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Headlines for Monday, September 5, 2022



Lawrence Police Search for Man on the Run Following Pursuit and Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Lawrence police are still searching for a man who took off and almost hit an officer with his car, led them on a high-speed pursuit down I-70, crashed and then ran into the woods. Police say it all began around 3 pm Sunday when officers were called to a Lawrence car wash (in the 1000 Block of North 3rd Street). Someone called because the man was sleeping in his running car. Officers called for medical help after they noticed he was breathing but not responding. The man eventually woke up, would not cooperate with officers, and quickly hit the gas - almost hitting one of the officers. The suspect entered I-70 eastbound where speeds reached more than 100 mph, then eventually hit spike strips positioned by a Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) trooper. The driver kept driving on two rims until he struck a middle barrier at mile marker 213. The car came to a stop slightly off the shoulder and the suspect fled on foot southbound into thick brush and woods. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Overland Park. A search of the vehicle revealed suspected illegal drugs to include marijuana, heroin, miscellaneous pills, a handgun and miscellaneous ammunition and extended magazines. Multiple K9's assisted with the search along with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and KHP air support. The suspect remains at large.


Calls to Kansas Suicide Crisis Hotline Increase After Launch of 988 Number

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - Calls to Kansas suicide crisis hotlines are up following the launch of a three-digit 988 hotline. The Johnson County Mental Health Center is one of three centers that answer 988 calls in the state. It’s seen more than a 20% increase in calls since the new number launched in mid-July. Rob MacDougall is the center’s director of emergency services. He says call volume has been increasing for years and the launch came with money that’s helping them staff up. "And so it was really good timing and we’ve been able to get new physicians and expand the number of folks answering calls," he said. “We were at about 17,600 calls in 2017, and we’re barreling towards 40,000 calls this year," MacDougall said.  Part of the jump, he says, is because people face less stigma dealing with mental health problems. Wichita’s Comcare Center saw a 30% jump in calls after the 988 launch. And the Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ in Lawrence, which handles calls from across the state, saw a 50% jump.


Off-Duty Lawrence Police Detective Arrested for DUI

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - An off-duty Lawrence police detective was arrested Saturday morning after he allegedly crashed his car while under the influence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that about 12:30 am, officers were dispatched to a non-injury vehicle accident in the 1500 Block of Lindenwood Lane. The reporting party was inside a home in the area and heard a crash, looked out and realized her parked car was struck and sustained obvious damage. The responding officer immediately recognized the driver as off-duty detective Adam Welch, who was driving his personal vehicle. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was called in to investigate. Deputies found probable cause to arrest the detective and believe he was operating his vehicle while impaired. The detective was taken to the Douglas County Jail and booked. Per protocol, the detective was immediately placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. ( Read more.)


One Rescued Following Multiple-Alarm Fire in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - One person was rescued from a multiple-alarm fire Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. KCTV reports the Kansas City Fire Department was called out to 119 W. 39th Street shortly after 3 pm. The fire originally began in the basement of the building but spread to the first floor. One person was rescued from the building, according to a spokesperson for the fire department. No serious injuries were reported. The fire was upgraded to a four-alarm fire at one point during the response. Several crews remained on scene Sunday afternoon.


3 Arrested Following School Threat 

MADISON, Kan. (WIBW) –  Three people were arrested Sunday following a threat to a Kansas school. WIBW reports that the threat was posted to social media along with a picture of a firearm. According to the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office, officials were made aware on Sunday of a threat against a local school posted on social media on Saturday, September 3. The Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with local officials, and found that the suspect was a teenager from Madison. The sheriff's office said that a search warrant was executed, and a pellet gun believed to be the one photographed for the social media post, was found. A 15-year-old was arrested for allegedly making a criminal threat, and turned over to juvenile intake. Two adult residents of the home were arrested on unrelated alleged drug distribution charges. Officials said there is no ongoing threat to the school or the public.


Kansas Man Arrested for Indecent Liberties with Child in Brown County

BROWN COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas man has been arrested for indecent liberties with a child in Brown County. After an investigation by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, 44-year-old Darin Lierz, of Fairview, was arrested Friday on four counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14. WIBW TV reports that Lierz was being held in the Brown County Jail on a bond of $200,000.


KC Police Investigate Body Found Along I-435 as Hit-and-Run

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — Police are investigating after they said a vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian along Interstste 435 in Kansas City over the weekend. KMBC TV reports that officers got the call Sunday morning after a driver saw a body in the median of northbound I-435 at Gregory. Kansas City police officers are still working to determine the exact time of the hit and run. It could have been early Sunday or Saturday night.  Police shut down northbound I-435 at 87th Street and southbound I-435 at Gregory while gathering evidence. Officers later reopened the interstate after completing the initial investigation. Police do not have any suspect or vehicle information at this time but say the vehicle likely has front-end damage. Anyone with information is urged to call the Crimestoppers Tips Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.


Police Identify Bicyclist Struck and Killed in Downtown Topeka Last Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka police have identified the person struck and killed by a truck while riding a bicycle in downtown Topeka last week. WIBW TV reports that 37-year-old Bridget Ann Musser, of Topeka, died Thursday afternoon when she was hit by a commercial truck near 4th and Kansas Avenue. Police say Musser was pronounced dead at the scene.


Semi Rollover Blocks Highway to Kansas Lake for Hours on Holiday Weekend

WILSON COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) - A Wilson County highway, with direct access to Wilson County State Lake, was blocked for hours over Labor Day weekend as crews cleared the scene of a rollover accident involving a semi. The Kansas Highway Patrol Crash Log indicates that around 1:15 pm Saturday, emergency crews were called to the area on southbound Kansas Highway 39 with reports of an injury crash. WIBW TV reports that when officials arrived, they found a 2005 Kenworth semi-truck had left the roadway and flipped on its top. Troopers noted that the accident blocked the southeast Kansas highway for hours. According to the log, 20-year-old Camden L. Hobbs, of Buffalo, Kansas, was taken to Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute for treatment of minor injuries.


CDC Recommends Face Mask Use for 13 Kansas Counties

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The number of Kansas counties where masks are recommended indoors has dropped by half this week.  KSNW TV reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts together a map of counties considered at a high level of community transmission. Last week, 26 Kansas counties were in the high category. This week, only 13 are. They include: Barton, Cherokee, Decatur, Doniphan, Edwards, Graham, Grant, Pawnee, Rush, Sheridan, Stafford, Stanton and Wilson counties.  The CDC recommends that people who live in these counties wear masks when indoors in public. Last week, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that 5,748 Kansans tested positive for the coronavirus and that 209 Kansans were hospitalized with COVID-19.


People Report Seeing UFOs in Kansas City-Area Sky

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Large, unidentified flying objects were spotted over cities in the Kansas City area last month, according to MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network. According to the nonprofit group, three witnesses reported seeing the same large object in the sky from two separate locations. WDAF TV reports that Garry Yoakum was one of the witnesses.  In the early morning hours of August 10, Yoakum saw something strange in the sky over his Smithville, Missouri home. He said the sky was dark and he wasn’t able to make out any sort of shape of the object, but he estimated that it was at least a quarter mile long. He distinctly remembers seeing windows on the craft. “It was illuminated on the inside so I couldn’t see the shape of it,” he said.

Another couple told MUFON that they also saw the object early on the morning of August 10. The husband and wife both reported seeing a large disk-shaped craft with rectangular windows on the side flying low in the sky at a slow speed. They said the object made no sounds and had no wings or tail and gave off no emissions.

Then, on the morning of August 27, a truck driver in Cameron, Missouri spotted what appeared to be the same object. He told MUFON that the object was extremely large with rectangular windows lit from the inside with with no exterior lights. “It was at least the size of three football fields and flying so low and slow, that I couldn’t understand how it was flying,” the witness told MUFON. MUFON investigators calculated the speed at approximately 90 miles per hour.


Total Kansas Tax Receipts in August $23.5 Million More than Last August

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Total tax receipts in Kansas for the month of August were $652.5 million. That's $11.2 million more than the estimate and $23.5 million more than August of last year. Governor Laura Kelly touted the new numbers saying Kansas had met or exceeded revenue estimates for the 25th consecutive month. Individual income tax collections were $307.3 million. Corporate income tax collections were $15.5 million. August retail sales tax collections were $239.6 million.


Kansas Governor Lauds Abortion Vote but Focuses on Economy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' Democratic governor wasted little time after a decisive state vote in favor of abortion rights. Laura Kelly quickly sent a national fundraising email warning that access to the procedure would be "on the chopping block" if her party didn't win in the November elections. But Kelly's message to voters at large is focusing on economic issues as Democrats try to figure out the best strategy in her race against Republican Derek Schmidt, the state attorney general. Kelly still has to win over some independents and moderate Republicans in solidly red Kansas, and while abortion access can attract centrist voters and drive turnout, the economy remains a big concern for them.


Midwest Ag Firms Replace Local Teens with Migrant Workers for Corn Field Work

UNDATED (KNS/Midwest Newsroom) - For decades, Midwest teenagers have been hired by seed companies to walk fields of corn and help out with the pollination in a process called detasseling. It’s fondly seen as a local rite of passage. But an investigation by the Midwest Newsroom found seed companies have posted jobs to avoid teenagers and opt for migrant workers instead. New advances in herbicides and plant breeding over the years meant Monsanto needed fewer people to detassel corn. And of those fewer people Monsanto used, more of them were migrant workers. ( Read more.)


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.)


Farm Progress Show in Iowa Draws Crowd from Across the Nation

BOONE, Iowa (HPM) - The Farm Progress Show, billed as the largest outdoor farm event in the nation, wrapped up in Boone, Iowa, last week. The event highlights new ag technology, but with inflation and high costs, farmers say they’re watching their money. Dan Hanson farms corn and soybeans near Fort Dodge, Iowa. He’s interested in new technology, like a strip till machine that could cut fertilizer and fuel costs. Hanson says the high costs of farm inputs like fertilizer and fuel weighs into his purchase decisions.
"You have to limit what you can buy, but you got to keep up to date on some of them because the future is changing. And it's always been changing in farming," he said. "So, you got to look where your money would be best spent when you have limited amount of money to spend." Harvest Public Media reports that more than 600 vendors and exhibitors attended this year's show to market their products and tech to the nation's farmers. The event alternates between Illinois and Iowa.


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.


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 Under 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.


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.