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Headlines for Wednesday, December 30, 2021


Missouri Senator to Contest Biden’s Electoral College Win

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Republican Missouri U.S. senator says he'll object when Congress meets next week to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the election. Senator Josh Hawley says he'll protest the Electoral College certification because “some states, including notably Pennsylvania” didn't follow their election laws. A Biden spokeswoman is dismissing Hawley’s move as “antics” that will have no bearing on Biden being sworn in on Jan. 20. Hawley isn't giving specifics or evidence in the statement he released announcing his intentions. Hawley's move is likely to force votes in the House and Senate that would delay the certification of Biden’s win, but not change the outcome.


Magnitude 3.8 Earthquake Hits Wichita Area

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/KPR) - An earthquake rattled the Wichita area early this (WED) morning, and it was more powerful than other quakes shaking south-central Kansas during the past two months.  The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake measured a magnitude 3.8.  That's stronger than the dozen or so smaller earthquakes that have shaken the Wichita area since Thanksgiving.  Residents of Haysville and Derby also reported feeling the earthquake, which struck around 5 am.  There have been no reports of significant damage.


Kansas Governor Gets COVID-19 Shot; GOP Officials to Wait

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democratic Governor Laura Kelly received the first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots while some top Republican officials have passed for now because all health care workers and nursing home residents haven’t received theirs. Kelly designated herself and 10 other state officials as eligible to start vaccinations this week in an effort to protect state government’s “continuity of operations.” Four eligible legislative leaders and GOP Attorney General Derek Schmidt say they will wait. Most of those Republicans say they don't want to jump in line ahead of health care workers, nursing home residents and other vulnerable Kansans.


We'll Wait: Some Kansas Officials Pass on Early Virus Shots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Half of the 10 Kansas officials eligible along with Governor Laura Kelly for early COVID-19 vaccine shots are opting to wait. Four eligible Republican legislative leaders say they will wait. They are House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch, incoming Senate President Ty Masterson and incoming Senate Vice President Rick Wilborn. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt will wait, but GOP Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt is a pharmacist and is getting inoculated. Kelly's office says State Treasurer-designate Lynn Rogers and Lt. Governor-to-be David Toland will get shots. It's not clear when Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab or Kansas Supreme Court Justice Marla Luckert will.


Kansas COVID-19 Caseload Exceeds 222,000; Deaths Top 2,700

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The Kansas Department of Health reports there have been 222,433 cases of COVID-19, including 2,741 deaths since the pandemic began.  Health officials also reported today (WED) that there have been 6,760 hospitalizations resulting from 104,014 cases.  The Wichita and Kansas City areas have been hardest hit.  So far, Sedgwick and Johnson counties have recorded more coronavirus cases than any other Kansas county, each with about 39,000.  KDHE provides regular updates on case numbers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Kansas Officer Kills Man Who Allegedly Killed Mother-in-Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas police officer has fatally shot a man suspected of killing his mother-in-law and shooting his wife. Wichita police responded today (WED) to reports of shots fired. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says the suspect was served Tuesday with a protection from abuse order requested by his wife. Ramsay says the man nevertheless went to the mother-in-law’s home where he found her, his wife, his brother-in-law and the brother-in-law’s two children. Police say the suspect and his wife were arguing when the officer shot him. Police found the mother-in-law dead inside the home. The suspect's wife was shot and wounded.


One Dead, One Critically Hurt in Shooting Near Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - One person is dead and another is critically injured after a shooting near Wichita. KSNW-TV reports that the shooting happened after 8 p.m. Tuesday at a home in Sedgwick County, just south of Wichita. Names of the victims and further details about the shooting have not been released.


KCK police seek public's help in murder investigation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are seeking the public’s help in identifying a person of interest in a murder investigation. WDAF-TV reports that Gregory Stallings was found dead on Dec. 21. Police believe he had been shot a day earlier in the 2500 block of North 18th Street. Police are looking for a man who was driving a silver Dodge Caravan that may be connected to the killing, and released photos of the man being sought for questioning.


Kansas Universities, K-12 Schools Decide to Coordinate Spring Break

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Starting in 2023, public universities in Kansas will all hold their spring breaks the same week as Martin Luther King Junior Day. Earlier this month, The Kansas State Board of Education recommended public schools align their spring breaks with each other. The Kansas Board of Regents held a similar vote for all the colleges and universities it governs. That lined up public school spring breaks with colleges. Many students in Kansas take courses for college credit, but run into problems when their schools' spring breaks don't line up. It also causes child care issues for parents who are college students. This year's spring break was canceled for public universities to prevent students from traveling and spreading the coronavirus.


Kansas Hospitals Face Staffing Shortages Amid Pandemic

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - The number of coronavirus cases has declined across Kansas. And some hospitals are seeing fewer new COVID-19 patients who need care.  But more than half of the hospitals in the state say they're facing critical staffing shortages this week.  Overall, new cases remain high, with about 1,500 new cases each day, according to the state health department. Hospitals still lack enough staff to care for all their COVID patients. Health officials say they're worried about a possible surge in COVID-19 cases following the holidays.


Kansas Counties Drop Mask Rules; Arena Hosts COVID-19 Shots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two counties in northeast Kansas are backing off mask mandates they imposed last month as coronavirus cases surged.  County commissioners in Brown and Jackson counties argued that they had weathered a wave of infections and dropped mandates requiring people to wear masks. Meanwhile, officials set up a clinic in an arena in the state's largest city to vaccinate thousands of health care workers.  Sedgwick County set up a clinic in downtown Wichita's Intrust Bank Arena to vaccinate 10,000 health care workers, including dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, and home-health and hospice workers.


Topeka's Nearly Abandoned White Lakes Mall Damaged by Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) - Topeka firefighters worked in freezing rain Tuesday morning to battle flames at the city's mostly abandoned White Lakes Mall.  The fire, which started around 6:30 am, significantly damaged the old shopping mall in south Topeka.  The mall property includes one remaining business, a printing company that apparently didn't sustain damage. White Lakes Mall opened in 1964, but its popularity waned when a new mall opened in west Topeka in 1988.


737 Max Flies Again, Benefiting Wichita Industry

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - Boeing’s 737 Max has made its first U.S. flight since being grounded last year.  The return of the Max is critical for Wichita’s Spirit AeroSystems, which builds more than 70% of the aircraft.  The grounding of the plane followed two fatal crashes. The crashes and the pandemic led to thousands of furloughs at Spirit.  Tuesday marked the first flight for the 737 Max since it was grounded.  That first flight was an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York.


Chlamydia Cases on the Rise in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Cases of chlamydia in Kansas shot up 66% during the past decade.  Chlamydia, or more specifically a chlamydia infection, is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.  The infection is on the rise in Kansas and nationally, a new report from the United Health Foundation says.  Many people who have it don’t have symptoms, so they don’t realize they’re infected. But it’s still dangerous to them and their sex partners - and important to treat.  The infection can damage the reproductive system, for example, making it hard for women to get pregnant.  


Kansas Hunting and Fishing Licenses Sell Well in 2020

HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - More Kansans turned to socially-distanced hobbies like hunting and fishing this year. But that doesn’t mean it was a banner year for outfitters.  Kansans bought nearly 27 thousand licenses that cover both hunting and fishing in 2020. That’s up 16% from a year ago.  Yet Tim Clark, of Red Dog Outfitters in northwest Kansas, still saw a dip in business this year because out-of-state hunters weren’t sold licenses to go after turkeys in the spring.  But Clark isn’t surprised that hunters came back this fall, even as COVID cases rose.  “A lot of the hunting community isn’t as scared of the COVID thing as the non-hunting community. Not that they’re not respectful of it, but it doesn’t cripple them from getting out and doing what they want to do. And it’s probably because we’re playing out in the woods.” The National Shooting Sports Foundation says hunting license sales are up 12% nationwide for 2020.


Two People Hospitalized After Apartment Fire in South KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two people are hospitalized after a large fire broke out at an apartment complex in the Waldo area of Kansas City, Missouri. Fire officials say two people jumped from the third story to escape the fire that occurred Monday night near the Missouri-Kansas border. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. The fire was reported just after 8 p.m. at the Waldo Heights Apartments. Fire crews used a ladder to rescue at least one person trapped on a third-floor balcony. Fire officials say the building was a complete loss. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.


Trial in "Swatting" Case Delayed so Suspect Can Pursue GED

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The trial of a Kansas gamer accused in a deadly "swatting" call in 2017 has been delayed by an additional year after the man failed to obtain a high school equivalency. The Wichita Eagle reports that U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren agreed last week to extend Shane Gaskill's 18-month pre-trial diversion. If Gaskill completes the terms of his deferred prosecution agreement, prosecutors can dismiss the criminal case. The death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Wichita drew national attention to "swatting," a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities to descend on an address.


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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