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Headlines for Monday, June 14, 2021

2 Teens Shot, 1 Seriously Injured, in Topeka over Weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say two teens were shot in separate incidents over the weekend in Topeka and that one suffered life-threatening injuries. Police say in a news release that officers called Saturday morning to an area along SE 31st Street found a 13-year-old girl with a gunshot wound. The girl was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Police say her injury is being investigated as an accidental shooting. Hours earlier around 9:30 p.m. Friday, a 15-year-old boy was shot in one of his arms. Police say he is expected to recover. Police have not released the names of the teens shot and say the shootings aren't related.

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Activists Call for 21-Day Cease-Fire to Address Kansas City Violence

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A group of clergy and civil rights activists are pushing for a 21-day cease-fire in an effort to ebb Kansas City's violent crime. Advocates will offer conflict resolution and on-call spiritual counseling for people who are stressed to the point of violence. The 21 days started at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, and the city recorded another homicide at 10 a.m. The Rev. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, said Monday the advocates are trying to take action because residents in the city's most violent areas have been forgotten by local, state and federal political leaders.

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Woman's Body Found Near Boat Ramp in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A woman's body was found near the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kansas, Saturday morning. Wyandotte County Sheriff's department spokesman Capt. Kyle Harvey said the death is being investigated as a homicide. The woman's body was reported shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday near a boat ramp on the river. Harvey said the woman was in her mid 60s, but authorities did not immediately identify her. No arrests were reported immediately.

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UPDATE: Kansas City Man Charged in Death of Mother of His Children

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have charged a Kansas City man in the shooting death of the mother of his children. The Jackson County Prosecutor's office said 33-year-old Christopher Spears was charged Monday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 32-year-old Andrea Dean. She was found dead in a Kansas City home on Sunday. Prosecutors said Dean's children told police their father shot their mother during an argument. Hours later, Spears turned himself in at a Kansas City fire station and said he had killed the mother of his children. Prosecutors recommended a $250,000 bond.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Police in Kansas City Investigate Shooting Death of Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating the shooting death of a woman in a southeastern Kansas City neighborhood. Police say in a news release that the shooting happened around 10 a.m. Sunday in a home along East Linwood, just blocks from the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The victim was identified Monday as 32-year-old Andrea Dean. Police say a suspect is in custody but provided few other details. The Kansas City Star reports that the woman’s death marked the 68th homicide in the city this year. Kansas City set a record for homicides in 2020 with 182.

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Man Shot to Death Outside Junction City Barber Shop

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City police are investigating a shooting that left a 23-year-old man dead. Police say LaVincent Perdue was shot outside the Elite Cuts Barber Shop on Friday afternoon. Fort Riley officials said Perdue was a Specialist in 1st Infantry Division at the fort. Junction City police said 21-year-old Willie Powell Jr., from Grandview Plaza, was jailed on a possible charge of second-degree murder. He was taken into custody after turning himself into Topeka police early Saturday. Police said the investigation is continuing.  

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McCall Plant that Prints National Sewing Patterns to Close

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A plant in Manhattan that prints sewing patterns for most of national sewing pattern companies is closing after more than 50 years. McCall Pattern Company officials announced this week the plant will close by the end of the year. It currently employs 85 workers. A spokeswoman for Design Group, which owns McCall, says the work will be transferred to Neenah, Wisconsin. At its height the plant printed and folded about 200 million patterns a year. That's dropped to 20 million to 30 million today. McCall's printing plant has been based in Manhattan since 1969.

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Schools Across U.S. Brace for Surge of Kindergartners this Fall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Districts across the country are hiring kindergarten teachers and preparing summer programs as they brace for a supersized class that will include more children who missed out on preschool and older classmates whose parents decided to wait an extra year because of the pandemic. Public school enrollment tumbled last fall nationwide, but the sharpest drops were in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. With large amounts of federal relief money available, school districts are taking a range of approaches to prepare. It remains uncertain just how big kindergarten classes will be in the fall. Regardless, education leaders say they expect to addressing the effects of the pandemic for years.

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Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Exceeds 316,000; Death Toll Tops 5,100

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Monday that there have been 316,014 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 5,125 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 245 cases and 19 deaths since Friday. Another update is expected Wednesday. 

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Kansas Governor Seeks to Extend Pandemic Emergency Declaration

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly will ask lawmakers to extend the pandemic emergency declaration set to expire this week. The Democrat says she wants the declaration to last through August. A panel dominated by Republicans will decide the fate of the declaration Tuesday. Some of the members have said the previous extension was the final one they would approve. Governor Kelly says without the declaration, the state will lose the ability to assist local governments and all the emergency orders she has signed will expire. Those emergency orders do everything from setting COVID testing standards in nursing homes to letting more health care workers administer vaccines. Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman says he’s open to another extension if he’s convinced the end of the declaration would create real problems.

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Plan Would Restore Rail Service to Big Swath of the Midwest

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Proponents of expanding passenger rail service through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas hope an anticipated influx of federal infrastructure funding will get the the long-discussed route off the ground. The project, which is among 39 new routes that Amtrak has proposed, calls for extending the Heartland Flyer. The train now travels south from Oklahoma City in the morning and returns in the evening, with an afternoon layover in Fort Worth, Texas. With the expansion, one trip would start and end in Newton, Kansas, in the early morning. The expansion also would add two more round trips daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

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Worker Shortage Causes Long Waits for Child Psychiatric Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Psychiatric facilities have enough beds to treat children in Kansas in need of intensive mental health care, but a worker shortage means that about 100 of those spots remain empty. Kansas News Service reports that in recent years, children have often waited months for openings in specialized facilities that offer long-term psychiatric care. The wait time is now down to an average of 44 days. Yet 146 children remain in line for their turn, even though 104 beds are open. Residential care centers are struggling to fill jobs that are physically and emotionally taxing, and that sometimes pay less than $15 an hour.

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Utility's Green Energy Plan Fuels Debate in Kansas, Missouri

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s largest electric company expects to make its first big investments in solar energy over the next three years and is looking to produce no net carbon emissions as of 2045. Both goals are set by a long-term plan outlined by Evergy for regulators in Kansas and Missouri. Some environmentalist groups don’t think Evergy is moving quickly enough on clean energy initiatives. Conversely, other critics worry that the plan could make electricity more expensive and less reliable. Utilities across the U.S. and investors increasingly see green initiatives as good for companies’ bottom lines. Evergy has about 1 million customers in Kansas and another 600,000 in Missouri.

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Fire Disrupts Live Theater Performance in Wichita Saturday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A fire disrupted opening night at the Crown Uptown Theatre in Wichita after lighting appeared to strike the nearly 100-year-old building. General manager Max Wilson said actors who were rehearsing for another show at the church across the street saw lighting hit the theater before the building's lights flickered and surged and a loud jolt was heard. Wilson said a burning smell and smoke coming from the basement tipped performers that something was wrong. Wilson said he ran into the basement and used an extinguisher to put out a breaker that was on fire as an alarm warned everyone to exit the building. It wasn't immediately clear how much damage the building sustained.

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Motion Filed to Join Lawsuit over Kansas City Police Funding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The head of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City wants to represent taxpayers in a lawsuit over proposed police budget spending. Urban League president Gwen Grant said in a statement Monday that the city's current policing structure does not represent the needs of Kansas City citizens, particularly minorities. The Board of Police Commissioners sued Mayor Quinton Lucas, the city council and two other city officials last month after the council approved ordinances to move about $42 million of the police budget to a new fund, which would be targeted for social services and intervention programs. The state-appointed board of commissioners controls the department, including its budget.

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Leavenworth Woman Charged in Stabbing Death of Fiance

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 39-year-old Leavenworth woman is charged with stabbing her fiance to death. Eva Banks is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Jerrold Rhodes. Police say Rhodes was stabbed to death Saturday at a home the couple shared in Leavenworth. Police Chief Pat Kitchens says investigators believe Rhodes's death was the result of domestic violence. Banks made her first appearance via video in court on Monday. She said she planned to hire an attorney. 

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Missouri Bill Bans Enforcement of Federal Gun Rules

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican Governor Mike Parson has signed a bill banning local enforcement of federal gun laws. Parson signed the legislation Saturday at a Kansas City-area gun store and shooting range. The measure allows local police departments to be sued and fined $50,000 for every violation. Republicans argued the measure is necessary to block enforcement of any new gun restrictions that might be enacted under Democratic President Joe Biden. Missouri Democrats say the law is unconstitutional and predict it will be struck down in court.

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Former Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller has died at the age of 92. Miller's son said his father died Friday at home in Mesa, Arizona. He served in law enforcement for more than 50 years, mostly in Sedgwick County. He gained notoriety for his hands-on law enforcement philosophy, jumping out of car trunks and seizing liquor on planes and passenger trains crossing the state's borders. He was Kansas Attorney General from 1970 to 1974. He was so popular that he won all 105 Kansas counties when he ran for reelection in 1972. In 1974, he ran for governor but lost to Robert Frederick Bennett.

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Browns, Chiefs Take Budding Rivalry onto Softball Field

EASTLAKE, Ohio (AP) — Travis Kelce felt surrounded. Kansas City's All-Pro tight end was at home in Cleveland, but also in enemy territory as he played in a softball charity game against several Browns players. The event was hosted by Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who convinced teammates Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Myles Garrett to participate. Kelce feels the Browns are "neck and neck" with the Chiefs, the two-time defending AFC champions. Cleveland will open the 2021 season in Kansas City, where the Browns' 2020 season ended with a playoff loss.

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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 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. 

(Anyone can pledge anytime to KPR on the station's website: KansasPublicRadio.org.)

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