Abigail Beckman

Reporter

Abigail Beckman joined the KMUW team in April 2014. Born and raised in a small Colorado mountain town, she is still getting used to being a flatlander.

She graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., with degrees in journalism and Spanish in 2012. Immediately following, Abigail worked as the news editor of the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kan., where her primary focus was covering crime news. She graduated with a Master of Arts in communication from Wichita State University in the spring of 2015.

Her work has been featured on NPR’s "Only A Game” and “Weekend Edition Sunday.” She has recorded and produced stories for Harvest Public Media and various public radio stations across the state of Kansas. In 2015, she wrote and produced the radio documentary “The Pieces that Remain: Remembering the Wichita State University Plane Crash which won a 2016 Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media, a 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a first place in the News Documentary category from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI) in 2016, was named Outstanding Graduate Professional Project by the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University for 2015, and took first place in the 2016 special program category from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

For another piece called Reaching Out: The Ongoing Relationship Between the WPD and the Homeless," Abigail earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award. The Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) awarded Abigail second place in the 2016 spot news category for her story on budget cuts within Wichita Public Schools that nearly closed the city's adult learning centers. A group project looking into the tight-knit community of Hesston, Kansas following a mass shooting that Abigail completed with co-workers Carla Eckels, Deborah Shaar and Aileen LeBlanc was awarded first place from the KAB in 2016, as well.

The Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) awarded Abigail second place in the spot news category and news feature categories in 2015 for two pieces — Taps: The Hardest 24 Notes and Reaching Out: The Ongoing Relationship Between the WPD and the Homeless."

Ways to Connect

City of Wichita

Updated Saturday, Dec. 3, 4:00 p.m.: East Kellogg between Rock Road and Webb Road is now reopen to traffic after contractors completed removal of the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) bridge earlier than expected.

According to a release from the city of Wichita, demolition of the bridge began just after 10 p.m. on Friday night and was completed well in advance of the projected Monday morning schedule. 

Original story: The Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) will be demolishing a bridge over Kellogg near Webb Road this weekend. As a result, changes in traffic routes can be expected.

The bridge closed on Monday, Nov. 28, for the first step in the demolition process. In the next phase for the transportation construction project on East Kellogg, the bridge will be removed over the weekend, from 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, through 5 a.m. on Dec. 5.

What that means for travelers:

  • All traffic exiting the Turnpike (I-35/KTA) at the Kellogg toll plaza will use the eastbound south frontage road. Drivers wanting to go west on Kellogg will need to use the provided U-Turn, one-half mile east of Webb Road.
  • Access to the Turnpike (I-35/KTA) via westbound Kellogg will detour to Rock Road then come back eastbound to the Kellogg/KTA entrance.
Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Months-old vandalism on the Dockum Sit-in sculpture in downtown Wichita is affecting plans for future memorials to the historic protest in civil rights history.

The 1958 Dockum Drug Store Sit-in is considered the first successful lunch counter sit-in the U.S. Earlier this year, the Kansas African American Museum received a grant to make a permanent exhibit at the location, which is now the Ambassador Hotel.

vox_efx / Flickr / Creative Commons

Sedgwick County voters cast 42,544 write-in votes during the general election, a record number up 22 percent from 2012. But whose names did they write, and why?

Chief Deputy Elections Officer Sandra Gritz says people choose to vote for someone other than the candidates who's names are printed on the ballots for a variety of reasons.

"Everything from there being only one candidate for an office to people just wanting to voice their opinions," she says.

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

A representative from the Kansas Sierra Club says he's hoping climate change will be a bigger priority in the upcoming legislative session. 

Abigail Beckman / KMUW/File photo

Update: The superintendent of Wichita Public Schools will get a bonus this year. Members of the local board of education voted in favor of giving Superintendent John Allison a more than $3,400 bonus, which is 1.5 percent of his $229,408 salary.

Sheril Logan, present of the board of education, said the district gave all of its employees extra funds this year including a nearly 4 percent raise for teachers.

The board also extended Allison’s contract through June 30, 2019.

Visit Wichita

Visit Wichita is encouraging holiday shoppers to remember the value of local stores during this weekend's Small Business Saturday event.

Small Business Saturday is an annual event created by the credit card company American Express in 2010. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the day has steadily become its own annual holiday shopping tradition. According to Jessica Sawatski with Visit Wichita, a lot of small local businesses will offer treats, discounts and special merchandise.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

This spring, Wichita Area Technical College will have its very first class of veterinary technician students. And they will have the opportunity to use new technology: The school is the first in the nation to begin using a synthetic dog--in place of a real one--to train vet tech students.

Wichita Police Department

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 22: Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett has filed charges against a Dallas woman accused of killing a Wichita woman and stealing her newborn daughter.

Bennett said in a statement Tuesday that the official charges against 34-year-old Yesenia Sesmas won't be made public until her first court appearance. Sesmas is being held in Texas on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection to the death of Laura Abarca-Nogueda and the kidnapping of her 6-day-old baby, Sophia Gonzales.

Bennett says the state intends to pursue extradition from Dallas, but that process that could take up to 90 days. A court date for Sesmas has not been set.

Sesmas reportedly told a Dallas TV station that 27-year-old Abarca-Nogueda had agreed to turn over her newborn daughter, but backed out on the agreement. In an interview at the Dallas County Jail, the 34-year-old woman admitted that she killed Abarca-Nogueda in Wichita but said she didn't mean to. 

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

Officials from Wichita State University held a town hall meeting Friday on the school's budget. KMUW's Abigail Beckman reports the discussion was held as a way to "prepare for all possible outcomes given the state budget environment."

No budgeting decisions were made or announced at the meeting.

Instead, Wichita State President Dr. John Bardo said his goal was to to gather ideas from faculty and staff about where savings can be found. Bardo said the university has floated the idea of 6 percent across-the-board cut.

Updated 9:15 a.m., Nov. 19, 2016: An infant missing from Wichita since Thursday afternoon has been found alive and healthy. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay held a press conference to announce that 8-day-old Sofia Gonzales was located at a residence in Dallas around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Police say two suspects who knew the infant's mother were taken into custody. He declined to offer any other information citing the ongoing investigation. Chief Ramsay said the baby is in protective custody as the investigation continues.

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