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Headlines for Tuesday, October 5, 2021


Kansas Governor Bypasses Lawmakers, Creates Child Advocate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has created an independent office to review complaints against the Kansas foster care system and recommend changes in child welfare policies. Her order Monday establishing the new agency fulfills a longtime goal of advocates for abused and neglected children. The Democratic governor’s move to create the office by executive order also bypasses the Republican-controlled Legislature. It deadlocked on the issue earlier this year after some lawmakers pushed to put the new office under the state attorney general. Some Democrats saw that as a partisan move because Attorney General Derek Schmidt is widely expected to be the GOP nominee challenging Kelly next year.


Wichita Police Shoot, Wound Armed Woman at Grocery Store

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say officers have shot and wounded an armed woman at a Wichita grocery store. The Wichita Eagle reports that officers rushed to a Whole Foods store after receiving a report that someone was in the parking lot with a gun. They spotted the woman crouched down in the store entrance with the firearm upon arriving and fired shots at her. Police said she then retreated inside the store where there were shoppers and staff. Officers followed, and she was hit by at least one bullet. Police described her injuries as non-life threatening. No shoppers were hurt.


Audit: Cybersecurity Weak for Many Kansas School Districts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new legislative audit says that many Kansas school districts aren’t taking basic steps to protect their computer systems and the privacy of sensitive information collected about students. The report released Tuesday by the Legislature’s auditing agency based its conclusions on a survey sent to the state’s 286 local school districts, with 147, or 51% responding. The audit said that more than a quarter of the school districts surveyed didn’t have antivirus software on all computers. The auditors said that only 34% of districts said they scanned computers for vulnerabilities at least once a month, while 35% said they never did it.


Kansas County Spends over $70,000 to End Cyberattack

WESTMORELAND, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas county paid more than $70,000 to end a cyberattack that crippled its computer systems for about two weeks. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the attackers had demanded more than $1 million. But Pottawatomie County administrator Chad Kinsley said the county told the hackers that it was small, with just about 25,000 residents, and couldn’t even come close to meeting their demand. The county said in a news release that it instead paid $71,250 to the attackers and $356 in exchange fees.


Three Earthquakes Shake Kansas Sunday

SALINE COUNTY, Kan. (The Hays Post) — Three earthquakes shook central Kansas Sunday.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest quake was centered 2 miles west of Gypsum in Saline County just before 10 pm and measured a magnitude 3.8.  In addition, the Kansas Geological Survey reported  a 2.7 magnitude quake in Smith County and a 2.3 quake in Osborne County. The Hays Post reports that there have been no reports of damage and no injuries.


Kansas Looks to Extend Medicaid Eligibility to Cover Maternal Health

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas health officials are looking into making a temporary change in Medicaid eligibility rules permanent to reduce postpartum deaths. State health officials are looking for ways to help new mothers suffering from postpartum depression and other health problems and say those issues disproportionately affect minorities and low-income women. In Kansas, where nearly 40% of births are covered by Medicaid, that means tens of thousands of women are at risk.  Federal changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily reduced those risks by extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to a full year. The director of the state’s Medicaid program says that could reduce postpartum deaths, because about one in four new mothers covered by the extension developed problem conditions more than two months after giving birth. 


Local Governments Struggle to Hire Public Sector Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Some local Kansas governments are operating with 10% of their positions unfilled, making it hard to deliver the services that citizens expect.  Across the state, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that Kansas has seen a 4.7% drop in the number of public sector workers, which translates into about 12,000 vacant jobs, but some towns are being hit harder. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the pandemic has made the situation worse because the competitive labor market makes it hard to replace older employees who decided to retire. And private companies, which are also struggling to hire, have more flexibility in pay and benefits than city governments generally do. 


GOP Leader in Kansas Accuses Another of Forcibly Kissing Her

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Wyandotte County Republican leader has filed a battery complaint against a Republican leader in neighboring Johnson County saying he forcibly kissed her at an anti-abortion event in August. Wyandotte County Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Stephanie Cashion told the Associated Press that she made a complaint to police last month accusing Johnson County Republican Party Chairman Fabian Shepard of grabbing her and kissing her without her permission. Cashion said the incident occurred at a Kansans for Life fundraising event in Bonner Springs. Shepard did not immediately respond to a request for comment but told The Kansas City Star that he denies the allegations.


Missouri Preparing for Execution of Ernest Johnson

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)  - Last-minute court intervention on Tuesday morning was the last obstacle to the execution of Ernest Johnson, a Missouri man convicted of killing three convenience store workers during a robbery nearly 28 years ago.  Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Monday declined to grant clemency to Johnson, despite requests for mercy from the pope, two federal lawmakers and thousands of petition signers.  The 61-year-old Johnson is scheduled to die by injection Tuesday evening at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Johnson's attorney, Jeremy Weis, says executing Johnson would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled people.  In a letter last week to Parson, a representative for Pope Francis wrote that the pope “wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life.”  Racial justice activists and two Missouri members of Congress, Democratic U.S. Representatives Cori Bush of St. Louis and Emmanuel Cleaver of Kansas City, have also called on Parson to show mercy to Johnson, who is Black. If the execution takes place as scheduled, it would be the seventh in the U.S. this year.


Former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin Dies

WILDWOOD, Mo. (AP) _  Former Republican U.S. Representative Todd Akin, of Missouri, has died.  Akin's family released a statement announcing that the former congressman died late Sunday at age 74 from cancer. Akin's comment in 2012 that women's bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of ``legitimate rape'' sunk his bid for the U.S. Senate that year and became a cautionary tale for other GOP candidates. He represented a Republican-leaning eastern Missouri district that included St. Louis-area suburbs for 12 years before running for the Senate. His career was overshadowed by the outrage from the post-primary comment in a television interview after he was asked whether he would support allowing abortions in cases of rape. 


Prairie Village Advances Ban on ‘Conversion Therapy’

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP/KPR) — A Prairie Village City Council committee on Monday advanced a proposed ban on conversion therapy, which will now be considered as an ordinance before the full city council. The goal of conversion therapy is to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Shawnee Mission Post reports that the council had directed city staff to draft an ordinance similar to the one adopted last year in Roeland Park, which prohibits mental health professionals from using conversion therapy. If the committee’s proposal is adopted, violators would be charged up to $1,000 fine, but would not face jail time. The controversial practice has also been banned in Lawrence and Kansas City.


Kansas Man Charged in the Shooting Death of His Brother

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man has been charged with murder and domestic battery in the shooting death of his older brother. Police say 34-year-old Ricky Salazar was arrested last week and charged with second-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Ricardo Salazar. He also faces separate charges of aggravated robbery, being a criminal in possession of a weapon and cocaine possession. Police say the older brother was shot on August 15 in an area along State Avenue and died of his injuries on September 23. Ricky Salazar was being held Tuesday in the Wyandotte County Jail on a $250,000 bond.


New Rules on Missouri Abortion Clinics Set to Take Effect

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - More rules on Missouri abortion clinics are set to take effect. Additional regulations on pelvic exams and record keeping at abortion clinics are set to take effect on October 13. The regulations also require the health department to refer rule violations to state Medicaid funding auditors. Missouri Republicans have been trying for years to block all Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, which already is banned from using public funds for most abortions.  State senators last week recommended that the state health department and Medicaid auditors share inspection information, similar to the new agency rules. 


Man Sentenced to More than Five Years in Prison for Setting Kansas City Church Fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A man has been sentenced to nearly five-and-a-half years in federal prison for setting fire to a Kansas City church last year.  Federal prosecutors for Missouri say in a news release that 39-year-old Christopher Durant, of Kansas City, Missouri,  was sentenced Monday to 63 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in April to one count of arson. Prosecutors say Durant set fire to Beyond Thee Four Walls Ministries on August 26, 2020, days after he had approached church staff asking for water and was turned away.  Investigators say surveillance video showed Durant breaking church windows with chunks of asphalt, then placing burning objects inside the church through a mail slot and the broken windows. 


Natural Gas Prices Expected to Remain High Through Winter

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Natural gas prices are more than double what they were at this time last year and experts predict prices will remain high through the winter. Utility companies pass the cost of natural gas directly on to their customers. As the price of wholesale natural gas increases, so will the fee Kansas utilities charge every month. For Kansas Gas Service customers that fee this month is $5.67 per thousand cubic feet of gas used. Last October, it was $3.76. Other large gas utilities such as Atmos Energy and Black Hills Energy have made similar increases. The price could remain high all winter. If it does, some people could see their monthly bill increase by as much as $30 to $40 dollars compared to last year. 


USDA Issues New Loan Program for Meat Producers

ROLLA, Mo. (HPM) _ The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating another $100 million for a program designed to improve supply chains for meat and poultry processing. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that the U.S. lacks adequate meat processing capacity in a health or economic crisis. That has meant less grocery-ready meat and higher prices. The USDA hopes the loan guarantees will help build new meat processing plants and storage facilities and expand existing plants. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it will stabilize the country’s food supply. “I think it’s going to create a sense of confidence in the supply chain, which hopefully, will result in fair returns for our producers, and fair prices at the checkout counter for our consumers," he said. The USDA will roll out details on how to apply for the money by the end of October. 


Child COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Lag in Many Kansas Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Data from the Kansas state health department show that some counties are seeing youth vaccination rates for COVID-19 far below the national average. A school pandemic workgroup received data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment this week showing that in about a quarter of the state’s counties, less than 20% of vaccine-eligible children ages 12 to 17 had received at least one dose as of September 24th. U.S. regulators in May expanded the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12. The national vaccination rate for youth is 57%.


Kansas Tax Receipts for September Higher Than Expected

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The state of Kansas is bringing in more tax revenue than expected.  According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, September's total tax receipts were more than $876 million. That's nearly 23% higher than anticipated, or about $162 million more than the state projected.  Governor Laura Kelly says the latest tax collection numbers continue to show promising growth.


Nurse Accused of Taking Fentanyl from Two Kansas City-Area Hospitals

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A nurse has been charged with taking the powerful opioid fentanyl from medicine cabinets at two Kansas City-area hospitals. The U.S. attorney’s office for Kansas announced Monday that a federal grand jury has indicted 41-year-old Faith Naccarato of Kansas City, Missouri, on four charges. She is charged with two counts of illegally possessing fentanyl through deception or subterfuge and two counts of tampering with a consumer product. Prosecutors said that in early 2020 she emptied fentanyl vials at the two hospitals and replaced the drug with another liquid. Her attorney did not immediately respond to a telephone message and email seeking comment.


Kansas Farmers Making Progress Harvesting Their Fall Crops

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Fall harvest is well underway in Kansas with farmers already bringing in more than half of this year’s corn crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that the 51% of the corn crop has been cut, well ahead of the 43% average for this time of year. Kansas growers have also harvested 19% of their sorghum crop, along with 14% of the soybean and 10% of the sunflower crops.


More in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska Sickened in Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak

ATLANTA, (WDAF) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to investigate an outbreak of salmonella infections that has now sickened more than 400 people across 35 states, including Kansas and Missouri.  In an update posted Thursday, the CDC said there have been at least 419 confirmed cases linked to the outbreak, with 66 of those requiring hospitalization. Those numbers have jumped up from the CDC’s update on September 23 when there were 279 cases and 26 hospitalizations across 29 states.  WDAF TV in Kansas City reports that so far, no deaths have been linked to the outbreak.  The agency noted, however, that the actual number of sick individuals is always likely higher than the number reported, as many of the infected recover without seeking treatment or notifying health officials.

The CDC has still yet to identify a food source linked to the outbreak. In its previous update, officials said this specific strain of Salmonella Oranienburg was found inside a takeout condiment cup that contained cilantro, lime and onions. At the time, the CDC said it was not possible to determine which ingredient or component was contaminated, as the takeout container contained other foods.  As such, the CDC is asking the public to follow all applicable food safety measures when washing, cooking or eating foods that carry a risk of food poisoning.

As of September 29, the outbreak had expanded to 35 states, including the following: Oklahoma (63 cases), Kansas (9), Nebraska (6), Missouri (5), Iowa (1), Arkansas (8) and New Mexico (8).

Symptoms of salmonella, which can begin up to six days after ingestion of contaminated food, include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, and possible nausea, vomiting or headache. Those experiencing more severe symptoms — including dehydration, prolonged vomiting, prolonged diarrhea, or diarrhea with a fever of over 102 degrees F, among other symptoms — should contact a doctor immediately.  More information on this outbreak and salmonella infection can be found at the CDC’s website


Police Say Three People Shot Outside Kansas City Bowling Alley

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say three people have been injured in a late-night shooting at a Kansas City bowling alley. Investigators say police were called to Ward Parkway Lanes around 11 pm Sunday for reports of a shooting. Arriving officers found two men with critical injuries and a woman with injuries not believed to be life-threatening in the bowling alley's parking lot. The three were rushed to hospitals, and police say one of the men is on life support. Police have not released the victim's names. No arrests or suspects in the shooting were immediately reported. 


Two Killed in Small Plane Crash in Western Missouri

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) _ Officials in Johnson County say two people have died in an ultralight plane crash. Television station KCTV reports that the crash happened around 10 am Sunday northwest of Warrensburg. County fire officials say the two people killed were the only ones aboard the ultralight aircraft. Officials have not released the victims' names. An investigation into the crash is being conducted. 


Shooting Death in Geary County Investigated as Homicide

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sheriff's deputies in northeastern Kansas have identified the victim of a fatal shooting over the weekend as 22-year-old Enfinnity Latania Hayes of Fort Riley. Topeka television station KSNT reports that deputies were called around 8:30 pm Sunday to a hospital in Junction City where a person with gunshot wounds had been brought. The Geary County Sheriff's Office says the person later died from their injuries. The shooting is being investigated as a homicide. The Geary County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday that the shooting was believed to have taken place at the Milford State Park.


Wichita Police Shoot and Kill Man Who Pointed Gun

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita police officer fatally shot a man Sunday who pointed a gun at officers after refusing to follow their commands. Wichita police Captain Jason Stephens said officers were called to the 41-year-old man's home after a woman told a local convenience store clerk that the man was threatening to harm her and himself and that the man was wanted by police. Stephens said Jess Jackson died after an officer fired four shots at him after he pointed the gun. Stephens said Jackson was wanted on several warrants for failing to appear in court in several cases. The shooting will be investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. 


Three People Killed in Saturday Shooting in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police are investigating a Saturday afternoon shooting that killed three people in Kansas City, Missouri. The shooting was reported shortly before 4 pm Saturday. Police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said that when officers arrived, they found two men and a woman who were unresponsive. Authorities declared the three victims dead at the scene. The shooting took place in a residential neighborhood near 27th Street and Spruce Avenue in southeast Kansas City. Becchina said the suspect fled the area, but it wasn't clear if the suspect fled on foot or in a vehicle. On Sunday, police identified the three victims as Kanen Wheaton, 24, Devon Key, 24 and Johnnai Owens, 23. 


Kansas Highway Patrol Says Man Killed in Head-On Crash

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a man from central Kansas has died in a head-on crash near Hays. The patrol said the crash happened around 10:15 am Sunday on U.S. 183 south of Hays, killing 56-year-old James Kohl, of Schoenchen. Investigators say Kohl was driving a car northbound on the highway when a southbound pickup truck entered his lane while trying to pass a vehicle. Officials say Kohl died at the scene. The driver of the truck — a 20-year-old man from Kansas City, Missouri — suffered serious injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital.


Remaining, Renewed and New Big 12 Rivalries After Red River

UNDATED (AP) — The Big 12 will still have some longstanding rivalries once Texas and Oklahoma split for the Southeastern Conference. Century-old games like Kansas versus Kansas State and Baylor versus TCU remain. There is also Farmageddon between Iowa State and Kansas State that will be played for the 105th season in a row October 16. That is the same day Baylor hosts No. 10 BYU. The Cougars, fifth-ranked Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston will be Big 12 teams within two to three seasons.


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. Officials say they must collect 10,000 additional blood products each week over the next month for the blood supply to recover and meet hospital and patient needs. 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.  More information is available at (Read more.)

To Make an appointment to give blood or platelets, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call (800) RED CROSS (800-733-2767). 

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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