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Headlines for Friday, December 2, 2016

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

Kansas Hits More Pessimistic Tax Projections in November

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas hit its new, more pessimistic revenue projections for November, with tax collections exceeding estimates by $1.4 million.  But the report Thursday from the state Department of Revenue did not significantly alter the state's gloomy budget picture. It still faces a projected shortfall of more than $345 million for the current fiscal year that began July 1. The state expected to collect $399.9 million in taxes in November and collected $401.3 million. The surplus was 0.3 percent. It was the first monthly report on tax collections since officials slashed the state's official revenue projections three weeks ago to reflect their pessimism about the economy. Tax collections last met expectations in April after forecasters issued the previous revenue projections. They've fallen short of expectations 10 of the past 12 months. 

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Trump Adviser Says Kobach a Source for Unsupported Voter Fraud Claim 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is among the sources behind Trump's unsubstantiated claim that "millions" of people voted illegally. Kellyanne Conway was Trump's campaign manager and mentioned Kobach twice as a source during an interview Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Trump has claimed without providing evidence that he would have prevailed in the popular vote absent illegal voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Republican president-elect won enough electoral votes thanks to narrow victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Kobach on Wednesday supported Trump's claim while providing no evidence of specific cases of fraud this year. He is the architect of tough voter identification laws in Kansas. Kobach's spokeswoman did not return a telephone message seeking comment Friday.

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Kansas Agency to Cut Funding for Child Psychiatric Care 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials plan to reduce funding to providers of residential psychiatric care for children in a move that is expected to save about $350,000 from the state general fund. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services' announcement comes after Governor Sam Brownback cut Medicaid reimbursement rates by 4 percent in May to help balance the budget. Residential psychiatric facilities currently receive a payment each day a child is in their care. They are also paid on days the child is out of the facility, but a bed must still be reserved. Plans call for reducing payment on reserve days by 40 percent. The change is scheduled to go into effect in March. Children's Alliance of Kansas director Christie Appelhanz says fewer children will be able to receive services under the change.

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1 Dead, Several Injured After Home Fire North of Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has been killed in an early morning house fire north of Topeka.  Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office spokesman Kevin Doel says eight people were in the home when fire started around 6:20 this (FRI) morning.  Several were transported for treatment, including the person who died. The name and age of the victim wasn't immediately released.  Doel says he has no information about the conditions of the other people injured in the blaze.  Authorities are investigating.

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Masterson Will Challenge Wagle for Kansas Senate President

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Senate President Susan Wagle will have a challenger next week for the presidency of the Kansas Senate. Senator Ty Masterson, of Andover, told Republican colleagues in a letter that he plans to challenge Wagle, of Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports Masterson, who is budget chairman, helped lead budget negotiations during the past two sessions when the state had serious budget shortfalls. He also helped craft the bill that repealed the state's school finance formula in 2015 and replaced it with block grants. Masterson has been a close ally of Governor Sam Brownback and a strong supporter of income tax cuts the Legislature passed in 2012. Wagle has recently challenged Brownback on fiscal issues and has hinted she would consider rolling back part of the tax cuts.

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Details of Kansas Judge Nominating Process May Become Public
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is considering a rule that would require records related to the selection of nominees for the high court and other judgeships to be made public. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the rule change would require those records to be retained for at least three years after the nominating commission has made its decision. The minutes of the commission would be retained indefinitely. The commissions are made up mostly of attorneys who interview and nominate candidates for the governor's consideration. The state Supreme Court will accept public comments on the proposed change before deciding whether or not to implement it.

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New Kansas State President to Receive $500,000 Salary
 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman hired as Kansas State University's president will receive a $500,000 annual salary. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Board of Regents released the letter of appointment Thursday for General Richard Myers. He was promoted last month from interim president, a job he's held since April. The Kansas State University Foundation will finance $156,250 of Myers' yearly salary, a common practice for paying university presidents. As part of his annual compensation package, the foundation will provide Myers with two university vehicles and a membership to the Manhattan Country Club. The foundation also will finance Myers' deferred compensation package. That includes getting $31,250 after his first year of service, progressing to $187,500 if he remains as president for eight years or more.

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Former Wyandotte County Engineer Accused of Taking Bribes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A former engineer for the Wyandotte County government has been charged with taking more than $17,000 in bribes. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says in a news release Thursday that 58-year-old Willie D. Jones was indicted by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors allege Jones took three bribes from the owner of a company that obtained contracts to do street repairs for the Unified Government. Jones, of Kansas City, Kansas, also is charged with five counts of money laundering. Prosecutors alleged Jones funneled the money through his bank account and the account of a Kansas City church where he was a minister.

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Ex-Haskell Student Pleads to Lesser Charge in Alleged Rape

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former Haskell Indian Nations University student accused of rape has pleaded no contest to a lesser charge. Jared Wheeler entered the plea to aggravated battery last week and faces a maximum of less than three years in prison. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Wheeler originally was charged with two counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy. Wheeler and another former Haskell student, Galen Satoe, were charged with raping a 19-year-old freshman in a dormitory room in November 2014. Mistrials were declared in both men's trials this summer after juries could not agree on a verdict. Satoe still faces trial in February on two counts of rape and a count of aiding and abetting attempted rape.

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Employee Sues Kansas over Alleged Rape at Mental Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An employee at Osawatomie State Hospital is suing the state of Kansas after she allegedly was raped at the institution. The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges female employees at the hospital were sexually and verbally abused by male patients, creating a "sexually hostile work environment." The woman says in the lawsuit that she was raped while working at the hospital in October 2015. She says she was not aware the man had made "multiple" attempts to strangle his wife and was involuntarily admitted to the hospital because it was likely he could cause injury or abuse to himself or others. The lawsuit says two patients helped stop the attack before hospital security arrived. Miami County charged the man with rape.

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Kansas Teen Admits to Amended Charges in Sexual Assault Case 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A teenager accused of sexually assaulting two classmates at a suburban Kansas City high school has pleaded guilty to amended charges in a case that touched off a metro-wide protest. The Kansas City Star reports that the 15-year-old Leawood boy admitted Thursday in juvenile court to two felony aggravated battery counts. The teen initially was charged in September with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with two underage students at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village. He also had been charged with exposing himself in April 2015 to a girl at another school. Under the plea agreement, he faces 10 days in juvenile detention and two years of probation when he's sentenced in April. Hundreds of students wore black earlier this year as part of the protest.

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Rural Kansas Couple Sues Dairy Alleging Water Contamination

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas couple alleges in a lawsuit that a neighboring dairy has contaminated their water supply.  The Hutchinson News reports that Beryl and Becky Grow of rural Reno County are seeking more than $75,000 in damages from Perry and Sharon Beachy. The suit alleges "permanent and irreparable" property damage.  The Beachys haven't yet filed a formal response, but Sharon Beachy denied the suit's allegations.  The suit contends the Beachys intentionally discharged waste from a lagoon on the dairy property onto the Grows' adjoining three-acre property when the lagoon got too full. The suit also accuses the dairy of pumping wastewater from the lagoon when it was raining, so the Grows wouldn't notice it.  The suit says testing shows that their well water is contaminated with nitrates and coliform bacteria.

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Complaints Lead Missouri DOT to Remove Tree Decorations 

PARKVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A campaign is underway to restore holiday decorations that were removed from trees along a suburban Kansas City highway. KMBC-TV reports that the decorations were taken down after the Missouri Department of Transportation received a complaint. For 30 years, a group has decorated the trees along Missouri 9, leading to Parkville's historic downtown. Melissa Black, of MoDOT, says the agency's "primary concern is always for the safety of everyone on the roads." Now, a group called Save 9 Highway Christmas Trees is working with MoDOT and a state lawmaker to file a special permit. Campaign organizers say they want to put up even more decorations than before, although they may need to go in a different location. The group has also promised to take them down after the holidays.

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Topeka Zoo Welcomes Newborn Sloth

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Topeka Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Hoffmann's two-toed sloth.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the sloth named Newt was born Wednesday morning. Zoo staff hasn't determined Newt's gender. Zoo director Brendan Wiley says it's difficult to know a newborn sloth's gender without a physical examination, and staff plans to not disturb Newt and the mother unless there is a medical concern. Newt is offspring number fourteen of its mother 26-year-old Jackie.  Hoffmann's Two-toed sloths are native to a small area of Central and South America. They are threatened by deforestation.

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Midwest Economic Survey Shows Improvement in November

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly survey of business supply managers shows improvement but still reflects relatively weak economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Thursday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 46.5 in November from 43.8 in October. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says he expects the overall regional economy will continue to underperform the national economy because of the region's dependence on agriculture and energy. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Fireworks Mistaken for Shots Leads to Standoff Near College 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say fireworks that were mistaken for gunshots led to a standoff near Rockhurst University. The Kansas City Star reports that police responded just after 3 am Friday to a home near the Jesuit university in Kansas City. Campus security chief Randy Hopkins says several students walked into a home and refused to come outside when urged to walk toward officers. Before the standoff ended, someone threw out some fireworks. An officer also saw what he believed was the silhouette of someone holding a long-arm rifle. Police subsequently received permission to search the home and found an air rifle inside. University officials are reviewing what happened. The home that was the focus of the standoff isn't part of the university but is private property leased by the students.

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Wichita Police Investigating Report That Student Had Handgun 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating a report that a student had a handgun at a school bus stop earlier this week. Police spokesman Officer Charley Davidson said Friday that police received a call Wednesday that a girl reported seeing a 12-year-old boy and 14-year-old boy playing with a handgun at a school bus stop, and that the 14-year-old also fired a shot into the ground. Davidson says it appears the shot was fired accidentally. The Wichita Eagle reports that police are investigating whether the gun was taken onto the bus or into Truesdell Middle School. Susan Arensman, spokeswoman for the Wichita school district, also says the student showed the gun to other students on the bus ride home. Principal Terrell Davis says the students involved will face disciplinary action.

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Man Who Stole Firearm from Dead Man Sentenced to 9 Years 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City man who stole a firearm from a homicide victim has been sentenced to nine years and two months in federal prison. The U.S. attorney's office say 40-year-old Alfred Crater was sentenced Friday for possessing a stolen firearm. Crater admitted to stealing the 40-caliber pistol from homicide victim Anthony Wayne Van Buren in February 2012 before police arrived. When police later stopped Crater, he was found to be in possession of the pistol. Crater has nine felony convictions, including a prior federal felony conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was on state probation at the time of the offense.

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Homicide Victim Found After Kansas City Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say a driver found dead in a vehicle after crashing on a Kansas City highway apparently had been shot. Police said in a news release that the crash happened shortly after 3 pm Thursday. Witness told police that the man's vehicle bounced off a concrete barrier on the right shoulder of U.S. 71 before crossing lanes of traffic and hitting the steel wires on the left shoulder. Police say it's unclear where the shooting happened. Police are urging anyone with information to call a tips hotline.

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Physician's Assistant Admits Cosmetic Treatments Broke Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas physician's assistant has pleaded guilty to breaking federal law while treating patients with Botox and another drug used cosmetically to prevent wrinkles. The U.S. attorney's office says in a news release that 53-year-old Joel Erskin, of Garden City, admitted Thursday to one count of receiving and dispensing misbranded drugs. He admitted through his plea to purchasing cheaper versions of Botox and Juvederm from Canadian pharmacies while he owned and operated Renovo Medical. The business also is known as University Medical. The release says the Botox he purchased was misbranded and failed to meet labeling requirements. The Juvederm was adulterated and not approved for U.S. distribution. Erskin didn't inform his clients that the drugs were purchased from Canada and didn't meet federal standards. Sentencing is set for December 20.

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Bethany College Offers Free Tuition in 2 Kansas Counties

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) _ Bethany College plans to offer free tuition to first-time freshmen who graduate from McPherson or Saline county high schools.  The school in Lindsborg announced Thursday that the offer will begin in the fall 2017 semester and last five years. The scholarships are valued at more than $110,000. Bethany College President William Jones said in a statement that the college wanted to invest in its community.  He says the program will allow young people in the two counties a chance to attend college close to home and perhaps stay in the area after they graduate. Students who receive a ``Bethany Good Life Scholarship'' will be required to live on the Lindsborg campus. Bethany College has an enrollment of just more than 700.  

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Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Mail Drug Scheme 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City, Missouri, man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute PCP through the mail. The U.S. attorney's office said in a release Friday that 57-year-old Michael Garrett was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison without parole. He pleaded guilty earlier to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to using a telephone to distribute PCP. Co-defendant, 65-year-old Carol Barfield, pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy and awaits sentencing. Prosecutors say the scheme, which ran from November 2015 to May 2016, involved Garrett mailing bottles of PCP from California to separate addresses on Barfield's Kansas City postal route. Prosecutors say Barfield then delivered the packages to their intended recipients rather than to the false addresses provided.

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Kansas Jayhawks Volleyball Team Advances in NCAA Tournament 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas University women's volleyball team beat Samford 25-19, 25-21 and 25-17 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Horejsi Center in Lawrence last (THUR) night. KU freshman Jada Burse led the Jayhawks with 14 kills to help number five overall seeded Kansas advance.  The Jayhawks, 27-2, now move on to the second round of the tournament when they take on Creighton at 6:30 p.m. tonight (FRI) in Lawrence.  KU previously beat Creighton 3-2 in Omaha, Nebraska on September 8.  KU, which has won 15 straight, will face a Creighton team that is on a 21-match streak.

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Kansas State Women Defeat No. 23 Auburn 71-66 in Basketball

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kindred Wesemann scored 16 points and Kansas State made 12 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to turn back Auburn 71-66 in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge Thursday night. Auburn, ranked for the first time since the final poll of the 2008-09 season, used a 10-0 run to take a 62-57 lead with 5:09 to play. The Wildcats answered as Breanna Lewis finished with 13 points and nine rebounds as K-State (7-0) had a 39-26 rebounding advantage. Auburn's Katie Frerking finished with 22 points and Janiah McKay added 15 for the Tigers (6-2), who had three players foul out.
 

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