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Headlines for Monday, August 2, 2021


Kansas Governor Recommends Masks for All in K-12 Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly is recommending that nearly everyone inside K-12 schools or riding school buses in Kansas be required to wear a mask, and Kansas State University will require masks in its buildings. Kelly's office on Friday issued updated guidance for K-12 schools in response to a surge in new COVID-19 cases over the past five weeks tied to the more contagious delta variant. Her recommendations and the Kansas State mandate taking effect Monday apply even to people who've been vaccinated. Delta variant cases are doubling every two weeks in Kansas, with 1,653 cases confirmed as of Friday, according to state data.


Kansas City's Indoor Mask Mandate Returns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — The reinstated indoor mask mandate in Kansas City, Missouri, begins today (MON) and will last until at least August 28.  Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas stated that the guidance issued by the CDC is the reason behind his decision with the mandate. KSHB TV reports that more than 39% of people who live in KCMO are fully vaccinated. While vaccines represent the best protection against the coronavirus, Lucas said, "I think that you can have multiple safeguards to make sure places are safe. I think that Kansas City's mask order is something that was actually fairly easy to comply with there." Under the mandate, anyone five years or older is required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. According to the KCMO Health Department, there were 883 new COVID-19 cases last week (as of July 24th). Lucas said this mandate applies to places of public accommodation like grocery stores and other public places. Dr. David McKinsey, with Metro Infectious Disease Consultants, said, "Until everyone either is vaccinated or has the infection and develops immune response, what will happen is we'll see repeated surges of the virus. As time passes the virus mutates, becomes more contagious, more aggressive so the next surge we have will be worse than this one."


Missouri Hospital Treats Record Number of Virus Patients

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Springfield hospital reached an unfortunate new record on Sunday when the number of coronavirus patients in its care rose to 187. CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards urged residents via Twitter to get vaccinated to protect others. The Kansas City Star reports that on Saturday, Edwards wrote on social media that the hospital had 180 infected inpatients, which at the time was a new record. The number was as low as 28 patients about eight weeks ago. In Greene County, where Springfield is located, 42.5% of the population has initiated vaccination and 36.2% has completed the vaccination process. Statewide, 48.1% of the population has initiated the vaccine and 41.3% has completed it.


Delta Variant Infected Patients Fill Kansas Hospital Beds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A COVID-19 surge in Kansas fueled by the faster-spreading delta variant is filling up hospital beds in some areas. Four times as many patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized this week as were hospitalized in early June, according to a survey from the Kansas Hospital Association. Hospitals said they're dealing with a regular load of non-COVID patients as delta variant cases surge — unlike last fall and winter, when new COVID-19 case numbers hit record highs. “We're seeing more cases of a variety of other things that have patients in the ER and ICU,” Cindy Samuelson, a senior Kansas Hospital Association vice president, said Thursday. “Then you add the COVID on top of that.”  

Confirmed delta variant cases in Kansas are doubling every two weeks, and new COVID-19 cases overall have been rising for five weeks. The University of Kansas is recommending that all people wear masks indoors on its main campus in Lawrence and a satellite campus in the Kansas City area when two or more people gather. Meanwhile, the Kansas Hospital Association said that 116 Kansas hospitals surveyed this week reported having 399 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. For early June, 125 hospitals reported having 99 — and the association stopped posting numbers on its website for five weeks. University of Kansas Health System officials disclosed last week that they were refusing to admit some patients from outside their system.

For about a month, the Salina Regional Health Center has a times been full capacity. Chief Medical Officer Robert Freelove said the hospital has struggled to find beds for patients who have needed a higher level of care, recently sending one more than three hours away to Garden City in southwest Kansas. “Normally when we’d send somebody to another hospital, it’s going up to a higher level of care, like a bigger hospital with more services,” Freelove said. “But now, at times, we’re just looking for a bed wherever we can find one.”

In Wichita, the Ascension Via Christi system had some good news with the slowing this week of a recent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. "We accept transfers as we are able, but when the volumes are running high there often are times when we cannot,” said Kris Hill, vice president of nursing for the system’s St. Francis hospital in Wichita.

~ Andy Tsubasa Field is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


Evictions Expected to Spike as Federal Moratorium Ends

BOSTON (AP/KPR) — Housing courts around the country are expected to get busy after the federal eviction moratorium was lifted over the weekend. Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted in the coming weeks. But most expect an uptick in filings in the coming days rather than a wave of evictions. The Biden administration announced last week that it would allow a nationwide ban to expire on Saturday. It argued that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month.

Thousands of Kansas tenants are now in danger of losing their homes. As many as 24,000 Kansas renters who are behind on their rent could be forced to find a new place to live in the coming days. But financial assistance is available to help Kansas tenants and landlords avoid the eviction process.  


Moratorium's End May Mean Thousands of Evictions in Missouri

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Across Missouri, thousands of families face potential eviction with the expiration of the federal moratorium imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The freeze that ended Saturday was meant to provide relief to tenants unable to keep up with their rent during the coronavirus pandemic. The Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which tracks evictions nationwide, shows that more than 13,000 eviction filings have been issued against tenants in Missouri’s two metropolitan areas since March 15, 2020. That includes nearly 8,300 filings in St. Louis city and county combined, and more than 5,100 in Kansas City and the rest of Jackson County.


Kansas AG Vows to Prosecute Any Violation of Election Laws in Douglas County

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he will prosecute any violations of election laws in Douglas County that the district attorney refuses to act upon. Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said last week her office will not prosecute violations of new voting laws that took effect on July 1. She said the law is too vague and too broad. Among its provisions is one that makes it illegal to "give the appearance of being an election official.” State-level voter engagement groups contend the provision could criminalize their work if Kansans mistake volunteers for election officials. Schmidt is a Republican seeking his party’s nomination for governor. He urged law enforcement agencies in the county to refer election law cases to him.


Wichita Police Investigate Separate Shootings over the Weekend

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita are investigating separate shootings that happened over the weekend and wounded four people. Police say the first shooting happened Friday night in central Wichita, when a man was shot as he stepped out of his vehicle. The man was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Late Sunday night, police were called to a neighborhood in east Wichita for a shooting and found two men with gunshot wounds. The men were taken to a hospital in critical condition. Police say a woman was later brought to a hospital with a gunshot wound from the same shooting scene. A suspect has been arrested in Sunday's shooting.


Pedestrian Killed in Hit-and-Run Crash in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a 55-year-old pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run crash early Sunday when a vehicle struck him at the base on an interstate exit ramp. Authorities say a Kia sedan was driving eastbound when the driver apparently lost control, crossed over the south curb of the roadway and struck the unidentified Independence man, who had been sitting at the base of an Interstate 435 exit ramp. Authorities say the vehicle then continued across the lanes of the exit ramp and struck a metal utility pole. The occupants of the car, an adult male and female, left the car and fled the scene on foot. The pedestrian died at the scene.


UPDATE: Body of Missing Kansas Swimmer Found at Cheney Reservoir

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say the body of a swimmer who went missing over the weekend at Cheney Reservoir has been found. The Reno County Sheriff’s Office says in a Facebook post that a fisherman contacted the Cheney State Park office Monday morning after finding what he thought might be the body of the man who disappeared Saturday near M&M Campground. Several Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks boats responded to the area and performed the recovery. The sheriff’s office identified the missing swimmer as 48-year-old Ty Freel of Wichita.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Search Continues for Swimmer Who Went Missing at Southern Kansas Lake

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are still searching for a swimmer who went missing Saturday at Cheney Reservoir, near Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that officials have not released the man's name, but said they had resumed their search Sunday morning. Officials previously said they were looking for an adult who fell off a boat on the lake. A drowning was reported near M&M Point Campground, which is along the southeast corner of the lake.


Police: Man Arrested for Baseball Bat Attack in Garden City

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 36-year-old man is under arrest after breaking into a Garden City home and chasing people inside while wielding a baseball bat. The Wichita Eagle reports that police say the man smashed the bat into a large window, climbed into the residence and chased two people. When the people ran outside, he followed and began hitting two vehicles. Police say he also attempted to swing the bat at responding police officers. He was arrested on possible charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, criminal threat and criminal damage to property.


UPDATE: Escaped Inmate Taken into Custody 

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Department of Corrections has apprehended minimum-custody inmate Eljay Allen Reinhardt. Reinhardt was taken into custody Saturday evening. He had been placed on escape status after he walked away from Wichita Work Release Facility at approximately 11:45 p.m. Friday after he did not report for work. No other details have been released. The investigation is ongoing.

(–Earlier Reporting–) 

Inmate Walks Away from Wichita Work Release Facility

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Authorities say a minimum-custody inmate has escaped from custody after walking away from the Wichita Work Release Facility. The 40-year-old man was reported missing when he did not report for work. Eljay Reinhardt was last seen Friday night wearing blue jeans, a red shirt and a tan cap. He's currently serving a 28-month sentence for a 2020 Sedgwick County conviction for drug possession. Reinhardt is 5 feet 11 inches tall, 225 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information on Reinhardt can call the Wichita Work Release Facility at (316) 265-5211, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at (800) 572-7463 or local law enforcement at 911. The Wichita Work Release Facility, a satellite unit of the Winfield Correctional Facility, is an all-male, minimum-custody state facility with a population of 79.


Fort Scott National Historic Site Plans Geophysical Survey

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — Fort Scott National Historic Site is conducting a geophysical survey to better understand how the fort looked in the 1840s. A four-person crew from the Nebraska-based Midwest Archeological Center plans to look into the ground using ground-penetrating radar and other technology to survey the area known as the Quartermaster’s Quadrangle. They will also survey for other features such as latrines, washhouses and other buildings. Fort Scott said in a news release that the survey work begins Monday and will continue through Aug. 13. The crew plans to return next spring to survey areas in the restored prairie.


Remains of Emporia Marine Killed During World War II Identified

EMPORIA, Kan. (KWCH) - The remains of a Kansas marine killed during World War II have been identified. KWCH TV reports that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) said 19-year-old Marine Corps Private First Class Glenn F. White, of Emporia, was accounted for on June 7, 2021. In November 1943, White was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated. White died on the third day of battle, November 22, 1943. He was reported to have been buried in Row D of the East Division Cemetery, later renamed Cemetery 33. In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation. However, almost half of the known casualties were never found. No recovered remains could be associated with White, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.” In 2009, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, discovered a burial site on Betio Island believed to be Cemetery 33, which has been the site of numerous excavations ever since. In March 2019, excavations west of Cemetery 33 revealed a previously undiscovered burial site that has since been identified as Row D. The remains recovered at this site were transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. 

To identify White’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis. White’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. White will be buried in his hometown. The date is yet to be determined.


3 Hospitalized, Including 2 Kansas City Police Officers, in Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A woman and two police officers were hospitalized after a highway crash Saturday in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star says the two on-duty officers were driving westbound on U.S. Highway 71 to an emergency call with their lights and sirens on just after 7 p.m. The other driver, a 28-year-old Kansas City woman, struck the police vehicle with a Toyota sedan in an intersection, according to an email from the Kansas City police department. All three were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


Kansas Court: Man Who Killed Woman Does Not Have to Register as a Sex Offender

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says a man who beat an Overland Park woman and then left her to die does not have to register as a sex offender. Korrey Raine White Rinke was sentenced in December 2019 to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years for the 2016 death of Julianna Pappas. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender. On Friday, the state Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling and said Rinke did not have to register as a sex offender. The court said prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Rinke kidnapped and killed Pappas for sexual gratification.


Third Former Kansas Jail Employee Arrested in Theft Probe

CONCORDIA, Kan. (KPR) - A third person has been arrested in connection with the theft of public money at the Cloud County Jail.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 33-year-old Nicholas Clanin, of Concordia, was arrested in Belleville and booked into the Republic County Jail facing possible charges of theft, misuse of public funds, official misconduct, and other charges. KBI agents say Clanin was a Cloud County jail lieutenant when the alleged crimes occurred. Agents also arrested the jail's former administrator, 40-year-old Amber Lindberg, of Concordia, in Minneapolis, Kansas, on Wednesday on suspicion of theft, misuse of public funds, official misconduct and several other counts. Lindberg’s mother, 62-year-old Joyce Jasper, of Concordia, was arrested on suspicion of theft. An arrest warrant has been issued for 22-year-old Alexandra Wilcox, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, a former corrections officer at the jail. She faces a possible misdemeanor theft charge. The KBI did not provide details about the alleged theft.  The Lincoln County Attorney has been appointed as special prosecutor for the case.


Wichita Teen Who Fatally Shot Mother Sentenced to Probation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old suburban Wichita boy who shot his mother to death has been sentenced to two years of probation. The teenager, who was never charged as an adult, shot 41-year-old Lisa Trimmell in June 2018 in Andover. He pleaded no contest last month to aggravated battery and criminal use of a weapon. KAKE-TV reports court documents indicate the boy, who was 14 at the time, shot his mother because she was attacking his younger brother. Attorney Dan Monnat said in a previous motion that Trimmell had a history of alcoholism and of abusing her sons.


Man Sentenced to Probation After Child Shoots 6-Year-Old

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old Lawrence man has been sentenced to a year of probation after a child in his home shot and critically injured a 6-year-old friend. Rashun Lewis was sentenced Friday after he previously pleaded no contest to aggravated endangering a child. Lewis was accused of allowing the 5-year-old to get ahold of a gun and shoot 6-year-old Tayshawn Mack Harris in August 2020. The boy was critically injured but survived. Judge Sally Pokorny on Friday said noted that Lewis had no criminal record before she agreed to the recommended sentence of a year of probation.


6 People Indicted in Kidnapping, Death of Man in Southwest Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have indicted six people in the kidnapping and death of a 41-year-old man whose body was found last year after a police standoff southwest of Joplin. The indictment alleges 48-year-old Freddie Tilton shot and beat Michael James Hall. The other five defendants are accused of helping Tilton. Hall's body was found in July 2020 after officers arrived to serve a search warrant at the property. Investigators say someone inside the house shot at officers, prompting a standoff before Tilton was arrested. No one was injured during the standoff. Hall's decomposed body was then found in woods near the home.


New Kansas Program Seeks to Reduce Violence Against Animals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas animal welfare group has created a new program to reduce animal violence in 23 Kansas counties. The project, Cruelty Stoppers, opens the door to care for abused animals that can be linked to domestic violence cases while trying to create better relationships between Topeka police and local shelters. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that it was developed by the Northeast Kansas Animal Welfare Foundation. Bill Acree, the foundation's new president and CEO, says the project was created because there wasn't adequate follow-up on cruelty cases. The Cruelty Stoppers program was modeled after Crime Stoppers on TV. Those who report animal cruelty cases that lead to a conviction are eligible for a reward.


Kansas School District Makes Changes After LGBTQ Comment

AMERICUS, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas school district says it will provide anti-discrimination training to its teachers and staff after a controversy over the treatment of a student who said she was a lesbian. North Lyon County officials said in a letter the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas that it will also make Title IX complaint procedures more transparent and publicly state the district's policies against discrimination. The ACLU had threatened to sue the district if it didn't provide the training. That came after an eighth-grade student was suspended from riding a school bus in January after saying, "I'm a lesbian."


2 Kansas Aircraft Companies Fined for Using Illegal Software

PARK CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say two Kansas companies must pay a total of nearly $150,000 in fines and restitution for using illegal software. The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that Lightning Aerospace in Newton and Fly Manufacturing in Park City used unlicensed versions of a design program often used in manufacturing and engineering. The companies had previously pleaded guilty to circumvention of protected copyrighted work. The companies used the unlicensed software to design and test parts for aircraft, which prosecutors said could have grave consequences for customers. The department said the companies defrauded a software company and gave themselves an unfair financial advantage over competitors.


Lawrence Library Lands Grant to Help Black, Indigenous and POC Pursue Library Careers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The Lawrence Public Library has received a grant worth nearly $100,000 to fund a pilot program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Northeast Kansas interested in pursuing careers in libraries. Earlier this year, library staffers submitted a grant proposal to The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund the program. Last week, the library got word that the project had been selected and awarded funding of $93,950. “Historically, library professionals have been overwhelmingly white. There are a lot of barriers to entering the profession, especially for marginalized folks,” said Brad Allen, the library’s Executive Director. “The goal of this program is to break down those barriers and help recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects and represents our community.” The program will pay for two BIPOC community members to obtain their Master’s in Library Science from Emporia State University. The program will run for two years and participants will be employed with paid internships at Lawrence Public Library for the duration. Students will visit partner sites so they can gain a variety of library experience, including KU Libraries, Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Northeast Kansas Library System. The library will announce details soon for how to apply. "I’m thrilled at the opportunities this program will bring to BIPOC members of our community,” said Frankie Haynes, the library’s Diversity and Equity Coordinator. “I hope that we can set an example for other libraries and show them that investing in diversity pays off.”


Historically Black Colleges and Universities Get Boost in Research Funding  

LANGSTON, Okla. (HPM) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing nearly $22 million in historically Black land grant institutions to support research. According to Harvest Public Media, administrators at those schools say the money could have a broader impact for minority communities. The USDA and Black farmers have had a rocky relationship over the years but the Biden administration says it’s working on improving that. Langston University in north-central Oklahoma recently received funding for four projects. Dr. Wesley Whittaker is dean of the School of Agriculture at Langston. He says historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have fewer resources than other land-grant universities and the federal funding makes them more competitive. “We can engage in a lot more research and also better-quality research,” Whittaker said. “Because of these funds, we can compete for better quality scientists to engage in research activities.” Whitaker said the USDA funding also helps the university engage more deeply with Black farmers by disseminating the results of agricultural research helping their operations become more profitable. The USDA is investing in 58 research projects at 19 HCBUs across the country. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the funding will help these colleges and universities address challenges that affect Black farmers and will build on land-grant Institutions’ capacity to come up with solutions for agricultural challenges.


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 and by 1 pm on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members.  Become one today!