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Headlines for Wednesday, August 24, 2022



Former KC Chief Len Dawson Dead at 87

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) — Legendary Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and sports broadcaster Len Dawson has died at the age of 87.  Dawson's death was reported by KMBC-TV Wednesday morning. In 1964, Dawson threw 30 touchdown passes, a Chiefs record until Patrick Mahomes shattered it with 50 in 2018. Dawson was the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl IV in 1970, when the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings. Dawson's accurate passing and on-field poise earned him the nickname “Lenny the Cool.” Dawson’s 19th and final season as a quarterback was in 1975 when he was 41. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. After his football career, he continued to win awards as a sports broadcaster at KMBC TV in Kansas City, on the radio, and on network television. Though born and raised in Ohio, a statement from his family said that no matter where Dawson’s travels took him he could not wait to return to Kansas City. Dawson had been moved to hospice on August 12. His family said in a statement that they are grateful to the staff at the University of Kansas Medical Center for their support.

(– AP Version–)

Hall of Fame Chiefs Quarterback Len Dawson Dies at 87

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, who helped the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title, died Wednesday. The MVP of the Chiefs’ victory over the Vikings in January 1970 had been in declining health for years. He entered hospice care on Aug. 12. “Lenny the Cool” went into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1987. He also was inducted as a broadcaster in 2012. Dawson spent several decades working on local TV and radio broadcasts while also doing color analysis for NBC and hosting HBO's iconic "Inside the NFL.” Len Dawson was 87.


First Case of Monkeypox Reported in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Douglas County. The county health department says the infected person was tested through KDHE’s laboratory. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the infected person and their close contacts have been treated with a vaccine shown to be effective against monkeypox. The health department says the vaccine is limited in supply and it’s important for residents to be aware of monkeypox symptoms and take steps to avoid exposure. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion, followed by the appearance of a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious lesions, scabs and bodily fluids. The virus can also spread through direct contact with materials that have touched bodily fluids or lesions, such as clothing or linens. Douglas County’s case is the third in the state of Kansas. Shawnee and Johnson counties have each reported one case of the disease.


Kansas Activist Sues for a Statewide Abortion Recount

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas anti-abortion activist is suing for a complete hand recount of an election in which voters soundly rejected a proposal to remove abortion rights from the state’s constitution. Mark Gietzen filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court after a nine-county hand recount that his supporters largely funded wrapped up over the weekend. Fewer than 100 votes changed out of more than 500,000 cast in those counties. The measure failed by about 165,000 votes statewide. Secretary of State Scott Schwab said the recount results should put to rest the unfounded claims of election fraud. Gietzen alleges without evidence that votes statewide might have been vulnerable to the same type of programming error that initially switched results in a county commission race.


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.

Kansas Abortion Recount Fails to Change Outcome

TOPEKA, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - The Kansas Secretary of State has certified the results of the nine county recount of the vote on the state abortion amendment. The recount upholds 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.


Kansas Abortion Vote Could Impact November Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The forces that led to the overwhelming defeat of a constitutional amendment on abortion restrictions could also affect the outcome of key races this November. University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller says the proposed amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade energized a block of Kansas voters who don’t normally turn out in primaries. If sustained, Miller says, that energy could bolster Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s chances against Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt.  He says it could also give incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids an edge over Republican Amanda Adkins in a Kansas City-area district. Miller says abortion rights could be a winning issue in Davids’ Kansas City-area district even though it’s been redrawn to make it more Republican. Davids is facing Adkins in a rematch of a 2020 race that Davids won by 10 points. (Read more)


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 children 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.


Kansas Announces Millions in Grant Money to Fight Opioid Crisis 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – The state of Kansas is making millions of dollars in grant money available to help fight the opioid crisis. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced Tuesday that rural first responders can tap into about $3.2 million in grants to fund measures designed to help control opioid abuse and its aftermath. WIBW reports that Kelly said the grants will fund training for carrying and administering approved medications for emergency treatment of opioid overdoses. The grants will be administered by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and will be open to applicants from rural first responder agencies and other state, tribal, and local organizations. First responder agencies can find more information and application details at the KDADS website

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.


Mental Health Treatment at a Premium in Central, Southern Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas needs more mental health beds, specifically in Central and Southern Kansas. During a meeting at the state Capitol Tuesday, hospital staff told lawmakers that workers are stretched thin, and overcrowding is making it harder to do their jobs.  Officials from Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital in Wichita told lawmakers that the hospital is running at about 95% capacity. Once a bed opens, staff have little time to clean the room before the next patient comes in. The wait is so bad some people needing mental health care have to wait in the hallways. The hospital administrators urged lawmakers allocate funding to pay for building additional mental health facilities to expand capacity. They also recommended new tuition discounts and student loan forgiveness to attract students to work in new facilities.


Missouri Woman Charged with Stealing from Dependent Person

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A woman from the Kansas City, Missouri suburbs has been charged in Douglas County with allegedly taking more than $100,000 from a dependent person in Douglas County. The Lawrence Journal World reports that 58-year-old Marcia Jane Hamm, of Raytown, Missouri, is charged with one count of mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person. The charge is a level-four felony that could result in a minimum of three years in prison. The document from the court was not clear about the connection between the alleged victim and the defendant, but they share the same last name. Investigators charge that Hamm took property or money that equaled more than $100,000 between February of 2021 and June of 2021. Hamm was booked into the Douglas County Jail on Friday and has been released on a $20,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court again on August 30th.


Denver Hospitality Company Buys Lawrence's Oread Hotel

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Oread Hotel, adjacent to the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, has been sold to a Denver-based hotel company and will become a Hilton property. The Lawrence Journal World reports that Mission Hill Hospitality says it will change the facility’s name to the Oread Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Mission Hill has been buying up a number of properties across the country since its founding last year, acquiring 24 hotels in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, California, North Carolina and Massachusetts. The Oread is the company’s first property in the Midwest. The Oread currently has 99 rooms but the new owners say they plan to expand that number to 102. Mission Hill also says it will also be making improvements to the hotel’s restaurant, bar, and other public facilities.


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.)


Western Kansas Drought is Severe but Not Historical Worst

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KNS) - 2022 is shaping up to be a historically severe year for dry, hot weather in Kansas. But, it still falls far short of the worst droughts in the state’s history. Roughly one-third of Kansas is now in extreme or exceptional drought. In Dodge City, this year ranks as the 4th hottest and 16th driest on record going back to the 1870s. But Jeff Hutton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City, says 2022 still won’t come close to becoming the driest, hottest year in recorded history.  Hutton says 2012, 1980 and 1936, still stand up as the driest and hottest years for most parts of Kansas. Hutton expects the state to get enough precipitation this fall to keep 2022 from breaking those records.


Suburban Kansas City Officers Shoot and Kill Suspect

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a suburban Kansas City man died after being shot by officers who were trying to arrest him. The man was identified as 28-year-old Michael Saunders, of Blue Springs. He was shot Tuesday afternoon as Blue Springs police and Cass County Sheriff's deputies were trying to arrest him and another person. Blue Springs Police Chief Bob Muenz said Saunders was running from a parking lot when he fired at officers, and two officers returned fire. No officers were injured. Saunders died at the scene. Muenz said Saunders had fired at a Cass County deputy a few days before the shooting.


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.


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.


Chiefs Face Brutal Schedule Amid Changes on Offense, Defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have a revamped wide receiver group and rebuilt defense but the same expectations of winning the AFC West and reaching the Super Bowl. They fell just short a year ago, when they blew a big halftime lead in the AFC title game against Cincinnati. They'll have to try to get back there without Tyreek Hill, whom they traded to the Dolphins for a package of draft picks. He's been replaced by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Skyy Moore as the primary options for Patrick Mahomes in the passing game. The Chiefs have one of the toughest schedule in the NFL this season, with 10 of their 14 opponents coming off winning records a year ago.


Royals Pitcher Amir Garrett's Suspension Reduced to 2 Games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Per an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association, Kansas City Royals pitcher Amir Garrett's three-game suspension for throwing a drink on a fan has been reduced to two games. He began serving the suspension Tuesday night against Arizona and will complete it Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. Garrett also received an undisclosed fine. Garrett will return to action for the Royals Friday against the San Diego Padres. Following the incident, Garrett apologized on Twitter, saying he realized his actions “were uncalled for” and players are held to a higher standard. Garrett is 3-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 44 games.


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.