Headlines for Thursday, July 28, 2022

Kansas and Missouri Start Receiving Monkeypox Vaccines

UNDATED (KCUR/KNS) – Kansas and Missouri have begun receiving monkeypox vaccines. Last week, the government delivered over 300,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, which prevents smallpox and monkeypox. Of those, nearly 500 doses will be sent to Kansas and nearly 2,500 to Missouri. So far, each state has received just over 200 doses. A person needs two doses to be fully vaccinated. Missouri has reported five monkeypox cases and Kansas has reported one. For now, the vaccines are available for people who have been exposed to someone with monkeypox or health care workers whose jobs may put them at risk of the disease. The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.

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KU Research: More Food Assistance for Families Results in Fewer Children in Foster Care

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) – A new University of Kansas study finds giving families more food assistance will decrease the number of children going into foster care. KU researchers say Kansas could have 300 fewer foster children if it invested more in food assistance programs. Mike Fonkert, with the group Kansas Appleseed, is not surprised by the findings.  He’s been telling state lawmakers the same thing: expand food benefits. “I don’t think the impact on the foster care system was taken into account as a lot of these restrictions or rules or exclusions were put into place. And I think, perhaps had legislators considered that impact, they wouldn’t have, you know, enacted so many restrictions,” he said.  Poverty alone is not a reason to remove a child from a home, but struggling to buy food, keep utilities running or pay rent can be considered maltreatment and lead to removing kids. (Read more.)

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Kansas Joins Lawsuit Fighting New Federal Anti-Discrimination Rules in School Meals Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas is joining a lawsuit fighting new anti-discrimination rules in federal school meal programs. The lawsuit is an outgrowth of the debate over how to treat transgender students.  Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined 20 other Republican state attorneys in the lawsuit. The states argue President Joe Biden’s administration unlawfully added anti-discrimination requirements to federal food programs. Schools could lose student meal funding if they violate the rules. The case is part of a bigger fight over transgender students in schools. It’s related to debates over which bathrooms they can use and transgender students playing on sports teams.

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Abortion Rights Advocates Question Kansas Attorney General’s Opinion on Ectopic Pregnancies

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) – Some abortion rights advocates are questioning an opinion from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt that says a constitutional amendment on abortion would not impact treatment for ectopic pregnancies.  An ectopic pregnancy grows outside of the uterus and is not viable. It can be fatal to the mother if not ended. Some abortion rights advocates are concerned treating ectopic pregnancies could be considered illegal if the amendment passes and lawmakers tighten abortion laws. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt disputes that notion.  Last week, Schmidt issued a legal opinion saying that the treatment is not considered an abortion under Kansas law. But Christina Bourne, the medical director of the Trust Women clinic in Wichita, says strict abortion laws can make some providers hesitate to care for pregnancy complications. “We’ve already seen physicians, in our own experience, turn away patients for an ectopic pregnancy because they don’t want to be associated with abortion,” she said. Women in several states have reported being denied care for pregnancy complications due to confusion around abortion bans.

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Kansas Aviator Amelia Earhart Honored with Statue at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders and Kansas officials praised aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart on Wednesday for advancing the cause of women’s rights during her barrier-breaking career at a ceremony unveiling her statue in the U.S. Capitol. Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, joins President Dwight Eisenhower as Kansas icons enshrined in the National Statuary Hall Collection. She is the 11th woman honored with a statue in the collection, where each state is represented by two people of significance.  

Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids said that while Earhart is best known for flying across the ocean, she was also a military nurse, social worker, author, and a champion for women’s advancement. “Female pilots used to be called ‘ladybirds,’ ‘sweethearts of the air,’ and because of Amelia Earhart, back then, now and into the future, women who fly planes are now called ‘pilots,’” Davids said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that Earhart, who was born and raised in Atchison, was the first woman to ever receive the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress. “Not only was she an outstanding aviator, but she had a strong moral compass as an outspoken champion for gender equality,” Pelosi said. “Amelia envisioned aviation as a great equalizer, and she fought valiantly to close the gender gap.”

The Kansas Legislature voted in 1999 to replace previous statues with those of Eisenhower and Earhart. Eisenhower’s statue arrived in 2003 but the bronze statue of Earhart was delayed until the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation raised the funding for it. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said it was fitting that one of the state’s most notable pioneering women was being honored. “Let it be an inspiration for all, particularly our young girls, for generations to come,” Kelly said.

Members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation co-authored an opinion piece about Earhart in the Topeka Capital-Journal, celebrating the famed aviator.

Earhart disappeared in July 1937 on a flight over the Pacific Ocean while trying to become the first pilot to circle the globe at the equator. No trace of her or her navigator, Fred Noonan, has ever been found, sparking numerous theories about what happened to them.

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Parsons Man Arrested for Mistreatment of Elders, Theft, Drugs and Weapons Charges

LABETTE COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) –  Agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) have arrested a Parsons man for mistreatment of elder persons, theft and several drug and weapons charges.  The KBI says 55-year-old Stacy T. Oliver, of Parsons, was arrested Tuesday. He’s facing a variety of charges, including mistreatment of an elder person, criminal threat, theft, drug possession and being a felon is possession of a firearm. Oliver was booked into the Labette County Jail. Formal charges are expected soon from the Labette County Attorney and the Crawford County Attorney. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Girard Police Department, Labette County Sheriff’s Office and the Parsons Police Department all assisted in this investigation.

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Bartlett Grain Plans Expansion of Soybean Processing Plant in Southeast Kansas

CHERRYVALE, Kan. (Montgomery County Chronicle) – One of the biggest economic development projects in Kansas has announced the need for increased industrial capacity due to higher customer demand. The Montgomery County Chronicle reports that Bartlett Grain is planning to expand its soybean processing plant currently under construction south of Cherryvale. This week, officials with Bartlett Grain told the Montgomery County Commission that their construction site needs to increase by an additional 70 acres. The company also said its investment in the project has grown by an additional $50 million due to rising construction costs. Bartlett officials say their soybean processing plant will have to increase its annual crushing capacity from 38 million bushels to 44 million bushels.  Bartlett Grain Vice President Bill Webster told county commissioners that the size and scope of the Cherryvale plant changed after customers revealed more demand for soybean meal and oil. Bartlett Grain initially planned to hire as many as 50 workers for its soybean plant. Webster said the expansion plans will likely increase the need for additional workers.  The plant is expected to open in late 2023.

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Thousands of Dead Cattle Buried, Dumped at Southwest Kansas Landfill

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Top U.S. cattle feeding companies sent 1,000-pound carcasses to a landfill in southwest Kansas, following a June heatwave that killed thousands of cows. According to Reuters, some cattle were buried in unlined graves. Burying cattle in unlined pits is one of the riskiest disposal methods because waste can seep into groundwater, said Hannah Connor, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. The mass deaths and subsequent scramble to deal with decaying livestock carcasses sparked a push for changes in the meat industry in Kansas. Although state officials authorized companies to dispose of carcasses at the Seward County Landfill in Liberal, they are now considering alternatives to decrease the risks for foul smells and other problems if more deaths occur, the landfill’s director said. (Read more.)

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Deadly Disease for Rabbits Shows Up in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Rabbit owners in Kansas are being warned about a disease that has shown up in the state for the first time.  KSNW TV reports that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus Type 2 (RHDV2) was found in a pet rabbit in Leavenworth County earlier this month. The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) says the disease is highly contagious and is fatal to rabbits. The KDA said the illness only affects rabbits and does not affect human health. Experts say rabbits show few symptoms of the disease. Oftentimes, the only sign is sudden death.  However, the KDA said infected rabbits might develop a fever, be hesitant to eat or show respiratory or nervous signs. Wichita-area veterinarians are now scrambling to get the vaccine and are advising pet owners to get their rabbits vaccinated. (Read more.)

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Emergency Crews in Topeka Investigate Capsized Boat in Kansas River

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Emergency crews are investigating a boat that capsized in the Kansas River. WIBW TV reports that the boat was spotted by a drone Tuesday afternoon in an area of the Kansas River near the Oakland Expressway bridge in Topeka.  The drone, operated by the Kansas Department of Transportation, was inspecting bridges at the time the boat was discovered.  When officials attempted to remove the boat, they discovered a registration sticker from the year 1993. However, it remains unclear how long the boat was left there and who owns it.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will now check to find the last registered owner of the boat.

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Missouri Department of Agriculture Accepting Grant Applications to Fight Food Insecurity

UNDATED (HPM) – The Missouri Department of Agriculture has opened applications for a grant for urban farmers who fight food insecurity. While grants are useful, Harvest Public Media reports that some urban farmers find the money to be inaccessible. The Food Insecure Urban Agriculture Matching Grant will award urban farmers up to $50,000. The department hopes that it will help urban farmers grow their businesses. But the farms would have to pay the money up-front and then get reimbursed. Dina Newman, co-founder of Black Urban Growers in Kansas City, says that requirement makes it challenging for some growers to access the grants. “What urban food security organization has that kind of money in liquid capital?,” she said.  A spokesperson for the department of agriculture says the matching and reimbursement requirement helps guarantee the money is used effectively. Farmers must apply for the grant by August 31st.

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Kansas Deal with Panasonic Lacks Job, Salary Requirements

TOPEKA, Kan. (KC Star / KNS) – A deal to bring a $4 billion Panasonic plant to Kansas lacks requirements for how many jobs it will create or how much those employees will earn. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas is giving more than half of the $830 million of incentives to Panasonic just for building the plant, even if it never employs anyone. Government subsidy experts say that’s unusual and a huge gamble. Panasonic could then fall short of the 4,000 new jobs touted in the deal. And the company can pay employees low wages, causing the state to collect little income tax. Governor Laura Kelly’s office said she is confident Panasonic will hire enough workers to make the deal beneficial to Kansas.  The plant is slated to be built near De Soto, in western Johnson County.

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Kansas Public Radio Hosts Ice Cream Social Thursday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas Public Radio, based at the University of Kansas, will host an ice cream social today (THUR) to show appreciation for its listener-member community. The public radio station will serve complimentary Hy-Vee ice cream treats while supplies last from 5-7 pm at Maceli’s in downtown Lawrence. Local artist Sky Smeed will perform live music.  This is a KPR member-exclusive event, and members will have the chance to claim their own KPR mug commemorating the station’s 70th anniversary. KPR will offer one mug per household, while supplies last. All listeners have the opportunity to become a member by contributing to KPR.

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New WSU Project Documents Latino Culture in Southwest Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (HPPR/KNS) – A new project will document Latino cultural celebrations in predominantly Hispanic cities of southwest Kansas. For Latino families, gathering to make tamales, go to church or have a birthday party can be a way to pass down traditions through the generations. A team from Wichita State University is now documenting those types of celebrations as part of a Library of Congress-funded effort to capture the cultures of underrepresented communities. Professor Rocio Del Aguila is leading the project. She says it’s a chance to highlight the joy of immigrant families who work long hours to make these celebrations possible. “When I see a party like this, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, all this work is for this. It’s to keep your family together, to keep your traditions together,” she said. Aguila says the goal is to not only highlight Latino culture in an often overlooked region, but also to showcase the diversity within these Hispanic communities. “There’s so many different traditions, they have been modified through time. There are new ways of learning and enjoying them. And so don’t limit yourself to this monolithic idea of what Latino culture is because that doesn’t work,” she said. The research will wrap up next spring with a documentary and the public release of the project’s photos and videos.

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Nicodemus Preparing for Annual Homecoming Celebration

NICODEMUS, Kan. (KPR) – The only remaining all-Black town west of the Mississippi River is holding its annual homecoming weekend to honor its 144 years of heritage and history. The northwest Kansas community will hold its annual Homecoming Emancipation Celebration July 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st. Nicodemus was founded shortly after the Civil War by former enslaved African Americans from Kentucky, who had the dream of building a town they could call their own. Every July, descendants of Nicodemus return to reacquaint themselves with old friends and family, as well as celebrate the community’s history. The town currently is comprised of five historic buildings representing church, self-government, education, home, and business. The multi-day event will feature guest speakers and performers.  

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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, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

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