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Headlines for Friday, September 2, 2022



WSU Awarded $51 Million to Advance Smart Manufacturing

WICHITA, Kan. (KPR) - Wichita State University has been awarded more than $51 million to aid in the development of emerging smart manufacturing technologies.  The money comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Officials say the funding will bring together world-class expertise from academic institutions, industry players and the public sector to strengthen the southern Kansas regional economy. ( Read more.)


Woman’s Trial for 2 Kansas Deaths Ends with Hung Jury in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A jury in Kansas could not reach a verdict in the case of a woman accused of killing her ex-husband and his girlfriend. After deliberations spread over six days, a Shawnee County jury told a judge on Thursday that it was unable to determine if Dana Chandler shot and killed 47-year-old Mike Sisco and 53-year-old Karen Harkness in Topeka in 2002. Prosecutors argued that Chandler was upset by her divorce from Sisco and his relationship with Harkness. Defense attorneys said law enforcement missed chances to investigate suspects other than Chandler, who always claimed she was in Colorado when the killings occurred. Chandler was convicted in 2012 but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 2018.


Recount Confirms Outcome of Statewide Abortion Vote in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The defeat of a ballot measure that could have stripped abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution has been officially certified. Anti-abortion activist paid to recount their blowout loss. They cited unfounded theories of fraud. The Kansas News Service reports that the recount barely changed vote totals. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab did say the recount proved the vote tally was sound. He said the people questioning the outcome were fooled by lies. "A man put it on his credit card, he was so deceived, he put $118,000 of unsecured debt that he has to pay," he said. Over 940,000 people voted. That smashed the previous high for a primary by over 400,000 votes.


Kansas GOP Governor Candidate Says He Respects Vote on Abortion

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the Republican candidate for governor, says if he is elected he will concentrate on defending current abortion laws in the state. Schmidt said Thursday during a campaign stop in Overland Park that he would respect the wishes of voters who on August 2 overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have removed abortion rights from the state constitution. Schmidt, who is seeking to oust Democratic Governor Laura Kelly, said in the same campaign appearance that if he becomes governor, he would ask state lawmakers to quickly pass a bill banning transgender athletes from competing in women and girl's sports.

GOP Candidates Soften Tone on Abortion for Midterm Election

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Anti-abortion Republicans running in competitive House, Senate and governor’s races in key battleground states are trying to distance themselves from their past statements and positions. This is in light of reignited enthusiasm among abortion rights supporters since the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. v. Wade. In newspaper op-eds, during interviews and on their campaign websites, Republican challengers who expressed support for banning most or all abortions are downplaying those positions at a time when abortion rights have vaulted into the top tier of midterm campaign concerns and complicated Republicans’ focus on the economy heading into the November midterm elections.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — In a story published Sept. 1, 2022, The Associated Press reported that an Aug. 25 op-ed by Kansas Republican House candidate Amanda Adkins on her opposition to a federal ban on abortion came after months of silence from her following the May 3 leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion signaling Roe v. Wade was in jeopardy. The story should have made clear that Adkins’ spokesperson had been quoted in a July 4 story saying Adkins opposed the ban.


New COVID-19 Vaccines Expected in Kansas this Month

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - Thousands of new COVID-19 vaccine doses to protect people from Omicron variants are expected to come to Kansas later this month. A CDC advisory committee signed off on the shots Thursday but are still pending final approval.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says nearly 75,000 doses of the reformulated shots are expected to come to Kansas.  The new doses target Omicron subvariants that are currently the dominant strains of the virus. The shots will be available to people who received an initial vaccine or a booster shot at least two months earlier. The new Pfizer shot is for people 12 years or older and the new Moderna shot for those 18 or older.


Kansas COVID Deaths Surpass 9,000

GREAT BEND, Kan. (Great Bend Tribune) - While most Kansas counties continue to post a “high” weekly rate for new cases of COVID-19, some have dropped below that threshold of 100 or more cases per 100,000 people. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released its weekly COVID update Wednesday. Statewide, as of Wednesday morning, there were 5,748 new cases and 61 new COVID-related deaths reported since August 24. The Great Bend Tribune reports that brought the total number of deaths over the course of the pandemic to 9,019. KDHE noted that the large increase in deaths was due to the records reconciliation process and did not necessarily reflect a recent increase in deaths.


South-Central Kansas Winery Closing

WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNW) — A winery near Winfield has announced that it is closing its doors to the public at the end of the year. Wheat State Wine Company has been in business for 10 years. KSNW TV reports that owner Chris Tyler did not say the closing has anything to do with business or the pandemic. Instead, he wants to try something new. Wheat State Wine Company planted its first vines in 2008 on Tyler’s family farm southeast of Winfield. It started making wine in 2011. The winery will close its doors to the public December 31.


Kansas History Museum in Topeka Undergoes Renovation

TOPEKA. Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka begins its first major renovation in its nearly four-decade history this week. The Kansas News Service reports that the renovation will give museum staff time to dismantle and document the hundreds of artifacts in the museum collection. The workers will also redesign the exhibits to make them more interactive. And to tell a fuller story of the people who call Kansas home. Acting executive director Patrick Zollner says the work is expected to take about a year and a half. "It's been over 38 years. So, what we would like to do is better tell the stories of Kansas history utilizing current technology," he said. Video and photo updates of the renovation will be posted on the Kansas Historical Society’s social media accounts throughout the process.


Sports Betting Now Legal in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Sports betting is now legal in Kansas and sports fans are being swamped with sports book advice. The Kansas News Service reports that experts are urging bettors to have realistic expectations.  Sean Green hosts the Sports Gambling Podcast out of Los Angeles. He says many betting apps are offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives to attract people. He suggests people get familiar with tools that let you set betting limits. And never pay for betting recommendations. "There’s a lot of people out there trying to take advantage, I think, of novices or people who are just, ‘Tell me who to bet on, tell me who to bet on'," he said. Kansas lawmakers legalized sports betting this spring. People will be able to gamble on sports in the state’s casinos and online through casino apps. Thursday's soft launch of sports betting in Kansas will be followed by an official launch on September 8.


Inmate Who Walked Away from Lansing Correctional Facility Back in Custody

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - An inmate who walked away from the minimum security unit at Lansing Correctional Facility is back in custody.  Police in Kansas City, Kansas, apprehended Michael Shane Stroede Thursday morning. Stroede had been placed on escape status after he walked away the Lansing facility on August 30. No other details have been released.


Kansas School District Settles Lawsuit over Student Pronouns, Pays Former Teacher $95,000

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas school district has settled a lawsuit filed by a teacher who was suspended because she refused to use a student's preferred pronouns. Former Fort Riley Middle School math teacher Pamela Ricard sued the Geary County School District in March after she was suspended for three days in the spring of 2021. She said the district refused her request for a religious exemption from its policy on preferred pronouns. She also said she was told not to tell a student's parents about their child's identity preference if that's what the child wanted. Under the settlement announced Wednesday, the district agreed to pay $95,000 to Ricard, who has retired from the district. Ricard is now teaching in Oklahoma.


Solar Flares Could Disrupt GPS Systems Used by Kansas Farmers

HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas farmers battered by drought now have more weather to worry about... in outer space. The Kansas News Service reports that solar flares could disrupt the GPS equipment farmers rely on. GPS powers a lot of the technology that runs Kansas farms these days. More than two-thirds of grain farms use satellite guidance to steer their planters and harvesters in the most precise, efficient way possible. But that tech can be disrupted by space weather — specifically solar flares, which are expected to increase in intensity over the next several years. Terry Griffin, an agricultural economist with Kansas State University, says even just two days of disrupted GPS during a critical time could really add up for Midwestern farmers. “It could be easily a billion dollar loss of efficiency," he said.  Griffin says farmers should prepare by coming up with backup plans to keep their farms going without GPS. ( Read more.)


Kansas Plans to Plug Thousands of Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas will plug thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells over the next several years. The Kansas News Service reports that the federal government is spending billions of dollars to deal with abandoned wells that can leak the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere and pollute groundwater. Kansas gets $25 million to start, but could ultimately get more than double that amount. If so, state officials hope to plug about half of the estimated 11,000 abandoned wells in the state.  Farmers and other landowners continue to find abandoned wells scattered across Kansas. Oil and gas drilling in this region began in the mid-1800s. Often the state doesn’t have any records of where old wells are located.


Western Kansas Grocery Store Seized over Unpaid Taxes

LACROSSE, Kan. (KSNW) — The only grocery store for many miles in Rush County has been seized over unpaid taxes. The Kansas Department of Revenue says the agency, along with the Rush County Sheriff, has seized the Rush County Grocery Store in LaCrosse, along with the assets of owners Henry J Montiel and Jennifer L Montiel. According to the Department of Revenue, the business owners have unpaid sales tax totaling more than $67,000. KSNW TV reports that the seized assets will be sold at auction to cover the delinquent taxes. The Department of Revenue says they work with delinquent taxpayers to enter repayment agreements, and it’s only after those options fail that businesses and assets are seized.


K-State Offers Free Training Videos to New Teachers

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Kansas State University is now offering free training videos to the growing number of substitutes and other new teachers. The Kansas News Service reports that teacher shortages mean more substitutes will be leading classrooms this fall. “Teaching 101” is a new series on YouTube produced by K-State's College of Education. In 10 short videos, K-State alumni and some Kansas Teachers of the Year offer advice on topics like managing a classroom and creating lesson plans. The goal is to provide practical tips for people who are leading classrooms but don’t have a degree in education. The videos, which also promote K-State’s online degree programs in education, were produced in response to a statewide teacher shortage.  They are available on the K-State College of Education YouTube channel.


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.


KU Rewards Leipold with Extension Through 2027 Season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas added an additional year to football coach Lance Leipold’s contract that will keep him on the sideline through the 2027 season, a reward for a two-win first year that raised hopes for a long-awaited turnaround. Leipold was hired last year, shortly after the Jayhawks parted with Les Miles following a winless season and amid sexual harassment allegations from his time at LSU. And despite never having an opportunity to put together a full recruiting class or working with his team in spring football, Leipold’s progress was evident in a late-season upset of Texas. The Jayhawks open their season against Tennessee Tech at 7 pm today (FRI).


K-State Opens Against South Dakota with Big Expectations

UNDATED (AP) – Kansas State University begins a season of high expectations against South Dakota on Saturday before facing Missouri next week in a showdown against an ex-Big 12 rival. South Dakota took the Wildcats to the wire in their last meeting in 2018. Kansas State will lean on Nebraska transfer quarterback Adrian Martinez and returning running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn is a preseason All-America all-purpose player who had nearly 2,000 yards total offense last season. The Coyotes have arguably the toughest schedule in the Football Championship Subdivision with four games against preseason top-10 teams following the trip to Manhattan.


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.