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Headlines for Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bob Dole Says He's Been Diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole has announced that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Dole, who is 97, said in a short statement that he was diagnosed recently and would begin treatment on Monday. He said: "While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own." Dole, a Republican, represented Kansas in Congress for almost 36 years, serving twice as majority leader. He resigned from the Senate in 1996 when he became the Republican presidential nominee. He lost to incumbent President Bill Clinton.

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KPR Hopes to Replace Aging Transmitters; "One Day. One KU." Fundraiser Should Help

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Thanks to support from listeners, Kansas Public Radio has raised more than 75% of the $351,000 needed to replace all four of its aging transmitters.  Today (THUR), the radio station is hoping to raise even more.  During a 24-hour fundraiser at the University of Kansas called "One Day. One KU.," contributions to the radio station will be matched.  Thursday only, more than $15,000 in dollar-for-dollar matches are available, thanks to a $5,000 pledge from Ramon and Glenda Schmidt and a $10,000 challenge from Roy and Bev Menninger, former chairs of the KPR Advisory board.  KPR's transmitters, located in Lawrence, Emporia, Junction City and Chanute, are reaching the end of their lifespans. (Learn more.)

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University of Kansas Eliminates 2 Degrees, 1 Department

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says it plans to eliminate two undergraduate programs and an entire department in a cost-cutting move. Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer told the Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday 15 undergraduate programs did not meet enrollment requirements. The university plans to discontinue its Humanities department. It also will eliminate degrees in Humanities and Visual Art Education. Six of the remaining underperforming programs will remain, and seven will be merged with other programs. Bichelmeyer said eliminating the Visual Art Education degree will save about $100,000, and ending the Humanities degree will save about $400,000.

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Kansas to Focus on COVID-19 Shots for Teachers, School Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas will put a priority on vaccinating teachers and other school staff against COVID-19 so that K-12 students across the state can resume in-person classes as quickly as possible. The Democratic governor's announcement today (WED) came a week after she told leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature that 60% of the state's 286 school districts had started inoculating teachers. The state's public schools have about 72,000 staff members, including 34,000 certified teachers. Kelly said the state will be able to inoculate school staff because it expects the federal government to start next week to ship an additional 25,000 doses of vaccines a week.

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Kansas Records Nearly 289,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,521 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Wednesday that there have been 288,717 cases of COVID-19, including 4,521 deaths, since the pandemic began. State health officials identified more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, including 115 virus-related deaths, since Monday.  Johnson and Sedgwick counties continue to report the most coronavirus cases, with more than 52,000 each.  KDHE will provide another update Friday. 

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Kansas Health Officials: Extreme Weather May Lead to Vaccine Delays

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas health officials warn that nationwide winter storms have delayed the shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the state. Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman says the shipments that were expected early this week are now expected to arrive by Friday.  Norman says he doesn’t believe the delays will severely impact the vaccine rollout and thinks the state will be able to catch up.  Despite the delay, Norman says he still expects 90,000 doses from the federal government, nearly doubling last week’s allotment.

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Kansas Lawmakers Want Tuition Refunds for COVID-19 Disruptions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — College student who lost class time or were forced into online classes because of the pandemic could have some of their tuition refunded under a measure that lawmakers are debating. A Kansas House panel amended the state's higher education budget Wednesday to require that colleges, community colleges and technical schools reimburse students for 50% of the tuition paid every day they spent online instead of in the classroom. The amendment would reimburse at 100% for days that students missed class entirely. The state's Republican-leaning Legislature also has been pushing back against online learning in K-12 schools.

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Missouri State Patrol: 2 Teens Killed in Cass County Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says two teens have died in a multi-vehicle crash on a rural road in western Missouri. Television station KSHB reports that the crash happened around 5:30 pm Wednesday on Missouri Route 7 in Cass County. The patrol says a car traveling north on the highway crossed the center line and sideswiped a Jeep, causing the car to spin. Investigators say the car was then hit by a southbound semitrailer. Two 18-year-olds in the car, identified as Reyna Oliver and Chloey Schorr, both of Pleasant Hill, died at the scene. Troopers say the drivers of the Jeep and semi were not injured.

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Newton Police Sergeant Dies in ATV Crash

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — The Newton Police Department is mourning a sergeant who died in an off-duty ATV crash. Police say Sgt. Levi Minkevitch, of Peabody, died Wednesday in the crash in Harvey County. Police say he tried to jump a ditch into a field but lost control of his ATV, which rolled into the creek. He was pronounced dead at a Newton hospital. The police department said in a statement that Minkevitch, who had been with the department since 2013, was a tremendous officer and a friend to everyone he met.

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Sheriff: Kansas Woman Who Wandered Out Likely Died from Cold

DEXTER, Kan. (AP) — A 67-year-old Kansas woman who wandered out of her home during the night was found dead in subzero temperatures. Cowley County Sheriff David Falletti says deputies responding to a call about a missing woman found Linda Patton in front of her Dexter home sometime between 3:30 am and 4 am Tuesday. Falletti said she was wearing only a nightgown and likely died from the cold.  He said he did not know how long she had been outside.

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Officials: Woman, 2 Children Found Suffering Severe Neglect

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A horrific story of neglect is unfolding in a Kansas City suburb.  A 30-year-old Blue Springs man is facing charges after officials say they found his girlfriend and their two children suffering from severe neglect. Blue Springs police say they found a 27-year-old woman in a waste-filled bathtub. The two children were described as extremely malnourished and said they had been locked in a closet. The man told investigators he left the woman in the tub while he worked because she has multiple sclerosis.

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Kansas City Police: Two Dead, One Injured in Shooting at Town Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City police say two people died and a third was wounded in a shooting at a town home. Police called the scene Wednesday afternoon on the city's west side found a man and a woman dead and another man injured. Police spokeswoman Donna Drake says a person of interest was taken into custody and no other suspects are being sought. No other information was immediately released.

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Police: Man Found Fatally Shot Inside Vehicle in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Homicide detectives in Kansas City are investigating the city's latest killing after police found a man inside a vehicle who had been fatally shot.  Officers were called just after 12 am Wednesday to the Ruskin Heights neighborhood for reports of a shooting and found the man suffering from gunshot wounds. Police say the man died at the scene. The victim's name was not immediately released. Police were processing the scene for evidence overnight and have not released information on possible suspects. No arrests have been reported in the case.

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Kansas House Debates New Rules on Sexual Assault Kits

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas House has been debating a new bill that would require law enforcement agencies to send all sexual assault test kits to a forensic lab within 30 business days from when the DNA is collected. The DNA from the kits will be stored in a federal system to check for matches across the country. Robert Jacobs, with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, says that when kits sit on the shelf -- untested -- investigators are prevented from identifying serial rapists. The bill would also increase the amount of time state investigators can keep DNA from cases where the sexual assault survivor decided not to report the assault to law enforcement.  That time frame would be extended from the current 5 years to 20 years.  Kansas eliminated the statute of limitations for the crime of rape in 2013.

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Kansas House Bill Advances to Change Method for Filling State Offices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas House committee has passed a bill that would end a governor’s authority to fill the offices of state treasurer and insurance commissioner if those posts become vacant in the middle of a term. The move comes about two months after Democratic Governor Laura Kelly named her 2018 running mate, former Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers, as state treasurer to fill a vacancy created when Republican Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner left the post for Congress.  The Kansas Republican Party objected to the governor's appointment of a Democrat. The legislation passed Tuesday provides for a convention of delegates belonging to the departing official’s party to decide who fills a vacancy.

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Kansas Lawmakers Seek More Control on Unemployment Upgrades

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican lawmakers are moving to exert more control over upgrades of Kansas’ unemployment benefits system. A key GOP legislator has even suggested stripping Democratic Governor Laura Kelly of her control over the state Department of Labor. The Kansas Senate Commerce Committee continued hearings Wednesday on a bill that would create a new council to monitor the department's technology upgrades, direct the agency modernize the unemployment system by the end of 2022, and make other changes in the unemployment system. Kelly has blamed numerous delays in getting benefits to workers during the coronavirus pandemic and other problems on a decades-old computer system. But Commerce Committee Chair Rob Olson suggested removing the governor's control over the department.

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Kansas Governor Announces $200 Million in Rental Assistance

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas has received $200 million from the federal government, which will be used to provide rental assistance to those facing eviction or having trouble making housing or utility payments.  Governor Laura Kelly and the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation announced the statewide rental assistance Tuesday.  The initiative, funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, provides the state with money to support housing stability and prevent evictions and homelessness.  Residents struggling to cover rent and utility payments due to COVID may qualify for up to 12 months of emergency assistance thanks to the new federal relief.

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Shooting Outside Kansas University Medical Center's Entrance

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas University Medical Center police say a shooting took place outside the entrance of Kansas University Medical Center Tuesday night.  Television station KCTV reports the shooting was caught on the medical center security video around 8 pm.  Kansas City, Kansas, police worked with the KU Medical Center’s police to capture the suspect just an hour after the shooting.  The victim is being treated for injuries but no other details about his condition are available at this time.   

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Police: Teen Killed in North-Central Kansas Town of Beverly

BEVERLY, Kan. (AP) - Law enforcement in north-central Kansas are investigating the shooting death of a teenager near the town of Beverly. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the shooting happened Monday evening at a home along a rural road near the Saline River. Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies called to the home for a report of a shooting found a 15-year-old girl with a gunshot wound. The girl was taken to a Salina hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her name was not immediately released.  So far, no arrests have been reported.

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Man Charged in 2017 Shooting of 3-Year-Old Kansas City Boy

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) - Prosecutors have charged a 28-year-old Kansas City man in the 2017 shooting death of a 3-year-old child. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced charges Wednesday against Derrick Wren Jr. in the May 2017 death of Marcus Haislip III. Police said the child was shot in his car seat and his father and his uncle were injured when someone shot at the car from near a residence. The Missouri Highway Patrol determined in 2019 that DNA from a Styrofoam cup found at the scene matched Wren. He was charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of first-degree assault.

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Remains in Clay County Identified as Missouri Woman

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say remains found last week in rural Clay County were those of 45-year-old Alesha Jane Reade, of Independence, Missouri. The sheriff's office says the case is being investigated as a homicide. Reade was last seen on February 9. She was reported missing February 11, the same day her remains were found. Police did not release any further information and the investigation is continuing.

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Missouri Prosecutors Charge Man Still on the Lam in Belton Killing

BELTON, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors in western Missouri have charged a man who is still on the lam with murder in the shooting death last week of another man in Belton. The Kansas City Star reports that 38-year-old Charles Baldwin Jr. has been charged with murder, armed criminal action and weapons counts in the Friday shooting death of 39-year-old Christopher Bell. Belton police say officers called around 12:30 am Friday to an apartment complex found Bell in the parking lot with gunshot wounds. Bell later died. Police say they are actively looking for Baldwin and that anyone with information on his whereabouts should call police.

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Talk Show Giant and Missouri Native Rush Limbagh Dead at 70

UNDATED (AP) - Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio host who became the voice of American conservatism, has died. His death Wednesday at the age of 70 came a year after announcing he had Stage Four lung cancer. With his three-hour weekday radio show broadcast on nearly 600 stations across the U.S., and a massive audience of millions hanging on his every word, Limbaugh's broadcasts shaped the national political conversation, swaying the opinions of average Republicans and the direction of the party. Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.  

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Bankers Say Economy Improving in Rural Parts of 10 Plains and Western States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowly improving in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but employment remains below the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began last year. The overall index for the region increased to 53.8 in February from January's 52. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the number of jobs in the region is down roughly 146,000, or 3.3%, from the level it was at before the pandemic began. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Students Push Name Change for School Whose Namesake Was a Klan Leader

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Students of a high school in Topeka named for an early 20th century Ku Klux Klan leader have launched a petition effort seeking to have the name changed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an offshoot of the school's Young Democrats group is hoping to collect between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures on the petition. The effort garnered 1,000 signatures in its first 24 hours. The effort goes back to an October report by the Seaman High School newspaper, The Clipper, that uncovered that Fred Seaman had been an "exalted cyclops" or chief officer in the Topeka KKK. School district spokeswoman Candace LeDuc says the school board has no set timeline for discussing a name change during the pandemic.

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Kansas City Police Suggest New Strategies for Protests

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Police Department is proposing new policies on use of force during large demonstrations and public gatherings. The proposed policy would limit officers' use of tear gas. It also requires officers to create a buffer zone between them and protesters, and prohibits officers from intentionally escalating confrontations. Chief Rick Smith presented the “First Amendment-Protected Activities” policy Tuesday to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. No official action was taken. The policy comes after police were criticized for using tear gas and other means to disperse crowds during social justice protests last summer.

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Manhattan Businesses Trying to End "Fake Patty's Day" Event

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Manhattan businesses are no longer interested in celebrating Fake Patty's Day. Business owners say they won't plan events or promotions this year for the annual party event held in March in Aggieville before students go on spring break. Dennis Cook, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association, said the event's popularity has been declining in recent years and business owners no longer think it is worth the effort. Since it was created in 2007, Fake Patty's Day has drawn thousands of visitors to Manhattan. But it has also been criticized for encouraging excessive drinking and a related increase in crime.

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