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Headlines for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

 

UPDATE: KBI Identifies Man Killed in Topeka Officer-Involved Shooting         

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has identified the man killed in the June 24 officer-involved shooting in Topeka. The victim has been identified as 38-year-old Christopher D. Kelley, of Topeka.  Authorities say the investigation is ongoing. Once it concludes, the findings will be turned over to the Shawnee County District Attorney for review.  Topeka police say officers responded to reports of a knife-wielding man near the Amtrak train station in Topeka who was allegedly threatening others.  Police say officers tried to persude the man to drop the knife but failed. Then, officers used non-lethal force to subdue him, but to no avail.  Police say the man then lunged at officers who fatally shot him. As per departmental policy, the three officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave.

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Paola Man Sentenced for Hate Crime Targeting Black Man

UNDATED (KPR) - A Kansas man has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for threatening a Black man with a knife because of the man’s race, in order to intimidate and interfere with the man’s right to fair housing. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Colton Donner, of Paola, was sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in prison plus 18 months of supervised release. According to the court documents, on September 11, 2019, Donner was driving through a residential area of Paola when he saw the victim, a Black man, walking on the sidewalk. Donner stopped, got out of the car, and approached the victim while brandishing a knife. Donner threatened the victim, yelled racial slurs, and told the victim that Paola is a “white town.” The case was investigated by the Paola Police Department and the Kansas City Field Office of the FBI.

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UPDATE: Victims of Missouri Amtrak Crash and Derailment Identified

UNDATED (KPR) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified victims involved in Monday's fatal Amtrak train crash and derailment near Mendon, Missouri. Authorities say two women from De Soto, Kansas, and a man from Kansas City, Missouri, were killed. The victim from Kansas City died from his injuries at the hospital. The two women died at the scene of the crash. The driver of the dump truck hit by Amtrak's Southwest Chief was also pronounced dead at the scene. The victims are:

*56-year-old Kim Holsapple, De Soto, Kansas, Amtrak passenger
*57-year-old Rochelle Cook, De Soto, Kansas, Amtrak passenger
*82-year-old Binh Pham, Kansas City, Missouri, Amtrak passenger
*53-year-old Billy Barton II, Brookfield, Missouri, truck driver

(-Related-)

Olathe Couple Among First to File Lawsuit After Amtrak Train Derailment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Olathe couple has decided to sue Amtrak after Monday's derailment. Passenger cars derailed after Amtrak's Southwest Chief 4 struck a dump truck at a railroad crossing. Four people died, including the dump truck driver, and 150 others were taken to hospitals with various injuries. "They have gone through something that's going to impact them for the rest of their life," said attorney Kristofer Riddle, of the Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. Riddle said that he's been contacted by an Olathe couple and other people affected by Monday's tragedy. He said plans to file a series of lawsuits against Amtrak.

KMBC TV reports that Mike Spencer owns farmland right next to the railroad. After working the last few years to get the crossing upgraded with lights and a gate, Spencer says he was told it was going to happen last fall but it never did. "This is something that I had predicted was going to happen. I mean, it was just inevitable, the writing was on the wall. I just can't believe it was so neglected," Spencer said.

One challenge facing passengers thinking about suing is when they bought their tickets, they agreed to give up their right to take any issues to court. Instead, Amtrak could force those people to arbitration. It would mean somebody hired by Amtrak would decide the merits of any case against the railroad.

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Clinics Scramble to Divert Patients as States Ban Abortion

UNDATED (AP/KPR) - The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing states to regulate abortion has set off a travel scramble in some parts of the U.S., as abortion providers redirect patients to states that still allow the procedure. A growing number of states are moving to restrict or  ban abortion. Clinics operators are moving, doctors are counseling patients, donations are pouring into nonprofits and one group is dispatching vans to administer abortion pills. Some cities - like Kansas City and St. Louis - also are drafting plans to help with the travel logistics. Groups are trying to help with everything from gas cards for travel to connecting patients with small aircraft pilots willing to transport them to a clinic in another state.

(-Related-)

St. Luke's Health Kansas Briefly Halts Emergency Contraception Distribution

UNDATED (AP) – A large Missouri hospital chain briefly stopped providing emergency contraception amid confusion over whether the state’s abortion ban could put doctors at risk of criminal charges for providing the medication, even for sexual assault victims. St. Luke’s Health Kansas City said in a statement Wednesday that it would resume offering the medication known as the morning after pill. That came a day after it told The Kansas City Star that its Missouri hospitals would halt emergency contraception. Wednesday's announcement came after the state’s attorney general issued a statement stating unequivocally that emergency contraception is not illegal under an abortion ban that was enacted minutes after Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

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All Kansas Counties Placed on Drought Watch as Heat Wave Creeps Across State

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - All 105 Kansas counties have been placed under at least a drought watch as a record heat wave makes its way across the Sunflower State. WIBW TV reports that on Monday, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order #22-06, which declared updated drought emergencies for all Kansas counties. The Kansas Water Office said the declaration puts all 105 counties in the Sunflower State either on a watch, warning or emergency status. “A significant portion of the state of Kansas has experienced drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several months,” said Kelly. “Unfortunately, these conditions are forecast to persist or get worse, so I strongly encourage Kansans to be mindful of drought conditions while we work to minimize the threat of fires across the state.”

While most of the state has seen high precipitation throughout the month of June, the Office said a record-breaking heat wave has made its way across the area. It said most of eastern Kansas is currently drought-free, however, the forecasted hot and dry conditions will likely rapidly lead to intense drought conditions over the next few weeks. According to the Kansas Water Office, the order will remain in effect until it is rescinded by another Executive Order which ends or revises the drought stage status of affected counties.

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Power Company's Plan to Make Electricity Customers More Energy Efficient Under Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Members of the public urged Evergy to do more for low-income Kansans at a regulatory hearing Monday evening.  The utility company wants state regulators to sign off on a four-year plan that it says will nudge households and businesses to become more energy efficient. The proposal includes things like rebates for insulation. Kim Winslow, of Evergy, says it will benefit all customers. "The plan will save energy equating to the energy of nearly 40,000 homes. And will lower emissions in your communities from the reduced electricity," Winslow said. But members of the public said Evergy’s plan will leave many Kansans unable to afford energy efficient technology and building improvements. Kansas residents and climate activists pummeled the utility company at the hearing over its energy efficiency proposal. Critics want Evergy to copy a program in Missouri that they say gives people more help paying for things that cut energy consumption. Mohsen Fatemi is an urban planner in Lawrence. “Utilities who enjoy their monopoly market power and their loyal customers should invest in their communities much, much more than they do now and are planning to do in the future," he said. Evergy says the Missouri program has flaws. (Read more in the Kansas Reflector.)

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Investigation Underway into Union Pacific Train Derailment in Bonner Springs

BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. (KPR) - Twenty-five Union Pacific train cars, some carrying hazardous materials, derailed Friday evening in Bonner Springs.  Authorities say nothing was spilled and no one was injured. The Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department, which responded, reports nine of the train cars were tankers, carrying isobutane, a flammable gas used to make products ranging from aviation gasoline to plastics to food supplements. However, none of the hazardous materials were reported to have leaked. The derailment happened around 6:20 pm.  Fire officials say 21 of the cars were completely off the tracks. An investigation is underway. (Read more.)

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Kansas City Named Best Place on Earth to Work Remotely

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Business Insider) - Kansas City has been voted the best place on earth to work remotely, according to new research from Icelandair. The city, which is home to around 500,000 people, was one of 150 analyzed by the airline, which ranked cities according to how easy, safe and healthy it is to work in them. Factors including internet speeds, quality of life, cost of living, and healthcare were all considered in the ranking, according to the research.  Business Insider magazine reports that Kansas City beat better-known international hubs like Vienna, Copenhagen, and Wellington to become the world's best city for accommodating remote workers. As well as Kansas City, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Wellington, the top 10 list was made up of Edinburgh, Perth, Frankfurt, Brisbane, Helsinki, and Victoria in Canada. (Read more.)

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Kansas County Settles Discrimination Lawsuit with $22,000

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County has agreed to pay $22,000 to a former employee to settle his racial discrimination lawsuit. David Partridge, who is biracial, sued the county last year, saying a coworker on a county work crew called him "boy" or the "colored guy" and sang slavery-era songs with his name added to the lyrics. Partridge's lawsuit said that after he complained, a county investigation verified the racial discrimination, and he was offered another position at lower pay but was fired when he refused. The Wichita Eagle reports that attorneys for Partridge and the county informed a judge Wednesday of the settlement.

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Kansas Public Radio Is Hiring a New Membership Director

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is hiring a new Membership Director. The position is open due to an internal promotion.  Former Membership Director Joanna Fewins has become the station's new Development Director.  Learn more about this position and how to apply.  Unnamed sources tell KPR News that the University of Kansas-based radio station, on the air since 1952, is a "great place to work, with good benefits and mildly interesting employees."

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KPR Completes "Quiet" Summer Fund Drive

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - With support from listeners, Kansas Public Radio raised more than $20,000 in what the station called its "quiet" summer membership drive. KPR Development Director Joanna Fewins said the station raised at least $22,245 in the past week or so, thanks to a $20,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant provided by existing KPR listener-members. With the challenge grant and new money raised, the station reeled in more than $42,000. In the past few years, the University of Kansas, which owns the radio station, has reduced university funding to KPR by a half million dollars. Fewins says the station now relies on listeners and local business underwriters for more than 84% of its operating budget. The station continues to take pledges from listeners on its website: KansasPublicRadio.org.

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Scientists Put GPS Trackers on Flint Hills Cattle in Effort to Protect Wildlife and Vegetation

CHASE COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - The worlds of agriculture and environmental conservation often conflict. But a new project in Kansas brings together scientists and ranchers to see if invisible GPS fencing can control cattle and keep them out of sensitive areas. Some cattle in the Flint Hills are now wearing GPS trackers designed to help ranchers control their herds and protect wildlife and the environment. The Kansas News Service traveled to the Kansas Flint Hills to learn more. (Read more.)

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Ex-Kansas City Wizards Player Scott Vermillion Had CTE, a 1st in MLS

BOSTON (AP) — Researchers have diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a Major League Soccer player for the first time. The Boston University CTE Center says defender Scott Vermillion suffered from the degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head. Vermillion died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020 at the age of 44. CTE has been found in more than 100 former NFL players as well as semi-pro and high school soccer players. Vermillion is the first from MLS. He played in four MLS seasons for D.C. United, the Colorado Rapids and the Kansas City Wizards before retiring in 2001 with an ankle injury.

**An earlier version of this story from the Associated Press misidentified Scott Vermillion as having played for Sporting KC. He played for the Kansas City Wizards. 

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Former KU Basketball Head Coach Roy Williams Among Coaches Headed to College Hoops Hall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun will join John Beilein and Lon Kruger in a star-studded cast of coaches that will be inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November. Coach Jerry Krause of Eastern Washington will join the quartet. The players to be inducted are Richard Hamilton of UConn, Larry Miller of North Carolina, Frank Selvy of Furman and Jimmy Walker of Providence. The date of the induction ceremony has not been announced, but it typically coincides with the Hall of Fame Classic, which is set for November 21-22 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Big 12 Picks Roc Nation's Brett Yormark as Next Commissioner

DALLAS (AP) — The Big 12 is going with an unconventional hire for commissioner in Roc Nation executive Brett Yormark. He is taking over for Bob Bowlsby, who came to the league a decade ago after stints as a college athletic director. Yormark's background isn't in college sports. His work in marketing and brand management could play an interesting role. The Big 12 faces challenges in revenue with the impending departure of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. The college game also is adjusting to athletes cashing in on name, image and likeness.

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Greinke Sharp in 500th Career Start; Royals Beat Rangers 2-1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Zach Greinke allowed just one run on four hits, helping the Kansas City Royals avoid a three-game sweep by beating the Texas Rangers 2-1. Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel provided the winning cushion with his second home run in as many games. Greinke (2-4) made his 500th career start, becoming the 48th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to do so and the only active pitcher to reach that milestone. He went six innings, striking out three and walking one. Scott Barlow picked up his 10th save in 12 chances with a perfect ninth inning. Texas’ Dane Dunning suffered his first loss when allowing fewer than three runs this season. He gave up six hits in six innings, walking three and striking out three.

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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.

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