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Headlines for Friday, September 30, 2022



KBI: Topeka Police Officer Shot in Gun Battle After Pursuing Murder Suspect in Car Chase

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - Numerous shots were fired Thursday morning in a gun battle near S. 6th and Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka, wounding three people at the end of a police chase led by a man suspected of having committed an earlier homicide. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an officer was struck once by gunfire. He was released after being treated at a Topeka hospital. The fleeing car was left riddled with bullets after it struck a fire hydrant along S.E. 6th Avenue, just east of S. Kansas Avenue, where the driver continued exchanging gunfire with responding officers. That driver — 33-year-old Eric D. Perkins, of Excelsior Springs, Missouri — was listed in serious condition late Thursday at a Topeka hospital. Perkins' one passenger, a 38-year-old woman, was a patient listed in good condition late Thursday at a Topeka hospital. It is believed that nine Topeka police officers and one Shawnee County Sheriff's Office deputy fired shots during the incident. Nine Topeka police officers and one sheriff's deputy were put on paid administrative leave while the shooting incident is investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Thursday's shootout followed a double shooting, which occurred earlier that morning in the 3500 block of S.W. Kerry Avenue. Police were called just after 9:30 am to that location, where police found one victim dead at the scene. Another shooting victim was taken to a Topeka hospital and was listed in stable condition. The KBI says the relationship between the suspect and the homicide victim was domestic in nature. ( Read more.)

(AP version)

Murder Suspect, Officer Injured in Downtown Topeka Shootout

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man suspected of murder and a police officer were injured during a shootout in downtown Topeka. That shootout Thursday morning came after the suspect led officers on a chase through the state's capital city, firing at them as he drove. Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles said police sought the suspect in connection with the shooting of two people at a home in south Topeka. One of those victims died, and the other has been hospitalized. An officer spotted the suspect's car, and a 4-mile chase ensued. The suspect is hospitalized in critical condition, and a woman riding with him also is hospitalized. The injured officer was treated at a hospital and released.


Kansas Attorney General Among Those Suing Biden Administration over Student Loan Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Five states with Republican attorneys general are suing the Biden administration to try and halt its plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans. They're accusing it of overstepping its executive powers. It’s at least the second legal challenge this week to the sweeping proposal laid out by President Joe Biden in late August, when he said his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in education debt for millions of borrowers. The announcement became immediate political fodder ahead of the November midterms while fueling arguments from conservatives about the program’s legality. The suit was filed by attorneys general from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina, along with legal representatives from Iowa.


Kansas Hospitals Urge Lawmakers to Increase Number of Mental Health Beds

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas hospital officials are urging lawmakers to increase the state’s capacity for mental health care. The Kansas News Service reports that the shortage of such beds is causing a burden for local hospitals. A lack of mental health resources in Kansas is often forcing hospitals to take in people experiencing mental health emergencies. Hospital leaders recently told a special legislative committee that the lack of mental health beds is leading to emergency rooms filling up. Val Gleason is the CEO of NMC Health in Newton. She says ERs aren’t fully equipped to provide mental health care, so people needing those services get little support. “Heart attacks in the ER, we know how to do that. But behavioral health is vastly different," she said. The Kansas Hospital Association is asking the Legislature to create an annual $5 million fund to reimburse hospitals for taking in mental health patients.


Kansas Gets Ready to Help Small Businesses Hurt by Pandemic Orders

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Financial help is now on the way for small business owners in Kansas, specifically for those who didn't get much help from the government during the height of the pandemic. Kansas Public Radio reports that small business owners can recoup some of their COVID-19 pandemic losses through a program established by the Retail Storefront Property Tax Relief Act, passed in the final days of the Kansas Legislature’s 2022 session and signed into law by Governor Laura Kelly in June. The law earmarks $50 million in federal COVID tax dollars for partial property tax refunds to retail businesses forced to close or cut occupancy during the pandemic. Businesses with pandemic-related losses in 2020 and 2021 are eligible for up to $10,000 – $5,000 for each year. The Kansas Department of Revenue will start processing refund applications in October. Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart said the agency is putting the finishing touches on a one-page application that business owners will complete online. A date hasn’t been set for the start of applications, he said, because the agency is still testing its website. ( Read more.)


Enrollment Numbers Decline at Most Kansas Colleges and Universities but Not at Wichita State

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW/TCJ) - Enrollment at most Kansas universities fell again this fall. The Kansas News Service reports that the latest enrollment numbers released Thursday show increases at some schools but significant declines at others. Over the past five years, enrollment at the largest universities in Kansas is down 6%. The data from community colleges is even worse — a decline of more than 15%. The largest drop at a Regents school was at Fort Hays State, which enrolled 8% fewer students this fall and is down more than 14% over the past five years. K-State’s enrollment has dropped almost 14% over five years. KU’s has fallen 4%. Wichita State University is bucking the trend — up more than 12% over the same time period. WSU officials credit their recruiting efforts and partnership with WSU Tech, which is up nearly 18% over the past five years. ( Read more about declining enrollment in the Topeka Capital-Journal.)


About 20 Kansas School Districts Seek Tax Hikes

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - About 20 school districts in Kansas have asked voters for tax hikes this year to fund school improvements - even as fewer children are enrolled in public schools across the state. The Kansas News Service reports that the sales tax in Hays will go up a half-cent this weekend to pay for a new high school and other projects. It was one of several bond issues approved by voters in local elections this year. At least five more are on the ballot in November. Public school officials say they need to raise taxes and borrow money to deal with aging or overcrowded buildings. Voters in two western Kansas districts — Hays and Quinter — approved sales tax and property tax hikes. Leaders of the state’s largest district in Wichita hinted at a potential bond issue recently. They say millions of dollars in federal COVID relief don’t address brick-and-mortar issues.


Former Free State High School Educator Convicted of Child Sex Crimes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A former para-educator at Lawrence Free State High School has pleaded no contest in Douglas County District Court to lewd touching of one child and to sexually exploiting another. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 29-year-old Jalil Lynn Brown, of Lawrence, entered the plea agreement Wednesday to one felony count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and one felony count of sexual exploitation of a child. Both charges are midlevel felonies. The indecent liberties charge is a level-four felony and is a presumed prison sentence, while the exploitation charge is a level-five felony that is on the borderline between prison and probation sentences for someone with no criminal history, according to Kansas sentencing guidelines. Brown was originally charged with five counts of exploitation of a child by promoting an explicit performance, one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and one count of electronic solicitation, according to charging documents. As previously reported by the Journal-World, Brown worked as a special education para-educator at Lawrence Free State High School from September 9, 2019 until his termination on January 25 of this year. His sentencing date has not been scheduled.


Lawrence Group Plans Candlelight Vigil to Shine Light on Domestic Violence Awareness

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the group #BeMoreLikeClaire is organizing a candlelight vigil in Lawrence next month. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the event is slated for 5:30 to 7 pm on Thursday, October 6.  It will be held on the east side of South Park. According to a release from the nonprofit, the vigil will provide an opportunity for the community to remember victims, honor survivors and explore ways to act and make a difference. Live music, speakers and the candlelight vigil are set to begin at 6:15 pm but some activities will start before then.  The Lawrence nonprofit works to carry on the legacy of its namesake, Claire Van Landingham, a 27-year-old University of Louisville graduate who was killed by her ex-boyfriend.


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.


Six Kansas Creeks Renamed After Concerns Were Raised

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) _ Six creeks on federal land in Kansas, which had names that included the word "squaw," now have new names. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Interior’s Board on Geographic Names approved new names for nearly 650 geographic features around the country that formerly contained the word that is considered derogatory to Indigenous women. In Kansas, the creeks with new names include: Oaks Creek in Brown County, Potato Creek in Cherokee County, Hogback Creek in Chautauqua County, Elk Creek in Montgomery County and Horseshoe Branch in Norton County.  The word "squaw" was formally declared derogatory last November in an order issued by Deb Haaland, the nation's first Native American secretary of the interior.


Western Kansas Lake Offering Fish Free-for-All... Before All the Fish Die

ELLIS COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas is letting people grab as many fish as they want from a shrinking western Kansas lake — where the animals will likely die soon anyway. The Kansas News Service reports that anyone can grab fish at Ellis City Lake by hand, or by scooping them them up with a net, or by just reeling them in with a pole.  The state really doesn’t care. State wildlife officials say people can take as many as they want because officials expect the bass, bluegills and other fish in the lake will soon die. The same severe drought that is affecting western Kansas crops is preventing the 30-acre lake west of Hays from getting the recharge water it needs. Weather scientists expect the drought to continue for months more. ( Read more.)


Proud to Be an American: 76ers Star and Former KU Basketball Standout Joel Embiid Now U.S. Citizen

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Joel Embiid is an American citizen. Embiid said he was sworn in as a citizen two weeks ago in Philadelphia. Embiid is a native of Cameroon and also has French citizenship. Embiid said it's way too early to think about which country he could potentially represent in international basketball. Embiid played one season of college basketball at the University of Kansas. The 28-year-old Embiid averaged a career-best 30.6 points in 68 games and won the NBA scoring title.


Big 12 Football's First Full League Weekend Features Title Game Rematch

UNDATED (AP) - The first full weekend of conference games in the Big 12 includes a rematch of last year's championship game as ninth-ranked Oklahoma State plays at 16th-ranked Baylor. The Bears won the title game last December on a last-second fourth-down stop near the end zone. Oklahoma State is the league's highest-scoring team at nearly 52 points a game and is coming off an open date. Baylor opened Big 12 play with a win at Iowa State. Still-undefeated Kansas, with standout quarterback Jalon Daniels, is at home Saturday against the Iowa State Cyclones. No. 18 Oklahoma plays at TCU; No. 25 Kansas State hosts Texas Tech; and West Virginia takes on Texas.


Kansas City Chiefs Still Hoping to Take on Buccaneers in Tampa Bay

UNDATED (KPR) - The NFL is still hoping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can play “Sunday Night Football” at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. The league has not moved the contest yet, but has a contingency plan depending on the severity of Hurricane Ian. If the league deems it unsafe to play the game in Florida, it would shift the contest to Minneapolis. At last check, the game will still be played Sunday night in Florida.


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.