Kansas News Service

POR CORTESÍA DE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ FRANZ

LIBERAL, Kansas — Una mujer piensa que la pandemia de la COVID-19 fue planeada, hecha por el hombre.

Un hombre no se inocula porque sospecha que otros países usan a los estadounidenses como sujetos de estudio para sus vacunas.

Tres cuartos de este grupo de enfoque que se reúnen en un centro comunitario en Liberal, habían oído que las vacunas podrían contener microchips para que el gobierno pueda rastrear a la gente, a pesar de que la mayoría dice que ya no creen en ese mito.

Chris Neal / Kansas News Service

Amtrak plans to restart daily passenger service on its Southwest Chief route across Kansas beginning May 31.

In October, Amtrak cut the line’s daily service down to three days a week because of the pandemic. But the company says new federal COVID-19 relief funding will allow it to restore daily service on the Southwest Chief and 11 more of its long distance routes over the next few months.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a new statewide mask mandate Thursday, but Republican lawmakers quickly used newly crafted legislative powers to reverse her order.

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 This story has been updated to include the April 1 vote of no-confidence against Graham.

Faculty at Haskell Indian Nations University have formally expressed their displeasure with the school’s president, who is also facing criticism from a national campus free speech organization that says his administration violated the First Amendment rights of students and staff.

On April 1, the Haskell Faculty Senate delivered a unanimous vote of no confidence against university president Ronald Graham, The Indian Leader reported.

Courtesy, Enrique Rodríguez Franz

LIBERAL, Kansas — One woman thinks the COVID-19 pandemic was planned, man-made.

A man won’t get inoculated because he suspects other countries are using Americans as test subjects for their vaccines.

Three-fourths of this focus group gathered at a Liberal community center had heard the shots might contain microchips so the government can track people, even if most said they don’t buy that myth anymore.

A proposal to let nurse practitioners do their jobs — without contracts that can require them to pay thousands of dollars a year to doctors — got stymied again in the Kansas Legislature this session.

The bill died in the House this month without a vote. A technical maneuver in the Senate keeps the legislation alive, but it remains in committee with no vote scheduled.

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — Nearly 70 years ago in a newly formed suburb of Kansas City, Kansas City Power & Light Co. built what it thought was a vision of the future — an all-electric home full of the latest technology.

“It was advertised as the lazy man’s paradise,” said Johnson County Museum curator Andrew Gustafson.

Wichita Area Sees Uptick In Earthquake Frequency

Mar 16, 2021
Created by Hayashi Fumihiro from Noun Project

At least eight earthquakes have shaken Wichita since early Sunday morning.

Since the fall, more than 30 earthquakes struck in an area centered near north-east Wichita. The strongest so far was a 3.9 magnitude that hit Sunday evening.

After the pandemic hit, the largest school district in Kansas set to calculating how much outdoor air it should pull into its buildings.

Wichita Public Schools turned to the nation’s top sources for expertise, then boosted ventilation and filtration in ways that scientists say dramatically cut the risk of inhaling COVID-19.

Two weeks after Kansas said it wouldn’t earmark vaccines for meatpacking workers, the state on Thursday promised shots to thousands of people in those slaughterhouse jobs starting this week.

More than 10,000 people work in the plants, which include massive facilities in Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal vital to the economy of southwest Kansas.

By the end of next week, the state expects to get first doses to all the workers who want them.

A new casino owned by a Native American tribe opened Tuesday in Park City.

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma built the CrossWinds Casino after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior last May, a decision the state of Kansas is seeking to reverse

Courtesy, Black Archives of Mid-America

HAYS, Kansas — On the night of Jan. 6, 1869, Luke Barnes, Lee Watkins and James Ponder sat in jail accused of shooting a white railroad worker in this northwest Kansas town.

By sunrise, the three Black men had been dragged from their cell by a mob of white townspeople and hanged from a railroad trestle over the creek that separates the town from Fort Hays, where the men were stationed in the U.S. Army. A Leavenworth newspaper reported that the town “indulged them in a dance in mid-air.”

A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 testing has become easier to get — just not necessarily cheaper.

If you go to the right locations, though, you can get a test for free instead of shelling out $100 or more.

For Kansas, sites that offer free testing are listed online, complete with information about wait times and booking.

You don’t have to show any ID or insurance. That eliminates the risk of a wrestling match later over billing.

Price tags matter, even when insurance pays

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kiley Klug, flanked by her 13-year-old son, Owen, in a wheelchair, stood before Kansas lawmakers Wednesday and pleaded to let her treat her son’s hundreds of daily seizures with legal medicinal marijuana.

At one point, she paused to tend to one of the boy’s seizures before resuming her testimony.

“He, as you can see, suffers from a rare, relentless seizure monster called Dravet Syndrome,” she said. “He, at his worst, has struggled through up to 200 to 300 seizures a day.”

WICHITA, Kansas — Last February, the city of Cheney, Kansas – located just west of Wichita – paid about $2 per thousand cubic feet, or unit, of natural gas on the wholesale market.

But last week, during the height of the winter storm, it was paying more than $600 per unit.

“We didn’t have the option to just say, ‘We don’t want gas for our community,’” said Cheney City Administrator Danielle Young.  “We just had to take the price we were given to make sure our residents were staying warm.”

Thousands of meatpacking workers in southwest Kansas continue to wait for any news about when they’ll get the COVID-19 vaccine.

That wait drags on even as some counties vaccinate college faculty, first responders and postal workers, and as Kansas launches a new program to get a first dose into the arm of every school worker by early April.

Meatpacking plants have been the state’s third-biggest source of coronavirus outbreaks, eclipsed only by long-term care facilities (such as nursing homes) and jails and prisons.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Raucous chirping tipped me off to the tree full of birds in my front yard last weekend.

I opened the door and peeked out.

House sparrows seemed to be squabbling in our cherry trees. A lone starling sat among them, unperturbed. Somewhere nearby, a tufted titmouse sang an early morning tune.

The long-troubled foster care system in Kansas got hit with yet another complication over the last year.

Pandemic complications came on top of ongoing fixes mandated by a class-action settlement and simmering pressure to find more homes for children in crisis.

WICHITA, Kansas — Rolling electrical blackouts rippled across the Midwest Monday while the region shivered in an arctic blast and suddenly found itself short on electrical power.

The pandemic caused counties across the state to issue varying levels of business shutdown orders meant to slow the spread of a life-threatening virus.

Now businesses that lost their ability to make money during the pandemic want a tax refund for the time they were forced to hang “closed” signs.

Lawmakers heard competing arguments about property tax rebates this week.

Businesses say the closures put them on the brink of shutting down for good. Local governments warn they don’t have the resources to be offering mass tax refunds.

Two bills pending in the Kansas Legislature would slim down penalties for minor drug crimes.

Supporters of the lighter sentences contend the changes would give Kansas more reasonable drug laws and carve away at the state’s prison population.

Opponents told a Kansas House committee this week that the legislation would go too far, discounting that all drug crimes — even relatively small offenses — feed an often-violent illegal drug trade.

KINSLEY, Kansas — In the late 1980s, drought left the wells that supply water to the city of Hays and Russell in western Kansas precariously low. The near-catastrophe sent city leaders on the hunt for more water.

“We were just trying to survive from one year to the next,” former Hays mayor and city councilman Eber Phelps said.

One of the largest private foster care agencies in Kansas has signed a new deal with the state drawn up in the wake of reports of cash shortages and elaborate spending.

The contract amendment requires that Saint Francis Ministries give the Department for Children and Families a new business plan by March 1. The nonprofit will have to report specific information about its income and costs, said DCF secretary Laura Howard.

This story has been updated.

Kansas has launched an online map that shows which hospitals and other locations offer COVID-19 vaccinations.

The tool — called Find My Vaccine — shows dozens of sites across Kansas marked in either orange or blue.

Those colors show you where the latest shipments of vaccine doses went.

David Condos / Kansas News Service

GREAT BEND, Kansas — Joey Bahr walks out to the front of his yard along a blacktop county road. He stops in a ditch and points to an orange-and-black sign that marks a buried fiber-optic cable.

But for Bahr, the cable running beneath his feet is off-limits. It’s owned by a neighboring internet service provider and is merely passing through on its way to a nearby town.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Lawmakers sent voters a state constitutional amendment Thursday that anti-abortion forces say Kansas needs to keep existing laws intact and that their opponents say could ultimately make abortions unattainable in the state.

Sometimes, Becky Angell doesn’t even realize she’s started crying.

She’s been a nurse for seven years, and worked in an intensive care unit in Olathe for the past two. She loves her job and is used to seeing people die.

But the past months of caring for one desperately ill COVID-19 patient after another have left her overwhelmed and in tears at the dinner table and on the drive home from work.

WICHITA, Kansas — Spring break is canceled.

Public universities in Kansas made the call early in the fall as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. They reasoned that during a pandemic it’s just not a good idea to give students a week to spend in South Beach, or even just travel to see family.

Yet Kansas State University students said they need at least some time off because of another health crisis — the damage to their mental health posed by a semester without a pause. K-State agreed and scheduled a “wellness day” for the spring.

More than a quarter of Kansans have gotten at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. And starting March 29, all Kansans ages 16 and up will be eligible for the shots.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Fights between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor — over new taxes and her power to shut down businesses in a pandemic — threaten calls on both sides for political unity.

Meanwhile, conservatives in the Legislature push ahead quickly to amend the Kansas Constitution to declare it contains no right to abortion.

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