Kansas Population More Concentrated; 80 Counties Lose People
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Most Kansas counties lost residents over the past 10 years as the state’s population concentrated in more populous places, including the Kansas City area, new census figures released Thursday showed.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s once-a-decade count of the nation’s population showed that 80 of the state’s 105 counties declined in population since 2010, 16 of them by more than 10%. Most of those counties were rural.
Five of the top 10 fastest-growing counties were in or close to the Kansas City metropolitan area. The state’s most populous county, Johnson County, has affluent Kansas City suburbs that have been growing for decades, and its population grew another 12.1% in the past 10 years.
Census figures show that Kansas saw a 3% increase in population over 10 years, to almost 2.94 million. Population shifts within the state mean a shift in political clout away from rural areas and toward Kansas City and a few other areas when the Legislature redraws political boundaries next year.
Zack Pistora, the interim executive director of the Kansas Rural Center, said younger people move to urban areas or college towns and stay for jobs, then attract other younger people.
“You kind of get a domino effect of losing more and more people,” he said of the state’s rural areas.
Census figures also showed that Kansas grew more diverse, with Hispanic or Latino residents increasing to 13% of the population, up from 10.5% a decade ago. The state’s diversity index figure, measuring the likelihood that any two random residents will be of different races or ethnicities, rose to 45.4% from 37.3% in 2010.
Pistora said population losses in rural areas are fueled by a lack of high-speed internet service, shortages of housing, relatively few cultural activities and greater concentration and corporate ownership in farming.
And in Stanton County, along the Colorado border in southwest Kansas, County Clerk Sandy Barton said oil and production in the area has steadily decreased for more than a decade. The county saw a 6.4% drop in its population.
“They’re just not hiring as many people and those jobs aren’t as stable any longer in our area,” said Gina Shores the county clerk in neighboring Morton County, where the population dropped 16.5% over the decade, the state’s largest decline.
Meanwhile, 350 miles (563 kilometers) to the northeast, a piece of western Pottawatomie County made it the state’s fastest-growing county, with a 17.3% increase over the decade — the only county with more growth than Johnson County.
That was thanks to a small piece of the city of Manhattan with U.S. 24 running through it that has drawn big-box retail stores and restaurants.
The Crestview Christian Church saw the growth coming, and “wanted to be right in the middle of it,” said Lead Pastor Devin Wendt. It moved from a north Manhattan site it was outgrowing to the booming area in Pottawatomie County in March, two weeks before Easter.
“There’s a brand new elementary school just a half-mile away from us as well,” Wendt said. “… There’s cul-de-sacs and neighborhoods popping up all along the Highway 24 corridor.”
Johnson County has seen its population nearly triple in the past 50 years, something local officials attribute to good schools and local amenities.
In Lenexa, the city has developed a new downtown, with shops, a recreation center, a library branch and a school swimming center. City Manager Beccy Yocham said the area also has seen “a ton” of growth in warehousing and moving goods.
The Spring Hill school district in southern Johnson County recently opened a new elementary school and plans to open a new middle school in 2023. Superintendent Wayne Burke said people like having a small-town atmosphere while having suburbs close, and the district has seen its student count grow during his seven-tenure from about 2,500 to more than 3,600.
“We have a lot of starter homes, a lot of new development here,” Burke said.
Andy Tsubasa Field is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. On Twitter, you can follow John Hanna at @APjdhanna and Andy Tsubasa Field at @AndyTsubasaF
More Masking as Rise in COVID Cases Strains Kansas Hospitals
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas school district is reinstating masking requirements to combat COVID-19 outbreaks and vaccination efforts are increasing as younger patients and staffing shortages increasingly strain Kansas hospitals. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Kansas has risen over the past two weeks from 667.57 new cases per day on July 27 to 1,683.57 new cases per day on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Amid the rise in cases, the Manhattan-Ogden school district’s board voted Wednesday to require students, teachers and staff to wear masks while inside district buildings for the first five weeks of the school year regardless of their vaccination status.
Sheriff Says Kansas Toddler Who Died from Heat Found in Hot Car
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 2-year-old child who died in southeastern Kansas had woken up from a nap, unlocked the home’s front door and gotten into the family vehicle. Investigators say the mother found the child unconscious Tuesday. The child was transported to a hospital where he died. KSNW-TV reports that Cowley County Sheriff David Falletti says a preliminary autopsy finding determined the child died due to extreme heat exposure. The sheriff says the investigation is over. Most of Kansas has been under a heat advisory all week.
Missouri Tops10,000 Deaths from COVID-19 During Pandemic
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) _ The death toll from COVID-19 in Missouri has now topped 10,000. The state health department’s coronavirus dashboard on Thursday showed 20 new deaths, bringing the total to 10,002 since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Deaths have been rising again in recent weeks due to the delta variant, and it has been especially troubling in southwestern Missouri. New cases and hospitalizations also are at their worst levels since the winter.
375,000 Missourians Enter Vaccine Lottery; Drawing Friday
UNDATED (AP) – More than 375,000 Missourians have entered the state’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery program, but vaccinations continue to lag, especially in rural areas of the state. State officials say the first of five drawings will be Friday. All told, 800 adults will win $10,000 cash prizes, and 100 people ages 12-17 will win education savings accounts worth $10,000. Only those who have initiated vaccination are eligible. Republican Governor Mike Parson announced the incentive program on July 21. State officials say that vaccinations have risen nearly 50% in the past month. But Missouri continues to lag far behind most states in vaccinations.
Some Americans Getting COVID-19 Boosters Without FDA Approval
DENVER (AP) — An untold number of Americans have managed to get COVID-19 booster shots even though the U.S. government hasn’t approved them. They’re doing so by taking advantage of the nation’s vaccine surplus and loose tracking of those who have been fully vaccinated. Gina Welch says she got a booster by telling a clinic it was her first shot. The 26-year-old graduate student from Maine has asthma and a liver condition. An Associated Press review of a database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found health care providers have reported more than 900 instances of people getting a third dose. However, reporting is voluntary.
Forecast: Kansas Expected to Harvest Smaller Corn Crop
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ A new government report shows Kansas farmers are expected to harvest a smaller corn crop this season. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday the state is projected to harvest 745 million bushels of corn. That is down 3% from last year. The smaller corn crop is expected because fewer acres of corn are expected to be harvested. The agency also estimated sorghum production to come in at 240 million bushels. The soybean harvest was forecast at 187 million bushels. That compares to the estimated winter wheat harvest of 380 million bushels.
Jurors Find Kansas Massage Therapist Guilty of Sex Crimes
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A jury found a massage therapist guilty of sex crimes against five people, including three female soccer players at the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports jurors returned guilty verdicts Thursday on all eight counts against Lawrence massage therapist Shawn P. O’Brien. Three of the charges accuse O’Brien of indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14 for fondling a girl who was either 9 or 10 on three occasions between 2013 and 2015. The other five charges accuse him of sexual battery for fondling four women while giving them a massage to treat athletic-related issues between 2016 and 2019.
Man’s Body Recovered from Longview Lake
LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a man who jumped into a Kansas City-area lake to help his children. The Kansas City Star reports that firefighters were called to Longview Lake just after 9:30 am Thursday and were told that two adults had jumped into the water to help the kids who were wearing life jackets but started to drift away from a pontoon boat. The children were eventually retrieved safely but the man went under the water and didn’t resurface. His body was recovered about 2 pm Thursday. His name has not been released.
Kansas City Man Indicted on Hate Crime Charge After Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a 25-year-old Kansas City man who is accused of trying to kill a teenager because of the victim’s sexual orientation. Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that Malachi Robinson was charged with hate crime and firearm violations. He allegedly shot the victim on May 29, 2019, causing significant injuries. If convicted, Robinson would face up to life in prison on the hate crime charge, and a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, on the firearm charge. Federal prosecutors did not say where the shooting occurred.
Wichita Woman Accused of Causing Fatal Crash, Fleeing Scene
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested a woman suspected in a hit-and-run crash that killed a motorcyclist in southeast Wichita. Television station KAKE reports that police arrested 25-year-old Lila Garcia early Thursday morning on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence, failure to stop at an accident resulting in death, DUI and a tag violation. Police say the crash happened around 9 pm Wednesday when Garcia’s eastbound car reportedly crossed in front of the westbound motorcycle. Investigators say the car then fled the scene. Police have not yet identified the motorcyclist killed in the collision.
Kansas City Southern Rejects New Bid from Canadian Pacific
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kansas City Southern railroad is trying to keep its $33.6 billion merger with Canadian National on track by rejecting a competing $31 billion bid from rival Canadian Pacific earlier this week. Kansas City Southern said Thursday that its board unanimously decided to continue backing Canadian National’s higher offer. KCS shareholders are scheduled to vote whether to accept CN’s offer on Aug. 19, but the U.S. railroad said it may now delay that vote if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board doesn’t issue its decision on a key part of Canadian National’s acquisition plan before Tuesday. The STB said earlier this week that it expects to issue its ruling on CN’s proposal by August 31.
Missouri Man Gets 15-Year Prison Term for Trying to Drown Infant
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to drown his infant daughter in a pond. Jonathan Zicarelli walked into the Greenwood police station in December 2018 and reported that he had drowned his 6-month-old daughter in a nearby pond. Police rushed to the pond and rescued the child. According to court documents, Zicarelli told officers he tried to kill his daughter to make things easier for his wife. Former Greenwood Police Chief Greg Hallgrimson pleaded guilty last month to violating Zicarelli’s civil rights. Hallgrimson was accused of punching Zicarelli after helping to rescue the baby.
Missouri Judge: Medicaid Expansion Must be Allowed
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge says Governor Mike Parson can no longer deny Medicaid health care to thousands more newly eligible adults. Cole County Judge Jon Beetem issued the order Tuesday. Missouri voters in 2020 approved the constitutional amendment making more low-income adults eligible for the government health care program. But Republican Governor Mike Parson refused to implement the amendment after the GOP-led Legislature didn’t provide any funding. The latest ruling is a major victory for supporters of Medicaid expansion. It remains unclear how the state will pay for health care for the newly eligible recipients. The Legislature may have to hold a special session to set aside more money for Medicaid.
Deadline Approaching to Subsidized Health Plan on Federal Exchange
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Due to the pandemic, many more people qualify for free health insurance and August 15th is the deadline to pick a subsidized health plan on the federal healthcare exchange. Subsidies to buy a health plan on healthcare.gov(link is external) have increased under the American Rescue Plan but in Kansas, thousands of people can get a health insurance plan for free or nearly free. Many who already bought exchange plans can go back to the marketplace to get a bigger discount. In Kansas, the average monthly premium for returning customers fell 40% to just under $100. (Get more information.)
Moped Driver Killed at Overland Park Intersection
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ Police say a man on a motorized bicycle died when a car ran a red light at an intersection in Overland Park. Investigators say the crash happened shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday when the car ran a red light and hit a moped driven by Wade Parsons of Overland Park. Police say Parsons was thrown from the moped and critically injured. He was taken to an area hospital, where he later died. Police say the driver of the car stayed on the scene and is cooperating with police.
Supply Chain Issues Causing Delays in Expanding Broadband Access
STILLWATER, Okla. (HPM) – Rural communities are expected to receive millions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand access to broadband internet service in rural areas. But providers are facing a number of obstacles. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $167 million in grants and loans will go to 12 states including Oklahoma and Missouri to expand broadband. But providers are having trouble getting the supplies they need. The National Rural Broadband Association says some providers are waiting more than a year for delivery of needed fiber technology and that’s preventing them from meeting grant deadlines. The association says manufacturers are giving preference to large providers like AT&T over small providers in rural markets. Rural broadband advocates are encouraging Vilsack to change the timeline for the grant programs so providers can get the supplies they need.
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 and by 1 pm on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!
Originally Appeared Here