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Headlines for Friday, June 18, 2021

 

Kansas Judge Finds CDC Eviction Moratorium Unenforceable

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A judge in Kansas’s most populous county is beginning to evict tenants who are behind on rent in advance of a federal moratorium expiring at the end of the month. Johnson County Magistrate Judge Daniel Vokins explained this week during a Zoom eviction hearing that he doesn’t think the moratorium that was issued last year by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is enforceable. The federal moratorium has kept many tenants owing back rent housed. With it set to expire, more than 4 million people nationally say they fear being evicted or foreclosed upon in the coming months. Kansas also had its own eviction moratorium, but it expired on May 28.

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Permanent Fence Installed Around Kansas Governor's Mansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Workers are installing a permanent metal fence around the Kansas governor's mansion in Topeka. The state said the fence is part of security upgrades at Cedar Crest. The decision comes as more protests are being held near the mansion but Governor Laura Kelly's office said no specific threat prompted the decision to install the fence. The enhanced security comes after a federal Department of Homeland Security assessment of the property early this year. Previously, the governor's mansion had a gate restricting vehicles from entering but only a wooden fence encircling the property.

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Kansas Prosecutor Resigns Posts Amid Misconduct Allegations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor accused of misleading juries in two cases has resigned from her positions in Bourbon and Allen counties, just weeks after a disciplinary panel recommended she be disbarred. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Jacqie Spradling stepped down earlier this month as assistant county attorney in Allen County. She also is leaving her position as the county attorney in Bourbon County, effective June 30. A state disciplinary board unanimously recommended to the Kansas Supreme Court earlier this month that she be disbarred, citing her "win at all costs" attitude in a 2012 double homicide case and a 2016 rape and sodomy case. Appeals courts tossed out the convictions.

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Charges Filed in Accidental Shooting Death of 13-Year-Old

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged the owner of a gun found in a Topeka home by toddlers, who then accidentally shot a 13-year-old girl. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay filed charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child endangerment and criminal possession of a gun by a felon against 22-year-old Dejuan Thomas Yelverton. Police say Yelverton owned the gun that was found by toddlers Saturday morning. As the children were handling the gun, it fired, hitting 13-year-old DaMya Hudnall in the back of the head. DaMya was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. She died after being taken off life support Tuesday. Yelverton is being held in the Shawnee County Jail on $250,000 bond.

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Police in Kansas Seeking Driver Whose Car Slammed into Crowd

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are seeking a driver whose car slammed into a group of spectators at a sideshow over the weekend, seriously injuring one man. Police say the sideshow, which is a street demonstration of car stunts, drew about 100 people to First Street and Osage Avenue around 10 pm Sunday. Police say that during the show, a 1990s Ford Mustang was spinning circles when it slid into the crowd and hit a 24-year-old man who suffered a broken neck and broken leg. Police say the driver left before officers and medics arrived and had not been found by Wednesday. Police are asking the driver to come forward.

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Kansas Teenager Who Killed Mom Pleads to Lesser Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A teenager who shot and killed his mother in 2018 has pleaded no contest to lesser charges in her death. The teenager, who was not tried as an adult, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Lisa Trimmell at a home near Andover. He pleaded no contest Wednesday to aggravated battery and criminal use of a weapon. Prosecutors said Trimmell was arguing with the boy's younger brother, who was 12 at the time, when the older boy shot her. He was 14. His attorneys argued he was defending his brother from his mother, who was drunk. The teen, now 17, will be sentenced July 30.

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University of Kansas Will Not Use Controversial Dismissal Policy Targeting Tenured Faculty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas officials are saying the school will not use a policy that would have made it easier to dismiss tenured faculty. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Kansas Board of Regents Thursday that he does not believe the university will have to suspend any faculty members from any of its campuses. The regents approved the policy in January to help universities respond to financial difficulties. The state's other five public universities immediately said they would not use the policy. Girod said Thursday that KU officials now believe federal funding will help alleviate some of the financial strains that had led the school to consider using the policy.

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Study: Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, and Colorado Bases Lead Army Posts in Risk of Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study finds that female soldiers at Army bases in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, and Kentucky face a greater risk of sexual assault and harassment than those at other posts, accounting for more than a third of all active duty Army women sexually assaulted in 2018. The study by Rand Corp. was released Friday. It says female soldiers at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, both in Texas, faced the highest risk, particularly those in combat commands or jobs such as field artillery and engineering.  And units with more frequent deployments to war also saw higher risk. Other bases with high risk were Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Fort Carson in Colorado and Fort Riley in Kansas.

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Survey: Strong Growth Continues in Rural Parts of 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers suggests strong growth continues across rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index slipped to 70 in June from May’s record high of 78.8, but it remained in positive territory above 50. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the number of nonfarm jobs across the region remains 2% below where it was before the pandemic began, but three states — Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — reported employment levels above where they were before the virus emerged last year.  Bankers from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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COVID-19 Cases Rise in Missouri Areas Popular Among Tourists

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A swath of southern Missouri is seeing a big rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations at just the wrong time — as tourists eager to get out after being cooped up for a year make their way to popular destinations such as Branson and Lake of the Ozarks. Data from the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 206 people hospitalized with the virus in southwestern Missouri — nearly double the 111 hospitalizations on May 1. Health experts cite two factors driving the surge: The presence of the faster-spreading Delta variant, and a reluctance among residents to get vaccinated.

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Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Exceeds 316,500; Death Toll Tops 5,100

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that there have been 316,539 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 5,129 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 196 cases and one death since Wednesday. Another update is expected Monday.

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Johnson County Officials Warn of Sewage in Tomahawk Creek

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County health officials have warned residents in south Overland Park to avoid and keep their pets away from a creek there following a sewer line break. The Kansas City Star reports that a public health advisory was issued this week for a portion of Tomahawk Creek. Officials say the sanitary sewer line broke at a tributary that flows into Tomahawk Creek. Officials believe recent heavy rain may have caused the damage that led the line to break. Wastewater department director Susan Pekarek says more than 2,800 residents living near the creek received notice of the advisory.

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Kansas Governor Appoints 3 to Board of Regents

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has appointed a former railway executive, a former state senator and an educator to the board that governs the state’s six universities. Kelly announced Wednesday that she appointed former BNSF Railway chief Carl Ice, education consulting firm leader and former school superintendent Cynthia Lane and former Republican state senator and lawyer Wint Winter to the nine-member Board of Regents. Kelly said she looked forward to working with the board to implement workforce development programs and use colleges and universities as engines for economic growth. The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

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Missouri Responds Defiantly to Justice Department in Dispute over Gun Law

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Republican governor and attorney general have told the U.S. Department of Justice that they stand by the state’s new law that would ban police from enforcing federal gun rules. Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote in a letter Thursday that they plan to enforce the law, which would penalize local police departments if their officers enforce federal gun laws. In a letter sent Wednesday night and obtained by The Associated Press, Justice Department officials pointed out that federal law trumps state law under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Republicans behind the law said they were motivated by the potential for more restrictive gun laws under Democratic President Joe Biden. But Democrats say it's unconstitutional.

(Earlier reporting...)

Justice Department: Missouri Governor Can't Void Federal Gun Laws

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is warning Missouri officials that the state can’t ignore federal law, after the governor signed a bill last week that bans police from enforcing federal gun rules. A top Justice Department official sent a letter Wednesday night saying the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution outweighs the measure that Governor Mike Parson signed into law Saturday. The law would penalize local police departments if their officers enforce federal gun laws. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton says in the letter that Parson and Eric Schmitt, the state’s attorney general, must clarify the law to the federal government.

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Kansas Teenager Charged in Homicide in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County, Missouri prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old Kansas boy in the shooting death of a Kansas City, Missouri, man. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Jayvon Hunter, of Kansas City, Kansas, will be tried as an adult for second-degree murder and three other charges in the October death of 44-year-old Cristobal Gutierrez-Castillas. Investigators said surveillance video shows Hunter and others arriving at the scene in east Kansas City on scooters. Hunter is seen arguing with three men before he fired a shot. The video shows Hunter going through the victim’s pockets and removing a cell phone before he leaves. Online court records don't name an attorney for Hunter.

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Heated Debate Before U.S. Catholic Bishops Vote on Communion Issue

UNDATED, (AP) - U.S. Catholic bishops have debated how to address concerns about Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, who continue to receive Communion despite supporting abortion rights. The issue is by far the most contentious agenda item at the virtual national meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Some said Thursday that a strong rebuke of Biden is needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access. Others warned that would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions. The meeting concludes Friday soon after an announcement of how the bishops vote on the issue.

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Chiefs Wrap Up 3-Day Mandatory Minicamp with Optimism

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday with a sense of optimism that comes from playing in the last two Super Bowls and the offseason additions to the roster. These three days comprised the final practices the Chiefs will have in Phase 3 of the offseason program ahead of training camp which begins late July. Head coach Andy Reid was most pleased that he could see his player in person.

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Kansas Public Radio Aims for More Sustaining Members

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - After getting a $216,000 budget cut from the University of Kansas, Kansas Public Radio is hoping to make up the difference by holding a special two-day, on-air fund drive later this month. KPR's goal is to increase membership by 300 new or upgrading sustainers. Sustainers are donors who sign up for automatic monthly contributions to the radio station. The recent budget cut from KU is the largest in the 69-year history of the station and represents about 70% of the station's annual funding from the university. The on-air portion of KPR's two-day fund drive begins Thursday, June 24, but fundraising is already underway. KPR supporters have pooled their money to create a $30,000 matching grant when KPR receives 300 new or upgrading sustainers during the month of June.  Those wanting to become KPR listener-members can join anytime by making a pledge.

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