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Headlines for Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Gale Sayers, "The Kansas Comet" and Chicago Bears Hall of Fame Running Back, Dies at 77

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers has died. Sayers made his mark as one of the NFL's best all-purpose running backs and was later celebrated for his enduring friendship with a Bears teammate with cancer. Nicknamed "The Kansas Comet," Sayers was considered among the best open-field runners the game has ever seen. Yet it was his rock-steady friendship with Brian Piccolo depicted in the 1971 film "Brian's Song" that marked him as more than a sports star. Sayers died Wednesday at the age of 77, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Relatives say he was diagnosed with dementia. His wife said she partly blamed his football career.  (Read more in this article from KU Athletics.)


Kansas City Police Identify 1-Year-Old Killed in Triple Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have identified a child killed in a triple shooting there as a 1-year-old boy, making him the city's youngest homicide victim this year. Police say Tyron Payton was in the back seat of a car with three other adults when someone opened fire on their vehicle Monday afternoon. The child’s death is the 148th homicide this year in Kansas City. At this time last year, 114 homicides had been recorded. Federal agents have been sent to Kansas City and a handful of other cities this summer to help fight gun violence, part of a program called Operation Legend. The program is named after a 4-year-old Kansas City boy LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping in his father’s apartment on June 29.


More Kansas Schools Ending In-Person Classes, Sports

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More Kansas schools have ended in-person classes and canceled sports because of coronavirus exposure and team quarantines. The Wichita Eagle reports both Haysville and Derby have quarantined their high school football teams. Chanute has canceled football games, but is continuing in-person classes. The school board in Atwood overruled the superintendent’s decision to move classes to remote learning then later reversed course. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is expected to identify active coronavirus clusters on Wednesday, including outbreaks at schools and on sports teams. State health officials reported on Monday 53,959 confirmed cases and 600 deaths - an increase of 1,674 cases and four deaths over the weekend.


COVID-19 Case Total in Kansas Exceeds 55,000, Includes 621 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials say Kansas has identified more than 55,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reported today (WED) that Kansas has recorded 55,226 cases, including 621 deaths. That's an increase of 1,267 cases and 21 deaths since Monday. Another update on case numbers will be released Friday.


Kansas Governor Concerned About State's Ability to Slow COVID-19 Spread

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she is concerned about the state's ability to slow the spread of the coronavirus as newly confirmed cases and deaths continue to rise. She says the state's lack of coherent statewide mask mandates and an ineffective, patchwork response to the pandemic endangers state residents and could slow economic recovery.  On Monday, Kansas health officials said the state had recorded nearly 54,000 cases of COVID-19, including 600 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.  That's an increase of 1,674 cases and four deaths since last Friday.


Johnson County School Wants 100 to Quarantine; Parents Protest

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County health officials are recommending more than 100 people quarantine after being in contact with a person at an Overland Park elementary school who tested positive for COVID-19. But some parents are pushing back, saying the recommendation is an overreaction. County health officials said they are investigating exposures at Timber Creek Elementary School in the Blue Valley district. They did not say whether a staff member or student tested positive. Several parents who want schools to fully reopen held a rally at the school Sunday to protest the quarantine. Christine White, a pediatrician, led the rally. She called the quarantine a “massive overreaction.”


KU Medical Center Part of COVID-19 Clinical Trial

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Medical Center is part of a nationwide clinical trial looking into different treatments for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of the coronavirus who do not require hospitalization. KCUR Radio reports that the first treatment will involve the use of monoclonal antibodies that target the spike proteins of COVID-19, using a drug made by Eli Lilly. Monoclonal antibodies are engineered versions of the same virus-fighting antibodies that the body naturally produces. The clinical trial is one of at least 40 around the country that seeks to recruit participants within 10 days of the onset of symptoms or within seven days of a positive test.


Suspected Drug Dealer, Deported Last Year, Charged in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An accused drug dealer who was deported last year is once again facing drug charges after illegally returning to the U.S. The Wichita Eagle reports that 28-year-old Raul Valenzuela-Arce was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Topeka. He is accused of distributing methamphetamine. An affidavit from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation says Valenzuela-Arce was arrested in March 2019 in Topeka on state drug and gun charges. The affidavit says Valenzuela-Arce agreed while jailed to become a KBI informant. But instead of helping police, Valenzuela-Arce allegedly returned to committing drug crimes. Court filings show he was deported to Mexico in November, but was caught in Topeka in July.


Lawmaker: Governor's Staff Blocks List of Kansas PPE Suppliers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker says Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s office blocked a Kansas legislative committee from obtaining a list of the state’s personal protective equipment suppliers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Senator Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha released emails Tuesday during a meeting of a study committee showing that its request had been refused. The committee sought the list after testimony last month that some of the state’s personal protective equipment was defective. According to the emails released by Pyle, the Adjutant General's Department cited instructions from the governor’s staff in declining to release the list. Kelly’s chief of staff said the directive was an effort to narrow the committee’s request.


Kansas Soccer Club Leader Sentenced in Case Involving Player

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The founder of a Johnson County soccer club has been sentenced to two years of probation for inappropriately touching a minor girl he coached. Thirty-seven-year-old Jason Cummins was sentenced Wednesday. He pleaded guilty in July to attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child between the ages of 14 and 16. If he violates his probation, he would serve 19 months in jail. Court records say Cummins took the girl to his Shawnee home and touched her without her consent. Cummins founded Arson FC in 2014. He ran the club and coached the team the victim played on.  


All Federal Agents from Operation Legend Leave Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials say federal agents assigned to Operation Legend in Kansas City have left the city. More than 200 federal agents were sent to Kansas City to be part of an anti-crime task force that later expanded to eight other U.S. cities. The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City announced Wednesday that the agents have returned to their home districts, as was planned all along. The task force was named for a 4-year-old Kansas City boy who was shot and killed while he slept this summer. The agents helped local law enforcement officials investigate homicides and other crimes.


Audio-Reader Holds Next Facebook Live Audio Sale Thursday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The Kansas Audio-Reader Network is holding its next Facebook Live Audio Sale Thursday at 6 pm.  Assorted pieces of gently-used audio equipment (receivers, turntables, speakers, etc.) will be showcased and sold below market value during the event. Proceeds from the sale will benefit Audio-Reader, the radio, telephone and Internet reading service for the blind and vision-impaired, based at the University of Kansas.  KPR News Director J. Schafer will emcee the event. He'll be joined by audio expert Dave Dunford, one of several volunteer audio technicians who check and repair every donated piece of equipment to make sure everything works as it should. Vinyl records, CDs, DVDs and even musical instruments are often part of Audio-Reader's Facebook Live events. Learn more at Audio-Reader's website.  

(View some of the items for sale at Thursday's event.) 


KU, K-State Try to Rebound in Big 12 from Losses to Sun Belt Teams 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas and Kansas State University had plenty of reasons to believe this season, despite spring football scuttled by the coronavirus and an offseason unlike any other, would produce another solid brick for the foundation of their program. Turns out it was crumbling right from the start. There is still time to put the pieces back together, of course. But the Week 1 lumps taken by the Big 12 rivals at the hands of the Sun Belt — the Jayhawks lost to Coastal Carolina and the Wildcats to Arkansas State — means they head into conference play Saturday with very little momentum and a dramatic step-up in competition. Kansas plays Baylor while Kansas State visits Oklahoma.


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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