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Headlines for Monday, August 3, 2020

 

Kansas Board of Education Races Draw Attention After COVID-19 Vote

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Board of Education primary election is drawing more attention than usual after the panel voted against the governor’s plan to delay the start of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three board members had been running unopposed, but the Wichita Eagle reports that the day after the board voted against Gov. Laura Kelly’s order, a write-in challenger joined the race. Dave Colburn, a Democrat backed by former Democratic Gov. John Carlin, just needs the votes of 5% of all the registered voters in the district to appear on the general election ballot.

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Tuesday is Election Day; Primary Results Could Shake Up Kansas Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan (KNS) - Tomorrow's (TUE) primary elections could trigger a power shift in the Kansas Legislature, one that could intensify battles over Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's coronavirus response powers and issues like Medicaid expansion, taxes and abortion.  Conservative Republicans are making a push to retake seats they lost to moderates in 2016, when school funding and undoing former Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts were the big issues.  University of Kansas Political Scientist Patrick Miller says those moderates could be vulnerable to challengers backed by the state’s largest business and anti-abortion organizations. “And I think it’s a real question how any of those moderates can survive when they don’t have the boogeyman of Sam Brownback to run against,” he said.  More conservatives in the Statehouse would give Republican leaders the votes they need to continue blocking Medicaid expansion, as well as cut taxes over the governor’s objections.  More conservatives could also advance a constitutional amendment to nullify a recent state Supreme Court ruling on abortion.  (Read more.)

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Police ID 2 Killed in Separate Kansas City Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police have identified two people killed in separate weekend shootings in Kansas City. Police say that a man found fatally wounded late Saturday near Wyandotte Avenue and 39th Street has been identified as 24-year-old Deon Paige. Witnesses reported hearing several shots but couldn’t provide a description of the shooter. Police also identified a woman found dead early Sunday morning at a home near Gregory Boulevard and Bales Avenue in southeastern Kansas City as 25-year-old Briana Johnson. Police have not released any additional details about the shootings, and no arrests had been reported in either homicide.

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Kansas Reports 365 Deaths Caused by COVID-19; Nearly 29,000 Have Tested Positive for Virus    

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Since the pandemic began, nearly 29,000 Kansans have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.  Kansas health officials released the latest numbers today (MON), revealing 28,876 people have now tested positive and 365 people have died.  A new round of data will be released online Wednesday.   

(–Related–)

Kansas Sees Rate of Positive Coronavirus Tests Inching Higher

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has seen its rate of positive coronavirus tests inch up over the past month and is approaching 29,000 reported cases for the pandemic. The state Department of Health and Environment reported Monday that the state had another 1,064 cases since Friday for an increase of 3.8% to 28,876. The department also reported another seven COVID-19-related deaths to bring the total to 365 for the pandemic. The overall rate of total positive tests results has been increasing after bottoming out at 8% in late June and standing at 8.3% on July 3. The rate of positive tests for the pandemic was 9.6% as of Monday. 

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Body Found Near Fort Riley Confirmed to be Missing Soldier

FORT RILEY, Kan. (KPR) - The Riley County Police Department confirmed that a body found on the Konza Prairie Nature Trail is 38-year-old Warrant Officer Nicole Grothe.  The Army Times reports the body was found on July 22, and the results of the autopsy and dental analysis Saturday verified that it was Grothe. She had been assigned to Fort Riley since March, where she quickly earned the trust of her section, according to a press release.  Prior to Fort Riley, Grothe served in South Korea with the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Dec. 2018 to February 2020. Her team there is deeply saddened by the loss of their friend and comrade.  Grothe also served at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Fort Drum, N.Y., and Hohenfels, Germany. She joined the Army in 2007 from Lacey, Washington.  The incident is still under investigation by Army CID and the Riley County Police Department. No foul play is suspected.

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Settlement Reached in Death of Garden City Community College Football Player

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas community college has reached a settlement with the New Jersey family of a football player who died of heatstroke after team conditioning drills in 2018. Garden City Community College announced the settlement late Friday with the family of Braeden Bradforth. Details of the settlement were not announced. Bradforth, a 19-year-old from Newton, New Jersey, died after being found unconscious after the first day of football conditioning on Aug. 1, 2018. College President Ryan Ruda said in a news release the settlement was recently approved by a court. He said the school has made several improvements to athletic protocols since Bradforth's death.

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Newest Justice for Kansas Supreme Court Sworn in

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The newest member of the Kansas Supreme Court has been sworn in at a private ceremony in Topeka. Keynen "KJ" Wall Jr. took the oath this (MON) morning at the Kansas Judicial Center.  Chief Justice Marla Luckert presided at the ceremony.  Governor Laura Kelly appointed Wall in March to fill a vacancy created when former Chief Justice Lawton Nuss retired in December. Wall had been in private practice with the Forbes Law Group of Overland Park since 2015.

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Laid-Off Kansas Aviation Workers Find New Opportunities

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some aviation workers who were laid off in Wichita are taking advantage of a federal program that helps people looking for new job opportunities or a chance to gain more education and skills. Tracy Taylor lost her job on the 737 program at Spirit AeroSystems in January. The 32-year-old says she is now studying nursing at WSU Tech, with help from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Numbers from the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas show Taylor is one of around 9,100 people who lost their jobs following the 737 Max fallout last December.

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Police: Second Man Dies After Shooting at Wichita Motel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A second man has died days after a shootout at a Wichita motel that police suspect happened during a fight over drugs. Wichita Police say 23-year-old Keion Whyte, of Wichita, died Saturday at a hospital. He was injured early Thursday morning during a shooting at the Scotsman Inn West. Forty-year-old William Pottorff, of Wichita, died at the scene. Four people were arrested after the shooting on suspicion of first-degree murder and burglary. Police said an initial investigation showed the shooting occurred after Whyte and several others forced their way into the motel room. Pottorff and Whyte began fighting and both men fired guns at each other

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Laid-Off Kansas Aviation Workers Find New Opportunities

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some aviation workers who were laid off in Wichita are taking advantage of a federal program that helps people looking for new job opportunities or a chance to gain more education and skills. Tracy Taylor lost her job on the 737 program at Spirit AeroSystems in January. The 32-year-old says she is now studying nursing at WSU Tech, with help from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Numbers from the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas show Taylor is one of around 9,100 people who lost their jobs following the 737 Max fallout last December.

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Business Leaders Say Midwest / Plains Economy Still Improving After Reopening

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey of business leaders released today (MON) suggests the economy continues to recover in nine Midwest and Plains states, but businesses are still cutting jobs amid the ongoing impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the economy still remains weaker than before the virus outbreak began. The overall index for the region improved to 57.4 in July from June's 50.3. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below 50 suggests decline.  The monthly survey covers Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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19-Year-Old Man Shot to Death in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating the shooting death of a 19-year-old man. Officers responding to a call early Saturday found Andreas Carlyle of Wichita dead in the street. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says the shooting is not considered a random incident and officers are investigating all the circumstances. Details about a possible suspect in the shooting have not been released.

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Body Found After Standoff Near Joplin Still Unidentified

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Newton County authorities say an autopsy did not determine the cause of death or the identity of a body discovered southwest of Joplin. The body was found Tuesday after deputies acting on a tip were shot at when they arrived to search the property. A standoff ensued with 47-year-old Freddie Tilton, who is facing a kidnapping charge in an unrelated incident in Neosho on July 19. Tilton eventually surrendered. No one was injured. Sheriff Chris Jennings said the remains will be sent to a lab in Topeka for further forensic examination. He says authorities believe they know the person's identity and are treating the case as a homicide.

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Unsettling Allegations Detailed in Federal Audit of Kansas Foster Care System

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - A new federal audit says Kansas foster care children have been living in group homes with significant health and safety violations.  The Department of Health and Human Services sent inspectors to Kansas in 2018 and 2019 and found most group homes in the state were out of compliance.  Inspectors saw unsafe heaters, exposed electrical wiring and rodent droppings.  They also reported seeing teenage boys and girls living at a home that was only designated to house girls.  Inspectors conducted site visits at 31 Kansas foster care group homes licensed to house between 5 and 24 foster care children.  Inspectors say 24 of the 31 group homes did not comply with environmental requirements.  In addition, 29 of the group homes did not comply - or could not document compliance -  with the required background record check or fingerprint submission requirements for employees.  Kansas disputes some of the federal findings and says it’s improving oversight of its foster homes.  (Read more about this story.)

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Fort Riley Getting New Commander

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley will get a new commander later this month. Major Gen. Douglas A. Sims will assume command of Fort Riley and its 1st Infantry Division, which is known as the "Big Red One," on August 14, officials said Sunday. Sims is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who has deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He will take over for Major Gen. John Kolasheski, who relinquished command of Fort Riley Saturday, so he could take over command of the Army's V Corps, which is based at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

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Trial Starts in Case of Mutilated, Murdered Transgender Teen in Southwest Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A trial is set to start for a man charged in the 2017 killing of a transgender teen whose eyes were gouged out and whose body was set on fire in southwest Missouri. Twenty-one-year-old Andrew Vrba is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse in the killing of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld. Three others have pleaded guilty and are in prison for their roles in Steinfeld’s death. Vrba had been missing for weeks when her burned remains were found in September 2017 in Cabool. Authorities say the crime wasn’t motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity.

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Navy Reluctant to Reinstate Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Newly released documents indicate Navy officials were reluctant to reinstate former Navy SEAL and Missouri Governor Eric Greitens in 2019 until Vice President Mike Pence’s office appeared to intervene. Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 amid a number of scandals, including campaign misconduct allegations and accusations that he took a compromising photo of a woman without her consent during a 2015 extramarital affair. Navy officials expressed reservations about Greitens rejoining the military in emails obtained by the Kansas City Star. But the objections to Greitens' service were dismissed after the vice president’s office appeared to show interest in the matter. Pence’s office denied any involvement in Greitens’reinstatement.

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GOP Leaders Can't Bank on Trump's Help in Kansas Senate Race

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Establishment Republicans might have to try to hang on to what should be a safe Senate seat in Kansas without hoped-for help from President Donald Trump. The fight between establishment-backed Congressman Roger Marshall and lightning-rod conservative Kris Kobach grew increasingly ugly as tomorrow's (TUE) primary neared because GOP leaders who want Marshall see the party's Senate majority potentially at stake if he loses. Trump has refused to step in, leaving Marshall and Kobach to a close finish un der a barrage of attack ads from political action committees. Kobach has a cadre of loyal conservative GOP voter, while Marshall has the backing of key business, agriculture and anti-abortion groups.

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Kansas City Symphony Musicians Agree to Pay Cut for Next Season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) - Like other organizations, the Kansas City Symphony is feeling the financial effects of the pandemic.  The Symphony is cutting expenses by 25%.  The Kansas City Business Journal reports the budget savings come from salary reductions for musicians and other positions, trimming some administrative staff and leaving eight vacant orchestra positions unfilled this season.  The symphony amended its current contract with musicians, which continues through the 2023-2024 season.  It requires musicians to take a 19% salary cut for the 2020-2021 season.  The symphony was among “very few” U.S. orchestras that didn’t reduce musician salaries during the first five months of the pandemic, according to a news release issued Thursday.  The symphony previously announced it would move this year’s Classical, Pops and Family concerts to next year, starting in January.  It plans to announce more details in August about socially distanced concerts.    Some concerts also will be available to watch online. The symphony hopes to host full concerts at some point next year if conditions allow.  (Read more.)

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

 

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