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Headlines for Friday, August 19, 2022



Sports Betting in Kansas Set to Begin at State-Owned Casinos September 1

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) - State officials say sports fans should be able to place legal bets in Kansas beginning on September 1. Kansas Lottery executive director Stephen Durrell said in a video announcement Thursday that a "soft launch" will begin at noon September 1, with a full launch on September 8. A law passed this year by the Kansas Legislature allows betting in person or via mobile apps at the four, state-owned casinos in Kansas - in Dodge City, Mulvane, Pittsburg and Kansas City, Kansas. Governor Laura Kelly said tribal casinos in Kansas are working on contracts with the state to allow sports wagering at those businesses. ( Read more.)


Attorney General's Office Identifies Legal Issues with Sports Betting in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Legal sports betting is set to begin in Kansas in September.  But the Kansas Attorney General’s office says it has identified legal problems with the proposed regulations that allow sports gambling to begin September 1st. That news came just hours after the governor announced the start of legal sports betting. In a statement, the attorney general’s office said staff had identified problems with the regulations during a normal review. The statement says the review is being expedited, and suggestions for fixing the problems could come within days. It’s not clear if the legal problems will delay the start of gambling. The four state-operated casinos are planning to begin taking bets online and in person on September 1st. People must be 21 and within the state of Kansas to place bets. The state estimates legal betting will bring in up to $10 million of tax revenue a year. ( Read more.)


Kansas Counties that Underestimated Cost of Recount Will Pay the Difference

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KC Star) - Two Kansas counties have spent more money recounting the abortion amendment vote than expected. That means the local election office will foot the remainder of the bill. The Kansas City Star reportsthat Lyon and Johnson County underestimated the cost of recounting ballots by hand. Neither county said how much more it will cost. Lyon County originally projected a recount would cost $500 while Johnson County first estimated $75,000. In Douglas County, Clerk Jamie Shew says he is not sure if he will go over cost projections because his county never gave the secretary of state an estimate. “The only cost estimate that we gave them was for recounting the treasurer's race, which was only 10,000 ballots. And this was 47,000 ballots," he said. “For Douglas County, this is the largest primary we've ever had," Shew said. "And this number actually passes many of our general elections." The ballots recounted so far have confirmed the landslide rejection of the amendment. The recount must finish by Saturday.


Spielberg Among Donors in $22 Million Kansas Campaign on Abortion Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents and abortion rights advocates together spent more than $22 million on a ballot question this month in Kansas, and famed film director and producer Steven Spielberg contributed to the successful effort to affirm abortion rights. The campaign was over a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. Finance reports filed by 40 groups and individuals with the state showed that abortion rights supporters spent $11.3 million on their campaign to defeat the measure. Abortion opponents who pushed the measure spent nearly $11.1 million. Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw each contributed $25,000 to the no campaign.


Inflation Reduction Act Includes Money for Kansas Green Energy

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Clean power generation in Kansas could see a boost from nearly $11 billion of federal investment coming to the state by 2030. The Kansas News Service reports that the  investment comes from the Inflation Reduction Act that Democratic President Joe Biden signed into law this week. It includes money for clean energy and other efforts to combat climate change. Roughly 50% of the current power in Kansas is generated from clean energy like wind turbines, and the law could increase that. Kimberly Svaty is a lobbyist for clean energy in Kansas. She says the massive federal investment will help accelerate battery manufacturing for storing wind and solar energy. “Take what we generate and store it until it's needed will do so much to help the resiliency and reliability of our overall grid," she said. The federal spending bill also aims to lower prescription drug costs and increase corporate taxes to collect $300 billion in revenue.


Kansas Health Officials Fighting Monkeypox Amid Limited Vaccine Supply

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - Despite relatively low monkeypox case counts, Kansas officials have begun the fight to vaccinate against the disease, though supply remains limited. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that federal officials are trying to ratchet up vaccine availability just as cases continue to spread nationally. President Joe Biden's administration announced Thursday that an additional 1.8 million doses would soon be available, though it remains unclear how this might affect the allocation for Kansas. The state has only seen three confirmed cases of monkeypox, far fewer than most other states and the fewest cases in the region. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment notes the risk to residents remains low.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus. It spreads among people primarily through direct contact with infectious lesions, scabs, body fluids or by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.  Unlike COVID-19, the disease isn't new — though the 2022 outbreak is the first time cases have been widely reported outside of central and west Africa. And unlike COVID-19, a vaccination against monkeypox already exists. The vaccine can be administered to individuals believed to be at high-risk of monkeypox exposure, as well as to people who have already been infected.

Getting the vaccine out to states, however, has been a challenge. Officials in Wyandotte County have already started outreach to high-risk populations to get them vaccinated. The Shawnee County Health Department previously said they would also be in touch with those who could potentially get the shot. Because of limited supply, local health officials will generally contact those who are eligible for the shot, rather than the other way around. Higher risk populations include those known to have contact with an infected individual, men who have sex with men with multiple partners and those who attended events where potential exposure could have occurred. ( Read more.)


Former Kansas Police Officer Charged in Serial Sex Assaults Case

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A former Hutchinson police officer is suspected of committing a series of sexual assaults between 2012 to 2018 while he was working for the department. Fifty-one-year-old Todd Allen was charged Thursday with 24 counts, including 17 felonies. The charges include rape, kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The sexual assaults stopped in 2018, when Allen resigned from the department. Police Chief Jeff Hooper said Allen was identified as a suspect in the assaults after he was stopped recently for questioning after a series of "window peeping" calls. Hooper would not say if Allen was in uniform at the time of the alleged crimes.

(Additional reporting...)

Former Hutchinson Police Officer Charged in Connection with Series of Rapes

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (The Hutchinson News) - A former longtime Hutchinson Police officer has been arrested for allegedly taking part in a series of sexual assaults that occurred in Hutchinson between 2012 and 2018, while he was working for the department.  The Hutchinson News reports that the assaults ended when the city’s new police chief revealed to the public that a serial rapist was attacking women in Carey Park, and the suspect quit the department. Police arrested 51-year-old Todd W. Allen Wednesday on 17 felony counts and more than a half dozen misdemeanors, including five counts of rape or attempted rape, one count of indecent liberties and two counts of kidnapping.  Allen had served on the Hutchinson Police Department for more than 20 years when he resigned in 2018 after authorities disclosed a string of sexual assaults. ( Read more.)


Kansas Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Wichita Woman Convicted in Beheading

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a Wichita woman who was convicted of decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother in 2017. Forty-year-old Rachael Hilyard was convicted in 2020 of first-degree murder in the death of 63-year-old Micki Davis at a Wichita home. Hilyard admitted that she killed Davis but argued in her appeal that the killing was not premeditated and was based on insufficient evidence and ineffective counsel. She also argued she should not have been sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 50 years. The state Supreme Court on Friday rejected the appeal and upheld her conviction and sentence.


Eudora Woman Will Face New Trial in Day Care Death Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman accused in the death of a 9-month-old at a day care where she worked will face another trial, despite a Kansas Supreme Court decision to let a ruling reversing her conviction stand. The Douglas County District Attorney's Office said Friday it plans to retry Carrody Buchhorn in the 2016 death of Oliver Ortiz at a home day care in Eudora. The Supreme Court announced Friday that it would let an appeals court ruling reversing Buchhorn's conviction stand. The six justices who heard the case were equally divided on Buchhorn's appeal, which alleged she was convicted because of ineffective counsel in her first trial.


Wyandotte High School Places Students on Lockdown After Weapon Found on Campus; 1 in Custody 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (FOX 4 News) – Students at Wyandotte High School went into lockdown Friday after a weapon was found on campus. FOX 4 News in Kansas City reports that the weapon was confiscated and one person was taken into custody. The Kansas City, Kansas Public School District confirmed that no one was harmed in the incident. Students had just begun the school year on Monday.  


Former Missouri Church Elder Convicted in Wife's Killing

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former elder in a Kansas City, Missouri, church has been convicted of killing his wife in Kansas. A jury on Friday found Robert Lee Harris guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Tanisha Harris when the couple lived in Overland Park, Kansas. Police went to the couple's apartment on January 8, 2018, in response to a reported domestic disturbance. They returned when Harris reported his wife was missing. Her body was later found near Raymore, Missouri. Tanisha Harris was an associate pastor at Repairers Kansas City, a nondenominational church, when she was killed. Harris will be sentenced November 3.


Kansas City Police: Toddler Dies with Drugs in System

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a woman has been jailed after her 2-year-old son was found dead in a home strewn with apparent drugs and drug paraphernalia. The Jackson County prosecutor's office announced Thursday that 36-year-old Michaela Chism was charged with two felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police say Chism's son was found dead Wednesday inside the Kansas City home. Police say tests indicated the boy had amphetamines in his system. A probable cause document says Chism acknowledged that she consumed drugs, including methamphetamine and fentanyl, while living at the home. Police say a 3-year-old child found inside the home also tested positive for amphetamines.


Police: Two Men Fatally Shot Outside KCK Home Wednesday Evening

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) - Police say two men were killed in a shooting that unfolded outside of a Kansas City, Kansas, home Wednesday evening.  The Kansas City Star reports that officers were called around 5 pm to the 1500 block of Haskell Avenue on reports of a shooting. Both men were found dead when officers arrived. Police did not disclose any information regarding a suspect or suspects. The killings marked the city’s 26th and 27th homicides so far in 2022, according to data maintained by The Star. Last year, Kansas City, Kansas saw a total of 51 homicides. ( Read more.)


Kansas Deputy Injured by Buffalo Now Recovering at Home

ELLSWORTH COUNTY, Kan. (TCJ) — An Ellsworth County sheriff's deputy, who was tossed 10 to 12 feet into the air by a buffalo last week, is now recovering at home. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Sheriff Murray Marston shared further details about the incident which took place earlier this month.  The sheriff said a charging buffalo had to be put down after seriously injuring Deputy Jerry Slaight. The buffalo's owner, 56-year-old Scott Schroeder, of rural Bushton, was found dead the next morning, apparently having been gored by that same buffalo. Slaight responded after a caller reported that the buffalo was out on K-4 highway. ( Read more.)


Kansas State Senator Tyson Concedes GOP State Treasurer Race to Rep. Johnson

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - State Senator Caryn Tyson has conceded defeat to state Rep. Steven Johnson in the race for the Republican nomination for Kansas State Treasurer. WIBW TV reports that Tyson thanked her supporters for fighting hard for her campaign. “We ran a great, grassroots campaign based on facts,” Tyson said. “While our campaign is over, I will continue to work to protect our freedoms and to make Kansas a shining state in the Nation.” Tyson requested a recount in six counties as the margin remained tight throughout the vote canvassing process. By the time all 105 counties reported official results, Johnson held the edge by 475 votes.

Johnson posted to his social media account Tuesday night, claiming victory. “Now that the votes have been counted, we are working harder than ever to win in November,” he wrote. Johnson moves on to face current treasurer, Democrat Lynn Rogers, on the November ballot. Tyson will continue her service in the Kansas Senate. State Senate seats are not up for election this year.


KU Opens New Research and Office Building to Attract Tech Companies

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - University of Kansas officials say a $24 million research and office building will house nearly a dozen tech companies and eventually add more than 200 employees to KU's west campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that an opening ceremony for the recently completed building at KU Innovation Park attracted many of the state’s top leaders Wednesday.  “As I’ve dug into the numbers, I’ve seen the importance of this innovation campus,” Governor Laura Kelly told the crowd, which also included Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, and multiple leaders of the Kansas Legislature.

The new 66,000-square-foot building — the third phase of KU Innovation Park, which is on a portion of West Campus north and west of 23rd and Iowa streets — is known as a “graduation facility.” It's designed to take companies that are outgrowing their space in the business incubator building of KU Innovation Park and move them into larger space with more extensive laboratories.

Leaders of KU Innovation Park said 10 companies already have signed on to locate in the building, with one already in operation in the facility and others in the process of moving in and putting the finishing touches on laboratory space. An 11th company — an architectural and engineering firm — is in the final stages of completing a deal to move to the site. When that deal is done, the facility will be nearly fully leased.  KU Chancellor Doug Girod said the idea behind Innovation Park is to allow both students and faculty to interact with the private sector in ways that are beneficial to all involved. ( Read more.)


Governor Appoints Three Nominees to Kansas Board of Regents

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has picked three new nominees for the board that oversees the state’s public universities and community colleges. One pick for the Board of Regents is Blake Benson, the president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Kelly also nominated John Dicus, chairman and CEO of Capitol Federal Savings in Topeka. The governor's third pick is Diana Mendoza, who directs diversity programs and English for Speakers of Other Languages in the Dodge City school district. The nominees will go before the Kansas Senate for confirmation. They’ll replace Bill Feuerborn, Allan Schmidt and Mark Hutton — all former members of the Kansas Legislature. Their terms ended in June.


Kansas Gov: Wyandotte, Johnson Counties Will See Economic Benefit from Panasonic Plant

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Wyandotte Daily) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says the $4 billion Panasonic project to be built in De Soto should also benefit the rest of Johnson County, as well as Wyandotte County and the surrounding area. The governor said as much in an interview with the Wyandotte Daily newspaper. “It will have a huge ripple effect through Johnson County, Wyandotte County and beyond,” Kelly said. She’s also expecting it to benefit Lyon, Miami and Franklin counties, all within a driving distance. The new plant will make electric vehicle batteries.

The project will bring in 4,000 jobs, and following them will be other companies that make more capital investments, Kelly said. She is anticipating approximately another 4,000 jobs for the suppliers who will set up shop in and around northeast Kansas. The governor is currently making an economic development tour of the state, in a sort of victory lap, discussing the recent economic gains for the state. She is scheduled to make a stop in Kansas City, Kansas, Thursday.  Wyandotte County should expect to see people moving in, and will probably need more housing, with schools seeing an increase in enrollment, and businesses should have more customers as a result of the new Panasonic plant, she said.

Kelly said the $825 million in incentives that Kansas offered Panasonic will be worth it. And, she said, there are guardrails in place around the incentives, so the plant will not get any incentives until it produces, builds a facility and hires people. “Panasonic is a well-established, reputable company that doesn’t do anything second-rate,” she said. They won’t make an investment and decide to pull up roots shortly afterward, she said. When they make an investment, they’re in it for the long haul.  Every year Panasonic is up and running, they’ll see $2.5 billion in economic activity in the state of Kansas, Kelly said. ( Read more.)


Federal Inflation Reduction Act Has Implications for Farmers of Color

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (HPM) - . The Inflation Reduction Act has major implications for farmers of color who have been waiting for more than a year for debt relief promised to them in the American Rescue Plan Act. That act earmarked $4 billion in debt relief for quote, “socially disadvantaged” farmers. But the money got caught up in the court system after white farmers sued claiming discrimination. The Inflation Reduction Act cuts that money by $1 billion and opens it up to quote, “economically distressed” farmers, of any race.  John Boyd Jr. is the president of the National Black Farmers Association. He says he’s frustrated with the change. “When subsidies come down the pike and they’re signed into law, within days, the relief was in white farmers’ mailboxes and in their checking accounts. Why is it so different when there’s aid targeted to Black and other farmers of color?” The latest legislation includes another $2 billion for compensation for discrimination in federal farm programs.


Kansas Law Enforcement Steps Up Enforcement Efforts Against Drunk Driving

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Police departments across the state of Kansas are joining together as a part of a campaign called "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.”  Television station KSNW reports that the campaign is aimed at removing impaired drivers from roads. Authorities say one person is killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in the U.S.  The Kansas campaign hopes to lower the number of fatalities related to drunk-driving. The statewide campaign runs from August 20 through Labor Day, September 7.


K-State Eyes Top of Big 12 Football Standings Behind Bevy of Returning Starters

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — After a second eight-win season in three years, Kansas State appears poised to push Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas for the top of the Big 12 college football rankings this season. The Wildcats have All-America candidate Deuce Vaughn in the backfield, Felix Anudike-Uzomah at defensive end and talent all over the roster. Success could depend on whether Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez can succeed at quarterback. Kansas State opens the season against South Dakota, former Big 12 rival Missouri and Tulane.


Pick Six: Cowing, Grubbs, Logan Among Elite on Struggling Teams

UNDATED (AP) – Great players are spread around college football. You just don’t hear as much about some because they are on losing teams. Eight of the players on the 2021 Associated Press All-America first and second teams were on teams with losing records. Among the six AP preseason under-the-radar players last year, four became NFL draft picks. Here are six players going places in 2022, even if their teams aren’t: Arizona receiver Jacob Cowing, Louisiana Tech linebacker Tyler Grubbs, Kansas safety Kenny Logan Jr., Buffalo linebacker James Patterson, Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski and Syracuse running back Sean Tucker.


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.