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Headlines for Wednesday, September 28, 2022



Feds Sue Dodge Dealership in Independence, Missouri, Alleging Discrimination

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KPR) – A federal agency has filed suit against Landmark Dodge and Landmark South, an Independence, Missouri, auto dealership for allegedly violating federal law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accuses Landmark Dodge of segregating its sales and office employees by sex, hiring only men for sales jobs and only women for office jobs. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Landmark Dodge retaliated against employees who challenged the company's discriminatory practices.

According to the lawsuit, Landmark Dodge and Landmark South exclusively hired men for auto sales jobs and filled positions in its business development center with women. Cashier, clerical, and other office positions were also filled only with women. When a new human resources director and a new recruiter were hired in the fall of 2017, the companies’ owner and other managers told them to screen applicants based on sex because they believed women don’t make good salespeople, and the dealership was a male-centric environment. The agency further alleged that when the human resources director and recruiter opposed these practices, they were harassed and eventually forced to quit.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and punitive damages for two employees and damages for applicants who were denied jobs because of their sex. The EEOC’s St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.


Kansas Law Enforcement Agencies Hope to Replace Aging Fingerprint Software System

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The project to replace the fingerprint system in Kansas is running nine months behind schedule. The Kansas News Service reports, this system stores and compares prints used in criminal investigations and in background checks. Kansas is the last state in the nation using a soon-to-be-obsolete fingerprint software. That system was supposed to stop working at the end of 2022. Then, a new system would take over, but that new system is not expected to be ready until late next year. If the system goes down, it would hamper law enforcement investigations. KBI Executive Officer Robert Jacobs recently briefed state lawmakers on the delay. “We have been very concerned about the progress of this project. As previously mentioned, we have tried to keep on top of it," he said. The contractor making the switch, Idemia, has agreed to keep the almost outdated system running until the new one kicks in.


Shawnee County Prosecutors Want 3rd Trial for Dana Chandler

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office says it plans to retry accused murderer Dana Chandler for a third time. Prosecutors accuse Chandler in the July, 2002 murders of her ex-husband Mike Sisco and his fiancé Karen Harkness in a west Topeka home. WIBW TV reports that Chandler’s first trial, in 2012, ended in a conviction, but that conviction was later overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court which cited prosecutorial misconduct. Her second trial, earlier this month, ended in a hung jury.  This week, Chandler’s defense team, asked a Shawnee County District Court Judge to reduce Chandler’s bond, which currently is set at $1 million. She is being held in the Shawnee County Jail. Her defense team also made a motion for acquittal.

(AP version...)

Prosecutor Seeks 3rd Trial for Kansas Woman Accused in Double Homicide

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.


Authorities Identify Worker Killed at Topeka Goodyear

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man killed in an accident at the Topeka Goodyear Plant over the weekend. The Sheriff’s Office says 59-year-old Timothy Cole, of Topeka, died from injuries sustained from an accident on the job Saturday. WIBW TV reports that Cole was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Goodyear released a statement saying they are conducting an internal investigation into the accident.


Kansas Congressional Race May Test Which Matters More: Economy or Abortion?

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas' only Democrat in Congress is hoping abortion-rights voters remain fired up enough to save her swing-district seat, even if some of them blame her party for skyrocketing housing, grocery and gas prices. Democrat Sharice Davids is seeking a third term in office. Her opponent is Amanda Adkins, a former corporate executive and former chair of the state's Republican Party. Adkins says President Joe Biden and Democratic incumbents have ruined the national economy. Democrats are painting Adkins as an anti-abortion extremist. She supported a failed proposal to amend the Kansas Constitution to allow the Republican-controlled Legislature to restrict or perhaps ban abortion, while Davids opposed it.


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.


Rail Unions Emphasize Positives of Their Tentative Deals

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The two biggest U.S. railroad unions are fighting rumors that they might impose a contract on their members even if they reject the deals that prevented a nationwide strike that could have devastated the economy. The unions are emphasizing the potential benefits of the contracts that include 24% raises. They are also explaining that the only way a deal would get imposed is if Congress intervenes to block a strike. One of the 10 other rail unions — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — voted Wednesday to join two smaller unions in accepting its deal with the railroads that include BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern.


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.


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 again 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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


Long Overdue Video Tape Returned to Johnson County Library

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (UPI) - Officials at a Johnson County library received an unusual surprise when a patron returned a VHS tape that had been checked out 19 years ago. The Johnson County Central Resource Library says the tape, a Russian film titled Burnt by the Sun, was checked out on a 7-day loan in 2003. The library usually imposes a 30-cent-per-day fine on late materials, but the fees are capped at $6 per item. The Shawnee Mission Post reports that it’s unclear whether the patron will be fined for the return. Library officials say they hope the unusual return will serve as inspiration for any other library patrons to return their long-overdue items.


Longtime Royals Catcher, Manager John Wathan to Retire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Longtime big league catcher and manager John Wathan announced he's retiring after the season — and after spending 47 of his 51 years in professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals. Wathan was a first-round pick of the Royals in 1971 and spent 10 seasons behind the plate for them, including their 1985 World Series title season. Wathan went into coaching and managed the Royals from 1987 into the 1991 season before spending part of the 1992 season managing the Angels. He also did some broadcasting work for Kansas City before returning to the Royals in a player development role, helping the club win two AL pennants and the 2015 World Series.


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 While Texas and Oklahoma Are Last in Big 12 Standings

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 Oklahoma Sooners and fellow Southeastern Conference defector, the Texas Longhorns. 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.