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Headlines for Monday, December 30, 2019


GOP Lawmakers in Kansas and Oklahoma Seek Anti-Red Flag Laws on Guns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans in two Midwestern states with GOP-controlled legislatures are proposing measures to prevent the U.S. government or other states from using court orders to take someone's guns. The proposals in Kansas and Oklahoma also would prevent local governments in those states from enacting “red flag” laws that allow authorities or relatives to try remove firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Supporters of red flag laws say they reduce suicides and gun violence. Gun-rights supporters contend they violate constitutional rights, including the right to own firearms and to due legal process.


2 Adults, 1 Juvenile Killed in Kansas City, Kansas, House Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say the deaths of three people in a house fire in Kansas City, Kansas, are being investigated as homicides. An adult female and two juveniles died in the fire at a house around 4:30 a.m. Monday. Fire officials initially said two adults and a child had died in the fire. No other details were immediately released about the blaze, including the names of the victims. The investigation will be led by the police department's major case unit.


One Person Still Hospitalized After Kansas Aircraft Plant Blast

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of the 15 people injured in a explosion at the Beechcraft aircraft manufacturing facility in Wichita remains hospitalized. KWCH-TV reports that a spokesperson for Wesley Medical Center said Monday that the injured patient's condition has improved from serious to fair and the patient could be cleared to go home in the next day or two. A spokesperson for Ascension Via Christi said everyone injured in the explosion who received treatment at its St. Francis hospital has been released. Authorities said the explosion Friday morning happened when a 3-inch liquid nitrogen line ruptured. Part of the building collapsed. 


Plane Carrying KU Men's Basketball Team Forced to Return to California

SAN JOSE, Cal. (AP) — A plane carrying the Kansas men's basketball team was forced to return to a California airport after one of its engines failed. The university said in a tweet that issues arose Sunday following a road victory over Stanford. After the engine failure occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, the pilot contacted the San Jose Airport, where the team returned and made a safe landing. The tweet expressed thanks to the pilot and the Swift Air flight crew. The tweet says the team was spending the night in San Jose before returning to Lawrence.


Kansas Lawmakers Want Stronger Law on Mental Health Coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bipartisan group of Kansas lawmakers is proposing a measure aimed at making sure that health insurance companies don't skirt a state law for ensuring that they cover mental health services. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Democratic state Senator Tom Holland of Baldwin City and Republican Senator Molly Baumgardner of Louisburg outlined details during a recent Statehouse news conference. The measure would strengthen a state law requiring health insurance companies to cover mental health services in line with how they cover medical care.


Judges, Past Finalists Among Candidates for Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two members of the Kansas attorney general's staff who were finalists for a previous appointment and four lower-court judges are seeking to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. A lawyer-led state nominating commission is scheduled to interview 17 candidates for the high court January 16 and 17. The commission will name three finalists for Democratic Governor Laura Kelly to consider, and she will have until March 17 to pick one. The vacancy was created last week by the retirement of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.  It will be Kelly's second appointment to the seven-member court within three months.


Kansas Health Officials: Clay Center Pork Plant Issues Recall over Concerns of Listeria Contamination

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say a voluntary recall of several pork products produced in Clay Center has been issued because of possible listeria contamination. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the Clay Center Locker Plant has issued the recall for any ready-to-eat product, including smoked pork loins, ham hocks and smoked ham produced on November 21. The department is urging the public not to consume any of the products, including those bought at the retail counter in the plant and hams that were delivered to the Future Farmers of America chapters in Clay Center and Chapman.  


Kansas City Police Say Woman Shot to Death; 1 Arrested

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a woman has been shot to death in Kansas City, and another person has been arrested in the case. Kansas City police say officers were called to an area near the Willow Glen apartments around 11 p.m. Friday for reports of shots fired. Arriving officers found a woman on the ground who had been shot. Police say she died at the scene. Police say a person of interest was taken into custody. Investigators are asking anyone who witnessed the shooting or with information about the shooting to contact police.


Family: 9-Year-Old Kansas Girl Dies of Flu While in Nebraska

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — Family members of a 9-year-old Kansas girl say she died after contracting the flu. Topeka television station KSNT reports that the family of Leighya Marie DeLong, of Hiawatha, confirmed the girl died on December 22 in Lincoln, Nebraska, while she was visiting relatives for the Christmas holiday. The girl's family says she was diagnosed with the flu at a Lincoln hospital on December 21, released, then saw her condition worsen the next day. Hiawatha School District Superintendent Lonnie Moser says counselors will be available to students and staff to help cope with the loss of the Hiawatha Elementary School fourth-grader.


KC Police: Woman Whose Body Was Found by Road is Victim of Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say they are investigating as a homicide the death of a woman whose body was found last week along a roadside. The body of 28-year-old Renita Thompson was found December 21 by family members who had reported her missing days earlier. Her body was found just a block west of Interstate 435 in the Strupwood neighborhood. Police said her body was out of view from traffic on the road. Police have not said how she died, but confirmed Friday that her death was a homicide. Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.


Topeka Police ID Victim Who Died After December 20 Road Rage Punch

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka have identified a driver who died days after being punched in a road rage incident by another driver. Police said Saturday in a news release that 55-year-old Charles McPeek died on Friday, a week after police say the violent confrontation happened on December 20. Police say the incident began when McPeek and the driver of an SUV pulled over in north Topeka. Police say the SUV driver punched McPeek and fled the scene, leaving McPeek unconscious on the side of the road. McPeek was later taken to a hospital with critical injuries.


UPDATE: McDonald's Denies Officer Was Handed Coffee with Expletive

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — McDonald's is disputing allegations that a Kansas police officer was handed a coffee with an expletive and the word “pig” written on it when he stopped there on his way to work. Junction City McDonald's owner Dana Cook said in a written statement that the store has video showing it wasn’t their employee. The coffee situation gained attention after Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday said in a Facebook post that one of his officers was handed the cup with the obscenity Saturday when he went through the McDonald's drive through in Junction City, which is near Fort Riley. 

( – earlier reporting –)

Kansas Police Officer Handed McDonald's Coffee Cup Inscribed with Expletive

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a police officer who stopped at a McDonald's restaurant on his way to work was handed a coffee with an expletive and the word "pig" written on it. Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday said in a Facebook post that one of his officers was headed to work Saturday when he stopped at the McDonald's drive through in Junction City, which is near Fort Riley base. Hornaday wrote the officer was offered a "free lunch" and that "A Big Mac and large fries doesn't make up for it." He said the officer has never met the McDonald's employee.


As Crimes Continue, DOJ Will Add More Police in Kansas City Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal and state officials are pooling millions of dollars to add more police officers to combat Kansas City's gun violence. But research has shown that changing the way police interact with the public is likely to have a greater impact on crime reduction. Kansas City, Missouri, is on its way to report about 150 homicides and officials are projecting another 500 nonfatal shootings by year's end. The Justice Department announced a plan that could funnel nearly $10 million to the Kansas City metro area to deter crime by adding more police and resources. But KCUR-FM reports that research shows that changing policing strategy is likely to have more impact on decreasing crime.  


Missouri Ethics Panel Says Ex-Democratic Leader Broke Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Ethics Commission says a former Democratic leader who was an executive for one of the state's most populous counties broke campaign finance laws. The commission concluded that ex-Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders illegally used political contributions to pay personal cell phone bills. The Kansas City Star reports that the commission released an order Friday requiring Sanders to reimburse his campaign committee $2,500. Missouri law prohibits candidates from using campaign funds for personal expenses. Sanders and his wife, Georgia did not contest the commission's findings and agreed to the reimbursement. She was his campaign treasurer. He resigned as county executive in 2015.


Wichita VA Hospital Fires Doctor Under Scrutiny in Missouri

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Veterans Affairs hospital is Wichita has fired a doctor who is under scrutiny for allegedly harming patients during robot-assisted surgeries in Missouri. The VA hospital in Wichita confirmed Monday that it fired Christel Wambi-Kiesse. The hospital declined to give a reason for the firing. The hospital began investigating the doctor in September, after The Kansas City Star reported the Missouri board that regulates doctors was seeking to discipline the 44-year-old urologist. The Star reported one woman died two months after Wambi-Kiesse performed surgery on her, and two other men suffered dangerous complications.  


Southeast Kansas Town Hopes Free Tuition Plan Attracts New Residents

NEODESHA, Kan. (AP) — The small southeast Kansas town of Neodesha hopes a new program offering free college tuition to graduates of the local high school will help attract new residents. A wealthy former resident of the town announced the scholarship offer last month. Ben Cutler says he doesn't think he would have been nearly as successful in life without his Neodesha upbringing in the 1950s and 1960s. He decided to create the college tuition program as a way to give back to his hometown. The Kansas City Star reports the donation has rejuvenated efforts to revive the city's defunct chamber of commerce and address Neodesha's longstanding housing shortage.


Kansas Senator Jerry Moran Will Lead Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is preparing to take over as chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in January. The Kansas City Star reports that the Republican's top issues will be suicide prevention and ensuring veterans get the care they deserve when suffering from cancer and other illnesses tied to toxic exposure. He says he will be leaning on veterans to help him set the committee's agenda. He's served on the committee since joining the Senate in 2011 and says most of the veterans legislation he's pursued has originated with Kansas veterans. He will replace retired Georgia GOP Senator Johnny Isakson.


Topeka Bank Robber Stole Employee's Vehicle, Fled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a weekend bank heist in Topeka in which the suspect fled in a vehicle belonging to a bank employee. Topeka police Lt. John Trimble says the robber entered the Intrust Bank branch around 11:30 a.m. Saturday armed with a handgun and left with an undisclosed amount of money. The stolen vehicle in which he fled was found unoccupied about three hours later. No one was hurt in the heist. Police have not arrested a suspect.  


Young Bull Moose Spotted Twice in North-Central Kansas

SCANDIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a young bull moose has been spotted twice in north-central Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said Friday that the moose was captured on a trail camera along the Republic River near the Republic County town of Scandia. The moose was also spotted earlier this month about 20 miles northwest of Scandia. State wildlife research biologist Matt Peek said then that the spotting was “very rare.” Prior to this month, the last time it happened was when a bull moose wandered into the state in 1989 on its way to Oklahoma.  


Gonzaga Stays No. 1; KU at No. 3, WSU Moves Into AP Top 25

UNDATED (AP) — Gonzaga remains atop The Associated Press men's college basketball poll following a light holiday schedule. The Zags did not play last week and received 63 first-place votes from a 65-member media panel. No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Kansas each had one first-place vote, with Oregon and Ohio State rounding out the top five. The Buckeyes dropped three spots after losing 67-59 to West Virginia. The Mountaineers climbed six places to No. 16. No. 24 Wichita State moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2017-18 season.


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.

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