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Headlines for Thursday, November 3, 2022



Poll Shows Kansas Governor, Attorney General's Race Neck-and-Neck
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A new poll shows some Democratic candidates for statewide office in deep-red Kansas running neck and neck with their Republican opponents. The Emerson College poll shows Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly leads Republican Derek Schmidt by 3%. The lead is within the margin of error, making the race virtually tied. Schmidt’s chances may be hurt by conservative state Senator Dennis Pyle, a former Republican who is running as an independent. The poll shows 5% of voters supporting Pyle, an increase of 2% from a poll in September. The race for Kansas attorney general is also very close. Democrat Chris Mann holds a 1% lead over Republican Kris Kobach. Election Day is Tuesday. ( Read more in the Topeka Capital-Journal.)


Kansas: What to Expect on Election Night

UNDATED (AP/KPR) - Kansas Democrats hope to reelect Governor Laura Kelly, who faces Republican Derek Schmidt, the state's three-term attorney general. Elsewhere, former Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is trying for a political comeback in the attorney general's race against first-time Democratic candidate and former prosecutor Chris Mann. Kobach lost the governor's race to Kelly in 2018 and a U.S. Senate primary in 2020. Meanwhile, the most visible congressional race pits Kansas City-area Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids in a rematch of her 2020 race against Republican and former health care tech company executive Amanda Adkins in a newly redrawn 3rd Congressional District.

National and statewide election night coverage will be broadcast on Kansas Public Radio starting at 7 pm, November 8. KPR News Director J. Schafer will anchor the local / Kansas coverage with KPR Statehouse Reporter Jim McLean providing analysis.


Missouri: What to Expect on Election Night

UNDATED (AP) - Missouri's highest-profile race this year has Attorney General Eric Schmitt vying for what's considered a safe GOP seat as his party fights for control of the U.S. Senate. Voters will choose between Schmitt and Democratic beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine. They'll also pick who should fill the seats of outgoing Republican U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long. Both ran for U.S. Senate and lost in the primary. Six other Missouri U.S. representatives are up for reelection. Missouri is among five states considering ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2018.


Kansas Governor Breaks Ground on Massive Panasonic Battery Factory

DE SOTO, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and several other Kansas lawmakers attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Panasonic Battery Plant in De Soto Wednesday morning. Panasonic is expected to begin recruitment for jobs in the spring of 2023. The new facility is expected to bring over 4,000 new jobs and $4 billion to Kansas, making it the largest economic investment in state history. Kansas lured the company to the state through $830 million in incentives. Kelly says that the facility will bring more economic development to the state. “This project will be transformative for De Soto, the region and the entire state of Kansas. It will make Kansas a global leader in electric vehicle battery production," she said. The event comes less than a week before Kansans will head to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. Kelly is running against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt for governor. ( Read more in the Topeka Capital-Journal.)


Medical Marijuana Firms Lead Donors for Legal Weed Campaigns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Donors associated with companies holding medical marijuana licenses are providing most of the funding for ballot measures that would legalize recreational marijuana in several states. An analysis of campaign finance data by The Associated Press shows that marijuana legalization campaigns have raised about $23 million in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Entities associated with the existing marijuana industry have provided the bulk of the money in every state except North Dakota, where a national cannabis advocacy group is the top donor. The New Approach advocacy group also is the main backer of a Colorado initiative to legalize psychedelic mushrooms.


Kansas City to Pay $5 Million After Police Killing of Black Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer. The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that the Board of Police Commissioners reached the settlement agreement in a closed meeting earlier this week. Police said 30-year-old Terrence Bridges Jr. was killed in May 2019 when officers responded to a report of a carjacking. The officer said he thought Bridges was pulling a gun while resisting arrest and was shot during a struggle. Bridges's family maintained he was unarmed, not resisting and was not involved in the carjacking. The officer was not charged and is still on the police force.


Emporia State Officials Won't Cooperate in Investigation into Dismissal of Faculty Members

EMPORIA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Administrators at Emporia State University say they will not cooperate with an investigation into the dismissal of dozens of faculty members. According to the Kansas News Service, Emporia State officials say they don’t agree with allegations made by the American Association of University Professors. The group is investigating whether the firings of 33 employees violated faculty members’ due process rights. In a letter to the AAUP, Emporia State President Ken Hush said he’s confident in the legitimacy of the university’s actions. Hush said his administration will not agree to interviews with investigators. Emporia State spokeswoman Gwen Larson says overhauling programs will set the university up for success. “The university is committed to moving forward with strategic reinvestments that deliver elevated, best-in-class programs," she said. Emporia State recently announced expansions to several degree programs, including art, music and nursing.


No Powerball Jackpot Winner Wednesday Night, So the Top Prize Climbs to $1.5 Billion for Saturday's Drawing

UNDATED (AP) - Nobody won the Powerball lottery jackpot Wednesday night, so the already massive prize will climb to an estimated $1.5 billion for Saturday night's drawing. Large lottery jackpots have become more common in recent years as lottery officials have adjusted game rules and ticket prices to boost the top prizes.


Powerball Prize Up to $1.5 Billion, 3rd-Largest Ever in U.S.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The bad news is that no one won Wednesday night's huge $1.2 billion Powerball jackpot. The good news is that means the prize has grown even larger to $1.5 billion ahead of the next drawing Saturday night. That is the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 2, 11, 22, 35, 60 and the red powerball 23. No one has won the top Powerball prize since August 3, making for 39 consecutive drawings without anyone matching all six numbers. What's behind three months of lottery futility? It's simple math. The odds of winning the jackpot are an abysmal 1 in 292.2 million.

Dreaming of $1.5 Billion Powerball Prize? Consider Not Taking the Lump Sum Cash Payout

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lottery players hoping to win this week's massive Powerball jackpot might be smart to dream of an annuity, rather than a truckload of cash. Wednesday night's $1.2 billion Powerball jackpot went without a winner. But now an even more massive $1.5 billion prize is up for grabs Saturday night. An annuity doled out over 29 years is not as sexy as cash but would pay that advertised $1.5 billion prize. Winners who opt for cash would get just under $746 million. That's less than half as much. Winners of giant jackpots nearly always take the cash, and financial advisers say that might be a mistake.


Kansas Suspends Men's Basketball Coach and Assistant Coach for 4 Games Amid NCAA Infractions Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The University of Kansas has suspended Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and top assistant Kurtis Townsend for the first four games of the basketball season. The Jayhawks also imposed several recruiting restrictions as part of the fallout from a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. Norm Roberts will be the acting coach for the defending national champions beginning with their opener Monday night against Omaha. Self and Townsend also will miss games against North Dakota State and Southern Utah, along with a high-profile showdown between the No. 5 Jayhawks and No. 7 Duke in the Champions Classic.

The University of Kansas informed the NCAA’s IRP (Independent Resolution Panel) last week that it was self-imposing several sanctions in response to its ongoing basketball case, which originated in 2017. The sanctions include:

  • Four-game suspension for Head Coach Bill Self and Assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend to be served during the first four regular season games of the 2022-23 season.
  • The absence of Self and Townsend from all off-campus recruiting-related activities for four months (April through July 2022).
  • The reduction of four official visits during this academic year and in 2023-24.
  • The reduction of three total scholarships in Men’s Basketball; to be distributed over the next three years.
  • The implementation of a six-week ban on recruiting communications, a six-week ban on unofficial visits and a thirteen-day reduction in the number of permissible recruiting days during the 2022-23 calendar year.
  • No official visits for the 2022 "Late Night in the Phog" event.

“Throughout this process, we have had ongoing conversations with all the involved parties,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “We believe the actions we are announcing today move us closer to resolving this matter. We look forward to commenting further when this process is fully resolved. Until then, I want to reiterate our unwavering support of Coach Self and our Men’s Basketball program.”

“We are hopeful these difficult self-imposed sanctions will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion,” KU Director of Athletics Travis Goff said. “Until then, we will continue to focus on supporting our outstanding Men’s Basketball student-athletes and coaches. Assistant Coach Norm Roberts will serve as interim head coach during the first four games. Per confidentiality guidelines related to infraction cases, we are unable to comment in depth until there is full resolution of this matter.”

“Coach Townsend and I accept and support KU’s decision to self-impose these sanctions,” Self said. “We are in good hands with Coach Roberts, and I am confident that he will do a great job on the bench leading our team. I am proud of the way our guys have handled this situation and I look forward to returning to the bench for our game against NC State.”


Church Elder Sentenced to Life for Killing Pastor-Wife

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former elder in a Kansas City, Missouri, church was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for killing his wife, who was an associate pastor. Robert Lee Harris’s sentencing comes after he was found guilty in August of first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Tanisha Harris. Police went to the couple’s apartment in the suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, on Jan. 8, 2018, to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance. Officers found Robert Harris alone in the apartment and left. His wife's body was found later near Raymore, Missouri. The couple, married just 18 months at the time of the killing, were active in Repairers Kansas City, a nondenominational church.


Kansas Ex-Undersheriff Not Guilty in Fatal Beanbag Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas undersheriff has been found not guilty in the death of a man he shot with a defective beanbag round. Virgil Brewer was charged with reckless involuntary manslaughter in the October 2017 death of Steven Myers in Sun City, 300 miles from Kansas City, Kansas. A Wyandotte County jury deliberated for four hours after a weeklong trial before returning the verdict Wednesday. Investigators say Brewer shot Myers with a defective beanbag round from his personal shotgun. Brewer and two other officers were responding to a call about an armed man on a street after an altercation at a bar. Myers was not armed when he was shot.


Kansas City Man Sentenced to 18 Years in Sex Trafficking Case Involving Teenage Girls

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - A Kansas City man who pleaded guilty to selling women and teenage girls through the sex trade has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Corey Lavelle Smith pleaded guilty in March to two felonies for sex trafficking and participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy in the Western District of Missouri. On Tueday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs ordered Smith to spend 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole. The case against Smith as a local sex trafficker began when a 14-year-old girl, identified in court documents as FV1, was treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital in December 2018 after being involved in a traffic crash involving a stolen vehicle. The teenager was treated at the hospital and screened for signs of sexual assault as she reported to staff that she had been “physically forced to have sex” and “had previously had sex for money.”

She told police she was forced into prostitution around the Kansas City area and advertised on the internet. If she was paid $150, she said, Smith would keep all but $10 or $20. She estimated she had performed 10 commercial sex acts within the week before Smith’s arrest. Prosecutors say another person involved in the sex trafficking conspiracy, 29-year-old Kenyashae Monae Roach, of Kansas City, still awaits sentencing. Roach pleaded guilty in March to a felony of transportation for illegal sexual activity.


Lawrence Judge Gives Convicted Rapist 5 Years' Probation, DA Plans to Appeal Sentence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A Lawrence man convicted of rape in Douglas County District Court was granted probation on Tuesday after a judge suspended his underlying sentence of nearly 13 years. Soon after, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would appeal the judge’s decision. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a jury convicted 23-year-old Ray Charles Atkins Jr. of one felony count of rape in August for an incident in July 2019, in Lawrence. He was 19 at the time and the girl he was convicted of raping was 17. The victim, a Wichita teenager, was visiting her sister, a student at the University of Kansas, at the time of the rape. During the sentencing hearing Tuesday, the victim had called ahead and told the court that she would not be able to attend until 10:45 am but that she did want to address the court. The hearing began at 9 am and senior Judge James Fleetwood declined to delay the proceedings until the victim arrived. The victim did not arrive in time to speak on her own behalf.

Atkins was facing a maximum sentence of more than 13 years. Judge Fleetwood, who presided over the trial, said that he was granting the departure in sentencing because of Atkins’ age, his cognitive ability and Atkins’ family support in the community. Fleetwood sentenced Atkins to 155 months in prison and suspended that to five years of probation. Atkins will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said she was seeking a review of the lenient sentence in the interest of justice and community safety. “As I had announced in July regarding a case involving the court’s granting probation in a child sex conviction, the State is exercising its statutory right to seek a review of the sentencing decision in the interest of justice for sexual assault survivors and community safety.”

In the July case, as the Journal-World reported, 20-year-old Trey L. Gibson, of Lawrence, was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and making a felony criminal threat. Judge Stacey Donovan sentenced Gibson to 10.5 years in prison, but suspended his sentence to five years of probation. The charges against Gibson stemmed from an incident in which he was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in the back of his car at gunpoint in January 2021.


Help Wanted: Kansas Public Radio Seeks New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is looking for an experienced reporter to serve as its next Statehouse Bureau Chief. This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Duties include managing KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to radio stations and newspapers in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief works with a team of other reporters to write and produce spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR, its reporting partners and media outlets across the state.  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.


Lawrence High School Hosting Talent Show to Benefit School’s Food Pantry

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Lawrence High School will host a student talent show Thursday to benefit the school's food pantry. The talent show takes place at 7 pm in the LHS auditorium. Entry to the talent show is free, but nonperishable food items and cash donations will be accepted for the benefit of the LHS food pantry. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the event is kid friendly and all are welcome to attend.


Northwest Missouri State Hoops on Verge of Becoming Dynasty

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Ben McCollum was not a popular pick when Northwest Missouri State hired him to lead its men's basketball program 14 years ago. He was 27 and had never been a head coach. Now, his Bearcats are coming off a third straight Division II national championship and their fourth in the last five NCAA Tournaments, and each spring for the past few years, McCollum has gotten calls from Division I schools searching for their next coach. It would take the perfect fit, though, to pry him away from the dynasty he's built in a small town in northwest Missouri.


Pumpkins Can Be Composted, Donated to Farms, Fed to Wildlife

UNDATED (AP) - Halloween pumpkins don't have to end up in the landfill. Before throwing that jack-o'-lantern into the trash, consider ways to make them even more useful. Adding pumpkins to a compost pile can be beneficial to next year's garden. First, any remaining seeds have to be removed, and decorative material such as glitter, paint, stickers and candle wax must be cut off. Pumpkins also can be donated to community gardens' compost piles. Farms, animal sanctuaries and even zoos also accept pumpkins to feed their animals. Backyard wildlife enjoy pumpkins as well. Leftover pumpkin seeds also are a tasty treat for a host of birds.


Royals Turn to Matt Quatraro to Turn Around Languishing Club

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City Royals had qualified candidates to become their next manager already within the organization, including one hired by the Chicago White Sox just this week. Yet the six-person committee that waded through the options came to the conclusion that an outside voice was necessary. That voice wound up belonging to Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. His job now will be turning around an organization that won the World Series just seven years ago but quickly returned to irrelevance. The rebuilding club won just 65 games last season before Mike Matheny was fired.


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.