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Headlines for Wednesday, September 7, 2022



ESU Brass to Seek Authority to Begin Workforce Restructuring 

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) — Administrators at Emporia State University are preparing to seek permission from the Kansas Board of Regents to put a controversial workforce management policy into effect. The Kansas Reflector reports that ESU president Ken Hush said he will ask KBOR for the authority to put a framework developed by the Board into effect. That set of policies, put in motion by the Board of Regents during the COVID-19 pandemic, was made available to the six state universities through December of 2022. It includes guidelines for the dismissal of some staff, tenured faculty, and for modifying the academic courses on offer at the schools. Hush, who was named as the ESU president nearly a year ago, says the objective of implementing the policy would be to realign campus resources “to address the university’s structural deficits that have been ongoing for several years.”  A statement from the university did not reveal the details of any potential workforce reduction or the possibility of closing down specific academic programs. The proposal will be reviewed by the Regents on September 14th.  Officials at the University of Kansas say they will not use this policy before it expires in December.


Kansas Will Get Nearly $10 Million in Settlement with E-Cigarette Company Juul

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The cut for Kansas in a national settlement with electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs comes to nearly $10 million. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Juul will pay Kansas $9.8 million dollars out of a nearly half-billion dollar national settlement for marketing its vaping products to teens. The money will be paid over six to 10 years. The company still has major lawsuits pending and is facing strict rules on its marketing.


CNN Lists Kansas City as Top Underrated Travel Destination

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) — CNN’s travel division has listed Kansas City as one of the nation’s top underrated travel destinations. The Kansas City Star reports that the city made CNN's list of 22 lesser-known vacation spots.  CNN travel reporter Joe Yogurst says that Missouri’s second largest city is all about sound and flavor. He writes that Kansas City is a cradle of American jazz, boasting more than 40 venues where people can listen to live jazz, blues and other music.  The CNN article also touts the city's numerous barbecue joints, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National WWI Museum and the Steamboat Arabia Museum.


More than 30,000 Kansas Drivers with Suspended Licenses Could Legally Drive Again

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — More than 30,000 Kansas drivers with suspended licenses could have had some driving privileges last year. The Kansas News Service reports that the state program giving those privileges has hardly been used.  Kansas will suspend a driver's license if someone fails to pay off a ticket. That means no driving whatsoever. But those drivers can apply for a restricted license, which allows for some driving to work, school or medical appointments. Only 4% of people eligible for those restricted privileges get them. Marilyn Harp of Kansas Legal Services says the application process is too confusing. “The number of people who have suspended drivers licenses jumps right to the top as a problem," she said. The state says it has now simplified the application process and even removed fees. ( Read more.)


KBI Reveals New Evidence in Great Bend's Dolly Madison Bakery Murders

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KWCH) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and the Great Bend Police Department announced new evidence today (TUE) in an unsolved double murder that took place in Great Bend 20 years ago. KWCH TV reports that Cory Latham, the KBI Special Agent in Charge, said the investigative team completed a review of all the physical evidence collected in the case, then assessed the potential for further results using forensic technologies that have had significant advancements since the killings. Latham then announced that the team had discovered DNA from a man on a sample collected from the body of one of the victims. The team has not yet found any matches to that DNA among the samples that have been taken for comparison, but will continue to pursue the lead. On September 4, 2002, two women were found dead at the Dolly Madison bakery outlet store - 24-year-old Mandi Alexander, a store employee, and 79-year-old Mary Drake, a customer. Today's (TUE) announcement came near the 20th anniversary of the double homicide. The KBI is offering a $17,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in the case. Anyone with information should report it online or call the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME. 

(–AP Version–) 

Investigators: New DNA Recovered in 20-Year-Old Kansas Double Murder

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Kansas law enforcement officials say they have recovered a small amount of DNA they hope will eventually provide a breakthrough in the double murders of two Kansas women 20 years ago. Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agent Cody Latham said in a news conference Tuesday that DNA from a male was collected from the body of either 24-year-old Mandi Alexander or 79-year-old Mary Drake. The women were killed on Sept. 4, 2002, at a Dolly Madison Bakery outlet in Great Bend. Latham says there is not enough DNA to put it into a national database of criminal offenders, but the DNA could still provide a vital clue.


Man Ordered to Stand Trial After Allegedly Beating KU Student Unconscious

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) — A man has been ordered to stand trial after witnesses described a violent attack at a college bar after a 2021 University of Kansas football game. Prosecutors say 24-year-old Dagan Richard Haehn, of Flower Mound, Texas, is charged with one felony count of aggravated battery. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the charge stems from an incident on November 6, 2021, when Haehn is alleged to have beaten a KU student at Bullwinkles Bar in Lawrence. The student says he was hospitalized and diagnosed with a broken nose, deviated septum and a concussion.  Haehn is scheduled for a status conference on the case on October 11. He remains free on a $20,000 bond.


Lawrence City Leaders Hear Ideas on Plan to Open Campsite for Homeless People

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) — Lawrence city leaders heard various perspectives about a plan to create a temporary, city-run campsite for those experiencing homelessness. The Lawrence Journal-World reportsthat city commissioners received an update on the city's strategic plan Tuesday. One idea involves creating a temporary campsite on a city-owned parcel of land in North Lawrence, located between the Johnny’s Tavern back parking lot and the levee trail.  City commissioners were not voting on the plan for a temporary campsite at Tuesday's meeting.  Instead, they were told that specifics about a plan for a longer-term campsite would come back to them for discussion later.


3 Arrested Following Kansas 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. 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.


Former Chiefs Assistant Coach Expected to Plead Guilty in 2021 Injury Car Crash 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) — Britt Reid, a former assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, is expected to plead guilty next week (September 12) to charges connected with his involvement in a multi-vehicle car crash that severely injured a 5-year-old child. The Kansas City Star reports that Reid is expected to plead guilty Monday to felony driving while intoxicated and causing the crash. Reid, who is 37, would likely avoid a criminal trial that was scheduled to begin September 26 in Jackson County Circuit Court. He could face up to seven years in prison. The crash occurred in February of 2021, when Reid's pickup truck struck two vehicles on the side of an Interstate 435 entrance ramp near the team's practice facility. Two children were injured, including one who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Reid is the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. The Kansas City Chiefs and the family of Ariel Young reached a confidential financial agreement late last year to cover the costs of her ongoing medical treatment and other expenses. The crash took place days before the Chiefs lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. 

(–AP Version–)

Ex-Chiefs Assistant Britt Reid to Enter Plea in Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid is scheduled to enter a guilty plea to felony driving while intoxicated charges related to a car crash that seriously injured a young girl. Jackson County Circuit Court online records show Reid, the son of Chiefs coach Andy Reid, is scheduled to plead guilty on Monday. He was set to go to trial Sept. 26. Reid was charged after police said he was speeding and intoxicated when he hit two stopped cars on an entrance ramp near Arrowhead Stadium in February 2021. A girl in one of the cars, Ariel Young, suffered a traumatic brain injury. Reid faces up to seven years in prison.


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 Interstate 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.


Experts: Kansas Water Resources in Peril

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) — Kansas aquifers are being depleted by irrigation. Reservoirs are filling with sediment. Fertilizer runoff is contaminating water and feeding toxic algae. The  Topeka Capital-Journal reports that experts recently provided lawmakers with a sobering overview of water quantity and quality issues facing all areas of the state. While more money and bureaucratic reshuffling were floated as solutions, the Special Committee on Water left Topeka last week without a clear path forward for the 2023 Legislature. "I think it's pretty clear: If we continue business as usual, it's not going to end well," said Jim Butler, a Kansas Geological Survey geohydrologist. "The high plains aquifer in Kansas has been heavily pumped for decades, and that intensive use has come at a price," Butler said. He also said Kansas has only one real option at this point: Reduce pumping and stabilize the water level.

"We're running out of water," said Burke Griggs, a Washburn University law professor and expert on Kansas water law. Griggs was one of many witnesses whose testimony highlighted groundwater depletion in the high plains aquifer. It "should haunt your dreams," he said.  In some places, the water will be gone within a generation. In others, it is already depleted to the minimum threshold.

About 2 million acres of farmland sit atop the Ogallala Aquifer, said Earl Lewis, the chief water engineer at the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Much of that is corn, which supports ethanol plants, dairies, feedlots and meatpacking plants. "We've got a multi billion-dollar industry built on that water-based economy," Lewis said.  ( Read more.)


Some Health Experts Worry About Effect of Abortion Bans on Black Community

UNDATED (KNS/KCUR) — Some maternal health experts are worried about the far-reaching effects of abortion bans on Black women. Maternal mortality rates nationwide for Black women are already three times higher than they are for white women. Rachel Hardeman, of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota, says abortion bans could lead to more Black mothers dying.  “When you have more people that are forced to be pregnant, you have more people in the risk pool for adverse outcomes, right? And so from a sheer numbers perspective, what we're going to see is continued rising rates of maternal mortality," she said. The Kansas News Service reports that a peer-reviewed study published last year predicted the rate of Black women who would die from pregnancy-related causes would increase 33% in the years following a total abortion ban. Kansas voters rejected a measure last month that might have opened the way to an abortion ban.


People Report Seeing UFOs in Kansas City-Area Skies

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.


Kansas Attorney General Hopes to Ban Transgender Girls from Competing Against Biological Girls

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KCUR) — Kansas Attorney General and GOP nominee for governor Derek Schmidt says if he’s elected, he will sign a bill preventing transgender girls and women from competing on girls’ and women’s sports teams. Current Democratic Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the bill when it was passed by the legislature earlier this year. Schmidt recently told KCMO Radio that public opinion supports limiting transgender athletes. "It's about making sure that our young women and girls have the opportunities that they’ve worked hard for to compete and succeed and do it in a fair way, and I think we need leaders who will stand up on that and defend that position," he said. Democrats and the LGBTQ community say transgender athlete bans are discriminatory. It is likely that such a ban in Kansas would affect only a few people. A UCLA study finds that only about a half-percent of Americans aged 13 and older identify as transgender.


Kansas Congresswoman Touts Federal Funds to Replace Lead Pipes

WYANDOTTE COUNTY, Kan. (KCUR) - Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids is touting federal funds for lead service line replacement going toward communities most impacted by lead poisoning.  The Democratic representative said the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved last year only permits funding to be used in certain census tracts. Parts of Olathe will qualify, as will all of Wyandotte County, Davids said. The bill allocates $15 billion nationwide to replace lead service lines. Utilities don’t always know their locations. However, recently updated EPA rules require utilities to take inventory of the estimated 5 to 10 million lead lines nationwide by October 2024.


Missouri Renews K-State Rivalry with Non-Conference Match-Up

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — It’s been more than a decade since Missouri and Kansas State played each other in football. On Saturday, the longtime conference rivals will finally meet again in an important non-conference game. The Tigers are coming off a season-opening win over Louisiana Tech while the Wildcats are fresh off a blowout of South Dakota. But along with improving to 2-0, the winner also earns some important bragging rights, particularly on the recruiting trail. The game means a lot to players and coaches as well as fans, many of whom still remember the days when Missouri and Kansas State met every year.


Chiefs Aim to Improve to 9-1 in Openers Under Andy Reid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs head into their game at Arizona on Sunday having won seven consecutive openers. That includes three against teams that were destined for the playoffs and one that reached the Super Bowl. Overall, Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 8-1 since taking over the franchise before the 2013 season, including a perfect mark in five openers played on the road. Reid doesn't hazard a guess as to why the Chiefs have been so successful in Week 1, but players such as Chris Jones believe a lot of it has to do with the work they put in during training camp.


Cardinals Place QB McCoy on IR Ahead of KC Chiefs' Season Opener 

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have put backup quarterback Colt McCoy on injured reserve heading into Sunday’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said McCoy strained a calf at practice on Monday. McCoy’s absence means Trace McSorley is starter Kyler Murray’s primary backup. Injured reserve sidelines players for at least four games. The 36-year-old McCoy went 2-1 as a starter last season for the Cardinals, filling in midseason when Murray was out with an injury. He completed 75% of his passes for 740 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.


NASCAR Prepares for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) - The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are underway. The 2022 Hollywood Casino 400 will take place Sunday and is the second of three races in the Round of 16. The Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas will host the race for the 22nd year in a row. Practice and qualifying will take place Saturday. The race will run at 2 pm Sunday.


NASCAR Calls Car Fires 'Unacceptable' after Kevin Harvick Inferno

UNDATED (AP) – NASCAR is investigating a spate of car fires that left one championship contender fuming after his Ford erupted into an inferno during the opening playoff race. Kevin Harvick lashed out at NASCAR and the new Next Gen car after it inexplicably caught fire in the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway. The car fire dropped Harvick to last in the 16-driver playoff field. Headed into Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR has ordered some safety changes as it attempts to address the fires. A NASCAR official said “it’s unacceptable for the cars to catch on fire."


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.