UPDATE: Les Miles Out as KU Football Coach Due to Behavior with Women While Coach at LSU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – Les Miles is out as the head football coach at the University of Kansas, just days after he was placed on administrative leave amid sexual misconduct allegations from his tenure at LSU. KU described Miles’ departure as a mutual agreement to part ways. He has three years left on his original five-year contract with the school. Last week, LSU released a 148-page review by a law firm about the university’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints. It described how Miles “tried to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by, for instance, allegedly demanding that he wanted blondes with big breasts, and “pretty girls.”
Kansas Governor Issues Disaster Declaration for Fire Hazard
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has declared an emergency disaster due to the high risk of fire caused by high winds and dry conditions. The governor’s office said Monday that “elevated to critical” fire weather conditions are expected for the next few days. Tuesday and Wednesday will be especially dangerous as a storm system with strong winds will make fighting fires more dangerous. The declaration makes state resources more readily available to help fight fires and for recovery operations. Kansans are being urged to avoid activity that could cause fires, such as driving or stopping on dry grass or throwing cigarettes on the ground.
Governor Adding Staffers to Help Alleviate Workload at Kansas Department of Labor
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Governor Laura Kelly is adding workers to the Kansas Department of Labor this week to help improve services at the overburdened agency. But some state lawmakers are working to take more control of the department because of ongoing problems. Kelly plans to eventually double the staff responsible for answering the agency’s overloaded phones. But ongoing problems have led lawmakers to set deadlines for improvements and increase legislative oversight. A House plan would also trim back unemployment benefits when the jobless rate is low to encourage people to look for work. Senators are considering a separate bill that does not include trimming back unemployment benefits.
Kansas Records More than 296,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,816 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Monday that there have been 296,451 cases of COVID-19, including 4,816 deaths, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s an increase of 590 cases and four deaths since Friday. Johnson County has the highest number of recorded cases in the state, with nearly 55,000. KDHE will provide another update Wednesday. Health officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to drop in the state while vaccination efforts are expanding. About 16% of the state’s residents have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Washburn University Plans Fall Return to In-Person Classes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University plans to start its fall semester with in-person classes after the Shawnee County Health Department updated its vaccine plan to include university faculty and staff. Washburn President Jerry Farley says this additional level of protection should allow them to return fully to a traditional campus model. University officials said that Washburn students can expect a more normal fall 2021 semester with university faculty and staff now prioritized for vaccine distribution. It was not immediately clear what prompted the change in vaccination policy. Vaccine distribution has ramped up in recent weeks and COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalizations have fallen
Analysis: Some Kansans Hesitant to Get Vaccination
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — A new analysis, by the Kansas Health Institute of U.S. Census Bureau survey data, indicates that most Kansans want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but many remain undecided. As of mid-January, a bit more than half of Kansans had either gotten their shot or said they definitely would get it. Another quarter said they would “probably” agree to be vaccinated. But nearly 10% say they definitely do not want the vaccine. Kansans undecided about getting the vaccine give a wide variety of reasons for being hesitant. Some worry about side effects while others say they distrust the government.
COVID Helpline Launched for Douglas County Residents
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – A new COVID helpline is now available for Douglas County residents. The phone number – (785) 864-9000 – will be answered by trained staff who can help answer questions about vaccinations, testing, symptoms, local public health orders and other questions related to the coronavirus. The helpline will be available from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, and from 8 am to noon on Saturday. The University of Kansas has been using this phone number to help answer COVID-related questions since before the fall 2020 semester. Now, it has expanded the number of phone lines and employees available to answer calls with the help of various Douglas County agencies. Those agencies include: Senior Resource Center for Douglas County, LMH Health and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
Deep Freeze to Affect Kansas Utility Customers Differently
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Utility customers in different parts of Kansas will likely see higher electric bills as a result of February’s extreme cold snap, while residents of the Kansas City area could get refunds. The difference has to do with how two different divisions of utility giant Evergy fared during the brutal cold. The company’s Kansas Central division had to spend an additional $100 million to buy power but Evergy’s Metro Division, which serves the Kansas City area, was able to generate $60 million in extra revenue because it was able to generate surplus power and sell it to other utilities.
Failed Greenhouse Heater Leads to Loss of Between $30,000 and $40,000 in Plants
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Staff with a well-known botanical gardens venue in Wichita say last month’s arctic cold snap proved costly for the gardens. Television station KAKE reports that the failure of a heater in Botanica‘s largest greenhouse during the coldest day of the season killed a slew of plants, some of which had been with the garden for more than 25 years. Kathy Spillman is director of special events for Botanica. She says most of the plants lost were warm-weather succulents and palms, and the estimated value of the plants lost is between $30,000 and $40,000. Botanica staff have started a crowd-funding effort to replace the plants.
Ex-Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer Signals 2022 Bid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer is signaling that he’ll make a comeback bid in 2022 by bringing a granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower to his team. Colyer stopped short of formally announcing his candidacy but described philanthropist Mary Eisenhower as joining “our campaign” as its treasurer. The announcement came on “Jeff Colyer Governor” letterhead. Colyer’s path to the GOP nomination and the right to challenge Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is far from open. Many Republicans expect state Attorney General Derek Schmidt to run. Colyer’s last race was his narrow loss in the 2018 primary to conservative firebrand Kris Kobach, who lost to Kelly in November 2018.
Missouri GOP Senator Roy Blunt Won’t Seek Reelection in 2022
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt says he will not seek reelection. He made the surprise announcement in a video Monday, making him the fifth Republican in the U.S. Senate to bow out rather than seek another term. Blunt, who turned 71 in January, was widely expected to seek a third term in 2022. Before election to the Senate, he served seven terms in the U.S. House. He also served two terms as Missouri’s secretary of state from 1985 to 1993. He noted in his announcement that through nearly 12,000 votes in Congress he always sought “to do my best.”
Investigators: Fire at Kansas Church Ruled an Accident
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Federal investigators say the fire that damaged an annex building of the First Baptist Church in Mission was an accident. The Kansas City Star reports that a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says there will be no criminal investigation. Investigators have released the building back to the church. Firefighters were called to the church around 5:30 pm Thursday after smoke and flames were reported coming from the church’s annex building. By the time firefighters arrived, flames had broken through the building’s roof, which later collapsed.
Protesters Object to Lack of Charges in Police Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – More than 50 people gathered outside the home of Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to protest her decision not to charge a police officer who shot and killed a Black man last year. The protesters called for justice for 47-year-old Donnie Sanders as they marched to the home of Peters Baker on Saturday. Last week, she announced that investigators didn’t find enough evidence to support charges against the Kansas City police officer involved in the shooting. Sanders’ sisters, who participated in the protest, said they want Peters Baker to release a complete copy of the investigation into the shooting and for the officer who shot their brother to be held accountable.
USDA Relocations to KC Curtail Ag Research
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies were moved from the nation’s capital to Kansas City, Missouri, they remain critically understaffed and some farmers are less confident in the work they produce. The relocation of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2019 led to a mass exodus of employees who couldn’t or didn’t want to move halfway across the country. The agencies are producing research that is smaller in scope and less frequent, and some farmers say they now have to corroborate USDA research by comparing it to private market analysis. A USDA spokesman says the agency is focused on rebuilding employee confidence and morale.
Man Accused of Threatening Kansas City Area Congressman Will Remain in Prison
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge says that a southwest Missouri man who threatened Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver will remain in prison. Kenneth Hubert, of Marionville, appeared at a detention hearing Monday in Springfield. He is charged with threatening to harm or kill Cleaver on January 7. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say he called Cleaver’s office in Independence, Missouri, used a racial slur and mentioned putting a noose around Cleaver’s neck. Cleaver is Black. Prosecutors say Hubert has a history of making threatening calls to other lawmakers or to political organizations. Hubert’s public defender said his client had no criminal history and was willing to be put under house arrest.
Mother Arrested After Rollover Crash that Killed 5-Year-Old Daughter
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A 26-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a rollover crash that killed her 5-year-old daughter. The crash happened around 3:15 am Sunday in a rural area southeast of Wichita. According to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office, deputies found the woman’s 2014 Ford Escape off the road and overturned. The 5-year-old girl in the vehicle, Aleah Reyes, died at the scene while the mother had only minor injuries. Officials said Nory Lam was arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and transporting an open container of alcohol.
Police: Wichita Man Dies from Injuries in 2-Vehicle Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man died from injuries he received in a head-on crash in south Wichita. KAKE TV reports that the crash happed just before 8 pm Sunday, when a southbound truck crossed the center line on Hydraulic Street and hit a northbound vehicle. Police say a 65-year-old man driving the truck was taken to a hospital with critical injuries and later died. Police say the woman driving the other vehicle was not seriously injured. The names of those involved were not immediately released.
Suspect Arrested After Child Killed in Wichita Hit-and-Run
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old man is in custody after a child died in a hit-and-run collision in Wichita. On Monday, police arrested Marcus Downey on potential charges of felony hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license. The 4-year-old boy was struck by a pickup truck when he and his mother were crossing a street in downtown Wichita Monday morning. He died at a Wichita hospital. Capt. Wendell Nicholson said the truck fled the scene but was found about 100 yards away. The boy’s mother was not injured.
Police Investigating Man’s Shooting Death in Garden City
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Garden City police are investigating the shooting death of a 32-year-old man. Police were called to an apartment Sunday evening. Sgt. Lana Urteaga says officers found Victor Cabrera suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He died later at a Wichita hospital. No suspect information has been released.
Big 12 Commissioner Bullish About Future as Tournaments Near
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says it could be years before conference schools recover from the financial blow they took when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports. Bowlsby believes there is reason to feel good about the future. That includes the return of the men’s and women’s conference tournaments this week in Kansas City, Missouri.
KPR’ 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.