Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA — Toxic blue-green algal blooms have been causing major problems on Kansas’ lakes since about 2010.

Because the pond scum can make people sick, the lakes became out of bounds for swimmers and the like.

Yet now the phenomenon is costing Kansans money. It’s infiltrating city water systems, triggering slightly more expensive treatments to keep drinking water safe.

Kansas has agreed to change its policy and allow transgender people born in the state to update the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday entered into a consent decree that ends a lawsuit brought by four native Kansans and the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, Inc. (K-STEP).

The policy change is significant because birth certificates can determine access to education, employment, health care, travel and the ability to obtain other identification documents.

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service

It’s what you’d expect in a small gym. Treadmills. Squat rack. Elliptical machine.

But 54 Fitness, located in the 500-person town of Moran, still holds remnants of the building’s previous lives. Tile flooring. Booth seating. A washroom designed for rinsing off grease, not sweat.

55Laney69, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address behavioral health needs of Kansans from birth to 21 years.

Tinker Air Force Base

The new reality of smoking at Kansas high schools is visible in the parking lots, where used-up Juul pods have taken the place of cigarette butts.

“You can pick up the discarded Juul cartridges all over the concrete,” Andover High School school resource officer Heath Kintzel said of the popular vaping brand. “It’s everywhere.”

Kansas has dropped its effort to terminate Planned Parenthood’s participation in Medicaid, ending a three-year-long court battle that the state lost at every turn.

The change in policy wasn’t announced publicly but rather came in the form of a joint stipulation to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging the state’s move.

Multiple cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been confirmed in horses across Kansas over the past few weeks.

According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of  Animal Health, 10 confirmed cases have been reported in Lyon, Marion, Neosho, Seward and Wichita counties.

KDA Spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne said there may be other infected horses that haven’t yet been tested. 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

If the experience of getting a bat stuck in your house or office isn’t unpleasant enough, Kansas health officials say it also means you should go get checked for rabies.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Seven years ago, a toxic form of algae bloomed in Milford Lake near Junction City. Kansas had never really seen a bloom quite like it before. It lasted for almost three months and has returned every summer since.

The event set state scientists looking for what spurred the blue-green algae, scientifically known as cyanobacteria, and how to stop the return of what is essentially killer pond scum.

Brian Grimmett

Evergy, the company formed in the merger between Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, has announced the official retirement dates of several older power plants.

Tecumseh Energy Center, near Topeka, and two units at Gordon Evans Energy Center in Colwich will shut down on Oct. 1. Those will be followed by the last two units at Murray Gill Energy Center outside of Wichita on Nov. 1.

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