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Headlines for Friday, December 18, 2015

Here's a roundup of regional headlines, with a focus on what's happening in Kansas.

Report: November Jobless Rate in Kansas Slips to 4.0 Percent 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Kansas fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 4 percent last month — the lowest level in 14 years. Kansas Department of Labor figures released Friday show that November's jobless rate compared with 4.1 percent the previous month and 4.2 percent in November of last year. The department says that the adjusted figures show that while the state lost 2,800 private-sector jobs from October through November, the year-to-year number actually rose by 10,000, or nine-tenths of a percentage point. The state's jobless rate when not seasonally adjusted was 3.5 percent in November. That's down from 3.7 percent in October and 3.9 percent in November of last year. Nationwide, the federal Labor Department says jobless rates fell in 27 states and rose in 11.


Citizens Utility Board Backs Off Mission Change Proposals 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Members of the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board are pulling back from proposals they discussed last week to either change the agency's mission or dissolve it. On Thursday, Ellen Janoski became chairwoman of CURB. She says the agency should focus on making internal changes to become efficient. CURB's main mission is to represent residential and small-business utility customers in Kansas Corporation Commission rate cases. The Wichita Eagle reports that the board last week discussed focusing instead on fighting new federal clean air regulations. On Thursday, board members said last week's comments were "hypothetical" discussions about the agency's effectiveness. Janoski says it's not realistic for CURB to take on federal regulations but the agency should educate consumers about the affect of those rules on electric bills.


Kansas Lawmaker Resigning to Head Conservative Policy Group

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of a Kansas House committee that handles legislation on abortion and gay-rights issues is resigning to lead a conservative group seeking to influence social policy. Republican Representative Steve Brunk of Wichita submitted a letter of resignation to the secretary of state's office Thursday. He is stepping down January 4th. Brunk said he will become the Kansas executive director for the Colorado-based group CitizenLink. It is affiliated with Focus on the Family, which has been aligned with the Kansas Family Policy Council. Brunk said he'll be building an organization that can link churches, pastors and thousands of individuals to influence state policy and local elections. He said he won't be lobbying lawmakers. The Wichita Eagle first reported last week that Brunk had been offered the job.


Wichita Selects New Police Chief
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita city officials have chosen Duluth, Minnesota's police chief to lead the largest police force in Kansas. The city announced Friday that 43-year-old Gordon Ramsay will become Wichita's new police chief on January 28. He will be paid $170,000 a year. Ramsay said in a statement that he was humbled and "beyond excited" to be chosen for the job. Ramsay has been Duluth's police chief since 2006 and a police officer for 22 years. The Duluth department has a $25 million budget and more than 200 employees. In Wichita, he will lead a department with a nearly $82 million budget and 836 employees. Wichita's last police chief, Norman Williams, retired in 2014. Since then, Deputy Chief Nelson Mosley has led the department as interim chief.


Woman Accused of Fleeing Country with Daughters Indicted 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence woman accused of fleeing to Europe with her two daughters has been indicted for kidnapping. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Samantha Elmer was indicted Thursday on charges of parental kidnapping, making a false statement on apassport and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say Elmer took the girls in October and boarded a flight from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to Vienna, via Istanbul, ahead of a custody hearing and a trial on theft charges in Johnson County in early November. Elmer returned to the U.S. with her daughters earlier this month, and was arrested. She faces up to three years in prison for the kidnapping charge, and a maximum of 10 years in prison for the passport charge. 


University of Kansas to Attempt Holiday-Themed Sweater World Record 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing holiday sweaters during the first half of the school's upcoming men's basketball game. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the attempt will happen during Saturday's game. University officials say the current record belongs to Loughborough University in Loughborough, England. They say 1,175 people gathered in holiday sweaters on December 10, 2014. Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony says he and his colleagues on the marketing staff came up with the plan during a brainstorming session last summer. To join the record attempt, participants must wear a holiday sweater, which has been defined as having long sleeves and at least one holiday-themed motif.


Kansas State University to Spend $6M More on Student Union 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is set to spend $6 million more than originally budgeted for the renovation of its student union. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the Kansas Board of Regents approved a request Wednesday to increase the project's budget from $25 million to $31 million. University students voted for the renovations in 2013 to update the food services and provide additional space for student lounges and study space. The increase in budget allows for changes to the building's dining services. The budget increase also allows $2.1 million for the renovation and replacement of the union's roof and exterior windows. Student privilege fees and university resources will fund the renovations.


Real Estate Developer Acquires Heartland Park Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A real estate developer and his business partner are the new owners of the Heartland Park Topeka racing facility. Chris Payne said Thursday he and Todd Crossley are the new owners of Heartland Park, apparently ending more months of uncertainty about the track's future. Payne confirmed he has reached an agreement with CoreFirst Bank and Trust and has already taken possession of the track. The announcement came only hours after The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that another potential owner, Jim Farnum and his group, Heartland USA LLC, had ended negotiations with CoreFirst, which took legal ownership of the track in August. The race track's future has been unclear since a proposed deal between the city and former owner Raymond Irwin was rejected by the Topeka City Council in May.


Civil Lawsuit Accuses KCK Priest of Abuse 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man has filed a civil lawsuit accusing a Kansas City, Kansas, area Catholic priest of abusing him three decades ago. The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Wyandotte County court, also names the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. The plaintiff alleges the archdiocese knew of the abuse and failed to do anything to stop it. The lawsuit does not name the victim and identifies the accused priest with initials. The lawsuit claims the sexual abuse occurred at a lake house in the 1980s when the alleged victim, who is now in his 40s, was between 15 and 17 years old. The archdiocese said Friday in a statement that when it was told about allegations against the priest in 2012, the archdiocese investigated, notified law enforcement and removed the priest from ministry.


New Executive Director Named for Commission After Delay 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been named the new executive director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. The appointment of Kenya Cox, the president of the Wichita branch of the NAACP, was announced Friday. She will take office on January 11. Cox serves on several boards and organizations in Sedgwick County and was the assistant regional director for community service for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The announcement came a day after The Wichita Eagle reported that former members of the commission were criticizing Governor Sam Brownback's administration for letting partisan politics delay the appointment of the commission's executive director. The commission's last executive director, Mildred Edwards, resigned in May.


Man Sues KCMO Police, Alleging Brutality 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating a man's claims that officers used excessive force in an arrest that was captured on dashcam video. The Kansas City Star reports that 24-year-old Manuel Palacio alleges in a lawsuit filed last month in Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Court that officers kneed him in the back, beat him in the ribs and made verbal threats during the May 2014 arrest. The suit contends Palacio didn't resist arrest and was unarmed. Palacio has pleaded guilty to stealing and been sentenced to five years in prison. The police department said in a statement that the department became aware of a "possible case of police misconduct several weeks ago." The statement said a criminal investigation has been initiated. One officer is no longer with the department. Two others are on administrative assignments during an internal investigation.


Documents Reveal Settlement in Washburn University Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Documents have revealed that Washburn University in Topeka paid $45,000 to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit involving its dean of libraries. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Michelle Canipe, a former instructional librarian at Washburn, sued the university and Alan Bearman in May 2013, claiming the dean bullied, harassed or sexually discriminated against Canipe. The lawsuit also claimed that Bearman and the school created or tolerated a sexually hostile environment and retaliated against Canipe for complaining about unequal treatment. Federal court records show a U.S. district judge terminated the case in March 2014, indicating the parties had reached an agreement. The university provided the newspaper with a copy of the settlement Tuesday, showing that Canipe received $27,000 and her attorneys received $9,000.


Bob Krause, Former K-State Administrator, Dies

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas State University administrator Bob Krause has died. He was 70. The university said a memorial service for Krause will be held Monday at All Faiths Chapel on the Kansas State campus. The Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen funeral home in Manhattan said in an obituary that Krause died of cancer Wednesday at a hospice home in Manhattan. Krause was vice president for institutional advancement from 1968 to 2009, helping the university increase enrollment and fundraising. He was acting athletics director from 2008 until he resigned in 2009 during a controversy over a secret contract with then-football coach Ron Prince. Kansas State sued to invalidate the agreement and paid Prince a $1.65 million settlement. Krause then became director of development at Kansas State's Olathe campus. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and four grandchildren.


New Medical Acceptance Program Will Streamline Education 

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Southern State University and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences have approved a new program that will streamline medical education for some students. The partnership signed Friday creates a "Yours to Lose" medical acceptance program. It will allow up to 25 Missouri Southern students a year to be admitted into KCU's new medical school at the same time as they are accepted to Missouri Southern. The Joplin Globe reports that students in the program will enter Missouri Southern was pre-med students and be assured they will become students at KCU when they complete their undergraduate degrees. The criteria for acceptance have not been determined. The students in the program will have a rigorous curriculum and non-traditional scheduling to prepare them for medical school.


Kansas Aviation Museum Reduces Hours, Announces Employee Layoffs 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Aviation Museum has terminated two of its five-person staff and announced it will be reducing visitor hours next year. Richard Moore, the museum's interim director, said Wednesday the two positions that were cut this week were full-time marketing jobs. According to Moore, the terminations were a way to absorb the museum's slow traffic. Moore said if the two employees who were laid off do not have new jobs by the middle of May, the museum would consider rehiring them. The Wichita Eagle reports that the museum will only be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays starting January 1. Any special events, meetings, conferences and school field trips that have already been booked will go on as scheduled.


2 Men Charged in Kansas with Shooting Death of Missouri Man 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A second man has been convicted in the killing of a Missouri man in Kansas City, Kansas. Wyandotte County jurors found Demarkus M. Campbell-Donnell guilty on Thursday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 32-year-old Anthony M. Bush Jr. Police said Bush was found shot to death in March in the passenger seat of a stopped vehicle. Police said the driver was also in the car but wasn't injured. The Wyandotte County district attorney's office says that co-defendant Lakorri Martaneel Terry entered a plea and was convicted of second-degree murder last week. His sentencing is set for January 15. The sentencing date for Campbell-Donnell will be set later.


Kansas City Police Investigate Shooting Death 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating a shooting death. Police said in a news release that officers found the male victim on the ground Thursday afternoon. The release said that emergency responders pronounced the victim dead at the scene. The name of the man wasn't immediately released. Witnesses said the two or three suspects were seen fleeing from the area after a disturbance. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.


4th Arrest Made in Fatal Shootings at House in East Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have arrested a person wanted for questioning in a shooting that left two people dead in east Wichita. KSNW-TV reports that the man was taken into custody Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder. Police have said they want to talk to him about the killings earlier this month of 55-year-old Betty Ann Holloman and 24-year-old Brenton Oliver. Three other men are charged in the killings, which police say are gang related. Witnesses told police that the shootings happened after a confrontation between two men at a home and another man who came over to drop off a woman. Police said that the man who dropped off the woman later returned with two people. A fight ensued, and shots were fired toward the home from the street.


Man, 68, Dies in Pratt County Camper Fire 

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A Pratt County man has died after a space heater caught fire in his camper. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 68-year-old man was the sole occupant of the approximately 8-by-12 or -14 feet camper, located about five miles south of Pratt and about 10 and a half miles to the west. Sheriff Vernon Chinn says he received the call about the fatal fire around 9:15 pm Thursday. The Cullison Fire Department, Pratt County Emergency Services and the Pratt County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the camper, which was fully engulfed in flame when they arrived. The man's body was found in the residence after the fire was extinguished. His identity hasn't been released pending notification of family members.


2 Die in Head-On Crash in South-Central Kansas
PRESTON, Kan. (AP) — Two people have died and a third person has been injured in a head-on crash in south-central Kansas. The Kansas State Highway Patrol says the crash happened Thursday morning when a full-size van crossed the center line on Kansas 61 and sideswiped a tractor-trailer. The patrol says the van then continued into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a car. The car and van came to rest in a ditch. Killed in the crash was 32-year-old Alan Stagg, of Salina, who was a passenger in the van, and 39-year-old Teresa Roach, of Pratt, who was driving the car. The driver of the van also was injured.


21-Year-Old Man Charged in Kansas Shooting Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A 21-year-old man is charged in the shooting death of another man in Kansas City, Kansas. The Wyandotte County district attorney's office announced Thursday that Keyaun M. Lee, of Kansas City, Kansas, is charged with second-degree murder in the December 15 shooting death of Deandre Goodson. Lee is jailed in Wyandotte County on a $500,000 bond. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. Police continue investigating the case.


KU Volleyball Falls to Nebraska in 4 Sets at NCAA Semifinals

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kadie Rolfzen had 14 kills to lead a balanced Nebraska attack, and the Cornhuskers beat the Kansas Jayhawks in four sets in the NCAA volleyball semifinals Thursday night. Playing 50 miles from their Lincoln campus and fueled by the sellout crowd of 17,551 — the biggest in NCAA volleyball history — the Huskers beat a Kansas team much better than the ones they used to dominate in the Big Eight and Big 12. This was the first time the teams had met since 2010, the year before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, and Nebraska improved to 87-0-1 in the series. All-American Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks (30-3) with 22 kills, and Taylor Soucie and Ainise Havili had eight kills apiece. The fourth-seeded Huskers (31-4) will take a 15-match winning streak into the final Saturday night against former Big 12 rival Texas.



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