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Headlines for Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 

Wyandotte County Extends Mask Mandate 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Most Wyandotte County residents will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces into mid-November. The mask requirement applies in Kansas City, Kansas, and to residents aged 5 and older, in businesses and houses of worship. Wyandotte County imposed the mandate in August, and it is now set to remain in place through November 18th. The county commission voted this past week to extend the mandate by two months. Meanwhile, Kansas aviation companies are set to receive nearly $104 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. The Wichita Eagle reports that 31 companies will receive federal relief funds to keep a total of nearly 4,300 jobs. 

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AG: Spike in Natural Gas Prices Appears to Break Kansas Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt says that sharp spikes in natural gas prices last winter appear to violate Kansas law and he is seeking outside legal help to investigate them. Schmidt's office said Monday it is looking to retain a law firm with expertise in the natural gas marketplace to help investigate and with any potential civil litigation aimed at enforcing the state’s anti-profiteering law. Schmidt said in a news release that state law prohibits unjustified price increases for necessary goods and services during a declared state of disaster emergency.

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Lawmaker Accused of Kicking Boy Pleads Guilty to 3 Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator accused of kicking a high school student in the testicles has pleaded guilty to three lesser misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. A magistrate judge on Monday placed Republican state Representative Mark Samsel on a year’s probation under a deal with the local prosecutor. Samsel also agreed not to use social media for personal purposes or have any contact with two high school students whose complaints led to the charges. Samsel had faced three higher misdemeanor criminal charges of battery over interactions with the two students, ages 15 or 16, during an April 28 high school art class in his eastern Kansas hometown of Wellsville.

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Protest over University of Kansas Assault Claim Draws Crowd

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Hundreds of people chanted and held signs outside a University of Kansas fraternity house where a member is accused of sexually assaulting another student. The Kansas City Star reports that the Monday night protest outside the Phi Kappa Psi house came after the fraternity officials reported the allegations over the weekend. The university's spokeswoman said Tuesday the university takes all allegations of sexual violence seriously and has robust processes to investigate them. A spokesman for the fraternity said the organization has been made aware of the allegations involving one of its new undergraduate members and the university was immediately notified.

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KU Hires New Campus Police Chief

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) _ The University of Kansas has chosen a new chief for the university’s police department. Nelson Mosley will also take over as director of the Office of Public Safety. He comes to the job with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience after rising through the ranks of the Wichita Police Department from patrol officer to Deputy Chief.  The Lawrence Journal World reports that Mosley has also served as adjunct professor of criminal justice at Wichita State University and was a trainer on ethics, diversity and racial profiling with the Wichita department.  Mosley will leave his current job as chief of the Rose Hill Police Department in Butler County to take the position at KU. He replaces retiring Chief Chris Keary.

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Unvaccinated Kansas High School Football Coach Dies of COVID

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The father of an football coach at a suburban Kansas City high school said he hopes his unvaccinated son’s death from COVID-19 will convince people that the disease “is real.” Kim and Carolyn Burnett, told KMBC-TV that their son, Chris Burnett, died Saturday after two weeks in the hospital. The 34-year-old coached football for Olathe East High School and an all-female team called the Kansas City Glory. He also was studying to be a physical education teacher.

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Local Agencies: KC Area Could Welcome 625 Afghan Refugees 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Resettlement agencies in the Kansas City area have told the federal government that they have the capacity to welcome 625 refugees from Afghanistan. The Kansas City Star reports that three organizations designated by the U.S. State Department as resettlement agencies submitted the figure in a proposal to the agency in late August. The agencies are Della Lamb Community Center, Jewish Vocational Services and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. But Della Lamb Executive Director Ryan Hudnall said the figure is subject to change depending on who chooses to come to Kansas and who has existing relationships in the area.
 

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Kansas, Oklahoma Continue Uptick in Abortions Following Texas Law 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Abortion clinics in Kansas and Oklahoma say they're still seeing a high volume of patients from Texas as a new state law there banning most abortions remains in effect. The Biden administration this week sued Texas over the law, arguing it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution." The Justice Department is asking a judge to quickly declare the law invalid, although it is unknown how quickly a court might rule. In the meantime, the Trust Women abortion clinics in Kansas and Oklahoma say at least half their patients at both locations last week were from Texas. And appointments are booked through the end of the month.  
  

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Kansas Agrees to $1.9 Million for Attorneys Who Fought Voting Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas appears likely to pay $1.9 million to attorneys who succeeded in getting the federal courts to strike down a state proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters. The amount arose from negotiations between attorneys for the state and lawyers for Kansas residents who filed two federal lawsuits against a state law requiring people to provide citizenship documents when registering to vote. They jointly asked Friday for U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to sign off. The lawsuits successfully argued that the proof-of-citizenship requirement denied voting rights to thousands of citizens while doing little or nothing to stop fraud. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

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Kansas Farmers Busy Planting Wheat, Harvesting Other Crops

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have been busy planting next year’s winter wheat crop and harvesting the state’s other major crops. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that about 4% of the winter wheat in Kansas has now been planted. That’s about equal to the five-year average for this time of year. The agency also noted in its weekly crop update that about 11 percent of the state’s corn crop has been harvested. Just 1% of the sorghum has been cut so far in Kansas.

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Fire at Huge Nebraska Beef Plant Disrupts Production Briefly

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - A fire at a one of the nation’s largest beef processing plants appears to have spared the main production area. So the impact from the Nebraska fire on the overall market is likely to be limited. While the blaze was burning at the JBS plant that normally slaughters about 6,000 cattle a day, industry observers feared there could be a similar impact to when a fire disrupted operations at large Tyson beef plant in Kansas for months in 2019. JBS spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said the company expects to resume operations at the plant Tuesday because the fire did not impact the main production areas.

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Cost of Living on the Rise in Rural Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — The latest Cost of Living Index shows some parts of rural Kansas are relatively expensive. Place like Dodge City are becoming more costly. Jeremy Hill leads the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. He says the cost of living has been consistently higher in western Kansas than it is in some of the other parts of the state, partly because of supply issues. “Because of the remoteness of each of those communities, the cost of getting goods there is higher" Hill said.  But prices are not rising as quickly so high in all rural areas of the state. Pittsburg, near Joplin, Missouri and just a few hours from Kansas City, benefits from more competition.  A dentist visit costs $130 in Dodge City but only $90 in Pittsburg. A loaf of bread goes for $3.59 in Dodge City and $3.19 in Pittsburg.

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Missouri Judge Orders Blue Springs Restaurant to Close for Mask Violations 

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) -  A Missouri judge has ordered a Kansas City-area restaurant to close because it continues to defy a mask mandate.  Jackson County had sought a temporary restraining order against Rae's Cafe in Blue Springs, after the owner ignored a health department order to close because of repeated violations of the county's order requiring masks inside businesses to fight the coronavirus outbreak.  The business reopened as a private club in an effort to avoid the mandate.  Rae's Cafe could face sanctions for violating the order. The temporary restraining order will last for 21 days or until the court enters another order. 

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GOP Group Held 'War Games' for State AGs Before Trump Loss 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association held a special meeting weeks before the 2020 election to discuss its strategies if then-President Donald Trump lost. The Rule of Law Defense Fund later gained notoriety for sending a robocall urging people to support Trump at the January 6th rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. The association's two-day conference in September 2020 was among 20-plus meetings the group held in the four months before the November presidential election for senior aides to Republican state attorneys general. It was a special event with “off the record” conversations and expenses covered. It was in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines months away. 

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Missouri Police Investigating Homicide in Harrisonville

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) _ Police are investigating an early-morning homicide in the town of Harrisonville in western Missouri. Television station KSHB reports that Harrisonville police were called around 2 a.m. Monday to a convenience store on Route 291.  Officers arrived to find a person with an apparent stab wound. The person was rushed to a hospital, but died from their injuries. Police have not released the victim's name, but say detectives are investigating a related crime scene at a commuter lot near the convenience store. Police in Kansas City have been asked to help with the investigation. Harrisonville is a town of about 10,000 in Cass County, 40 miles south of Kansas City

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Fugitive Charged with Killing Boyfriend Arrested in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities have arrested a woman who is charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend one week after she was accused of disabling her electronic monitoring device and fleeing. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that Katie Black, of Independence, Missouri, had been apprehended in a rural part of the county. The Kansas City Star reports that court records show that she is now being held in the Jackson County Jail without bond. She is charged with second-degree felony murder, armed criminal action, domestic assault and illegal weapon use in the July 7 killing of 29-year-old Ryan Wheeler in the eastern Jackson County town of Sibley.

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Ruling on Who Will Hear Strickland Motion Expected Friday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge says he will rule on Friday whether all Jackson County (Missouri) judges should be disqualified from hearings to determine if a Kansas City man could go free after serving more than 40 years in prison. At a hearing on Monday, Circuit Court Judge Kevin Harrell heard arguments in the case of Kevin Strickland, who Jackson County prosecutors have said did not commit a triple murder in Kansas City in 1978. Attorney General Eric Schmitt is seeking to have the Jackson County judges removed from further hearings in Strickland's case because of perceived bias in Strickland's favor.

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Buffalo Carved from Butter Featured at Kansas State Fair

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s state animal — the buffalo — is being celebrated at the State Fair this year with a 700-pound butter sculpture. The Hutchinson News reports that a sculptor from Iowa, Sarah Pratt, had to do some research on buffaloes before she designed this year’s butter statue. Pratt said that if she winds up with any extra butter she may add a buffalo calf or some sunflowers. Pratt, who teaches school by day, lives in West Des Moines with her husband and three children, all of whom help her out with sculpting - from the Kansas State Fair to fairs in Iowa or Illinois.

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Invasive Insect Spotted in 4-H Entry at Kansas State Fair

HUTCHINSTON, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State Fair officials judging the 4-H entomology entries last week discovered an invasive insect that prompted quarantines elsewhere. Fair Board member Gregg Hadley says the student who caught the bug didn't know it had prompted quarantines in at least 45 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to try to stop its spread. Hadley, who is Director for Extension with Kansas State's Research and Extension, said it's not clear how the invasive bug made it to Kansas, but it may have hitched a ride on a camper. Federal officials are expected to try and learn how the insect reached Kansas. 
 
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Browns' Tretter Calls for Discipline Against KC Assistant Coach

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter believes Kansas City assistant coach Greg Lewis should be disciplined by the NFL for his role in a sideline skirmish with Cleveland safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. on Sunday. Harrison was ejected from Cleveland’s 33-29 loss in the first quarter after he forcefully pushed Lewis, who shoved the Browns safety after coming over to help Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Tretter, the NFLPA’s president, didn’t condone Harrison’s behavior, but said Lewis needs to be held accountable by the league for his actions. An NFL spokesman said the incident is under review and that Harrison will not be suspended.

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Royals Promote Dayton Moore to President, Picollo to GM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are promoting general manager Dayton Moore to club president. The team is also elevating longtime assistant GM J.J. Picollo to GM. The 54-year-old Moore presided over one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history, leading them to consecutive World Series and the 2015 title. Picollo has long been considered Moore's heir apparent in Kansas City. The team is showing signs of another rebirth after a long rebuild.

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Royals Evaluate Stadium Options, Downtown Ballpark Possible

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are evaluating options for once their lease expires at Kauffman Stadium. Owner John Sherman says a new downtown ballpark is a possibility. The Royals are tied to the 53-year-old stadium until 2031 under terms of a public-private partnership. The team must make a decision in the next couple of years to look elsewhere or press on with more renovations at Truman Sports Complex, which is also home to Arrowhead Stadium and the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Big 12 Coaches Says Swift Expansion Solidified League Future

UNDATED (AP) – Big 12 coaches feel the league is solidified for the long haul after the conference's swift action to expand. Kansas State coach Chris Klieman says the Big 12 got four really good programs with the additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. That quartet got invited to the league six weeks after Oklahoma and Texas accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference by 2025. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says the league hit a home run, keeping the Big 12 status and getting back to 12 teams from 10.

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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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