Headlines for Thursday, September 7, 2023
State Commission Wants to Know Why Judge Signed Off on Police Raid of Marion Newspaper Office
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — A state commission is asking a judge who signed off on the search for a Kansas newspaper office to explain her decision. Magistrate Judge Laura Viar authorized a search of the Marion County Record and the home of its publisher and a Marion councilwoman in August. The Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct is considering a complaint against Viar and is requesting a response from her. In a letter to Topeka resident Keri Strahler, who filed the complaint, the commission said it placed the matter on the agenda for its November meeting. The raid in Marion was widely criticized around the world as an attack on press freedom. A county attorney revoked the warrants, citing insufficient evidence to seize computers, personal cell phones and other equipment.
Kansas Property Tax Increases Alarm Homeowners, Lawmakers Consider Options
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) — Kansas taxpayers are lining up at public meetings to voice frustration over increasing property taxes. State lawmakers are taking notice and may consider new restrictions on tax increases. Despite record-breaking temperatures, an overflow crowd of frustrated taxpayers recently crammed into the Shawnee County Commission chambers to voice concerns about rising property taxes, driven largely by growing home values. The majority of people spoke against the $140.7 million budget, a 10.4% increase over the previous budget. It’s a scene playing out across the state as local governments hold public hearings on their budgets required by state law. (Read more.)
Grizzly Blamed for Killing Kansas Woman Shot and Killed by Wildlife Officials
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (AP) — A grizzly bear that fatally mauled a woman on a forest trail west of Yellowstone National Park in July and also attacked a person in Idaho three years ago was killed after it broke into a house near West Yellowstone over the weekend, Montana wildlife officials said Wednesday.
Early Saturday, a homeowner reported that a bear with a cub had broken through a kitchen window and taken a container of dog food, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement. Later that day agency workers captured the cub and shot the 10-year-old female grizzly with authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, because grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Through genetic analysis and other identifying factors, the bear was confirmed to have been involved in the July 22 fatal attack on Amie Adamson, 48, a former teacher from Kansas, about 8 miles from West Yellowstone. Efforts to trap the bear at that time were unsuccessful.
The bear, which had been captured in 2017 for research purposes, was also involved in an attack in Idaho that injured a person near Henrys Lake State Park in 2020. The park is 16 miles by road from West Yellowstone. Both encounters with people were believed to have been defensive responses by the bear, officials said. The bear's 46-pound male cub is being held at the state wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena while arrangements are made to transfer it to a zoo.
Report: 2 Fatalities, 16 DUI Arrests in Kansas over Labor Day Holiday Weekend
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Highway Patrol reports there were two fatal vehicle crashes during the long Labor Day holiday weekend. Neither fatality involved alcohol. In addition, state troopers made 16 DUI arrests and issued 687 speeding tickets from Friday, September 1st through Monday of this week. Troopers also assisted more than 770 motorists during that same time period. Click here to see the full report.
Manifesto Leads to Man’s Arrest in Florida for Child Sex Crimes in Kansas, Other States
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) — A 24-page manifesto and confession to authorities in Florida led to one man’s arrest for hundreds of child sex crimes that span decades, some of which took place in Kansas. WIBW TV reports that Topeka police detectives recently assisted the Stuart, Florida, Police Department with an investigation into a case that covered hundreds of child sex crimes that spanned decades. Authorities say 61-year-old James Leonard Ward-Nichols was arrested August 26. Along with possession of child pornography, Ward-Nichols confessed to child sex crimes that span decades and occurred across the nation.
Ward-Nichols confessed to owning a storage unit in Topeka with hard drives full of child porn. In his typed confession, he said his storage locker in Topeka contains hours of footage of him pleasuring himself next to a Lawrence playground near the Raintree Montessori School. He said he had specifically chosen his housing in Lawrence to do so.
This was not his only crime in Kansas. Ward-Nichols said he also stole Bibles from and desecrated a small church in Alta Vista. He also claimed to have pleasured himself inside dozens of Dollar Generals in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and other states. His confession also contains information detailing crimes that happened in New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona and other states.
No GMOs! Mexico Bans Genetically Modified Corn from U.S.
UNDATED (HPM) — A report from the U.S. Grains Council says the nation exported nearly 17 billion metric tons of corn to Mexico last year. But Mexico’s president has been trying to ban the import of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms - in this case, corn. Much of that GMO corn comes from the U.S. and Mexico’s position is endangering a major trade agreement. Nancy Martinez, with the National Corn Growers Association, says a ban could really hurt American farmers. “If we can't export the majority of our GM corn, we'd have to find other available markets to put it. And that's not something that you can stand up overnight," she said. The U.S. has requested formal trade consultations with Mexico but so far, there has been little progress in resolving the dispute. (Read more.)
Fewer Kansans to Benefit from New Student Loan Repayment Plan
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) — Student loan payments are set to resume next month, and fewer Kansas borrowers stand to benefit from a new federal repayment program. The White House announced this week that 35,000 Kansans have enrolled in the new SAVE plan, which stands for Saving on A Valuable Education. It can lower payments and interest based on the borrower’s income. More than 350,000 Kansas residents would have benefited from President Biden’s initial debt forgiveness plan. The U.S. Supreme Court struck that down in July. During a stop in Kansas this week, Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten said the income-driven SAVE plan will still help low-income borrowers and those with families. “Thousands of borrowers are still getting relief. We want people to understand how those programs work and we can make them as user-friendly as possible," she said.
Kansas City Man Pleads Guilty in Lawrence Fentanyl Overdose Death
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) — A Missouri man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter involving a 2021 fentanyl death in Lawrence. KCTV reports that 33-year-old Daniele Leone, of Kansas City, Missouri, has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance in the fentanyl death of a 32-year-old Lawrence man in March of 2021.
KHP Employs Dogs Trained to Detect Fentanyl
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSHB) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has K-9 units with dogs trained to detect cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and now fentanyl. State troopers say fentanyl overdoses increased by nearly 1000% between 2017 and 2022. KSHB TV reports that the dogs are now trained to find the scent of fentanyl. For the last six weeks, these K-9s have been in the field and have proven successful. The special K-9 units are now extending their help to other Kansas communities like Lawrence, Ottawa and Topeka. The K-9 fentanyl initiative is part of a federal-state partnership.
U.S. Senators: Why Should Kansans Subsidize Energy Costs in Other States?
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The two U.S. Senators from Kansas are speaking out against a recent federal rule that could force Kansas taxpayers to subsidize wind energy used in other states. A press release from GOP Senator Roger Marshall's office says he and Senator Jerry Moran co-signed a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The letter urges an adjustment to the electricity transmission costs that will disproportionately affect Kansas residents. The letter from Marshall and Moran says that Kansans pay about 67% of the transmission costs for wind energy to other states but only use about 30% of that energy. The Kansas senators say it's unfair for Kansas ratepayers to be penalized for providing energy for the rest of the country.
Kansas State Fair Begins 10-Day Run in Hutchinson Friday
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Kansas State Fair begins Friday in Hutchinson. The 10-day fair is a showcase of Kansas agriculture, industry and culture. The annual fair features food, music, displays, vendors, carnival rides and games. On September 15th, the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl LVII Trophy will be on display. Attendees will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the trophy (from 2-6 pm) that Friday afternoon at the House of Capper. For more information about the events, concerts and attractions, visit KansasStateFair.com.
Wichita Shelter Staff: Domestic Violence on the Rise
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) — Kansas domestic violence shelters say the recent death of a pregnant Wichita woman coincides with a rise in domestic violence incidents. Zaiylah Bronson was 16 weeks pregnant. Her boyfriend was charged with capital murder last week. Homicide is the third-leading cause of death for pregnant Kansans. Amanda Meyers, with the Wichita Family Crisis Center, says Bronson’s death comes as the shelter sees more domestic violence survivors seeking help. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase. We have an increased capacity of three times the size of our previous facility... and we are full and bursting at the seams," she said. She urges anyone experiencing abuse to seek help.
Other Kansas shelters say they are also seeing a rise in domestic violence incidents. Andrea Quill, CEO of the Salina-based Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas, says the severity of abuse has also increased. She says the shelter is struggling to meet demand as federal pandemic money dries up. The national domestic violence hotline is (800) 799-7233.
Federal Programs Help Keep Kansas Kids Out of Foster Care
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Recent programs funded with federal money are helping Kansas keep kids out of foster care. The Family First program, created in 2018, gives states money to fund prevention services that help keep families intact so kids don’t end up in foster care. That could include therapy for families. In Kansas, multiple organizations say the programs are keeping over 90% of kids out of the foster care system. Nicole McCauley works for foster care agency St. Francis Ministries. She says money historically has supported foster parents and adoption. “That’s important,” McCauley says, “but so is keeping kids out of foster care in the first place. I think it strengthens the entire child welfare system.” Two separate audits say Kansas is struggling to care for kids once in foster care and the agencies say that makes this prevention work even more important. (Read more.)
No. 15 K-State Tries to Avoid Another Non-Conference Letdown with Troy on Deck
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — No. 15 Kansas State hosts Troy on Saturday. The Wildcats will try to avoid repeating a non-conference letdown from last season, when it lost at home to Tulane. Kansas State opened the season with a 45-0 rout of Southeast Missouri State, while the Trojans are coming off a win over Stephen F. Austin. Kansas State rebounded from its loss to the Green Wave last year by beating TCU in the Big 12 championship game. The Wildcats will need to maintain their focus against the Trojans because they have a trip to former conference rival Missouri looming next week.
Chiefs Without Injured All-Pro Tight End Travis Kelce for NFL Opener Against Detroit
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Travis Kelce was inactive for the Chiefs’ game against the Lions in the NFL’s season opener Thursday night after hurting his knee in practice. Kelce tried to get loose before kickoff but still reported some discomfort. The 33-year-old Kelce had not missed a game to injury since his rookie season in 2013, when he missed all but one to have a microfracture procedure to repair a cartilage problem in his knee. The Chiefs' Chris Jones also remained absent while the All-Pro defensive tackle holds out. Lions cornerback Emmanuel Moseley was inactive after recently returning to practice from rehabbing a knee injury sustained last season.
Chiefs Begin NFL Title Defense Against Lions on Thursday Night at Arrowhead Stadium
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about everyone in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room has moved past their latest Super Bowl triumph by this point, turning their focus toward the Detroit Lions in Thursday night's NFL opener and the prospect of becoming the first repeat NFL champions in nearly two decades.
Keeping that focus has been hard, though.
The Chiefs spent the offseason wondering whether Chris Jones would end his holdout, and it appears that the All-Pro defensive tackle is content taking it right into the regular season. Then on Tuesday, the Chiefs watched All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce limp off the practice field with a hyperextended knee, putting his availability for the Lions in question.
Throw in the fact that Chiefs fans are still talking about their February victory over Philadelphia, their attempt to set a record for largest pregame tailgate, and a banner-raising ceremony greeting their entrance to Arrowhead Stadium and, well, there are more than enough reasons for the Chiefs to be distracted as they begin pursuit of a fourth Super Bowl trip in five years.
“Listen, right now the guys are focused on the Lions,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has won eight consecutive openers. “All that other stuff — it's going to be an exciting environment, but right now we've got to make sure we're not looking at all that stuff and we're looking at the Lions. They get your attention when you watch the tape.”
Indeed, the Lions responded to losing six of their first seven games last season by winning eight of their last 10, and there were few offenses in the NFL that were scoring at the same clip as Jared Goff and Co. down the stretch.
The Lions could be even better on that side of the ball, too. The picked up David Montgomery in free agency, chose fellow running back Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of the draft and selected tight end Sam LaPorta in the third round.
“The last two years we haven’t started quick,” Goff said. “There’s a little bit of an increased awareness of it, I think, making sure that we don’t dig ourselves in a hole. But the same time, we’re trying to win every game.”
So are the Chiefs, who have done a pretty good job of it.
They have won the AFC West the past seven seasons, hosted the conference title game a record five straight years, and Patrick Mahomes — the reigning league MVP — has never lost an opener in five games as the starting quarterback.
Four of those games the Chiefs won by double digits with Mahomes throwing 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
“Obviously the preseason is one thing," he said, "but taking that next step into the regular season will be big, and it's not always going to be perfect. But how are you going to battle the entire game to find a way to win?'
MISSING FROM ACTION
Jones has already racked up millions in fines for missing training camp and the preseason, but the Chiefs' star defensive tackle now faces the prospect of losing about $1.1 million in game checks for each week he is gone.
Jones is entering the final year of a four-year, $80 million deal, and has been holding out in the hopes of landing a more lucrative long-term deal.
The Chiefs' star tight end hyperextended his knee during Tuesday's last full workout for the Lions. The 33-year-old Kelce has not missed a game because of injury since his rookie year, when he had surgery on his knee, and he is coming off perhaps the best season of his 10-year career. He had a career-best 110 catches for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
PRIMED FOR PRIME TIME
Detroit is aiming to get off to a better start this season and hopes joint practices against the Giants and Jaguars will help.
“It was two good teams, two playoff teams, two teams with completely different styles of defense,” Goff said. “It was a really good four days of work for us and was able to kind of be a barometer for where we were at and some things to learn from.”
The Lions had a top-five offense last season in part because they finished 11th in rushing, their best showing on the ground since 1997, when future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders had a 2,000-yard season. But they dealt D’Andre Swift to the Eagles and Jamaal Williams left for the Saints, so general manager Brad Holmes signed David Montgomery away from the Bears and drafted Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama with the No. 12 pick overall, putting them behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
“Gibby’s kind of the speed, quick guy and David is a bit more of the stronger,” Goff said. “We plan to hand it off to both of them and throw it to both of them at some points this season and they’re both extremely explosive.”
The Lions are thrilled that Levi Onwuzurike, a backup in 16 games two years ago, is back to bolster their depth on the defensive line. He missed last season with a back injury that required a spinal-fusion surgery that could have ended his career.
“He’s been through a lot and through it all," Lions coach Dan Campbell said, "and the guy has never complained.”
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. You can also follow KPR News on Twitter.