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Headlines for Monday, October 11, 2021


Tornadoes Cause Damage in Oklahoma; Severe Storms Slam Central U.S.

COWETA, Okla. (AP) - Several reported tornadoes have ripped through Oklahoma causing damage late Sunday into early Monday morning. The severe weather system also brought heavy rain, lightning and wind to parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. News outlets report a possible tornado struck Coweta, Oklahoma, late Sunday causing significant damage to a high school, homes and a gas station.  A hail storm earlier in the evening caused damage to homes, cars and businesses in Norman. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported. The National Weather Service says crews are heading out to rural areas in southwestern Missouri to determine if tornadoes caused damage being reported late Sunday night. Weather radar indicated possible tornadoes near Neosho and Golden City before dawn Monday.


Kansas Still Falling Behind Nation in COVID Vaccinations

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) _  Kansas continues to lag the nation overall when it comes to vaccinating people against COVID-19 and the vaccination rate is even lower for certain age groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about half of Kansas teens have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. The figure climbs to nearly 65% for adults in Kansas under the age 65. Among older Kansans, over 65, almost everyone has had at least a dose. National surveys show many families want to wait before getting their kids vaccinated. Lunna Lopes is an analyst for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “I think it’s expected that parents are more cautious when it comes to their children than themselves,” Lopes says. And parents of younger kids are the most hesitant. Pediatricians recommend the shots for kids who are old enough. It protects them and the immunocompromised people and unvaccinated younger kids around them.


Kansas Senator Criticized for Dispensing Disputed Medical Advice on Virus Immunity

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Roger Marshall won't let people forget he’s a doctor. That's clear because the obstetrician puts “Doc” in the letterhead of his U.S. Senate office news releases. But when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, other doctors say the Kansas Republican sounds far more like a politician than a physician. Marshall says people who've had COVID-19 don't need to get vaccinated because they have natural immunity that'll last longer than what the shots provide. But that belief is disputed and defies official U.S. government guidance. Marshall has company from other doctors, dentists and pharmacists, but critics say such statements are dangerous and unethical.


Mass COVID Vaccination Site to Open in Springfield

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A mass COVID-19 vaccination site will soon open in Springfield, Missouri, as vaccine mandates and boosters have increased the number of people seeking a shot.  Jon Mooney, assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said that 500 people a day will be vaccinated at a site that once housed a Gordmans and Toys “R” Us store. It’s not just that more people must get the vaccine to keep their jobs or that boosters are now available for a group that includes frontline medical workers and those with immune system issues. Part of the demand is also expected to come from parents. Pfizer has submitted research on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds.


Former KCK Mayor Holland Announces Bid for U.S. Senate

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) _Mark Holland, former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, has launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate, taking on Republican Senator Jerry Moran. With a heavily Democratic base in Wyandotte County, Holland has a strong shot at winning his party’s nomination. But he faces a difficult challenge in the general election against Moran, who has held the seat since 2011. Holland said in his campaign announcement that Moran failed to stand up for Kansans against COVID-19 and helped spread “despicable lies around our election integrity.” As KCK mayor, Holland faced criticism that he alienated public service workers before incumbent Mayor David Alvey defeated him in 2017.  Kansas is also still a solidly red state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930’s.


Kansas Lawmakers to Consider Relaxing Some Liquor Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) _ Kansas lawmakers loosened state liquor laws to help bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now there’s pressure to go even further. Grocery store chains and liquor companies want more changes during the legislative session that starts in January.  Dillons, HyVee, Walmart and Whole Foods want the Legislature’s approval to include beer with groceries they deliver to their Kansas customers. Liquor companies, both small local distillers and large national firms, want to do what wineries can already do, sell directly to consumers online. The industry’s lobbyists say Kansans have been purchasing wine directly for years and they want the same convenient access to liquor. Opponents say that such a move would threaten the survival of local liquor stores and overwhelm state regulators, who are already struggling to collect taxes on a flood of illegal wine sales.


Wichita Boil Advisory Lifted, Concerns About Water Infrastructure Remain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A boil order for Wichita has been lifted, about 36 hours after a large water main break.  The city issued the boil order last Thursday, closing Wichita-area schools. The Wichita Eagle reports that the boil order was lifted for Wichita early Saturday after all water samples came back free of bacterial contamination, but several surrounding communities remained under an advisory. The water line break highlights concerns about Wichita's aging infrastructure. The water main break that forced the boil order happened after the city's water plant lost part of its power supply, so the pumps sending water throughout the system automatically shut down before restarting abruptly when power was restored. A 2017 assessment found 99% of Wichita's water treatment plant was in poor condition and the entire raw water pipe system was in very poor condition.


Pedestrian Killed Near Stadium After Leaving Chiefs Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A pedestrian from Kansas is dead after being struck by two hit-and-run drivers near Arrowhead Stadium as the man was leaving the Kansas City Chiefs game. Police are searching for the drivers who fled the scene Sunday night. The victim was 66-year-old man Steven Hickle, of Wichita. Police say Hickle and another person left the game early, so traffic crews were not yet on the scene to assist with exiting. The second person was not struck. Police say Hickle was struck by a vehicle and while lying in the roadway was run over by a second vehicle. He died at a hospital.


Two Wichita Women Killed in Crash Near Peabody

PEABODY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating an accident that killed two women from Wichita and left a third woman with serious injuries. KSNW-TV reports that the accident happened about 5 pm Sunday near Peabody. The Patrol says an eastbound pickup truck made an evasive maneuver to avoid oncoming traffic, went off the road, overcorrected, and struck an SUV when it came back on the roadway. The driver of the SUV, Latricia Phillips, and passenger Angela Daniels died. Both were 49. A 36-year-old passenger was taken to a hospital. The 18-year-old pickup truck driver, from Wichita, was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.


Hearing in KC Strickland Triple Murder Case Set

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who is seeking to be exonerated in a triple murder committed more than 40 years ago could get his chance to make his case to a judge in about a month. KSHB-TV reports that retired Missouri Court of Appeals Judge James Welsh set the evidentiary hearing for Kevin Strickland for November 8th after a hearing Friday in Jackson County Court. Both sides in the case have argued over discovery issues. A conference will be held before the November 8th hearing to be certain both sides have what they need for the hearing.


Flight Instructor, Student from Dodge City School Die in Arizona Midair Crash

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City Community College said that two people killed in a fiery midair collision earlier this month in Arizona were a flight instructor and a student. Administrators at Dodge City Community College have identified the instructor as 27 year old Jessica Brandal and the student as 34 year old Michael Papendick. They were in a helicopter that crashed into a single-engine plane on October 1st near the municipal airport for the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. Dodge City Community College operates its DC3 Flight Instructor Program out of the Chandler airport, south of Phoenix.


Kansas Mother Arrested in Death of her One-Year-Old Daughter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita woman has been arrested in connection with the death of her 1-year-old daughter.  Wichita Police said the girl was not breathing when officers found her inside a home in southeast Wichita around 3 p.m. Saturday. The girl, Myonna Townley, was rushed to a hospital in critical condition where she later died. Police said the girl's injuries included some form of "trauma on her body," but they didn't specify what the injuries were. Investigators arrested the girl's 27-year-old mother, Neriah Dilley, on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse. Dilley was being held Sunday in lieu of $250,000 bond.


Texas Woman Dies in Crash in South-Central Kansas

SUMNER COUNTY, Kan. (AP) - A 55-year-old Texas woman died after a vehicle she was riding in drove off the highway in south-central Kansas and rolled Saturday afternoon. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the crash happened along U.S. Highway 81 in Sumner County shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday. The Wichita Eagle reports the 2008 Nissan Sentra that Irene Vazquez De Salinas was riding in wound up in a line of trees after it struck a culvert and rolled. Vazquez De Salinas of Pharr, Texas, was killed in the crash, but four other people in the car sustained only minor injuries.

Police: Man Found Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a man was found shot to death early Monday inside a home. Officers were called to the home around midnight Sunday and minutes later found the body of a man who had been shot. Police have not released the victim's name or any details of the shooting. Police also have not announced any arrests or suspects in the case.


Police: Accidental Shooting Kills 8-Year-Old Missouri Boy

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ Police in Independence, Missouri say an 8-year-old boy has died in an accidental shooting. Police say the shooting happened early Saturday morning. Investigators say arriving officers found that the boy had been shot and that the child later died of his injuries. Police have not released the boy's name or any details about the shooting, other than to say it appeared to have been accidental.


Suspect in Deadly Wichita Club Shooting Arrested

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A suspect in last month’s deadly shooting at a downtown Wichita nightclub has been arrested in Arizona. Wichita police said in a news release that 23-year-old Keshawn Maurice Dawson was taken into custody Friday in Phoenix with assistance from the United States Marshal’s Service. The Wichita Eagle reports that authorities are seeking extradition. Dawson is wanted in Kansas on murder and other charges in the September 7th shooting that killed 34-year-old Preston Spencer and wounded five women. Police said he got kicked out of the Enigma Club & Lounge after a fight. Detectives believe he then returned and opened fire.

Judge Orders Two Life Sentences in Topeka Double Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old man has been sentenced to two life prison terms in the beating and stabbing deaths of a Topeka woman and her cousin. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Richard Showalter, of Greenleaf, won’t be eligible for release for at least 112 years and three months under the sentences imposed in Shawnee County District Court. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and aggravated burglary in the July 2018 home invasion killings of 28-year-old Lisa Sportsman and her 17-year-old cousin, Jesse Polinskey. Sportsman’s estranged husband, Bradley Sportsman, and a third man, Matthew Hutto, also have been convicted in the killings.


Hutchinson Police: Teen Tried to Steal Humvee from Armory

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police say a teen attempted to steal a military Humvee worth more than $100,000 from the National Guard Armory in Hutchinson and swung a hatchet at an armory staff member who tried to stop him. The Hutchinson News reports that prosecutors charged the 16-year-old from Nickerson in Reno County District Court with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony theft and criminal trespass. He remains in juvenile detention. Hutchinson Police Lt. Dustin Loepp said the teen jumped a fence at the Armory and broke into at least three Humvees.


Person of Interest Arrested in KCK Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a person of interest in a Kansas City, Kansas, homicide. Officer T.J. Tomasic, a police spokesman, said in a news release that officers found a female victim dead around 3 a.m. Saturday while responding to a call about suspicious activity. The release said that the person of interest was taken into custody at the scene. Police didn’t immediately release the name of the victim, how she died or a motive. Anyone with information is urged to call a tips hotline.


Kansas Legislative Committee Recommends More Medical Exams for Kids in Foster Care  

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — State lawmakers hope that collecting more information and requiring additional medical examinations could help keep children safe in the Kansas foster care system. The recommendations are from a committee studying ways the state can improve the system.  Democratic State Representative Jarrod Ousley, of Merriam, says the state should start tracking gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity when children in state care die.  Ousley says collecting that information will help the state find trends in suicide or other child deaths. Republican Senator Molly Baumgardner, of Louisburg, says the state should require more physical examinations when abuse is suspected. She hopes that could lead to doctors finding hidden injuries as a result of child abuse. Lawmakers will consider the committee’s recommendations when they return to Topeka in January.  


Inmates Spend More Time in Cells Because of Staff Shortages

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say staffing shortages have gotten so bad at one of the largest prisons in Kansas that inmates are spending more time confined to their cells. Kansas Department of Corrections spokesperson Carol Pitts said in an email that staffing is a problem across the prison system but that the “greatest challenge” is at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The result is more cell time and less access to programs and activities. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the prison population decreased during the pandemic, and the agency has closed some housing units to reduce staff needs. The agency also has increased recruiting efforts.


"Critical Race Theory" an Issue in Local Kansas School Board Elections

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - State education leaders say critical race theory is not taught in Kansas schools, but it’s still becoming an issue in some local school board races this year. Conservative candidates are vowing to fight controversial teaching methods regarding racism.  And those candidates are getting support from powerful national groups. Sharon Iorio is former dean of the College of Education at Wichita State University. She says these types of controversies in local school board races take the focus away from actual, serious issues in education, “That’s a problem,” Iorio said,  “because it moves us toward national issues, and sometimes hot-button issues like critical race theory and mask-wearing.”  Kansas education leaders say critical race theory is not part of the state’s current academic standards. But candidates are raising the issue anyway and some have support from powerful national groups. Critical race theory is the idea that racism and discrimination are ingrained in public policy.


Solemn Ceremony Held to Remember Victims of Lynching in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The Lawrence/Douglas County Community Remembrance Project Coalition held a special Soil Collection Ceremony Saturday under the Kansas River bridge, on the south bank of the Kansas River, near Lawrence City Hall. Saturday morning's ceremony included the filling of glass jars with soil from where three Black men - Isaac King, George Robertson and Pete Vinegar - were lynched from the bridge on June 10, 1882.  This soil was collected by the Coalition earlier in September and has been drying to prepare it for placement in jars that will become a permanent memorial at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a national lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. At the ceremony, representatives of the Lawrence Black community filled the jars with soil, some of which will be sent to Watkins Museum of History. 


Catholic Bishops Urge Missouri Leaders to End Executions

UNDATED, (AP) - Leaders of the four Roman Catholic dioceses in Missouri are urging state leaders to end the use of the death penalty, after a convicted killer of three was executed despite a request for clemency from the pope. Ernest Johnson was executed last week, the first Missouri execution in 16 months and the seventh in the U.S. this year. Johnson killed three people in Columbia in 1994. A statement signed by St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski, Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston Jr., Jefferson City Bishop Shawn McKnight and Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop Edward Rice expressed disappointment with the decision to allow Johnson’s execution.


Blood Donations Urgently Needed; American Red Cross Reports Worst Blood Shortage Since 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage, the worst in six years. A sharp drop in blood donor turnout has contributed to the lowest post-summer blood inventory level since 2015.  In some areas, the blood inventory is less than a day's supply. Donors of all blood types are needed, but especially those with type O blood.  The blood shortage is now so severe that the Red Cross is giving away prizes to those who donate. Those who give blood soon could get a limited-edition, football-inspired Red Cross T-shirt, free haircut coupons from Sport Clips and a coupon for a free Zaxby’s® chicken Sandwich or other freebies.  Learn more at

Find a list of area blood drives


Forecast: Kansas Economic Recovery Will Be Slow but Wages Will Rise

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas will continue its slow economic recovery from the pandemic in 2022. That’s according to Wichita State economist Jeremy Hill, while addressing the annual Economic Outlook Conference in Wichita. Hill says employment in Kansas is expected to grow about 1%. But he expects continued growth in worker’s wages due to a tight labor market. Hill says wages for Kansas workers will be about 8% higher next year than they were before the pandemic, and he says the service sector will add the most jobs next year, mostly in the leisure and hospitality industry.


Big 12 Joins SEC in Letting Schools Set Athlete Compensation

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Big 12 says it will allow its schools to decide the amount of benefits to give athletes each academic year. The decision follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling related to caps on compensation. It also follows a similar decision last month by the Southeastern Conference. The Supreme Court ruling meant that the NCAA could not ban schools from offering additional education-related benefits to Division I football and basketball players. That left it up to individual conferences to set limits if they choose. The Big 12 is using the legal maximum of $5,980 per athlete as a benefits ceiling.


Kansas City Chiefs Defeated by Buffalo Bills After Halftime Rain Delay

KANSAS CITY, Mo.. (KNS) _The Kansas City Chiefs are now 2-3 this season after losing to the Buffalo Bills last (SUN) night, 38-20.  Both teams have shown they’re quite capable of scoring.  But the Chiefs problem this year is turnovers.  A third quarter interception thrown by Patrick Mahomes, was returned for a touchdown. It one of four Chiefs turnovers on the night. After the defeat, Mahomes acknowledged the need for improvement. “That’s a good football team.  Don’t get me wrong,” Mahomes told reporters. “But we don’t lose football games like that. Especially at home.” The game was delayed by more than an hour at halftime because of a severe storm that blew through.


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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