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Headlines for Tuesday, August 30, 2022



Kansas Psychiatric Hospital Patient, Employee Charged

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (WDAF) — A patient and an employee at Osawatomie State Hospital are suspected of having a sexual relationship, and face charges after leaving the psychiatric facility together. WDAF TV reports that officers booked 18-year-old Salvador Reyes III into jail.  He was charged Monday afternoon with conspiracy to commit aggravated escape, aggravated escape from custody, and interfering with law enforcement. Officials say 20-year-old Jamey Anderson, who worked at the hospital, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated escape, aiding in escape, unlawful sexual relations, and obstructing apprehension or prosecution.

The hospital notified the Osawatomie Police Department that Reyes and Anderson were missing around 5:30 Monday morning. The Miami County Sheriff’s Office said video showed Anderson and Reyes leaving the hospital in her Toyota Rav 4. Investigators found the SUV about five hours later near Hillsdale Lake and determined it ran out of gas. Investigators said the pair then tried to walk away. After several reported sightings from the public, officers located Reyes and Anderson in a tree line east of the dam.


K-State Entomology Students Win $25,000 for "Best Idea to Feed the World"

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KPR) – A team of entomology students at Kansas State University have captured a $25,000 prize in a contest aimed at tackling one of the world’s most pressing issues: food security. The students proposed an idea that insects could use plastic as a food source, ultimately helping mankind with such challenges as managing the world’s food supply and recycling waste.  Hannah Quellhorst, a K-State doctoral student from Lebanon, Indiana, said insects can be beneficial and they can be pests. "We sought to find a way that insects could help us solve the issue of food insecurity, food waste and plastic contamination in the environment," she said.  A team of nine K-State students and entomology department head Brian McCornack initiated the idea based on an innovation challenge sponsored by Wilbur-Ellis, one of the world’s largest family-owned agribusinesses, as part of that company’s 100-year anniversary.

K-State team member Mollie Toth, a graduate student from Blue Springs, Missouri, kick-started the idea by suggesting that insects can use non-traditional food sources for energy, such as plastics. So, the team went to work: By engineering or selecting bacteria that can degrade plastic and live symbiotically within an insect’s gut, insects could use plastic as a food source. “Food waste – ranging from agricultural production to restaurants – would then be supplemented with plastic waste, and these diverse waste streams become food for insects,” Toth said. “The resulting insects can then be fed to livestock – chickens, cows, fish and more – and insect manure is an excellent source of nutrients for crops.”
In early August, the team’s vision paid dividends when Wilbur-Ellis selected it as the first-ever grand prize winner of its innovation award, termed the Best Idea to Feed the World. The recognition comes with a $25,000 prize. “What’s great about our idea is that we envision it to be scalable from large factories that service metropolitan areas down to the backyard compost where consumers can begin degrading plastics alongside their banana peels,” said team captain Cameron Osborne, a doctoral student from Fresno, California.

A team of K-State students in the Department of Grain Science and Industry won 1 of 4 honorable mention prizes - and a $5,000 award - in the same contest. Their project suggested using ocean agriculture (growing crops and seafood in a large body of water in a fixed location) to reduce the amount of land required for traditional agriculture. 


Corn in Kansas, Texas and North Carolina Rated as Worst in Nation this Growing Season

UNDATED (Successful Farming) - Corn farmers in Kansas, Texas and North Carolina have been challenged by drought and more this year. Between the three states, 313 counties have USDA disaster designations. Successful Farming magazine reports that the corn condition in these three states is rated as the worst in the U.S. at this point in the 2022 growing season. In Kansas, 44% of the corn crop is rated in poor to very poor condition. USDA says only 26% of the corn crop is rated in good to excellent condition. Of the state's 105 counties, 68 have USDA disaster designations, mostly because of drought. In mid-August, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated about 87% of the state was affected by drought conditions ranging from abnormally dry to extreme and exceptional. Corn harvest is now underway in Kansas.


Kansas Farmers Struggle with Lack of Rainfall
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Much-needed rain remains elusive as expanded drought conditions continue in Kansas. Wichita is seeing one of the driest summers on record with many area farm fields left parched and scorched. KWCH TV reports that so far this summer, the recorded rainfall in Wichita is 5.41 inches, down from the average of more than 13 inches between the months of June, July and August. Spun up dirt serves as a reminder of how little moisture it’s received this summer.


25 Kansas Districts and About 140 in Missouri Have 4-Day School Weeks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - More public school districts in Kansas and Missouri are now holding classes for only four days a week, a number that has increased in recent years. The Kansas City Star reports that the reasons are varied, ranging from budget constraints to a desire to attract and retain teachers. A total of 25 school districts in Kansas are now operating on a four-day week schedule, representing 56 individual public schools. The total enrollment in these schools is around 4,746 students.  Ann Bush, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Education, said they don’t have specific data on how long Kansas districts have been using a four-day week. “However," she said, "some have been using a four-day week for as many as 20 years, while others are more recent."  An estimated 141 districts in Missouri now operate on this reduced schedule. 2010 was the first year a Missouri district switched to four-day weeks, and the numbers have increased significantly in the past few years. The number for Missouri is an estimate from researchers at the Missouri State University College of Education.


Lawrence Humane Society Adopts Out 159 Animals During "Clear the Shelter Day"

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Lawrence Humane Society adopted out 159 animals during its Clear the Shelter Day on Saturday.  The annual event offers pets to the public in which all adoption fees are waived. The Lawrence Journal-World reports this was the eighth year for the nationwide event. Elina Alterman, the Lawrence Humane Society’s director of communications, says it was the second most successful Clear the Shelter Day ever, with more dogs than cats adopted out, including some dogs who had been at the shelter for a long time.


Governor Announces Grants to Help First Responders Fight Opioid Abuse in Rural Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Governor Laura Kelly has announced over $3 million in grants to help first responders fight opioid abuse in rural Kansas. But the Kansas News Service reports, some rural parts of the state are excluded.  The grants will fund training so more people know how to use medication that reverses opioid overdoses. But two of the state’s emergency medical service regions -- the ones including Wichita and the Kansas City area -- are not eligible, even though they do contain some rural areas.  Dave Johnston is the EMS chief for Reno County, one of the excluded areas. He says opioid abuse is a big problem and treatment options are limited. “It's really affected my county tremendously. I think we've had, over the past couple of years, over 40 plus fatalities," he said.  “15 of our 19 (EMS locations) are either in counties that are considered rural or frontier. And they’re being disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis also," he said. Johnston is asking the state to expand eligibility for the grants, but so far, that hasn’t happened. The deadline to apply for the grants is September 15.


Kansas Mental Health Hospitals So Overcrowded Patients Wait in Hallways

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) — Patients facing mental health crises are waiting in a Wichita hospital hallway because psychiatric wards are full. The Kansas News Service reports that inmates in the Sedgwick County Jail wait up to a year to get transferred to the Larned State Hospital simply for evaluations. And hospital workers get choked, kicked or yelled at by people who can’t get intensive mental health care. Hospital administrators told lawmakers at a recent hearing that a lack of mental health services and overcrowding puts both patients and health care workers in danger at hospitals in south and central Kansas. “The money we’ve spent and the space we have created has been grossly overwhelmed in recent years with the need,” said Robyn Chadwick, president of the Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital in Wichita. “We do need help.” Chadwick urged lawmakers to expand the capacity of mental health beds in Kansas. She spoke to the Special Committee on Mental Health Beds and said her hospital is stretched thin.

New hospitals are on the horizon. Governor Laura Kelly recently toured the soon-to-be-completed youth facility in Hays. Once it’s completed in January, it will be the state's only facility west of Wichita to offer acute care for kids with severe mental health needs.  Kelly was also in Wichita recently to push for a 50-bed facility in Sedgwick County. Sedgwick County has tried to build a mental health hospital since 2018, but nothing has materialized. The state has allocated $15 million for the hospital and Kelly wants to see another $25 million in COVID relief funds sent toward the project. Sedgwick County applied for $40 million in federal economic stimulus money for construction. “It’s essential,” Kelly said, “It’s overdue, and we don’t have time to wait.”

State officials said the Larned State Hospital could take in more people, but the hospital lacks the staff to expand its capacity.  Kelly recommended lawmakers create tuition forgiveness programs or offer in-state tuition to out-of-state health students. ( Read more.)  


Federal Appeals Court Narrows Hold on COVID Vaccine Mandate for Contractors

UNDATED (AP) – A federal appeals court has lifted a nationwide injunction against President Joe Biden's requirement for federal contractors to be vaccinated for COVID-19. But the ruling leaves an injunction in place for states that have sued and for more than 1 million construction workers across the country. The mixed ruling from a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta means that the vaccination requirement remains blocked for federal contracts involving about half the states but could be enforced in the other half. Biden's Office of Management and Budget says federal attorneys are reviewing the ruling and that no immediate steps have been taken to implement it.


Two Hospitalized as Kansas City Police Investigate Triple Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A triple shooting early Sunday morning has left at least two people in critical condition.  KCTV reports that the shooting took place at the Peppermill Lounge South in Kansas City, Missouri. Police say they were responding to a report of a noise disturbance at 2:30 am Sunday when they began to hear several sounds of gun shots and observed a large crowd. Once they made their way to the gunfire, they observed one victim in the street with a gunshot wound. Officers assisted the victim who was transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. While at the scene, a gunshot victim was located by police in a vehicle nearby. That victim was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. A third victim was dropped off at a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.


Monkeypox on the Rise in Kansas City Area

ATCHISON, Kan. (Atchison Globe) - Monkeypox case numbers have grown to five in the Kansas City area. The Atchison Globe reports that three of the Kansas City area cases are in Johnson County, Kansas. All local cases originated outside the area. Monkeypox causes fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash. People who develop symptoms should be isolated. The disease is contagious and isolation is best until the symptoms have gone away completely. There is no cure for monkeypox but the vaccines for smallpox are used to prevent the illness. Monkeypox can be spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.


Kansas City Man Dies in Boating Accident at Lake of the Ozarks

LAKE of the OZARKS, Mo. (KC Star) - A Kansas City man died over the weekend in a boating accident at Lake of the Ozarks. The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Daniel Cortez was killed after the boat he was on ejected him and then struck him. Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers responded around 4:30 pm Saturday to the incident.  Authorities say a 2019 Sylvan Pontoon hit a wake and overturned, ejecting Cortez, one of the boat’s passengers. The boat then struck him. Cortez was pronounced dead at the scene.


Wanted Missouri Fugitive Captured in Kansas

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Kan. (KOAM) – A Missouri Fugitive has been arrested after a police pursuit in Kansas. KOAM TV reports that Cherokee County sheriff's deputies were searching an area for the fugitive, 39-year-old Larry Flowers, on Saturday. Just after noon, a deputy spotted Flowers driving a white Ford truck north of Riverton.  Flowers fled when the deputy attempted to stop him.  Another sheriff’s deputy successfully deployed a tire deflation device east of Columbus.  Flowers however, continued to flee, eventually going into Crawford County. As the pursuit came to an end, he rammed a Crawford County patrol unit before veering off the roadway. Flowers was taken into custody and deputies located and seized methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle. Flowers was transported to the Cherokee County Jail on 14 outstanding warrants for his arrest, including felony aggravated crimes in Missouri.  Flowers now faces additional charges in Cherokee and Crawford Counties in Kansas.


Suspicious Death Investigation Underway in Butler County

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Butler County Sheriff’s Office says a body was found in a home near the town of Gordon Saturday morning. Sergeant Robert Albert says they’re investigating the death as suspicious and waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause of death. KWCH TV reports that neighbors in the area say they’re stunned something like this happened in their small town. The Butler County Sheriff’s Department says more information about the incident is expected to be released soon.


Family and Friends Mourn Loss of Teacher, Father of 10 Killed in Kansas City Hit-and-Run

KANSAS CITY, Mo (KSHB) — A community of people are grieving the loss of their father, husband, friend, teacher and faith leader. KSHB TV reports that Charlie Criniere was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Saturday while out riding his bike.  The Criniere’s had 10 kids. He taught middle school math at Martin City K8. Police are still searching for the person responsible for Criniere’s death. As of Monday, a GoFundMe page for Criniere’s wife and kids had already raised more than $111,000 of its $150,000 goal.


Kansas High Court Orders New DUI Trial for Man Found Drunk in Parked Car

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a Kansas man who was found in a parked car yet convicted of drunk driving. The state's highest court agrees that the jury didn’t receive clear instructions that a person has to be driving in order to be convicted of drunk driving. So, the eastern Kansas man will get a new trial. The court case dates back to 2018, when a deputy found the man in his parked car at 3 am, acting drunk. There was beer in his car. A deputy testified at trial that the man’s headlights and radio were on, so he was operating his car while drunk. But the defense argued that’s not the same as driving - and that the man may have gotten drunk after pulling over.  In November 2018, the man left a restaurant at 10 pm in eastern Kansas. On his way home, he pulled over and slept. A deputy later found him sleeping in his car, but it’s not clear if the man got drunk before or after he pulled over.


Sunderland Foundation Grants $2 Million to LMH Health Foundation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas City-based Sunderland Foundation has granted $2 million to LMH Health Foundation in support of the Lawrence hospital's initiative to expand and update its cancer center. The LMH Health Foundation previously announced its intent to seek philanthropic support to update the cancer center’s space and expand its square footage. Previously, the Sunderland Foundation provided a $2 million gift to LMH Health to support the hospital's West Campus expansion, and a number of other important projects. More than $6.1 million in philanthropic support has been given or pledged to date toward the hospital's cancer center initiative. The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of the Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years.


Haskell Indian Art Market Returns for First Time Since 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The Haskell Indian Art Market is set to return for the first time since 2019. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the popular market, which sells Native American arts and crafts, is back this year after a pandemic hiatus. The market will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Haskell Pow Wow Grounds. Steff Fernando, the Haskell Indian Art Market coordinator, told the Journal-World that the event helps student organizations earn money. The market plays host to vendors selling jewelry, paintings, pottery, sculptures, beaded items, food and more. The market also traditionally includes powwow-style dance performances on both days, and those performances will return this year. The market is open from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and from 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. Admission and parking are free.


Kansas Unemployment Rate Holds Steady in July at 2.4%

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) - The unemployment rate in Kansas remained at 2.4% in July with growth of 4,000 private-sector jobs and a decline of 500 in the government workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Kansas Department of Labor said a pair of monthly surveys — one of employers and the other of households — indicated the state's jobless rate stood at 2.4% in July and June.  The Kansas Reflector reports that Emilie Doerksen, a state labor department economist, said the Kansas manufacturing industry expanded by 1,500 jobs. The growth also reflected 1,000 hires in the trade, transportation and utility sector. Since July 2021, nonfarm employment has risen by 13,500 in Kansas.


KU Football Suspends WR Trevor Wilson Indefinitely After Arrest

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas football team has suspended starting wide receiver Trevor Wilson indefinitely and backup Tanaka Scott for the season-opener against Tennessee Tech. The two were arrested last week near campus. Wilson was charged with suspicion of aggravated assault and use of a deadly weapon. Police say a man had flashed a gun at another car before leaving the scene. The same charges against Tanaka were dismissed last week for lack of probable cause.


Chiefs Get Younger with 9 of 10 Draft Picks Making Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs succeeded in getting younger around quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of their veteran core through this year's draft. They had 10 selections and all but one of them made the initial 53-man roster Tuesday. The lone player to be cut was cornerback Nazeeh Johnson, who is a candidate for the practice squad. That means along with a pair of first- and second-rounders, the Chiefs also kept a pair of seventh-round picks in running back Isiah Pacheco and cornerback Jaylen Watson. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was among the veterans that were released.


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.