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Headlines for Thursday, December 22, 2022

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Blizzard-Like Conditions Invade Eastern Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Blizzard-like conditions have invaded eastern Kansas. So, when will it end? Meteorologist Sarah Teefey, with the National Weather Service, says the snow has started to taper off in some areas but high winds, blowing snow and bitterly cold temperatures will stick around. Teefey says reduced visiblity and slick roads have created hazardous driving conditions. A Wind Chill Warning remains in effect through noon on Friday. And a Winter Storm Warning remains in effect through midnight.


Winter Storm Shuts Down Eastern Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Near blizzard-like conditions and sub-zero temperatures have shut down most of eastern Kansas. The University of Kansas Lawrence, Edwards, and Leavenworth campuses are closed today (THUR). School officials expect to re-open all campuses Friday. State government in Shawnee County is largely shut-down today (THUR) and tomorrow (FRI) as is the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka. In Lawrence, the Public Library and Cottonwood, Inc. are closed and the city's bus service is operating.

Click here for more weather-related closings and cancellations.

Freezing Fog in Kansas, Vehicles Sliding off I-70 and Other Roads

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - The Kansas Highway Patrol is warning drivers to slow down on Interstate 70 in western Kansas because of slick conditions. KSNW TV reports that a number of crashes have already been reported. Trooper Tod Hileman said troopers responded to slide-offs west of WaKeeney. The big problem? Freezing fog is sticking to the roadway. In Phillips County, the sheriff's office reported at least two rollover crashes because of slick conditions.

In south-central Kansas, the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office reported a semi rollover crash on U.S. Highway 50. Motorists should avoid traveling today (THUR) but anyone who does should visit the website KanDrive.org before heading out. The website shows which Kansas roads are completely covered, partially covered, or have seasonal conditions. The Highway Patrol says drivers should slow down and turn off their cruise control.

All drivers should keep an emergency kit in their cars. Experts suggest checking tire tread and battery power before getting on the road during the winter months.


Kansas Gas Customers Still Paying 2021 Storm Costs

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - As severe winter weather rolls through Kansas, many residents are seeing new fees on their utility bills to pay for a record storm last year. The Kansas News Service reports that starting this month (Dec), Kansas Gas Service customers will notice a separate fee that raises their monthly bill by about $5 dollars. It’s connected to a storm in February of 2021 that knocked out power to much of the country and sent natural gas prices soaring. Kansas Corporation Commission staff say they don’t expect this week’s storm to cause major outages - or huge spikes like last year. But utility bills will go up as colder temperatures increase the demand. The price of natural gas is still way up over last winter, especially in the Midwest. The average cost to heat a home in Kansas is expected to rise by 33%.


Extreme Cold Prompts Lawrence to Extend Winter Emergency Shelter Hours

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - City officials have announced that the emergency shelter at the Community Building in downtown Lawrence will be open continuously now through Tuesday, December 27. Officials told the Lawrence Journal World however, that the emergency shelter will only be able to operate for the extended hours if the city gets enough volunteers to supplement city staff at the site. Interested volunteers may sign up using a link on the city’s program website. The shelter also urgently needs donations including gloves, hats, socks and other winter clothing. Donations of individually packaged snack food are also needed. Donations can be dropped off at the Community


Democratic State Senator to Resign from Position Midway Through Term

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Reflector) – State senator Tom Hawk of Manhattan has announced that he will retire on January 10. The Kansas Reflector reports that Hawk, a Democrat, was first elected to the Kansas Senate in 2012, after serving three terms in the Kansas House. He was at one time a school superintendent and teacher. Hawk serves on the Kansas Senate budget, transportation, and utilities committees. His seat will be filled through a selection process organized by the Kansas Democratic Party.


Former Kansas Lawmaker Guilty of COVID-19 Relief Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) - A former Kansas lawmaker has been convicted of fraud and other charges related to Covid-19 business recovery funds. Michael Capps, of Wichita, was found guilty Wednesday of 12 charges in federal court. The charges included bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and false statement to a bank. Authorities say Capps lied when he submitted documents to several state and federal agencies in order to receive Covid relief funds. He received more than $350 thousand dollars for his two businesses and a nonprofit he operated in Wichita. Capps, a Republican, was elected to the Kansas House in 2018. He lost his 2020 reelection bid.

(AP version)

Former Kansas Lawmaker Convicted of COVID-19 Relief Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas state lawmaker was found guilty by a federal jury Wednesday of 12 felonies for lying on applications for federal COVID-19 relief. Federal prosecutors say 44-year-old Michael Capps filed forms inflating the number of employees he had at two businesses and a sports foundation, and then applied for loans to pay the nonexistent employees. A federal grand jury indicted Capps in September 2021 and he pleaded not guilty. The Wichita Eagle reported that Capps, a Wichita Republican, was found guilty of three counts of making false statements on loan applications, one count of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering. Capps could face millions of dollars in fines and decades in prison at sentencing. Capps was acquitted Wednesday on six other counts, and a 19th count was dismissed before trial. Prosecutors said the fraud involved the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan programs, which were designed to provide assistance to businesses that struggled during the pandemic. Capps and his defense lawyer Kurt Kerns did not respond to questions from reporters after the verdict.


Two Men Won't Get New Trials in Wake of Golubski Revelations

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR/KNS) - Two Kansas City, Kansas, cousins will not get a new trial for their 1997 murder conviction -- despite allegations that disgraced police detective Roger Golubski coerced a witness to point the finger at them. Brian Betts and Celester McKinney asked for a new trial based on allegations that Golubski helped convict another man who was later exonerated. But Wyandotte County Judge Gunnar Sundby said he doesn’t believe comments from the cousins' uncle. The uncle testified that Golubski coerced him into identifying Betts and McKinney as the shooters of a 17-year-old in 1997. "It would be easy under this new cloud of doubt cast about Mr. Golubski to use that as leverage to secure relief from conviction," he said. The families of Betts and McKinney say they will appeal the ruling.

(AP version)

Judge Won't Overturn Convictions in Kansas Murder Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas judge declined to order a new trial for two men who said a controversial police detective helped send them to prison for a 1997 murder they didn't commit. Judge Gunnar Sundby said Wednesday that 46-year-old Brian Betts and 52-year-old Celester McKinney did not prove they should receive a new trial despite a ``cloud of doubt'' over former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective Roger Golubski. The cousins' uncle testified that Golubski pressured him into identifying the two men as the shooters in the death of Gregory Miller in 1997. Golubski is facing federal charges of sexually assaulting two females and a separate indictment alleging he was part of a sex trafficking ring involving girls.


Kansas Man Gets Extra Year in Jail over Illegal Autopsies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man already serving a federal prison sentence for running an illegal autopsy scheme also has been sentenced to serve an additional year in jail on state criminal charges. The Kansas attorney general’s office says 43-year-old Shawn Parcells has been ordered by a state-court judge to serve his 12-month sentence in Wabaunsee County after finishing a federal prison sentence of nearly six years for wire fraud. In Wabaunsee County, Parcells was convicted of theft and illegally obtaining control over bodies over three autopsies. Parcells has no formal education in pathology but made more than $1 million in Kansas between 2016 and 2019 by performing autopsies for more than 350 clients, most of which he did not perform, according
to federal court records. He gained national attention in 2014 by assisting a privately hired pathologist in an autopsy of Michael Brown, the unarmed Black 18-year-old from Ferguson, Missouri, who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

In Wabaunsee County, he was convicted of three felony theft charges and three misdemeanor charges of illegally obtaining control over bodies, stemming from three autopsies he performed for the county in 2014 and 2015, the attorney general's office said.


Kansas Attorney General Joins Multi-State Lawsuit over Train Crossings

UNDATED (KC Star) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 18 other state attorneys general in asking that the U.S. Supreme Court restore the rights states and local governments once had to regulate the length of time that trains can block railroad crossings. The Kansas City Star reports that the attorneys general say the public is being put at risk without that type of local control. According to the Kansas City Star's reporting, many people have died when emergency vehicles were delayed at rail crossings. Rail industry deadlines and practices have made blocked crossings a more common occurrence. Several state and federal courts also have overruled the authority of other states and local governments to enforce their blocked crossings laws, saying that only the federal government can regulate train movements. Congress has thusfar failed to pass any laws limiting how long trains can block a crossing.


Former Kansas Corrections Officer Charged in Child Sex Crimes Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A former corrections officer in Kansas has been officially charged with unlawful sexual relations in a child sex crimes case. WIBW TV reports that criminal charges have officially been filed against 24-year-old Catherine Dutcher. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office charged Dutcher with one count of unlawful sexual relations - a level 4 person felony. Dutcher was arrested December 15, and was booked into the Shawnee County Jail for allegedly having sex with a juvenile corrections inmate. The Kansas Department of Corrections told WIBW that Dutcher was hired August 22 and was fired on the same day as her arrest. She remains behind bars on a $10,000 bond. Her first appearance has been set for Thursday.


Proposal Would Put Cameras in KCK Public School Classrooms

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Kansas City, Kansas School District will consider a proposal that would put cameras inside classrooms. KCTV reports that KCKPS held an in-person and virtual forum to enable public comment on the possibility. The school district says school officials believe the cameras it would make it easier to live stream and record lessons to classrooms staffed with teachers and substitutes not qualified to teach certain subjects.

The National Education Association said it is opposed to the plan for a variety of reasons, including lack of privacy, concern the cost of the proposal would shift money that could be used elsewhere to better schools within the district, and the negative impact it might have on students who do not want to be on-camera.

KCKPS superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield told KCTV5 that putting cameras in every classroom within the district would cost roughly $6.7 million.

The board will make the final decision on the camera placement.


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.

KUis 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.


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 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.


KU Women's Basketball Team Finally Loses a Game

LINCOLN, Neb. (KPR) - The Kansas women's basketball team has finally lost a game!. The Jayhawks fell - in triple overtime - to the Nebraka Cornhuskers. 85-to-79 the final score from Lincoln last (WED) night. It's the first loss of the season for the 20th ranked Kansas women, who are now 10-and-1 on the season.

Elsewhere... the K-State women defeated Morgan State 77-46 yesterday (WED) in Manhattan. The Wildcats are 11-2 on the season. And in men's action, K-State beat Radford 73-65, also in Manhattan.


Chiefs Hoping to Snag AFC's Playoff Bye as Seahawks Seek a Postseason Spot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs can’t climb into first place in the AFC to secure a first-round playoff bye with a win over Seattle on Saturday, nor can the Seahawks get into the postseason by knocking off the West Division champs. But a loss for either of them would be especially damaging. The Chiefs are tied with the Bills for the best record in the conference, but Buffalo holds the tiebreaker and that means a loss by Kansas City would be especially hard to overcome. And the Seahawks have lost four of their past five and their playoff hopes already are hanging on by a thread.


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 ismade possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.