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Headlines for Friday, July 4, 2014

KS Documents 2 Cases of Chikungunya Virus

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say two people who recently traveled to the Caribbean have been diagnosed with a painful virus transmitted by mosquitoes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the two adults represent the state's first identified cases of travel-associated chikungunya virus. Both adults are from Sedgwick County and made separate trips to the Caribbean. The virus causes fever and joint pain, along with headaches, rash and muscle pain. It's rarely fatal, but KDHE Secretary Robert Moser says it can be serious and debilitating. Chikungunya virus has been known for decades in Africa and Asia. The first case directly caused by a mosquito in the Western Hemisphere was documented late last year, in French St. Martin.


Pair of Salesmen Banned in 1998 Spotted in KS 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt says a pair of door-to-door meat salesmen who have been operating in Kansas are banned from selling meat in the state because of consumer protection violations. The Wichita Eagle reports that Rodney Creighton and Christopher Maselka were operating under the name America's Choice in 1998 when a court instituted the ban. Schmidt's office says it has received reports the two have been operating in Kansas under a variety of names that include Iowa Steak, Direct Foods or Ur Local Butcher. Anyone selling meat door to door is required to inform customers of a three-day right to cancel and must also have a retail meat license from the state.


New York Company Wins Topeka Airport Contract

A New York company has won the contract to oversee the design and rebuilding of a runway at the Topeka airport. Parsons Brinckerhoff will oversee the reconstruction of the 12,000-foot-long main runway at the Topeka Regional Airport. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the cost will be split between the FAA, the National Guard and the Metro Topeka Airport Authority. The total cost is around $20 million, with the local portion being between $1.5 and $2 million.


Suicidal Man Killed by Wichita Police Officer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man is dead after being shot by police who were called to a Wichita home in response to a suicidal man who needed help. When officers arrived at the home around 1:30 pm Friday, the man ran out of the house toward officers with a weapon. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Nelson Mosley says an officer tried to subdue the man with a stun gun, but when that didn't work the officer fired at him. The man, who is believed to have been in his twenties, was taken to a local hospital where he died at 2 pm Friday. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.


Judge Rules Confession Can Be Used in Murder Trial

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled that the confession of a suspect in the death of a 52-year-old Lawrence businessman was given voluntarily and can be used in her trial. Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin said Thursday that 19-year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn's statements about the death of Harold Sasko were the "product of a free and independent will." 6News Lawrence reports McLinn's attorney said the defense would not contest that the statement was voluntary. Sasko's body was found on the living room floor of his home, where McLinn also was living, on January 17. His wrists and ankles were bound with zip ties, and his throat had been cut with a large hunting knife. McLinn told investigators she killed Sasko because she wanted to see what it felt like.


State Officials: Collegiate Remedial Education Failing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas education officials say the state's remedial education plan for incoming college students isn't working. The remedial courses, sometimes called developmental education, are offered to students who need to improve their capabilities in math, English or reading before taking college-level courses. The state says 42 percent of the first-time students in two-year colleges and 16 percent in public, four-year colleges take at least one remedial course. Most of those students don't graduate. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a new analysis  recommends the state increase funding and make changes to the program. Susan Fish, state director of developmental education, says students should be allowed to take the college level and remedial course simultaneously. And, she says schools need to do a better job of helping students cope with life's demands.


SE Kansas Homeless Shelter Prepares to Shut Down

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A shelter for homeless families in 11 southeast Kansas counties is preparing to close as its funding from the state declines. The Choices shelter in downtown Pittsburg is operated by the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program and serves about 350 people a year. It already closed briefly once this year but reopened after a fresh infusion of money. The Joplin Globe reports that the shelter will now close for good the afternoon of July 15. The shelter has seven employees and housed 26 children and adults in nine families as of July 1. The shelter has depended on Community Services Block Grant funds administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. to cover its annual shortfall of about $190,000. But a change in the state agency's grant formula cut that funding.


Rainfall Comes Too Late to Help SW Kansas Wheat Crop

OFFERLE, Kan. (AP) — Farmers in parched southwest Kansas say the unusually high amount of rain that fell last month came too late to help the dryland wheat crop but just in time to delay harvesting of what little of the crop managed to survive. Garden City experienced the driest January through May on record, but in June it received 10.5 inches of rain — far above the 3 inches it normally receives for the month. The Hutchinson News reports that the wheat harvest usually would be finished by now, but steady rainfall has kept combines out of the fields for several weeks. Garden City Co-op, which has 20 elevator locations across southwest Kansas, says only about 2 million bushels, or half of this year's crop, have been brought in to the cooperative's elevators.


Topeka Zoo Now Home to Bear Orphaned in Oregon

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 5-month-old American black bear cub orphaned in Oregon has found a new home in northeast Kansas. Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley announced Thursday that the zoo acquired the female bear in late May. The bear's name is Independence — or "Indie," for short. Wiley told The Topeka Capital-Journal that an 11-year-old boy found the cub May 22 near the southwest Oregon town of Myrtle Creek. She was malnourished and dehydrated, and after a night at the local police station, wildlife officials contacted the Topeka Zoo. Indie arrived in the Kansas capital May 29. She's been living in an enclosed housing unit in the zoo's black bear habitat since.


Suspect in Missouri Post Office Shooting Dies

HALE, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says a man who shot himself after wounding an employee at a northwest Missouri post office has died. The shootings occurred Wednesday afternoon at the post office in the small town of Hale, about 75 miles northeast of Kansas City. Acting postmaster Michelle Bell sustained at least one wound and was flown to a hospital. The 42-year-old Hale resident was in stable condition Thursday. The Postal Service said the suspect, Billy Bell, was taken to another hospital and died early Thursday. Authorities did not disclose the relationship between the Bells. But Missouri's online court records show that a judge finalized a divorce Tuesday between Michelle Bell, of Hale, and Billy Gene Bell, of nearby Bosworth, where Michelle Bell previously worked as the postmaster.



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