Headlines for Friday, July 25, 2021

 

Heavy Rain Leads to Flash Flooding in Several States, Including Kansas

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Heavy rain in several Midwestern states is causing flash flooding, and more rain is in the forecast. A line of storms that began Wednesday continued through Thursday and into Friday, bringing winds that downed trees and power lines. The storms also brought torrential rain. The Omaha World-Herald reported that more than 6 inches of rain fell near Murdock, Nebraska. The weather service said a campground was evacuated before midnight Thursday. Heavy rain also was reported in parts of Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. In Columbia, Missouri, several vehicles became stuck in flood waters. The forecast in much of the region calls for more rain through Friday and into the weekend.

==========

KU Med Using Multi-Lingual Messages to Reach Vaccine Hesitant

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) -The University of Kansas Medical Center is teaming up with bilingual health workers to reach more people with information about the COVID vaccine.  The campaign includes the Kansas City and Wichita areas, along with rural counties, like Seward in southwestern Kansas. Local health workers laid out the facts in videos about the COVID vaccines in Swahili, Spanish, Portuguese, and five other languages. Fewer than 40 percent of Kansans are fully vaccinated. Some are telling health workers that they remain worried about the safety of the vaccine, or don’t know the vaccine is free. Others think COVID isn’t dangerous even though the virus has killed 5 thousand people in Kansas.

==========

COVID Variant First Gained Foothold in Rural Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A highly contagious coronavirus variant that is contributing to a surge of cases in Missouri first gained a foothold in rural areas of the state where vaccinations rates are low, a pattern not seen previously. The delta variant, first detected in India, is becoming the predominant strain detected in wastewater in some parts of the state, particularly in the southwest corner, where COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise. And it is spreading much differently than the alpha variant, which first was detected in the United Kingdom. Jeff Wenzel, who oversees the wastewater surveillance program for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the alpha variant spread from cities to rural areas. This variant is doing the opposite. 

==========

Aid May Not Be Enough to Prevent Kansas Evictions

MISSION, Kansas (AP) — The end of tenant protections at the end of July has raised concerns that thousands of Kansas residents will be unable to afford their monthly rent and face eviction. The state has set aside $220 million to help with outstanding rents, utility payments and other expenses, but extensive federal rules have slowed the flow of money to those in need. Kansas has one of the shortest timeframes in the country for evicting a tenant who falls behind on rent. In Wichita, the Salvation Army already is seeing an increase in calls from people asking for shelter.

==========

Governor Laura Kelly Commutes Five Prisoners’ Sentences, Pardons Three Others

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she has commuted the sentences of five people and granted pardons to three others. Kelly said the people she decided to act on all showed strong signs of rehabilitation and being able to safely re-enter society. The eight people were chosen after their records were reviewed by the governor’s legal team, the Department of Administration and the Prison Review Board. The three people pardoned were Chivonda Hall, Xuan Hiep Le, and Joshua Townsend. Those who received commuted sentences were Joseph Agrillo, Dominic Holder, Joseph A. Jones, Michael McLoud and Loren Thibodo. 

==========

Missouri Governor Not Convinced Longtime Inmate is Innocent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he’s not sure inmate Kevin Strickland is innocent, even though prosecutors have said he didn’t commit a triple murder that has kept him in prison for four decades. Parson told KSHB-TV that he has looked at Strickland’s case several times. But he said the “bottom line” is that no court has found Strickland innocent of a triple murder in Kansas City in 1978. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, federal prosecutors, a Jackson County judge and prosecutors who convicted Strickland have said he deserves to be exonerated. The governor said he will “more than likely” sign legislation that would give Strickland an avenue toward release. 
  
==========

State Leaders Approve Toll Lanes on U.S. 69 in Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KPR) – A panel of Statehouse leaders gave the green light to build a toll lane on U.S. highway 69 in Overland Park. The support Thursday from lawmakers and Governor Laura Kelly was the final regulatory approval needed for the project. The city will contribute $20 million dollars toward the $300 million project.  Kansas Secretary of Transportation, Julie Lorenz says the other lanes on the highway will remain free.  Lorenz says the new lane will reduce congestion for people who live in Overland Park and the drivers passing through. It will also be less expensive than widening the highway. The toll is expected to remain in effect until Overland Park completes their $20 million dollar payment, which is projected to be sometime between 2037 and 2042.

==========

Kansas Man Sentenced for Stealing from Kansas Medical Center

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 50-year-old Lenexa man has been sentenced to two years in prison after stealing more than $556,000 from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Prosecutors said Michael Tae Kim Ahlers also stole money from the KUMC Research Institute and the KU Endowment. Ahlers pleaded guilty in February to bank fraud and filing a false tax return. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $680,000 in restitution. Ahlers was an administrative officer of the KUMC Occupational Therapy Education Department between 2009 and 2015. Federal prosecutors say he spent the money on gambling, vacations, golf club memberships and sports tickets.

==========

Settlement Approved with Family of Wrongfully Convicted Kansas Man

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state panel has approved a settlement with the family of a man who died shortly after being released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The State Finance Council on Thursday agreed to an $826,301 payment to the family of Olin “Pete” Coones. Coones was charged in the 2008 Kansas City, Kansas, deaths of Kathleen Schroll and her husband, Carl, but he was convicted of killing Schroll. He was exonerated in November 2020 after prosecutors said the deaths were a murder-suicide planned by Schroll. Coones died in February of cancer, 108 days after he was released from prison.

==========

Larned Man Charged with Arson After American Flag Burned

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man is charged with felony arson after a large American flag was burned outside a Larned business. The Pawnee County Attorney says Jason Wayne Cauble, of Larned, was arrested Tuesday and made his first court appearance on Thursday. Investigators allege Cauble burned a 30-by-20 foot flag outside of Carr Auction and Realty in Larned in April. Cauble remains jailed in lieu of a $15,000. Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett explained that people who burn their own flags are protected by their right to free speech but arson can be charged when the flag belongs to someone else. He said he did not have information about Cauble’s possible motive.

==========

Dodge City Officer Indicted After Fatal Traffic Crash

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Dodge City police corporal has been indicted after a woman died in a traffic crash while he was responding to a call. A Ford County grand jury this week indicted Cpl. Shane Wade Harris on an involuntary manslaughter charge, or an alternative vehicular homicide charge. Investigators said Harris was responding to reports of a break-in on January 25, 2020, when his car collided with a vehicle driven by Vanessa Guzman, of Dodge City. Guzman was thrown from the car and died at the scene. Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis declined to comment because the police department’s investigation is not complete.

==========

Cause of Sickness at Wichita-Area Wildlife Splash Park Found

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — Health officials have identified the bacteria that caused an outbreak of illnesses at a splash park near Wichita. State and Sedgwick County health investigators said Wednesday the Shigella bacteria was found in three original cases linked to visits to the Tanganyika Wildlife Park. The bacteria is spread  through exposure to contaminated feces. The investigation began Friday after several cases of a “diarrheal illness” were connected to the park. More than 200 people have responded to a survey designed to identify Tanganyika visitors with symptoms of fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Health officials say it’s not yet clear how many of them are connected to the splash park outbreak.

(–Related–)

Lawsuit Filed over Sicknesses at Goddard Wildlife Park

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — A woman who says she and her three children became “violently ill” after visiting a splash park at a wildlife attraction in Goddard is suing the business. Public health officials have not determined what caused several people to become ill at the Tanganyika Wildlife Park. The splash park remains closed. Elena Davis alleges in the lawsuit that one of her children went to the hospital after the family became ill after visiting the splash park. Lawyers for the family allege the park didn’t maintain proper sanitary conditions or warn guests about the outbreak in a timely fashion. State and Sedgwick County health officials are investigating.

==========

Topeka Police Investigate Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating a shooting death on the city’s north side. Officers were called just after 10 p.m. Thursday to Northwest Polk Street and found an adult with a gunshot wound. The person died at the scene. Police did not disclose the victim’s name and didn’t say if it was a man or a woman. No arrests have been made.

==========

Two Teens Arrested in Shooting Death of 15-Year-Old in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two teenagers have been arrested in the shooting death of a 15-year near a Kansas City, Kansas, elementary school earlier this month. Authorities said Thursday that U.S. Marshals took the suspects, ages 16 and 17, into custody. A news release from police said they will face criminal charges in Wyandotte County. Both had been sought in the killing of Kaden Bauswell, who was found shot near Hazel Grove Elementary School on June 8.

==========  

Missouri Judge: Medicaid Expansion Unconstitutional

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has found that a voter-approved ballot measure to expand Medicaid is unconstitutional. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem on Wednesday said the amendment unconstitutionally sought to force lawmakers to set aside money for the expansion. Under the Constitution, lawmakers can’t be forced to make appropriations unless the ballot measure includes a funding mechanism. Voters passed the constitutional amendment last year. But Republican Governor Mike Parson refused to implement it because lawmakers didn’t set aside any money for it. Three low-income women sued to try to force the state to enact the program. They’re appealing the ruling.

(-Related-)

Missouri Special Session on Medicaid Funding Begins

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators are back at the Capitol to work on a critical piece of Medicaid funding. Republican Gov. Mike Parson called lawmakers back to Jefferson City on Wednesday to pass a tax on medical providers. The tax draws down a significant amount of federal Medicaid funding. The tax wasn’t renewed during the regular session because of a fight over Medicaid coverage for Planned Parenthood and some family planning services. Parson says lawmakers have until July 1 to reup the tax. Otherwise he says he’ll cut $722 million from the state budget to make up for it.

==========

Scott Schwab Seeks Second Term as Kansas Secretary of State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has announced he will seek a second term, saying the state needs leaders who will defend election integrity. In a press release Wednesday announcing his candidacy in the 2022 election, the Overland Park Republican touted his efforts to implement election security, improve business services and modernize office functions. He says it is imperative the state protect its election processes and streamline business filings. He took office in 2019.

==========

Police Called to Remove Snake; Turns Out to Be Python

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ When Pittsburg Police Officer Jesse Spencer was sent to a home to remove a snake from the front porch, he expected the typical garden snake.  What he found was an 8-foot-long python. Police on Thursday posted a photo of Spencer holding the snake. The department said the officer “fulfilled the job description category `other duties are required.”’ Pythons are constrictor snakes and are not native to the U.S., though they are sold as exotic pets. Police say the python removed from the porch was adopted by a “responsible individual who lives outside this community.” 

==========

Kansas City Man Sentenced for Stabbing Father to Death

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) – A 43-year-old Kansas City man has been sentenced to life in prison for stabbing his father to death. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said Curtis Lee was sentenced Thursday for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Prosecutors say Lee was arrested at an Independence home in April 2018 after police found two brothers – Lee’s father and uncle – dead inside. According to a court affidavit, Lee told police his father, Charles Burton, had stabbed his uncle, Clyde Burton, to death. Prosecutors said the father and son then smoked a cigarette before Curtis Lee killed his father. 

==========

Man Charged After Woman Who Was Dropped at Hospital Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 37-year-old Independence man has been charged in the death of a woman whose body was left at a hospital. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office said Ryan Gillispie was charged Friday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Prosecutors allege Gillispie shot 30-year-old Ales Carr, of Kansas City. She was dropped off early Monday near the ambulance entrance of Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, where she was pronounced dead. Court records say surveillance video showed a man drive up to the hospital, place Carr on the ground, and drive away.

==========

Kansas City Payday Loan Business Owner Sentenced for Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A 54-year-old Kansas City payday loan business owner who sought to avoid $7.5 million in debt by filing a false bankruptcy claim has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison. Del Hodges Kimball was sentenced Wednesday for bankruptcy fraud. He also was ordered to pay more than $900,000 in restitution.The U.S. Attorney’s office said Kimball claimed he lost millions of dollars in 2013 and 2014 when he had a gross income of nearly $160,000 in 2013 and more than $213,000 in 2014. He also diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars to his wife’s personal account to conceal his wealth. 

==========

Teenage Girl Shot to Death in Independence, Missouri 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) – Police in Independence, Missouri are investigating after a teenage girl was found shot to death. Police responding to a call found the victim Wednesday afternoon inside a home. Her name and age have not been released. No arrests have been made. The killing was the second this week in Independence. Police say 30-year-old Ales L. Carr of Kansas City, Missouri, died early Monday at a hospital, where she had been dropped off after being shot in the head. Police believe she was shot at a home in Independence. 

==========

Man Pleads No Contest After 6-Year-Old Accidentally Shot

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old Lawrence man who was at home when a 5-year-old boy shot a 6-year-old friend has pleaded no contest to aggravated endangering of a child. As part of the plea agreement on Wednesday, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of one year of probation for Rashun Lewis. Prosecutors said Tayshawn Mack Harris was shot at Lewis’s home in August after another boy found a gun. He was critically injured but later stabilized.

==========

Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal Drunken Driving Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old Wichita man with previous drunken driving convictions was sentenced to more than six years in prison for a crash that killed a woman in 2018. Monty Carpenter Jr. was sentenced Monday to 76 months in prison in the death of 56-year-old Marsha Oglesby. He pleaded guilty in April to involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence. Police say Carpenter ran a red light and hit Oglesby’s car on Sept. 3, 2018. KAKE-TV reports court records show Carpenter had three previous convictions for drunk driving.

==========

Wichita Police Seek Federal Partnership to Address Violence

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are asking the City Council to approve a federal partnership in an effort to address a surge in violent crime. The Wichita Eagle reports that police want help from the U.S. Marshals Service as gun violence escalates in the city. Nine people were shot over the past weekend, including a police officer who was shot in the head and legs. The partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service would be known as Operation Triple Beam. It would be a 60-day effort starting in July with a goal of investigating and arresting people who have active state or federal arrest warrants.

==========  

Grandmother: Boy Injured on Branson Roller Coaster Might Lose Legs

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The grandmother of an 11-year-old boy from Tennessee who was injured on a roller coaster in Missouri says doctors are concerned they might not be able to save his legs. Shelandra Ford is with Aalondo Perry at a Missouri hospital. He was hurt in Branson on Sunday. Ford told WREG-TV in Memphis, Tennessee, that her grandson is visually impaired. She says he fell when he tried to get off The Branson Coaster and was trapped under the ride’s rails for 1 1/2 hours. Ford says her grandson’s legs and one arm were crushed. The Missouri Division of Fire Safety is investigating.

==========

In Pandemic, Drug Overdose Deaths Soar Among Black Americans

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Overdose deaths among Black Americans surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. In St. Louis, deaths among Black people increased last year at three times the rate of whites, skyrocketing more than 33%. Dr. Kanika Turner describes the soaring death rate as a civil rights issue as pressing as any other. The communities being hit hardest are those already devastated by the war on drugs that demonized Black drug users and hollowed out neighborhoods by sending Black men to prison instead of treatment, she said. Even today, Black people are more likely to be in jail and less likely to access treatment.   

==========

Jim Bakker, His Church Settle Lawsuit over Claims of a Cure for COVID-19

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Jim Bakker and his southwestern Missouri church will pay restitution of $156,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused the TV pastor of falsely claiming that a health supplement could cure COVID-19. Missouri court records show that a settlement agreement was filed Tuesday. It calls for refunds to people who paid money or gave contributions to obtain a product known as Silver Solution in the early days of the pandemic. The settlement prohibits Bakker and Morningside Church Productions from advertising or selling Silver Solution as a treatment for any illness. Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed suit in March 2020.

==========

Tombstones Found Abandoned in Little Arkansas River

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Wichita is investigating after tombstones were found in the Little Arkansas River. KAKE-TV reports that one of the stones is for a woman who was born in 1902 and died in 1984. The other reads, “beloved husband, father, son.” It’s unclear how the tombstones got into the river behind trees and brush. City of Wichita Communications and Special Events Manager Megan Lovely says the city plans to leave the stones where they are, for now, while the investigation continues.

========== 

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, on-air 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.  Those wanting to become KPR listener-members can join anytime by making a pledge.

==========

Appreciate this handy, ad-free summary of Kansas news headlines? Please help sustain us by making a pledge. Thank you!