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Headlines for Wednesday, October 12, 2022


Kansas Education Leaders: Harassment, Anger Add to Teacher Woes

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - More teachers in Kansas are leaving the profession after only a few years, and education leaders say politics could be a reason. New data presented to the state Board of Education Tuesday show that teacher retention rates are the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade. Only 86% of teachers made it to their third year of teaching this academic year. That’s down from more than 92% the previous year. Jim Porter is chair of the Kansas Board of Education. He says widespread criticism of school lessons and teachers have prompted many to leave. “There are people that I consider to be excellent classroom teachers that just quit because they no longer were allowing themselves to be disrespected," he said. Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said schools need to expand mentoring programs for teachers.


Adoption Numbers Increase in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas adoptions have increased in the last four years thanks to a variety of factors, including the creation of adoption accelerator positions. The Kansas News Service reports that adoptions have complicated court processes and require numerous legal documents. Helping families work through that is just some of what an adoption accelerator does. Governor Laura Kelly’s administration created the positions in 2019 and adoptions spiked. Scott Henricks works for the Department for Children and Families and credits adoption accelerator employees with helping to lower barriers to adoptions, like simplifying complicated court procedures, so families can complete the process faster. “There was an identified need to help expedite the adoption processes. And, you know, improving our adoptions is always something we want to do," he said. In the last few years, around 900 kids are finding new homes annually. Henricks says there are still around 500 children who can still be adopted.


Federal Judge Weighs Effort to Halt Student Loan Forgiveness

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge in St. Louis is weighing the fate of the Biden administration’s plan to forgive student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans following a court hearing on Wednesday. It’s unclear when U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey will rule on the lawsuit filed by six states...including Kansas...that seeks an injunction to halt the student loan forgiveness plan. Whatever he decides, an appeal is likely. Democratic President Joe Biden announced in August that his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in education debt for huge numbers of borrowers. The announcement immediately became a major political issue ahead of the November midterms.


EPA Fines Asphalt Company in Olathe for Alleged Clean Water Act Violations

LENEXA, Kan. (KPR) – The EPA has fined an asphalt company in Olathe for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Asphalt Sales Company in Olathe will pay $82,798 in civil penalties and improve pollution controls to resolve the alleged violations. According to the EPA, the company failed to adequately control stormwater runoff from its asphalt production and demolition landfill facility. The EPA says these failures led to illegal discharges of pollutants into Cedar Creek.


Kansas Lawmaker Wants to Drop Foster Care Contractor

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Republican state Senator Molly Baumgardner has called on Kansas to stop placing children with a private foster care agency following high-profile mistakes...including the case of foster child Ace Scott, who ran away from care and was found dead days later. “And it is insulting. We must stop the lies and transparency must improve in our agency," she said. Lawmakers will soon hold a special meeting to discuss other issues with the state’s foster care system. They complain that children are still sleeping in offices, that the state is not meeting every goal from a lawsuit settlement and they say foster parents are afraid to complain. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says the state has made improvements, but knows there is more work to be done.

(Additional reporting...)

GOP Kansas Lawmaker Calls on State to Halt Work with Foster Care Contractor

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ/KNS) - A top Republican on child welfare issues has called on the state to end its relationship with Cornerstones of Care, a foster care contractor in the Kansas City area. The comments from state Senator Molly Baumgardner, of Louisburg, come as Cornerstones of Care and the Department for Children and Families have come under fire for pushing to remove a child from her foster home placement to allow her to be adopted with siblings hours away, despite being taken in by the family days after birth. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the case has garnered significant media attention in the Kansas City area and has been used by lawmakers to argue it is an example of why hundreds have stopped serving as foster families in the state.

But to Baumgardner, the case raises broader concerns regarding Cornerstones of Care, the Missouri-based firm that was selected in 2018 to handle child placement and other services in Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Atchison counties. Baumgardner pegged the state's deal with Cornerstones of Care as being worth at least $12 million per year and says if it were up to her, she'd terminate the deal.

The contractor has come under fire in recent months for other issues as well. In April, a teenage foster child was forced to spend a night in a Cornerstones of Care office, ran away and was found dead days later in a vacant Kansas City, Kansas, lot. The contractor also accounted for roughly 60% of all cases where children slept in offices last year. (Read more from the Kansas News Service.)


Missouri Police: Woman Held Captive for a Month, Repeatedly Raped

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) _ Charging documents say a Missouri woman was held captive in a basement room for about a month and was raped repeatedly before she was able to escape. The suspect, 39-year-old Timothy M. Haslett of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, was arrested Friday and appeared in court by video conference Tuesday. The judge entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Haslett, who said in court that he will need a public defender. He is charged with first-degree rape or attempted rape, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault. The woman was found early Friday. A probable cause statement says she was able to escape when the suspect took his child to school.


City of Shawnee Passes Ban on Trans Athletics

SHAWNEE, Kan. (KCUR) - The City of Shawnee now has taken an official stance in support of barring transgender athletes from playing girls’ and women’s sports. In a near unanimous vote Monday night, the city council approved its annual legislative priorities list - which includes support for the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” Act. The Republican-backed legislation, vetoed twice by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly the past two years, would bar trans women from participating in girl’s or women’s sports in high school and college. The city has no control over who plays in school sports. The priority list merely articulates the city’s official position on matters that could arise in Topeka or Washington, D.C. A parade of opponents called the action “disgusting,  an embarrassment and irrelevant to city business." Still, the city council ultimately passed the measure by a vote of 7-1.


National Competition Reveals Some of the Best Beers in America Are Made in Kansas City, Topeka

DENVER (KC Star) - The Great American Beer Festival honored three Kansas City breweries during its 2022 competition held this month in Denver. The Kansas City Star reports the local winners included BKS Artisan Ales in East Brookside, which won a gold medal in the English Mild or Bitter category. River Bluff Brewing, with locations in the River Market and St. Joseph, won a silver medal in the international dark lager category. And the City Barrel Brewing Company, in the East Crossroads, won a bronze medal in the Juicy/Hazy IPA category.

Other regional breweries honored in the competition included Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant in Topeka, which won gold medals for two beers -- Blind Tiger Bock and Smoke Follows Beauty. Blind Tiger also won Brewer of the Year in the 1001 to 2000 barrels brewery category.  The Great American Beer Festival, which is hosted by the Brewers Association, is one of the nation’s largest ticketed beer festivals and the premier craft beer competition in the United States.


Kansas Public Radio Seeks New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is seeking a new Statehouse Bureau Chief. This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. The position duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners. Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.


Rural Kansas Towns Face Elevated Fire Risk, Struggles to Find Volunteer Firefighters

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Rural towns across Kansas face continued drought conditions compounded by a shortage of volunteer firefighters. KWCH TV reports that the small community of Paradise has seen first-hand how bad an emergency fire situation can get and how valuable volunteer firefighters can be. Last December, a fire devastated the town. With aid from volunteers from outside the community, they were able to put it out. But now, Paradise is among communities needing more of its own volunteers. A shortage of volunteer firefighters in rural communities makes it difficult for fire departments to always be staffed.  In small Kansas towns, the first step in becoming a volunteer firefighter begins with contacting the local fire department. 


Kansas Voter Registration Deadline Nears for November Election
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) – The 2022 November election is just weeks away, and Kansans have just a few days left to register to vote. The state’s deadline to register for the general election is October 18. WDAF TV reports that residents can register to vote online. A valid Kansas driver’s license or non-driver’s identification card is required. Without one of those forms of ID, Kansas residents must register using a paper application. Kansans can also register to vote in person at their county election office, the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, or at their local Department of Motor Vehicles. Once you submit your voter registration application, your local county election office will notify you. You must re-register every time you change your name, address or party affiliation for voting, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. One day after the registration deadline, advance voting will begin in Kansas for the general election.


Shakeup in Farm Supply Retail Industry

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Sioux City, Iowa-based Bomgaars says its recent acquisition of dozens of stores from a Missouri-based company has made it the nation's second largest farm and ranch retailer, behind Tractor Supply Company. Bomgaars announced in a news release Wednesday that it has acquired 73 stores from Orscheln Farm and Home, of Moberly, Missouri. The acquisition was part of a larger mega-deal approved Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission for Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Company to take over Orscheln Farm and Home, which has 167 stores in 11 states. The deal brings Bomgaars' total number of locations to 180 in 15 states throughout the central United States, while adding 1,400 new employees. Bomgaars also will acquire Orscheln’s 330,000 square-foot distribution center in Moberly, Missouri.


Former K-State Basketball Coach Gets Broadcasting Job

UNDATED (Wichita Eagle) - Former K-State Basketball Coach Bruce Weber has a new job.  Weber is back in college basketball, just not as a coach. The Wichita Eagle reports Weber has landed a job as a broadcaster for the Big Ten Network, where he will serve as an analyst through the upcoming basketball season.


No. 19 Kansas Likely Missing QB Daniels for Trip to Oklahoma

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas football team will likely be without star quarterback Jalon Daniels when the 19th-ranked Jayhawks visit struggling Oklahoma on Saturday. Daniels hurt his right shoulder in last week’s loss to TCU. His injury means backup Jason Bean is in line to start. Some sports outlets say Daniels is most likely out for the season.


Raiders' Davante Adams Charged for Shoving Photographer

UNDATED (AP) – Las Vegas Raiders receiver Davante Adams has been charged with misdemeanor assault for shoving a photographer to the ground as he left the field following a loss at Kansas City. Kansas City, Missouri, police said Adams pushed Ryan Zebley to the ground while running off the field following the Raiders’ 30-29 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night. Police called it an “intentional, overt act” that caused whiplash, a headache and a possible minor concussion. Adams apologized in his postgame comments to the media and later on Twitter.


Injuries Mounting for Chiefs with Bills Matchup on Horizon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The banged-up Chiefs could be missing two more defensive starters and a key contributor in the secondary when they face the Bills on Sunday. They already were without suspended linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and now could be missing cornerback Rashad Fenton to a hamstring injury and safety Bryan Cook to a concussion. They also will be without defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton after he tore his left ACL in Monday night's win over the Raiders. The Chiefs signed veteran Taylor Stallworth off their practice squad to replace him.


Big 12 Commissioner: 'Meaningful' Discussions with ESPN, Fox

NEW YORK (AP) — Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark says he has had “meaningful” conversations with ESPN and Fox as the conference explores striking a media rights deal almost two years before the current contract expires. The Big 12 announced in late August it planned to engage ESPN and Fox, even though the exclusive negotiating window between the conference and the networks does not open until February 2024. The Big 12′s deals with the networks expire in June of that year. Yormark says there is no timetable for the discussions to produce a deal. He says ESPN and Fox would be the two best partners to boost the Big 12 brand.


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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