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Headlines for Monday, August 22, 2022



Kansas Recount Confirms Results in Favor of Abortion Rights

OLATHE, Kan. (AP/KPR) - A decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights in traditionally conservative Kansas was confirmed with a partial hand recount, with fewer than 100 votes changing after the last county reported results Sunday. Nine of the state’s 105 counties recounted their votes at the request of Melissa Leavitt, who has pushed for tighter election laws. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Mark Gietzen, is covering most of the costs. Gietzen acknowledged in an interview that it was unlikely to change the outcome.

A No vote in the referendum signaled a desire to keep existing abortion protections and a yes vote was for allowing the Legislature to tighten restrictions or perhaps ban abortion. After the recounts, “No" votes lost 57 votes and the “Yes” side gained six votes.

Eight of the counties reported their results by the state’s Saturday deadline, but Sedgwick County delayed releasing its final count until Sunday because spokeswoman Nicole Gibbs said some of the ballots weren’t separated into the correct precincts during the initial recount and had to be resorted Saturday. She said the number of votes cast overall didn’t change. A larger than expected turnout of voters on August 2 rejected a ballot measure that would have removed protections for abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution and given to the Legislature the right to further restrict or possibly ban abortion. It failed by 18 percentage points, or 165,000 votes statewide.

**This story has been corrected by the Associated Press. A prior version erroneously reported that the vote count for the side opposing the amendment had changed by 87 votes. It changed by 57 votes.

(Additional reporting...)

Kansas Abortion Recount Fails to Change Outcome

TOPEKA, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Later today (MON), the Kansas Secretary of State is expected to certify the results of the nine county recount of the vote on the state abortion amendment. The recount will uphold the original outcome, where Kansans rejected an amendment to strip abortion rights from the state Constitution, by nearly 60% to 40%. In Johnson County, which had the most ballots to check, workers found only a small change in the vote but the “No” vote still won by a large margin. Fred Sherman, election commissioner for the county, said he’s proud the county met the deadline for the hand recount. “There's a lot of people that have been put in a lot of hours and emotion and anxiety into the whole thing, because it's been very emotional and physically stressful, particularly this hand recount situation," he said. The counties had only five days to complete the recount. Sedgwick County was the only one to postpone its results, saying they needed more time to count ballots.


Governor Visits New Children's Mental Health Center in Hays

HAYS, Kan. (HPPR/KNS) - A new children’s psychiatric hospital under construction in Hays will soon mean that parents in western Kansas have closer treatment options. Currently, parents have to drive their kids hours away to big cities. When the Hays hospital opens next January, it’ll be the state’s only facility west of Wichita that offers acute care for kids experiencing severe mental health episodes. Governor Laura Kelly, who worked as a therapist in a children’s psychiatric hospital years ago, toured the site during a recent trip to Hays. She says offering specialty care close to home will help keep more people in western Kansas. “It's really good to see this," Kelly said.  "This is incredibly important, not only to the kids who will get services here, but to this whole region economically.” Hospital officials say the new facility will allow the Kansas mental health system to serve roughly 600 more children each year than it does now.


Back to School with Panic Buttons: The Post-Uvalde Scramble

MISSION, Kan. (AP/KPR) _ It's back-to-school time across the country. Many schools are now installing panic buttons to summon help during a shooting, as they scramble to reassure worried parents in the wake of this spring's massacre in Uvalde, Texas. Panic buttons are mandated in multiple states. The mother of a Parkland, Florida, shooting victim promotes the buttons, arguing seconds matter when tragedy strikes. But some school safety experts raised concerns that schools are engaging in "security theater'' designed to reassure parents, while neglecting basic safeguards like ensuring staff lock doors.


Study: Eastern Kansas Will See Dangerously High Temps by 2053

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - A new study predicts that by the year 2053, six of the state's biggest cities will swelter through at least one day with a heat index of 125 degrees or more. According to the study, those cities - Topeka, Lawrence, Overland Park, Shawnee, Lenexa and Kansas City, Kansas, - are in an "extreme heat belt" where heat indices are expected to get that high.  The heat index measures how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The study, released this month, comes from the Brooklyn-based First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that studies climate risk. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that no record could be found of Topeka's heat index having ever reached 125 degrees or more.

The heat index hadn't yet been developed when Topeka saw its record high temperature of 114 degrees, set on July 24, 1936. According to NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the third-warmest July on record in the U.S. The new study concludes that as climate change worsens, millions of people will endure extreme temperatures more frequently and for longer periods of time. ( Read more.)


Beekeepers: Honeybee Colonies Continue to Decline

UNDATED (HPM) -Beekeepers across the country are looking at another year of honeybee colony loss, although not as bad as last year. Harvest Public Media reports the loss of honeybees could affect the crop industry. From April 2021 to April of this year, U.S. commercial beekeepers lost nearly 40% of their honeybee colonies. That’s according to an annual survey by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership. It comes on the heels of last year’s record-breaking loss of over 50% of hives. B-I-P’s science coordinator and researcher, Dr. Nathalie Steinhauer says the lower loss is still high. “It’s pretty much on par with what we've observed in the last 10 years," he said. "That doesn't mean it's okay. That doesn't mean it’s good.”  Steinhauer says it’s important for beekeepers to replace their bee losses, otherwise crops that rely on pollination could be affected.

Randall Cass is the bee specialist for Iowa State University’s Extension Office. He says prairie land that’s been plowed up for agricultural use poses a threat to bee survival. “Bees feed off of nectar and pollen from flowers," he said. "So poor forage would mean that there's just not enough flowers for them to collect from. And In here in Iowa, that's a major issue. We've definitely got poor forage availability, because so much of our land is put into agricultural production.” Cass adds that parasites, like the varroa mite, and exposure to pesticides used in fields are another two major factors that cause hive loss. According to the USDA, commercial honeybee colonies pollinate at least $15 billion worth of food crops each year.


Girls Taken from Kansas City Homicide Scene Found

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Kansas City police say two girls taken from a homicide scene Sunday afternoon were later located and are now safe. WDAF TV reports that officers located the 4-year-old and her 7-year-old sister about two hours after the Missouri Highway Patrol issued an AMBER alert about their disappearance. Police said the girls were found at a relative’s home. Investigators said the girls’ father, 27-year-old Jordan Owsley, left the crime scene with his daughters. Police found Owsley’s car, but he is not yet in custody. Investigators say Owsley took his two daughters from a homicide scene near East 89th Street and Troost Avenue around 4 pm Sunday afternoon. The identity of the victim has not been released. Kansas City police said they want to give the victim’s family time to notify loved ones.


Haysville Man Accused of PPP Loan Fraud Totaling More than $145,000

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — A Haysville man is accused of fraudulently obtaining Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling over $145,000. KSHB TV reports that 58-year-old Dale Warren is charged with four counts of bank fraud, two counts of money laundering and four counts of false statements. Court documents state Warren allegedly obtained the loans through two separate banks. He then tried to cover them up using a third bank. Warren, a chiropractor, is accused as the owner of Titan Medical Center LLC. PPP loans were meant to provide financial relief for small businesses struggling during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Haysville is located just south of Wichita in Sedgwick County.


Clear the Shelter: Pet Adoption Fees Waived August 27 at Lawrence Humane Society

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Lawrence Humane Society is preparing for its 8th annual Clear the Shelter Day. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that on August 27th, the shelter will waive adoption fees.  Clear the Shelter Day is part of a nationwide pet adoption campaign aimed at matching every animal in the shelter with a family by the end of the day. Typically, adoption fees at the Lawrence shelter are around $150 for adult dogs, $300 for puppies, $60 for adult cats and $125 for kittens; those fees will all be waived Saturday. In addition to waiving adoption fees, other services and products will also be provided for free.  The Lawrence Humane Society says every animal that is adopted Saturday will go home spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated and dewormed, and microchipped, along with a collar, leash, and starter bag of Hill’s Science Diet pet food. Clear the Shelter Day begins at 10 am and will end at 6 pm or earlier if all animals are adopted. For more information, visit lawrencehumane.org.


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.