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Headlines for Tuesday, September 29, 2020

 

Kansas Unemployment System Blocks at Least 45,000 Bogus Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say criminals have targeted the state's unemployment system in a multibillion dollar fraud scheme that has delayed relief payments to thousands of people around the state who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. The acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor, Ryan Wright, says the agency has blocked at least 45,000 fraudulent payments this year. The agency doesn't know how much money the fraudsters are believed to have stolen in Kansas. But The Wichita Eagle reports that the Legislature approved an audit of the program to determine how many payments slipped through to them.

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Kansas Governor Backs New Guidelines on Nursing Home Visits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly says she supports new federal guidelines detailing how nursing homes can begin allowing visits to patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week said nursing homes should continue to follow COVID-19 related protocols, such as social distancing and temperature screening. But it said indoor visitations can be allowed at facilities that take Medicare and Medicaid if they have not had any new COVID-19 cases for 14 days and are not conducting active outbreak testing. State officials said Tuesday that it will take some time to implement the new guidance because each facility will have to respond according to their own circumstances.

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KU Researchers Developing Quick-Turnaround COVID-19 Test

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — A University of Kansas professor is leading an effort to develop a quick-turnaround COVID-19 test that can be used at home.  Professor Steven Soper’s team, which includes a half-dozen graduate students in bioengineering and chemistry, is repurposing “lab on a chip” technology.  Soper had previously developed this technology to give doctors simple tools to quickly and more easily diagnose conditions ranging from stroke to colon cancer.  Soper says taking the COVID-19 test will be as simple as taking a home pregnancy test, only this test involves saliva.  “You take a saliva sample, you put it in the chip, and the chip does the processing,” Soper said. The whole process, including results, should take around 15 minutes. Current tests — including one used by KU — involve multiple steps, require a trained operator to implement the test and need an hour or two before results are available.  (Read more.) 

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Kansas Has Nearly 59,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 637 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has identified more than 58,500 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment reported those figures Monday. Kansas has now recorded 58,629 cases, including 637 deaths. Another update on case numbers will be released Wednesday.

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Kansas Has Another COVID-19 Spike; Counties Worry About Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of the tests for the virus during that period coming back positive. The continued spike in confirmed and probable cases Monday comes as officials in some Kansas counties worry that they won’t be able to spend some coronavirus relief funds before the end of the year as federal law requires. The state health department says Kansas had 2,037 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday to make the total 58,629. Kansas had an average of 667 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday.

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Unified Government Settles Case, Apologizes to Ex-Employee

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, has won a $125,000 settlement after her boss was convicted of grabbing her by the shirt and pushing her into a wall. The Kansas City Star reports that the Unified Government also apologized to Madeline Waldeck for the hostile work environment she faced while working for Dennis "Tib" Laughlin, the former director of general services. Her lawsuit says she called police in May 2018 after Laughlin shoved her, leading to a misdemeanor battery conviction and Laughlin's resignation. The suit said said she had complained previously about Laughlin's conduct but that no action was taken.

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Lawsuit: Kansas Woman Posed No Danger When Deputy Killed Her

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) _ A lawsuit says a Kansas woman who was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after refusing to pull over was unarmed and posed no danger to him or the public. The court filing Tuesday paints a different picture than the one recounted by authorities following the fatal shooting in Wichita of 51-year-old Debra Arbuckle by Sedgwick County Deputy Kaleb Dailey on Dec. 30, 2019. An attorney representing Arbuckle's family says multiple law enforcement videos show the deputy and his colleagues were not in any danger when he killed her. The lawsuit, filed by Arbuckle's son, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages. 

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1,500 Kansas Mail Ballots Arrived Too Late to Count

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Election data shows more than 1,500 Kansans did not have their votes counted in the August primary because their mail ballots arrived too late, but many of them were uncounted because voters didn’t mail them on time. A 2017 state law that aims to mitigate the impact of mail delays allows ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted as long as they are received in local election offices within three days. That means that ballots postmarked on or before August 4th would have been counted had they arrived by August 7th. 

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KU Reverses No-Fans Policy for Fall Sports

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The University of Kansas will welcome back fans at sporting events starting next month. Chancellor Douglas Girod announced that about 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend the October 3rd KU football game against Oklahoma State.  Masks will be required at all times, all stadium seating will be reserved to ensure proper distancing, and tailgating will not be permitted on campus.  In making the announcement, Girod emphasized the decision to host fans can change at any time.   University and local health officials will meet after the October 3rd football game and make adjustments as needed.

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Coronavirus Throws Wrench into Missouri Governor's Race

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The coronavirus pandemic is a top issue in the Missouri governor's race. The virus stalled Republican Governor Mike Parson's campaign after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week. A debate between Parson and Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway that was scheduled for last Friday has been canceled. Missouri State Auditor Galloway says Parson hasn't done enough as governor to fight the virus. She says she would implement a statewide face mask mandate if elected. Parson has long opposed a statewide mask requirement and leaves decisions on school closings and mask rules to local leaders. 

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Murder Charges Filed in 2016 Triple Homicide in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say capital murder charges were filed Monday in the 2016 triple homicide of a man, woman and unborn child at a Topeka apartment complex. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said at a news conference that 38-year-old Yanez C. Sanford was arrested Monday in Independence, Missouri. The Topeka Capital Journal reports Sanford faces charges linked to the shooting deaths of 23-year-old Dominique Ray, 20-year-old Camrah Trotter and her unborn son, Uriah Trotter. She was in her third trimester of pregnancy.  He faces charges of capital murder, first-degree premeditated murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.

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Junction City Woman's Death Being Investigated as Homicide

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City police are investigating a woman's death as a homicide. Police say Carolina Almendarez Marquez was found dead inside a Junction City home Saturday night. No cause of death was given and an autopsy is scheduled. Police arrested Michael Chavez in the case a few hours after Marquez's body was found. He is a relative of Marquez. Chavez was booked into the Geary County Detention Center awaiting his first court appearance. No other details were released.

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Child Welfare Advocates Propose Independent Agency to Track Kansas Foster Care System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Child welfare advocates in Kansas are pushing for an independent agency to monitor the state’s troubled foster care system. The nonprofit group Kansas Appleseed has proposed creating an Office of the Child Advocate to investigate complaints and evaluate the state agency overseeing foster care. The nonprofit failed to get state lawmakers to vote on a bill to create the agency during the 2020 session of the Kansas Legislature, but the group has the support of some lawmakers to push again in 2021. Opponents say the money would be better spent on existing programs that monitor the system.

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City of Lawrence Settles with Black Driver Shot by Rookie Officer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence has reached a settlement with a Black driver who was shot by a police officer in 2018. The driver, Akira Lewis, filed an excessive force lawsuit after he was shot during a traffic stop. In court documents filed Friday, the city agreed to pay Lewis $80,000.  Under the settlement, neither the city nor Lewis accepted liability in the shooting. Lewis was shot by a rookie officer who said she meant to use her Taser but drew her gun instead. He said the traffic stop was racially motivated. The city contended Lewis caused the shooting by refusing to get out his car and fighting with officers.

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Some Kansans Still Have Not Completed the 2020 Census Questionnaire

SAN JOSE, Cal. (KNS) - About 99 percent of Kansas households have filled out the 2020 Census but that means tens of thousands of Kansans could still be left out.  Since the federal government uses Census tallies to determine funding for everything from libraries to water infrastructure, a 1 percent undercount could cost Kansas as much as $600 million dollars by the time there’s a new count in 2030.  The Trump administration attempted to set a stop date for the Census count at the end of September, a month earlier than originally planned, but a federal judge ruled last week that the collection must continue until the end of October. 

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Study: Some Kansas Hospitals Charge Commercial Health Insurance Companies Double the Rate of Medicare 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas hospitals charged commercial insurance more than twice what Medicare would have paid, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation think tank. Kansas employers and workers overall got better prices than was typical nationally, but prices varied widely among hospitals. The bills from the University of Kansas Medical Center Hospital and Overland Park Regional Medical Center totaled as much as four times the Medicare rate. Hospitals are criticizing the report. KU Hospital says it serves 52,000 inpatients and nearly 2 million outpatients each year, yet RAND looked at fewer than 700 of the facility's medical claims. RAND says it used what claims it could get from employers because hospitals and insurers keep their negotiated prices secret. 

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15-Year-Old Boy Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas
 
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police are investigating the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy. Police spokesman Dustin Dierenfeldt says officers were called to the Rosedale area of the city Saturday evening after gunshots were heard. The officers found the teenager suffering from several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police are investigating the death as a homicide but no other details have been released.

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Kansas City Man Shot by Officer Charged in Earlier Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors say a 32-year-old Kansas City man who was shot by a police officer has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend before the shooting. The Jackson County prosecutor said Sunday that Pierre Bey-Crawford was charged with rape or attempted rape and other crimes. Charging documents allege Bey-Crawford sexually assaulted and strangled his girlfriend on Saturday. He led police on a chase after he fled from her apartment. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Bey-Crawford fled on foot after the car crashed. He allegedly "directed a black object” at an officer, who shot and wounded him. Bey-Crawford was taken to a hospital after the shooting.

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Kansas Mother, Four Children Killed in Collision with Semi

VIOLA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas mother and her four children were killed after hitting a semitrailer loaded with grain in southwest Sedgwick County. The Wichita Eagle reports that 32-year-old Jessica Noel of Viola was driving a Ford Expedition shortly before 5 pm Friday when authorities say the driver of a semitrailer loaded with grain ran a stop sign while headed east. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the Expedition struck the trailer, causing it to split into two pieces. Noel and three of her children all died at the scene. Another child died after being taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

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Man's Death at Garden City Motel Ruled a Homicide

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City police are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man at a motel as a homicide. Officers were called to the Sunflower Inn Sunday morning and found Alec Cantu dead on the floor of a motel room. Police said in a news release that Cantu's body showed signs of trauma and it was apparent an altercation had occurred in the room. Before Cantu's body was found, officers responded to a call about an abandoned vehicle in the Arkansas River. Police say the car was registered to Cantu and had been vandalized. The investigation is continuing.

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KC Police Officer Shoots Man After Pursuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer shot and wounded a man. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the man was driving away Saturday from a home where police had gone in response to reports of a violent incident. Officers pursued the man. He crashed his vehicle and fled on foot until they reached a fence. The highway patrol, which is aiding in the investigation, say the man turned and pointed a black object at the officer and that's when the officer fired his weapon. The suspect was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A gun was found at the scene.

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Two Missouri Officers Suffer Minor Injuries in Shootout

PECULIAR, Mo. (AP) - Two police officers in the northwest Missouri town of Peculiar were shot during a standoff Saturday night. The Cass County Sheriff's department says the officers were treated and released after the confrontation in Peculiar. Sheriff's spokesman Major Kevin Tieman says the officers responded to a report of a male with a shotgun. At some point during the confrontation, the officers and the suspect exchanged gunfire. The suspect was not injured. Negotiators talked to the man for about two hours before he was taken into custody. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

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Juvenile Causes Brief Lockdown at McConnell AFB in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita say a juvenile in a stolen vehicle caused a brief shutdown at the base. Officials said in a news release the juvenile refused to stop at a base gate early Tuesday. All gates were closed and everyone on the base was told to stay indoors. When security stopped the vehicle, the juvenile fled on foot but was caught a short time later. All entry gates were reopened about two hours after the incident. The juvenile was being questioned by authorities.

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Kansas City Police Will Wear Body Cameras by Early Next Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City patrol officers will begin wearing body cameras early next year. The police department says the cameras will be delivered in early December. The police department said Monday that after officers undergo training, the public should see them wearing body cameras early next year. Civil rights organizations have been calling for police to get body cameras for years, and that pressure increased after social justice demonstrations in the city this year. In June, city officials announced private donations of $2.5 million would pay for the cameras. The department is pursuing grants to fund body cameras for detectives and investigators.

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Kansas Capitol Meditation Room Moved to Create Staff Space

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has moved a Kansas Statehouse meditation room created by Republicans as a place for prayer and reflection to a less-visible space to create more room for her staff. The new meditation room is on the northwest side of the building’s basement floor, down an out-of-the-way hall. The meditation space previously was on the Statehouse’s second floor, where Kelly and her staff have their offices. Kelly spokeswoman Lauren Fitzgerald says the change ensures that the governor’s staff can follow social distancing. But Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican and frequent Kelly critic, suggested the governor “increased government so much that staffers need to take over a long-standing room for prayer.”

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White Officers Who Fatally Shot Black Man Dropped from Suit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two white Topeka police officers who fatally shot a Black man as he fled from them after a struggle that revealed he was armed have been removed from a federal lawsuit accusing them of using excessive force. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled Officers Justin Mackey and Michael Cruse have qualified immunity and that it wasn’t clearly established that they violated 30-year-old Dominique White’s Fourth Amendment rights. The ruling Monday came on the three-year anniversary of White's fatal shooting near a Topeka park. A second count that contends the city failed to adequately train its police officers will move forward. A trial date hasn’t been set.

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Protests Cost Wichita Police About $1.5 Million in Overtime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department spent more than $1.5 million in overtime for officers and other employees to monitor protests in the city in early June. The department implemented a plan to ensure public safety during social justice demonstrations that began after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The demonstrations stayed calm in Wichita except for two nights in early June, when police cleared protesters after vandalism and looting. The Wichita Eagle reports the plan ran from June 2 to 14, with police employees claiming more than $30,000 in paid overtime hours and more than 5,500 hours of compensatory time.

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Kansas City Weighs Another Bid to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A year after a divisive fight that ended with Kansas City removing Martin Luther King Jr.'s name from a prominent boulevard, the city is trying again to find a way to honor the civil rights icon. Parks officials in Missouri's largest city say they will use lessons learned from last year's debate to ensure citizens are comfortable with the process. But two public hearings held last week on a new street naming proposal suggested reaching a solution will not be easy. Some speakers supported the proposal, while others wanted more extensive honors for King and some said naming a street for him was pointless.

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Advocates Want Recognition of More Landmarks Related to Brown v. Board of Education Case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A group of historians wants the National Park Service to incorporate locations in South Carolina into its site in Kansas dedicated to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared school segregation illegal. The Post and Courier reports that historians and family members of those who fought for equal education said Monday that they are seeking the inclusion of places in Columbia and Clarendon County in the Brown v. Board of Education historical site. Briggs v. Elliott, a lawsuit filed in Summerton was the first of five lawsuits to be combined into Brown v. Board of Education. Federal recognition would bring money for more preservation and educational programs.

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Patrick Mahomes Outplays Lamar Jackson to Lead Kansas City Chiefs Past Baltimore Ravens 34-20

BALTIMORE (AP) — Patrick Mahomes put on a scintillating show while outperforming Lamar Jackson, and the Kansas City Chiefs deftly played the role of defending Super Bowl champions in a 34-20 thumping of the Baltimore Ravens. Just about everything Mahomes did worked against an overmatched Baltimore defense that had allowed only two touchdowns in its first two games. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes to help the Chiefs emphatically ended the Ravens' 14-game regular season winning streak while extending their own run to 12 games, including playoffs. Jackson is 21-4 as the Ravens' starting quarterback, with three of those losses to Mahomes and the Chiefs.

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Ravens Again Find Misery at Hands of Mahomes and Chiefs

BALTIMORE (AP) — Three years, three games, three defeats. The Baltimore Ravens just can't seem to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and after their latest loss Monday night, all they can do is hope for another shot down the road. Patrick Mahomes sliced up the Baltimore defense for 385 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-20 victory that really wasn't as close as it sounds. The Chiefs led 27-10 at halftime and let the margin shrink to seven points before Mahomes put together the clinching 13-play, 75-yard drive. Baltimore has lost to Kansas City in 2018, 2019 and this year.

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Oklahoma's Upset Loss to Kansas State Opens Up Big 12 Race

UNDATED, (AP) - It took one week for the Big 12 to bring just a little more strangeness to the year 2020. Five-time defending conference champion Oklahoma opened league play with a shocking home loss to Kansas State, perhaps opening the door for another program to finally to step in and claim the title. Iowa State can put Oklahoma's season on the ropes Saturday when the Cyclones host the Sooners. Iowa State beat the Sooners in 2017 and lost to them by a point in 2019.

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays. 

 

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