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Headlines for Friday, November 26, 2021

Kansas Health Official: COVID Cases Rising Ahead of Holiday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas health advisor says the coronavirus pandemic is starting to worsen in Kansas again as families prepare to gather over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that health advisor Marci Nielsen blames less mask use and more indoor gatherings. Nielsen said the state is now seeing more than 1,000 cases a day. Nielsen told the governor’s Safer Classrooms Workgroup that the state’s vaccination rate for youth ages 12-17 has consistently been about seven percentage points below the national rate. Fifty-four percent of all Kansans are fully vaccinated, which puts Kansas in the bottom half of all states and territories.


Missouri Judge: Local Health Orders Tied to COVID-19 Are Illegal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has ruled that local health orders imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state are illegal and should be lifted. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that orders such as quarantines and business closures violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The lawsuit was filed in 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when St. Louis city, St. Louis County and other jurisdictions were issuing health mandates aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.


Kansas Supreme Court Takes Up Overturned Day Care Death Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider an appeals court decision overturning the conviction of a day care worker in the death of a 9-month-old. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to have the murder conviction against Carrody Buchhorn reinstated. The office appealed after the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in August that she should get a new trial because her attorney did not adequately question a coroner’s ruling on how 9-month-old Oliver “Ollie” Ortiz died. He was found unresponsive at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home in Eudora.

(–Additional Reporting–)

Kansas Supreme Court to Consider Eudora Woman’s Murder Conviction

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW/KPR) —The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider a Eudora woman’s 2018 murder conviction. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the state’s highest court has granted a petition for review from the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, which is appealing a Kansas Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year to overturn Carrody Buchhorn’s murder conviction. The DA’s office is seeking to have the conviction reinstated. Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden told the Journal World that the petition for review was accepted but a date in court had not yet been scheduled.  A jury previously found Buchhorn guilty of second-degree murder after 9-month-old Oliver “Ollie” Ortiz was found unresponsive at a Eudora day care. She was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. In August, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that Buchhorn received ineffective assistance of counsel during her 2018 trial, which it said denied her the right to a fair trial. The court said her attorneys failed to properly question a coroner’s ruling on how the boy died, among other issues. In the ruling, the court granted the right to a new trial.  After the conviction was overturned, Buchhorn was released from custody in September on a $100,000 bond. 


Food Banks Scrambling to Supply Midwest Food Pantries

URBANA, Ill. (Harvest Public Media) - The high cost of food right now is driving more people to food pantries across the Midwest. Food banks -- which provide food for pantries -- saw a huge increase in demand for food at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That demand has leveled off somewhat but most are still seeing higher need than before the pandemic and food cost inflation has been a big driver of increased demand. Supply chain issues and food inflation are also making it difficult for food banks to meet the needs of food pantries throughout the region.


Kansas Parks Provide Boost for Rural Economies

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) —An increase in people traveling to Kansas state parks during the pandemic brought millions of dollars and hundreds of new jobs to nearby towns giving a much needed lift to some rural economies. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks conducted a survey with Wichita State University showing that park visitors, on average, came in groups of four, stayed four nights and spent about $500 total. The department says that all added up to $170 million infused into Kansas communities at a time when much of the economy was struggling. Roughly 65% of that money went to businesses within 40 miles of a park. With a majority of parks located in rural western and central Kansas, state parks officials say those dollars make an even greater impact. Statewide, parks saw about a 50% jump in visitor days in 2020, and the survey showed that increase alone created more than 1,300 new jobs in the parks and nearby towns.


Kansas State Parks Will Offer Free Admission on Black Friday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — All 28 state parks in Kansas will be free to visit on Black Friday. The Kansas City Star reports that entrance fees will be waived for all visitors, including guests from out of town. Linda Lanterman, director of Kansas State Parks, in a statement that being “being outside in nature does wonders for our physical and mental health." Outdoor equipment and sporting goods store REI spearheaded the tradition of outdoor excursions on Black Friday in 2015. Instead of participating in the holiday shopping rush, the store closed all of its locations for the day and encouraged employees to spend time outdoors instead. In the years since, many state parks have followed suit. Some also are hosting free events or other deals to draw in visitors.


Retired Kansas Lawmaker, Black Aviation Leader, Dies at 98

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Ulysses Lee “Rip” Gooch, who was a leader in the Black aviation industry and Kansas’s oldest serving state senator when he retired at the age of 80, has died. A post on Jackson Mortuary’s website says Gooch died on Wednesday. He was 98. No cause of death was listed. The Wichita Eagle reports that he is a member of the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, is part of the inaugural class of the Black Aviation Hall of Fame in Memphis, and logged around 20,000 hours of flight time over his more than half-century long aviation career.


UPDATE: Letter: Embattled KCMO Police Chief's Last Day Will Be in April

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A draft agreement obtained by The Kansas City Star shows that Kansas City, Missouri, police chief' Rick Smith’s last day on the job will be in April. The letter was written after Smith met Tuesday with Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Board of Police Commissioners' president, Mark Tolbert. The meeting came just four days after a Jackson County found Detective Eric DeValkenaere guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb. A spokeswoman for the department said Tuesday that Smith would retire sometime in 2022. But the new letter provides more details. It says Smith's last day will be April 22 and that he will be compensated at his current salary through August 31. 


Two Men Enter Western Missouri Home, Shoot Homeowner

RICH HILL, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities in western Missouri's Bates County say the shooting of a man after a break-in at his home appears to be a ``targeted incident.'' The shooting happened Thursday in Rich Hill, about 75 miles south of Kansas City. The sheriff's department says on Facebook that two men entered the home and an altercation ensued. One of the men pulled a gun and shot the homeowner, who was airlifted to a hospital. No arrests have been made but authorities do not believe it was a random crime. The sheriff's department says officials don't believe there is any substantial danger to the community. 


Kansas State University Researchers Prepare for Risk of Swine Fever

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KNS) — Research at Kansas State University aims to prepare for the risk that a virus killing pigs in other countries could reach the U.S. and devastate livestock here.  African swine fever virus doesn’t infect people, but it kills pigs. It’s been spreading in other regions, such as Europe and the Caribbean. Megan Niederwerder is a professor at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. She’s spearheading research to contain any outbreaks if they happen. African swine fever virus is arguably the most significant threat to global pork production,” Niederwerder said. If the virus enters the U.S., it could cause billions of dollars in economic losses.


Police Suspect Speed, Alcohol Were Factors in Fatal Wichita Wreck

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita police say speed and alcohol use are suspected to be factors in a Thanksgiving night accident that killed a man and critically injured a woman. KSNW-TV reports that the accident happened around 8 p.m. Thursday at 13th Street and Hillside. Lt. Chris Marceau says a pickup truck struck an SUV from behind at a stoplight, causing the SUV to roll over. A 65-year-old man died and a 67-year-old passenger is hospitalized in critical condition. The 37-year-old driver of the pickup truck was taken into custody. Police say the investigation is ongoing. 


Two Dead After Vehicle Collides with Train in Eastern Kansas

SPRING HILL, Kan. (AP) — Two people are dead after their vehicle was struck by a freight train in a rural area of eastern Kansas. The crash happened around 6 p.m. Thursday in Miami County, south of the Kansas City area. Police at the scene said the vehicle and part of the train erupted in fire after the impact. The Miami County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that the collision happened after the driver went around the rail crossing’s arms and got stuck on the tracks. The release said the victims are believed to be an elderly couple from Spring Hill. Their names weren’t immediately released. No one on the train was injured.


Man Gets Life Sentence for Carjacking, Fatal Wreck in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to life in prison for a carjacking and an accident that led to the death of another man. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced the sentence Wednesday for Darren Matthew Johnson. Johnson was convicted in May of charges that included first-degree murder committed during an inherently dangerous felony and aggravated robbery. The carjacking happened on June 22. A short time after the carjacking, police saw the stolen Kia Soul, which sped away before running a red light and colliding head-on with another vehicle. The backseat passenger in the Kia, Ricardo Rodriguez, died at the scene.


No Prison Time for Drunk-Driving Wreck that Killed Man, Son

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man will not go to prison for a 2018 drunk-driving accident that killed an off-duty Wichita police officer and his young son. The Wichita Eagle reports that a judge on Tuesday agreed to a plea agreement recommending three years of probation for James Dalrymple of Valley Center. The victims' family gave their blessing to the sentence. The accident happened April 27, 2018, killing 37-year-old Stacey Woodson and his 10-year-old son, Braeden, who were on a motorcycle. In addition to probation, Dalrymple must pay Woodson's widow $3,375 in restitution, complete 200 hours of community service and attend addiction meetings and a victim's panel.


Donations Pour In to Help Man Wrongfully Convicted in 1979

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Donations are pouring in to help a man who was freed from a Missouri prison after a judge found that he was wrongfully convicted in 1979 in a triple killing. The GoFundMe fundraiser to benefit Kevin Strickland had surpassed its $430,000 goal and donations are still arriving. Many of the donors expressed outrage that the 62-year-old would not receive compensation from the state of Missouri. The state only allows wrongful imprisonment payments to people exonerated through DNA evidence, so Strickland doesn't qualify.  Judge James Welsh, a retired Missouri Court of Appeals judge, ordered Strickland's release Tuesday, finding that evidence used to convict him had since been recanted or disproved. He walked out of prison Tuesday afternoon after spending 43 years in prison for crimes he did not commit.


Lawrence’s Old-Time Christmas Returns After Pandemic Year Off

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW/KPR) —Lawrence’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade will return this year after the event was canceled last year because of the pandemic. The event, featuring all horse-drawn floats and carriages, is one of the most unusual holiday traditions in the country. The Lawrence Journal World reports that this will be the 28th parade. Currently the parade has 60 entries with participants coming from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Horses in the parade will be dressed in holiday regalia, and there will be no motorized entries. As always, the final stagecoach will feature with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The parade’s route will be slightly different this year. It will still start at Seventh and Massachusetts streets, but the procession will continue beyond South Park, the usual stopping point, and end at 15th Street instead. The two extra blocks of seating will help with the parking situation and allow people to spread out more. The parade is set for at 11 a.m. on December 4th.


Reliever Wade Davis Retires After 13 Major League Seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Free agent pitcher Wade Davis is retiring at age 36 after 13 major league seasons. The three-time All-Star played for the Kansas City Royals in 2021 and helped them win the 2015 World Series title. Davis was 63-55 with a 3.94 ERA and 141 saves in 161 chances for Tampa Bay, Kansas City, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado. He made 88 starts and 469 relief appearances and was an All-Star from 2015-17. His retirement was announced by his agency, Jet Sports.


Dayton Beats No. 4 Kansas at ESPN Events Invitational

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Mustapha Amzil hit a running jumper in the lane at the buzzer, and Dayton beat No. 4 Kansas 74-73 at the ESPN Events Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Friday. The Jayhawks' David McCormack blocked Malachi Smith’s layup with 3 seconds left. Amzil picked up the loose ball, and his shot went off the rim and backboard before going in. After Smith cut the deficit to 73-72 on a layup, McCormack was called for an offensive foul with 9 seconds to play.


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. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  


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