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Headlines for Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Here are the headlines for our area, as compiled by KPR news staffers.

Kansas Expanding Program for Avoiding Lines at DMV Offices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is allowing some residents seeking to get or renew a driver's license to schedule appointments so that they can avoid a tedious wait in line. The Division of Vehicles in the Kansas Department of Revenue recently expanded the program to an additional nine offices in populous areas after launching a pilot program in Topeka in August. Q-Flow allows people to use a website to make appointments up to 30 days in advance. The division says the wait is less than 15 minutes for 95% of the people setting appointments and it is looking at bringing Q-Flow to more offices. 


Agriculture's Woes Drag Down Kansas Personal Income Growth

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Personal income growth in Kansas is below the national average largely because of troubles in agriculture. Kansas Public Radio reports that the state's personal income has grown by 1.6% since late 2007, when the Great Recession started. The national rate is 2.1%. All states have seen their economies grow since the Great Recession but Kansas had the eighth-worst personal income growth in the nation over the last year. Kansas farmers face an expanding drought and low commodity prices. Agriculture makes up about 40% of the state's economy and industries related to agriculture and food production are worth about $65 billion annually.


Kansas Drive Provides Gifts to Youth Formerly in Foster Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Dozens of young people who aged out of the Kansas foster care system are receiving holiday presents through a state agency's gift drive. The state Department for Children and Families says its annual drive raised more than $4,000 in money and gift cards while also providing wish lists. The department said 229 young people formerly in the foster care system received gifts. The department works with about 750 young adults from foster care aged 18 through 26 to provide support to help them be self-reliant adults. DCF officials said many of them go without traditional holiday celebrations and gifts from loved ones.


Kansas Officials Want Charity Regulation Under Single Office

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas officials whose offices register charities and enforce anti-fraud laws separately want the Legislature to give both duties to one agency to make regulation more efficient. Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Scott Schwab are proposing to have the Consumer Protection Division in the attorney general's office handle all regulation of charities. The two Republicans said they will present their proposal to the GOP-controlled Legislature after it convenes its next annual session Jan. 13. The secretary of state's office currently registers charitable organizations, solicitors and fundraisers, and the attorney general's office enforces laws on charities and prosecutes fraudulent solicitations. 


Moran: Trump to Try to Soften Blow to Kansas over 737 Max

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says President Donald Trump has given him assurances that Trump will try to soften the economic blow for Kansas from the suspension of production of the troubled Boeing 737 Max jetliner. Boeing has announced plans to suspend 737 Max production in January, and Spirit AeroSystems is suspending its production in Wichita of fuselages. Moran told The Wichita Eagle that in a Sunday phone call, Trump said he knew the importance of aviation to the city. Moran said the president indicated that he would "see if there were ways that he and the administration could be of help.”


Changing Kansas Supreme Court Faces Wary GOP-Led Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's new chief justice plans to push for changes aimed at helping veterans and the mentally ill, and she expects to press for a big budget increase. But the Kansas Supreme Court that Marla Luckert leads faces a Republican-controlled Legislature that's been sharply critical of the court. Luckert became the court system's top official last week, and her agenda includes expanding special courts that try to treat the underlying problems facing veterans, the mentally ill and drug abusers. But some lawmakers remain wary because of the court's past rulings protecting abortion rights and forcing increases in education funding.


Education Official, Songwriter Named Group's Kansans of Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group dedicated to preserving and promoting Kansas history has named a longtime state education official and a country music singer-songwriter as its 2019 Kansans of the Year. The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas plans to honor Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis and Nicolle Galyon during a Jan. 24 banquet in Topeka. Dennis is state government's leading expert on public school funding and has worked as an administrator at the State Department of Education for 52 years. Galyon is an award-winning songwriter who has penned songs for acts including Lady Antebellum, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban.


Judge Rejects Permits for Northwest Kansas Hog Operations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has invalidated two state permits allowing large hog production operations in northwest Kansas deemed too close to surface water by environmentalists. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Court Judge Richard Anderson ruled earlier this month that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment violated state law. The permits were for four operations in Norton and Phillips counties in 2017 and 2018. The operations were under common management but organized as separate companies. KDHE allowed each facility up to 250 feet from surface water, half the distance for a single, larger facility. The Sierra Club sued in 2018. 


Report: Decline in Rural Students Affects Overall Decline in Enrollment at K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - An analysis by a Kansas newspaper shows that declines in students from rural counties are playing a major role in an overall drop in enrollment at Kansas State University. Total enrollment from Kansas counties considered completely rural fell by more than 27% over the last five years, while enrollment from mostly urban counties dropped by 9.2%, according to an analysis by the Manhattan Mercury.  Enrollment from counties deemed mostly rural fell by 21%. The categories were based on U.S. Census Bureau definitions.  Enrollment at the university's Manhattan, Salina and Olathe campuses dropped to a 20-year low... (of 21,719 students this semester).  


Family's Christmas Tradition Is to Give Gifts to Strangers

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Santa got a little help in downtown Lawrence from a family handing out bright red gift bags to strangers in a busy shopping area. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Scott Sloyer and his adult children, Tyler and Rachel, hit busy Massachusetts Street on Monday, distributing about 40 bags that each are filled with about $15 worth of useful items like socks. The recipients included a homeless man and street musician who was playing the trombone while dressed as the jolly old elf himself. The family began the tradition of handing out gifts to those who may be in need when they lived in St.Louis. 


Fleeing Driver Killed in Crash on Gravel Road in Kansas

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a fleeing driver was killed when he went off the side of a Kansas road and struck multiple trees near the state's southern border with Oklahoma. The Kansas Highway Patrol said 24-year-old Robert Jackson was being pursed by law enforcement around 11:30 p.m. Monday when the road went from pavement to gravel. That caused him to lose control of the pickup truck he was driving about 4 miles north of Coffeyville. The crash log doesn't say what started the pursuit.  


Christmas Eve Shooting Kills Man in Kansas City, Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Christmas Eve shooting in Kansas City, Missouri, has left one man dead. The Kansas City Star reports that police were dispatched to a southern Kansas City neighborhood about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police said a man was located on the ground near a car and was declared dead at the scene. Detectives canvassed the area for witnesses, but the circumstances were still under investigation Wednesday and there was no information about a suspect. The Star said data it has maintained shows that the shooting was the 149th homicide in Kansas City this year.


Police Seek Help Finding Car Linked to Fatal Kansas Shooting

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a car seen leaving a suburban Kansas City apartment complex where one man was killed and another was wounded. Police in Leawood, Kansas, said Monday they are looking for a dark-colored Dodge Challenger that was spotted at the scene of the Friday night shooting in the parking lot of State Line Apartments. Police said 24-year-old Zachary Morrisey, of Kansas City, was sitting in a vehicle when someone walked up to it and began shooting. A second victim drove them to a medical facility. Morrisey died of his wounds. The other victim was taken to an area trauma center. 


Death of 72-Year-Old Wichita Woman Ruled a Homicide

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The death of a 72-year-old Wichita woman who was letting a homeless man stay in her yard and  was found undressed from the waist down has been ruled a homicide. The Wichita Eagle reports that the coroner wrote in the autopsy that Rita Golden suffered injuries in July that “would have resulted in severe physical and/or emotional stress that would induce a cardiac arrhythmia in an already labile heart further compromised by her lung disease.” The autopsy described blunt force injuries and possible asphyxia by smothering. The autopsy report says Wichita police who searched her home found the homeless man in a closet in one of the bedrooms. 


Congress Goes on Recess Without Route 66 Preservation Funds

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Congress has recessed for the holidays, and it has gone another year without passing legislation that would boost funding for Route 66. The lack of movement on reauthorizing the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program means there will be no cost-share grants aimed at reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns where the Mother Road passed through. The program has helped finance projects like rehabilitating parts of the historic Rialto Theatre in Winslow, Arizona, and the Rock Cafe restoration in Stroud, Oklahoma. It's administered by the National Park Service. Ken Busby, executive director of the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Route 66 Alliance, told Public Radio Tulsa the lack of dedicated federal funding for preservation work puts people trying to save the Mother Road in a tough spot. "Having that federal aid that often provides a matching grant option really helps us leverage state and local dollars. So, it’s really critically important if we’re going to maintain this 2,448-mile stretch of road. We just have to have some help to do it," Busby said. Legislation to designate the Mother Road a National Historic Trail stalled in the House and Senate.


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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