Number of COVID-19 Cases in Kansas Continues to Climb but at a Slower Pace
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Monday that there have been 282,960 cases of COVID-19, including 4,197 deaths, since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of 1,398 cases and 297 deaths between since Friday. KDHE will provide another update on Wednesday.
No Evidence of Wide Spread of Virus Variant So Far in Kansas
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A virulent strain of the coronavirus that first appeared in Kansas in a Fort Hays State University athlete hasn’t spread widely among the student’s friends. Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state health department, said Tuesday that officials sent a mobile lab to Hays after the variant that is wreaking havoc in the United Kingdom was detected last week during routine testing of athletes at the school. But he said only one of the 200 contacts or potential contacts of the student-athlete who were tested were positive for COVID-19. Officials are trying to determine now whether that person has the same strain as the student-athlete. The results are expected later this week.
GOP Leaders: Coronavirus State of Emergency Might End March 31
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two top Republican lawmakers say Kansas might not need to keep its state of emergency for COVID-19 in place past the end of March. The comments Monday from Senate President Ty Masterson and Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop signaled some resistance from the GOP-controlled Legislature to keeping pandemic restrictions in place through the spring. Their comments are significant because a law enacted last month keeps the current state of emergency in place only through March 31. Lawmakers haven’t yet discussed how far they want to let Democratic Governor Laura Kelly extend the current state of emergency.
Kansas Pharmacies to Start Administering COVID-19 Vaccines
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas has an online map showing locations offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the map shows county health departments and hospitals but some major pharmacy chains will soon join the list. A limited number of drug stores will receive vaccine supplies starting this week through a federal program that sends doses directly to retailers. The CDC lists seven local pharmacy chains as part of the initial rollout, including Wal-Mart, Dillons Food Stores and Good Neighbor Pharmacies. Vaccine supplies remain limited and that’s a problem. About one million Kansans qualify to get shots now but the state has been getting only 45 thousand doses a week. Kansans can visit each pharmacy’s website for details on which stores have doses and how to schedule a shot.
Vaccine Effort for Black, Latino Missourians Slow to Begin
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri tasked nine regional groups across the state with making sure Black and Latino communities had equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, but the effort is off to a slow start. KCUR Radio reported Monday that nearly two months into the vaccine rollout, four of the regional teams aren’t yet operational. Just 5% of doses in Missouri have gone to Black residents even though Black people make up about 11.5% of the state’s population. The theory behind the state plan was that a regional organization would know its area best. But regional officials say the effort is being hampered by a lack of state funding and confusion about what they see as vague state expectations.
NFL Offering All Stadiums as Vaccine Sites
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The NFL is telling the federal government it will make the league’s 30 stadiums available as COVID-19 vaccination sites. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says there are already seven NFL stadiums serving as vaccine sites. They are in Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Houston, Miami and New England. Goodell says stadiums should be able to get prepared quickly because many have already been used recently as virus testing centers and election sites.
Kansas to Proceed with COVID-19 Vaccination Timetable for Inmates Despite GOP Protest
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s administration plans to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to state prison inmates this week. The move would ignore a call from the Republican-controlled Legislature to postpone the inoculations so that others can get them first. Spokesperson Carol Pitts said in an email that the state Department of Corrections has not yet vaccinated any inmates but would start giving them throughout its nine facilities this week. The Kansas Senate passed a resolution condemning the decision by Kelly to make inmates eligible for shots during the second phase of the state’s vaccine rollout. The resolution passed on a 28-8 vote.
Kansas Governor Offers Alternate Plan to Republicans’ Tax-Cutting Proposal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is denouncing a Republican plan for cutting Kansas income taxes as “unthinkable” during the COVID-19 pandemic. She proposed an alternative Tuesday that would pay for its relief by taxing online music, movies and streaming services. Kelly outlined her proposal just hours before the Kansas Senate was set to debate the GOP’s measure. The Republican plan is aimed at providing $423 million in relief over three years to businesses and individuals paying more to the state since an overhaul of federal tax laws in 2017. Kelly’s plan targets its relief only to individuals and is designed to not cost the state any net revenues.
KU Begins Spring Semester with Fewer COVID-19 Cases
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) —University of Kansas students started the spring semester last week with much of the same COVID-19 precautions that were in place during the fall. KU officials say they had only seventy positive cases to begin the semester, which represents a significant drop from last fall. Chancellor Douglas Girod says now that cases are on the decline, the university is slowly returning to normal activities. Girod says KU is planning to have an in-person commencement ceremony at the end of the semester but plans on still having safety guidelines in place.
Chiefs Assistant Coach Britt Reid on Leave After Crash
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs placed outside linebackers coach Britt Reid on administrative leave while an investigation continues into a crash that injured two children. The team has said Reid, who is head coach Andy Reid’s son, was involved in a multi-vehicle crash last Thursday that injured two young children near the team’s training complex next to Arrowhead Stadium. A 5-year-old girl, identified by the Chiefs as Ariel Young, remained in critical condition on Tuesday. The Chiefs said the team has contacted the girl’s family and is offering support and resources to them. Andy Reid said this week that Britt underwent surgery after the crash.
KC Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid: “My Heart Bleeds” for Those in Son’s Car Crash
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Sunday night that his “heart bleeds” for those injured in a car accident involving his son, assistant coach Britt Reid, that left two children with injuries and one of them hospitalized in critical condition. The crash occurred Thursday night, two days before the Chiefs were due to leave for the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. Kansas City wound up losing 31-9 to the Buccaneers on Sunday night. Britt Reid did not travel to the Super Bowl. Police are investigating whether the younger Reid was impaired before the accident.
Independent Examiner Sought in NRA Mismanagement Allegations
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A National Rifle Association board member from Kansas is seeking the appointment of an independent examiner to investigate allegations of mismanagement against national leaders of the organization. Sedgwick County District Court Judge Phil Journey filed a motion Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Texas. He says in the motion that an independent investigator could best confirm or deny allegations facing the gun-rights group. The NRA filed for bankruptcy protection and is seeking to move to Texas from New York, where a lawsuit claims the organization’s management improperly spent millions of dollars to enrich longtime leader Wayne LaPierre, his supporters and favored vendors.
Prosecutors: Ex-KUMC Employee Embezzled More Than $500,000
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say a former University of Kansas Medical Center administrator has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return in a scheme that saw him embezzle more than $500,000 from the institution. Federal prosecutors said in a news release that 49-year-old Michael Tae Kim Ahlers, of Lenexa, was the administrative officer for the occupational therapy education department at KUMC in Kansas City from 2009 through 2015, when he stole more than $500,000 for his personal use. Investigators say Ahlers deposited the funds into a KUMC Credit Union account that allowed him to avoid oversight and conceal his fraud.
UPDATE: Man Charged in Death of Wichita Teen Who Was Dragged by SUV
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Wichita teenager who was dragged for miles during an attempted car theft. Kevin Michael James Palmer was also charged Tuesday with felony theft. Prosecutors say the 13-year-old girl was sitting in an SUV Saturday waiting for relatives to get food when Palmer jumped in and drove away. The girl, who police have not identified, got caught in a seat belt when she tried to escape and was dragged for several miles. Police say Palmer was arrested as he ran away from the SUV.
Police: 13-Year-Old Girl Dragged by Stolen Vehicle Dies
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 13-year-old girl in Kansas has died after being dragged for miles by her family’s SUV that had been stolen. Wichita police say the girl was sitting in the back seat of the running vehicle Saturday while her family went inside a restaurant to get food. Police say 34-year-old Kevin Palmer got into the driver’s seat and took off. The girl tried to get out of the vehicle while it was moving but was caught in the seat belt and dragged. Palmer stopped the vehicle several miles away. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Palmer is charged with felony murder.
Kansas City Police: Man Found Shot to Death Inside Home
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, say a man has been shot to death inside a home in the Ivanhoe Southeast neighborhood and investigators are searching for leads on a suspect. Police say officers were called to the home around 4 am Sunday. Arriving officers found 48-year-old Charles Harris dead from gunshot wounds. Police said they had no suspect description and no arrests had been made. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the killing to contact them or the Crime Stoppers hotline. An award of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Firefighters: Three Injured in Shawnee House Fire
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) _ Three men were injured in a house fire Sunday in Shawnee. One of the men suffered critical injuries. The Shawnee Mission Fire Department tells KSHB TV that the blaze was reported around 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon. A fire department spokesman said the man who was critically injured had lit a cigarette in his room, where the fire started. Officials say the man’s son and grandson suffered smoke inhalation while trying to put out the fire. All three men were taken to the University of Kansas Hospital. The son and grandson were later listed in stable condition, but the older man remained in critical condition.
UPDATE: Man Charged with Murder in Deaths of Young Wichita Couple
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Wichita man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of a young couple. Dontenzie Lamar Kelly was charged Tuesday in the deaths of 17-year-old Michael Beasley and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Kaylah Blackmon. Beasley was found dead outside an abandoned church on Feb. 1. Blackmon’s body was found three days later inside her truck at a Wichita apartment complex. Police have said the couple was shot to death. They have not released a possible motive in the killings. Kelly’s next court date is set for March 1.
Wichita Police Make Arrest in Double Killing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Authorities say a man who was on probation has been arrested in the shooting deaths of a teenage couple in Wichita. Twenty-two-year-old Dontenize Kelly was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail early Saturday on suspicion of capital murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Kaylah Blackmon and 17-year-old Michael Beasley. Beasley was found dead last week near an abandoned church. Police suspected Blackmon was in danger and asked for the public’s help to find her. She was found dead in her sport utility vehicle three days later at an apartment complex. Information on the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of formal charges.
Bicycle Rider Charged in Attack on Topeka Police Officer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who authorities accuse of attacking a police officer is now facing five charges. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Monday that he charged 22-year-old Justin Reed of Topeka with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, two counts of interference with law enforcement and two drug charges. Authorities say an officer who was responding to an unrelated call on Thursday was attacked by a man who rode by on a bicycle. Investigators say the attacker tried unsuccessfully to grab the officer’s gun. A bystander helped pull the man off the officer, who was not seriously injured.
Dodge City Bishop Steps Away During Abuse Investigation
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City has stepped aside while authorities investigate an allegation that he abused a minor. The diocese said in a statement Monday that Bishop John Brungardt denies the allegation and will cooperate with the investigation. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation notified the diocese about the accusation and is investigating. The diocese said no further information will be released. Brungardt was installed as bishop in the western Kansas diocese in February 2011. Before that, he served in the Wichita diocese for 12 years in several roles. Bishop Gerald Vinckle of the Salina Diocese will be administrator in Dodge City during the investigation.
Kansas Senator Marshall Receives Seat on Agriculture Committee; Senator Moran Sticks with Veterans’ Affairs
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Senator Roger Marshall has received the Senate Agriculture Committee seat that he told Kansas voters he would get if they elected him. The freshman senator also received seats on the Senate’s energy, small business and health and education committees. The Agriculture Committee has long been a key assignment for Kansas senators. Marshall was a two-term western Kansas congressman when he ran for the Senate last year, and he played up his service on the House Agriculture Committee as a reason voters could expect him to be named to its Senate counterpart. Senior Kansas Senator Jerry Moran will be the ranking Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Black Farmers Unconvinced by Vilsack’s ‘Root Out’ Racism Vow
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nomination of Tom Vilsack to lead the Agriculture Department is getting a chilly reaction from many Black farmers who contend he didn’t do enough to help them the last time he had the job. The former Iowa governor served eight years as agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama. Vilsack is trying to assure minority farming groups and the senators who will vote on his confirmation that he will work to “root out generations of systemic racism” in the agency. But many Black farmers fault him for failing to address a backlog of discrimination complaints in the department and for firing a Black woman for remarks that he later learned were taken out of context.
Kansas Legislature to Discuss Changes to Local Property Tax Rules
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas lawmakers are poised to change the rules local officials must follow when they raise property taxes. The Legislature put a tax lid in place four years ago with the hope of limiting tax increases but some say it’s not working. The new plan would get rid of the controversial property tax lid and replace it with a system where local governments have to provide more information to residents before raising taxes. Republican Senator Caryn Tyson of Linn County says the change would require local governments to hold a public hearing where citizens can provide input. “This is just local control with transparency,” Tyson said. “They would tell the taxpayers why they’re going to increase (and) how much they’re going to increase.” The bill has already passed the state Senate with bipartisan support.
Kansas Governor, Spouse Among Thousands of Victims of Bogus Unemployment Claims
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says both she and her husband had fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits filed in their names with the state. Governor Kelly says that she and first gentleman, Ted Daughety, received Department of Labor notices “months ago” about obtaining unemployment benefits. The governor’s office said the notices came in early fall and that Kelly quickly went to the department’s website and reported the fraud. The Legislature has been scrutinizing bogus unemployment claims and ongoing criticism of the state Department of Labor’s operations. The department reports that it had blocked more than 538,000 attempts from internet bots or human scammers to log into its unemployment system during one day last week.
Freshman Kansas Lawmaker with Troubled Past Rejoins Democratic Party
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A freshman Kansas House member with a troubled past has rejoined the Democratic Party. Rep. Aaron Coleman of Kansas City, Kansas, confirmed Monday that he returned to the party last week, about three weeks after registering unaffiliated. Coleman had switched to unaffiliated after the House’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, refused to give him any committee assignments. The 20-year-old Coleman was accused of abusive behavior toward girls and young women before he took office last month and threatening Sawyer last year. A House committee reviewed a complaint against Coleman and plans to issue a letter of warning to him.
Missouri Democratic State Lawmaker to Challenge U.S. GOP Senator Roy Blunt
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is running for another term and former Democratic state Senator Scott Sifton is challenging him. On Monday, a spokeswoman for Blunt said he’s planning to run after Sifton announced he was entering the race. Missouri first elected Blunt to the U.S. Senate in 2010. He was re-elected in 2016. He’s up for re-election in 2022. Sifton is the only Democrat so far to announce a bid for the U.S. Senate office. He served as a state lawmaker from 2011 to 2020 representing suburban St. Louis.
Wichita School Board Votes to Drop Redskins Mascot Name
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita school board has voted to drop the North High School’s Redskins mascot name, opting to phase out use of the mascot over two years. The board voted unanimously at a Monday meeting to drop the name, but will continue to use Native American imagery by keeping its shield, drum and feather logo. The decision comes as teams on all levels across the country are changing or reconsidering mascots considered to be culturally insensitive. Starting next school year, the district will begin removing “Redskin” from athletic and other uniforms, jerseys and facilities, as well as school-related activities and school apparel. No new mascot was chosen.
University of Kansas Faculty Group Decries Dismissal Policy
UNDATED (AP) — A group of University of Kansas faculty met via Zoom recently to decry a new Board of Regents policy that makes it easier for university CEOs to fire, dismiss or suspend employees, including tenured faculty. The meeting was organized by a group called OneKU and attracted about 200 participants. Speakers at the meeting said the policy would hurt the university’s stature and employee morale by damaging or ending tenure and shared governance. The University of Kansas is the only one of six public universities that plans to consider using the policy, although Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer said last week she hopes that it is never used.
Three Men Pay Fines for Hunting Violations at Fort Riley
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Three men avoided prison for hunting deer on federal property at the Fort Riley Army base. Officials say the men were hunting in an area where explosives are discharged during training exercises. They will each pay several thousand dollars in penalties and will also be banned from hunting for three years while they are on probation. The federal case involving several illegal hunts in 2018 and 2019 ended after the third man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges as part of a deal with prosecutors. As part of their guilty pleas, the men admitted crawling under a high-wire fence that was clearly marked “off-limits” to gain access to an area of the military base used for live-fire training.
NFL Writer Terez Paylor of Yahoo Dies Unexpectedly at Age 37
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Terez Paylor, the popular NFL writer and Pro Football Hall of Fame voter whose career took him from the Kansas City Star to Yahoo Sports, died unexpectedly at his home early Tuesday. He was 37. Yahoo Sports announced his death in a statement. No cause was given. Paylor, who was known for his booming laugh and infectious smile, was one of 48 voting members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also was a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and National Association of Black Journalists.
Marty Schottenheimer, NFL Coach with 200 Wins, Dies at 77
UNDATED (AP) — The longtime NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer has died. Family friend and former Kansas City Chiefs publicist Bob Moore says Schottenheimer died Monday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 and was moved to a hospice Jan. 30. Schottenheimer won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his “Martyball” brand of smash-mouth football but fell short in the playoffs. He was the eighth-winningest coach in NFL history. He coached for 21 seasons with Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego. His success was rooted in “Martyball,” a conservative approach that featured a strong running game and tough defense. He would exhort his players before a game with his mantra, “One play at a time.” Marty Schotenheimer was 77.
KU’s Record Run in the Top 25 Finally Ends
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has dropped out of The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll for the first time in 12 years. The Jayhawks’ record streak of 231 consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 25 is over. Gonzaga and Baylor held down the top two spots, just as they have all season, with the Bulldogs getting 55 of 63 first-place votes and the Bears getting the other eight. Michigan took advantage of Villanova’s loss at St. John’s to jump into the top three, rival Ohio State climbed three spots to No. 4 and the Wildcats rounded out the top 5.
Unranked KU Defeated No. 23 Oklahoma State 78-66 Monday Night
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — David McCormack scored all but two of his 23 points after halftime, Marcus Garrett had 17 and Kansas rolled past No. 23 Oklahoma State 78-66 in the Jayhawks’ first game since their Top 25 run ended at 231 consecutive weeks. Christian Braun added 15 points, Jalen Wilson had 11 and Ochai Agbaji 10 for the Jayhawks. They forced Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham into committing seven turnovers while committing four fouls, and the Cowboys finished with 18 turnovers.
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.