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Headlines for Tuesday, November 22, 2022



Did Kansas Make a Poor Bet? Sports Gambling Generated $270,000 from $350 Million in Placed Bets

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Legalized sports gambling has generated barely $270,000 from the $350 million that Kansans have spent placing bets. A report from the New York Times says the low tax revenues stem from the gambling industry pouring money into lobbying state lawmakers. The newspaper reports that led to a provision that lets casinos write-off the money they spend on promotions, such as offering new users free bets. State Representative Pat Proctor, a Fort Leavenworth Republican who voted against the legislation that made sports betting legal, says it’s been a bad deal for Kansans. “Even if we decide we are going to make tax dollars on the back of people's hardship and struggles with addiction, we're not getting any tax money from this," he said. The report also says that none of the tax revenue Kansas has brought in so far has gone toward programs to prevent gambling addiction.

State Representative John Barker, the Abilene Republican who sponsored the legislation that legalized sports betting, says he doesn’t know what accounts for the low tax revenue number. But he stands by his bill. “I'm not sure it's a sweetheart deal," he said. "I think we did what most other states have done. And, of course, as with many bills that we passed, if it's bad, we can fix it the following year." Estimates from the Kansas Lottery earlier this year predicted sports betting would bring in $10 million a year for the state by 2025.


Woman Found Dead at City-Run Camp for Homeless People

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A 53-year-old woman has been found dead in her tent in the city-run campsite for those experiencing homelessness. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, witnesses said they had not heard from the woman since Saturday night and went to check on her. Crime scene investigators found no obvious injuries to the woman when they examined her body. Lawrence police investigators are awaiting autopsy results to determine a cause of death. Police have not released the woman's name. Foul play is not currently suspected in her death.

Her body was found in her tent at the camp, which is located along the Kansas River behind Johnny’s Tavern in North Lawrence. The city began operating the homeless camp on October 1. Upward of 90 people were staying at the camp shortly after it opened, but those numbers were closer to 60 people recently as overnight temperatures dropped significantly in recent days. The camp is largely devoid of improvements, such as electricity and heat. Instead, campers stay in tents and often rely on fires to stay warm. City officials estimated that there are about 200 people camping outside, including at the city-operated site and multiple, smaller camps not operated by the city. The camp behind Johnny's Tavern has far fewer amenities than a camp the city operated in 2020 in Woody Park near Lawrence Memorial Hospital. That camp had electricity and was able to house portable trailers owned by the city that provided flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities. ( Read more.)


Communicating with Loves Ones in Kansas Prisons Can Be Pricey

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS)- Some parents spend $50 a week talking to their children in the Kansas prison system. And the desire to talk to them grows stronger as the holidays approach, even if some families can’t afford to call. The Kansas News Service reports that a phone call costs 14 cents per minute. One email costs 25 cents. A video call runs about $10. Inmates and their families on tight budgets say those costs are keeping families apart. Joi Wickliffe is a project director at the University of Kansas Medical Center who’s spent eight years researching inside prisons. She says some inmates are starved for connection. "They always say, oh, my gosh! I'm glad you found me. I'm so happy somebody thought about me," Wickliffe said. Kansas prison officials say they do let low-income inmates send four letters a month for free.

Trish Gaston spends $50 a week talking to her children in the Kansas prison system. She considers herself lucky because others can’t afford to do so. Gaston says constant communication is needed because it’ll help her kids once they are released. “We all make mistakes, we've all done things wrong," she said. "They are serving their time but they still have a right to be treated as human beings and have contact with their loved ones.” Federal legislation could soon reduce the cost of communicating with prison inmates.


Kansas Tries to Keep Title 42 Asylum Policy in Place at Mexican Border

UNDATED (KCUR) - Kansas is among 15 states seeking to keep in place a Trump-era public health rule allowing asylum seekers to be turned away at the Mexican border. KCUR Radio reports that Kansas and 14 other states have moved to intervene in a case pending in Washington, D.C. The judge ordered enforcement of the rule, known as Title 42, to be ended as of December 21 for families and single adults. Title 42 invokes emergency public health authority to keep migrants from seeking asylum at the border, based on the idea that doing so will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Kansas and other states argue they’ll be swamped with immigrants if the rule is terminated. The ACLU has urged termination of Title 42, telling the Associated Press that those states could not plausibly claim their real interest was public health.


KCK Police Set to Review Cases Tied to Former Detective Under Indictment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS/Midwest Newsroom) - The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department will form a team to review all 155 cases involving a former detective who faces federal criminal charges. KCK Police Chief Karl Oakman says the alleged crimes committed on the job by former detective Roger Golubski prompted what figures to be a lengthy re-examination of cases he investigated while he was on the job. Golubski faces federal charges alleging he raped and kidnapped women, as well as helped protect members of a sex trafficking operation. He retired in 2010. “Based on these charges," Oakman said, "Golubski’s tenure in law enforcement was a moral, ethical and legal failure.” Any issues spotted with Golubski’s police work will be sent to the FBI and the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office.

Oakman says the public can trust his department to undertake the re-examination of cases. Critics say KCK police can’t carry out an effective review of someone alleged to have committed crimes while working for the department. But Oakman said no one with ties to Golubski will be involved in the process. “Who better to clean their own house than those who are involved in it?," he said. Oakman says the initial review will likely take up to two years.


U.S. Supply Chain Under Threat as Unions, Railroads, Clash

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Railroad engineers accepted their deal with the railroads that will deliver 24% raises but conductors rejected the contract. The votes threaten the health of the economy just before the holidays and cast more doubt on whether the industry will be able to resolve the labor dispute before next month's deadline without help from Congress. Monday's votes by the two biggest railroad unions follows the decision by three other unions to reject their deals with the railroads that the Biden administration helped broker before the original strike deadline in September. Seven other smaller unions have approved the five-year deals that include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. But all 12 must approve the contracts to prevent a strike.


KPR Still Seeking Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to Join Station's Award-Winning News Team

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio, located at the University of Kansas, is looking for a new Kansas Statehouse Bureau Chief to cover all aspects of state government in Topeka for KPR and its statewide reporting partners. This exciting position requires skill, professional experience and curiosity. To apply, log on to:   https://employment.ku.edu/staff/23463BR. A review of applications began in October and will continue until a robust pool of qualified applicants is identified.

KU is an EO/AAE. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin, disability, genetic information or protected Veteran status.


Kansas School Districts Buy Electric Buses with EPA Funds

UNDATED (KNS) - Six Kansas school districts will buy electric buses with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Kansas News Service reports that half a dozen small school districts will buy 17 electric buses as part of a new federal program that prioritizes rural, low-income, and Tribal areas. Nationwide, the EPA is putting $1 billion into reducing emissions from school buses. The money comes from the national infrastructure law passed last year. Jim Goracke is superintendent of Sterling, a 500-student district near Hutchinson, that will buy two buses. He says the chance to seek federal funding for new vehicles was a no brainer. Charging them should cost about one-third as much as gassing up a regular bus. “Another benefit of the electric buses is you program them in to start up early, and it will preheat or pre cool the bus, (so) it will be ready for the driver when they get there. They don't have to go out early and start it up," he said.


Price of Thanksgiving Turkeys Goes Up

UNDATED (HPM) - More than 8 million turkeys have died or been destroyed because of bird flu this year. That, along with inflation, is pushing up turkey prices. According to Harvest Public Media, a 16-pound turkey costs about $5 more than last year. That figure comes from the American Farm Bureau Federation. And while industry groups say there are plenty of turkeys available this holiday season despite bird flu, they may be a bit smaller than in previous years. Iowa State University’s Chad Hart says some turkeys were harvested earlier than normal to help fill Thanksgiving demand. "We will have a selection of larger birds available," Hart said, "but they won’t be quite as prevalent. And we’ll have a few that were started, say, in September, trying to make up for some of those lost flocks, that are going to be right there in the case along with them." But Hart says by Christmastime, size will be less of an issue.


Thanksgiving Dinner Will Be Pricier this Year

UNDATED (HPM) - One survey, by the American Farm Bureau Federation found a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people will cost an average of 20% more this holiday than last year. The farm bureau’s chief economist Roger Cryan says a third of that increase is because of inflation. "It robs consumers and farmers of their buying power," he said. "And it's leading to a quite a bit of of chaos in the macro-economy." Cryan says supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine have also been pushing up the prices of Thanksgiving staples. More than 8 million turkeys have died or been destroyed because of bird flu this year. A survey from the American Farm Bureau found a 16-pound turkey costs about $5 more this year than last.


Cybersecurity Threats Affecting Midwest Farmers

UNDATED (HPM) - The FBI warns that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting U.S. farms with ransomware. Harvest Public Media reports that the threat is especially high during the time-sensitive harvest season. Agriculture increasingly relies on things that are hackable – data, artificial intelligence and the GPS systems that help farmers grow crops. FBI Special Agent Eugene Kowel says holding that technology hostage can yield a big payday - especially during harvest, when farmers are in a time crunch and might pay a ransom to get back to work. Kowel couldn’t talk about current threats, but says last year, cyber-attacks hit six grain companies, including in the Iowa-Nebraska region. He said those attacks jeopardized the nation's food supply. "We do believe the cooperatives were targeted," he said. "And we did assess that the attacks were purposely launched to coincide with the planting and harvest season. Kowel says the FBI was able to stop the hackers before they harmed the grain companies. "So, whether or not you live in an agricultural state or live far from an agricultural state, the ramifications of cyber intrusions in the agricultural sphere affect everybody," he said. Kowel says the threats will only grow as technology advances and things like autonomous tractors get into fields.


Minor Changes Made to Kansas High School Graduation Requirements

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas students will need a few different classes to earn their high school diplomas in coming years. But a course on general life skills is not among them. The Kansas News Service reports that the Board of Education approved some minor changes to the list of credits required for graduation. Starting with this year’s eighth-graders, high school graduates will need a half-credit each of communications, health and financial literacy. The changes don’t include a class on general life skills, even though board member Melanie Haas says students told her they’d like one. "It was how to change a tire, and cooking, and how do I apply for a job, and what does it look like to get my first apartment? The things that are causing them angst as they arrive at the end of their high-school career," she said. Kansas requires students to pass at least 21 credits to graduate from high school, but most districts require more. The board briefly considered requiring a life skills class. But board member Ann Mah says the state hasn’t set standards for what that means. “Life skills is different all across the state. And so mandating something we can’t even define, at the last minute, I think makes us look a little irresponsible," Mah said. Kansas graduates also will be required to fill out an application for federal student aid unless they or their parents opt out.


Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Season Underway in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Salvation Army's iconic Red Kettles and bells are back in service for a new holiday season. KSNT reports that the kettles and bell-ringers are now stationed at retailers across Topeka. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Hope Marches On.” The kettles will be out in Topeka through December 24. This year, there are more options to donate via smartphone. Donors can use Paypal, Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Pay, or at DonateTopeka.com.

According to KSNT the kettle has been around for decades, but the idea first came from Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee in the 1890s. He wanted to make a difference for those facing poverty in San Francisco. When thinking about how to fund a Christmas dinner for those struggling to make ends meet, he remembered the idea of a “Simpson’s Pot.” When McFee was a sailor in England, he remembered how boats would come in and people would toss money in the pot to help those who needed it. He started doing the same thing, and soon enough was able to help feed people at Christmas time. Anyone interested in signing up to be a bell ringer at one of the kettle locations can sign up at RegistertoRing.com. The website gives volunteers the option to ring bells as a group, individual or conduct an online fundraiser.


Powerball Ticket Worth $93 Million Sold in Northeast Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - A Powerball lottery ticket worth nearly $93 million was sold in in northeast Kansas. Lottery officials say someone hit the game's $92.9 million jackpot in Saturday night's drawing. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the prize has not yet been claimed, and the site of the store that sold the winning ticket won't be made public until after that happens. The winner will have the option of remaining anonymous when claiming the prize. The grand prize totaled $92,900,000 for the annuity option or $47,309,601 for the cash option. Officials say the purchase was made in a region that includes Shawnee, Douglas, Jefferson, Osage, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, Jackson, Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Doniphan, Riley, Atchison, Geary, Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, Franklin, Miami, Morris and the northern half of Lyon counties.


Kansas Specialty Courts Aim to Help Veterans in Trouble

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Three new specialty courts are coming to Kansas with the goal of helping veterans avoid jail or prison. The Kansas News Service reports that the new courts are coming to Sedgwick, Shawnee and Leavenworth counties, thanks to millions of dollars in federal funding. These specialty courts involve weeks of supervision and intensive counseling tailored for mental health challenges veterans experience. For someone with a drug charge, that could mean five drug tests a week. The courts have veterans on staff to help build a support network. The courts are tailored specifically toward challenges veterans face, like PTSD. The courts will offer intensive treatment, like counseling, while surrounding veterans with a support network of other service members. These specialty courts are just for use by military members but other options, like drug courts, are available for the general public. All three of the new courts should be running by January. ( Read more.


KC Chiefs' Travis Kelce Continues to Star Amid Rash of Team Injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Thanks to Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs rallied for another win over their AFC West rivals, The L.A. Chargers. Of everything the three-time All-Pro tight end has accomplished during his decade in the NFL — the record-setting yardage, catches and touchdowns — the most impressive thing may be this: He's always available. And with Mecole Hardman out with an abdominal injury, JuJu Smith-Schuster recovering from a concussion and newly acquired wide receiver Kadarius Toney now dealing with a hamstring injury, Kelce's ability to continually show up on game days is as valuable as ever. "I think what is special about him is he just competes," Patrick Mahomes said after the 30-27 victory, which was assured on his TD throw to Kelce with 31 seconds left in the game. "At the end of the day, he's just going to keep fighting until the very end. When you see that, not only is it impressive for him but it gets other guys going."

Kelce finished with six catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns, the second time in his career he has caught at least that many passes in the end zone. And the final one Sunday night was easily the most impressive. Matched up one-on-one with 2018 All-Pro safety Derwin James Jr., the deceptively quick tight end beat him off the line of scrimmage, cut across the field and hauled in Mahomes' pass in stride, then won the race to the end zone. It was the 33rd game of at least 100 yards receiving for Kelce, sending him past Rob Gronkowski for the most by an NFL tight end. And Mahomes and Kelce have now connected on 45 touchdown catches, the second most between a quarterback and wide receiver in franchise history; Len Dawson and Otis Taylor had 50 of them.

The Chiefs have found some balance with Isiah Pacheco in the run game. He had 107 yards on just 15 carries in his fourth consecutive start, the first time Kansas City has had a 100-yard rusher since Clyde Edwards-Helaire on October 3, 2021.

Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder probably needs as much help as he can get right now. The injuries to Hardman, Smith-Schuster and Toney will keep him busy enough. But the Chiefs also lost Edwards-Helaire to a high ankle sprain, safety Juan Thornhill to a strained calf and cornerback Jaylen Watson to a hand injury.

Fifteen — Mahomes has thrown at least one TD pass in 15 consecutive games, tying Elvis Grbac for the second-longest streak in Chiefs history. Mahomes owns the longest at 31 games from 2019-21.

The Chiefs face the Rams on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.


Power Shifting in Big 12 Conference as Changes Loom 

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Changes are afoot in the Big 12, even before Oklahoma and Texas depart for the Southeastern Conference. Fourth-ranked TCU has replaced the Sooners as the Big 12 team in the running for a College Football Playoff spot. The Horned Frogs already are in the conference title game heading into their regular-season finale against Iowa State. No. 15 Kansas State is a surprise contender for the other spot in the title game. The Wildcats would get in if No. 24 Texas loses to Baylor on Friday. If Texas wins, Kansas State would need to beat Kansas on Saturday night to qualify.


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.