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Headlines for Thursday, May 18, 2023

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Emily Fisher

Kansas Governor Vetoes Part of School Funding Bill, Setting up Likely Legal Battle with GOP

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's Democratic governor on Thursday vetoed parts of the Republican-backed $6 billion funding plan for the state's K-12 schools, setting up a likely legal battle that will test her office's powers.

Governor Laura Kelly, who won reelection in the conservative state in November, issued a statement explaining her decision to take the unprecedented step of vetoing parts of the proposed education budget, saying she objected to one provision, in particular, that she says would cut funding for rural public schools, which have been dealing with declining enrollment.

“This provision pulls the rug out from rural school districts at the 11th hour,” Kelly said. “If the provision is enacted, it will bring dangerous and devastating consequences for our rural districts.”

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson and House Speaker Dan Hawkins, leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature, quickly issued a joint statement criticizing Kelly, saying the state's constitution limits line-item vetoes to appropriations.

"We strongly encourage the Attorney General to immediately review this unconstitutional overreach,” they said.

The spending plan, which would provide the bulk of the money that the state's 286 school districts rely on, would also expand a program aimed at providing private school scholarships for low-income families. Although Kelly opposes that provision, she didn't veto it.

Kelly said that because the bill mixed policy with funding, the Kansas Constitution allows her to veto parts but not all of the bill, as it does with legislation setting the state's annual budgets. Top Republicans are likely to object and to challenge the assertion in court.

The issue has never been tested legally, creating uncertainty about how much money school districts might have and what policies they might face the next academic year.

In her statement, Kelly said the GOP-backed bill would change the way districts count their enrollment, which determines their funding. Currently, districts are allowed to use one of the two previous school years to determine how much money they will receive.

The new education bill requires districts to use the current or previous year's enrollment to determine appropriations. That provision would force districts with declining enrollments to immediately make changes to budgets they have already approved for the upcoming year, she said.

Kelly also noted that the Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the current method for determining enrollment, and she said changing the formula would raise questions over the state's compliance with that law.

Education groups had pushed Kelly to veto the bill even though it would increase the state’s total aid to districts by about 4% for the next school year. The increases would vary by district, with 29 — most with fewer than 700 students — receiving less aid than they did this school year.

Kelly has signed education bills with a similar marriage of funding and policy in the past. But she and top Republicans clashed repeatedly over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. GOP lawmakers forced her to accept a whittling away of the powers of her office and of local officials to close schools and businesses and impose mask mandates.

If Kelly had vetoed the entire bill, she would have forced a special legislative session to ensure that schools are funded for the next school year because lawmakers have adjourned for the year. If she were to lose a court battle over her vetoing parts of the bill, it's unclear if the entire bill would become law or if it would die altogether.

Educators also were upset that GOP lawmakers rejected Kelly’s proposal to phase in a 70% increase in funding for programs for students with physical or intellectual disabilities, or behavioral problems. It would have required an extra $72 million in the next state budget, but legislators only approved $7.5 million.

Kelly said she was disappointed that lawmakers didn't increase special education funding and that they need to “correct their mistake” when they return for next year's session.

In a statement Thursday, the Kansas Association of School Boards praised Kelly's line-item veto and also expressed disappointment in lawmakers' “inadequate response” to special education funding at a time when the state has a record budget surplus.

And educators opposed provisions that would expand an income tax credit program for donors to funds that provide annual private school scholarships of up to $8,000 annually to students from low-income families. Although the total credits would remain capped at $10 million a year, more students would be eligible for the scholarships.

Kelly said most Kansans don't support such policies, and she chastised lawmakers for “logrolling” them into the education funding bill rather than proposing them as separate bills.

Conservative Republicans wanted to pass a far broader plan to use state education dollars to help parents pay for private or home schooling for their children, something GOP lawmakers have enacted in other states, including Iowa,South Carolina and Utah.

Kelly is strongly opposed to the idea, saying public funds should go to public schools. Republican legislators were split.

The state constitution says that if any bill “contains several items of appropriation of money,” the governor can veto one or more “such items” while signing the rest.

While lawmakers often set policy in the budget with provisions directing how money must be spent or prohibiting some spending, those provisions are in effect only for a year. In the past, it's been uncommon for lawmakers to mix spending with measures rewriting state laws permanently, so governors haven't previously taken actions similar to Kelly's.


Kansas Wheat Harvest Looks Grim

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — As Kansas farmers prepare for harvest, this year’s wheat crop does not look good. Experts say it could be the smallest wheat crop since 1963. KSNW TV reports that crop observers have been seeing a disappointing wheat crop across the state. Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations for Kansas Wheat, says they've "got 105 people making hundreds of stops across the state each day at random wheat fields, and the drought is just very evident.” Harries say teams have had a hard time finding wheat fields that aren’t abandoned. Fields across Kansas are looking short and sparse, with some not tall enough to be harvested. The Wheat Quality Council will create a final report Thursday morning.

(Earlier reporting...)

Experts Predict Record Wheat Shortage for Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) - Experts say this year's Kansas wheat harvest may be the smallest in 60 years. The Kansas Wheat Commission has started its annual wheat tour and top leaders say recent rains are likely not enough to help save this year's crop. Members of the Wheat Commission will make more than 500 stops during their tour of wheat fields across the state to try to determine what this year's crop will look like. KSNT reportsthat the expected wheat shortage will likely lead to a shortage of flour.


Millions in Taxpayer Spending Planned to Get KC Ready to Host 2026 World Cup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS)— Politicians from Missouri and Kansas on Thursday touted the spending of millions of tax dollars and unveiled a new nonprofit organization to get Kansas City ready to host men’s World Cup matches in 2026. The city was chosen as one of the host sites for the event in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The soccer tournament is the largest sporting event in the world and has been promoted as an economic boon for the region. The Kansas News Service reports that Kansas and Missouri plan to spend a combined $60 million — $50 million from Missouri and $10 million from Kansas — on the project for stadium and infrastructure support.

Officials have unveiled a new nonprofit organization - KC 2026 - to lead the charge in preparation to host the men’s FIFA World Cup, which is expected to bring fans from around the world to Kansas City. KC 2026 is a nonprofit organization made up of sports and business leaders and government officials from both states. (Read more.)


2 Arrested in Death of Kansas 6-Year-Old Gunned Down While Playing Outside

UNDATED (AP) – Two suspects have been arrested in the death of a 6-year-old boy nearly two weeks after he was gunned down as he played in the yard of a Kansas home with his uncle and a 7-year-old cousin, police announced Thursday.

Police said 20-year-old Lakevis Sloan and a 17-year-old were taken into custody Tuesday evening as they exited a Greyhound bus in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are awaiting extradition, charged with second-degree murder in the May 3 shooting death of 6-year-old Sir’Antonio Brown. Charging documents show that Sloan also is charged with aggravated child endangerment.

“These arrests doesn’t take the pain away, but they bring a little comfort,” his godmother, Shyneisha Hill, said.

Police, meanwhile, used the arrest to ask for help locating a third, not-yet-identified suspect.

"Don’t wait any longer, because we will arrest anybody and everybody who is housing or covering for this child killer,” Det. Mark Bundy said.

Police said previously that the suspects came to the Kansas City neighborhood with the intention of targeting someone, although they provided no additional details. The Wyandotte County prosecutor’s office spokesman said he didn’t know if they have attorneys.

Hill believes they were after the child's uncle, whom she described as “in a lot of mess.” He was sleeping in his truck, she said, parking it in front of another relative’s home at night.

“Nobody really knows what the beef is,” she said. “We just are really trying to figure out, like, how it was that serious? Whatever it was, was it that serious to disregard the lives of children?”

The gunfire erupted as her own son, Qwamayne Frazier, was in the backyard playing with Sir’Antonio, who was called Sir by his family, she said. The children's homes are across the street from one another and they attended the same school. After they got off the bus, they would change clothes and rush outside to play.

They were "just doing what they do normally, just out there playing, riding the bike, jumping on the trampoline, running around in the yard,” Hill said.

Sir’Antonio's mom was at work but Hill was home when a car came to a stop, she said.

“This wasn’t just a random drive by shooting," she said. "The suspects actually got out on foot, out of their car, seeing our kids out there.”

She said the suspects fired down the street, hitting Sir’Antonio but no one else. The shooting left her son unable to sleep alone, clingy, unwilling to go outside, simply repeating: “I know what happened to Sir. I can tell what happened to Sir," she said.

When the crime scene tape disappeared, she said, he asked her: “How are we going to be protected?” She vowed to safeguard him with her life, she said, but the promise felt hollow initially, with the suspects still on the lose.

“We don’t know if they’re going to come back,” she said at the time. "We just don’t know.”

She said the children were best friends, describing themselves as brothers. “That’s just how we raised them,” Hill said.

Hill recalled Sir’Antonio as “the best kid ever,” happy, outspoken and athletic. Every Sunday, he was in church, emptying his pockets at offering time.

“He was such a gentleman," she said. "He always made himself present, and he was just always there for everybody.”


Man Indicted in Theft of Ruby Slippers Worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz

UNDATED (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted a man who is suspected of stealing a pair of famous ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz." Federal prosecutors said Terry Martin was indicted Tuesday on one count of theft of major artwork. The Indictment alleges that in 2005, Martin stole an authentic pair of ruby slippers. The slippers were worn by actress Judy Garland. They were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. The FBI recovered the slippers in 2018. The pair is one of four remaining pairs of red slippers Garland wore in the movie. Online records do not list an attorney for Martin.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Martin is 76 and lives 12 miles south of the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When reached by the newspaper, he said, "I gotta go on trial. I don't want to talk to you." Janie Heitz, executive director of the museum, told The Associated Press she was surprised the suspect lived nearby but said no one who works at the museum knows him.

Garland wore several pairs of the ruby slippers during production of the 1939 musical, but only four authentic pairs remain. When they were stolen, the slippers were insured for $1 million but the current market value is about $3.5 million, federal prosecutors said in a news release. The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor's hometown when someone climbed through a window and broke the display case, prosecutors said when they were recovered. Heitz said she and the museum's staff were "a little bit speechless" that someone had been charged nearly two decades after the slippers were stolen.

Over the years, several enticing rewards were offered in hopes that the slippers would turn up. Law enforcement offered $250,000 early in the case, and an anonymous donor from Arizona put up $1 million in 2015.

The shoes are famously associated with one of the iconic lines in "The Wizard of Oz," as Garland's character Dorothy clicks her heels and repeats the phrase, "There's no place like home." They are made from about a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic and glass. Most of the ruby color comes from sequins but the bows of the shoes contain red glass beads. The three other pairs Garland wore in the movie were held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.

When they were stolen, the slippers were on loan from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw, who received an insurance payment seven years after the theft, according to the museum's director. Heitz said the museum staff hopes the slippers will return to Garland's hometown after the legal case ends.


Wichita Men Indicted in Separate Cases for Drug Trafficking and Making Threats Against the President

WICHITA, Kan. (KPR) – A federal grand jury in Wichita has returned an indictment charging a Kansas man with trafficking methamphetamine. According to court documents, 47-year-old Noel Carias Marin, of Wichita was indicted on four counts of distribution of meth. Prosecutors say Marin has been known to also go by the name Ruben Gonzalez Lopez. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case.

In a separate case, federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Cody McCormick, of Wichita, was indicted on three counts of making a threat against the President of the United States. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating that case.


Kansas Public Universities Seek Approval for Tuition Hikes

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The price of a college education in Kansas could soon rise again. After several years with no increase in tuition, all six of the state's regents schools are now asking the Kansas Board of Regents to approve a tuition hike. KAKE TV reports that Fort Hays State is making the biggest request - a 7% increase. Wichita State's request, at 5.9%, is the second largest. All the other public universities in Kansas - KU, K-State, Emporia State and Pittsburg State are asking for a 5% increase. After hearing the full proposals Wednesday, the Board of Regents will take the next month to consider its options before making a final decision in June.


Douglas County Approves First Solar Project Under New Regulations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Douglas County leaders have approved the first solar facility in the county since new regulations for solar projects were implemented last year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the 12-acre project, known as “Stull Solar Farm,” will be located just south of Lecompton. At Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the project. It’s a collaboration between Evergy and FreeState Electric Cooperative, a rural electric cooperative that serves nine counties in eastern Kansas, including Douglas County.

Commissioners spent an ample amount of time discussing agrivoltaics — the simultaneous use of land for solar energy generation and agriculture. In this case, Evergy plans to work with the Kansas Biological Survey to develop a vegetation plan and seed mix for the site so it can also be used as a pollinator habitat. Previous plans called for allowing grazing on the project site, but representatives at Wednesday’s meeting said that’s no longer being pursued for the time being.

Although the plan ultimately won unanimous approval, all three commissioners seemed to agree that it didn’t go far enough as far as agrivoltaics are concerned — and they’ve all got much higher aspirations concerning any future projects, especially those planning on operating at a larger scale.


Johnson County DA: Olathe Police Shooting Was Justified

OLATHE, Kan. (KCUR) -The Johnson County District Attorney’s office has ruled that an Olathe police officer was justified in using deadly force. The officer will not be charged in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Brandon Lynch on New Years Eve, 2022. Police body camera video shows Lynch advancing toward the officers with a stun gun and a knife. He repeatedly refused to comply with orders to drop the weapons. KCUR reports that police tased Lynch twice and gave him several verbal warnings but he continued advancing toward the officers. Three shots were fired and Lynch died at the scene. Lynch's family released a statement saying they were disappointed in the ruling. They say police should have called in a mental health expert to help defuse the situation. The DA's office says the incident unfolded too quickly for officers to call for assistance.


Temple Grandin Delivers K-State Address, Advocates for Diversity

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KNS) - Animal behavior expert and autism spokesperson Temple Grandin says animal medicine needs a greater variety of people to help solve health and safety issues. Grandin gave the commencement address for the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine late last week. K-State awarded Grandin an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine during the event. It’s something she says she couldn't accomplish because her autism caused her to struggle with the math requirements. Grandin says there needs to be more work to include people like her in veterinary medicine programs. “The veterinary profession needs visual thinkers because you have to be a sensory-based thinker to understand how an animal thinks," she said. Grandin also spoke on the importance of animal welfare and spoke against some animal breeding practices.


KDADS Awards $65 Million to Select Kansas Healthcare Facilities to Expand Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Around $65 million in grants has been distributed to a select number of Kansas healthcare facilities to help expand services. WIBW TV reports that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services awarded the grants to help close service gaps. About $15 million will go to the University of Kansas and Wichita State University to build a joint health sciences education center (HSEC) in Wichita. Nearly $13 million will go toward a new psychiatric hospital in Olathe. And about $5 million will to the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Wichita. (Read more.)


Mark Gietzen, Abortion Foe Who Forced Recount of Kansas Vote, Dies in Plane Crash at 69

WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Mark Gietzen, a longtime conservative Republican and anti-abortion activist in Kansas who forced a recount of the state's decisive vote affirming abortion rights last year has died in a plane crash. He was 69. The Kansas Republican Party said in a Facebook post that Gietzen, of Wichita, died Tuesday evening in Nebraska. He was flying a single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk when it crashed in a field near O'Neill, Nebraska, about 190 miles (306 kilometers) northwest of Omaha, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's crash log. Gietzen was the only person on board and the log said the plane crashed “in unknown circumstances.”

Jim Howell, a county commissioner in Sedgwick County, Kansas, which includes Wichita, told The Wichita Eagle that Gietzen had flown to Nebraska to visit his mother.
Gietzen grew up in the Bismarck, North Dakota, area and served in the U.S. Marines before coming to Kansas in the late 1970s to work for aircraft manufacturer Boeing Corp. He became chair of Sedgwick County GOP after “Summer of Mercy” anti-abortion protests in Wichita in 1991 and recruited anti-abortion activists into the party.

A fellow anti-abortion activist, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, described Gietzen as “irreplaceable.” Newman told The Eagle: "He was the hardest-working guy I know in the pro-life movement.” When anti-abortion activists demanded a hand recount of ballots in nine counties that accounted for more than half the vote, Gietzen used credit cards to cover most of the $120,000 cost so that it could proceed. The recount confirmed the results of the election, and Gietzen then filed a lawsuit seeking a statewide hand recount, but a judge dismissed it.


Authorities Seize 70 Animals from "Deplorable" Conditions in Southeast Kansas Home

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two Coffeyville residents have been arrested on charges of cruelty to animals. On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Department of Agriculture served a search warrant at a rural Coffeyville home. KSNW TV reports that detectives seized more than 70 animals, including dogs, cats, birds, snakes, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and a lizard. Several other animals were found dead. Sheriff Ron Wade says the animals had no food or clean water and were living in feces. A veterinarian evaluated the animals. Many are now housed in shelters. The two residents of the home were booked on suspicion of cruelty to animals.


Prosecutor in Ralph Yarl Case Says Legal Precedent Favors Keeping Court Records Open

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — A Missouri prosecutor is asking a judge to carefully consider the public's right to information while determining whether to seal court records in the case of Andrew Lester, a white homeowner who is accused of shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly came to his home. Lester's attorney, Steven Salmon, filed a motion May 1 asking a judge to seal court records. He argued that local and national publicity surrounding the April 13 shooting of Ralph Yarl in Kansas City had created a bias against his client and would make it difficult to find an impartial jury. In a motion filed Tuesday, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson did not specifically oppose the request but said legal precedent has established a “strong presumption” in favor of keeping court records open. The 84-year-old Lester has pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He is accused of shooting Yarl twice after he mistakenly came to Lester's home looking for his younger brothers.

Yarl, who is now 17, was shot in the head and an arm and is recovering at home after being hospitalized for three days. Lester admitted that he shot Yarl without warning through his home's front door then shot him again while the teenager was on the ground. He said was “scared to death” the person at the front door was there to rob him. It is unclear when the judge might rule on closing the records. Lester, who is out on bond, is scheduled for a hearing on June 1.


Miller Moths Becoming Extra Nuisance in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Moths by the masses are now hiding in many Kansas garage doors, cars, and patios. Experts say these Army Cutworms are native to Kansas but KSNW TV reports that two contributing factors are making the moths more of a nuisance this year. The problem has brought a surge of calls to Patton Termite and Pest Control in Wichita. President Gerry Marsh says he's been in the business for nearly 20 years and has never seen anything like it. Warmer temperatures are allowing the insects to grow longer, and the drought isn’t helping either. Experts said the moths won’t lay eggs or do damage to your home and soon, the pesky problem should be gone. Over the next few weeks, the moths will head west to pollinate flowers and become a source of food for grizzly bears. As we wait for them to migrate, experts said turning off unnecessary lights at night can help remove them. Experts said the moths should die off or migrate by sometime in June.


KC Thieves Suspected of Cutting More Fiber Cables in Misguided Search for Copper

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Police say someone deliberately cut another fiber optic cable in Kansas City, likely in search of copper to sell. But there is no copper wiring or tubing in fiber optic cable. Communication companies use the fiber lines to deliver cable and internet to homes and businesses. WDAF TV reports that the recent damage disrupted service to people in areas of Kansas City Tuesday morning. The cable is in the same location where police believe someone cut a Charter Communications cable in April. A $17,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest in the cases.


EPA: Oil Cleaned from Kansas Creek

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - Federal inspectors say a creek in northeast Kansas that was polluted with oil in December’s Keystone pipeline break is now at least visually clear from the spill. The Kansas News Service reports that the spill in Washington County was the Keystone pipeline’s biggest ever. Pipeline operator TC Energy had to isolate and drain part of Mill Creek to clean up more than 500,000 gallons of crude oil. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helped inspect the work. It says the creek is now visually free of oil. State officials oversee lab work on water, soil and sediment at the site that would confirm the pollution has been cleaned up. State officials didn’t immediately respond to questions.

(Additional coverage)

Consultants: Design Issues, Operations Lapses Led to Big Kansas Oil Spill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Pipeline design issues, lapses by its operators and problems caused during its construction led to a massive oil spill on the Keystone pipeline system in northern Kansas. That's according to a report for U.S. government regulators. An engineering consulting firm said in the report that the bend in the Keystone system where the December 2022 spill occurred had been "overstressed" since its installation in December 2010 — likely because construction activity itself altered the land around the pipe. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration posted a redacted copy of the report online Monday, about three weeks after it was completed by RSI Pipeline Solutions, based in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

The report raised questions about Canada-based TC Energy's oversight of the manufacturing of its pipeline, saying the report's authors could find no record of a pre-installation inspection of the welds on the Washington County bend. The report concluded that TC Energy underestimated the risks associated with the bend going from its round shape when installed to a more-restricted oval shape within two years and didn't replace the bend after excavating it in 2013.

The company said in February that a faulty weld in the bend caused a crack that grew over time under stress. The spill dumped nearly 13,000 barrels of crude oil — each one enough to fill a standard household bathtub — into a creek running through a rural pasture in Washington County, about 150 miles northwest of Kansas City. It was the largest onshore spill in nearly nine years.

"When you have a pipeline that is spilling and having as many problems as Keystone One, it is clearly a red flag that there are bigger issues going on," said Jane Kleeb, who founded the Bold Nebraska environmental and landowner rights group that helped fight off TC Energy's plan to build a second pipeline, the Keystone XL. The U.S. Department of Transportation has documented 22 leaks along the Keystone pipeline since it was built in 2010. The one in Washington County was by far the largest. "At what point, does the federal government step in and say this has reached a point where we need to shut the full line down to do a full review of the pipeline?" Kleeb said.

The 2,700-mile Keystone system carries heavy crude oil extracted in western Canada to the Gulf Coast and to central Illinois. Concerns that spills could pollute waterways ultimately scuttled TC Energy's plans to build the Keystone XL across 1,200 miles of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

In Kansas, no one was evacuated because of the December spill. State and U.S. government officials have said it didn't affect two rivers and a lake downstream from the creek.

In response to a request Tuesday for comment, TC Energy pointed to a statement it issued when the report was finished in April but not public. In it, Richard Prior, president of TC Energy's Liquids Pipeline operations, said the company was confident in the pipeline's reliability. TC Energy has said the cleanup will cost the company $480 million, and it announced last week that it had finished recovering oil from the creek.

Prior said last month: "We are unwavering in our commitment to fully remediate the site."

But Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust watchdog group, said that with the history of problems along the Keystone pipeline, the public has plenty of reasons to doubt its safety. "I would certainly like to see PHMSA come up with a plan to work with TC Energy to develop a plan so that the public can be ensured that TC Energy will be able to operate this pipeline safely going forward. I don't think the public has that kind of trust in this pipeline right now," Caram said.

Richard Kuprewicz, who has five decades of experience in the pipeline industry and consults with governments about them, said problems like this flawed weld need to be found during construction but TC Energy clearly missed it amid the pressure to get the multibillion-dollar project built quickly. "It looks like the quality control got out of hand at least in this segment. I can't say for the whole line," said Kuprewicz, who is president of Washington-based Accufacts Inc.

The consultants' report said the pipeline rupture and oil spill occurred only days after TC Energy began testing for increasing the pressure in the Keystone system, though the Kansas section was operating about 16% below the top pressure allowed by U.S. government regulators. At the same time, the company was running a device through the pipeline to look for potential leaks.

Pipeline valves were left open so that the leak-testing tool could pass through the pipeline, the report said, and that could have contributed to the size of the spill.

The report said a March 2021 engineering assessment of Keystone's pipeline from southern Nebraska to northern Oklahoma showed five bends, including Washington County's, had the same oval "deformation." The report noted that the industry generally does not see so-called "ovalities" as a threat, so the "obvious" focus in Washington County in 2012 and 2013 when that abnormality was found there was ensuring that a leak-detecting tool still could pass through the bend. "Yet this focus may have caused the Pipe Integrity team and senior management to overlook a potential concern of added stress on the elbow and its possible impact on future integrity," the report said.

The report added that 108 other pipe fittings manufactured for the Keystone system in 2010 could have "imperfections" similar to those in the Washington County bend. All of them were replacements for other fittings found to be deficient. Because other bends made on the same day had weld flaws that were repaired, the report found it "plausible" that the Washington County bend also had flaws "repaired but not recorded." The lack of an inspection report means that, at a minimum, record-keeping procedures were not followed and, at worst, the report said, "The weld inspections were never performed."


Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Wants NHL's Coyotes to Move to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS) - The quarterback for the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs says he's like to see a professional hockey franchise relocate to the city. NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes thinks Kansas City should be the next home for the Arizona Coyotes. On Wednesday, Mahomes called on the NHL to move the franchise to K.C. If the NHL is going to relocate the Coyotes, CBS Sports reports that it could do a lot worse than Kansas City. The geographic location could create a natural rivalry with the Dallas Stars, and sports teams in the city have done quite a bit of winning in the last decade. The Royals and Chiefs have combined for three championships in the last eight years.

Voters in Tempe recently rejected a plan from the Arizona Coyotes to build a new arena and entertainment district in the city, making the future of the franchise extremely murky. No relocation plans have been formally announced (yet), but that hasn't stopped people on social media from speculating where the franchise could potentially move if they leave Arizona.

This would not be the first time the NHL attempted to bring a team to Kansas City. The Kansas City Scouts were founded in 1974, but the franchise spent just two years there before moving to Denver, becoming the Colorado Rockies. Eventually, the Rockies relocated to New Jersey and became the Devils.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.