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Headlines for Wednesday, September 1, 2021


Governor Sends Kansas National Guard to Help with Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Louisiana

TOPEKA, Kan.(KPR) - Governor Laura Kelly has announced that the Kansas National Guard will be deployed to Louisiana to provide support in and around areas affected by Hurricane Ida. The soldiers and airmen are deploying as part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a multi-state agreement that allows states to send government aid to other states in emergency situations.  “In times of crisis, Kansans have always stepped up to help out our fellow Americans – and today is no different,” Kelly said.  Approximately 280 Soldiers and Airmen will deploy for this mission, which is expected to last 21 days, including travel. The guardsmen will take engineering equipment such as skid steers, dump trucks, chain saws, and excavators. They will also be taking other equipment which includes generators, light medium tactical vehicles, high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, and palletized load system trucks.


Kansas Health Official Urge Kansans Not to Take Ivermectin for COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – With a rise in calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is urging Kansans not to take the drug ivermectin, unless prescribed by a physician.  Ivermectin is not approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat or prevent COVID-19. The drug has been approved in humans to treat specific skin conditions like rosacea, head lice or some parasitic worms. Ivermectin is used in livestock as an anti-parasite medicine and can be found in livestock supply centers. Livestock drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans.  “Kansans should avoid taking medications that are intended for animals and should only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” said Lee Norman, M.D., Secretary of KDHE. “These highly-concentrated doses can cause severe illness and even death in humans."  Health and science experts say the COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and most effective way to prevent getting sick and protect against severe disease and death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta variant. In addition to the vaccine, mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing will help stop the spread of the virus.  Find a free COVID-19 vaccine near you


Kansas to Release More Information on COVID School Outbreaks

UNDATED (AP) — Kansas will soon release more information on school COVID-19 outbreaks and youth vaccination rates as many districts begin the year without masks. Governor Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that a new working group of pediatricians, school nurses and other health care providers will meet weekly to discuss how schools can operate safely amid the pandemic. She said the group will release a weekly report that will provide a list of schools with active outbreaks and best practices on masking, testing and quarantining. The report also will include a county-by-county breakdown on youth vaccination rates, cases, hospitalizations and deaths.


Kansas Nursing Home Employees Missing Vaccine Targets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Data from the state of Kansas shows that about a third of nursing homes have fewer than half of their health care workers vaccinated against the coronavirus. The data shows that just four of the more than 300 federally-licensed nursing homes in the state are meeting the goal of 90% of health care workers vaccinated against COVID-19. The state released the data after President Joe Biden announced that his administration will require nursing home staff to be vaccinated as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. State data shows that about 46% of Kansans were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.


Man Found Shot to Death Under Tree in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating the shooting death of a man whose body was found in a grassy area under a tree. Police say the body was discovered Tuesday evening by a person walking in the area about two hours after neighbors had reported hearing gunshots. Police have not released the victim's name, but say he was in his 20s. No arrests or suspects had been reported in the case as of early this (WED) morning. Police say the killing was the city's 30th homicide of the year.


Officials: Woman, Dog Found Dead in Overland Park Fire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials in suburban Kansas City who responded to a condominium kitchen fire say a woman and her dog were found dead inside the unit. The fire occurred Tuesday afternoon, when Overland Park fire crews responded to a call around 3:20 pm of a fire along Outlook Drive. Overland Park Fire spokesman Jason Rhodes says arriving fighters found smoke coming from a two-story condo and quickly put out the kitchen fire. The woman was found dead in the front room of the home. Officials identified her as 51-year-old Julie Ann Peterson. Rhodes said it was unclear if the fire started from cooking or an electrical problem with the stove. 


Audit: Kansas Lost $700 Million in Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - A new legislative audit shows the state of Kansas has paid out nearly $700 million in fraudulent unemployment claims.  Phony claims skyrocketed as scammers tried to take advantage of new unemployment programs created during the pandemic. The report, released Monday, is preliminary but lawmakers say the scam may be the largest in state history. The Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit says almost 25% of all unemployment claims paid between January 2020 and February 2021 were likely fraudulent. The determination comes after auditors examined Department of Labor data and trained a neural network to spot imposter fraud. A neural network is a type of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to recognize relationships in data through a process that mimics the way the human brain operates. About $350 million was paid by the state and the rest came from federal unemployment funds. Kansas is working with federal officials and banks to recover fraudulent payments but does not have an estimate of how much they’ve recovered so far. The Kansas Department of Labor says the audit may have overstated the number of bogus claims. The audit also estimates that the state caught and prevented about $2 billion in fraudulent claims from being paid out.


Projects Financed with STAR Bonds Not Meeting Tourism Goals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new state audit found that few projects financed with STAR bonds are meeting requirements for bringing visitors and money into Kansas. The report from the Legislature's auditing arm was released Monday. Auditors found that only three of the 16 attractions they reviewed met tourism goals by bringing in a significant percentage of visitors from other states. STAR bonds allow municipalities to issue bonds to finance major developments, which are paid through sales tax revenue generated by the project. The three businesses that met the goals are the Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and the Hutchinson Underground Salt Museum.


Governor Announces $100 Incentive for Kansans to Get Vaccinated at Select Dillons Stores

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Dillons Health have launched a new vaccine incentive program to encourage vaccinations and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.  As COVID cases continue to rise statewide, vaccine clinics at select Dillons locations will offer $50 Visa gift cards per dose to encourage residents to get the shots.  All newly vaccinated Kansans 12 years of age and older will be eligible to receive $50 per dose for a total of $100. “Getting every eligible Kansan vaccinated is critical to our efforts to slow the spread of the virus, protect our businesses, and keep kids in school,” Kelly said.  Vaccines will be administered in the pharmacies of the select Dillons stores.  Gift cards will be available on a first-come first-serve basis.  COVID-19 vaccines are provided at no cost.  No appointment is required.

Participating Dillons Locations:

Barton County:
     4107 10th Street, Great Bend, KS
Ellis County:
    1902 Vine Street, Hays, KS
    517 West 27th Street, Hays, KS
Finney County:
    1211 Jones Avenue, Garden City, KS
    1305 East Kansas Avenue, Garden City, KS
Ford County:
    1700 North 14th Street, Dodge City, KS
Geary County:
    618 West 6th Street, Junction City, KS
McPherson County:
    1320 North Main, McPherson, KS
Pratt County:
    1108 East 1st Street, Pratt, KS
Riley County:
    130 Sarber Lane, Manhattan, KS
    1101 Westloop Place, Manhattan, KS
Saline County:
    2350 Plane Avenue, Salina, KS
    1235 East Cloud Street, Salina, KS
    1201 West Crawford, Salina, KS
Seward County:
    1417 North Kansas, Liberal, KS
Sumner County:
    1111 West 8th Street, Wellington, KS
Thomas County:
    1605 South Range Avenue, Colby, KS


Jackson County, St. Louis Extend Mask Mandates

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two of Missouri’s largest jurisdictions have approved extensions of their mask mandates, as COVID-19 continues to cause a big spike in cases and hospitalizations. St. Louis aldermen on Monday approved an extension of the city’s indoor mask mandate at the request of Mayor Tishaura Jones. The order that began July 26 is now extended through September 29. Meanwhile, the Jackson County Legislature voted to extend the public health order that would have expired September 7. The order extends the county’s mask mandate to October 7.


As School Districts Insist on Vaccines, Some Teachers Push Back

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A growing number of communities are moving to require teachers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of aggressive campaigns to ward off the delta variant, which has infected hundreds of thousands of children in the United States. While some school districts are allowing teachers to opt out of vaccine requirements with weekly testing, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis have taken tougher stances by limiting exemptions to bona fide medical and religious reasons. In addition, the states of Washington and Oregon are taking a similar approach. As a result, teachers opposed to mandatory vaccines find themselves in a quandary — weighing their anti-vaccine beliefs against their professional calling.


Missouri Judge Refuses to Reinstate Federal Jobless Benefits

UNDATED (AP) - A Missouri judge has refused to reinstate federal unemployment benefits that were cut in June when Governor Mike Parson pulled out of several programs. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said the court “would not substitute its judgment” for that of the governor. The ruling by Beetem on Tuesday came a day after lawyers representing Missouri residents who lost the jobless benefits asked for reinstatement with back pay. The enhanced benefits added money to the unemployment checks for out-of-work Americans to help ease the crunch caused by shutdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic. But some Republican governors, including Parson, ended the benefits to try and prod people to rejoin the workforce.


Former Congressional Candidate Running for Kansas Treasurer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former executive with an advocacy group for those with Down syndrome has launched a campaign for Kansas state treasurer. Sara Hart Weir said in an email to supporters on Monday that she plans to bring a “conservative, outsider approach to problem-solving.” Weir joins state Senator Caryn Tyson, of Parker, state Rep. Steven Johnson of Assaria and former adviser to Governor Sam Brownback Michael Austin in seeking the Republican nomination for treasurer. The incumbent is Democrat Lynn Rogers, who was lieutenant governor until Governor Laura Kelly appointed him in December to fill the vacancy created when Treasurer Jake LaTurner was elected to Congress.


UPDATE: Hearing on Longtime Inmate's Possible Freedom Postponed

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A hearing that could have determined whether a Missouri man will be freed from prison after serving more than 40 years has been postponed. Attorneys were scheduled to make arguments Thursday in Jackson County on whether Kevin Strickland should be exonerated for a triple murder in Kansas City in 1978. But Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office filed an emergency motion Wednesday to have the hearing delayed, arguing the office had not been given sufficient time to prepare. The Missouri Appeals Court ruled Wednesday afternoon in Schmitt's favor, and ordered that attorneys meet with a judge on Thursday to reschedule the hearing.


Missouri Attorney General Seeks to Stop Hearing on Kansas City-Area Wrongful Conviction Case 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office is asking a state court of appeals to delay a hearing on whether longtime inmate Kevin Strickland should be exonerated after serving more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder. Schmitt's office filed an emergency motion Wednesday to stop a hearing scheduled for Thursday. Jackson County prosecutors are set to argue that Strickland's conviction for the murders in 1978 should be dismissed because he is innocent. Schmitt argues the hearing should be delayed so motions his office filed earlier this week could be considered. The motion also contends the office's attorneys will not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.


Suspect Arrested in Deaths of Two People in Reno County

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in the deaths of two people in Reno County. Maize Police Chief Matt Jensby said Wednesday that Kyle Hardwick was booked into the Reno County jail on possible charges of first-degree murder and theft. His bond is set at $2 million. Deputies found two people dead on August 27 on property in eastern Reno County. Deputies found one the body of a person who had been reported missing, then later found a second body. Investigators say foul play is suspected in both deaths. Officials have not released any information about the victims.


Woman Charged in Killing of Man Found in Wichita Alley

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A homeless woman has been charged in the fatal stabbing of a man whose body was found earlier this month in a Wichita alley. The Wichita Eagle reports that police say 34-year-old Latoya Annette McCurn told investigators she stabbed 49-year-old Van Hung Nguyen because he wouldn't stop grabbing at her legs and buttocks or making sexual comments to her. Nguyen's body was found on August 17 with a single stab wound to his chest. McCurn has been charged with first-degree murder. Police say she told investigators that she had met Nguyen earlier in the day and that she repeatedly told him to stop “messing with her" and later stabbed him when he touched her again.


Suspect Arrested After Uncle Stabbed to Death near Derby

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old man is a suspect in the stabbing death of his uncle near Derby. Sedgwick County authorities say Douglass Ray Ryan McGathy was arrested early Tuesday on a possible charge of second-degree murder. Sheriff Jeff Easter says McGathy’s uncle, 48-year-old Kelly Joe Ralph, was killed in an apparent fight over a gun sale. The two men lived in a home in a rural part of Sedgwick County near Derby. Deputies found Ralph lying in the driveway suffering from several stab wounds on Monday night. He died later at a hospital. McGathy is being held on $250,000 bond.


Firefighters Find Body of Man Found in Burning Wichita House

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters say crews found the body of a 50-year-old man inside a burning home on the east side of Wichita. The fire was reported around 9:45 am Monday, when firefighters were called to the home just south of the Crestview County Club. Arriving firefighters first put out flames that had overtaken the home's garage, then moved into the home to extinguish several small fires. Crews found the man's body inside the home. The victim's name has not been released. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office initially reported the man's death as suspicious, but later said there appeared to be no foul play in his death.


Kansas City Southern Suitor's Bid in Jeopardy After Ruling

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Canadian National’s $33.6 billion deal to acquire Kansas City Southern railroad is in jeopardy. Federal regulators on Tuesday rejected a key part of the plan and opened the door for a competing $31 billion offer from Canadian Pacific Railway. The Surface Transportation Board says Canadian National won’t be able to use a voting trust to acquire Kansas City Southern and hold the railroad while the board reviews the overall deal. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Kansas City Southern will still want to move forward with CN. But Kansas City Southern is now free to accept CP’s offer, which already has regulatory approval to move forward.


20 States -- Including Kansas -- Sue over Biden Administration's LGBTQ Protections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Attorneys general from 20 states have sued President Joe Biden’s administration seeking to halt directives that extend federal sex discrimination protections to LGBTQ people, ranging from transgender girls participating in school sports to the use of school and workplace bathrooms that align with a person’s gender identity. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, arguing that legal interpretations by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are based on a faulty view of U.S. Supreme Court case law. The attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia also signed on to the lawsuit. The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Economy Grows at Healthy Pace in Nine Midwest, Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy  keeps operating at a healthy pace in nine Midwest and Plains states, but supply delays and shortages of workers are limiting growth in the region. The overall economic index for the region slipped to 68.9 from July’s surging 73.1, but it still indicates strong growth. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said strong job growth continued but businesses are having trouble finding workers to hire. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Black U.S. Farmers Awaiting Billions in Promised Debt Relief

BOYDTON, Va. (AP) — U.S. farmers of color are battling in the courts to save a $4 billion debt relief program approved by Congress. Congress approved the debt relief for 16,000 farmers of color in March as part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The funding was intended to remedy past discrimination in U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs. White farmers have sued, arguing that the relief is discriminatory. The USDA's history of discrimination is so pervasive that many Black farmers call the government agency "the last plantation." They're now fighting with the USDA to defend the debt relief program.

Learn more about how some Kansas farmers have been affected by the history of discrimination in USDA programs. 


K-State's Skylar Thompson Looks Forward to Sixth Year Under Center

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Just one game after Skylar Thompson threw for more than 300 yards in leading Kansas State to an upset of No. 3 Oklahoma last year, the senior quarterback's season was over due to a shoulder injury. Now, nearly a year later, he's back for a sixth season and ready to take the field again in Saturday's season opener against Stanford. Thompson hopes it's the best year yet, especially after a fall camp that he said has been the best, most productive of his lengthy college career.


KU Leans Heavily on Transfer Help as Leipold Era Begins

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — There is never a good time to make a coaching change in college football, but the downtrodden University of Kansas football program was forced into perhaps the most inconvenient time of all: a month after national signing day and just as spring practices began. But new Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold made the most of the situation, bringing in 12 transfers from Division I schools to help with the rebuilding effort. Six of them followed from Buffalo, and as many as nine transfers could be on the field for Friday night's opener against South Dakota at Memorial Stadium.


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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  

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