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Headlines for Friday, August 4, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Unveils New 'Real ID' Drivers Licenses, 3 Years Early 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has unveiled a new driver's license design meant to comply with federal identification requirements for airport security purposes. The new licenses will contain either a gold circle with a white star cutout proving the holder is lawfully in the U.S. and that it is acceptable federal identification, or the words "not for federal ID." The revamped licenses come three years before they are required. Anyone seeking the "Real ID" credential must provide Social Security number documentation, and their birth certificate or valid U.S. passport. People without such documents can get the "not for federal ID" card, which will not be acceptable identification for boarding domestic flights or entering designated federal sites after September 30, 2020. Those cards still will be valid as state identification or as a driver's licenses.

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GOP Leader: Kansas Prison Problems 'Disturbing' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  The Kansas Senate's top Republican says reports of staffing shortages and other problems at state prisons are "very disturbing." But Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita stopped short Friday of endorsing a special session of the Legislature to increase pay for corrections officers. Wagle said she is seeking more information from the Department of Corrections and will wait for answers before asking GOP Governor Sam Brownback to call lawmakers into special session. Lawmakers adjourned for the year in June and aren't set to reconvene until January. The maximum-security prison in El Dorado has seen several inmate disturbances in recent months. Corrections officials blame a high employee turnover rate there and at other prisons on low pay for officers. Republican Representative J.R. Claeys has called for a special session by September.

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Democrats Call for Pay Hike at Kansas Prisons 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Democratic legislators are calling on the Kansas Department of Corrections to increase the pay for officers at its prisons by 10 percent on September 1. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita said Friday that he believes Republican Governor Sam Brownback's administration has the legal authority to boost pay for officers now without legislative action. He said lawmakers can then appropriate extra money to cover the raises when they convene their next annual session in January. Ward called for action by Brownback's administration as Republican Representative J.R. Claeys of Salina called for a special legislative session this fall to increase pay for corrections officers. Lawmakers adjourned for the year in June. Lawmakers in both parties worry that low pay fuels staffing shortages that make prisons more dangerous to manage.

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Kansas Prisons Saw Staff Vacancies Increase at End of July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Figures from the Kansas Department of Corrections show that state prisons saw an increase in staff vacancies at the end of July. Figures released Thursday showed 268 vacancies in positions for uniformed officers. The department reported 236 vacancies on July 24. The figures also showed that the El Dorado Correctional Facility saw its number of vacancies among uniformed officers jump from 73 to 84 as of Tuesday. The prison has been the site of several inmate disturbances in recent months. The vacancy rate at the El Dorado prison among uniformed officers was 23 percent. Prisons in Ellsworth, Hutchinson and Lansing also saw increases in uniformed-officer vacancies. 

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Kansas Corrections Chief Apologizes to Lawmaker 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood has apologized publicly to a legislator who accused his department of not providing complete information about problems in state prisons. Norwood told reporters Thursday that the Department of Corrections strives to be transparent but will work on improving its communications with legislators. Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka said during a legislative committee meeting on budget issues that she does not feel the department has kept lawmakers fully informed of disturbances at the state's maximum-security prison in El Dorado. It has had several disturbances since May, and two came to light after The Associated Press interviewed employees. Kelly told Norwood that legislators are the department's partners and need to have information to help it deal with its problems.

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Former Kansas Prison Warden to Oversee Training 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood says the former warden of the state's maximum-security prison will oversee training for corrections officers statewide. Norwood told legislators Thursday that former Warden James Heimgartner is now working for the Department of Corrections central office. Heimgartner left the warden's post on July 27 amid increasing scrutiny of inmate unrest and staffing shortages at the El Dorado prison. The department confirmed three disturbances in May and June and a pair of inmate-on-inmate fights on July 28. Norwood said Heimgartner also will help the department find efficiencies in its operations. He said Heimgartner and the department had talked about changing his duties for some time. But Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka called the timing of the job change odd.

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Kansas Has 3 Companies Vying for Prison Construction Project 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three companies are seeking a contract with Kansas to build a new prison in Lansing to replace the state's oldest and largest lockup. Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told lawmakers Thursday of the three bidders. The Department of Administration disclosed their names to The Associated Press last month upon its request. The bidders include Nashville-based CoreCivic and GEO Group of Boca Raton, Florida. Both run private prisons. The third is Lansing Correctional Partners. Its headquarters was listed as Memphis but online searches found no website or business filings for Kansas or Tennessee. Corrections officials contend a new prison will be safer and more efficient. Parts of the existing facility date to the 1860s.

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Federal Agency Responds to Incident at Kansas City IRS Building 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  Authorities say a suspicious package that sickened several people at an IRS building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, smelled like ammonia. Local officials say about 10 people reported feeling sick after the package was delivered to the building Friday. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Lucy Martinez says seven people were treated at local hospitals. She says several people reported feeling ill with "watery eyes." Some people reported vomiting and nausea. Martinez says the envelope involved smelled like ammonia, but no other details were released about the envelope's contents or where it may have originated. The investigation has been taken over by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The Federal Protective Service, a division of Homeland Security, also is involved. The building wasn't evacuated and business returned to normal about two hours after the incident began.
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2:40 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  A federal organization that responds to terrorism and criminal acts against U.S. government infrastructure is investigating after a suspicious package sickened about 10 people at the IRS building in Kansas City, Missouri. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Lucy Martinez says agents with the Federal Protective Service responded to the building after the package was found Friday morning. Two of the 10 people who complained of nausea and vomiting were taken to a hospital and were in good condition. The building was not evacuated and returned to normal business two hours after the incident began. Martinez says a hazardous materials team took custody of the package. No other details have been released.

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KBI Helping with Investigation of Officer-Involved Shooting 

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating an officer-involved shooting near Fort Scott National Cemetery. The KBI says a Bourbon County sheriff's deputy shot at a pickup late Thursday. The vehicle wrecked but the driver was not hit by gunfire. A preliminary investigation found the incident began when a Bourbon County deputy tried to stop a pickup after it ran a stop sign. The trooper and Fort Scott police officers gave chase but eventually pulled back. The KBI says when the truck was spotted later, the driver struck a Fort Scott police vehicle and drove toward the Bourbon County Sheriff's deputy, who was outside his vehicle. The deputy fired toward the truck, causing the wreck. The suspect, a 51-year-old man from Nevada, Missouri, is being held in the Bourbon County jail.

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Man Who Wounded 2 Topeka Officers in 1985 Denied Parole 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man serving a Kansas prison sentence of 20 years to life for wounding two Topeka police officers with a shotgun in 1985 has been denied parole. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Prisoner Review Board rejected 75-year-old Ithiel Lawton's parole. The inmate at the maximum-security Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility will next be eligible for release in August 2019. Lawton wounded Topeka police officers Pat Reed and Randy Horn with a shotgun as they responded to a reported dispute between Lawton and his father. The shooting led to a five-hour standoff. Reed required reconstructive surgery to rebuild his left ear. Horn and Reed both left the department soon afterward. Lawton claimed he heard voices from his television set telling him to protect himself from the officers.

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Kansas Man Charged in 4 Deaths in Nebraska Crash

OGALLALA, Neb. (AP) — A 22-year-old Kansas man has been charged with vehicular homicide for the crash deaths of four Iowa residents in western Nebraska. Authorities say a car driven by 22-year-old Jeser Cisneros-Hernandez, of Liberal, Kansas, crossed the center line on U.S. Highway 26 south of Lake McConaughy on July 1, striking two motorcycles each carrying two people. Authorities say 54-year-old Sheila Matheny and 61-year-old James Matheny, from Bedford, Iowa, were on one motorcycle. The other riders were 58-year-old Michal Weese and 59-year-old Jerolyn Weese, who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Cisneros-Hernandez is being held in the Keith County (Nebraska) Jail. He told investigators that he'd had little rest the day of the crash while driving from his workplace in Sidney, Montana, to his home in Kansas.

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Gay Former Topeka Mayoral Candidate Says He Received Threats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka man who was the city's first openly gay mayoral candidate says he received death threats during his unsuccessful primary campaign. After failing to advance to the November general election in the five-candidate race, Chris Schultz told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the threats he suspects were related to his sexual orientation were "kind of traumatizing." Schultz says said he didn't report the texts he received by text and email to law enforcement in an attempt to avoid thinking about them. Michelle De La Isla and Spencer Duncan moved on to the general election. Schultz finished third. De La Isla calls the threats "horrendous" and said she's "very sorry to hear Chris experienced that." She called Schultz "a great person" who "ran a wonderful campaign."

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Kansas Police Officer Out of Job Following Blogger Complaint 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police officer is out of a job in the wake of a government watchdog's complaint to regulators about a 1995 conviction in a California misdemeanor domestic violence case. Marion Police Officer Michael A. Stone's last day on the job is Saturday. The city says he worked there since September 2012, and it appreciates his many contributions. Stone declined comment, saying in a Facebook response to The Associated Press that he wants to move on. A July 5 complaint filed by blogger Lee White with the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Trainings alleges the California conviction disqualifies Stone from serving as a police officer or even from legally possessing a gun. His ex-wife also filed a protection from abuse petition in 2006 in Kansas that was dismissed.

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Priest Accused of Child Sex Crimes Returned to Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Catholic priest has been returned from Maryland to face Kansas charges that he had inappropriate sexual contact with children. 35-year-old Scott Kallal was processed Thursday night at the Wyandotte County Detention Center in Kansas City, Kansas, where he is jailed on $250,000 bond. Kallal was arrested in Maryland last month after being charged in Wyandotte County with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Prosecutors allege that the misconduct took place in 2015. Kallal has been suspended from his duties at Overland Park's Holy Spirit Church and St. Patrick Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Federal Prisoner from Missouri Admits Forging Court Order 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, woman faces up to 20 years in federal prison after admitting she forged a court order that tried to get another inmate released. Fifty-one-year-old Margie Shephard pleaded guilty Thursday to an obstruction of justice count. Authorities say Shephard committed the crime while at a federal prison in Bryan, Texas. She was serving a 10-year sentence for bank fraud conspiracy, identity theft and obstruction of justice. Shephard admitted she fabricated a court order featuring a forged signature of a federal judge. It called for the release of a suburban Kansas City woman who was serving three years for her role in an $11 million mortgage fraud scheme. Shephard mailed the document to a relative, who faxed it to prison officials. Those officials ultimately declared the document a fake.

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Kansas City Man Gets 27 Years for Killing Housemate 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man has been ordered to spend 27 years in prison for the shooting death last year of a woman with whom he had lived. A Jackson County (Missouri) judge sentenced Dewayne Cornelius on Thursday. A jury convicted him in June of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Cornelius was ordered to simultaneously serve 27-year sentences on each count. Cornelius was found guilty of having fatally shot 27-year-old Nicole Appleberry in the back in May 2015 during a domestic dispute at the home they shared. Witnesses reported that Cornelius told them he had committed the killing.

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Oklahoma Man Sentenced to 'Hard 50' for Kansas Murder, Arson 

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been sentenced to at least 50 years in prison for killing his estranged wife's boyfriend. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release that 33-year-old Thad Christopher Green, of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, was sentenced Thursday in Montgomery County to life without eligibility for parole for 50 years in the death of Cameron Wawrzyniak. Wawrzyniak's body was found inside a burning house near Independence, Kansas, in December 2015. Green also was sentenced to four years and five months for other charges arising from the crime. He was found guilty in May of first-degree murder, arson and aggravated burglary.

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Royals Rally to Beat Mariners 6-4 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals' Brandon Moss hit two home runs and Lorenzo Cain drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as Kansas City beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 on Thursday night. The Royals rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 for their 32nd comeback victory snapping a three-game losing streak. Moss homered in the fifth off Yovani Gallardo after Mike Moustakas had walked. That put an end to a four-game homer-less skid for the Royals, which matched their longest drought of the season. Moss also homered in eighth for his 11th career multi-homer game. The Mariners' Emilio Pagan (0-2) took the loss, giving up two runs, one unearned, in the seventh.
 

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