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Headlines for Tuesday, September 27, 2022



CDC: Suicide Rates Higher Among Farmers

UNDATED (HPM) - Farmers and ranchers are nearly two times more likely to die by suicide in the U.S., compared to other occupations. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Farmers face a lot of factors that are out of their control — from the weather to commodity prices to the ever-changing state of global markets. Michael Rosmann, a southwest Iowa psychologist who specializes in helping farmers, said the uncertainty of it all can lead to a lot of stress. ut what they're going through.”  Last year, the U.S Department of Agriculture  awarded grants totaling $2.5 million to states across the country to expand mental health resources to farmers. Some Midwestern states took the money as an opportunity to distribute resources not only to farmers, but also to the lenders, the suppliers and community members they interact with on a daily basis. ( Read more.)

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call 988 for help.

Resources specific to farm stress in various states:


Kansas Hospitals Spending More Per Patient

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Kansas hospital spending rose faster than the U.S. overall in the first year of the pandemic. And that could lead to higher health insurance premiums. The Kansas News Service reports that hospitals in Kansas spent an average of $2,200 per-patient per-day in 2020, a 13% increase from the year before. A new report by LendingTree finds that exceeded the national average increase of 9%. Chad Austin is the president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association. "“As we went through the pandemic, there were additional costs related to having the appropriate supplies and personal protective equipment, prescription drug costs and also workforce costs," he said. Those costs could mean bigger bills and ultimately higher insurance premiums. Kansas premiums rose 14% between 2016 and 2020.


Kansas Public Radio Searches for New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio (KPR), at the University of Kansas, is seeking a new  Statehouse Bureau Chief.  This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. The position duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. This includes but is not limited to covering the Kansas legislative session, the governor, attorney general, supreme court, the state’s congressional delegation and statewide elections. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners.  Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.


Kansas GOP Congressional Candidate Talks About Abortion

UNDATED (KNS/KCUR) - The Republican candidate for the Kansas 3rd Congressional District says the federal government should not focus on a national ban on abortion. Amanda Adkins told reporters Monday that she wants all discussion regarding the issue to remain at the state level. During a press conference held to highlight the benefits of the Commitment to America plan, which was unveiled this week by U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Adkins stated that she believes the issue of abortion is best discussed at the state level. The sentiment contradicts language found in the GOP plan regarding the federal government’s ability to “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers." When pressed on the issue, Adkins said she does want to see fewer abortions nationwide. “What I do support is reducing abortion in America. So, any conversation I do have to support future debate here at the state level, I’m gonna' be focused on how do we reduce abortion in this state," she said. Adkins did not state whether or not she would vote against federal legislation on abortion in Congress.


Kansas Governor Wants to Build New Juvenile Facility in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly wants to build a new juvenile detention facility in Sedgwick County if re-elected. Kelly told the Kansas City Star’s Editorial Board she would like to build the facility in the county because most of the juveniles now in custody are from the Wichita-area. She also says the new facility could replace the current one located in Topeka. Leaders with Progeny, though, says that’s not enough to help Kansas youth. The group is focused on changing the juvenile justice system. Progeny's Desmond Bryant says, "Jail doesn’t help a child, it doesn’t heal a child. Positive behavioral supports are what is best shown to change behaviors and delivering those in a child’s home community where they have their social support is what is most effective.” According to February data from the Kansas Department of Corrections, about 150 juveniles were incarcerated at the facility. They stay for an average of a year.


Kansas Nets $9 Million Federal Grant to Fight Opioid Crisis

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas is getting nearly $9 million to help fight the growing opioid epidemic. It’s part of $1.5 billion in funding nationwide. The Kansas News Service reports the federal grant will help state health officials address a burgeoning opioid epidemic, especially among young people. More than $8 million will go to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to reduce overdose deaths and expand recovery options for opioids and stimulant use, including medication-assisted treatment. The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas will receive half a million dollars to develop an opioid response program including prevention, screening and treatment. Overdoses are up in Kansas. The state saw a 54% increase in overdose deaths in the first six months of 2021 compared to the previous year. Most involved methamphetamine or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.


Kansas Inmates Punished for Alcohol Use Detected by Problematic Tests

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas prisons will stop misusing an alcohol screening test that has led to an unknown number of false positives.  State prison officials have been disciplining inmates based on alcohol detection tests that weren’t being used correctly. That practice stopped once the Kansas News Service pointed out the issue. The ALCO screen saliva test can estimate someone’s blood alcohol content. It was previously also used to measure alcohol in drinks. But the FDA updated the uses for this test in 2013 to say it can only be used on saliva. Prisons never got the message and continued to use the tests incorrectly, potentially leading to false positives. Inmate Jeremy Williams was written up for an alleged violation. He says no one believed him when he wanted to fight the result. “They pretty much tell you, we have to go with the officers. The officers tell the truth, we're told that you inmates lie," he said. The prison system did not say whether it would undo past write ups on inmates based on tests that were misused. ( Read more.)


Prosecutor Seeks 3rd Trial for Kansas Woman in Double Killing Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor has indicated that he intends to try a woman for the third time in the killings of her ex-husband and his girlfriend two decades ago. The Shawnee County District Attorney's office filed notice last week saying prosecutors intend to retry Dana Chandler after her second trial ended in a hung jury last month. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Chandler's original conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors allege Chandler shot Mike Sisco and Karen Harkness in 2002 in Topeka because she was upset over her divorce from Sisco. During the second trial, Chandler's attorneys argued investigators did not consider any other suspects and performed a sloppy investigation.


Federal Court Finds 3rd Iowa Ag-Gag Law Unconstitutional

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge in Iowa has struck down the third attempt in recent years by the Iowa Legislature to stop animal welfare groups from secretly filming livestock abuse, finding once gain that the law passed last year violates free speech rights in the U.S. Constitution. The decision Monday rejected the law approved by lawmakers and signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in April 2021 that makes it a crime to trespass on a property to place a camera to record or transmit images. The law made the first offense punishable by up to two years in prison and subsequent offenses a felony. The case is one of many so-called ag-gag laws that have surfaced in the U.S. in recent years that pit the right of farmers to protect their property from trespassers against animal welfare advocates.


Topeka Will Soon Get a New Children's Clinic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Topeka will get a new children’s clinic next month in a collaboration between Stormont-Vail and Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. The Kansas News Service reports it will eventually mean families won’t have to travel long distances for some pediatric services. Children’s Mercy doctors started working in Topeka in 2018, but the new clinic will bring them together under one roof. Alison Wilson is a Stormont-Vail administrator. “What this really does is bring our patients to a one stop shop for those patients that utilize more than one service, like a cardiologist and a neurologist," she said. Mary Ann Queen, with Children’s Mercy, said they hope to bring telemedicine robots to the clinic within a year. “The doctor in Kansas City can listen to what their heart sounds like, what their lungs sound like. You could look at what their ears look like," she said. That’ll save some kids a trip to Kansas City. Administrators hope the clinic will help them bring more pediatric specialists to Topeka in the future.


Wichita Man Sentenced in 'Swatting' Case That Led to Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a hoax call that led to police shooting and killing an innocent Wichita man. Shane Gaskill was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in May to wire fraud. Prosecutors said that in December 2017, Gaskill and Ohio gamer Casey Viner argued online over a $1.50 bet. Using an old Wichita address from Gaskill, Viner persuaded Tyler Barris of Los Angeles to place a hoax call to Wichita police claiming a shooting and kidnapping had happened at the address. A 28-year-old man who lived at the home, Andrew Finch, was shot by police after he opened the front door.


Officers Fatally Shoot 2 People After Car Chase in Missouri

OZARK, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say law enforcement officers shot and killed two people after a car chase in southwest Missouri. The Greene County Sheriff's office says the shooting occurred Saturday in Christian County. The department says an Ozark officer tried to stop a car after suspecting the driver was impaired. The car drove away and was later seen near Highlandville, where a chase began. The department says when the car eventually was stopped, the driver pointed a gun at officers. Officers from the Christian County Sheriff's Office, Nixa police and Ozark police fired, killing the driver, 37-year-old Timothy Shafer, and a passenger, 23-year-old Donna Bailey, both of Lebanon, Missouri.


Kansas Dedicates New Gold Star Family Memorial

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas now has a Gold Star Family memorial on the grounds of the Kansas Statehouse.  A Gold Star Family is the immediate family of a U.S. military member who died during a time of conflict.  The new monument honors more than 6,500 fallen service members from Kansas. Governor Laura Kelly honored Gold Star families Friday by unveiling the permanent monument at the Kansas Capitol Visitors Center. The monument, a four-foot-tall marble stand, is topped with a plaque that reads, “Gold Star Memorial; dedicated by the grateful citizens of the state of Kansas in honor of those Gold Star Families who sacrificed a loved one for our liberties and freedom.” ( Read more.)


Midwest Farmers Turn to Growing Hops

UNDATED (HPM) - Hops are a key ingredient in beer and are mostly grown in the Pacific Northwest. But Harvest Public Media reports Midwest farmers are trying to change that. Hops grow best in moist climates and long sunny days, which makes it hard for the crop to thrive in Great Plains and Midwestern States. But researchers like Katie Stenmark at Oklahoma State University are looking at ways to adapt the crop — like growing them in greenhouses. “The overall goal is to create quality hop cones that we can then use for a local brewery to create a beer, an Oklahoma grown beer," she said. Stenmark says the booming craft beer industry is what’s driving farmers to grow the cash crop. But it’ll be a while. It takes about 3 years for the crop to mature.


Nebraska Mine Project Raises $366 Million of the $1.1 Billion Necessary

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The mining company that wants to extract an assortment of rare elements from under the ground in southeast Nebraska has announced a deal that will give it up to $285 million to help cover the roughly $1.1 billion cost of building the mine. In addition to the acquisition of a special purchase acquisition company called GX Acquisition Corporation II that NioCorp announced Monday, the Centennial, Colorado-based company also signed letters of intent to borrow up to $81 million more from Yorkville Advisors Global. So, NioCorp could get as much as $366 million to finance the project. NioCorp CEO Mark Smith said "these transactions have the potential to put NioCorp on the fast track to obtain the required project financing."


Kansas, K-State Show Football Still a Presence in Hoops Country

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State is in the Top 25 after its win at Oklahoma on Saturday night. Kansas just missed breaking into the Top 25, but is one of 21 Football Bowl Subdivision teams that haven't lost yet this season. Only five states have multiple programs in the Top 25. Kansas could become the sixth if the Jayhawks and Wildcats can each inch their way one spot higher. Kansas plays Iowa State on Saturday at home and Kansas State hosts Texas Tech the same day. The schools haven’t been ranked at the same time since Oct. 14, 2007.


Smooth Road for Kansas, K-State; Texas, Sooners Last in Big 12

UNDATED (AP) – An eye-opening win by Kansas State over Oklahoma and strong starts by Kansas and other Big 12 teams on the road have thrown the early conference standings into an unfamiliar heap. Perennial basement dweller Kansas is 4-0 and on the cusp of its first ranking in 13 years. And look who’s sharing the league cellar, at least for now — the Sooners and fellow Southeastern Conference defector Texas. Heading into the first full week of the Big 12 schedule, there are only three unbeaten teams left. Road teams are 9-4, winning four out of six games last week, the most in one week since Halloween 2020.


NCAA Puts Memphis on 3 Years' Probation, No Tourney Ban; Kansas Decision Still Pending 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The NCAA put Memphis on three years of probation with a public reprimand and a fine while declining to punish Tigers coach Penny Hardaway or hand down an NCAA Tournament ban. The Independent Accountability Review Panel issued only its second decision Tuesday, with cases involving Louisiana State, Arizona, Kansas and Louisville still on the group’s docket. The IARP ruled that Memphis failed to monitor Hardaway as an athletics booster, provided impermissible benefits and other benefits to recruits. The panel also ruled that Memphis failed to cooperate with the investigation by delaying handing over requested documents.


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.