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Headlines for Wednesday, July 27, 2022

 

Abortion Question Boosts Early Voting for Kansas Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Early voting is surging in Kansas head of next week’s statewide abortion vote and the electorate so far is leaning more Democratic than usual. The Kansas secretary of state's office reported Tuesday that more than 2½ times as many people had cast early ballots compared to the same point in 2018. Voters will decide August 2 whether to amend the Kansas Constitution to allow the Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. In early voting, 42% have been cast by Democrats. Over the past 10 years, Republicans have cast twice as many ballots as Democrats in primaries. Polling suggests that Democrats are stronger abortion rights supporters.

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More than 100,000 Kansans Have Already Cast Ballots for August 2 Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - More than 100,000 Kansans have already cast their ballots for the August 2nd primary, in an election featuring a high-profile constitutional amendment on abortion. That amendment would change the state constitution to say it does not guarantee a right to abortion. The latest counts show Republicans turning out slightly more than Democrats to vote early by mail and in-person. But for the constitutional amendment on abortion rights, unaffiliated voters can also weigh in. University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller says it’s notable that unaffiliated voters are participating in unusually large numbers. "Any signs of livelier engagement from those voters would definitely be a better sign for the ‘no’ side," he said. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, and they must arrive within three days after the election to be counted.

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Amelia Earhart Statue Joins Ike Eisenhower Statue at the U.S. Capital

ATCHISON, Kan. (KNS) - Americans will get their first look at a statue of Atchison native Amelia Earhart today (WED) at the U.S. Capitol. The statue of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean joins a statue of President Eisenhower in an area of the Capitol that contains two statues from every state.  The new statue depicts Earhart in her signature look - a flight jacket, scarf and slacks. It also includes some nods to her home state. She’s wearing a belt buckle in the shape of Kansas and her larger-than-life bronze figure stands atop a block of native limestone.  Earhart becomes just the 11th woman out of 100 statues in the Capitol. Jacque Pregont, who led the statue committee, says the way Earhart broke barriers still serves as an inspiration as the fight for women’s rights continues today. “I think she'd be very proud to be there," she said. "But I think she'd also say, ‘Why are there only 11 of us?'" For Kansans who can’t make it to DC, a second statue just like the one in Washington will be dedicated at the Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison this fall. Members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation co-authored an opinion piece about Earhart in the Topeka Capital-Journal, celebrating the famed aviator.

(–AP Reporting–)

Aviator Amelia Earhart Honored with Statue at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — After years of effort, a statue of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart now stands in the U.S. Capitol. Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, was honored Wednesday with the unveiling in the National Statuary Hall Collection. She joins President Dwight Eisenhower as Kansas icons remembered in the hall. U.S. Representative Sharice Davids noted that while Earhart is best known for flying across the ocean, she was also a military nurse, social worker, author, and she broke the glass ceiling in a field dominated by men. Earhart disappeared in July 1937 on a flight over the Pacific Ocean.

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Emergency Crews in Topeka Investigate Capsized Boat in Kansas River

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Emergency crews are investigating a boat that capsized in the Kansas River. WIBW TV reports that the boat was spotted by a drone Tuesday afternoon in an area of the Kansas River near the Oakland Expressway bridge in Topeka.  The drone, operated by the Kansas Department of Transportation, was inspecting bridges at the time the boat was discovered.  When officials attempted to remove the boat, they discovered a registration sticker from the year 1993. However, it remains unclear how long the boat was left there and who owns it.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will now check to find the last registered owner of the boat.

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Parsons Man Arrested for Mistreatment of Elders, Theft, Drugs and Weapons Charges

LABETTE COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) –  Agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) have arrested a Parsons man for mistreatment of elder persons, theft and several drug and weapons charges.  The KBI says 55-year-old Stacy T. Oliver, of Parsons, was arrested Tuesday. He's facing a variety of charges, including mistreatment of an elder person, criminal threat, theft, drug possession and being a felon is possession of a firearm. Oliver was booked into the Labette County Jail. Formal charges are expected soon from the Labette County Attorney and the Crawford County Attorney. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Girard Police Department, Labette County Sheriff’s Office and the Parsons Police Department all assisted in this investigation.

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Deadly Disease for Rabbits Shows Up in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Rabbit owners in Kansas are being warned about a disease that has shown up in the state for the first time.  KSNW TV reports that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus Type 2 (RHDV2) was found in a pet rabbit in Leavenworth County earlier this month. The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) says the disease is highly contagious and is fatal to rabbits. The KDA said the illness only affects rabbits and does not affect human health. Experts say rabbits show few symptoms of the disease. Oftentimes, the only sign is sudden death.  However, the KDA said infected rabbits might develop a fever, be hesitant to eat or show respiratory or nervous signs. Wichita-area veterinarians are now scrambling to get the vaccine and are advising pet owners to get their rabbits vaccinated. (Read more.)

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Bartlett Grain Plans Expansion of Soybean Processing Plant in Southeast Kansas

CHERRYVALE, Kan. (Montgomery County Chronicle) - One of the biggest economic development projects in Kansas has announced the need for increased industrial capacity due to higher customer demand. The Montgomery County Chronicle reports that Bartlett Grain is planning to expand its soybean processing plant currently under construction south of Cherryvale. This week, officials with Bartlett Grain told the Montgomery County Commission that their construction site needs to increase by an additional 70 acres. The company also said its investment in the project has grown by an additional $50 million due to rising construction costs. Bartlett officials say their soybean processing plant will have to increase its annual crushing capacity from 38 million bushels to 44 million bushels.  Bartlett Grain Vice President Bill Webster told county commissioners that the size and scope of the Cherryvale plant changed after customers revealed more demand for soybean meal and oil. Bartlett Grain initially planned to hire as many as 50 workers for its soybean plant. Webster said the expansion plans will likely increase the need for additional workers.  The plant is expected to open in late 2023.

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Republican AGs Sue U.S. Agency over LGBTQ School Guidance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 20 Republican attorneys general, including Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over a Department of Agriculture school meal program that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The challenge claims that the federal government is attempting to force states and schools to follow anti-discrimination requirements that misconstrue the law. In June, the USDA announced it would include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as a violation to Title IX. But it was not clear whether the federal government would hold back funding for school meal programs as part of its enforcement.

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Kansas Deal with Panasonic Lacks Job, Salary Requirements

TOPEKA, Kan. (KC Star / KNS) - A deal to bring a $4 billion Panasonic plant to Kansas lacks requirements for how many jobs it will create or how much those employees will earn. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas is giving more than half of the $830 million of incentives to Panasonic just for building the plant, even if it never employs anyone. Government subsidy experts say that’s unusual and a huge gamble. Panasonic could then fall short of the 4,000 new jobs touted in the deal. And the company can pay employees low wages, causing the state to collect little income tax. Governor Laura Kelly’s office said she is confident Panasonic will hire enough workers to make the deal beneficial to Kansas.  The plant is slated to be built near De Soto, in western Johnson County.

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KBI Investigates Homicide of Topeka Man in Chanute                                  

NEOSHO COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and the Chanute Police Department have launched a murder investigation into the shooting death of a Topeka man.  Just after midnight Monday, a woman called 911 to report hearing a gunshot in Chanute. When officers arrived, they found a male bystander conducting CPR on another man who had been shot in an alley. The shooting victim was later identified as 34-year-old Blake A. Pearson, of Topeka. Pearson was taken to an area hospital but died from his injuries. Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to call the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME or the Chanute Police Department.

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Authorities Seize $4 Million Worth of Meth in Wabaunsee County

WABAUNSEE COUNTY (KSNT) – Authorities have seized more than 120 pounds of methamphetamine in Wabaunsee County. Topeka television station KSNT reports that the drugs were confiscated during a three-day operation by multiple law enforcement agencies.  According to the Junction City Police Department, an operation targeting “major criminals” ended with multiple arrests and the seizure of $4.4 million worth of meth.  Fourteen law enforcement agencies worked together during the operation, including the Department of Homeland Security and several local sheriff’s offices.

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Thousands of Dead Cattle Buried, Dumped at Southwest Kansas Landfill

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Top U.S. cattle feeding companies sent 1,000-pound carcasses to a landfill in southwest Kansas, following a June heatwave that killed thousands of cows. According to Reuters, some cattle were buried in unlined graves. Burying cattle in unlined pits is one of the riskiest disposal methods because waste can seep into groundwater, said Hannah Connor, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. The mass deaths and subsequent scramble to deal with decaying livestock carcasses sparked a push for changes in the meat industry in Kansas. Although state officials authorized companies to dispose of carcasses at the Seward County Landfill in Liberal, they are now considering alternatives to decrease the risks for foul smells and other problems if more deaths occur, the landfill's director said. (Read more.)

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Missouri Department of Agriculture Accepting Grant Applications to Fight Food Insecurity

UNDATED (HPM) - The Missouri Department of Agriculture has opened applications for a grant for urban farmers who fight food insecurity. While grants are useful, Harvest Public Media reports that some urban farmers find the money to be inaccessible. The Food Insecure Urban Agriculture Matching Grant will award urban farmers up to $50,000. The department hopes that it will help urban farmers grow their businesses. But the farms would have to pay the money up-front and then get reimbursed. Dina Newman, co-founder of Black Urban Growers in Kansas City, says that requirement makes it challenging for some growers to access the grants. "What urban food security organization has that kind of money in liquid capital?," she said.  A spokesperson for the department of agriculture says the matching and reimbursement requirement helps guarantee the money is used effectively. Farmers must apply for the grant by August 31st.

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Kansas Public Schools Sweep National Policy Debate Titles

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) - Three Kansas public high schools won all four national policy debate championships this year, an unprecedented accomplishment in an arena dominated by private schools.  The Kansas Reflector reports that this is the first time Kansas schools have placed first at all four national tournaments. Those three schools are Lawrence Free State High School, Washburn Rural and Shawnee Mission South.  Policy debate is when a team of two supports a suggested policy change while the opposing team of two argues the opposite. An example topic from one of this year’s competitions: The U.S. federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources. (Read more.)

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One Northeast Kansas Town Received Nearly 6 Inches of Rain Between Sunday and Monday

TOPEKA, Kan. (Topeka Capital-Journal) - The National Weather Service reports that 5.75 inches of rain fell Sunday night and Monday morning across parts of southwest Shawnee County. That total was reported via social media after being recorded at Auburn.  According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, that figure was the highest rainfall amount recorded in northeast Kansas after storms swept through the area Sunday and Monday. Baldwin City, in Douglas County, received 5.5 inches of rain during the same time period. An area west of Dover, in Wabaunsee County, recorded 4.5 inches and parts of Franklin County recorded 4 inches. (Read more.)

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Missouri, Texas Senators Have No Regrets Challenging 2020 Election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas led the U.S. Senate challenge on January 6, 2021, to Joe Biden's victory. But the senators have largely escaped the House panel's investigation into the Capitol attack. In all, a dozen GOP senators initially planned to challenge Donald Trump's defeat. But unlike their House GOP counterparts, the Republican senators have not been called to testify. That's left senators to explain themselves on their own terms. Hawley, for one, says he doesn't regret his actions. Neither Hawley nor Cruz will say whether he would appear before the committee if called.

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State Fairs Gearing Up Across the Midwest

UNDATED (HPM) - State Fairs around the Midwest are gearing up for what they hope are normal conditions following two years of pandemic cancellations and restrictions. Harvest Public Media reports that numerous state fairs were canceled in 2020, and last year, many saw scaled back events. But this year, state fair directors are hoping to see pre pandemic attendance numbers. Rebecca Clark is the Illinois State Fair Manager. She says while COVID-19 might not be as big of a concern this year, inflation might lead some people to skip the event. "We’ve been proactive in looking for ways to make the fair affordable. So we have several days, Monday through Thursday, where adult admission (at the Illinois State Fair) is half-priced," she said.

The Kansas State Fair runs September 9 through 18 in Hutchinson.

Missouri saw more than 330,000 attend last year’s fair, which is about 10% lower than pre pandemic levels, and its director is expecting to be back to average this year. Mark Wolfe is director of the Missouri State Fair. He says there will not be a proof of vaccination requirement to attend the fair, but there will be masks available.  "We have a lot more hand washing/sanitizing stations around the facility than we used to have. The way we do our janitorial disinfecting things, we’ve really stepped that up. I don’t see us not continuing to do that," he said.

The Iowa State Fair is reinstating its Farm to Fair dinner, an event where 400 people eat locally grown food with the farmers who produced it. That event was canceled last year due to COVID concerns.

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102-Year-Old WW II Veteran from Segregated Mail Unit Honored

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A 102-year-old woman is being honored for her service with an all-female, all-Black military unit that got mail to U.S. troops in Europe during World War II. Romay Davis was recognized for her service during an event in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama Tuesday. The honor follows President Joe Biden's decision in March to sign a bill authorizing the Congressional Gold Medal for her unit, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The U.S. military was still segregated by race during the war. The unit went to Europe to clear out massive amounts of mail that had accumulated in warehouses. Their motto was "No Mail, Low Morale."

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Western Kansas Armed Robbery Leads to Crash

HAYS, Kan. (KAKE) - Authorities say an armed robbery in Hays led to a pursuit in which a highway patrol trooper's vehicle rolled off the road, trapping the trooper inside.  KAKE TV reports that late Sunday morning, police learned of an armed robbery taking place at a Dollar General store in Hays. The cashier at the store reported that a Black man with a handgun robbed the store and left the building. No one in the store was injured.  It was later learned that there were three suspects that left the scene in a black Ford pickup truck with a topper. A state trooper located the vehicle at a Sonic in Oakley. A pursuit began in which the suspect vehicle drove west bound in the east-bound lane on Interstate 70. The trooper performed a "Tactical Vehicle Intervention" and both vehicles rolled, trapping the trooper in his vehicle. However, the trooper only sustained minor injuries.  All three suspects were apprehended. A female suspect was taken to the hospital in Oakley for treatment of injuries sustained in the roll over. Two male suspects were transported to the Ellis County Jail and are being held for armed robbery.

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New WSU Project Documents Latino Culture in Southwest Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (HPPR/KNS) - A new project will document Latino cultural celebrations in predominantly Hispanic cities of southwest Kansas. For Latino families, gathering to make tamales, go to church or have a birthday party can be a way to pass down traditions through the generations. A team from Wichita State University is now documenting those types of celebrations as part of a Library of Congress-funded effort to capture the cultures of underrepresented communities. Professor Rocio Del Aguila is leading the project. She says it’s a chance to highlight the joy of immigrant families who work long hours to make these celebrations possible. "When I see a party like this, I'm like, ‘Oh my God, all this work is for this. It’s to keep your family together, to keep your traditions together," she said. Aguila says the goal is to not only highlight Latino culture in an often overlooked region, but also to showcase the diversity within these Hispanic communities. “There's so many different traditions, they have been modified through time. There are new ways of learning and enjoying them. And so don't limit yourself to this monolithic idea of what Latino culture is because that doesn't work," she said. The research will wrap up next spring with a documentary and the public release of the project’s photos and videos.

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Kansas Governor's Primary Opponent Is a "Pro-Life" Democrat

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT / KPR) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has stayed tight-lipped on the campaign trail about the “Value Them Both” amendment, which could change the future of abortion rights in the state. Meanwhile, her opponent in the primary election says he’s a "pro-life" Democrat. While Democrats are known for supporting abortion rights, Richard Karnowski, a Democrat from Seneca, who’s facing off with the Governor on August 2, told KSNT TV that there are still party members, like himself, who are anti-abortion. Former Kansas Governor Joan Finney was the state's last pro-life Democratic governor. Karnowski is a former Republican and a Catholic who grew up in a large family with 13 siblings. He says that's one of the reasons he’s taking an anti-abortion stance.

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Sedgwick County Abortion Amendment Ballot Contains Two Misspellings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County residents voting on a proposal that could remove abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution will see two misspellings on their August 2 ballots. The proposal's text on ballots in Sedgwick County misspells the words pregnancy and circumstances. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Angela Caudillo said the two typos will not have any impact on the validity of the ballot. According to The Kansas City Star, Caudillo says state law says administrative errors are not a basis for overturning elections. If voters approve the proposal, it would remove abortion rights from the state constitution and give the Legislature the power to more strictly regulate or ban abortion in Kansas.

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Kansas Governor Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff in Honor of North Kansas City Police Officer

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has directed flags to be flown at half-staff at all state grounds, buildings, and facilities from sunup to sundown today (WED) in honor of 32-year-old Officer Daniel Vasquez, a North Kansas City police officer from Kansas City, Kansas, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop while on duty on July 19. Officer Vasquez began his service with the North Kansas City Police Department in 2021. He will be laid to rest during funeral services today (WED).

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Monarch Butterflies Placed on Endangered List by Conservation Group

UNDATED (KNS) - The North American migrating monarch butterfly is now on one group's list of endangered species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature cites habitat loss and climate change for its designation. The monarch butterfly population has dropped during the past decade.  Chip Taylor, founder and director of the Lawrence-based organization Monarch Watch, says he's doubtful that the species will go extinct, but says the endangered status is still cause for concern. "There's reason to look at this as a wake up call to action," he said.  Monarch butterflies have not yet been designated as endangered under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and thus have no federal protections. Monarchs migrate through parts of Kansas in the fall and spring.

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Nicodemus Preparing for Annual Homecoming Celebration

NICODEMUS, Kan. (KPR) – The only remaining all-Black town west of the Mississippi River is holding its annual homecoming weekend to honor its 144 years of heritage and history. The northwest Kansas community will hold its annual Homecoming Emancipation Celebration July 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st. Nicodemus was founded shortly after the Civil War by former enslaved African Americans from Kentucky, who had the dream of building a town they could call their own. Every July, descendants of Nicodemus return to reacquaint themselves with old friends and family, as well as celebrate the community’s history. The town currently is comprised of five historic buildings representing church, self-government, education, home, and business. The multi-day event will feature guest speakers and performers.  

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Chiefs Hold First Full-Squad Workout with Jobs to Be Won

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs had their first full-squad workout of training camp on a warm, humid Wednesday morning with a cast that looks a lot different from how they finished last season. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is competing with Ronald Jones II and a bevy of others for carries in the backfield, the cornerback job opposite L’Jarius Sneed is up for grabs and, after the departure of Tyreek Hill and two other receivers, the pecking order for quarterback Patrick Mahomes is still to be determined. Workouts continue Thursday with the first padded practice scheduled for next week.

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Kansas Public Radio Hosts Ice Cream Social Thursday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas Public Radio, based at the University of Kansas, will host an ice cream social Thursday to show appreciation for its listener-member community. The public radio station will serve complimentary Hy-Vee ice cream treats while supplies last from 5-7 pm at Maceli’s in downtown Lawrence. Local artist Sky Smeed will perform live music.  This is a KPR member-exclusive event, and members will have the chance to claim their own KPR mug commemorating the station’s 70th anniversary. KPR will offer one mug per household, while supplies last. All listeners have the opportunity to become a member by contributing to KPR.

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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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