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Headlines for Tuesday, November 3, 2020

It's Election Day; Kansas Polls Open Until 7 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — It's Election Day. Polls in Kansas will remain open until 7 p.m., but anyone waiting in line by then will be allowed to vote.  Kansas voters have cast a record number of advance ballots. The Kansas Secretary of State's office said 770,324 Kansas voters had returned mail-in or advance in-person ballots as of Sunday. Local election officials mailed out 508,187 ballots and have received 422,104, or about 83%, of them back. That is more than double the number people who voted by mail in the 2016 general election. Another 348,220 Kansans voted in-person at advance polling sites as of Sunday.

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U.S. Senate Race Hot in Kansas; GOP Expects to Keep at Least 2 U.S. House Seats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has had its most competitive U.S. Senate race in decades, but President Donald Trump is expected to carry the state in the presidential race.  Polls opened this (TUE) morning and the marquee race is the U.S. Senate contest between Republican Roger Marshall and Democrat Barbara Bollier, the most expensive political contest in state history. Trump's hold on the state's six electoral votes seems secure, but Democrats hope that former Vice President Joe Biden will fare better than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The GOP appears likely to keep control of at least two U.S. House seats - in the 1st and 4th congressional districts. More competitive congressional races are underway in the 2nd and 3rd districts of eastern Kansas. Voter turnout is expected to be high across the state. The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office is predicting at least a 70% voter turnout for the General Election. However, Scott Schwab, the Secretary of State, said he thinks it could reach up to 75%.

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Kansas Democrats Have Best Shot in Eons to Win U.S. Senate Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats head into the general election with their best chance in half a century of winning a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, as voters in the typically reliable Republican state seek to settle its most expensive political contest in history. The race between Republican and two-term western and central Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall and Democrat and Kansas City-area state senator Barbara Bollier attracted a flood of money from outside Kansas. Bollier raised more than $25 million for her campaign to set a Kansas record, while Marshall raised $6.5 million. Outside groups were set to spend another $41 million on advertising. Republicans have won every Senate race in Kansas since 1932.  Most polls indicate a slight lead for Marshall while others have him in a statistical tie with Bollier.

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Investigation Underway After Topeka Men Allegedly Shoot Teens in Possible Dispute over Campaign Signs

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Topeka police are still sorting through information from witnesses about what happened Saturday night when two men apparently fired a handgun and rifle at a group of five teenagers, possibly in a confrontation over Donald Trump campaign yard signs. Three of the juveniles suffered gunshot wounds. None was considered to be life-threatening. Incident reports filed by Topeka Police identify the men as 39-year-old Robert Sinner and 34-year-old Justin Sinner. The names of five juveniles, ranging in age from 15 to 17, are redacted in the report. The officer filed separate reports reflecting conflicting allegations following the Saturday night shooting. One report lists the Sinners as victims of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. The other report lists three of the teens as victims of aggravated battery. Early reports from police indicated one of the men shot three of the kids because he believed they were stealing his Trump yard signs.  A police spokeswoman wouldn’t say Monday what role, if any, the Trump signs may have played.

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Missouri Voter Turnout Forecast as Highest in Decades

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri election officials are predicting a strong turnout in Tuesday's general election. Figures provides by the secretary of state's office show that local election authorities are forecasting a statewide voter turnout of 75%. If that comes true, it would be the highest percentage turnout since 1992. About 828,000 people already had returned absentee or mail-in ballots as of Sunday. That's nearly three times as many absentee ballots as were counted in the 2016 presidential election. The state relaxed early voting restrictions this year because of coronavirus concerns. Missouri has about 4.3 million registered voters.

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Governor, Congressional Seat Among Key Races in Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Four years after Republicans turned in a dominant performance in Missouri, the state’s GOP governor and a veteran Republican congresswoman are facing strong challenges from Democrats. In the governor’s race, voters will weigh in on whether they approve of Republican Governor Mike Parson's handling of the coronavirus pandemic or whether it’s time for new leadership. He is being challenged by Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway. Meanwhile, political experts believe the race between four-term 2nd District Republican Rep. Ann Wagner and her Democratic challenger, Jill Schupp, is a toss-up. Their St. Louis-area district is among many suburban districts across the country that Democrats have targeted to flip.

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Parson, Galloway Bring Competing Visions to Governor's Race

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters are deciding whether to give Republican Governor Mike Parson a full four years in charge of Missouri or to give the job to Democrat Nicole Galloway. The race between the former sheriff, Parson, and the state auditor, Galloway, can be viewed as a referendum on Parson’s hands-off approach to the coronavirus pandemic and the two candidates’ competing visions of the future of policing in the state. It will be the first chance for voters to weigh in on Parson's leadership of Missouri, as he inherited the governorship two years ago when his predecessor resigned amid scandal and facing the threat of impeachment.

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Kansas Logs over 4,000 COVID-19 Cases over the Weekend, Bringing Total to Nearly 90,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state has recorded more than 89,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  That figure includes 1,046 deaths.  KDHE released the latest numbers today (MON), reporting 89,227 coronavirus cases.  This marks an increase of 4,046 cases and 17 deaths in Kansas since Friday.  The next online update of COVID-19 cases will be released Wednesday afternoon.

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Kansas 7-Day Average for Reported COVID Cases Tops 1,500

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has set another record for its largest number of reported coronavirus cases over seven days.  Health officials are worried that people aren’t following public health advice closely enough. Based on state health department data, Kansas had a rolling average of 1,507 new confirmed and probable cases a day for the seven days ending Monday. The department added more than 4,000 cases to the statewide count since Friday, bringing the total to 89,227. The state reported an additional 17 COVID-19-related deaths since Friday, bringing the pandemic total to 1,046. The worst per capita spikes in cases in recent weeks have been in rural counties but health officials elsewhere say they're seeing community spread.

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Wichita Police: Suicides Increase More than 70%

WICHITA (AP) — Wichita police say suicides in the city are up 70% this year, and stress from the coronavirus outbreak is likely a major factor. Police said Monday the city had 76 suicides as of Friday, an increase from 44 at the same time last year and and 59 in all of 2019. There have been 367 suicide attempts so far this year. Detective James Hook, the department’s mental health liaison, speculated that stresses related to the coronavirus - such as job loss, social events being canceled and stay-at-home orders - are primary factors in the increase. 

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (En Español: 888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

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Another Inmate Dies, Hospital Adds Beds as Virus Cases Rise

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas prison inmate has died of the coronavirus and hospitals admissions are high as case numbers soar statewide. The Kansas Department of Corrections announced Tuesday that a COVID-19 positive inmate from the Ellsworth Correctional Facility died Monday. The inmate, whose name wasn’t released, was 76 and had underlying medical conditions. He is among more than 3,600 inmates statewide to be infected since the pandemic began; nine have died. In Wichita, Ascension Via Christi was treating 70 coronavirus patients Tuesday, the highest number it has seen yet. The hospital has repeatedly added beds in its COVID-19 units to keep up with the demand.

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Judge Rules for Veterans Sexually Abused at Kansas Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has awarded damages to two veterans who say they were sexually abused by a physician assistant at a VA hospital in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled Monday that hospital personnel should have “fairly foreseen” the wrongful conduct by physician assistant Mark Wisner. KCUR-FM reports that multiple patients complained about Wisner's conduct at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. Crabtree awarded more than $538,000 to one veteran and over $1.5 million to the other. Wisner is serving a 16-year prison sentence after convictions for aggravated sexual battery and aggravated criminal sodomy in 2017.

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Police Investigate Fatal Kansas City Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man was fatally shot in northeastern Kansas City on Sunday.   Kansas City Police Department spokeswoman Donna Drake said the shooting was reported near the intersection of Independence and Monroe avenues shortly before 9 am Sunday. Officers found a man with gunshot wounds near a sidewalk. He died at the scene of the shooting. The victim’s name wasn’t immediately released. Police did not report any arrests in connection with the shooting.  The fatal shooting was the 161st homicide of the year in Kansas City, according to The Kansas City Star.
That is well above the 125 homicides at this time last year.

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Kansas School Principal Suspended After Hijab Controversy

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school principal has been suspended indefinitely after a student complained last month that she had been asked to remove her Islamic head scarf, known as a hijab. The Geary County School Board voted Monday night to suspend Junction City High School Principal Melissa Sharp with pay. On Oct. 21, a student said she was told by a hall monitor to remove the hijab, prompting a protest the next day by several students. Sharp sent an email to parents a few days later saying the incident never happened. The board said in a statement that Sharp's suspension comes after an investigation into the incident.

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Suspect Arrested in Fatal Shooting Near Youth Football Game

UNDATED (AP) — Wichita police and the U.S. Marshals Service have arrested a suspect in the shooting death last month of a former Pittsburg State University basketball player outside a sports stadium where a youth football game was being played. Twenty-three-year-old Maurice Hall of Garland, Texas, was arrested Tuesday morning during a vehicle stop, Wichita police officer Kevin Wheeler said in a news release. Hall was booked on first-degree murder and other charges, The Wichita Eagle reported. Police said the Oct. 21 shooting death of 31-year-old Marquell Nolan stemmed from an ongoing feud between Nolan and Hall.

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Officials: 2 People Die in Gyrocopter Crash in Kansas

POTWIN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people have died after a type of aircraft called a gyrocopter crashed in south-central Kansas. Butler County dispatchers say the crash happened around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday just west of the Butler County town of Potwin. The names of the victims weren’t immediately released.

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Evergy Proposing Extra Charges for Solar Panel Users

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Evergy power company is proposing charging customers with solar panels about $25 a month, even if their homes use almost no electricity from the power grid. And if that plan is rejected, Evergy wants to charge all customers a minimum of $35 a month, even if they don't use solar power. For most customers, the charge would simply count against their energy consumption. But poorer households that don't use much electricity would pay more. Evergy says it needs to recover the cost of having electricity on demand for solar-equipped homes. State regulators will hold a virtual public hearing on the proposed rates at 6 pm Thursday.

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Two Killed When Truck Crashes into Combine in Eastern Kansas

ERIE, Kan. (AP) — Two people died when their pickup truck collided with a combine in southeast Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the accident happened Monday evening on a bridge over Canville Creek northwest of Erie. The patrol says a vehicle driven by 67-year-old Michael Drake and 63-year-old Marilyn Drake, of Buffalo, collided with the header of the combine. The Drakes died at the scene. The driver of the combine was not injured.

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Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against Kansas Researcher

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to throw out charges against a researcher accused of concealing work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas. Feng “Franklin” Tao is charged with not disclosing on conflict-of-interest forms work he was allegedly doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected on Monday defense arguments seeking to dismiss the indictment on the basis that Tao’s prosecution opens the door to criminalizing workplace disagreements. She also found no prosecutorial misconduct in comments made to the grand jury, as the defense had claimed.

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Leavenworth Woman Charged in Husband's Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old Leavenworth woman has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband. Alexandra Gilson made her first court appearance Monday. She is charged with killing 37-year-old Joshua Gilson, whose body was found Friday after officers went to a Leavenworth home. Police did not say how Gilson died but police Chief Pat Kitchens says domestic violence is the focus of the investigation. Three young children at the home were placed with relatives. Prosecutors say Jeffery Samulczyk was charged with interference with law enforcement related to the case. Court records indicate Joshua Gilson had filed for divorce but asked that the case be dismissed last week.

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Kansas Woman Who Sold Heroin Laced with Fentanyl Gets 12 Years in Prison

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman who prosecutors say sold heroin laced with fentanyl has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says 37-year-old Amber Juarez continued to sell the drugs even though she knew they were causing overdoses. Juarez was sentenced in federal court Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl. Investigators said Juarez sold more than a kilogram of heroin over about five months. She sold drugs to a confidential informant three times, and two of the batches contained fentanyl.

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Man Who Killed Topeka Toddler in 1995 Granted Parole

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who beat a Topeka toddler to death in 1995 has been granted parole. The Kansas parole board determined that 46-year-old Glenn Allen Heath Jr. will be released on or after December 1 if an approved plan is in place. The parole board had turned down Heath's three previous requests for parole. Heath was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder in the October 1995 beating death of 2-year-old Cain Baker, his then-fiancee's stepson. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Heath's supporters say he has no prison disciplinary violations, has completed five prison programs, has a strong support system and a job offer.

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Officials Say Woman Critically Injured in Topeka Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials in Topeka say a woman has suffered critical injuries in an apartment fire there. Television station KSNT reports that the fire broke out sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning and firefighters arrived on the scene around 1:30 am Monday. Officials say firefighters entered the burning building and found a 55-year-old woman. Officials say she was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. Her name has not yet been released. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire.  Officials say the blaze started in a single unit of the apartment building.

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Midwest Economy Looking Up; Survey Hits Highest Level in 16 Years

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The overall economic index of a monthly survey of Midwest business leaders hit a 16-year high for October, but the manufacturing sector of the economy remains stunted from the coronavirus outbreak. The overall measure of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index improved to 70.2 in October from September’s already strong 65.1.  Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey and says that even with the high index level, manufacturing output remains below levels seen before the pandemic. The monthly survey covers Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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