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Headlines for Tuesday, September 20, 2022

 

Kansas Inmates: Medical Care Behind Bars Threatens Their Health

LANSING, Kan. (KNS/TCJ) - Kansas prisons have struggled to offer quality medical care in recent years. The state says it’s satisfied with its new health contractor, but inmates say the medical care is so poor it threatens their health. The state's prison medical provider, Centurion of Kansas, has been fined almost 5,000 times for compliance issues. Dozens of current and former inmates in the Kansas prison system told the Kansas News Service and The Topeka Capital-Journal that their medical care threatens their health. Complaints touch nearly every area of medical care. Delivery of medications can be delayed and even if the medicine comes, inmates say, they are sometimes given treatments that trigger allergic reactions. Meanwhile, cancer screenings and checkups get missed, and if inmates are unhappy with their care, some struggle to get a second opinion.

Prison medical care has been a perennial complaint from prisoners in Kansas. The system ditched its old provider in 2020. It hoped its new medical services contractor, Centurion of Kansas, would usher in an era of better care, but, as one inmate put it, “They will let someone die in here before they try to help.”

The Department of Corrections insists it’s satisfied with the care Centurion provides, pointing out that monthly informal complaints about medical care have dropped considerably from December 2021 to August 2022, dipping from 281 to 32 and saying formal audits of the contractor also show improvement. (Read more.)

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Shawnee Man Charged with First-Degree Murder in Woman’s Fatal Shooting

SHAWNEE, Kan. (KC Star) - Prosecutors in Johnson County have charged a 28-year-old man with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a young woman whose body was found in a Shawnee apartment Sunday evening. The Kansas City Star reports that Doniel L. Sublett Jr., of Shawnee, is accused of premeditated murder in the killing of 25-year-old Kathleen J. Dampier. Sublett was being held in the Johnson County jail on a $3 million bond. Police say officers were dispatched to the 7400 block of Flint Street Sunday evening in response to a medical emergency. As one officer was arriving, the sound of gunfire was heard coming from an apartment building.  Police arrested a person in connection with the case. Prosecutors have classified the case as one of domestic violence.

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Driver Runs from Scene After Passenger Dies in Three-Vehicle Collision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — Kansas City police say a driver fled the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident Monday night. KMBC TV reports that a three-vehicle crash at St. John and Oakley Avenue happened just before 10 pm Monday. Accident investigators responded to the scene. An initial investigation revealed that a black Mazda 3 was traveling west on St. John Avenue at a high rate of speed when it struck a parked tan Lexus. The Lexus, occupied by a passenger, then struck a parked green Ford F-150, also occupied by a passenger. The driver of the Mazda, who police described as an unknown male, ran from the scene. The passenger in the Mazda was transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Authorities also have not yet identified her. The passenger in the F-150 was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The passenger in the Lexus did not report any injuries. Police did not provide a description of the driver who left the scene of the accident. The circumstances that led up to the crash remain under investigation.

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Missouri Man Accused of Killing 6-Year-Old Daughter Dies After "Self-Harm" Jail Event
 
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (KC Star) - A man accused of killing his 6-year-old daughter in St. Joseph, Missouri, has died from injuries arising from a “self-harm” incident at the Buchanan County jail. The Kansas City Star reports that 37-year-old Dustin L. Beechner, of St. Joseph, died from his injuries Monday.  He had been booked into jail earlier this month as he faced a charge of child abuse resulting in death stemming from his daughter’s fatal beating. Police were called to his home September 2, where Beechner allegedly led officers to the girl’s body, discovered on the roof of the residence under a white blanket. Police allege Beechner used an aluminum baseball bat to “violently” strike her, causing severe blunt force trauma to her head.

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Judge Tosses Most Charges Against Kansas Researcher

UNDATED (AP) - A federal judge has thrown out three of four charges against a researcher who was convicted of concealing work he did for China while employed by the University of Kansas. In a ruling released today (TUE), U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson said federal prosecutors did not provide sufficient evidence to convict Feng "Franklin" Tao of three counts of wire fraud. However, she upheld Tao's conviction for making a false statement and denied his request for a new trial on that count. Tao was accused of not disclosing that he was named to a Chinese talent program and was setting up a laboratory and recruiting staff for Fuzhou University in China while working at the University of Kansas.

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Lawrence Police Work to Identify Skeletal Remains Found in Wooded Area

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Lawrence Police are investigating human remains that were found in a wooded area. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the skeletal remains were found south of Bob Billings Parkway, just east of Kansas Highway 10. The man who found the remains called police from a convenience store Monday afternoon.  Police say the evidence allows them to feel confident they are human remains, but no foul play is suspected at this time. Police are now working with forensic experts to try to identify the victim.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Performing Illegal Autopsies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Kansas man who admitted providing illegal private autopsy services has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Shawn Parcells was sentenced Monday to five years and nine months for one count of wire fraud. Parcells pleaded guilty in May. As part of the plea agreement, nine other wire fraud charges were dropped. Federal prosecutors said Parcells persuaded a client to pay him $5,000 for an autopsy, which he was not qualified to perform. Prosecutors say Parcells collected more than $1.1 million from more than 350 clients for autopsies, many of which he didn't perform. Parcells in 2014 assisted a privately hired pathologist in an autopsy of Michael Brown, the unarmed Black 18-year-old from Ferguson, Missouri, who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

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DOJ Probes Racism Allegations in Kansas City Police Force

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into allegations of discrimination against Black officers by the Kansas City Police Department that reportedly begins during hiring and extends to promotions and discipline. The federal agency announced the inquiry in a letter sent Monday to the Board of Police Commissioners and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. The agency has not elaborated on how it was alerted to the concerns. The announcement comes after The Kansas City Star published a series of stories examining allegations of racism and harassment. The department’s interim police chief, Joseph Mabin, has vowed to cooperate fully with the federal investigation. The police union has not responded to a request for comment.

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Officials Say Kansas Deputy Used Taser on Child with Autism

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state law enforcement oversight group says a Kansas sheriff's deputy used his Taser on a 12-year-old autistic boy who was handcuffed and hogtied inside the deputy's vehicle. The oversight body reprimanded the deputy for using excessive force on the boy in February but did not revoke his law enforcement certification. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Matthew Honas was a deputy in Jackson County at the time but he was terminated from his job in March. The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training said the boy was in Honas's patrol vehicle because he had run away from foster care.

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Former Missouri Newspaper Manager Accused of Embezzling Nearly $430,000

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KC Star) - A former business manager for the Independence Examiner newspaper is accused in Jackson County, Missouri, of embezzling more than $400,000 from the company over the course of three years.  The Kansas City Star reports that 58-year-old Deneane M. Hyde, of Blue Springs, is charged with one felony count of stealing more than $25,000. Prosecutors accuse her of withdrawing money from the newspaper’s bank account and putting those funds into her own personal bank account between 2018 and 2021.

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UPDATE: Kansas Firefighters Extinguish Weekend Wildfire in Ellsworth, Lincoln Counties

ELLSWORTH CO., Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas firefighters were able to extinguish a wildfire in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties over the weekend. The Kansas Forest Service says crews battled a wildfire Sunday that started off of I-70 in Ellsworth County and burned into neighboring Lincoln County. WIBW TV reports that the weekend fire follows another larger fire in Clark County last week. Officials say the western part of the state remains extremely dry and as September winds increase, so does the potential for large fires to erupt.

(Earlier reporting...)

Wildfires Burn 4,000 Acres Sunday Across 2 Kansas Counties
 
ELLSWORTH COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A wildfire burned in two Kansas counties Sunday. The Kansas Forest Service reported that firefighters were on the scene of a blaze that started off Interstate 70 in Ellsworth County early Sunday afternoon.  That fire also burned into Lincoln County. KSNW TV reports that up to 100 firefighters from Ellsworth, Russell, Ottawa, Saline, Mitchell and Lincoln counties were called in to battle the flames. No Injuries were reported, and no livestock were lost. Only one abandoned structure was destroyed. The fire burned approximately 4,000 acres.

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Kansas Foster Care Kids Still Sleeping in Offices

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas foster kids don’t get moved around as often as in past years, but a new report finds that some still sleep in contractor offices. According to the Kansas News Service, a new progress report documents whether the state is complying with a 2020 settlement stemming from a class-action lawsuit. The Kansas foster care system is improving. It’s hitting goals to reduce how often kids are moved around. But it was supposed to put an end to kids sleeping in offices. And that hasn’t happened yet. Kansas foster care contractors had more than 50 children sleep in offices and other inappropriate places in 2021. (Read more.)

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Audit Found $466 Million in Kansas Unemployment Fraud; Audit Results Now Made Public

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - A forensic audit that found Kansas paid out $466 million in fraudulent unemployment claims has now been made public, revealing the contents of a report that some state officials wanted to keep at least partially secret. The audit was provided to and discussed by members of the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council earlier this month, but members were required to surrender their copies at the conclusion of the meeting. The public was barred from viewing the audit.

Council chair Rep. Sean Tarwater said the Kansas Department of Labor had demanded redactions to the audit, which by law was supposed to be public. The Labor Department denied an open records request from the Topeka Capital-Journal for an unredacted version of the audit. Meanwhile, senior legislative staff released an unredacted version, declaring it to be no longer confidential. The council is scheduled to meet again Monday. More than $3.5 billion was paid out by the state's unemployment system. The auditors estimate as much as $466 million in "potentially fraudulent claims" were paid out. That means about 13% of all unemployment benefit payments were likely fraudulent. (Read more.)

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Officials: More than 315,000 Attend 2022 Kansas State Fair

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KPR) - About 33,000 more people attended this year's Kansas State Fair than last year.  Officials say 315,273 people went through the gates in Hutchinson this year. That's up from the 282,000 fairgoers last year. The 2023 Kansas State Fair is scheduled for September 8-17.

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Judge Orders Ex-Kansas Cop Released from Jail Pending Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective accused of preying on poor Black females for decades will be released from custody pending his trial. U.S Magistrate Judge Rachel Schwartz said Monday that Roger Golubski has such serious medical problems that he is not as much of a risk as he was when most of the alleged crimes were committed. Golubski was charged last week with sexually abusing a Black woman and a teenager more than two decades ago. Civil rights advocates have said he abused Black females in Kansas City, Kansas, for decades. Prosecutors on Friday filed a motion including complaints from seven other women about Golubski. He has pleaded not guilty.

(–Additional reporting–)

Judge Orders Release of Accused Former Detective 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KC Star) - A judge has released accused former police detective Roger Golubski from detention today (MON), citing Golubski's health issues. The Kansas City Star reports that Golubski, who has been charged with six counts of civil rights violations, will be required to be under location monitoring technology. He must not violate laws, possess a gun, or contact any witnesses or victims. Golubski, who retired in 2010 as a captain with the Kansas City, Kansas police department, is accused of sexually abusing and kidnapping a woman and a young teenager in separate incidents from 1998 to 2002. Golubski has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he will face a maximum sentence of life in prison. The judge's decision upset activists in the courtroom today (MON), including a woman who said she was stalked by Golubski. Lamonte McIntyre,  an innocent man who alleges Golubski framed him for a double homicide, got up and left in the middle of the hearing.

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Kansas Voters Will Decide on Republican-Backed Proposal to Limit Governor's Political Power

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) — Lawmakers have made a proposal to voters in Kansas: Give us more power. Take away clout from the governor. The Kansas News Service reports that a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution would create a legislative veto — effectively giving the right to lawmakers to cancel regulations imposed by state agencies even when those rules put into practice laws passed by the Legislature. Regulatory powers historically have defined a key function of executive branches. If the measure on the November 8 passes, state agencies would find themselves newly accountable — critics might say beholden — to lawmakers.  In Kansas, where the governor’s office has toggled between Republican and Democratic hands while control of the Legislature remains dominated by the GOP, it would deliver more power to one party to decide how much to regulate industries. (Read more.)

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2 Kansas Men Jailed After 8-Hour Manhunt in Alabama

JASPER, Ala. (AL.com) - Two Kansas men are behind bars after an extensive manhunt in Jasper, Alabama, over the weekend. AL.com reports that 22-year-old Dereck Zamzow and 20-year-old Noah Jaymes Oates were taken into custody after an eight-hour search.  Jasper police responded to a suspicious person call Sunday where they located two men, one who was visibly armed. The officer was able to disarm the suspect, but both suspects fled into the woods.  Additional officers arrived on the scene and set up a perimeter. The first suspect was captured Sunday night and the second suspect was captured early Monday morning. The men are accused of auto theft. The gun taken from the suspects has also been identified as stolen from Kansas.

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Man in Custody After Threatening Topeka Police Officer with Sword-Like Knife, Brick

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One man is in custody after police say he threatened an officer with a sword-like weapon and a brick. WIBW TV reports that an officer stopped a suspicious person walking along the road (near 24th and SE Minnesota) Friday afternoon for having an open container. Over the course of the stop, police say the man gave the officer multiple fake names. But the officer learned the man’s true identity and discovered he had a felony warrant out for his arrest. The officer attempted to take 45-year-old Kevin Teeter, of Topeka, into custody but the man drew a “samurai-style knife.” The officer pulled out his weapon and Teeter dropped the sword and ran into the backyard of a nearby house. A struggle ensued and Teeter allegedly grabbed a brick and attempted to hit the officer. The officer was able to take Teeter into custody using a non-lethal beanbag gun. The incident happened close to Highland Park High School, which had just finished their Homecoming parade. Police say nobody was seriously injured. Teeter was booked into Shawnee County Department of Corrections on various charges.

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Butler County Residents Back in Leon After Evacuating Due to Fire

LEON, Kan. (KSNW) — A fire in the town of Leon caused an evacuation of all homes within city limits  Saturday morning. KSNW TV reports that the fire broke out around 12:30 Saturday morning at a few buildings that contained liquid fertilizer, and because of the hazmat risk, Leon authorities called for an evacuation of all residences within the city limits. Fire officials say senior housing was near the flames, and they wanted to get all seniors out safely. In all, roughly 25 people went to the emergency shelter that was set up at nearby Bluestem High School.  Residents were able to return to their homes around 4 am. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

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New Mexico Man, Cousin Arrested in Kansas in Homicide Case

TOME, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a New Mexico man and his cousin have been arrested in Kansas in connection with the shooting death of a woman. Valencia County Sheriff’s officials say 37-year-old Karla Aguilera of Tome was reported missing Sept. 6 by family members. A body was found Wednesday in Torrance County and an autopsy confirmed it was Aguilera. According to a criminal complaint, Aguilera was shot four times and her case is being investigated as a homicide. An arrest warrant was issued for 50-year-old Rosalio Aguilera-Gamboa and he was arrested Saturday in Garden City, Kansas along with his cousin Maria Guadalupe Nevarez Aguilera. Authorities say Aguilera-Gamboa is facing multiple charges including an open count of murder but it's unclear what charges Nevarez Aguilera is facing.

(–Earlier reporting–) 

New Mexico Woman Found Dead, Husband Arrested in Kansas

TOME, N.M. (AP) — A missing New Mexico woman has been found dead and her husband has been arrested in Kansas in connection with the case. Authorities in Valencia County, New Mexico, say 37-year-old Karla Aguilera, of Tome, New Mexico, was reported missing by family members September 6. New Mexico officials say a body was found Wednesday and an autopsy confirmed it was Aguilera. An arrest warrant was issued for 50-year-old Rosalio Aguilera-Gamboa and authorities said he was arrested Saturday in Garden City, Kansas. (Read more.)

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Northeast Kansas Sheriff Warns of New Twist on Amazon Scam

BROWN COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – A new twist on a recent scam is surfacing in Brown County and Sheriff John Merchant is warning residents again, don’t be afraid to hang up. KSNT reports that the sheriff is warning residents the new twist includes calling people and telling them that if they hang up, Amazon will charge them $200 and Mastercard will charge them $900. The caller then says to avoid the charges, the person must dial #1. When they press #1, an individual will try to get personal information from them. Earlier this month, Sheriff Merchant warned residents of the scam and encouraged people to hang up and “never call them back.”  At that time, residents were being told an expensive item had been charged to their Amazon account and to press #1 for further details. Instead, those who press #1 find themselves on the line with someone who asks for their Amazon account information. The sheriff says some residents have received as many as 20 calls in a day.

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More Than Two Million Sports Bets Placed in Kansas Since September 1

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Since sports betting in Kansas was officially legalized on September 1st, residents from all over the state have been attempting to win big. According to the Kansas Lottery, from September 1 - September 11, over 2.4 million bets were placed in the state. WIBW TV reports that those bets cashed in over $47 million in winnings. Lottery officials say the most popular teams that bets were placed on were the Chiefs, Royals, followed by the in-state colleges of KU and K-State. Lottery officials also say the September 11th NASCAR races at Hollywood Casino and Barstool Sports broke Penn Gaming’s record for a new property opening.

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State of Kansas Wants Feedback on Plan to Clean Up Toxic Site in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) - The state of Kansas is asking residents to share feedback on a $13.9 million plan to clean up a contaminated rail yard in northeast Wichita. KMUW Radio reports that feedback is requested before October 16. The 29th and Grove site, which is owned by Union Pacific, has a chemical known as trichloroethene in its soil and groundwater that is strongly linked to kidney cancer. In 2007, groundwater concentrations of the chemical at the site reached 86,000 times the standards set by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). Concentrations in the soil reached over 8,000 times the standard. Contaminated groundwater also extends in a 2.9-mile long plume south of the rail yard site, all the way to Murdock Avenue. This runs through many historically Black neighborhoods northeast of downtown Wichita.

Since 2004, Union Pacific has taken multiple steps to clean up the rail yard site. This includes removing up to six feet of contaminated soil and a bioremediation program that uses bacteria and nutrients to break down contaminants until they are harmless. And in 2009, Union Pacific installed a system along Murdock and east of I-135 to ensure the contaminated groundwater did not spread any further.

But Mary Daily, a professional geologist with Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that the levels of contamination in the groundwater and soil are still too high — both at the rail yard site, and along the plume of groundwater. Tests from May 2021 showed the concentration of the chemical in the groundwater was still 164 times higher than the standard.

The state is recommending a $13.9 million plan for remediation, which Union Pacific will pay for. (Read more.)

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Small Town Kansas Post Office Closing, Leaving Residents Worried

VASSAR, Kan. (KSNT) – For people living in one eastern Kansas town, getting the mail just became another long-distance errand.  KSNT reports that plans to close the post office in Vassar have been in the works for a while. Residents in the Osage County town will now have to make the drive to Lyndon to get their mail. While it’s only 7 miles out of the way, that can still be problematic for several people. “There are a lot of seniors in the area that I see,” Vassar Resident Stephanie Burdett said. “Their daily outing is walking to the post office for their mail. With that closing, now they’re going to have to find some way if they don’t drive, they’ll have to have a family member drive to Lyndon," she said. The hours of the Lyndon post office, which closes at 4:30 pm on weekdays, could cause issues as well.

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Chiefs Starting LB Willie Gay Suspended 4 Games by NFL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay was suspended by the NFL for four games Monday for violating its personal conduct policy. Gay was arrested in January in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park and charged with misdemeanor criminal property of damage of less than $1,000. Gay’s representative, Maxx Lepselter, said at the time that Gay broke a vacuum that belonged to the mother of his son during an argument in which nobody was harmed. Gay agreed to a diversion program in June to resolve the criminal case.

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Big 12 Teams Finding Their Identities as Conference Play Looms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas Jayhawks football team has forged an identity through its first three games as an offensive-minded team capable of putting up big points without necessarily throwing the ball all over the yard. Kansas State has embraced the image of a physical, defense-first team that can barely score. The rest of the Big 12 is still trying to figure out their team identities. Six teams play their first league games Saturday. Iowa State has the eighth-ranked defense in the nation, and TCU has the ninth-ranked offense. Top-10 teams Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have been brilliant on offense but have shown some defensive chops as well.

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Kansas Public Radio Searches for New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio (KPR), at the University of Kansas, is seeking a new Statehouse Bureau Chief.  This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. The position duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. This includes but is not limited to covering the Kansas legislative session, the governor, attorney general, supreme court, the state’s congressional delegation and statewide elections. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners. Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.

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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.

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