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Headlines for Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kansas Governor Vetoes Limits on Her Power but Loosens Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' Democratic governor has vetoed a sweeping Republican coronavirus measure that would have curbed her power to direct the state's pandemic response. But Gov. Laura Kelly also ceded to local officials the power to keep restrictions on businesses. Kelly not only killed a bill approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature last week but also issued a new state-of- emergency declaration to replace one set to expire Tuesday night. Kelly also is calling the Legislature back into special session on June 3 to extend the new state of emergency past June 10. Yet a top Republican declared victory because Kelly backed off statewide restrictions on businesses.

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UPDATE: Kansas Counties Mull Their Approach to Virus Restrictions

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — The state's top health official is urging county officials to continue following guidance from Gov. Laura Kelly's phased reopening of the state's economy. Dr. Lee Norman said Wednesday that Kelly's plan is the best way to ensure the continued health of Kansas residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Norman's comments came a day after Kelly gave county officials authority to determine their own coronavirus restrictions. Initial reactions from county officials varied, with some saying they will continue restrictions on public gatherings, businesses and entertainment venues. Other counties said the restrictions will now be only guidelines, meaning businesses openings and gatherings can resume.

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Kansas Counties Mull Their Approach to Virus Restrictions

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas county officials have had various reactions to Gov. Laura Kelly's decision to give them the authority to determine their own coronavirus restrictions. The state's most populous county, Johnson County, said restrictions limiting how businesses operate and the size of gatherings will now be only guidelines. But Wyandotte, Douglas and Lyon counties chose to keep the restrictions in place for now. Officials in some other counties were planning to meet on Wednesday to discuss a way forward. Kelly on Tuesday changed her previous mandate for a phased reopening of the state’s economy to only recommendations for the state’s 105 counties..

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Biolab Construction in Kansas Stops After COVID-19 Case Confirmed

Construction at a national biosecurity lab in Manhattan has stopped after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Timothy Barr, program manager at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, said construction stopped Tuesday after a worker with a construction contractor tested positive. The contractor will determine what areas, tools and materials might need additional cleaning. It is unclear how long construction will be stopped but an extended shutdown is not expected. The worker is not from Riley County, but no details about the person were provided.  

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Police: Soldier Saved Lives by Stopping Shooter on Bridge

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Leavenworth soldier is being credited with saving lives after he stopped a person who was randomly shooting on a bridge that connects Kansas and Missouri. Leavenworth police chief Patrick Kitchens says officers responding to the Centennial Bridge Wednesday found one person with a gunshot wound and the suspect seriously injured under a car. Kitchens says a man was randomly shooting at people on the bridge when the soldier hit the shooter with his car, putting an end to the situation. Kitchens says the person who was shot, who is also a Fort Leavenworth soldier, was a random victim. The suspect and the soldier are both in serious condition.

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Wichita Police Make Arrest in Nearly 2-Year-Old Murder Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita have announced an arrest in a nearly 2-year-old murder case. Police say 27-year-old Juan Carlos Caballeros-Yescas was arrested May 9 in El Paso, Texas, and extradited to Kansas on Tuesday. Caballeros-Yescas is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in the July 7, 2018, shooting death of 41-year-old Lucy Mojica in her Wichita home. Police say Caballeros-Yescas was dating Mojica at the time of the killing and quickly focused on him as the primary suspect. But he had fled the area and couldn't be found until he was tracked down in Texas earlier this month.

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Wichita Police Officer Accused of Child Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer is charged with child sex crimes stemming from alleged incidents in 2012 before he was an officer. Wichita police announced Tuesday that Officer Joshua Hageman is charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a child. The department said the alleged crimes happened when Hageman was 20. He is accused of inappropriately touching two 15-year-old girls while at a home in Colwich. Police say Hagemen is on administrative leave without pay. He has been a Wichita officer for three years.

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Kansas Reports More Than 9,300 COVID-19 Cases, Including 205 Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — As of Wednesday, state health officials had reported 9,337 cases of COVID-19, including 205 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 88 of the state's 105 counties.  (Updated COVID-19 case numbers for Kansas are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)  

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Kansas City, St. Louis Leaders Urge Lakegoers to Quarantine

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Leaders in Kansas City, St. Louis and the state of Kansas are urging people who partied close together at Lake of the Ozarks over the Memorial Day weekend to self-quarantine for two weeks. Health officials fear that the gatherings documented in social media postings could lead to a resurgence of the coronavirus. Big crowds were reported at swimming pools, bars and restaurants at the popular central Missouri lake that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Postings showed people without masks partying and swimming together in close proximity. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page asked the county’s health department to issue a travel advisory.

-related-

Lake of the Ozarks Business Owner Defends Actions

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a business that hosted crowded pool parties over the Memorial Day weekend at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks says no laws were broken and safety measures were in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Social media postings over the weekend showed large crowds of mostly young people at pools at the lake, which draws people from throughout Missouri and surrounding states. Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt released a statement stating that temperatures were checked at the pool entrance by medical staff hired for the event and free bottles of hand sanitizer were given out.

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Johnson County Health Department Offers Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing on Friday

OLATHE, Kan. (KPR) – Residents of Johnson County, with or without symptoms of coronavirus, can get a free COVID-19 test on Friday, May 29, from 9 am to 2 pm, or until supplies run out.  The testing will take place at the College Boulevard Activity Center (11031 S. Valley Road) in Olathe.  The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) is offering the drive-thru testing clinic on a first-come, first-served basis. County residents must be at least 18-years-old and should bring a driver’s license.  Those who arrive for testing should remain in their vehicles with the windows rolled up until it’s time for their test. Testing involves using a swab to take a sample from inside the nose.  This is the department’s fifth community testing event.  More information is available at www.jocogov.org/coronavirus. 

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KU Athletics Imposing New Pay Cuts, Furloughs to Cut Costs

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas athletic department has imposed pay cuts and furloughs for all employees in response to financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Kansas City Star reports that Athletic Director Jeff Long announced the moves in an email to donors Wednesday. Long, men’s basketball coach Bill Self and football coach Les Miles already said last month that they would take 10% pay cuts for six months. The department's top-paid employees now face pay cuts of 10% and its lowest-paid employees will be furloughed for three weeks. Some employees will have a choice between a furlough and a pay cut. 

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Blood Supplies in Kansas City Area Running Dangerously Low

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) – The Community Blood Center (CBC) of Greater Kansas City issued an urgent call for healthy blood donors as area hospitals began to resume normal operations.  Since then, the blood supply has continued to decrease and demand has skyrocketed.  Officials say the blood supply is now dangerously low.  Several Kansas City organizations have stepped up to host urgent blood drives in the coming week, including Union Station, Sprint Center, and Sporting Kansas City.  Donors are encouraged to make an appointment at a blood drive or donor center.

Upcoming Blood Drives

Sprint Center – May 27 & 28 | 10 am – 4 pm
Union Station – May 27 – 29 | 10 am – 4 pm
Sporting Kansas City – June 1 | 9 am – 3 pm
Hy-Vee Arena – June 1 | 9 am – 3 pm
 
In order to maintain a safe blood supply, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be continually replenished. Right now, reserves are far below that minimum.  Health officials say donating blood is safe, even during this pandemic, and it only takes one hour.  The Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (CBC) serves hospitals in the Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  More information is available at savealifenow.org/coronavirus.  

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Kansas Governor Nominates Public Defender for Appeals Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has nominated a public defender in the federal court system to the state’s second highest court. Kelly on Wednesday cited Carl Folsom III’s experience in handling criminal cases as an asset for a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals. The 39-year-old Folsom lives in Lawrence and works as an assistant federal public defender in Topeka. Folsom would replace retired Appeals Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr. The Democratic governor’s appointment of Folsom is subject to confirmation by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Kelly is asking senators to consider the nomination during a special legislative session that convenes June 3.

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Kansas City Police Paid $425,000 to Unarmed Man Shot by Officer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Police Department two years ago quietly paid $425,000 to an unarmed man who was shot in the face by an officer who initially faced criminal charges in the shooting. The Kansas City Star reported the payment Tuesday. The newspaper said it only recently learned of the 2018 settlement with Anthony Contreras after filing a records request through Missouri’s Sunshine Law. Contreras was shot by Officer Jacob Ramsey in June 2014 after police say Contreras ran when officers tried to question him about an attempted robbery. Ramsey had said he thought Contreras was reaching for a gun when he fired. In 2015, a grand jury returned charges against Ramsey, but a prosecutor later dropped the charges.

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Kansas Congressman Fights to be Listed as "Doc" on Ballot for U.S. Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A leading candidate for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas wants to be listed as Roger "Doc" Marshall on the ballot. The secretary of state's office has denied the western Kansas congressman's request, and a state board will decide whether "Doc" is an nifty nickname or a prohibited professional title. Marshall also is an obstetrician. Kansas law allows candidates to list nicknames on the ballot, and Marshall's campaign says that's what "Doc" is.  But state law generally prohibits listing titles, and that's how the secretary of state's office sees the word "Doc."  A state board will hear Marshall's appeal.

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2 Companies Each Fined $1 Million in Atchison Chemical Leak

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two companies that caused a chlorine gas leak over Atchison in 2016 have each been fined $1 million. Harcos Chemicals and MGP Ingredients had pleaded guilty earlier to negligently violating the Clean Air Act. They were officially fined during a court hearing Wednesday. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said the fines have been paid. The chlorine gas cloud formed over Atchison in October 2016 when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid was mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite at MGP's plant. Nearby homes and schools were evacuated and residents were told to shelter in place. About 140 people sought medical attention.

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Wichita Police: Second Victim in Deadly Shooting Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a second victim in a deadly shooting in Wichita last week has died of his injuries. Police said in a news release Tuesday that 19-year-old Jahbreel Rounds died in a hospital Monday from injuries he received in a shooting Thursday that also killed 21-year-old Earnest Jefferson. Police have said the shooting stemmed from a botched drug deal. Two people, 20-year-old Missy Barber and 18-year-old Preston Reynolds, have been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the shootings. The shooting occurred at a Wichita apartment complex.  

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Former WSU Student Sues School over Data Breach

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita State University student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school over a December data breach that exposed the personal information of thousand of current and former students. The Wichita Eagle reports that Michael Bahnmaier, of Wichita, filed the lawsuit earlier this month seeking class-action status. The lawsuit accuses WSU of negligence and of waiting too long to alert those whose personal information may have been stolen. University officials have said hackers targeted in early December a historical database where WSU kept the names, email addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers of students. It did not inform those whose information may have been stolen until March 6.

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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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