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Headlines for Thursday, October 1, 2020


Kansas Program to Provide Extra Unemployment to Start Friday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans who are eligible for an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus pandemic can begin applying for the funds Friday. Gov. Laura Kelly announced the state will begin processing applications for the Lost Wages Assistance payments on Friday. The payments are in addition to regular federal unemployment benefits under the federal Lost Wages program. To be eligible, applicants will have to certify they are unemployed because of problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The benefits will be retroactive and to the week ending Aug. 1, with funds available through the week ending Sept. 5.


Kansas Has $73 Million Tax Surplus; Recovery Still Seen as Fragile

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected nearly $73 million more than expected in taxes in September. But state officials said the economic outlook in coming months remains uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state Department of Revenue said Kansas collected nearly $729 million in taxes last month, when it expected to take in $656 million. The surplus of 11% for the month was tied largely to better-than-expected income tax collections. The surplus comes after state officials and university economists slashed revenue projections in April. Revenue secretary Mark Burghart said the economic picture remains “uncertain at best.”


Topeka Apartment Building Damaged in Fire; 1 Hospitalized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One person is hospitalized after a pre-dawn fire damaged an apartment building in Topeka. KSNT-TV reports that firefighters were called to the apartment complex around 2:30 this (THUR) morning.  One occupant initially refused to leave. Once the fire was out, crews coaxed that person out. That person is hospitalized. Authorities didn't immediately have a condition report but the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Damage to the complex is estimated at $125,000. Police believe the fire began in a kitchen on the second floor.


Lawsuit Filed over Kansas Crash that Killed Mother, 4 Kids

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The paternal grandparents of a 10-year-old Kansas girl killed in a crash last week are suing the truck driver involved in the collision, along with his employer. The Wichita Eagle reports that Mark and Carrie Brady are seeking damages in excess of $75,000 from the driver and L.B. White Trucking Inc. of Wellington. The Bradys' granddaughter, Anaiah Brady, along with her mother and three young siblings, all died in the accident on Friday when the family's Ford Expedition collided with a loaded grain truck between Cheney and Clearwater. An investigation of the accident continues and no charges have been filed.


Kansas Has Nearly 60,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 678 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials say Kansas has recorded more than 59,500 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment reported Wednesday that the state now has 59,749 cases, including 678 deaths. That's an increase of 1,120 cases and 41 deaths since Monday.  The next update will be released Friday.


Kansas Health Chief Predicts Bigger COVID-19 Spikes to Come

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top public health official in Kansas says the state has yet to see its biggest wave of coronavirus cases, suggesting the pandemic could spawn an average of 800 or even 900 new cases a day in coming months. Dr. Lee Norman, the state health department head, said Wednesday that Kansas is likely to surpass the record numbers of new cases it has seen recently. The state had an average of 646 new cases a day for the seven days ending Wednesday, second only to the 667 cases per day for the seven days ending Monday. Kansas saw 1,120 new cases since Monday, bringing the total to 59,729.

COVID-19 Outbreaks Back at Kansas Prisons as Cases Near 60,000 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Coronavirus outbreaks have returned to the state prison system as the number of cases in Kansas for the pandemic approaches 60,000. The state health department reported Wednesday that there are active clusters of five or more cases in four state prisons and an inmate work-release program in Wichita. They account for 244 cases within the past 14 days. The health department said the prison in Hutchinson has had 85 active cases in the past two weeks and the state’s prison mental health center in Larned has had 79. The health department said Kansas saw 1,120 new cases since Monday, an increase of 1.9% to bring the total to 59,729.


Kansas Colleges and Universities See 8.1% Drop in Enrollment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents reports enrollment at the state's universities and colleges fell 8.1% this fall. School leaders had expected a drop in enrollment because of the coronavirus outbreak. Enrollment at the state's six universities declined 3.6%; community colleges saw a drop of 11.7% and enrollment at technical colleges dropped 8.7%. Regents president and CEO Blake Flanders said it was a challenge this fall to recruit international students and new students while also trying to retain current students. He says the institutions also face long-term issues such as a decline in the number of Kansas high school students going to college.


Killing at Dollar Store Under Investigation in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are investigating a fatal shooting at a dollar store. Police say officers were called Tuesday night to a Dollar Tree store for a report of a shooting. Officers found 31-year-old Terrel Henderson injured at the scene. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. Police say the shooting happened inside the business after Henderson and the gunman became involved in a dispute. No arrests have been made.


Kansas Man Accused of Making Threat over Breonna Taylor Case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A federal prosecutor's office says a Kansas man has been indicted on charges that he made a threat over the Breonna Taylor investigation during a phone call to the Kentucky attorney general's office. Twenty-nine-year-old Wesley Forrest Clay of Olathe was accused of calling a phone line in Frankfort dedicated to the Taylor investigation and making a threat. A criminal complaint in the case alleged the call was made on Sept. 23, the same day Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury indicted a former police officer on three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s.


KC Police Chief: Budget Cuts Would be "Devastating"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The police chief in Missouri’s largest city says his department would have to cut staff by 400 people, close divisions and eliminate services to meet proposed budget cuts due to the coronavirus. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, in a blog post, wrote that the cuts would be “devastating.” All city departments, including police, were asked to provide scenarios for what an estimated 11% budget cut would look like. At issue is a $60 million decline in tax revenue created by the fallout from the coronavirus. The city’s next fiscal year starts May 1.


Kansas City Introduces Another Plan to Combat Growing Crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City leaders are introducing a new, four-part plan they hope will help the city reduce its burgeoning crime rate. Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced Reform Project KC during a news conference Wednesday that was attended by dozens of public officials and community organizers. The four “pillars” of the program are prevention, intervention, enforcement and administrative reforms. Lucas says the focus is to engage residents in ways that have not been tried in the past. Several civil rights organizations didn't attend and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker acknowledges many of them don't trust officials involved in the latest effort.


Business Leaders: Midwest Economy Keeps Improving

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy continues to improve in nine Midwest and Plains states.  But business remains slower than before the coronavirus pandemic began. The overall index for the region improved to 65.1 in September from the already strong score of 60 in August.  Any score above 50 on the survey's indexes suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said even with the positive growth in the economy, manufacturing output remains well below the level it was at before states began imposing restrictions because of the pandemic.  The monthly survey covers Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.


Spirit AeroSystems to Close McAlester, Oklahoma Plant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit Aerosystems plans to close its plant in McAlester, Oklahoma, which employs about 175 people. Spirit president Tom Gentile said in a message to employees Thursday that the closure was the result of a decline in commercial aviation during the COVID—19 pandemic, as well as the grounding of the 737 Max airplane. Spirit will consolidate the work done in McAlester at its plants in Wichita and Tulsa. The Wichita-based company plans to close the Oklahoma plant in the second quarter of next year. Gentile said in the message that employment at the McAlester plant had already dropped by 50% this year.


Kansas Unemployment System Blocks at Least 45,000 Bogus Claims 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say criminals have targeted the state's unemployment system in a multibillion dollar fraud scheme that has delayed relief payments to thousands of people around the state who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. The acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor, Ryan Wright, says the agency has blocked at least 45,000 fraudulent payments this year. The agency doesn't know how much money the fraudsters are believed to have stolen in Kansas. But The Wichita Eagle reports that the Legislature approved an audit of the program to determine how many payments slipped through to them. 


Man Wanted for Capital Murder in Arkansas Arrested in Kansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KPR) — A man wanted in connection to two fatal shootings in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, has been arrested in Kansas and extradited to Arkansas.  According to the Jefferson County, Arkansas, Sheriff's Office, 33-year-old Bryant Lamont Smith was arrested last Friday in the southeast Kansas town of Parsons, after he had been on the run for nearly a week.  KATV reports Smith was found near a gas station after police received a tip on his whereabouts.  The sheriff's office said Smith was wanted for capital murder by the Pine Bluff Police Department in connection to the deaths of 20-year-old Kavon Mitchell, and 17-year-old Emonya Moten.  He was also wanted for capital murder in connection to a separate shooting that happened on September 3 that left 69-year-old Horace Harrington dead.  In addition to the capital murder charges, Smith was also charged with six counts of committing a terroristic act, five counts of unlawfully discharging a firearm into a vehicle and several other crimes.  Smith is now being held in the Jefferson County jail without bond pending his first probable cause hearing.


Man Stopped with $1M in Truck Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges after more than $1 million in plastic-wrapped bundles were found in his pickup truck during a traffic stop in Kansas. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Topeka on Thursday announced the guilty plea by 41-year-old Joseph Michael Martin of Euclid, Ohio. He faces sentencing in January. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stopped Martin for speeding on Interstate 70 in Ellsworth County on Sept. 20, 2018. A search of Martin’s 2016 GM pickup found $1.1 million in bundles hidden in metal pipes with welded caps that were in the bed of the truck.


Wichita Woman Gets Life Sentence for Decapitating Ex-Boyfriend's Mom

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been sentenced to life in prison for decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother with a pair of kitchen knives. The Wichita Eagle reports that 38-year-old Rachael Hilyard was sentenced Tuesday in the 2017 death of 63-year-old Micki Davis. Hilyard apologized at the hearing. Authorities say Davis was attacked after going to Hilyard's home to pick up some of her son's property on April 9, 2017. Prosecutors said Hilyard had planned the killing. Hilyard claimed that Davis fell during a struggle over a painting and that she carried out the decapitation because she thought Davis was dead and wanted to release her soul from her body. A jury convicted Hilyard in February.


Topeka Authorities: Explosive Device Was Placed in Vehicle

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka authorities say a car was badly damaged after an explosive device was placed inside the vehicle. WIBW-TV reports that police were called Monday night after an explosion inside a car that was parked near an apartment building. The Topeka Fire Department says a preliminary investigation shows that an explosive device had been placed in the car's passenger compartment. The police Bomb Unit was brought in to investigate. The explosion was contained to the car. Authorities say no other explosive devices were found in the area.


Man Posing as Police Officer in Wichita Sought by Actual Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are looking for a man suspected of posing as a police officer to pull over a driver. The Wichita Eagle reports that a police impersonator, driving a dark-colored car with red and blue emergency lights in the windshield, pulled over a driver Monday night. Police say the man was wearing a blue or black uniform and was armed with a handgun. Police say the impostor asked the driver for license and insurance, looked at the documents, gave them back, and left. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says anyone questioning the legitimacy of an officer should call 911.


Wichita State's Crash Evokes Moving Memories 50 Years Later

SILVER PLUME, Colo. (AP) _ It's been 50 years since 31 people died when an airplane carrying the Wichita State football team crashed in Colorado while traveling to a game at Utah State on Oct. 2, 1970. Among the casualties were 14 players along with coaches, boosters, administrators, trainers and three crew members. The school will hold a remembrance at Cessna Stadium this Friday. It's where the Shockers played until the football program was disbanded for cost-cutting reasons in 1986. Many touched by the tragedy will be there.


Former Wichita State President to Be Paid for Consulting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wichita State University president who abruptly resigned last week will be paid a reduced salary until June 2021 for unspecified consulting services. The agreement with the Kansas Board of Regents also requires Jay Golden to limit his presence on the Wichita State University campus. It prohibits him from having official communications with faculty, staff or friends of the university - except for those related to consulting services the interim or acting president may request. The agreement was provided to The Associated Press in response to an open records request. 


ACLU Sues over Missouri Order on Evictions During Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing over a Missouri court order allowing some Kansas City area evictions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. The ACLU on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court. The organization is fighting a Jackson Court Circuit Court order allowing some evictions to continue, even against people asking for leniency because of the pandemic. The order still allows evictions if tenants don't ask for leniency or the eviction is based on tenants breaking the law, damaging property or violating a contract. A spokeswoman says the court can't comment on the pending lawsuit.


Topeka Police Announce Arrest in 2017 Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Topeka man is now in custody and facing charges for a killing that happened more than three years ago. Authorities on Thursday announced that Javon A. Smith has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Police say Smith was arrested Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney. On March 4, 2017, Topeka police found five people injured in a shooting. One of them, 18-year-old Kianna C. Hodge, was found in a vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The other four victims survived.


Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia Reach Out to Assist Foster Children in Western Kansas

CONCORDIA, Kan. (KPR) - The Hays Daily News reports a group of nuns has banded together to address the spiritual and physical needs of foster children in western Kansas.  The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia formed a group called the Western Kansas Committee, which is gathering duffel bags, backpacks and personal hygiene items to donate to St. Francis Ministries to aid foster children.  “There is a strong connection for the Sisters of St. Joseph to western Kansas,” said Sister Sarah Ganser, a member of the Western Kansas Committee.  “Many of the sisters have deep ties to western Kansas, Sister Marcia Allen added.  “Our hearts are there. Many, if not most, of us come from there. It is a place where we feel at home and we hope to be home there for others.”  “Our hope is to create connections within the communities of western Kansas,” Sister Sarah said. “The expansiveness of western Kansas creates many needs, but has many hidden resources. We wish to bring awareness of the love and mercy of God to empower communities to grow and heal with support from one another.”  The sisters on the committee have already gathered almost 40 backpacks for the project, as well as tubs of personal items like brushes, combs, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer and toothpaste. Additionally, small stuffed animals and pillows add a personal touch to the bags. The sisters hope to deliver the collection of donated items to the St. Francis Ministries offices in Hays by late October.


Victim Killed in Kansas City, Kansas Identified

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a man whose body was found earlier this week. Police on Thursday said the victim was 43-year-old Lolester Mitchell. His body was found Tuesday inside a home. Police are investigating the death as a homicide and say suspects are in custody. Their names have not been released. No further information was released.


Police: Father of Bullied Missouri Student Threatened School

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Police say the father of a bullied Missouri junior high student has been charged with making a terrorist threat after allegedly saying he would shoot everyone in the school office. The Springfield News-Leader reports that 35-year-old Kenneth Hicks, 35, was arrested Tuesday after authorities were contacted by a Kum N Go employee who talked to him the previous night. A probable cause statement says the employee reported that Hicks complained Ozark Junior High School in Springfield was not doing enough in response to his son being bullied. Hicks did not have an attorney listed in the case.


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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