Headlines for Monday, June 5, 2023
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Headlines for Monday, June 5, 2023

Jul 23, 2023

UPDATE: Four Children Missing from Topeka Found Safe, Suspect in Custody

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — An Amber Alert issued earlier for four children taken from a home in Topeka has been canceled. Authorities say the children have all been found safe and a suspect is now in custody.

(Earlier reporting...)

BREAKING NEWS: Amber Alert Issued for 4 Children Taken in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — An Amber Alert has been issued in Kansas for four Topeka children who may be in imminent danger. The children range in age from 5 to 12 years old. At approximately 1 pm today (MON), the Topeka Police Department provided the following information to the KBI:

Around 10:30 am, Au'Vae Riley, Da'Avien Riley JR, Ty'rell Riley, and Aunila Riley were taken by their mother Dontresha Shabree Thomas. The suspect's statements to the father of the children indicate that all of the children are in imminent danger. Police say the suspect left from 2105 SE Swygart in Topeka, travelling in a unknown direction in a silver 2009 GMC Acadia bearing KS temporary license plate number C953627. Authorities are asking people who have seen the missing children, the suspect, or the suspect's vehicle, to call 911 or the Topeka Police Department at (785) 368-9200.


Air Quality Alert Issued for Greater Kansas City Area; Residents Urged to Reduce Emissions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) — An ozone alert has been issued for the Greater Kansas City area, meaning there will be unhealthy levels of ozone in the metro Monday. That's according to an announcement by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). During ozone alerts, it's recommended that people — especially children and those with asthma — reduce or reschedule plans for any strenuous activities outdoors. Staying inside a well-ventilated and air-conditioned building is best. If someone does have to be outdoors, it's best to plan to be outside before 10 am or after 7 pm. Cutting down on emissions helps, too. The MARC recommends that during the alert, those in the metro drive less, wait to refuel vehicles, delay mowing and other yard work that uses power equipment.

The National Weather Service says the ozone alert covers Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas, as well as Clay, Platte and Jackson counties in Missouri. This is the second air quality alert issued this year in Kansas City.


Kansas Doctors Warn of Cancer Drug Shortage

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — A national shortage of cancer drugs is forcing some Kansas doctors to ration medication. The Kansas News Service reports that supply chain issues have squeezed supplies of more than a dozen chemotherapy drugs. The shortage is hurting treatment for breast, bladder and gynecological cancers. Kyla Bidne, an oncology pharmacist at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Cancer Center, says its drug shipments are sporadic, and doctors are cutting patients’ chemo doses by up to 10% to stretch supplies. "I lose sleep over this," she said. "These drugs are part of so many different cancer treatments, so it's a very dire shortage." She says doctors could need to delay some treatments if the problem continues.

Bidne says the shortage is the worst she's seen in her 20 years as an oncology pharmacist. "One of the biggest issues is we really don't know from day to day when we’re going to receive a drug or if we’re going to receive drug, so we have to plan for the worst and hope for the best," she said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering temporarily importing drugs from unauthorized overseas manufacturers to help mitigate the shortage.


Kansas Total Tax Collections Up in May but Down Nearly 6% from May 2022

TOPEKA, Kan. (JC Post) — Total tax collections in Kansas for May 2023 were $857.3 million. That's nearly $39 million above projections. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced last week that the state was in a strong position to weather any future financial storms. The JC Post reports that Kelly also talked about future tax cuts, saying the state was in a position to pass responsible, affordable tax cuts next session. While tax collections were up in May, they were down 5.8% from May of last year.


Kansas Senator to Speak in France During D-Day Anniversary

WASHINGTON (KPR) — Kansas Senator Jerry Moran will deliver remarks Tuesday during a ceremony commemorating the 79th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. The annual ceremony honors the 9,386 American soldiers buried in Normandy and the 1,557 listed on the Wall of the Missing and pays tribute to the largest and most ambitious military operation in modern history. The D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, was planned and executed by general and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, of Abilene. It was the largest combined air and amphibious assault in human history and a turning point for the Allies in World War II.

"This patch of earth at Normandy holds a place in the hearts of families across the United States," said Moran. "On D-Day, we reflect on what American, British, and Allied personnel dared to accomplish, and through their sacrifices, achieved on behalf of all of mankind." Other speakers at the ceremony include General Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.


Crews Battle High School Fire in Northwest Kansas

ATWOOD, Kan. (KSNW) — Firefighters have been battling a fire at Rawlins County High School in Atwood today (MON). It's unclear when the fire started. The Atwood Police Department says it was on scene just before 10 am, but some Atwood residents tell KSNW TV that the fire started much earlier than that. There have been no reports of injuries. Authorities say it's too early to know the extent of the damage or what may have caused the fire.


Kansas Man Arrested for Allegedly Stabbing Father

RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — A Reno County man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his father. KSNW TV reports that on Saturday, a man with stab wounds was dropped off at a gas station in McPherson. The person who dropped off the man told gas station employees that the man needed medical attention. The son of the victim was later arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. The dad was transferred to a Wichita hospital and is now recovering.


Lawrence Police Hoping to ID Weekend Shooting Victim

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Lawrence police are asking for the public's help in identifying the victim of a weekend homicide. A white man, thought to be in his 20s, was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital early Saturday morning with fatal gunshot wounds. The three men who brought the victim to the hospital say they do not know the man's identity. The Lawrence Police Department is asking for anyone with information about the shooting or the victim to contact police.


Federal Grants Will Help Eliminate Dozens of Dangerous Rail Crossings; Kansas Gets $27 Million

OMAHA, Neb. (AP/KWCH) — With the rail industry relying on longer and longer trains to cut costs, the Biden administration is handing out $570 million in federal grants to help eliminate dangerous railroad crossings in 32 states, including Kansas. KWCH TV reports that Kansas will receive $27.5 million to reduce train collisions and blocked crossings. The grants announced Monday will contribute to building bridges or underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings that delay traffic and sometimes keep first responders from where help is desperately needed. In some places, trains routinely stretch more than 2 miles long and can block crossings for hours, cutting off access to parts of towns.

In addition to problems associated with blocked crossings, roughly 2,000 collisions are reported at railroad crossings every year. Nearly 250 deaths were recorded last year in car-train crashes. In recent years, the major freight railroads have overhauled their operations to rely on fewer, longer trains so they can use fewer crews and locomotives as part of efforts to cut costs. The railroads insist those changes haven't made their trains riskier, but regulators and Congress are scrutinizing their operations closely after several recent high-profile derailments. And the problems at rail crossings are well documented.

These grants are part of $3 billion in funding approved in the $1 trillion infrastructure law for these rail crossing projects that will be doled out over the next five years. A number of the 63 projects that will receive grants involve only planning and design work for eliminating crossings in the future, but most of the money will go toward physical improvements at crossings and eliminating longstanding problems. In each of these grants, states and cities — sometimes with the help of the railroads — must cover at least 20% of the project cost.


Olathe Police Fatally Shoot Man They Say Came at Officers with a Knife

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Suburban Kansas City police have shot a man they say came at two officers with a knife after a traffic stop. Police in Olathe say they had pulled over a car just before 6 pm Saturday when a separate vehicle pulled up. The driver of that vehicle emerged with a knife and moved toward the officers, who both shot him. The 58-year-old man died at the scene. His name has not been released. The officers were not hurt. A multi-agency team that investigates police shootings in the Kansas City area is investigating. The officers are on administrative leave pending the outcome.


Agents Arrest 3 KC Men, Seize Machine Guns, Other Firearms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Federal agents seized dozens of firearms, including machine guns, during the arrest of three Kansas City-area men last week. Authorities say the three men are now charged with conspiracy to traffic firearms and drugs. Prosecutors say an informant told investigators that the men operated several stash houses in the metro where they stored weapons and illegal drugs. Court documents show firearms were sold to an undercover officer or a confidential informant. The weapons included machine guns and automatic pistols, some with missing serial numbers. WDAF TV reports that 23-year-old Alejandro Zavala and 30-year-old Cody Bonhomme, both of Kansas City, and 22-year-old Kaleb Acuna, of Independence, Missouri are all charged with conspiracy to traffic firearms and drugs. The three men are currently held in federal custody after making initial court appearances last week.


KC Man Gets 30 Years for $10 Million Conspiracy to Distribute Meth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced for his role in a nearly $10 million conspiracy to distribute almost 1,000 kilograms of methamphetamine. Federal prosecutors say 39-year-old Joshua A. Brown was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on May 31 to 30 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Brown to forfeit to the government more than $31,000 which represents his proceeds from illegal drug trafficking. Last year, Brown pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute meth. According to court documents, Brown was responsible for the distribution of nearly 3.8 kilograms of meth during the conspiracy.

Brown has also been charged with the murder of a victim identified in court documents as "T.D." in the District Court of Leavenworth County. That case is currently pending. The body of the victim, who suffered a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, was discovered on March 12, 2019.

Brown has nine prior felony convictions for possession of stolen property, aggravated battery, criminal use of weapons, distribution of certain drugs, possession of drug contraband in prison, fleeing law enforcement, resisting arrest, creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death and unlawful use of a weapon. Brown also has been convicted of 20 misdemeanor crimes. Brown is the final defendant among 18 defendants who have been sentenced in two separate indictments that resulted from this investigation.


El Dorado Correctional Facility Resident Death

EL DORADO, Kan. (KPR) — An inmate at the El Dorado Correctional Facility died over the weekend. According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, 60-year-old Luis Diaz died Sunday morning. The cause of death is pending further investigation, as well as results of an independent autopsy. Per protocol, when a resident dies in the custody of the state, the death is under investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Diaz had been serving a sentence for attempted murder in Sedgwick County.


Lansing Prison Cutting Visitation Hours for Family, Friends of Inmates

LANSING, Kan. (KNS) – The Lansing Correctional Facility is cutting the number of hours that friends and families can visit each inmate. Visitation hours will be reduced from six hours a week to three. Prison officials say appointments for visitation were filling up so quickly that the system couldn't handle the volume. They say says the cuts will help because the move will double the number of people who can visit inmates. Prison families though, say this is another barrier to seeing their incarcerated family member. Families of prison inmates say visitation is crucial because it builds a support system for inmates and helps maintain family connections they can rely on once released. Corrections experts say a strong support system on the outside can help reduce the odds that someone goes back to prison. But the families say, visitation has become increasingly difficult in recent years with fewer days and fewer hours available. They say the new rules make it very difficult to stay in touch. (Read More)


Fish Kill Forces Olathe to Postpone Fishing Derby

OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) — A popular Johnson County fishing event was canceled over the weekend after thousands of fish died. The Olathe Parks and Recreation Department postponed a fishing derby at Cedar Lake Saturday morning because thousands of fish had been killed. City officials say the deaths were the result of a "naturally occurring fish kill" but also say they are working with state wildlife officials to investigate the exact cause. WDAF TV reports that people living near Cedar Lake may notice a bad smell for a period of time.


Medicaid Recipients in Kansas Urged to Update Information

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas officials are urging more than 500,000 people on the state's Medicaid program rolls to update their address information as soon as possible. The request comes following the first two months of the state reviewing all KanCare recipients for eligibility. This spring, states started reviewing the eligibility of people on the health care program. For three years during the pandemic, people were auto renewed. Kansas Department of Health and Environment Medicaid Operations Deputy Director Christine Osterlund says those years of auto renewals left many people with outdated information in the system. "Most of our members have not been keeping their contact information up to date (and a) a lot of other information that is required for Medicaid eligibility," she said. Kansans can go online to KDHE's website to update their information.


Officials Taking Bids to Audit Kansas 911 System

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas officials are reviewing bids to audit the state's 911 system. The effort comes after a series of system failures several years ago. Two companies submitted bids of $78,800 to $95,000 to study problems in the emergency line system. An audit of the 911 system in 2018 spotted ways it could be disrupted. The state experienced major outages several years ago, including an outage that lasted more than three hours across Southern Kansas in 2020. But there hasn't been a major outage reported since 2021, and recent criticism of emergency services has focused on slow police response times in Wichita and Lawrence. The audit report is slated for completion by the end of the year.


Kansas Republicans Speak Out Against Proposed Rule Change

UNDATED (KNS) — Some members of the Kansas Republican Party are speaking out against a possible rule change for its executive committees. They say the new rules would kick-out members who are involved in special interest groups and that could target women and minorities. Ben Sauceda, chair of the Kansas Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said "Our party in our state ought to be ashamed because this is not how we win elections, this is how we guarantee a failure at the election box, every single cycle. And that has to stop." Members of the state Republican Rules Committee put out a statement criticizing others in the party who spoke to the media about the change. A new date to discuss the rule change has not been set.


Find Out Where Kids Can Eat Free in Lawrence and Topeka This Summer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (The Lawrence Times) — Children ages 18 and younger will be able to eat a free lunch on weekdays at six locations in Lawrence throughout the summer. The Lawrence Times reports that the program will begin June 5 and last several weeks. Participants must eat their lunches on-site, a requirement that had been lifted during 2021 and 2022 because of COVID. Adults can purchase lunches for $5 each. The Lawrence Public Library will have lunches available from 11 am to noon on weekdays through Friday, August 4.

All of the following locations will have lunches available on weekdays through Friday, July 28:

• Holcom Park, from noon to 1 pm• Broken Arrow Elementary School, from 12:30 to 1 pm• New York Elementary, from 12:30 to 1 pm• Sunset Hill Elementary, from 12:30 to 1 pm• Woodlawn Elementary, from 12:30 to 1 pm

There will also be Pinckney playground breakfast playdates offering free meals for kids from 9 to 9:30 am on Fridays only, June 9 through July 28. Meal sites will be closed June 19 and July 3-4 for the holidays. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that students in Shawnee County will also have the chance to eat free lunches this summer.


Topeka Zoo Celebrates Elephant's Asian Birthday

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Topeka Zoo celebrated a major birthday yesterday (SUN). Cora, an Asian elephant, celebrated her 65th birthday with confetti, animal crackers, and even cake. KSNT TV reports that Topeka Zoo officials say Cora has already lived past life expectancy. That's usually about 50 or 55 years, but zookeepers say Asian elephants tend to live longer with access to healthcare and medical supplies that they would not have in the wild. The oldest Asian elephant on record lived until his mid-eighties. Zoo officials say Cora is in excellent health and should be around for her next birthday and years beyond.


Four Dead in Missouri After Car Crosses Center Line, Striking Five Motorcycles

AURORA, Mo. (AP) — Four people died and seven others were seriously injured when a car crossed the center line of a Missouri highway and struck five motorcycles. The accident happened Saturday afternoon on Missouri Route 39 near the southwestern Missouri town of Aurora. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a Toyota Corolla crossed the center line of the two-lane highway and struck the motorcycles, ejecting the drivers and passengers on each motorcycle. One of the motorcycles caught fire. All four people killed were from Aurora. They were 59-year-old James Olmsted, 28-year-old Kameron Hale, 61-year-old Linda Anderson, and a 17-year-old girl whose name was not released. The patrol said Olmstead and Hale were drivers of motorcycles; Anderson and the girl were passengers. The 51-year-old woman who was driving the Toyota was arrested on suspicion of impairment. As of Sunday, no charges had been filed.


96 Kansas Congregations Leave United Methodist Church

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ/Midwest Newsroom) — The United Methodist Church is dealing with the fallout of a split within the denomination over LGBTQ issues. Last week, the exodus of 155 conservative churches in Kansas and Nebraska over theological matters was approved by the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that delegates to an online special session of that conference voted to ratify the requested disaffiliations of 96 of its churches in Kansas and 59 in Nebraska. All requests were addressed in one vote. Seventy-seven congregations in the conference had previously disaffiliated. The conference has 960 congregations, meaning about 16% are disaffiliating.

Last Wednesday's vote was the culmination of liberals and conservatives in the United Methodist Church disagreeing over matters that include whether gay clergy should be allowed and whether ministers should officiate same-sex weddings. Nationwide, nearly 4,000 churches have parted ways with the denomination. On May 1, conservatives launched a new Global Methodist Church, where they plan to maintain and enforce bans on things that include gay ministers and same-sex weddings. (Read more from the Midwest Newsroom.)


Norma Hunt, Wife of Late Chiefs Founder, Dies at 85

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Norma Hunt, the second wife of the late Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and the only woman to attend every Super Bowl, has died. She was 85. The Hunt family, which still owns the franchise, announced the passing of the Chiefs' matriarch in a statement released by the team Sunday night. No cause of death was given. Norma Hunt was among the few to have attended every Super Bowl when she was present for the Chiefs' 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. Lamar Hunt, one of the founders of the AFL and a force behind its 1970 merger with the NFL, died in 2006.

Norma Hunt had two sons, Clark and Daniel, and was closely linked to the Chiefs franchise through her charitable work. Clark Hunt became the chairman of the franchise after his father's death and has become a leading voice in NFL ownership. "Mom was steadfastly devoted to her family and fiercely passionate about her family's sports teams," the Hunt family said. "She was by our father Lamar's side every step of the way — from the merger of the AFL and the NFL to the formation of Major League Soccer, World Championship Tennis, the North American Soccer League, and their founding investment in the Chicago Bulls. "She was the only person we knew who rivaled his love of sports. The two of them found such joy together, whether at home, or in stadium stands around the world." NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who knew Norma Hunt for almost four decades, called her "a significant presence in the NFL."

Norma attended every Super Bowl ever played, including the two recent Chiefs' victories, and was the only woman to do so. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who also had grown close to Hunt the past few years, posted on social media: "Mrs. Norma was the best. Glad to be a part of this special organization she helped build. She will be missed!" The team had yet to announce memorial details Sunday night.


Kansas Boys State Program Teaches Civic Engagement

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) — 180 Kansas high school students are learning how state government operates by running their own mock government during a week-long interactive program called Boys' State, held at Kansas State University in Manhattan. WIBW TV reports that the American Legion program gives select high school students a chance to practice how city, county and state government works. Tom Wierman, executive director of the Boys' State of Kansas, says students run the fictional state of Kansas that they have at Boys' State, electing a governor and all the other elected positions. Wierman said there is one skill in particular that he hopes every delegate can develop during the week-long event: "Confidence." The 84th session of the American Legion Boys' State of Kansas runs from June 5-11. This is the 30th consecutive year the program was held at K-State.


What to Know About the Case of the Missing Missouri ER Doctor Found Dead in Arkansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The case of a Missouri doctor whose body was found in an Arkansas lake more than a week after he was reported missing remains shrouded in mystery. Forty-nine-year-old Dr. John Forsyth, an emergency room doctor in Cassville, Missouri, was last heard from on May 21. His body was found with an apparent gunshot wound in Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas on May 30. Authorities say an autopsy was done but they have not released a cause of death. His family says Forsyth, a divorced father of eight, had recently become engaged and was happier than they had seen him in many years.


Dr. John Forsyth, 49, was last seen alive on May 21, when security cameras in the parking lot of a public pool in Cassville show him getting into a vehicle, after leaving his own car unlocked with his wallet, two phones, a laptop and other items inside. That's according to his brother, Richard Forsyth, who said the doctor had texted his new fiancee that morning saying he would see her soon. His car was found later that day. Investigators haven't said who was driving the other vehicle. A search began after the emergency room physician didn't show up for his May 21 shift at Mercy Hospital in Cassville. There was no sign of Forsyth until a kayaker noticed his body in Arkansas on May 30, at a spot on Beaver Lake some 20 miles (32 kilometers) away from his last known location. His body had an apparent gunshot wound, authorities in Arkansas say. Although Benton County Coroner Daniel Oxford said an autopsy was completed Thursday, the results won't be released until the investigation is over.


His brother, Richard Forsyth, and other family members say John Forsyth was a devoted father to his eight kids and seemed happier than he'd been in a long time. They say he never missed a day of work, and would often sleep in an RV outside the hospital when he was on call. His family rejects any suggestion he took his own life. Newly engaged, Forsyth was also recently divorced. On May 10 of this year, a judge ordered Forsyth to pay his ex-wife $3,999 in child support a month, plus another $15,000 a month. Missouri court records show he was married and divorced twice to the same woman between 1995 and 2022. Both his brother and Ryan Ricketts, the ex-wife's divorce attorney, say the split was amicable. The pair initially married in Clark County, Nevada. He filed for divorce in April 2019 but the couple remarried in July 2020 in Greene County, Missouri. Court records show that the woman filed a second divorce petition in April 2022, in Lawrence County, Missouri.


Authorities have not said whether they believe Forsyth was killed or took his own life. Initially, when Forsyth's empty car was found, investigators said there were no signs of foul play. But that was before the body was found. Shannon Jenkins, spokesperson for the Benton County Sheriff's Department, said Friday that "there is no immediate threat to the public," but declined to provide more details. She said no further information would be released until the investigation is completed. It's also unclear what Forsyth's connection might be to the second vehicle seen on pool surveillance video. Authorities have not confirmed any information about the video, including if it was taken before or after Forsyth may have texted his fiancee. There's also no information on how Forsyth got from Cassville to Beaver Lake, when and where he died, or if investigators have found a weapon.


Forsyth was born in Idaho in 1974, according to online records. He was the third of seven children, his sister Gina Forsyth-Farlaino said. He was the father of eight children. His former wife, who lives in Idaho, was given custody of the couple's minor children, but John Forsyth continued to have a strong relationship with them, his brother and the woman's divorce attorney said. Forsyth's ex-wife did not wish to be interviewed, Ricketts said. "She is just devastated and — I mean, just shocked," Ricketts said. "She never saw any of this kind of thing coming."


Online records for the state of Missouri show that Forsyth was licensed as a doctor and surgeon in the state since July 1, 2005 and that his license was active. He'd been an emergency physician at Mercy Hospital in Cassville for nearly 15 years. He received his medical degree from Ross University, which is headquartered in Barbados. Online court records show Forsyth settled a wrongful death lawsuit against him Lawrence County, Missouri, in March 2022, but the settlement terms were confidential. He was initially named as a defendant in a wrongful death case, also in Lawrence County, in 2006. But he and another doctor were dismissed from the case before a local hospital settled the case for $100,000. Records show that in August 2015, he agreed to a public reprimand from the state Board of Registration for the Medical Arts for not adequately and completely maintaining records for two patients.


Former KU Champion Has Chance to Become NBA Champion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — Former University of Kansas basketball stand-out Christian Braun could soon join a very exclusive club. After winning an NCAA championship with the Jayhawks, Braun may soon win another championship - this time with the NBA's Denver Nuggets. But first, the Nuggets will have to defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The Nuggets lost Sunday to the Heat 111-to-108. KSHB TV reports that if the Nuggets eventually win the best-of-seven finals, Braun will join Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and just two other players in the sport's history to immediately follow a college basketball championship with an NBA title.

That title would be the 22-year-old Braun's fifth championship in the last seven years — from high school to the pros. Braun was the 21st overall pick for Denver in the 2022 NBA Draft.


Expansion Still a Focus for Big 12 Conference

UNDATED (AP) — Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said expansion remains a focus for the conference, which wrapped up its spring meetings Friday with a record revenue distribution of $440 million to split among its 10 current schools. Less than a year after becoming the commissioner, Yormark said there was a "great discussion" about expansion during the meetings held for the first time in West Virginia. "We have a plan. As I've said all along, we have an appetite to be a national conference in our makeup from coast to coast. And we do believe in the upside of basketball moving forward as a collective group," Yormark said. "That being said, we love our current composition, love the four new schools that are coming in next month. However, if the opportunity presents itself to create value, we will pursue it."

The Big 12 will expand from 10 to 14 schools on July 1 when BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston officially join the league. Those additions come a year before the departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference. The $440 million distribution for the 2022-23 school year is up from $426 million last year, and Yormark said that number will continue to grow in the future. Big 12 officials last fall extended their media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports through the 2030-31 school year, which goes through the upcoming departures of the only current members with football national championships. That deal, which includes football and basketball broadcasts, was set to expire in two years. While Yormark didn't get into specifics about potential expansion, he acknowledged "football is the driver," but the league would explore all options and considerations at the proper times.

Among other items from the spring meetings:

— Yormark said the league is doing a branding refresh over the next year, but it won't include changing the league's name or logo. "A refresh is just taking the current visual identity and just contemporizing it and modernizing it," he said. "We're not changing our logo at this point in time. But how do we showcase it maybe with different colors and different applications."

— There were discussions about extending contracts with the league's existing championship sites, including AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for football, as well as Kansas City for men's and women's basketball, and Oklahoma City for softball.

— The league plans to unveil as early as next week an international strategy focused on Mexico. "It will outline our strategic plan why we're doing it, the rationale behind it, how we're going to enter the market, who we're partnering with," Yormark said. "We're truly excited about our international plans and and getting into that market sooner than later. "


Kansas City Chiefs to Celebrate Super Bowl Win at White House

UNDATED (Politico) — The Kansas City Chiefs will visit the White House for the first time Monday to celebrate their Super Bowl win. Politico reports this visit will also make up for 2020, when the Super Bowl champs missed out on a visit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In February, the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl 57. Three years ago, the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Monday marks the first time an NFL team has visited the White House since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. The Los Angeles Rams did not visit in 2022. President Joe Biden will greet the team on the White House South Lawn. It's unclear if first lady Jill Biden will attend the visit Monday. Jill Biden grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and attended the game to root for the Eagles.


Kyle Busch and Richard Childress, Once Enemies, Now Winning NASCAR Combination

MADISON, Ill. (AP) — Twelve years to the day that Richard Childress and Kyle Busch came to blows in one of the parking lots of Kansas Speedway, the two were celebrating a NASCAR Cup Series victory at a track straight down Interstate 70 near St. Louis. It was proof of many things: That a team that once dominated NASCAR's top series with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel of the famed No. 3 could still contend for championships, that Busch could be every bit as successful after moving on from powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing, and perhaps most importantly, that a couple of boys can grow up.

"Yeah, I mean, people change," Busch said after holding off Denny Hamlin on Sunday night to win at World Wide Technology Raceway.

"The relationship that I have now, and the effort that's gone into securing me, to get me to go to RCR — the discussions and talks that happened there — just proves them right, right?"

Sure seems that way.

It's not as if Busch has magically turned around the No. 8 team in his first season; Tyler Reddick drove the car to three wins a year ago. But with his green-white-checkered victory just outside St. Louis, the two-time Cup Series champion matched the total and is now halfway toward reaching Childress' audacious goal of winning six times this season.

"It's been fun to have that group around," said Busch, who's also won at Talladega and Auto Club Speedway in California. "They know when we go to places, we struggle at places, that we all want to get better, right? I could do a better job most of the time. (Crew chief) Randall Burnett and the guys can do a better job as well. We just all continue to strive and work hard and bounce off of each other in order to come out and have the best possible stuff every time we hit the race track."

It's hard to believe there's such synergy between Busch and Richard Childress Racing, given where they once were. The infamous brawl between Childress and Busch came after a Truck Series race in 2011 at Kansas. Busch had been racing hard with Joey Coulter, who was driving for RCR, and Childress didn't appreciate it. He went to confront Busch and, after removing his watch and handing it to grandson Austin Dillon, proceeded to put him in a headlock and begin throwing punches. Childress, a spry 65 at the time, had to be pulled off Busch, who went to the ground defensively to avoid any more punches. He was later fined $150,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation for the remainder of the season.

"Yeah, we put that totally behind us," said Childress, now 77 yet every bit as fired up about winning races. "We talked about it. That was one of the first things we talked about. That's history. We’ve both grown a lot. I know I’ve grown up. I’ve grown older, but I’ve grown up, too. There's an old song out there, ‘I’m still growing up but I’m getting older.’"

His team is getting better, too. After winning four times with Kevin Harvick during the 2013 season, Richard Childress Racing went 0-for-everything in the Cup Series the next three years. At its nadir during the 2016 season, the team managed just six top-10 finishes in 108 starts, and the trio of Dillon, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman did little to engender confidence in the direction of the program. Even after Newman ended that maddening 112-race winless streak at Phoenix in 2017, the wins were hard to come by. The team won once more that season and reached victory lane just twice over the next four seasons combined. But last year was a breakthrough of sorts with Reddick winning four times and combining with Dillon to finish in the top three on 10 more occasions. There was clearly speed in the RCR cars again, and with Reddick soon to depart for 23XI Racing, it was only a matter of finding a driver capable of utilizing that speed in the the No. 8 car. Busch has turned out to be the improbably perfect fit.

"You know, we won a lot with Harvick, won a lot with Earnhardt. Our plan is to win a lot with Kyle," Childress said, "and not only be a contender for that championship. If we make the final four, we’ll have a shot at winning it for sure."

Not just this year, but for years to come.

"Kyle has been really — he's such a pleasure to work with," Childress said. "Everybody says, ‘Man, how y’all going to get along?’ Same questions they asked me about, ‘You and Dale won't last six months.’ We lasted 20 years. I want to keep Kyle here, and hopefully we can end his career when he gets ready to."


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlinesare generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.