Headlines for Friday, July 29, 2022

Kansas Court: Self-Defense Doesn’t Apply When Bystander Hurt

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s highest court says a state law allowing deadly force against an attacker doesn’t protect people from prosecution if a bystander is injured. The state Supreme Court ruled Friday in the case of a Wichita police officer whose shots at a charging dog wounded a 9-year-old girl. The justices ordered a trial in Sedgwick County District Court for former Officer Dexter Betts on a felony reckless aggravated battery charge. The December 2017 shooting happened while Betts was inside a Wichita home on a domestic violence call when the dog charged. He fired twice but his shots hit the floor, and bullet fragments hit the girl above and eye and on a toe.

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Early Voting Turnout in Kansas Much Higher than the Last Midterm Primary in 2018

UNDATED (KC Star) – Early voter turnout in Kansas ahead of Tuesday’s election is significantly higher than it was at this point in 2018, the last midterm primary election. The Kansas City Star reports that as of Wednesday, nearly 111,000 votes had been cast in person.  That’s more than three times the number of votes counted at this point in 2018.  That’s a roughly 246% increase in early in-person votes.  Tuesday’s primary election includes a vote on an amendment to the Kansas state constitution that would remove the right to abortion. Kansas will be the first state to hold a vote on abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

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Kansas Man Facing Trial for Alleged Actions in January 6 Riot

KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) – A Kansas man accused of assaulting a federal officer during the riot at the U.S. Capitol will go to trial on several felony and misdemeanor charges.  This week, a federal judge set a November 28 trial date for Michael Eckerman, of Wichita. He will be the first Kansan charged in the Capitol riot to face trial.  The felony charges against Eckerman include civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. His attorney declined to comment on Thursday. Charging documents allege that Eckerman entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and at one point pushed a Capitol Police officer, who fell down a small set of stairs and was sprayed with a fire extinguisher by an unknown person. According to court records, Eckerman and two women who were with him then went to Statuary Hall, where Eckerman allegedly pushed his way forward to another police line and yelled at officers.  He then took a picture in front of the portrait of George Washington and left the building.

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Teen Suspect Charged for Shooting at Family Outside Kansas City Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – A 16-year-old teenager is facing charges for allegedly firing more than 15 gunshots at a 12-year-old and her 11-month-old brother outside their Kansas City home Sunday afternoon. The children’s mother, Rosa Olivas, was shot in the thigh.  Olivas told police this all started with a bully at her daughter’s school, and she believes the person who fired the weapon at her home is the brother of the bully. WDAF TV reports that the teen suspect, who is not being identified, has been charged with first-degree assault and other crimes. The incident was caught on camera.

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Lawrence Police: Revenge Was Motive for Shooting at Allstars Nightclub

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) – Lawrence police say a man was beaten at the Allstars nightclub before returning with a pistol and firing multiple shots at patrons outside the club from his car. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 24-year-old Jermey Anthony Johnson, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting that occurred on August 1, 2021, at the now-closed Allstars nightclub.  A probable cause affidavit obtained by the Journal-World provides new details about the alleged shooting. According to the affidavit, Johnson was punched, kicked and stomped on shortly after entering Allstars.  He left the club but later returned to a parking lot across the street. A witness called police to report seeing Johnson’s vehicle and hearing gunshots. Officer found a 9mm handgun in Johnson’s car along with 9mm shell casings. Detectives concluded Johnson returned to the club and opened fire “as revenge for the earlier aggravated battery.”  Johnson could face more than 50 years in prison for each charge if convicted. (Read more.)

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KC-Area Woman Awarded $11 Million in Lawsuit Against Missouri Department of Corrections

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — A jury in Jackson County, Missouri, has awarded a Kansas City area woman more than $11 million in a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections. KSHB TV reports that Leesa Wiseman filed her lawsuit in 2018.  Wiseman worked at the Kansas City Reentry Center in the West Bottoms. She sued the state agency alleging discrimination based on race, sex/gender and disability. In last week’s verdict, the jury found the agency did not discriminate against Wiseman based on her race and sex/gender, but ruled in favor of Wiseman on her claims of a hostile work environment and retaliation.  Wiseman, who had been deputy warden at the Kansas City facility, alleged she was treated unfairly by Lily Angelo, the facility’s warden. That unfair treatment included the demotion of Wiseman as well as work assignments that were allegedly hostile and retaliatory.

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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 cases and Kansas has reported one. For now, the vaccines are available for people who have been exposed to someone with the illness 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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Annual Homecoming Celebration Underway in Nicodemus

NICODEMUS, Kan. (KPR) – The only remaining all-Black town west of the Mississippi River is holding its annual homecoming celebration this weekend to honor its 144 years of heritage and history. The northwest Kansas community’s annual Homecoming Emancipation Celebration started Thursday and runs through July 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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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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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 that 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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Washburn Regents Pick Presidential Search Committee Chair

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) – A search committee is now in place to look for Washburn University president Jerry Farley’s successor, but an appointment on an interim president is still to come. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Washburn Board of Regents met Thursday and appointed alumnus Greg Greenwood to chair the university’s presidential search committee. Greenwood, a recently retired executive with Evergy, is a 1988 alumnus of Washburn.  Longtime Washburn president Jerry Farley announced in April that he will retire September 30.

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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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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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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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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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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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Royals’ Trade of Benintendi Could Be Just the Start

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals could have waited until closer to the trade deadline to deal All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, perhaps getting a slightly better offer in the process. But consummating their move with the Yankees for three pitching prospects late Wednesday means they’ll have more time to work on the next potential deal. The Royals figure to be among the most active teams ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. Those that could be on the move include two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield, starter Brad Keller and relievers Josh Staumont and Scott Barlow.

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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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