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Headlines for Monday, December 5, 2022



Legislative Veterans to Lead Both Parties in Kansas House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Republicans have promoted their No. 2 leader into the top job of speaker. Meanwhile, Democrats on Monday picked a veteran of state and local politics to lead them over a much younger relative newcomer. State Rep. Dan Hawkins, of Wichita, faced no opposition among the 85 GOP House members and members-elect to his promotion. He’s served four years as majority leader. GOP unity contrasted with a divide among Democrats over who should lead them for the next two years. They voted 21-19 for 71-year-old state Rep. Vic Miller of Topeka over 32-year-old Rep. Brandon Woodard of Lenexa. Woodard is the first openly gay man in the Legislature.


Prosecutors: KC Woman Kept Body of Dead Daughter in Her Home for Days

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) — Authorities say a Kansas City woman kept her 5-year-old’s body at her home for several days after the young girl died of severe neglect. The  Kansas City Star reports that 43-year-old Adair Fish called 911 on November 3 to report that one of her twin daughters was dead, and that the other was unresponsive. According to Jackson County prosecutors, during the call, Fish allegedly stated that one of the girls had been dead for an extended period of time. Police and emergency personnel arrived on the scene (5700 block of St. John Avenue) to find insect activity and various debris piled several feet high off the floor. First responders reported a strong stench of death in the apartment.

Authorities say the dead 5-year-old was found wrapped in blankets and in an “advanced state of decomposition." The second girl and Fish were immediately transported to the hospital. A doctor’s note stated the living 5-year-old had suffered physical abuse and significant neglect. The girl was bruised and weighed as much as a 20-month-old child, according to the documents. She suffered from malnutrition, severe dehydration and premature social behaviors as a result of isolation. The doctor added that she may suffer permanent negative effects on future growth and cognitive development. An autopsy report revealed the dead twin suffered from “physical wasting” associated with either malnutrition or chronic disease.

Fish was charged with four felonies Thursday – one count of child abuse resulting in death, one count of child abuse with serious injury, one count of first-degree child endangerment resulting in death, and one count of child endangerment resulting in physical injury. According to court documents, Fish had previously lost custody of the twins. The state granted her custody of the girls again in 2019.


Man Charged in Deadly Shawnee Shooting, Others Remain in Custody

SHAWNEE, Kan. (WDAF) — A man has been charged in a deadly Shawnee shooting that killed another man.  WDAF TV reports that Fernando Reyes-Lara has been charged with 1st-Degree Murder and Aggravated Robbery in the shooting death of 25-year-old Jarod Rogers who died from his injuries Friday. On Wednesday, officers responded to a parking lot near Johnson Drive and Nieman Road for a welfare check around 6:30 pm. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Rogers suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to an area hospital where he died Friday.


Future of Library in St. Marys Could Be Decided Tuesday

ST MARYS, Kan. (KNS) - The future of a public library in a small northeast Kansas town could be decided Tuesday night after complaints were made about LGBTQ materials on the book shelves. The Kansas News Service reports that city leaders in St. Marys, northwest of Topeka, have threatened not to renew the lease for their regional library, unless the library pledges to remove some materials dealing with race, sex or LGBTQ topics. The debate started after a parent complained about the book “Melissa,” which is about a transgender middle-schooler. At a meeting last month, commissioners proposed allowing a short-term lease for the library and forming a citizen committee to review materials. The Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is urging commissioners to renew the library’s lease. The group says banning materials violates the Constitution.


Program Aims to Educate Kansas Foster Parents About Child Trafficking

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Foster parents can soon take new training to help them identify signs of child trafficking. The Kansas News Service reports that the goal is to boost the state’s response to those crimes. Shanna Jager, executive director of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas, says this training will not only teach families to identify signs of trafficking, but help them build relationships with foster children so kids can avoid trafficking in the future. The program also hopes to dispel common misconceptions around what trafficking looks like. There are multiple forms of trafficking training that already exist. But programs are currently different for police, social workers or foster parents. "Our effort is really an attempt to streamline some of that work, make it a little more consistent, a little more uniform, so that all caregivers are receiving the same message statewide," Jager said. The new training starts with a test program next month.


Parsons Man Sentenced for Producing Child Porn

WICHITA, KAN. (KPR) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to nearly 29 years in prison for the production of child pornography. According to court documents, 30-year-old Dillon Everman, of Parsons, admitted in pleading guilty that he encouraged and requested co-defendant Dustin Strom to sexually abuse two young children and send him images of the abuse. Everman then saved the images and created a shareable link that he made available to Strom and others. In October 2022, 26-year-old Dustin Strom, of Parsons, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to producing child pornography. Homeland Security  Investigations  (HSI)  and the Kansas Internet  Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) investigated the case.


Kansas Secretary of Administration, Chief IT Officer Leaving Dual Position

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has announced the departure of Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace, the secretary of administration and the state's chief information technology officer. Burns-Wallace will be leaving her dual roles as the head of two executive branch agencies on January 6, 2023. She plans to return to teaching in the spring.  Burns-Wallace has served as head of the Department of Administration since her appointment in June 2019. She also led the Office of Information Technology Services. The governor will name candidates to the soon-to-be-vacant roles in the coming weeks.


Arrest Made in Connection with Man Found Dead in Car in Chanute

CHANUTE, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, and the Neosho County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a homicide after a man was found dead Saturday in Chanute. WIBW TV reports that 43-year-old Casey M. Dye, of Petrolia, Kansas, arrived at the Allen County Sheriff’s Office and provided a statement to sheriff’s deputies. Law enforcement located a deceased man in a car inside a automotive glass shop. The shop is located in Chanute. The deceased man, identified as 45-year-old Ryan M. Holcomb, of Chanute, had suffered fatal gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Dye was arrested for first-degree murder and booked into the Allen County Jail. Investigators allege Dye killed Holcomb Saturday morning at a rural property in Allen County, and then moved his body to the business in Chanute where he was discovered. The investigation is ongoing.


KBI Identifies Man Shot and Killed by Topeka Police Officer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has identified a man who was shot and killed by a Topeka police officer. The KBI says 28-year-old Dylan Walstrom, of Topeka, was shot while he struggled with the officer for control of a handgun. The KBI says the officer was investigating a report of a car blocking an alley on Thursday when the driver refused several of the officer's commands. The KBI says Walstrom had a handgun when he got out of the vehicle. During the struggle, Walstrom fired once at the officer, who fired several shots in return. Walstrom died at the scene. The officer was not injured.


Kansas Lake Reopens to Public After Drowning Investigation

NEMAHA COUNTY, Kan. (JC Post) — Law enforcement authorities are investigating an apparent weekend drowning accident at Centralia Lake. That's according to a social media report from the Nemaha County Sheriff's office. The JC Post reports that the  lake reopened to the public Saturday. The sheriff's office reported no additional details.


Lawrence Woman Arrested After Alleged Stabbing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A 35-year-old Lawrence woman was arrested Saturday after an alleged stabbing. According to Lawrence Police Sgt. Andrew Fennelly, police responded to a reported stabbing Saturday morning at an apartment in the 1300 block of West 24th Street. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officers learned that a 35-year-old woman had allegedly stabbed a 22-year-old woman in the abdomen with a pocketknife. The younger woman was taken by ambulance to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The 35-year-old was arrested, and the case has been forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. According to the Douglas County Jail booking log, 35-year-old Chloe Alison Roberts, of Lawrence, was booked into jail.


Both Sides of State Line Debate KC Chiefs' Future Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Home to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, the best tailgating in the NFL and recognized as the loudest sports stadium in the world, Arrowhead Stadium is as Kansas City as it gets. But there is change on the horizon as the lease for Arrowhead is up in the year 2031, and no one knows if the Chiefs will stay at the Truman Sports Complex in Missouri, or load up the moving trucks and head west to Kansas.

KCTV reports that Kansas lawmakers added a provision to the sports betting bill that was passed earlier this year. It sets aside a portion of the state’s gambling tax revenue for the sole purpose of building a new stadium to attract a professional sports team to the Sunflower State. So, where might the Chiefs move Arrowhead? Signs point to the Legends area in Kansas City, Kansas. Already home to the Kansas Speedway and Sporting Kansas City, the Legends area is viewed as a good fit for the Chiefs because there is plenty of land to build on. It is also easy to access, sitting right next to I-435 and I-70. But many Chiefs fans who live in Missouri are not amused by the prospect of the team moving to Kansas.

What happens with Arrowhead depends in large part on what the Royals do. And now that Royals ownership has confirmed it plans to move the club to a new downtown stadium, that gives the Chiefs options. With the Royals leaving the Truman Sports Complex, the Chiefs could demolish Kauffman and build a new stadium in its place surrounded by an entertainment district.


Kansas Tax Revenue Falls 5.3% Short of Expectations in November

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas collected 5.3% less in taxes than it expected in November. Thursday's report from the Kansas Department of Revenue marked the first time in more than two years that collections have fallen short of the state’s monthly target. The shortfall was $36 million, but the department's report came only three weeks after state officials and university economists revised the state’s revenue projections to make them more optimistic. The new fiscal forecast predicted Kansas would collect $678 million in general tax revenues in November, and it took in $642 million. That was the first time tax collections failed to hit a monthly projection since July 2020.


Court Hopes to Address Lack of Rural Attorneys in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas court officials are working to address a shortage of attorneys in rural areas. The Kansas News Service reports a new group will look for solutions. The Kansas Supreme Court created a committee of lawyers, judges and lawmakers to figure out why rural Kansas has so few attorneys. The lack of attorneys can make it harder to file for divorce, run a business or deal with any court process in general. Chief justice of the state Supreme Court, Marla Luckert, says revitalizing rural Kansas is a key part of the answer. “Vibrancy is an important part of the solution," she said.  The group will look at the issue for more than a year before offering recommendations.


Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Resigns 

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) – Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Angela Caudillo has resigned from her role, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. Caudillo has been in the role since 2021 when she replaced former commissioner Tabitha Lehman. County officials say Caudillo resigned due to personal reasons. A release from the secretary’s office says it will work with the county on selecting a replacement for Caudillo and release more details in coming days. The secretary of state’s office selects an election commissioner for the state’s largest counties, including Sedgwick, Johnson, Wyandotte and Shawnee Counties.


Lawrence Police Release Name of 53-Year-Old Who Died at City-Run Campsite for Homeless

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Lawrence police have released the name of a woman who was found dead last week at the city-run camp for people experiencing homelessness. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 53-year-old Susan Ford was found dead in her tent at the campsite, behind Johnny's Tavern, near the Kansas River in North Lawrence. Police have released few details about Ford’s death but don't believe foul play was involved. Crime scene investigators found no obvious injuries to Ford when they examined her body. Investigators are awaiting autopsy results to determine a cause of death.


Lawrence Opens Emergency Winter Shelter but Volunteers Still Needed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - The City of Lawrence is set to open an emergency shelter for the winter season, which will have enough space to accommodate 75 people with limited overflow available at the Lawrence Community Shelter. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that this is the second year the city will operate the Winter Emergency Shelter in the Community Building (115 West 11th St.) in downtown Lawrence.

City staff will be evaluating the use of the shelter and the city-run campsite in North Lawrence to determine whether the camp is still needed. Originally, the city estimated the camp would be in place until March 12, at which time the city anticipates opening a longer-term campsite in another, yet-to-be-determined location. City officials say there are currently 62 people living at the North Lawrence site.

The city continues to seek volunteers to help staff the shelter, as fewer than a quarter of available shifts throughout the 3.5-month operation period are currently filled. The city is also accepting donations of individually wrapped, single-serve snacks as well as cold weather gear and toiletries. Volunteer information and donation lists are available on the shelter’s website.


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.


Midwest Drought's Wide-Ranging Impact

UNDATED (KNS/HPM) - As climate change fuels more frequent, more intense droughts, it’s hard to count all the ways this historically dry, hot, windy year is wreaking havoc. In the Great Plains, widespread drought has dried up lakes and rivers, decimated crop harvests and left cattle with no grass to eat. And as farmers pump more water from underground aquifer to make up for a lack of rain, some areas are considering new limits on irrigation. Nate Jenkins, with the natural resources district in southwest Nebraska, says a year like this highlights the need to conserve. “When it gets this hot and dry and windy, you know, I think some people kind of shake their head and say ‘Geez, it’s getting kind of ridiculous, isn't it? When's it gonna stop?," he said. ( Read more.) 


Joe Burrow Tops Patrick Mahomes Again, as Bengals Beat Chiefs 27-24

CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Samaje Perine rushed for a season-high 106 yards and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in their first meeting since the Bengals prevailed in last season's AFC championship game. Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs missed their chance to avenge two losses to Burrow and Cincinnati last season. The Bengals beat the Chiefs last January 2 to clinch the AFC North title, then won four weeks later in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl. On Sunday, Burrow threw a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Chris Evans with 8:54 remaining.


Kansas City Falls to 0-3 Against Joe Burrow's Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had only lost to one quarterback three times — until Sunday. Mahomes fell to 0-3 against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, including playoffs, when Burrow rallied his team to a 27-24 victory. Tom Brady is the only other QB with three wins over Mahomes, but he also has three losses. Burrow has beaten the Chiefs three times in this calendar year alone, including January 2 to win the AFC North title and again in the AFC championship game. Mahomes says the Bengals are a well-constructed team with a great quarterback.


Sugar Bowl Pits Alabama Against Kansas State for the First Time

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Alabama and newly crowned Big 12 champion Kansas State will meet for the first time at the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Crimson Tide are headed to the Sugar Bowl for the 17th time after narrowly missing out on the four-team College Football Playoff because of losses at Tennessee and LSU on the last play of each game. Kansas State is 10-3 after handing TCU its first loss of the season in overtime of the Big 12 title game in Dallas. The Sugar Bowl could be the final college game for Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. He's eligible for the 2023 NFL draft and could even be the top player selected.

(Earlier reporting...)

Kansas State Win in Big 12 Championship Game - a Promise Kept

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Deuce Vaughn remembers coach Chris Klieman telling him about building a winning culture when he was recruiting the running back to Kansas State. Consider that a promise kept. Vaughn ran for 130 yards with a 44-yard touchdown and was the game's MVP as the 13th-ranked Wildcats beat third-ranked playoff hopeful TCU 31-28 in the Big 12 championship game. Former backup Will Howard threw two touchdowns and Ty Zentner kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime Saturday The Wildcats are likely headed to the Sugar Bowl after they reached 10 wins for the first time since 2012.


Kansas Football Headed to Liberty Bowl to Play Arkansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas football team will officially play in the 2022 AutoZone Liberty Bowl against Arkansas. The Jayhawks ended the season at 6-6, while the Razorbacks ended at 6-6 as well. WIBW TV reports that the Liberty Bowl will be played on December 28 at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, TN. This year marks the first bowl game appearance by the Jayhawks in more than a decade.


Kansas Women’s Basketball Team Remains Undefeated in Dominating Win

LAWRENCE, Kan. (UDK) - The Kansas women’s basketball team improved to 7-0 in an 88-51 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Sunday. The University Daily Kansan reports that the game was never in question, as KU overpowered SEMO throughout the entire course of the contest. In the fourth quarter, Kansas led by as many as 43 points. KU will look to keep its undefeated record intact as the Jayhawks go on the road to face the Arizona Wildcats December 8.


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.