to do to provide a just criminal legal system in Wyandotte County.


Angler Catches First Alligator Gar Recorded in Kansas

PRATT, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas wildlife officials say an angler landed the first alligator gar ever documented in the state. The fisheries division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks said in a news release Tuesday that a 39.5 pound alligator gar was caught last month in the Neosho River east of Parsons. Fisheries biologist Connor Ossowski said the agency has verified the fish was caught in the river. Biologists are now working to determine how the animal got into a Kansas waterway. The most likely scenario is the alligator gar was released by its owner after it became too large but fisheries officials will use several methods to determine its origin. 


Police: 1 of 3 Shot at Kansas City Bowling Alley Has Died

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say one of the three people who were injured earlier this month in a late-night shooting at a Kansas City bowling alley has died. Police said in a news release Tuesday that 21-year-old Avery Williams, who had been on life support following the shooting, has been declared dead. Williams, another man and a woman were all shot on October 3, outside Ward Parkway Lanes. Police said the other man was critically injured and the woman suffered less serious injuries in the shooting. Police still have not found any suspects in the case and are asking for the public's help to find the shooter. 


Pedestrian Killed Near Stadium After Leaving Chiefs Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A pedestrian from Kansas is dead after being struck by two hit-and-run drivers near Arrowhead Stadium as the man was leaving the Kansas City Chiefs game. Police are searching for the drivers who fled the scene Sunday night. The victim was 66-year-old man Steven Hickle, of Wichita. Police say Hickle and another person left the game early, so traffic crews were not yet on the scene to assist with exiting. The second person was not struck. Police say Hickle was struck by a vehicle and while lying in the roadway, was run over by a second vehicle. He died at a hospital.


Two Wichita Women Killed in Crash Near Peabody

PEABODY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating an accident that killed two women from Wichita and left a third woman with serious injuries. KSNW-TV reports that the accident happened about 5 pm Sunday near Peabody. The Patrol says an eastbound pickup truck made an evasive maneuver to avoid oncoming traffic, went off the road, overcorrected, and struck an SUV when it came back on the roadway. The driver of the SUV, Latricia Phillips, and passenger Angela Daniels died. Both were 49. A 36-year-old passenger was taken to a hospital. The 18-year-old pickup truck driver, from Wichita, was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.


Man Accused of Stabbing Woman at Springfield Hospital

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A man is now charged with assault for allegedly stabbing the mother of his child at a hospital surgery center in Springfield, Missouri. KYTV-TV reported Monday that Charles D. Turner was charged with first-degree domestic assault. Turner is in custody and it isn't clear if he has an attorney. The stabbing happened Friday in a stairwell at the Mercy Surgery Center, near Mercy Hospital. The victim worked in the ministry of the hospital. Police say she is in stable condition. Investigators say Turner became upset he could not visit his daughter after he and the victim broke up. 


Police: 11-Year-Old Girl Hurt in Wichita Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Wichita say an 11-year-old girl was wounded in an early-morning drive-by shooting Tuesday. Television station KSN reports that the shooting happened shortly after midnight in the city's Ken-Mar neighborhood. Witnesses tell police that someone in a black sport utility vehicle shot into a house, then sped away. Police say the girl was hit by gunfire and taken to a hospital with serious injuries, but she is expected to survive. Police say four other people in the home at the time of the shooting were not injured. Investigators say they have identified a suspect, but no arrests have been reported. 


Hearing in KC Strickland Triple Murder Case Set

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who is seeking to be exonerated in a triple murder committed more than 40 years ago could get his chance to make his case to a judge in about a month. KSHB-TV reports that retired Missouri Court of Appeals Judge James Welsh set the evidentiary hearing for Kevin Strickland for November 8th after a hearing Friday in Jackson County Court. Both sides in the case have argued over discovery issues. A conference will be held before the November 8th hearing to be certain both sides have what they need for the hearing.


Kansas Mother Arrested in Death of Her One-Year-Old Daughter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita woman has been arrested in connection with the death of her 1-year-old daughter.  Wichita Police said the girl was not breathing when officers found her inside a home in southeast Wichita around 3 p.m. Saturday. The girl, Myonna Townley, was rushed to a hospital in critical condition where she later died. Police said the girl's injuries included some form of "trauma on her body," but they didn't specify what the injuries were. Investigators arrested the girl's 27-year-old mother, Neriah Dilley, on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse. Dilley was being held Sunday in lieu of $250,000 bond.


Police: Man Found Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a man was found shot to death early Monday inside a home. Officers were called to the home around midnight Sunday and minutes later found the body of a man who had been shot. Police have not released the victim's name or any details of the shooting. Police also have not announced any arrests or suspects in the case.


Hutchinson Police: Teen Tried to Steal Humvee from Armory

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police say a teen attempted to steal a military Humvee worth more than $100,000 from the National Guard Armory in Hutchinson and swung a hatchet at an armory staff member who tried to stop him. The Hutchinson News reports that prosecutors charged the 16-year-old from Nickerson in Reno County District Court with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony theft and criminal trespass. He remains in juvenile detention. Hutchinson Police Lt. Dustin Loepp said the teen jumped a fence at the Armory and broke into at least three Humvees.


Kansas Legislative Committee Recommends More Medical Exams for Kids in Foster Care  

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — State lawmakers hope that collecting more information and requiring additional medical examinations could help keep children safe in the Kansas foster care system. The recommendations are from a committee studying ways the state can improve the system.  Democratic State Representative Jarrod Ousley, of Merriam, says the state should start tracking gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity when children in state care die.  Ousley says collecting that information will help the state find trends in suicide or other child deaths. Republican Senator Molly Baumgardner, of Louisburg, says the state should require more physical examinations when abuse is suspected. She hopes that could lead to doctors finding hidden injuries as a result of child abuse. Lawmakers will consider the committee’s recommendations when they return to Topeka in January.  


"Critical Race Theory" an Issue in Local Kansas School Board Elections

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - State education leaders say critical race theory is not taught in Kansas schools, but it’s still becoming an issue in some local school board races this year. Conservative candidates are vowing to fight controversial teaching methods regarding racism.  And those candidates are getting support from powerful national groups. Sharon Iorio is former dean of the College of Education at Wichita State University. She says these types of controversies in local school board races take the focus away from actual, serious issues in education, “That’s a problem,” Iorio said,  “because it moves us toward national issues, and sometimes hot-button issues like critical race theory and mask-wearing.”  Kansas education leaders say critical race theory is not part of the state’s current academic standards. But candidates are raising the issue anyway and some have support from powerful national groups. Critical race theory is the idea that racism and discrimination are ingrained in public policy.


Blood Donations Urgently Needed; American Red Cross Reports Worst Blood Shortage Since 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage, the worst in six years. A sharp drop in blood donor turnout has contributed to the lowest post-summer blood inventory level since 2015.  In some areas, the blood inventory is less than a day's supply. Donors of all blood types are needed, but especially those with type O blood.  The blood shortage is now so severe that the Red Cross is giving away prizes to those who donate. Those who give blood soon could get a limited-edition, football-inspired Red Cross T-shirt, free haircut coupons from Sport Clips and a coupon for a free Zaxby’s® chicken Sandwich or other freebies.  Learn more at

Find a list of area blood drives


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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