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Headlines for Wednesday, August 26, 2020

UPDATE: Party Disavows Kansas Candidate Who Admitted to Spreading Revenge Porn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Democratic Party has declared that the 19-year-old nominee for a state House seat is “unfit” for office because of “alarming behavior” that includes admitting to circulating revenge porn. Candidate Aaron Coleman says his online fundraising account has been disabled. State party spokeswoman Reeves Oyster said it is working with Kansas House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer to find an alternative to nominee Coleman in a normally safe Democratic district in Kansas City, Kansas. Coleman defeated seven-term state Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the Aug. 4 primary by 14 votes. Frownfelter has launched a write-in campaign and Sawyer said Democratic lawmakers are backing it. 

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Kansas Candidate Who Admitted to Engaging in Revenge Porn Now Back in Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Democratic candidate for the Kansas House who admitted to engaging in revenge porn and harassing girls online has reversed his decision to abandon his campaign. A partly leader immediately suggested Tuesday that the House wouldn't seat the candidate if he won. Aaron Coleman of Kansas City, Kansas, said in a tweeted statement that many of the people who voted for him in the Democratic primary over veteran state Rep. Stan Frownfelter urged him not to drop out. Coleman prevailed by 14 votes. Frownfelter already has launched a write-in campaign for November but House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer said he thinks it's unlikely the House would seat Coleman.

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Agency Head Says Foster Care System in Kansas Is Improving

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas officials says the state has improved the foster care system in response to a scathing federal report and the settlement of class-action lawsuits. Laura Howard, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, testified Tuesday in the first of a series of hearings state lawmakers are holding to discuss the foster care system. A federal report last month found, among other things, that the DCF didn’t comply with safety standards in 24 of the state’s 31 group homes. The state also settled a lawsuit from three nonprofits to end a 2018 federal suit that demanded better care of foster kids. 

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Missouri's Unemployed Will Get Extra $300 in Federal Aid

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's labor department says it will start handing out an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits as soon as this week. The money comes from federal grants. People out of work were getting an extra federally funded $600 a week up until the end of July. Congress hasn't passed a bill to renew those benefits yet, so President Donald Trump signed an executive order this month to chip in at least another $300 a week. Missouri will use some of its federal grant to retroactively pay back unemployed workers who stopped getting the extra federal money in July.

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University of Kansas: More than 200 Test Positive for Virus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - The University of Kansas says 222 people have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday night. The Kansas News Service reports that students made up the vast majority of the cases with only a half-dozen faculty or staff members testing positive.  KU says its positivity rate of just over one percent lines up with what they were expecting. The school's Greek community had a higher positive rate of nearly 5.5%.  Two fraternities were issued a cease-and-desist order for unsanctioned activities.  KU’s testing covers its Lawrence and Johnson County campuses. Overall, Douglas County has 1,000 coronavirus cases.  Classes at KU began Monday.

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Nearly 40,000 COVID-19 Cases, 437 Deaths Reported in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) - The state of Kansas is continuing to rack up COVID-19 infections, recording 1,536 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Monday.  State health officials say 39,937 coronavirus cases, including 437 deaths, have been identified in Kansas since the pandemic began. COVID-19 cases have now been reported in all 105 Kansas counties, with the largest number in Johnson, Sedgwick, and Wyandotte counties. The latest numbers from the Department of Health and Environment were released today (WED).  An updated list of Kansas coronavirus cases will be released online Friday.

(–Related–)

Kansas Reports Highest 7-Day Spike in New COVID-19 Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has reported the highest seven-day jump in new COVID-19 cases since the state confirmed its first positive case, but the death rate is decreasing. The state Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that Kansas saw another 1,536 confirmed and probable cases since Monday, an increase of 4%. The total since the pandemic began is 39,937. The two-day increase in reported coronavirus cases gave Kansas its biggest seven-day spike in new cases since the pandemic reached the state in early March. Still, the 437 deaths reported Wednesday represent 1.09% of the reported cases, the lowest figure since April.

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Plan Would Allow Some Schools to Play Fall Sports in the Spring

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas schools might be able to play a truncated version of their fall season season in the spring under a plan that the Kansas High School Activities Association is considering. With some of the state's largest districts canceling or suspending fall sports and other extracurricular activities, the association Executive Board voted 9-0 Monday in favor of the "alternative fall season opportunity." Any schools that play in the alternative season won't have a playoff. The association's board of directors will take final action Friday.

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Kansas State to Install Devices in Dorms to Lower COVID-19 Risk

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University plans to install in dorm rooms a device that emits dry hydrogen peroxide to lower the risk of students being infected with COVID-19. The university had installed units in some of its facilities including the student health center and recreation center, Dr. Kyle Goerl, medical director at Kansas State, said on Wednesday. The university plans to also place devices in residence halls next week, he said. The state Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that Kansas saw another 1,536 confirmed and probable cases since Monday, an increase of 4%. The total since the pandemic began is 39,937. 

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Missouri's Biggest Campuses Report Several COVID-19 Cases

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s biggest university campuses are reporting large numbers of students with confirmed cases of the coronavirus as in-person classes resume for the fall semester. The University of Missouri-Columbia’s COVID-19 online dashboard cites 159 known active cases of the virus, and 168 total positive tests since the university began receiving data from Boone County last Wednesday. Students began arriving on campus in mid-August. Enrollment at the Columbia campus is 30,849. Meanwhile, at Missouri State University in Springfield, the university reported 140 confirmed students cases of COVID-19 in the first full week of in-person classes. Enrollment at the Springfield campus is 19,733.

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Virtual Learning Sites Sprout Up to Help Working Parents

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — With many schools still closed by the coronavirus pandemic, public and private alternatives are sprouting up across the nation to watch over children as they study. The programs are taking shape in somewhat unlikely places: a dance studio in Florida, a martial arts center in Missouri and libraries in San Francisco. The sites provide a lifeline for families that struggled through virtual learning last spring, but organizers acknowledge they are a poor substitute for schools with professional educators. And experts say they could risk subjecting caregivers to the same virus dangers that closed schools.

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Kansas Governor Renominates Lawyer for Appeals Court Spot

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has renominated a federal public defender to the Kansas Court of Appeals despite his initial rejection by the Republican-led state Senate. The Democratic governor said Monday that Carl Folsom III is undoubtedly the most qualified person for the job, citing his experience, passion for the law and understanding of how it affects people's daily lives. Folsom would fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Appeals Court Judge Steve Leben. Kelly told reporters that some state senators said they regret their earlier action and that she expects Folsom to be confirmed this time.

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Two Adults, One Teen Arrested in Eureka Man's Death

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says two adults and a juvenile are charged in the death of a 78-year-old Eureka resident. The KBI announced Wednesday that 30-year-old Noah JE Farr of Dighton; 25-year-old Joseph E Warden; and a 17-year-old male, both of El Dorado, were suspects in the killing of Danny Shue at his Eureka home on Aug. 18. All three are charged with felony murder, aggravated burglary, felony theft and conspiracy to commit felony theft. The KBI has not released details about the circumstances of Shue's death.

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Police Launch Investigation After Body Found in Kansas Donation Bin

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) — Police are investigating the death of a man found inside a Kansas City, Kansas, donation bin Tuesday morning.  Tom Tomasic, a spokesman for the KCK Police Department, said in an email that officers were called just after 10:35 am to West 47th Avenue after someone was found dead in the area.  Police found the body of a man in his 60s inside a public donation receptacle.  Police believe the man may have been sleeping in the bin from time to time, Tomasic said.  There were no immediate signs of foul play at the scene, he added. A death investigation is underway.  Anyone with information about the death is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-8477.

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6-Year-Old Kansas Boy Dies After Being Hit by Pickup Truck

JOHNSON CITY, Kan. (KAKE) - Authorities say a 6-year-old boy has died after he was hit by a pickup truck while riding his bike in southwest Kansas.  KAKE TV reports the accident happened around 7:15 pm Tuesday in the small town of Johnson City. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports the driver of a Ford F-150 pulled to the left side of the road to talk to homeowners on a street.  When the driver left, she did not see the boy, identified as Matthew Pantoja, on his bike in front of the truck. The driver pulled out and struck Pantoja with the driver's side front tire.  Pantoja was taken to Stanton County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The 28-year-old woman driving the pickup was not hurt.

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Amtrak Cuts Back Service in Kansas, Other States, Due to Pandemic

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Amtrak riders in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and other states will encounter reduced service starting in October.  The change is part of the rail passenger service’s nationwide cutback in routes because of the coronavirus pandemic.  According to Amtrak's website, the Southwest Chief, which runs from Chicago, through Kansas, and on to Los Angeles, will reduce its service beginning October 12.  Nearly every Amtrak route across the country has been or will be reduced because of a “dramatic drop” in passengers during the pandemic, the company said.  Currently, the Southwest Chief operates seven days a week.  After October 12, the Southwest Chief will leave Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  The train will leave Los Angeles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  (Read more.)

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Postal Service Legislation Passed by U.S. House Splits Kansas Delegation Along Party Line
 
WASHINGTON, (Kansas Reflector) - The U.S. House convened a rare weekend session in an attempt to stop the U.S. Postal Service from allegedly disrupting mail service to sabotage the November elections.  On Saturday, the Democratic-led chamber passed a bill 257-150 that would infuse $25 billion into the agency as it prepares for a surge in mail-in ballots and bar it from changing operations or service levels in place at the beginning of the year.  The Kansas Reflector reports the prohibition would remain in effect through January 2021 or for the duration of the coronavirus crisis — whichever is later.  The bill prevailed largely along party lines, though more than two dozen Republicans joined Democrats in backing the legislation. No Democrats voted against it.  Kansas Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids said action was necessary in wake of the Trump administration’s decisions undermining mail delivery. She accused the president and the postmaster general of attempting to weaken USPS for “personal and political gain.”  Kansas Republican Representatives Roger Marshall, Steve Watkins and Ron Estes all voted against the bill.  “We need to continue looking at ways to make the Postal Service more efficient and reliable for years to come,” said Estes, of the 4th District that includes Wichita. “Now is not the time to politicize this agency and add to public concerns.” 

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Woman Drowns in Retention Pond at Liberty Sports Complex

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a 19-year-old woman drowned after she jumped into a retention pond at a sports complex in Liberty. Police Captain Andy Hedrick said in a news release the body of Dashiza Jordan was pulled from the pond Tuesday. Jordan's cousin told police they were driving past the complex on Monday when Jordan began to panic. The cousin said she stopped the car, Jordan got out and then jumped into the pond. Searchers were not able to find her body Monday. Highway patrol rescuers found her body when the search resumed Tuesday.

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Kansas City to Get $50 Million to Extend Streetcar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal officials say Kansas City will receive nearly $51 million to extend its streetcar from downtown to the Country Club Plaza. The Federal Transit Administration said Wednesday the $50.8 million in grants will allow the project to enter its final planning stage. City officials have been planning for years to extend the line from Union Station in central Kansas City to the Plaza, adding about 3.5 miles of track. The project is expected to cost $351 million. Work on water and sewer lines is projected to begin this fall, with the opening of the streetcar expansion expected in 2025.

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New Effort Begins to Name Kansas City Street After King

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new effort has begun to rename a street in Kansas City after Martin Luther King Jr. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City on Tuesday proposed to the city parks board that it rename three major streets that connect with each other. The streets are Swope Parkway, Volker Drive and part of Blue Parkway. The proposal comes after voters last year reversed the city's decision to name The Paseo Boulevard after King. The park board will gather input from residents and hold two public hearings before making a decision.

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Police ID Man Killed in Kansas City, Kansas Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a man killed in a shooting that also left another teen injured. Police say the shooting happened minutes before 1 am Tuesday on South 11th Street. Officers called to the scene found a teen lying in the street with a gunshot wound. He was taken to a local hospital in serious but stable condition. Nearly six hours later, police say they were called about a second shooting victim in the area and found the body of 19-year-old Cristian Ramo-Quezada in an alley. Police say he had been shot, likely in the same shooting that injured the other teen. No arrests have been reported.

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Kansas Mom Accused of Leaving 9-Month-Old Baby in Hot Car While She Shopped at Walmart
    
PITTSBURG, Kan. — A Kansas mom is facing a felony child endangerment charge after police said she left her 9-month-old baby in a hot car while she shopped at a Pittsburg Walmart.  According to the Morning Sun, Pittsburg police arrested 23-year-old Ariana R. Garza on Sunday after Walmart employees discovered and removed the child from the car, which had not been running, shortly before 1:30 pm. Emergency responders, who believe the baby had been in the car for 20 minutes, rushed the child to a nearby hospital, KOAM-TV reported.  After Garza came back to the vehicle, police arrested her and took her to the Crawford County Jail, authorities said. She posted $3,000 bail and has since been released.

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Invenergy to Expand Available Wind Power in Kansas, Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A company planning a high-voltage power line carrying wind energy across the Midwest says it plans to distribute more electricity in Kansas and Missouri. Invenergy Transmission had previously announced that 500 of its planned 4,000 megawatts of power would go to Missouri. The rest was expected to be carried to a power grid connection in Indiana that serves eastern states. On Tuesday, Invenergy said it will instead set aside up to 2,500 megawatts of wind power for Missouri and Kansas. That comes as the company still is awaiting regulatory approval for the portion of its power line that would pass through Illinois.

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Police Investigate Shooting Death in North Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An investigation is underway into the shooting death of a man in north Wichita. Police say the shooting happened around 9:15 pm Monday when a person called 911 to report that a man had been shot. Officers arriving within minutes found a 33-year-old victim and pronounced him dead at the scene. His name has not yet been released. Police say they impounded two vehicles during their investigation into the shooting, but no arrests had been reported by Tuesday morning.

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Second Man Charged in Shooting Death of Wichita Teenager

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A second suspect is charged in the shooting death of a Wichita teenager in May at a Wichita apartment complex. Twenty-two-year-old Nathaniel Saunders appeared in court Tuesday, where he was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery charges in the death of 17-year-old Marcus Sain. A second person was seriously injured in the shooting, which police say occurred during a drug deal. Another suspect, 22-year-old Malcolm Ganther, was charged in May with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Prosecutors say the two victims were in Ganther's vehicle when a disturbance broke out. Saunders is accused of getting out of the vehicle and firing several shots at the victims.

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Kansas River Keeper Works to Promote, Protect and Clean Up the Kaw

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - About 800,000 Kansans get their drinking water from the Kansas River.  Water treatment plants work to keep the water clean and safe.  But so do environmentalists, including a group called "Friends of the Kaw."   The group's executive director, Dawn Buehler, is known as the Kansas River Keeper.  The DeSoto woman says the group spends time every year trying to clean up the Kaw.  "We see a lot of plastic bottles," Buehler said.  "We still see a lot of tires.  And I am still astonished at how many appliances we find.  We're talking refrigerators, multiple refrigerators."  In October, the group plans to remove hundreds of tires from a stretch of river near Eudora.  Buehler and Friends of the Kaw spent part of the summer paddling down the Kansas River, from Junction City to Kansas City.  Their 173-mile journey raised awareness about environmental threats facing the waterway, including trash, chemical pollution and dredging.  The nine-day trip also highlighted the river's recreational opportunities.  (Listen to KPR's interview with the Kansas River Keeper.)

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Kansas Approves Coyote Hunts with Lights, Thermal Imaging

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hunters will be allowed to use artificial light and thermal imaging equipment to hunt coyotes night beginning next year. The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission voted last week to make changes for night hunting of coyotes in response to requests from hunters. Artificial lights and thermal imaging will be allowed between January 1 and March 31, and hunters will be required to buy a permit to use the equipment. Matt Peek, a furbearer biologist with the wildlife department said states surrounding Kansas all allow the use of equipment at night, and Kansas hunters have been asking for the change for several years.

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Musician Kanye West Falls Short in Bid to be Listed on Missouri's Ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rapper and music producer Kanye West will not be on Missouri's election ballot this November. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office on Tuesday notified West that his supporters had not gathered enough signatures to qualify for the state's general election. West announced he was a candidate for president in July, prompting speculation it was a publicity stunt to promote a new album or that Republicans were hoping he would draw votes away from Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Ashcroft's office says it verified 6,557 petition signatures for West. Missouri law requires 10,000 valid signatures to be placed on the ballot.

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