KCTV 5 Popular Stories

Prairie Village extends mask mandate to Oct. 31

Prairie Village extends mask mandate to Oct. 31

Prairie Village is extending their mask mandate. It will now say in effect through the end of October.

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Douglas County extends mask order for young children until Dec. 22

DOUGLAS COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -- On Wednesday night, the Douglas County Commission voted to extend its mask order for children ages 2-11.

<a href="https://douglascountyks.civicweb.net/document/17179/Consider%20extension%20of%20Emergency%20Order%20of%20the%20Lo.pdf?handle=D141DEE15160473EA92609E0883463AC" target="_blank">The order</a> was extended until Dec. 22, 2021.

The measure was voted on following several public comments in support of and opposition to extending the mandate.

The extension was recommended due to the number of COVID-19 cases in Douglas County.

As of Wednesday evening, there are over 700 active cases in the county. The current positivity rate is 2.5% and completed vaccination rate is 61%.

The vote was unanimous.

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KCPS remembers secretary killed in hit-and-run

KASNAS CITY, MO (KCPS) -- A woman killed last week in a hit-and-run accident is being remembered by her coworkers and students.

Valeria Villa-Alvarado, 31, died on September 17 after an SUV ran a stop sign and crashed into her car near E 12th Street and Bales Avenue. The driver and passenger of the SUV fled the scene after hitting Villa-Alvarado.

Villa-Alvarado was a secretary at East High School in KCMO, where she worked at since 2018. According to KCPS, she is survived by two young daughters.

Plans are underway to memorialize Villa-Alvarado at the school.

"She was vivacious, joking all the time. Anyone who was around the office enough was a friend of hers," Vice Principal Ben Richardson said. "Every year, there were certain kids who became her kids."

Police are still searching for the driver who hit Villa-Alvarado. The driver is described as a black male with his hair in dreads.

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84-year-old woman hit by car in KCMO

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- An 84-year-old woman is in critical condition after being hit by a car Wednesday afternoon.

The accident happened near Wornall and 99th Street around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

According to police, a GMC Acadia SUV was traveling south on Wornall towards 99th. The light at the intersection was green for the SUV.

That's when the 84-year-old pedestrian began to cross Wornall against the light. Another SUV in the adjacent lane stopped to let her cross, blocking the Acadia's view.

The driver of the Acadia was unable to see the woman crossing until it was too late. The Acadia struck the woman and she was knocked to the pavement.

She was transported to the hospital with critical injuries. No one else was injured in the accident.

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FORECAST: Cooler weather, low humidity to continue

FORECAST: Cooler weather, low humidity to continue

Thursday is going to get off to a chilly start again. Expect to see the true heat return by next week, though.

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News Update: Sept. 22, 2021

News Update: Sept. 22, 2021

Kansas City police are asking for help identifying a man hit and killed trying to cross I-70 near downtown this morning.

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Kansas City woman recovering after being attacked at local bus stop

Kansas City woman recovering after being attacked at local bus stop

JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- A Kansas City woman is recovering from her injuries after being attacked at a local bus stop last week.

“I came close to losing consciousness several times,” says Lisa Jones.

Jones said she was waiting at the Swope Parkway and Prospect Avenue bus stop last Thursday when a suspicious man began attacking her, trying to take her phoen.

The incident left her with face full of bruises, with her arm in a sling, and in a state of fear.

“Nine out of 10 times, if we are at the bus stop it’s because we can’t afford to get a cab, we can’t afford an Uber, we can’t afford to pay someone to pick us up. So, you’re robbing the poor people,” said Jones

The police report said officers were dispatched just after 7:30 pm.

The authorities were able to arrest the suspect, now identified as Curtis Harris. He’s been charged with felony second-degree robbery.

Court documents say he grabbed Jones' hair and pulled her to the ground. Harris then started punching her in the face multiple times and also kicking her in the face while she was on the ground.

Jones had blood on her face and arm.

“You don’t know what really to think when you have somebody literally slamming your face into a metro bus stop, into the concrete, over a cellphone,” said Jones.

She said this situation is concerning because it could easily happen to someone else.

On top of that, she’s also alarmed that people watched as she was getting beat up.

“Some people were too busy, too focused on trying to get home to their family, or they just were scared to get involved because they didn’t want to get attacked maybe. Even still, if two people jumped in and grabbed this man long enough for me to get up and breathe, I would have been grateful,” said Jones.

KCTV5 News reached out to KCATA; they said they are unaware of the incident but have no comment.

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Belton motel to close, leaving some with no place to go

Belton motel to close, leaving some with no place to go

A motel in Belton is closing, but it's a place that many people call home. Now, some of them say they have nowhere to go. Today, the Welcome Inn told us why they're closing.

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FDA authorizes booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for people 65 and older

The US Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it would grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection.

"After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others," acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock <a href="https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-booster-dose-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-certain-populations" target="_blank">said in a statement.</a>

On Friday, vaccine advisers to the agency unanimously recommended emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer's vaccine for people 65 and older and those at risk of severe disease, to be six months after they get the first two doses.

"The FDA considered the committee's input and conducted its own thorough review of the submitted data to reach today's decision," Dr. Peter Marks, who directs the FDA's vaccine arm, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

"We will continue to analyze data submitted to the FDA pertaining to the use of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines and we will make further decisions as appropriate based on the data."

It was a consolation prize for Pfizer, which has asked for FDA approval to give its vaccine to everyone 16 and older six months after they are fully immunized with two shots. Pfizer had argued that it had enough evidence that immunity starts to wane after six months and that giving a booster restores the immunity safely.

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been discussing boosters, and will meet Thursday to act on the FDA's decision. The CDC must give its stamp of approval for any booster doses to be officially given.

CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices can further tweak recommendations for how any vaccine booster doses should be given.

In a letter sent Thursday and obtained by CNN, the CDC urged local and state health officials to wait to administer boosters until both agencies had signed off.

Third doses are already approved for certain immunocompromised people, but not for the general public. About 2.3 million Americans have already received third doses of Pfizer's vaccine, according to the CDC.

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Official: Kansas middle school student died of COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state education official said Wednesday that a Kansas middle school student has died of COVID-19.

The child’s death would be the first reported COVID-19 death of someone aged 10 to 17 in Kansas and only the third reported for someone under 18.

Education Commissioner Randy Watson disclosed the death during a Zoom meeting of a task force on COVID-19 safety measures in public schools appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly.

“On an extremely sad note, I was just informed ... that we did have a student, a middle school student, pass away of COVID just in the last maybe day,” Watson told the group. He provided no further details.

Matt Lara, a spokesman for the state health department, said the report is being investigated and health officials have sought medical records from facilities that cared for the child. No other information will be released immediately to protect the identity of the child and the family, he said.

Meanwhile, the health department reported 11 new COVID-19 clusters at schools. The department's data showed 72 active school outbreaks across Kansas, with 537 cases and one hospitalization, The Topeka Capital-Journal <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://www.cjonline.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/09/22/kansas-middle-school-student-dies-covid-more-clusters-reported-delta-variant-cases/5805949001/">reported</a>.

The heath department's presentation to the governor’s workgroup noted the “drastic increase in outbreaks this week (is) likely due in part to improved reporting.”

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Park Hill School District hosts listening session with students, staff after racist petition circulates on social media

Park Hill School District hosts listening session with students, staff after racist petition circulates on social media

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Students and staff in the Park Hill School District spent some time on Wednesday discussing their feelings about a racist incident that occurred within the Park Hill South High School community late last week.

Park Hill High School Principal Kerrie Herren said he became aware of the incident on Friday, which involved a student petition to bring back slavery.

Parents were invited to a meeting Monday night to voice their reaction to the incident. Among those in attendance was Julie Stutterheim, whose daughter is from Ethiopia. Stutterheim found out about the incident from her daughter who is a freshman at LEAD High School.

“Through her eyes, I see what she has to go through and, you know, the experiences she has that are different than what I experienced as a white kid,” explained Stutterheim.

Stutterheim has heard from people in the community defending the school district and rushing to say only a few people were involved in the incident. She said those comments take away from the conversation that needs to be had about why a petition of that nature is wrong and the consequences students should face to be held accountable.

“[The Park Hill School District] uses words like ‘zero tolerance policy’ but that doesn't really mean anything. There's a lot of tolerance for this type of behavior in my view. I would like to be able to tell my daughter that it was taken very seriously,” said Stutterheim.

Herren said the school is taking responsibility and working on a solution, but first is listening to families who were hurt by the incident.

“We promised our students we would provide an environment where they belong and feel safe and clearly we’re not there yet. So, this is another springboard to having some more legitimate conversations,” said Herren.

Terri Deayon is the <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/oBElCG6A6WhJRDzA8CK_mZv?domain=phs.parkhill.k12.mo.us" target="_blank">Director of Access, Inclusion, and Family Engagement</a> for the Park Hill School District. She will lead talks between students, staff, parents, and the community.

“Listening will bring us a greater insight into the impact of the situation, which will then allow us to take appropriate and most effective action and next steps,” said Deayon.

Stutterheim said she wants the students who participated in the incident held accountable, but for there to also be education to prevent future incidents. She said speaking out about the incident is not an attempt to criticize, “it's an attempt to make something better.”

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Olathe business owner pleads guilty to three counts of sexual battery

JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) --- An Olathe man has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery.

Kulavudhi Kasemvudhi, the owner of Balanced Life Massage and Wellness in Olathe, will spend the next 36 months in prison and was placed on probation for 24 months.

He was originally charged with one count of sexual battery in December.

Following that initial news, two additional charges of sexual battery were filed against him in March 15 after additional victims came forward to local authorities.

He also must register as a sex offender for the next 15 years.

"We would like to thank the three victims for having the courage to come forward and hold Kulavudhi Kasemvudhi accountable for his actions," the Johnson County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

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City council tables KCI concession management contract

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The Kansas City Transportation, infrastructure and operations committee stopped short of approving a concessions management group at the new airport.

The Mayor and other council members asked for more information on how proposals compare across the board, hoping to make a decision next week. After a committee vote the contract goes to the full council.

Vantage Airport Group is the frontrunner in the concession management bid process, with a recommendation from the aviation department.

Their plan includes airport staples like Auntie Anne’s and Dunkin’ while incorporating smaller, local businesses like Parisi Coffee and Made In Kansas City marketplace.

Businesses left out of this plan are advocating for more transparency in the selection process.

“Kansas City is going to have a much nicer airport and we are thrilled that within the process there are more local makers and local businesses getting in,” said Tiffany King who runs Souvenear, which operates souvenir vending machines at the current airport. “We’d really like to see a transparent process along the way.”

Other KC staple businesses stood alongside each other representing well-known names left out of the plan.

“We would love to make our airport awesome and great, but we really just want a great airport so if we feel that we are up to the task to do that, that’s what we’re supporting,” said J. Rieger owner Andy Rieger. “Ultimately we are supporting a fantastic airport experience not only for our citizens but to help grow our city as a whole.”

The committee tabled the vote until next week, hoping to get more information on the selection criteria. The city said it hopes to release that information to the public in the next day or so.

“What we don’t want to do is get in a debate over who’s your favorite BBQ. That’s something that would be never ending,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. “What we need to do is look to how can we look to an objective deal for everyone and I think that’s why you’re looking at a delay for another week.”

Vantage Airport Group leaders walked council members through their plans for KCI, promising 80 percent of shops will be local. Representatives said 60 percent of the businesses will represent disadvantaged groups.

The local workers union representing concession workers said leaders are concerned they do not have a working contract with the group. Vantage responded to our questions about the lack of a contract with this statement:

“Vantage Airport Group is in active discussions with Unite Here Local 74 and are committed to working towards entering into a mutually acceptable agreement. As outlined in our proposal, we are committed to a worker retention program for the current airport concession employees through the new concession operators.”

One of the stands was slated for Chick-Fil-A. After the city’s LGBTQ Commission sent a letter to the city asking to remove the chicken sandwich seller for its connection to anti-LGBTQ organizations Vantage dropped it from the renderings.

“Our airport is a symbol of ourselves and what we deem important,” said LGBTQ Commission member Justice Horn. “Uplifting the many diverse groups we have in our community.”

Vantage said it dropped Chick-fil-A. KCTV5 reached out to the group for its reasoning behind the change. They responded with this statement:

“Regarding Chick-Fil-A, we heard and respect the strong community reaction to the proposed Chick-Fil-A participation in the program. We have collectively made the decision to remove this brand from our concessions plan for the new terminal at KCI. Vantage strives to promote an inclusive environment at all our airports. We will work with our partners to find options for its replacement in our concessions proposal.”

The transportation, infrastructure and operations committee meets again next week. If the committee passes the ordinance, the contract goes to the full council for another vote.

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Missouri Attorney General argues Kevin Strickland case needs to be moved out of Jackson County, files new motions to appeals court

JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- Kevin Strickland is the first Missouri defendant to road test a new law which gives prosecutors the power to bring old convictions back before judges.

He’s hitting every road block.

In a newly filed motion, the Missouri Attorney General is asking the appeals court to move the hearing out of Jackson County and block the current presiding judge from hearing the case.

The hearing is scheduled in just two weeks, the first full week of October. Strickland has already spent 43 years in prison.

Strickland is convicted in a Kansas City triple murder he swears he did not do. The real gunmen from the night agree and now so does the current prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker.

She held a press conference where she teared up and openly apologized to Strickland.

The case has made national news due to the length of Strickland’s imprisonment and the fact that the surviving eyewitness reached out to an innocence project before her death asking for help. She was shot that night but survived her injuries.

The new filing points to emails between the prosecutor and current judge as evidence that the judge is now tainted and cannot be impartial.

It also points out the legal standard “of appearance of impropriety.”

It’s asking a higher court to cancel the current hearing and block any judge in the 16th district, Jackson County, from hearing the case.

Jean Peters Baker did not comment on today’s filing. She has previously accused the Missouri Attorney General of continually pushing for delays.

Strickland is represented by the Midwest Innocence Project.

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Silver alert issued for missing Independence man

INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -- A silver alert has been issued by Independence PD for a missing man last seen on Tuesday afternoon.

Denis Hare, 68, was last seen at his residence at the Maywood Manor on Truman Road around noon Tuesday. He did not return for evening curfew.

Hare is described as a white male, 6'0", 120 lbs with gray hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a nice dress shirt and jeans. He has several missing teeth and his right foot drops when he walks.

Officials say Hare has dementia, schizophrenia, COPD and hypertension that all require medication. So far he has missing his evening and night doses.

Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or the Independence Police Department at 816-836-3600.

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Kearney School District employee charged with sexual misconduct

KEARNEY, MO (KCTV) -- A Kearney School District employee has been charged with first-degree sexual misconduct.

The Kearney School District acknowledged the news in two different statements.

They note that the individual, Bryant Hummel, has been placed on administrative leave and is not allowed to be on school property.

Additionally, they say district officials previously investigated allegations against Hummel. They say that investigation was conducted under the full extent that is allowed by law for public school districts in the state of Missouri. However, based on the information in the court documents, the district is reopening its investigation into the allegations.

"The safety of students is always our top priority," the district's statements said. "KSD takes all student concerns and allegations seriously, investigates them pursuant to district policies, and fully cooperates with state agencies and law enforcement."

They say state and federal laws prevent them from sharing more information.

Hummel is 30 years old.

On the Kearney School District's website, Bryant Hummel is listed as having taught Semester Precalculus Algebra, AP statistics, Algebra 2, and Precalculus Algebra.

KCTV5 News requested and received a copy of the probable cause statement.

According to that document, the assistant superintendent reported on April 7, 2021 that he'd started an investigation at Kearney High School regarding teacher Bryant Hummel exposing himself to two female students.

In the coming days, the authorities interviewed both students. Those students said that the incidents took place following a state wrestling tournament in 2020. They were 17 years old at the time.

They told the authorities that they were getting help with their homework in Hummel's classroom when he stood in front of them, pulled his pants down, and exposed himself to them.

One of them asked what he was doing and he said, "Oh, I see how it is," and went back to his desk.

A short time later, he stood behind them and exposed himself again while touching himself.

At that time, the students walked out to one of their vehicles in the parking lot.

According to the students, Hummel FaceTimed them a short time later and exposed himself yet again while asking them to do the same. One of the students said he also sent texts asking them to come to his house but they refused.

Both students said Hummel told them he would jeopardize their wrestling careers and grades if they told anyone.

On April 7, 2021, the authorities made contact with Hummel and he declined to make a statement.

Both full statements from the school district are below:

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Miami County Sheriff's Office looking for suspect, stolen vehicle after shots are fired

MIAMI COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -- The Miami County Sheriff's Office is looking for a suspect and stolen vehicle after shots were fired at the vehicle's owner today.

The sheriff's office said they received a 911 call from someone who said they were following a vehicle that'd been stolen from them a few days before. The caller was north on Old Kansas City Road, north of Paola city limits.

The vehicles then kept going north until they reached W. 225th Street and turned west.

As the two vehicles approached Hillsdale Lake Dam on 255th Street, the suspect vehicle turned around, shots were fired at the victim, then the vehicle fled the area.

The caller, who was not injured, said they last saw the vehicle in the area of W. 255th Street and Harmony Road.

When deputies arrived, they checked the area for the vehicle but weren't able to find it. Air units with Kansas Highway Patrol responded and also couldn't locate it.

The vehicle is described as being a blue 1985 Cadillac Eldorado with Kansas antique tag "284413." It has black primer on both the driver and passenger sides, as well as a temporary tag in the rear window.

The suspect is described as a white man with long, dark hair, a mustache, and a goatee. He was wearing a gray or blue hoodie.

The suspect is thought to be armed and dangerous, so he shouldn't be approached.

Call 911 immediately if you think you see the suspect or the vehicle.

If you have further information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS. The Miami County Investigations Division can be reached at 913-294-3232.

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Oak Grove Parks and Recreation looking for who vandalized their facilities

OAK GROVE, MO (KCTV) -- Oak Grove Parks and Recreation is the latest to post about their facilities being vandalized.

"We don't post about this kind of thing normally but enough is enough sometimes," they said. "Our parks have been getting hit with a lot of vandalism and destruction lately. More so in Webb Park and the shelters/restrooms."

They then shared a picture of some damage, saying it was a "small portion" of what was done Tuesday night.

"We would like to see the persons responsible for these incidents held accountable for their actions," they said. "We are offering a reward if it helps lead to an arrest and conviction. If you know anything about these reoccurring incidents, please contact our Parks office at 816-690-4003 ext 1 or the Police Department at 816-690-3773 ext. 1100. Thank you for your help!"

On Tuesday, the parks and recreation department for Smithville posted about damage that was done to their restrooms. They blamed it on the "devious licks" TikTok challenge.

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Judge will have decision for Rae’s Café this week

Judge will have decision for Rae’s Café this week

INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) — Today, a Jackson County judge heard arguments in the battle over the county mask mandate and a Blue Springs restaurant.

Rae’s Café is the business turned private club locking horns with the health department.

The county wants Rae’s Café closed down for not complying with health department rules. But, Rae’s wants damages for being forced to close and for being called a ‘public menace.’

Jackson County Health Director Deb Sees testified about complaints received by the health department.

“They said they didn’t have masks on customers and employees weren’t wearing masks,” Sees said of the complaints. “Signs posted defying the mask mandate. They were pretty angry.”

Asked why the actions of one restaurant are so important to the county, Sees explained.

“Others are watching,” Marty Bax attorney said. “If the court were to say, ‘No need to follow this,’ the impact that it would have downstream is tremendous.”

The café is arguing the mask mandate isn’t a lawful order and that the employees have medical exemptions. They also argue the ordinance isn’t enforced at Chiefs games and that the city of Independence, while in Jackson County, isn’t following a mask mandate.

The county is arguing that the governor’s executive order gave the county the right to issue the health order and they say that the restaurant followed the first mask mandate and just recently had employees claim to have a medical exemption.

The county also disagrees that the restaurant can call itself a private club by charging a dollar membership fee at the door.

The stakes are high in this case. The Missouri Attorney General has weighed in and sided with the café.

A decision from the judge is expected by Thursday at 5 p.m.

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Man who claimed to have bomb at Capitol competent for trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — The man who claimed he had a bomb in a pickup truck near the U.S. Capitol last month, prompting evacuations and an hourslong standoff with police, is competent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Floyd Ray Roseberry pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges that include threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The 49-year-old from Grover, North Carolina, drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress on Sept. 19 and began shouting to people in the street that he had a bomb. He later made the same bomb threats to police officers and professed a litany of antigovernment grievances as part of a bizarre episode that he livestreamed for a Facebook audience.

Roseberry surrendered after about five hours. Police later said they did not find a bomb but did collect possible bomb-making materials.

During an initial court appearance last month, Roseberry told the judge he had not taken his “mind medicine” and the judge ordered a mental competency hearing.

A psychiatrist found that medication that Roseberry had been taking wasn’t effectively treating the bipolar disorder he was diagnosed with. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui ruled Wednesday that a new treatment has been effective and Roseberry is competent to stand trial.

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