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Headlines for Monday, September 11, 2023

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Emily Fisher

JM Smucker Acquiring Hostess in Deal Valued at $5.6 Billion

UNDATED (AP) — Hostess, the maker of snack classics like Twinkies and HoHos, is being sold to J.M. Smucker in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $5.6 billion.

Smucker, which makes everything from coffee to peanut butter and jelly, will pay $34.25 per share in cash and stock, and it will also pick up approximately $900 million in net debt.

Hostess Brands Inc. shareholders will receive $30 in cash and 0.03002 shares of The J.M. Smucker Co. stock for each share of stock that they own.

“We believe this is the right partnership to accelerate growth and create meaningful value for consumers, customers and shareholders. Our companies share highly complementary go-to market strategies, and we are very similar in our core business principles and operations,” Hostess President and CEO Andy Callahan said in a prepared statement Monday.

Twinkies went big when Hostess put them on shelves in 1930, and it followed up with a string of sweet concoctions like DingDongs, Zingers and Sno Balls.

In an interview with The Associated Press this year, Callahan talked about how Hostess Brands managed some of the most well-known brands in America, and also how balance was needed as Americans' tastes changed.

The company motored along for decades, but its struggles began to grow in this century, with workers blaming mismanagement and a failure to invest in brands to keep up with changing tastes. The Lenexa, Kansas, company said that it was weighed down by higher pension and medical costs than its competitors, whose employees weren’t unionized.

By 2012, the company with roots dating back to 1925, began selling off its brands in chunks to different buyers. Wonder was sold to Flowers Foods. McKee Foods, which makes Little Debbie snack cakes, snapped up Drake’s Cake, which includes Devil Dogs and Yodels.

The rest, including Twinkies and other Hostess cakes, was acquired by Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo, for $410 million.

Apollo Global Management, founded by Leon Black, buys troubled brands and tries to turn them around before selling them. It's done so with fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. Metropoulos & Co., which has revamped then sold off brands including Chef Boyardee and Bumble Bee, also owns Pabst Brewing Co.

Hostess reemerged in 2013 with a far less costly operating structure than its predecessor company and was no longer unionized.

Morgan Stanley's Pam Kaufman said that Hostess offered attractive revenue growth through its U.S. sweet snacks business and opportunities for international expansion. She anticipates merger and acquisition activity ramping up in the packaged food sector due to slowing revenue growth and strong balance sheets.

The boards of The J.M. Smucker Co. and Hostess have both approved the deal, which is expected to close in Smucker's fiscal third quarter.

Smucker's stock dropped 7%, while shares of Hostess surged 19%.


Former Kansas Credit Union Advisor Indicted for Embezzling Money

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) – A Kansas woman has been arraigned on federal charges in connection with a years-long scheme to steal money from her employer. Prosecutors accuse 68-year-old Rita Hartman of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Muddy River Credit Union in Atchison. Hartman was indicted by a grand jury in August and arraigned today (MON). Hartman was the manager of Muddy River Credit Union from the early 1990s through January 2021.

Muddy River served the employees of the Bradken foundry located in Atchison. As manager, Hartman had responsibility for and control over all aspects of Muddy River’s finances, books and records. She's accused of using her position to steal money from the credit union. The FBI investigated the case. (Read more.)


Kansas Autumns Getting Warmer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) — Scientists say climate change is making the fall season warmer in Kansas and across the Midwest. Warm days aren’t unheard of in the fall. But compared to 50 years ago, Wichita now gets an average of two extra weeks per year of unseasonably warm autumn days. A new report from Climate Central says a typical autumn day in Wichita is now 3 degrees warmer than it used to be. Topeka’s fall weather has warmed more than 2 degrees. And Kansas City’s – more than 1 degree. A warmer fall extends allergy and mosquito seasons. It can also increase wildfire risk and disrupt animal behavior, like bird migration.


KU Researchers Study Long Waitlists for State Disability Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Researchers at the University of Kansas are studying ways to shorten years-long waitlists for state disability services. People can wait up to a decade for intellectual and developmental disability services like overnight care or residential treatment. Some people are on the waitlist so long that their needs change once they are on it. So, researchers at KU will survey people on the waitlist and see what help they need. They’ll then take that information back to the state. Researchers at KU, like Jean Hall, hope this tells policymakers what resources to invest in to shorten future waitlists. “These are people that we're talking about, not just numbers," she said. "And they have stories and needs and concerns.” The study is scheduled to last a year but could be extended.


Evidence Insufficient to Charge BTK Killer in Oklahoma Cold Case, Prosecutor Says

PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — There isn't enough evidence to charge the BTK serial killer in the 1976 disappearance of a 16-year-old girl, an Oklahoma prosecutor said Monday despite statements from law enforcement officials calling Dennis Rader a prime suspect.

District Attorney Mike Fisher said at a news conference that he's not at a point where he could file charges against Rader in the disappearance of Cynthia Dawn Kinney, a cheerleader from the northern Oklahoma city of Pawhuska who was last seen at a laundromat.

But Fisher asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to open a formal investigation into Kinney's disappearance because of the public interest in the revived cold case, and he will file charges if he learns of evidence that would warrant it, he said.

Osage County sheriff's officials, including Undersheriff Gary Upton, have recently called Rader a “prime suspect” in Kinney's disappearance and the death of 22-year-old Shawna Beth Garber, whose body was discovered in December 1990 in McDonald County, Missouri.

Rader, now 78, killed from 1974 to 1991, giving himself the nickname BTK — for “bind, torture and kill.” He played a cat and mouse game with investigators and reporters for decades before he was caught in 2005. He ultimately confessed to 10 killings in the Wichita, Kansas, area, about 90 miles (144.84 kilometers) north of Pawhuska. He is imprisoned for 10 consecutive life terms.

A bank was installing new alarms across the street from the laundromat where Kinney was last seen, Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden has said. Rader was a regional installer for security system company ADT at the time, but Virden wasn’t able to confirm that Rader installed the bank's systems.

Virden told KAKE-TV he decided to investigate when he learned that Rader had included the phrase “bad laundry day” in his writings.

Fisher said he sat in on interviews that Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma investigators conducted with Rader about 90 days ago, but the sheriff has not shared any physical evidence with the DA’s office.

He called the information he has received so far “rumors because they’ve not been substantiated yet.” And he said he hadn't seen anything "that at this point arises to the level of even reasonable suspicion.”

But Fisher said he had seen things that gave him “pause and concern" about the sheriff's department, including the way they handled a dig for evidence at Rader's former property in Park City, Kansas, last month. And he called his relationship with the sheriff “broken.”

“I’m not trying to create a conflict with the sheriff of Osage County,” he said. “But, there are certain ways to investigate a case, and I’m concerned that those proper investigative techniques have not been used. That’s why I asked the OSBI to assist.”

Virden defended his handling of the investigation in an interview published Sunday in the Tulsa World. He also said Rader denied when he spoke to him in prison in January that he had killed anyone but his 10 victims in Kansas, but volunteered that one of his favorite unfulfilled fantasies had been to kidnap a girl from a laundromat.

The prosecutor said he was also concerned for Kinney’s parents, with whom he met for about two hours on Friday. He said they are both in their 80s, and the renewed speculation has taken a physical toll on them.

“Cynthia went missing 47 years ago. They’ve got no answers,” Fisher said. “We have reason to believe that it may have been a homicide. We can’t say that with any absolute certainty, but we’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise as there’s been no contact with Cynthia Dawn since 1976, since her disappearance.”


KDHE Receives Grant to Establish Alzheimer's Disease Coalition

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will receive almost $1.2 million to support Kansans with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Governor Laura Kelly has announced that Kansas is one of 43 recipients of funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kansas will use those funds to establish a Alzheimer's disease coalition. An estimated 55,000 Kansans live with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia.


Lawrence School Board to Vote on Annual Budget

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) — The Lawrence school board has been working for months to hammer out agreements on numerous issues ahead of tonight's (MON) vote on the 2023-24 budget. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the discussions among board members and residents have included school closures, staffing reductions, and contract negotiations for employees. The district is expecting to see millions of dollars in new revenue including nearly $8 million due to budget-cutting measures in the past year that included a reduction of 48 secondary teaching positions and the closure of two elementary schools. The district is also expecting a $4 million increase over last year in K-12 education funding from the state. The school board is set to meet at 6:00 pm.


Kansas City Has Nation's Highest Spike in Rent Rates

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) — Rental rates have skyrocketed across the country and the Kansas City Metro is feeling it more than most. KCTV reports that the metro has seen the nation's most significant yearly rate increase. According to research from Rent.com, monthly rental costs in Kansas City have jumped nearly 17 percent in the past year.


Kansas Senator Roger Marshall Would Consider Government Shutdown

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) — Kansas GOP Senator Roger Marshall says he would consider a government shutdown this fall unless cuts are made to federal spending. Funding for the federal government will run out September 30th. Congress is unlikely to have enough time after it returns next week to pass a full-year funding bill. Instead, a short-term funding measure will have to pass to avoid a government shutdown. But Marshall says he’s not sure whether he’ll support that. "I’m willing to shut the government down if they’re not willing to work on our federal deficit," he said. Marshall, like other Republicans, wants to see major decreases in federal spending. He says he’d like a 20% cut across the board. Funding to Ukraine is one of the areas he’d like to see go. He also wants the stopgap funding measure to include money to secure the Southern border.


Kansas Book Festival Coming to Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Dozens of authors will gather in Topeka next weekend for the 12th annual Kansas Book Festival. The festival's executive director, Tim Bascom, says organizers work to focus the festival on Kansas authors. "We're always trying to feature people who are somehow connected to Kansas," he said. "We've got a lot happening here." The Festival takes place Saturday, September 16th at Washburn University in Topeka. All events are free and open to the public. Learn more at KansasBookFestival.com.

Bascom spoke about the Kansas Book Festival with KPR's Kaye McIntyre for her program, KPR Presents.


Kansas Big 12 Football Weekend Wrap-Up

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Both Big 12 teams in Kansas are off to 2-and-0 starts after the second weekend of college football. After the University of Kansas beat Illinois 34-23 Friday night, Coach Lance Leipold said it was the best opening half of football in this three years as the Jayhawks head coach. A lot of it was on the shoulders of quarterback Jalen Daniels, who sat out the season opener a week earlier after off-season back issues. "I thought Jalen didn’t show any rust. It was a good day," Leipold said. Daniels threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 41 yards. Next up for KU is a road game at Nevada this Saturday night. K-State plays at Missouri this Saturday after a weekend win over Troy, 42-13.


Reddick Heads to Second Round of NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Tyler Reddick took advantage of good speed and good fortune, perhaps the two things most needed for success in the NASCAR Cup Series, to win at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. The win clinched his spot in the second round of the playoffs for the first time. Meanwhile, second-place finisher Denny Hamlin was missing the luck element, with a late caution spoiling what appeared to be a stress-free win. Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex Jr. were also fast but both blew tires and sustained damage that not only ruined their chances Sunday, but put them in peril heading to the last race in the first round of the playoffs.


Chiefs Sign All-Pro Defensive Tackle Chris Jones to New 1-Year Deal to End Holdout

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs signed Chris Jones to a new one-year contract Monday, which should end the All-Pro defensive tackle's holdout and could mean he will be on the field when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 2.

The Chiefs did not disclose terms, but a source told The Associated Press no years were added to his four-year, $80 million deal, that was due to expire. The person, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal, said it instead includes incentives to substantially increase what Jones will make this season.

“Chris is an elite player in this league, and over the last seven years, he’s really developed into a leader on our team,” Chiefs general manager Manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “He’s been instrumental to our success and Super Bowl championship runs and it was a priority for us to keep him in a Chiefs uniform."

Veach praised Jones' representation, Jason and Michael Katz, for their work on the deal. The agents accompanied Jones to Kansas City last week and sat alongside him in a suite at Arrowhead Stadium to watch the Chiefs' season-opening loss to Detroit.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said hours before the deal was announced that there had been recent communication between the sides.

“Two things were obvious,” Veach said. "Chris wanted to be a Chiefs and the Katz brothers worked diligently on his behalf.”

Jones gave up a $500,000 workout bonus, was fined $50,000 each day for missing a mandatory minicamp and all of training camp, and forfeited nearly $1.1 million in his first game check for holding out through Week 1. It's unclear whether the provisions in his new deal will allow Jones to recoup the millions he already lost.

The statement from the Chiefs did not discuss what could happen next season. The club could still work out a long-term deal with Jones, along with placing the franchise tag on him and allowing him to leave in free agency.

(–Additional reporting –)

Holdout Ends as KC Chiefs Star Defender Chris Jones Agrees to New Contract

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) — The Kansas City Chiefs have reached an agreement with holdout defensive tackle Chris Jones. The Kansas City Star reports that the team announced the news this (MON) afternoon. It’s a one-year contract, but it includes multiple incentives for Jones to earn considerably more money this season. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said, “Chris is an elite player in this league and over the last seven years, he’s really developed into a leader of our team.”

Jones had missed organized team activities, training camp, the preseason and the Chiefs’ season opener while holding out. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Jones is coming off an All-Pro season. He’s won two Super Bowl rings in his seven seasons with the Chiefs.

According to the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player under contract with unexcused late reporting or absence from preseason training camp is subject to a mandatory fine of $50,000 per day. His fines for missing this year’s camp and the first regular-season game exceeded $2 million. The Chiefs play at the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.


Chiefs Optimistic TE Travis Kelce, DT Chris Jones Will Be Available for Sunday Game in Jacksonville

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are trending toward having their two All-Pros on Sunday in Jacksonville.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday that tight end Travis Kelce, who hyperextended his knee in practice last week, has been progressing in his recovery. Just hours later, the club also announced that defensive tackle Chris Jones had agreed to a new one-year deal that should end his holdout and put him in line to play against the Jaguars.

“Chris is an elite player in this league, and over the last seven years, he’s really developed into a leader on our team,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “He’s been instrumental to our success and Super Bowl championship runs and it was a priority for us to keep him in a Chiefs uniform."

Kelce hurt his knee in the Chiefs' final practice before Thursday night's loss to Detroit. Tests showed there was no ligament damage, only a bone bruise and some swelling, and Kelce tried to get loose enough to play in the season opener. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and trainer Rick Burkholder ultimately made him inactive after a workout earlier in the day.

“Travis is getting better,” Reid said. “We’ll see how he does the rest of today or tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

The Chiefs could certainly use their star tight end after their offense fizzled in the 21-20 loss to the Lions.

Without his security blanket, reigning NFL league MVP Patrick Mahomes was just 21 of 39 for 226 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception. The pick bounced off the hands of Kadarius Toney, who had several of the eight drops by Kansas City receivers, and was returned by 50 yards for a touchdown by Lions rookie Brian Branch.

Meanwhile, backup tight ends Noah Gray and Blake Bell combined to catch five passes for 43 yards.

“We'll get the receiving things taken care of. I feel good about the receivers we have,” Reid said on a zoom Monday with local reporters. “We are not normally guys that drop the ball but we did and we have to fix it. But I think there is talent that will just keep improving as they continue to play. I have seen them do it before. I think we'll get that worked out.”

The Chiefs have had some extra time after playing Thursday night. The Jaguars won 31-21 on Sunday in Indianapolis.

“We've all got to do better. That's the thing I took out of this,” Reid said, “whether it's coaching, it's playing, the O-line, the D-line — we can all take something out of this game and get better at it. There were spurts of good and there were spurts of not-so good, and we were in position to win the game. Normally we do that and we did not.”

Watching it all transpire was Jones, who had taken his contract holdout into the regular season and wound up watching the opener alongside his agents, Jason and Michael Katz, from a suite inside Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs did not disclose the terms of his new deal, but a source told The Associated Press no years were added to his four-year, $80 million deal due to expire. The person, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal, said it instead includes incentives to substantially increase what Jones will make this season.

Jones forfeited a $500,000 workout bonus, accumulated $50,000 in fines for each day missed of mandatory minicamp and training camp, and lost about $1.1 million in his first game check for sitting out the game against Detroit.


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.