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Headlines for Thursday, June 17, 2021

 

University of Kansas Will Not Use Controversial Dismissal Policy Targeting Tenured Faculty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas officials are saying the school will not use a policy that would have made it easier to dismiss tenured faculty. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Kansas Board of Regents Thursday that he does not believe the university will have to suspend any faculty members from any of its campuses. The regents approved the policy in January to help universities respond to financial difficulties. The state's other five public universities immediately said they would not use the policy. Girod said Thursday that KU officials now believe federal funding will help alleviate some of the financial strains that had led the school to consider using the policy.

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Police in Kansas Seeking Driver Whose Car Slammed into Crowd

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are seeking a driver whose car slammed into a group of spectators at a sideshow over the weekend, seriously injuring one man. Police say the sideshow, which is a street demonstration of car stunts, drew about 100 people to First Street and Osage Avenue around 10 pm Sunday. Police say that during the show, a 1990s Ford Mustang was spinning circles when it slid into the crowd and hit a 24-year-old man who suffered a broken neck and broken leg. Police say the driver left before officers and medics arrived and had not been found by Wednesday. Police are asking the driver to come forward.

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Kansas Governor Appoints 3 to Board of Regents

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has appointed a former railway executive, a former state senator and an educator to the board that governs the state’s six universities. Kelly announced Wednesday that she appointed former BNSF Railway chief Carl Ice, education consulting firm leader and former school superintendent Cynthia Lane and former Republican state senator and lawyer Wint Winter to the nine-member Board of Regents. Kelly said she looked forward to working with the board to implement workforce development programs and use colleges and universities as engines for economic growth. The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

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Johnson County Officials Warn of Sewage in Tomahawk Creek

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County health officials have warned residents in south Overland Park to avoid and keep their pets away from a creek there following a sewer line break. The Kansas City Star reports that a public health advisory was issued this week for a portion of Tomahawk Creek. Officials say the sanitary sewer line broke at a tributary that flows into Tomahawk Creek. Officials believe recent heavy rain may have caused the damage that led the line to break. Wastewater department director Susan Pekarek says more than 2,800 residents living near the creek received notice of the advisory.

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Top Kansas GOP Lawmakers End State of Emergency for COVID

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Kansas Republicans are ending the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. They refused today (TUE) to consider Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's arguments that an extension is still necessary for vaccinations and some testing for COVID-19. Senate President Ty Masterson announced the cancellation of a meeting of eight legislative leaders set for this (TUE) afternoon. A law enacted in late March required the legislative leaders to sign off on an extension. Masterson's announcement means that the state of emergency would expire by day's end after being in place since March 2020. The Andover Republican other Senate GOP leaders said in a statement that, "It is time for Kansas to return to normal."

(–Related–) 

GOP Ends COVID Emergency in Kansas; Kelly Sees 'Obstruction'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top aide to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas will struggle more to get residents vaccinated and thousands of families will lose extra food aid. Kelly chief of staff Will Lawrence said Tuesday that those problems will increase because top Republican legislators ended a state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. Senate President Ty Masterson announced the cancellation of a Tuesday afternoon meeting of eight legislative leaders. A law enacted in March required top lawmakers to sign off on an extension, and the state of emergency was to expire at the end of the day Tuesday after being in place since March 2020. Masterson said in an issued statement, "it is time for Kansas to return to normal."

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Kansas City Police Investigating Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are investigating a shooting death inside a home in the Ivanhoe Northeast neighborhood. Police say the shooting took place Tuesday afternoon near E. 36th and Olive streets. Arriving officers found a man in the home who had been shot. The man was declared dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released, and no arrests or suspects in the case were announced. Police say the death marked the city's 69th homicide this year, compared with 83 homicides in Kansas City by this time last year.

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Kansas Teenager Who Killed Mom Pleads to Lesser Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A teenager who shot and killed his mother in 2018 has pleaded no contest to lesser charges in her death. The teenager, who was not tried as an adult, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Lisa Trimmell at a home near Andover. He pleaded no contest Wednesday to aggravated battery and criminal use of a weapon. Prosecutors said Trimmell was arguing with the boy's younger brother, who was 12 at the time, when the older boy shot her. He was 14. His attorneys argued he was defending his brother from his mother, who was drunk. The teen, now 17, will be sentenced July 30.

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Man Given Rare Medical Release from Kansas Prison Has Died

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 48-year-old man who was granted a rare medical release from a Kansas prison has died. Christopher McIntyre was released April 12 from Lansing Correctional Facility because he had terminal cancer. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says he died Friday. Relatives in Wichita cared for him after his release from Lansing, where he was serving a sentence for aggravated burglary. Kansas prison officials granted his release because of “functional incapacitation,” which applies to people who have medical or mental health conditions so serious they are not considered a threat to the public. The department has granted such releases only two other times in the last five years.

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Police in Kansas City, Kansas, Find Man Dead in Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating after finding the body of a man who had been shot inside a car. Police say officers were called Monday morning to a residential area a few blocks northwest of Klamm Park. Arriving officers found the body of a man, later identified as 45-year-old Kyle Slater, of Kansas City, Missouri. inside a vehicle. Police had not announced any arrests or suspects in the case by early Wednesday morning.

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Nebraskans Hurt when Boat Explodes at Lake of the Ozarks

SUNRISE BEACH, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say five people from Nebraska were seriously injured when a boat exploded at a Missouri lake. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the explosion occurred Tuesday afternoon near Sunrise Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks. The patrol says the boat was secured at a dock when a mechanical problem caused a fuel-related fire. James and Kari Hohenstein, Brad Vanwinkle and two children aged 12 and 16 were seriously injured. A 2-year-old suffered minor injuries. The 16-year-old and Vanwinkle were flown to a Columbia hospital, while three others were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The people on the boat are from Gretna and Elkhorn, Nebraska.

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Mental Exam Ordered for Suspect in Security Guard's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man charged with killing a Wichita security guard at a QuikTrip will undergo a mental competency examination. Defense attorney Jeremy Koop sought the evaluation for Laroy Monzell West, saying he may be incompetent to stand trial in the May 5 death of 39-year-old Will Robinson. Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown granted the defense request Tuesday. Police say Robinson was shot after West was escorted out of the QuikTrip because he was causing a disturbance. West's case will be on hold until the competency evaluation is completed.

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Lawrence to Allow Alcohol Sales at Retail Businesses

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW / KPR) —The Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously this week to permanently allow more businesses to sell alcohol. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the commission voted to adopt a code change to permanently allow many retail businesses other than restaurants and bars to add alcohol sales to their regular services and products. The commissioners said the city should do everything possible to support the city’s retail businesses and the ability to serve alcohol may help attract customers back to businesses that are still struggling from the pandemic lockdown.  Several business owners told the commission that allowing retail stores to sell alcohol and food will also help them compete with online retailers like Amazon.

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Survey: Strong Growth Continues in Rural Parts of 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers suggests strong growth continues across rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index slipped to 70 in June from May’s record high of 78.8, but it remained in positive territory above 50. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the number of nonfarm jobs across the region remains 2% below where it was before the pandemic began, but three states — Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — reported employment levels above where they were before the virus emerged last year.  Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Justice Department: Missouri Governor Can't Void Federal Gun Laws

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is warning Missouri officials that the state can’t ignore federal law, after the governor signed a bill last week that bans police from enforcing federal gun rules. A top Justice Department official sent a letter Wednesday night saying the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution outweighs the measure that Governor Mike Parson signed into law Saturday. The law would penalize local police departments if their officers enforce federal gun laws. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton says in the letter that Parson and Eric Schmitt, the state’s attorney general, must clarify the law to the federal government.

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COVID-19 Cases Rise in Missouri Areas Popular Among Tourists

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A swath of southern Missouri is seeing a big rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations at just the wrong time — as tourists eager to get out after being cooped up for a year make their way to popular destinations such as Branson and Lake of the Ozarks. Data from the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 206 people hospitalized with the virus in southwestern Missouri — nearly double the 111 hospitalizations on May 1. Health experts cite two factors driving the surge: The presence of the faster-spreading Delta variant, and a reluctance among residents to get vaccinated.

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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 Wednesday that there have been 316,343 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 5,128 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 329 cases and three deaths since Monday. Another update is expected Friday.

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Kansas Teenager Charged in Homicide in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County, Missouri prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old Kansas boy in the shooting death of a Kansas City, Missouri, man. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Jayvon Hunter, of Kansas City, Kansas, will be tried as an adult for second-degree murder and three other charges in the October death of 44-year-old Cristobal Gutierrez-Castillas. Investigators said surveillance video shows Hunter and others arriving at the scene in east Kansas City on scooters. Hunter is seen arguing with three men before he fired a shot. The video shows Hunter going through the victim’s pockets and removing a cell phone before he leaves. Online court records don't name an attorney for Hunter.

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Rift on Communion Policy as U.S. Catholic Bishops Open Meeting

UNDATED, (AP) - Divisions have flared up among U.S. Catholic bishops as they opened a national meeting highlighted by a sensitive agenda item: a possible rebuke of Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, who receive Communion while supporting abortion rights. Some bishops say the issue is so important that all participating bishops should have a chance to address it during the three-day meeting that is being held virtually. Other bishops call that a delaying tactic. They say bishops will have ample time to comment at a later meeting when the full draft of a new statement on Communion would be presented. The motion to allow more speaking opportunities was defeated.

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Longtime Sandia Labs Airline Safety Research Center Moving to Wichita State University

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A decades-old program at Sandia National Laboratories that focused on new innovations in airplane inspection will be taking flight elsewhere. The Albuquerque-based weapons research and development facility announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Assurance Center will relocate to Wichita State University. The program will be part of the university’s National Institute of Aviation Research. Officials say the move follows structural shifts at both Sandia and the FAA. Sandia Labs has operated the center for the FAA for 30 years. Under the program, researchers worked alongside aircraft manufacturers, industry experts and regulatory agencies to enhance airplane inspection and maintenance systems.

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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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