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Headlines for Wednesday, June 16, 2021


Top Kansas GOP Lawmakers End State of Emergency for COVID

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Kansas Republicans are ending the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. They refused today (TUE) to consider Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's arguments that an extension is still necessary for vaccinations and some testing for COVID-19. Senate President Ty Masterson announced the cancellation of a meeting of eight legislative leaders set for this (TUE) afternoon. A law enacted in late March required the legislative leaders to sign off on an extension. Masterson's announcement means that the state of emergency would expire by day's end after being in place since March 2020. The Andover Republican other Senate GOP leaders said in a statement that, "It is time for Kansas to return to normal."


GOP Ends COVID Emergency in Kansas; Kelly Sees 'Obstruction'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top aide to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas will struggle more to get residents vaccinated and thousands of families will lose extra food aid. Kelly chief of staff Will Lawrence said Tuesday that those problems will increase because top Republican legislators ended a state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. Senate President Ty Masterson announced the cancellation of a Tuesday afternoon meeting of eight legislative leaders. A law enacted in March required top lawmakers to sign off on an extension, and the state of emergency was to expire at the end of the day Tuesday after being in place since March 2020. Masterson said in an issued statement, "it is time for Kansas to return to normal."


Nebraskans Hurt when Boat Explodes at Lake of the Ozarks

SUNRISE BEACH, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say five people from Nebraska were seriously injured when a boat exploded at a Missouri lake. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the explosion occurred Tuesday afternoon near Sunrise Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks. The patrol says the boat was secured at a dock when a mechanical problem caused a fuel-related fire. James and Kari Hohenstein, Brad Vanwinkle and two children aged 12 and 16 were seriously injured. A 2-year-old suffered minor injuries. The 16-year-old and Vanwinkle were flown to a Columbia hospital, while three others were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The people on the boat are from Gretna and Elkhorn, Nebraska.


Man Accused of Killing 6 on Kansas City Trails Found Not Competent to Stand Trial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with killing six people on or near trails in south Kansas City four to five years ago has been found not competent to stand trial. A judge ruled Monday that 26-year-old Fredrick Scott, of Kansas City, is mentally unfit to aid in his own defense. Scott is charged with first-degree murder in the separate shooting deaths of 57-year-old Steven Gibbons; 54-year-old John Palmer; 67-year-old David Lenox; 57-year-old Timothy Rice; 61-year-old Michael Darby; and 64-year-old Karen Harmeyer. All of the deaths occurred in 2016 and 2017 along city hiking and biking trails. Scott has been in custody since his arrest in 2017. A re-evaluation of Scott’s mental fitness was set for August.


Kansas City Police Investigating Shooting Death Tuesday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are investigating a shooting death inside a home in the Ivanhoe Northeast neighborhood. Police say in a news release that the shooting occurred around 2:45 pm Tuesday near E. 36th and Olive streets. Arriving officers found a man in the home who had been shot. The man was declared dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released, and no arrests or suspects in the case were announced. Police say the death marked the city's 69th homicide this year, compared with 83 homicides in Kansas City by this time last year.


Mental Exam Ordered for Suspect in Security Guard's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man charged with killing a Wichita security guard at a QuikTrip will undergo a mental competency examination. Defense attorney Jeremy Koop sought the evaluation for Laroy Monzell West, saying he may be incompetent to stand trial in the May 5 death of 39-year-old Will Robinson. Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown granted the defense request on Tuesday. Police say Robinson was shot after West was escorted out of the QuikTrip because he was causing a disturbance. West's case will be on hold until the competency evaluation is completed.


Kansas Teenager Who Killed Mom Pleads to Lesser Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A teenager who shot and killed his mother in 2018 has pleaded no contest to lesser charges in her death. The teenager, who was not tried as an adult, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Lisa Trimmell at a home near Andover. He pleaded no contest Wednesday to aggravated battery and criminal use of a weapon. Prosecutors said Trimmell was arguing with the boy's younger brother, who was 12 at the time, when the older boy shot her. He was 14. His attorneys argued he was defending his brother from his mother, who was drunk. The teen, now 17, will be sentenced July 30.


Man Given Rare Medical Release from Kansas Prison Has Died

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 48-year-old man who was granted a rare medical release from a Kansas prison has died. Christopher McIntyre was released April 12 from Lansing Correctional Facility because he had terminal cancer. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says he died Friday. Relatives in Wichita cared for him after his release from Lansing, where he was serving a sentence for aggravated burglary. Kansas prison officials granted his release because of “functional incapacitation,” which applies to people who have medical or mental health conditions so serious they are not considered a threat to the public. The department has granted such releases only two other times in the last five years.


Police in Kansas City, Kansas, Find Man Dead in Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating after finding the body of a man who had been shot inside a car. Police say officers were called just after 7 a.m. Monday to a residential area a few blocks northwest of Klamm Park. Arriving officers found the body of a man, later identified as 45-year-old Kyle Slater, of Kansas City, Missouri. inside a vehicle. Police had not announced any arrests or suspects in the case by early Wednesday morning.


Longtime Sandia Labs Airline Safety Research Center Moving to Wichita State University

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A decades-old program at Sandia National Laboratories that focused on new innovations in airplane inspection will be taking flight elsewhere. The Albuquerque-based weapons research and development facility announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Assurance Center will relocate to Wichita State University. The program will be part of the university’s National Institute of Aviation Research. Officials say the move follows structural shifts at both Sandia and the FAA. Sandia Labs has operated the center for the FAA for 30 years. Under the program, researchers worked alongside aircraft manufacturers, industry experts and regulatory agencies to enhance airplane inspection and maintenance systems.


Lawrence to Allow Alcohol Sales at Retail Businesses

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW / KPR) —The Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to permanently allow more businesses to sell alcohol. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the commission voted to adopt a code change to permanently allow many retail businesses other than restaurants and bars to add alcohol sales to their regular services and products. The commissioners said the city should do everything possible to support the city’s retail businesses and the ability to serve alcohol may help attract customers back to businesses that are still struggling from the pandemic lockdown.  Several business owners told the commission that allowing retail stores to sell alcohol and food will also help them compete with online retailers like Amazon.


Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Exceeds 316,000; Death Toll Tops 5,100

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The  Kansas Department of Health and Environmentreported Wednesday that there have been 316,343 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 5,128 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 329 cases and three deaths since Monday. Another update is expected Friday.


1 Kansas City Man Killed, 5 Hurt After Small Plane Crashes at Texas Airport

MADISONVILLE, Texas (AP) — Authorities say one person was killed and five others injured when a small airplane crashed at a municipal airport in Texas. The crash happened at about 1 a.m. today (MON) at the airport near Madisonville, about 90 miles north of Houston. Sgt. Justin Ruiz of the Texas Department of Public Safety identified the person killed as the 68-year-old pilot, Apolo Diaz of Kansas City, Missouri. Ruiz said Diaz was trying to land when the single-engine Piper PA-32 struck trees and crashed about 300 yards short of the Madisonville Municipal Airport runway.


Kansas Teenager Charged in Homicide in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County, Missouri prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old Kansas boy in the shooting death of a Kansas City, Missouri, man. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Jayvon Hunter, of Kansas City, Kansas, will be tried as an adult for second-degree murder and three other charges in the October death of 44-year-old Cristobal Gutierrez-Castillas. Investigators said surveillance video shows Hunter and others arriving at the scene in east Kansas City on scooters. Hunter is seen arguing with three men before he fired a shot. The video shows Hunter going through the victim’s pockets and removing a cell phone before he leaves. Online court records don't name an attorney for Hunter.


2 Teens Shot, 1 Seriously Injured, in Topeka over Weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say two teens were shot in separate incidents over the weekend in Topeka and that one suffered life-threatening injuries. Police say in a news release that officers called Saturday morning to an area along SE 31st Street found a 13-year-old girl with a gunshot wound. The girl was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Police say her injury is being investigated as an accidental shooting. Hours earlier around 9:30 pm Friday, a 15-year-old boy was shot in one of his arms. Police say he is expected to recover. Police have not released the names of the teens shot and say the shootings aren't related.


Utility's Green Energy Plan Fuels Debate in Kansas, Missouri

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric company in Kansas expects to make its first big investments in solar energy over the next three years and is looking to produce no net carbon emissions by 2045. The goal was included in a long-term plan outlined by Evergy for regulators in Kansas and Missouri. Some environmentalist groups don’t think Evergy is moving quickly enough on clean energy initiatives. Conversely, other critics worry that the plan could make electricity more expensive and less reliable. Utilities across the U.S. and investors increasingly see green initiatives as good for a company's bottom line. Evergy has about 1 million customers in Kansas and another 600,000 in Missouri.


Wichita Police Officer Charged with Child Sex Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A five-year veteran of the Wichita police force is charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a child. The Sedgwick County District Attorney charged Officer Thomas Wallace on Tuesday. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says police learned earlier this year that Wallace was possibly stalking a woman he knew. That allegation stemmed from a Sedgwick County Sheriff's investigation of another Wichita police department employee late last year. That investigation prompted the charges filed Tuesday. Wallace was placed on unpaid leave Tuesday, pending the outcome of the investigation.


Woodland Returns to U.S. Open with Hopes of Making Ryder Cup Team

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) —Gary Woodland will tee off Thursday at the U.S. Open Championship in San Diego. The Topeka native shocked the golf world two years ago by winning the tournament. But this year, Woodland has more than winning the U.S. Open on his mind. He is trying to play his way onto the U.S. team that will compete against Europe in the Ryder Cup later this year. Woodland is no stranger to team sports having played basketball at Washburn and later, golf at the University of Kansas. With a chance to play for the U.S. team on the line, he says this is his most important stretch of golf this year. Woodland says he believes he would have made the U.S Ryder Cup team last year but was hindered by injuries and disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Woodland has had two top-ten finishes this season and is looking for his first win since capturing the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.


Kansas Public Radio Aims for More Sustaining Members

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - After getting a $216,000 budget cut from the University of Kansas, Kansas Public Radio is hoping to make up the difference by holding a special two-day fund drive later this month. KPR's goal is to increase membership by 300 new or upgrading sustainers. Sustainers are donors who sign up for automatic monthly contributions to the radio station. The recent budget cut from KU is the largest in the 69-year history of the station and represents about 70% of the station's annual funding from the university. The on-air portion of KPR's two-day fund drive begins Thursday, June 24, but fundraising is already underway. KPR supporters have pooled their money to create a $30,000 matching grant when KPR receives 300 new or upgrading sustainers during the month of June. 

(Anyone can pledge anytime to KPR on the station's website: KansasPublicRadio.org.)


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