KMUW

Unofficial results have been posted. Listen to KMUW 89.1 FM on Wednesday morning for analysis on local and statewide races. 

Although both the Democratic and Republican parties ditched their presidential primaries this year, there are still several significant races on Kansas primary ballots on Aug. 4 — and plenty of down-ballot races that need deciding, too.

Spirit AeroSystems announced another round of layoffs on Friday as the Wichita aerospace company continues to get battered by the grounding of the 737 Max and the pandemic.

Spirit said in a news release it will cut another 1,100 jobs from its commercial programs. That represents 450 new layoffs in Wichita when taking into account previous reductions and employees moving to other programs, such as defense. Some employees also previously agreed to take voluntary layoffs.

The Kansas State Fair weathered the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It could not do the same with the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

The tiny town of Merinac, Kansas -- the setting of KJ Dell’Antonia’s new novel, “The Chicken Sisters” -- is a fictional place. But anyone familiar with a two-lane stretch of road in southeast Kansas will immediately recognize it:

This is “Chicken Dinner Road” -- home of Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s, two restaurants that sit about 300 feet apart and have been the center of a fried chicken debate for 70 years.

As the 2020 election season approaches, KMUW's Election Blueprint will bring you the news and information you need to be an informed and engaged voter. This first video addresses how to check your voter registration status, how to update your registration, and how to register.

Here are some helpful links:

2020 has not been kind to aviation manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems. The continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max — the company's most important program — was compounded by a near shutdown of commercial air traffic because of the pandemic. That has resulted in thousands of layoffs at Spirit since January, along with furloughs and pay cuts.

Despite the drumbeat of bad news, Spirit has consistently remained optimistic when discussing one topic: its defense programs.

Spirit says about 15% of its revenue comes from defense work. It wants to grow that number to 40%.

The Kansas Board of Regents met with Wichita State University President Jay Golden on Wednesday, but took no action over the furor caused by Golden removing a prerecorded message by Ivanka Trump from WSU Tech’s commencement ceremony.

The Regents spent more than four hours in executive session with Golden. They then adjourned and directed people watching the virtual meeting to a statement.

The statement read:

Art can inspire, motivate and educate.

It also can lead to — let’s say — a good debate.

That’s certainly the case with M.T. Liggett’s sculptures, which, like the artist himself, inspire widely differing opinions.

WICHITA, Kansas — It’s a simple, tempting pitch: hands-on training tailored for specific, high-demand jobs.

It led thousands of students to enroll in Kansas technical colleges. But COVID-19 and a collapsing aviation industry undid that promise.

Now that Kansas is slowly reopening, health officials are preparing for what could be a busy few months of COVID-19 investigations.

Spirit AeroSystems said it will halt production on all Boeing work for two weeks.

In a news release Tuesday, the company said employees who are idled by the suspension will be paid. The production halt begins Wednesday and will run through April 8 at Spirit’s operations in Wichita and Oklahoma.

The action follows Boeing’s announcement this week that it would suspend production at its plants in Washington state for two weeks beginning Wednesday.

Sedgwick County issued a stay-at-home order on Tuesday to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Funeral services are exempted, but funeral homes — including Wichita's Jackson Mortuary — are taking precautions.

Michael Jackson, owner and funeral director of the 94-year-old family business, says his staff is taking extra sanitation measures with the funeral home, the chapel and the mortuary vehicles.

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the current coronavirus outbreak, and the disruptions to daily life can take a toll on someone’s mental health.

Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas spokesman Eric Littwiler says clinicians there are, understandably, seeing a lot of cases of anxiety and depression.

"I think people are feeling like the world they’re used to is just shifting underneath their feet," he says, "and that creates that anxiety and creates that depression even for people who haven’t dealt with it in the past."

The number of Kansans affected by coronavirus-related work disruptions keeps growing.

Restaurants, businesses and city facilities across the state are adjusting to government restrictions to keep the virus from spreading. That means temporary closings, canceled events and reduced business hours — all changes that directly affect employees.

With the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic changing so rapidly, we’re compiling news and information here about COVID-19. For more community updates, reopening plans and public health orders, check out our COVID-19 Resource Center.

How many known cases are in Kansas?

As of Aug. 12, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed 32,547 cases of COVID-19 (+817 since last report), and 395 deaths (+8). KDHE gives a live update on its Facebook page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m.

More than 302,000 other people have tested negative for COVID-19. 

Sedgwick County, which includes confirmed cases not finalized in KDHE's count, says as of Aug. 12 there have been 5,068 confirmed cases (+78 since last report) and 46 deaths (no change), and there are 2,813 active cases.

The U.S. has had more than 5.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 165,000 deaths. 

Wichita State University is extending spring break due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Students at WSU were scheduled to start spring break March 23. The university announced Thursday that all in-person academic instruction will be canceled next week, beginning Monday.

All activities related to in-person classes — such as assignments, presentations and lab work — will be suspended for the week.

Hybrid classes — which meet in-person and online — will shift to online only classes. Fully online classes, however, will continue next week.

Testing for the coronavirus in Kansas has so far been done at the state level, but health leaders say that could change in a few weeks.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — A couple hundred million years ago, an ocean covering Kansas teemed with prehistoric life. Yet for millennia, Kansas has been a dry, sometimes even dusty, place.

The ocean is long gone, but traces of that long-ago aquatic life lie right below your feet captured for the ages in fossil form. Now, paleontologists from the University of Kansas have an app that they hope will help motivate people to go out and find it.

McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita says it has increased its safety procedures for personnel who work in an aircraft hangar where a cancer-causing chemical is present.

WICHITA, Kansas — On Aug. 16, the second day of the school year, students in the Burrton district felt the shake of a 4.2 magnitude earthquake. They knew exactly what to do: hide under their desks until it stopped.

Call it a ban on plastic bag bans.

A new bill introduced this week in the Kansas House Commerce Committee would pre-emptively prevent state municipalities from enacting their own bans or taxes on plastic items, including shopping bags.

The push comes days after the Wichita City Council appointed a Single-Use Plastic Bag Task Force to look into the issue and possibly craft an ordinance regulating plastic bags in the city.

Spirit AeroSystems said Thursday it has reached an agreement with Boeing to resume production of the 737 Max, but at reduced levels.

Officials with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) say a Douglas County resident is under investigation for potential exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Specimens were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing and officials expect to receive results later this week.

WICHITA, Kansas — Trees improve air quality. They keep people and homes cool with shade. They block the breezes that rake across the Kansas plains.

New research suggests the trees planted by people who filled up Kansas over the last century-plus also made the region more susceptible to hard-to-fight fires.

The Kansas Division of Vehicles added two new options to reduce wait times and long lines at driver’s license offices across the state.

The agency launched a scheduling platform so people can make appointments instead of showing up at a DMV office and waiting in line.

Division of Vehicles director David Harper says the service is available in Wichita, Andover, Derby, Topeka, Kansas City (Kansas), Lawrence, Manhattan, Mission, Olathe and Overland Park.

Wichita is the latest — and largest — public school district in Kansas to announce plans to sue the popular vaping company Juul Labs.

Republican members of the Kansas Congressional delegation issued statements Friday supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to authorize a drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Fellow Wichitans, I’m embarrassed and you should be as well.

We have allowed our city and county government to literally build a prison around the Kansas African American Museum at 601 N. Water. And there is new construction that brings the county jail even closer yet.

WICHITA, Kansas — As global carbon dioxide emissions break records, Kansas is headed in the opposite direction — reducing emissions for 10 straight years.

Kansas’ decline is largely due to the rapid adoption of wind energy and a slow move away from coal powered electricity. That is to say: Kansas produces less carbon dioxide, or CO2, the powerful greenhouse gas that’s released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels and is a major driver of climate change.

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