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Headlines for Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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Winter Storm Headed for Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - A winter storm is taking aim at eastern Kansas. A Winter Storm Watch takes effect late Wednesday night and will remain in effect through Thursday evening. Blowing snow, high winds and extremely cold weather are expected. Wind Chill values could fall to 30 below zero Thursday night. Visit the National Weather Service webpage for the Topeka office for the latest weather information.

(-Related-)

Evergy Not Expecting Loss of Power During Winter Storm but Says It's Prepared

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A powerful storm system is forecast to hit the Midwest this week, and those extremely cold temperatures can be dangerous for humans, animals, and power grids that help keep us warm. WDAF TV reports that crews from Evergy will be ready to go in the event of any power outages this week. Utility company officials aren’t anticipating any outages, but say their infrastructure was built to withstand extreme temperatures.

Kansas Snowstorm Arriving on First Day of Winter

TOPEKA (KSNT) – A snow storm will move into the Sunflower State later this week as fall changes to winter, bringing with it a blast of arctic air. The Kansas Adjutant General’s Department has warned the public to be prepared for the arrival of a winter storm system which will begin moving into Kansas Wednesday, the first day of winter. Snow and frigid temperatures and expected with this storm Wednesday night and Thursday morning. KSNT reports that up to four inches of snow are expected in some areas of eastern Kansas Thursday. Arctic air will accompany the storm with strong winds from the north and northwest. Wind gusts could reach between 40 and 45 miles-per-hour. The strong winds may cause visibility issues due to blowing snow. They can also create life-threatening wind chills in the -30 to -40 degree range.

Governor Laura Kelly has asked Kansans to get ready for the storm. "The key to meeting those challenges is to be prepared," she said. "I urge all Kansans to remember the lessons learned from past storms and take measures to make sure their families are ready by making a home emergency kit and emergency plan.” All Kansans are encouraged to put together a home emergency kit. Such kits typically include a battery-operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, non-perishable food, high-energy snacks and drinking water for three days.

More information on emergency kits can be found by clicking here.

Kansans should also keep an emergency supply kit in their vehicles, which includes jumper cables, road flares, an ice scraper, car cell phone charger, blanket, map and cat litter or sand for better tire traction. Emergency preparedness officials are encouraging Kansans to avoid travel Wednesday night and Thursday.

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Kansas Homeowners Assistance Fund Starting to Run Out

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Homeowners in need of mortgage assistance are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for money from the Kansas Homeowner Assistance Fund. Those funds in Kansas are starting to run out. Only about 25% of the pandemic-era fund remains. Marilyn Stanley is with the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. She says the agency is estimating the program will close in a number of weeks. "The biggest message here is don’t wait, apply now," she said. "We want to create a bit of a sense of urgency to get the applications in." The funds can be used for past-due mortgage payments and property taxes. In some cases, they may also be used for utility bills. Homeowners can receive up to $60,000 dollars. The state has distributed around $35 million dollars from the program so far. Approximately $14 million dollars remain.

Learn more about the Kansas Homeowner Assistance Fund.

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Kansas Governor Announces Tax Cut Package

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has announced a plan to cut up to $500 million in taxes over the next three years. The Kansas News Service reports that the tax plan calls for completely cutting the state sales tax on groceries on April 1. It would accelerate the state’s current phase out of the food sales tax enacted last year. The proposal would also eliminate taxes on diapers, feminine hygiene products and social security income for retirees. Back-to-school purchases would also be exempt from sales tax for three days every August. The Republican-controlled legislature would need to sign off on the cuts. The next legislative session begins January 9.

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Planned Parenthood Starts Telemedicine Abortions in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Planned Parenthood affiliate says it has started teleconferences with off-site doctors for patients seeking medication abortions at one of its Kansas clinics. Tuesday's announcement by Planned Parenthood Great Plains is a small step toward potentially much broader access after Kansas voters affirmed abortion rights in August by decisively rejecting an anti-abortion ballot measure. Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it began offering telemedicine consultations Monday to patients visiting its Wichita clinic. CEO Emily Wales said the hope is to expand that service to patients at its two Kansas City-area clinics soon. The announcement came less than a month after a state-court judge blocked Kansas from enforcing a telemedicine abortion ban.

Kansans for Life, the state's most politically influential anti-abortion group, responded to what it called Planned Parenthood's “dark announcement” by promising to consider “every possible course of action,” including legislation.

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Wildfire Recovery Efforts Continue in Central, Western Kansas

HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - One year ago, devastating wildfires tore across parts of central and western Kansas, fueled by dry grass and extreme winds. The largest of the fires, just north of Russell, burned an area larger than the entire city of Wichita. The Kansas News Service reports that farmers and ranchers are still rebuilding and recovering from the devastation. Rancher Rich Koester lost around 100 cattle in the fire that burned his pasture last December. One year later, he’s rebuilt about half of his fencing. And a few of his cows who were too badly burned to nurse their calves have begun producing milk again. But it’ll take years before his cattle business recovers from losing so many animals. “So, it's a little bit tighter this year. We'll get by, you know, somehow," he said. The fire killed more than 1,700 cattle in Russell County alone. And the local USDA farm services office estimates the total cost for rebuilding the county’s fences will be north of $10 million.

Monty Morrill, of Russell County, lost roughly half of his cattle to one of the fires, along with several buildings and vehicles. It took him more than six months to rebuild miles of destroyed fences. And his recovery process is far from over. “It's starting over from scratch," he said. "But it's even worse than starting over from scratch because you've got to clean up all the debris. It's going to be a long process.” Morrill says it’ll be a few more years before the burnt grass in his pastures grows back. And getting his cattle herd back to where it was before the fire will take even longer.

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B-2 Bombers Grounded for Inspection at Missouri Air Force Base

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (KSNT) - The B-2 bombers housed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri have been grounded. They will not be part of the 2023 Rose Parade or Rose Bowl Game flyovers as planned. KSNT reports that the Air Force decided to ground all B-2s so they can be inspected. This comes after a B-2 was damaged on the runway at Whiteman after completing an emergency landing on December 10th.

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Kansas Unemployment Holds Steady in November

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The Kansas unemployment rate remains relatively stable. The state labor department says the November unemployment rate was 2.8% -- the same rate as October. It's also the same rate as was calculated for November of last year.

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Chiefs Superfan Accused of Robbing Banks to Pay for NFL Tickets

UNDATED (MSN) - A Kansas City Chiefs superfan knowns on Twitter as"ChiefsAholic" has reportedly been arrested in Bixby, Oklahoma, for robbing a bank with a weapon over the weekend. According to MSN.com, the Chiefs fan reportedly robbed banks before heading to away games and had even given hints at his wrongdoings via Twitter. In fact, the news first appeared when fans were worried at his lack of activity on social media, with some saying he was probably just on his way to the Chiefs game at Houston Texans. Soon enough, the internet discovered that ChiefsAholic had been arrested Friday morning for robbing a bank in Bixby. The FBI is investigating the case. Witnesses say the suspect had just left the bank when officers arrived. After setting up a perimeter, police arrested him. The suspect reportedly had a weapon and a large amount of cash.

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KU Men Move Up to No. 4 in AP Poll; KU Women Now Ranked 20th

UNDATED (AP) - The Kansas Jayhawks have moved up to Number 4 in the latest AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll. The Jayhawks moved up four spots after blowing out then-No. 14 Indiana at Allen Fieldhouse. Purdue maintained its grasp on No. 1 in the latest AP poll released Monday. Meanwhile, the Kansas women's basketball team remains undefeated. The KU women - now ranked 20th in the AP poll -- are 10-and-0. They'll take on Nebraska Wednesday night in Lincoln.

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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.