Brian Grimmett

News Reporter

Brian Grimmett is a two-time Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist covering energy and environment stories across the state of Kansas. Brian loves to dive deep into complicated issues with the hope of making them easier to understand for general audiences, as with the award-winning hard news feature Westar Wants Kansans To Pay For Peak Power. What Could It Mean For Your Energy Bill? 

 

Before coming to KMUW and the Kansas News Service, Brian worked at KUER 90.1-FM in Salt Lake City covering the Utah Legislature.

 

Brian earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. When not reporting, he enjoys spending time with his family and building and flying remote controlled airplanes.

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Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Fearing what the coronavirus might do to the power industry, six electric cooperatives in Kansas applied and received up to $20 million total in loans as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

“It looked pretty bleak,” said Doug Jackson, the general manager of Rolling Hills Electric Coop based in Beloit. It received $1.19 million to help sustain 42 full-time employees.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Hair has been quite the topic during the coronavirus. For the first episode of My Fellow Kansans: People and the Pandemic, we spoke with a salon owner.

Montella Wimbley has owned a combination salon and barber shop in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Wichita for 34 years.

When Kansas shut business down, she had to put down her trimmers and pick up the phone — over and over again, taking weeks to get through to someone at the state’s beleaguered unemployment agency.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — A month ago, the University of Kansas Hospital had as few as nine of its beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Now, it’s about twice that.

When the coronavirus-driven statewide shutdown began to go away in mid-May, clinicians in Kansas were confirming about 100 new infections a day. Now, that number has tripled.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — At the beginning of the year, independent consulting firm London Economics released a study of Kansas electric rates — how they’re developed, why they’re more expensive than neighboring states and some suggestions on how to change that.

Legislators seemed poised to act on some of the recommendations until the coronavirus struck and shortened their session by several weeks. Some consumer and environmental advocates say the abrupt stop cut the time and energy given to critical policy aimed at reducing your utility bills.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — For the last two months, employees at Walnut Valley Packing in El Dorado have been working extra hours, even Saturdays, to cut, grind and package meat so it can keep up with a sudden spike in demand.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Dental offices across Kansas closed for more than a month to make sure they weren’t using up critical personal protective equipment needed at hospitals.

Now many are beginning to clean molars and bicuspids again.

Brian Grimmett of the Kansas News Service spoke with David Lawlor, a dentist, and Julie Martin, the president of the Kansas Dental Hygienists’ Association, to find out what you can expect when you go and how they’re trying to keep patients and employees safe.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Contact tracing is a key component of stopping the spread of infectious or sexually transmitted diseases, and has been for years. It’s also the linchpin in Kansas counties’ plans to effectively reopen and isolate cases of the coronavirus.

“The volume has become quite a bit larger than anything we’ve really ever dealt with,” Johnson County epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh said.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — The coronavirus shutdown killed oil prices. That could be a killer for local governments in large swaths of Kansas, places long addicted to the tax money that’s been lost as companies stop pumping crude from the ground.

In some parts of Kansas, counties depend on revenue tied to oil production to cover as much as a fourth of the local property taxes.

With no rebound in prices in a world suddenly awash in a glut of oil, those counties find themselves scrambling to raise taxes elsewhere, slash their budgets, or both.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Doctors diagnosed Courtney Buchmann’s breast cancer on March 6, three days before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Kansas.

Buchmann worried, as hospitals braced for an overflow of coronavirus patients, whether the potentially life-saving surgery she suddenly needed would be deemed elective.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly filed a joint motion this weekend with two churches suing her over stay-at-home orders, signaling her first steps to reopen the Kansas economy and tamp down the fight over religious freedom.

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