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Headlines for Friday, December 22, 2017

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

Kansas Governor's Nomination Set to Return to White House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's nomination for an ambassador's post is in limbo after the U.S. Senate failed to vote on confirming him before finishing its business for year, lengthening an already awkward transition to a new governor. David Popp, communications director for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in an email Friday that Brownback's nomination was not a list of those to be carried into next year and would be returned to the White House. President Donald Trump nominated Brownback for U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the end of July. Senate rules require an appointee who hasn't received a confirmation vote by the end of the year to be nominated again, unless senators unanimously agree to carry the nomination into the next year. Brownback's absence from the "status quo list" means at least one Democratic senator objected to carrying over the Republican governor's nomination. Brownback's appointment faces opposition from Democrats and LGBT groups. In 2015, he rescinded an executive order banning discrimination in state hiring and employment against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. Then-Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius had issued the order in 2007, and Brownback, a social conservative, argued that the GOP-controlled Legislature should sign off on such a policy. The governor's office had no immediate comment. With Republicans controlling the Senate, Trump has had success in getting judicial nominees confirmed, including a record 12 appellate judges. The Senate approved dozens of appointments Wednesday, including a new U.S. attorney for Kansas. But Brownback was among more than 100 appointees whose nominations weren't carried over.

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Kansas Attorney's Nomination for Judgeship Not Carrying Over

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Senate is not carrying over a Kansas City-area attorney's nomination for a federal judgeship in Kansas into next year. Senators didn't vote on Holly Lou Teeter of Lenexa before wrapping up business for the year Thursday. Her nomination then appeared Friday on a list of those not being carried into next year. Senate rules require a nominee who hasn't received a vote by year's end to be nominated again unless senators unanimously agree to carry the nomination forward. The Judiciary Committee endorsed the 38-year-old Teeter's nomination in November on a 19-1 vote. She is an assistant U.S. attorney for western Missouri. An American Bar Association committee rated Teeter as "not qualified" because she fell just short of the 12 years of legal experience it believes judicial nominees need.

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Ness County Sheriff Arrested in Perjury, Misconduct Case

NESS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it arrested the Ness County Sheriff after an investigation into misconduct.  The KBI announced Thursday that 47-year-old Sheriff Bryan Whipple, of Ness City, was arrested on charges of perjury, making false information, criminal distribution of firearms to a felon and official misconduct.  The bureau said in a statement that the alleged crimes are believed to have happened in the last four years.  Whipple made an initial appearance in Rush County District Court shortly after his arrest.  The KBI's statement said no more information about the alleged misconduct would be released because the investigation is continuing.

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Woman Sues K-State over Co-Worker's Alleged Harassment

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas State University worker says in a federal lawsuit that the university didn't adequately respond to her complaints of sexual harassment by a co-worker. In a lawsuit filed this week, Paulette Arnold says she was harassed for nearly three years while working in the Information Systems Office. She says the systems coordinator, Kevin Yaussi, sent sexually explicit emails, inappropriately touched her and left her inappropriate gifts. Arnold says she and another worker reported Yaussi's behavior to their supervisor. The Kansas City Star reports the university determined Yaussi had harassed Arnold but only ordered him not to interact with her except for work. He was given a written warning and a recommendation to complete training on sexual harassment and workplace professionalism. A university spokesperson said the school doesn't discuss pending litigation.

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Homeland Security Officials Suspend Bioterror Drill in Oklahoma Border Town, Nearby Kansans Relieved

NEWKIRK, Okla. (AP) - The Department of Homeland Security is suspending plans to conduct bioterrorism drills near the Kansas-Oklahoma border over concerns about their impact on grounds Native American tribes consider sacred.  Homeland Security spokesman John Verrico said in an email Thursday the tests were suspended over objections to them taking place at the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. The school operated from the late 1800s until 1980 and was one of several federally run schools where the government tried to assimilate Native American children. Tribes said the agency wasn't protecting a site with religious and cultural significance.  The tests involved release of inert materials to evaluate the ability of buildings to protect occupants from biological hazards. Verrico says the work remains important and the agency is looking for another location.

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Kansas Agency, Firm Bolster Lawmaker Support for Prison Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas corrections officials and the company picked to build a new state prison have bolstered their support among top Republican legislators.  That makes it more likely the project will get the final go-ahead from the governor and legislative leaders during a meeting tentatively set for January 4.  Three key Republican legislators said after a briefing this week that they're more comfortable with a state corrections plan to have private prison operator CoreCivic Inc. build the new prison for 2,432 inmates in Lansing. It would replace Kansas' oldest and largest prison there.  The Nashville, Tennessee-based company would oversee construction and lease the new prison to the state for the facility's first 20 years.  The department had faced questions about the cost of the lease-purchase deal versus having the state issue bonds.

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Congressional Leaders to Award Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole Top Civilian Honor

WASHINGTON (AP) - House and Senate leaders will present former Republican Sen. Bob Dole with the nation's highest civilian honor to recognize his decades of service as a soldier, lawmaker and statesman.  House Speaker Paul Ryan's office says Dole will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony scheduled for January 17.  Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will take part in the event at the U.S. Capitol. Dole represented Kansas for 35 years, first in the House and then in the Senate. He was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996 and lost the election to Bill Clinton.  Now 94, Dole suffered severe injuries during World War II and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

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Charges Filed in 2015 Fatal Drive-By Shooting of Young Girl in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Shawnee County authorities say a 21-year-old man has been charged with killing a 5-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting.  Jessie Deshawn Hughes, of Topeka, was charged Thursday with one count of felony first-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of 5-year-old Lily Coats-Nichols. He was also charged with criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle.  Hughes is being held in the Shawnee County jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.  The girl died in July 2015. Police said she was riding in a car when someone drove by and fired shots at the vehicle. Lily was hit in the head.  Two adults - including Lily's mother - also were traveling in the targeted vehicle.

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Man Pleads No Contest to Choking Infant at Kansas Walmart

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A New Jersey man will be sentenced next month for choking a 4-month-old child at a Walmart in Overland Park. Fifty-four-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych , of Clifton, New Jersey, pleaded no contest Thursday to aggravated battery and intentional harm and battery. An aggravated kidnapping charge was dropped. In October, authorities said Zhownirovych walked up to Monquisha Hill in a checkout line and started choking her daughter, who was in the shopping cart. He stopped when the mother started screaming. People in the store came to help and held him until police arrived. Hill didn't know the man and a motive for his actions was unclear. The baby wasn't injured. Zhownirovych was the pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Clifton but left the position last year.

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Newspaper Sues Olathe for Body Camera Footage in Police Shooting

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City Star is suing the suburb of Olathe for body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of a woman. The lawsuit says police have "refused to discuss" or answer questions about their tactics and decisions leading up to the Aug. 23 shooting of 26-year-old Ciara Howard. The shooting happened after efforts to serve an arrest warrant triggered a standoff. Authorities say that when officers and deputies entered the home several hours later, Howard threatened them with a weapon, and the officers opened fire. No officers or deputies were injured. Prosecutors determined police were justified in using lethal force but left open questions about police tactics. Witnesses who were outside the house questioned those tactics. Olathe officials have said the footage was part of "closed personnel records."

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Residents Criticize Topeka City Officials After Fatal Police Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka city officials heard from several residents frustrated with how the city, especially its police department, treats young black men.  More than 150 people attended a public forum Wednesday to address city officials. Speakers included grieving mothers and young men who told stories of being racially profiled by officers.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a main topic of discussion was the September shooting death of 30-year-old Dominique White by Topeka police officers.   White's stepfather, Brock Wynne, told the crowd that his family is challenging the community to make White's death a catalyst for change in the city.  City officials didn't speak at the gathering. Mayor-elect Michelle De La Isla said in an interview she hoped the city could discuss new ways to improve policing strategies.
 
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Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to 2 Grisly Stabbing Deaths
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 62-year-old Topeka man has admitted stabbing two men to death in September in Topeka.  Maximo Campillo-Echevarria pleaded guilty Thursday to murder in the deaths of 61-year-old Thomas Paul O'Conner and 22-year-old Chance Christian Clark, who was dismembered.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Campillo-Echevarria pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the O'Conner death and second-degree murder in the Crank death.  As part of the plea, arson and aggravated weapons charges were dismissed. Kansas Corrections records show Campillo-Echevarria was convicted of first-degree murder for a 1981 Shawnee County death and paroled in 2000. He returned to prison for 2004 convictions, including aggravated assault, but was paroled in 2015.

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Bystander Killed in Kansas City When Man's Revenge Plot Against His Ex-Girlfriend Fails

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A woman says her ex-boyfriend was attempting to kill her when he shot at her from a slain Kansas woman's car and then killed himself when the plot failed.  The Kansas City Star reports that Bryanna Spencer says Kareem McCoy-Lee used the car of 18-year-old Mikayla Norris on Tuesday to chase her as she was driving to a job interview in Liberty, Missouri. Spencer escaped with the help of a worker who happened to be nearby and said Wednesday that she felt burdened by the knowledge that McCoy-Lee's plot against her claimed Norris' life.   Police say McCoy-Lee's body was found later Tuesday in Liberty, while Norris' body was found in Kansas City, Missouri. The Overland Park woman was last seen alive Sunday leaving her job at a barbecue restaurant.
 
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Kansas City Professional Racecar Driver Indicted

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Professional racecar driver Scott Tucker and his accountant have been indicted in Kansas City on federal charges of failing to report millions in income from a payday lending business that was previously found to be fraudulent. Federal prosecutors say Tucker is charged with filing a false return and the accountant is charged with  aiding him.  Tucker is accused of orchestrating a sham sale of a payday loan servicing company.  

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Arkansas City Employee Dies in Street Sweeper Accident

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Arkansas City officials say a city employee died from injuries suffered apparently after being struck by a street sweeper. City officials said in a news release that the accident happened Thursday afternoon at the Public Works Department's shop. The employee was flown to a Wichita hospital. City officials said Friday that the person had died. On Thursday, city officials said the accident involved the operator of a street sweeper. The circumstances of the accident are still being investigated. The employee's name has not been released.

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SkyWest to Offer Flights to Chicago, Denver from Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Airplane passengers in Salina will soon have a few more flights with larger planes for trips to Denver and Chicago. Salina Airport Authority Tim Rogers says SkyWest Airlines will provide flights from Salina to and from Denver and Chicago beginning in April. Rogers said Friday flight schedules and prices will be announced next month. SkyWest will fly one nonstop route to Chicago and two flights to Denver, with a stop in Hays. SkyWest replaces Great Lakes Airlines, which currently offers two daily flights to Denver. Rogers says SkyWest will use 50-seat regional jets. Great Lakes used 30-seat aircraft. The Department of Transportations selected SkyWest to replace Great Lakes as the Essential Air Service provider for Salina. SkyWest has a two-year contract starting next April.

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With Win on Sunday, KC Chiefs Would Wrap-Up AFC West Division Title

The AFC West title is on the line for the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs have racked up back-to-back wins over division rivals, the Raiders and the Chargers.  And one more solid performance against the Dolphins on Sunday would clinch back-to-back division titles for Kansas City.

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