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Headlines for Wednesday, December 2, 2020


Kansas Officials Concerned About Repeated, Widespread 911 Outages

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are concerned about the state's 911 service, after a nearly three-hour outage across southern Kansas over the weekend.  It's at least the third major disruption to 911 service in Kansas in four years. An audit in 2018 warned the system was at risk of outages affecting emergency departments. A 911 Coordinating Council has been working for years to move the state to the next generation of service, called NG911. Rep. John Carmichael, a Wichita Democrat who is a member of the council, says the state has ignored the basic requirement to have a redundant system in case of a widespread outage.


Investigators: Crash Involving Deer Kills 1, Injures Another Near Pratt

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Kansas troopers say a man was killed and a woman seriously injured when their small sport utility vehicle hit a deer before being hit by another vehicle in south-central Kansas. Television station KAKE reports the crash happened just after 9 pm Tuesday on U.S. Highway 54, east of Pratt. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the westbound SUV hit a deer and became disabled, sitting sideways in the roadway. It was then broadsided by a camper van, killing 65-year-old Gregory Hettmansberger, of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The patrol says Hettmansberger's passenger, a 70-year-old woman, was taken to a Wichita hospital with serious injuries. Investigators say the 26-year-old driver of the camper van was not hurt.


Kansas COVID-19 Cases Surpass 160,000; Nearly 1,700 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded more than 162,000 COVID-19 cases.  Health officials reported Wednesday that Kansas had identified 162,061 coronavirus cases and 1,679 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Those numbers indicate an additional 4,615 cases and 119 deaths since Monday.  Another update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected Friday.   


Kansas Reports Spike in COVID-19 Deaths as State Awaits Vaccine

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting spikes in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, as dozens of nursing homes experience outbreaks and the state prepares to see that health care workers receive the first available vaccines .Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday that the state expects to receive the first of two vaccine doses for 23,750 people by the middle of this month if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes emergency use of a vaccine made by Pfizer. The state health department added 119 deaths since Monday, raising the state's pandemic death toll to 1,679. Kansas also had a record average of 53 new coronavirus-related hospitalizations a day for the seven days ending Wednesday.


Expected Staffing Shortages Could Hit Rural Hospitals Hard

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Medical providers say anticipated staffing shortages amid surging coronavirus cases could hit rural hospitals especially hard because smaller communities have more limited options for finding providers to cover for sick workers. The Kansas Hospital Association reports that about 44% of the state’s hospitals on Monday were anticipating staffing shortages this week amid an expected rise in COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving holiday. Five rural Kansas counties — Rush, Republic, Ellsworth, Rawlins and Kearny — rank in the top 25 counties in the nation with the most new cases per capita in the past 14 days.


Missouri Senators Advance $1.2 Billion Virus Aid Package

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are back at work after several tested positive for the coronavirus, which delayed a special session. On Tuesday, state Senators gave initial approval to a $1.2 billion coronavirus aid package. They also were scheduled to start debate on a new law that would prevent lawsuits against health care workers for disregarding the safety of others during the coronavirus emergency. The proposal also would block some lawsuits against businesses that make faulty masks and other supplies to help with the pandemic as long as they don't make intentionally make the products defective.


Kansas Official Replaced by Man He Allegedly Tried to Frame

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A disgraced politician in Kansas will be replaced on a county commission by the man he and two other Republican officials allegedly tried to frame in order to hide their own roles in a smear campaign against a mayoral candidate. The Wichita Eagle reports that Republican Party stalwarts on Monday selected Dalton Glasscock to finish the remaining term of former Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell. Separately, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday the state's Constitution doesn’t give the courts power to remove state Rep. Michael Capps from the Legislature. He referred Capps's case to leaders of the state House of Representatives to consider whether expulsion proceedings are appropriate.


Kansas Governor Picks Another Justice for State Supreme Court; Her 3rd Appointment in Less than 2 Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has appointed state Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court. Monday's appointment was made despite the objections of the state’s most influential anti-abortion group. It is Kelly’s third appointment to the seven-member court in less than two years in office. Under the state constitution, her choice is not subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Standridge will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Carol Beier. The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposed Standridge because she sided in a 2016 ruling with other judges who said the state constitution protects abortion rights.


Retired Kansas Supreme Court Justice Tyler Lockett Dies 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Kansas News Service) -- A former Kansas Supreme Court justice has died from COVID-19. Tyler Lockett died Saturday (11/28) in Topeka. He was 87. He graduated from Washburn University’s law school and worked as an attorney and a judge in Sedgwick County. In 1983, Lockett was appointed to the state Supreme Court by then-Governor John Carlin. He retired from the court in 2003.


Shawnee Mayor Charged with Felony Perjury in Kansas

UNDATED (AP) — Court records show Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler has been charged with felony perjury. The Kansas City Star reports the 47-year-old mayor was released Wednesday on a $2,500 bond. The criminal complaint alleges she made the false statement on March 7.  Distler has served as mayor of Shawnee, Kansas, since 2015. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Online court records do not indicate a defense attorney in the case.


Confidence in Midwest Economic Future Plummets in Latest Survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states suggests faltering confidence in the region's economy. After climbing every month since bottoming out in April, the overall index of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions survey fell to 69.0 in November from October's 70.2. Any score above 50 on the survey's indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession. Meanwhile, the survey's confidence index looking ahead six months plummeted 20 points to 50.0 this month from October's 70.4. The monthly survey covers Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.


Pizza Hut Co-Founder Frank Carney Dies from Pneumonia at Age 82

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Frank Carney, who with his brother started the Pizza Hut empire in Wichita, has died from pneumonia. He was 82. The Wichita Eagle reports that Carney had recently recovered from COVID-19, but had Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade. Family members say he died at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday at an assisted living facility in Wichita. He was a 19-year-old student at Wichita State University when he and his then 26-year-old brother, Dan, borrowed $600 in 1958 from their mother to start a pizza business at the suggestion of the landlord at the beer joint near their family’s Carney’s Market. PepsiCo bought Pizza Hut for $300 million in 1977.


Driver Outside Vehicle Killed in Crash Near Clinton, Missouri

CLINTON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in western Missouri say a driver standing outside his vehicle on the shoulder of the road died when he was hit by a semitrailer. Television station KSHB reports the crash happened early Monday morning along Missouri Route 7 near Clinton. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says 49-year-old Raymond Conners of Independence was standing in the roadway outside of his vehicle, which was pulled onto the shoulder, when a passing semi hit the vehicle's open driver’s side door, then hit Conners. Conners was pronounced dead at the scene.


Kansas Offers Free Wasting Disease Testing on Hunted Deer

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are offering deer hunters in the state free testing for chronic wasting disease on the carcasses of deer they kill during the 2020-2021 deer hunting seasons. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is offering the testing in conjunction with the University of Missouri as part of a research project to better understand where the disease is present in Kansas and how it is spread. The project will offer the free testing on a maximum of 450 samples over the next three years. Hunters will need to be able to provide the location of where they killed the deer, using GPS coordinates, range-township-section numbers or the nearest intersection to receive the free testing.


Wichita Police: Man Driving Stolen Car Dies in Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man died when a stolen car he was driving crashed during a police pursuit. Wichita police Captain Wendell Nicholson says the vehicle was stolen about 6 am Tuesday after it was left running to warm up. Police saw the vehicle and began a pursuit. Nicholson says the driver eventually clipped another vehicle in an intersection and the car crashed into a telephone pole. The driver was ejected and died at the scene. The driver's name has not been released. Wichita police and the Kansas Highway Patrol are investigating.


Judge: No Contact Meetings for Suspect in Brothers' Deaths

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin will not be allowed to meet in person with his attorneys, at least for now. Attorneys for Garland Nelson, of Braymer, have not been able to meet with him in the same room at the Caldwell County Jail because of coronavirus restrictions. They argued they need to have personal visits with Nelson because he is facing the death penalty in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. A judge ruled Tuesday that he wants to hear from public health officials before allowing the personal meetings.


Police: Man Shot in Head in Wichita Expected to Recover

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man who was seriously injured when he was shot in the head is expected to recover. KWCH reports that several people were in the Wichita home when the shooting occurred Wednesday. Police found gun shells outside the house, indicating someone likely fired into the home. Most of the people who were inside were gone when police arrived. Wichita Police Lt. Matt Lang says they don't know if the victim was the intended target or not, noting there were other people inside the home at the time of the shooting.


Police Investigating Fatal Shooting at Wichita Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating a shooting that fatally injured a 49-year-old Wichita man. The Wichita Police Department said in a news release that officers responded to a shooting call at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and found Michael Horn with a gunshot wound. He was transported to an area hospital where he died from his injuries. Police say this was not a random incident and that the investigation is ongoing. Investigators are working to locate the suspect.


Police ID Body Found in Kansas City Neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police have identified a man whose body was found over the weekend in a Kansas City neighborhood. Police say the body of 34-year-old Martez Brock was found near a residential area Friday night by officers responding to a report of “suspicious party.” Police spokesman Capt. David Jackson said Brock’s injuries were consistent with foul play but have not said what the cause of death was. The Kansas City killing marked the city’s 174th homicide this year, up sharply from 2019. By the same time last year, there had been 139 killings.


Peppered Chub Proposed by Agency as Endangered Species

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list a small minnow-like fish known as the peppered chub as an endangered species and designate parts of rivers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico as its critical habitat. On Tuesday, the agency published the proposal in the Federal Register. The proposal says the fish, once found in each of the four states and in Colorado, is now found only in one river from New Mexico into Texas.  The agency says rivers in Kansas and Oklahoma must also be protected to ensure they could be relocated, if necessary, to prevent extinction.


No. 7 Kansas Overcomes Offensive Woes, Beats No. 20 Kentucky

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jalen Wilson scored 21 of his career-high 23 points in the second half and posted his first double-double to help No. 7 Kansas get past No. 20 Kentucky 65-62 in the Champions Classic. Wilson grabbed 10 rebounds as the Jayhawks won their second straight since losing to top-ranked Gonzaga in their opener. Ochai Agbaji had 17 points for Kansas. Kentucky was led by Brandon Boston Jr. and Davion Mintz, who each scored 12. Mintz had a chance to tie it with five seconds to go but his 3-pointer was off the mark and Kansas grabbed the rebound.


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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