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Headlines for Friday, April 14, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Officials Seek to Keep Topeka Hospital's Assets in Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are moving to see that assets of a financially troubled nonprofit Catholic hospital in Topeka remain in the state if its out-of-state owner sells it. Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced late Friday that he would examine the financial structure of St. Francis Health to protect existing charitable assets. Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast and Governor Sam Brownback requested the inquiry. The three officials said St. Francis has benefited from its nonprofit status and in turn has provided vital services. They worry that the 378-bed hospital might close after a sale. Denver-based owner SCL Health announced last year it was looking for a buyer. Tax filings available online show St. Francis Health lost almost $26 million from 2012 through 2015. The Leavenworth-based Sisters of Charity founded the hospital in 1909.

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Lawrence Democrat Paul Davis May Run for Congress

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Prominent Democrat and former legislator Paul Davis is considering a run for Congress in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.  Davis told Kansas Public Radio yesterday (THUR) that he expects to make a formal announcement this summer after spending several months talking to voters.  Davis was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback a tougher-than-expected re-election challenge.  The announcement from Davis ends speculation that he might seek the governor's office again.  Davis is a Lawrence attorney and former Kansas House minority leader.  The 2nd District seat will be open because Republican incumbent Lynn Jenkins does not plan to seek re-election.  State Senator Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth launched a campaign for the GOP nomination earlier this month.
 
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Concealed-Carry Policy Approved at Washburn University  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University's board of regents has approved a campus concealed-carry policy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the board unanimously approved the gun policy without discussion Thursday. The policy requires campus housing residents to safely secure and conceal handguns from sight on themselves, in their dorm or in the trunk of their car. A student will be subject to criminal charges if the weapon is used improperly. A Kansas law passed in 2013 allows for keeping concealed guns out of public college and university buildings as long as security is installed at entrances. Washburn officials say making those security enhancements is too costly. A 2015 Docking Institute of Public Affairs survey shows that 53 percent of Washburn students don't want concealed weapons on campus. The policy is set to take effect July 1.

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Manhattan Woman Critically Injured in Hit-and-Run 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say a Manhattan woman is in critical condition after a hit-and-run. Police say 21-year-old Amber Wilhelm was walking on a Manhattan street early Monday when a pickup truck hit her and drove away. The truck was described as a light color 2011 to 2016 Chevrolet or GMC extended cab pickup. The truck is likely to have damage to its front end. Police say Wilhelm was taken to a Manhattan hospital and then flown Topeka's Stormont Vail Health in Topeka.

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Feds Say Explosion at Ammunition Plant Non-Criminal 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal investigators say they have determined that the fatal explosion at an ammunition plant in Missouri is non-criminal in nature while their probe continues to pinpoint the exact cause of the blast. The National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says in a news release Friday that they have now concluded the on-scene phase of the investigation at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence. Investigators have spent the past three days examining the scene and interviewing first responders and plant personnel. Tuesday's blast killed Lawrence Bass, of Blue Springs, Missouri, and injured four other workers. The explosion occurred in a building where chemicals are mixed. Contractor Orbital ATK operates the plant where it makes and tests small-caliber ammunition for the military.

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Authorities Say No Suspects At-Large in Coffeyville Shooting 

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says preliminary information about the shooting deaths Thursday night of three people in Coffeyville indicates gunshots were exchanged between two of them. Authorities said in a news release Friday that they do not believe any suspects remain at large. Coffeyville police arriving at a residence found the three deceased individuals: 50-year-old Reginald Johnson of Coffeyville, 47-year-old Kimberly Bell of Coffeyville, and a 17-year-old male. The KBI says it will be assisting Coffeyville police in the investigation. Authorities say they are continuing to investigate the crime to determine what events led to the deaths.

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Kansas Students Injured in Horse-Drawn Wagon Mishap 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Four second-graders on a field trip suffered minor injuries while riding a horse-drawn wagon at the Old
Cowtown Museum in Wichita. KWCH-TV reports the students and parents were in the wagon when the horse got spooked and took off around the ride area. People inside the wagon were jostled around but no one was seriously hurt. The students are from Roberts Martin Elementary in Andover. Principal Crystal Hummel sent home a letter informing parents that the students would be returning early from their field trip.

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Highway Patrol: 6-Year-Old Boy Dies in Beloit After Being Hit by Vehicle

BELOIT, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 6-year-old boy died in Mitchell County after he was hit by a vehicle.  Nolan D. Lewis, of Beloit, died yesterday (THUR) evening on a rural road northeast of Beloit.  The patrol says the boy was running outside the vehicle when he was struck by the left rear tire.  He was pronounced dead at the Beloit hospital about an hour later.  

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Kansas Man Gets Prison Time for Fatal Crash 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a man convicted of causing a traffic death will be going to prison for more than 13 years. District Attorney Marc Bennett says in a news release that 53-year-old Richard L. Johnson of Wichita was sentenced Friday to 162 months. Johnson pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for driving under the influence of alcohol. Johnson admitted that on August 15 last year his 1991 Buick Regal crossed the center line and struck a smaller car head-on. Thirty-five-year-old Nicholas Woodall of Wichita was killed in the crash. Prosecutors say that before that fatal crash, Johnson had rear-ended a car stopped at a red light. He left the scene of that non-injury crash and drove to a liquor store where he purchased beer. Moments later caused the fatal crash.

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Trial Set for Southeast Kansas Woman Accused of Embezzling Millions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge has set a summer trial date in the case of a southeast Kansas woman of embezzling more than $5 million from a now-defunct credit union.  U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten scheduled a June 20 jury trial in Wichita for 64-year-old Nita Rae Nirschl on an 81-count federal indictment accusing the Parsons woman of embezzlement and money laundering.  The crimes allegedly took place while Nirschl worked for the Parsons Pittsburg Credit Union based in Parsons.  Federal prosecutors say that after an audit found the credit union was insolvent, it was placed in conservatorship and ultimately liquidated in March 2014. The audit allegedly revealed that from 2010 to December 2014, Nirschl allegedly embezzled more than $5 million and deposited the money into her personal accounts.

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Body Found in KS ID'd as Missing Missouri Man

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities have identified a man whose body was found in Kansas City, Kansas, as a Missouri man missing since April 4.  KCTV-5 reports police say the body found April 7 in the Fairfax District was 19-year-old Cristian Escutia, of Kansas City.  The day he went missing, witnesses told police they saw people forcing Escutia into a vehicle near his home and the vehicle speeding away.  When his body was found, police said the person died from an apparent gunshot wound.  Escutia's body was identified Thursday.  Escutia's body was identified Thursday.  

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Search Continues for Missing Catholic Priest in Southwest Kansas

PROTECTION, Kan. (AP) - A search continues in southwest Kansas for a 53-year-old priest who went missing from a nursing home. Yesterday's (THUR) search for Father Marvin Reif (Rife) in the town of Protection, in Comanche County, involved more than 100 people -- some on horseback and others on all-terrain vehicles.  Reif (Rife) went missing nearly two weeks ago from Protection Valley Manor, a nursing home where he had been living since October. Reif's sister says her brother had a history of depression and that their mother had recently died.

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Man Fatally Shot Near Udall After Firing at Authorities During Chase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a suspect was shot and killed by law enforcers after leading police on a three-county, south-central Kansas chase, firing at deputies and police along the way.  Investigators in Wichita say 25-year-old Charles Johnston was shot early Thursday near Udall after a vehicle in which he was riding became disabled after the chase. Authorities say he held a gun to a female passenger's head outside of the car, then fired again at law enforcers as he tried to run away. Law enforcers returned fire, killing Johnston.  Neither the woman nor any law enforcers were injured.   Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said police had sought to arrest Johnston as a parole absconder.  Johnston was from prison in January and has prior convictions of aggravated battery, obstruction and fleeing law enforcement.

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Hutchinson Man Convicted in Corrections Officer Attack

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A jury has convicted a prison inmate in the beating guilty of a correctional officer in central Kansas.  The Hutchinson News  reports that 29-year-old Eddie Nunez was convicted by a Reno County jury on Tuesday of felony battery of a correctional officer.  County District Judge Tim Chambers says Nunez was serving time for a 2005 second-degree intentional murder conviction when he attacked Officer Holly Seaver on his prison cellblock in January 2015. Seaver suffered a black eye and numerous bruises during the attack in Hutchinson Correctional Facility.  Before Tuesday's conviction, Nunez was set to be potentially released on July 28. He now faces at least another 52 months in prison.  His sentencing is scheduled for May 26.

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Family of Boy Killed on Kansas Waterslide Reach Settlements

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - The family of a 10-year-old boy who died while riding a waterslide at a Kansas water park has reached settlements with a general contractor and a consulting company involved in the project.  Representative Scott Schwab testified Wednesday that he and his family agreed to the terms of the wrongful-death settlements involving his son, Caleb. The boy died in August on the 17-story Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports  terms of settlements with Henry & Sons Construction and National Aquatics Safety Company were not released.  Henry & Sons was the general contractor for Verruckt, a 168-foot waterslide that was promoted as the world's tallest such ride.  National Aquatics, based in Dickinson, Texas, and its owner, John Hunsucker, consulted on the project.

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Kansas Official: Warden's Memo on Moving Inmates Premature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas Corrections Department spokesman says the state hasn't started moving hundreds of inmates from its oldest and largest prison and that the warden was premature in saying so Thursday in a memo to employees.  Warden Sam Cline told employees in a memo that the relocation of about 600 inmates was "underway."  Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig said Cline's statements accurately represent what would happen once the state hires a company, perhaps by this fall, to build a prison to replace the Lansing Correctional Facility.  Fertig said the department is only moving prisoners out of Lansing for routine transfers. Lansing's inmate population has declined a little since January but remains above 2,300.  The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo from the state's largest union for state workers.

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Text-to-Give Campaign Supports Kansas Firefighters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A phone company is sponsoring a text-to-give campaign to support contributions to the Kansas State Firefighters Association.  The AT&T campaign is meant to give financial aid to rural fire departments struggling with resources and staffing after the wildfires in western Kansas.  Customers can make a $10 donation to the association by texting "WILDFIRES" to 80077. Those donations are added to customers' monthly bills.  AT&T spokesman Chris Lester says it's not uncommon for text-to-give campaigns to pop up when there's a need for aid after major public safety issue.  AT&T Kansas President Mike Scott says it's times like the wildfires "that test our resolve, resilience and strength as individuals and as a community. Kansans come through for each other in times of need."

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Royals Win! Royals Win! Royals Win!

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Jason Vargas carried a shutout into the eighth inning -- and the Royals finally generated enough offense to beat the Oakland A's 3-to-1 last (THUR) night at the K.  Kansas City's victory snapped an eight-game losing skid against the A's.

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Kansas State Hires Iowa's Gene Taylor as Athletic Director 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State has hired University of Iowa deputy athletic director Gene Taylor as its new athletic director, filling an opening left after John Currie left for Tennessee in February. Taylor was hired at Iowa in 2014 following a 13-year stint as the athletic director at North Dakota State, and he'll be introduced at Kansas State on Monday. While with the Bison, Taylor led the school through the move from Division II to Division I, also aiding in the formation of the Great West Football Conference — giving North Dakota State a home in Division I. The Bison won three straight FCS football national championships from 2011-13, and the school's athletic department budget tripled from $5 million in his first year to $15 million under his watch.

 

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