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Headlines for Friday, June 16, 2017

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

Kansas Governor Signs School Funding Bill; Court Review Next

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed into law a measure to increase the state's funding on public schools in response to a court mandate. Brownback acted Thursday on the bill, which would phase in a $293 million increase in aid to public schools over two years. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's $4 billion a year in education funding was inadequate. The court is expected to review the new law. Attorneys for four school districts suing the state have said they'll challenge the new law because they believe it still falls hundreds of millions of dollars short of adequately funding schools. But the justices did not set a figure when they told lawmakers to pass a new school funding law by June 30. 

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Kansas Governor Allows Concealed Carry Bill to Become Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has allowed a bill designed to keep concealed guns out of public hospitals and mental health centers to become law without his signature. The governor acted Thursday and broke with gun-rights allies. The new law allows a permanent ban on concealed guns at state hospitals, other public hospitals, community mental health centers, publicly owned nursing homes and indigent clinics. It also allows the University of Kansas Health System and the university's medical school in Kansas City, Kansas, to ban concealed guns. A 2013 state law required public buildings to allow concealed guns if those buildings lacked heightened security such as guards or metal detectors. Universities and public health facilities received a four-year exemption due to expire July 1. The new exemption does not apply to universities. 

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Kansas Mental Hospital Fails Federal Review 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the state mental hospital in eastern Kansas failed to regain federal recertification after a survey in May. That means the state will continue to lose up to $1 million a month in federal funds being withheld because the hospital doesn't meet federal standards. The government revoked Osawatomie State Hospital's certification in December 2015, citing safety and patient care issues. Department for Aging and Disabilities Services officials said Friday they were nevertheless encouraged because the surveyors didn't cite the hospital for the same issues that cost it certification. Instead, many of the issues dealt with the hospital's kitchen. The Associated Press obtained the information exclusively during a briefing Friday. KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said he expects the hospital to undergo at least two more surveys to get recertified.

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Senator Jerry Moran:  Trump Cuba Policy Bad for Farmers 

WASHINGTON (AP) —  Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, says President Donald Trump's new Cuba policy closes off a potentially lucrative market for American farmers. In a statement Friday, Moran says "putting America first means exporting what we produce to countries across the globe." He says he remains focused on finding ways to "increase trade with Cuba rather than cut off relationships that have the potential to create new jobs, bring in revenue and boost our national economy." Moran, whose state has almost 46 million acres devoted to farm operations, has backed legislation to restore trade with Cuba. He's also a co-sponsor of legislation that would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.

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27 Kansas Counties Get Federal Disaster Declaration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump has approved a federal disaster declaration for more than two dozen Kansas counties hit by storms between April 28 and May 3. The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts of western Kansas. Other counties endured strong straight-line winds and flooding during the storm. The 27 counties named in the declaration are Cherokee, Cheyenne, Crawford, Decatur, Finney, Gove, Graham, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Morton, Neosho, Norton, Rawlins, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Wallace, and Wichita. The declaration allows county governments to apply for public assistance funds for emergency work and to repair or replace facilities damaged in the storm.

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Regents Approve Tuition Hikes for Kansas Universities 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has approved tuition rate increases for the state's six universities mostly ranging from 2.5 percent to 2.9 percent. The rates for the next school year approved Thursday for resident and non-resident tuition include 2.5 percent increases at the University of Kansas; 2.9 percent at Kansas State University; 2.5 percent at Wichita State; 2.7 percent at Emporia State; 2.8 percent at Pittsburg State and 2.9 percent at Fort Hays State. The exceptions are a 5.5 percent increase for the compact rate at Kansas, a 5 percent increase at the University of Kansas Medical Center and no increase at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. The compact rate allows incoming freshmen to lock in tuition for four years.

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Coroner: Representative Patsy Terrell Died of Natural Causes

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A coroner says Representative Patsy Terrell of Hutchinson died of natural causes. Terrell, a Democrat, was found dead June 7 in a Topeka hotel room. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County Coroner Charles Glenn said Thursday Terrell had "significant medical problems'' consistent with her death. Five people have said they are interested in completing Terrell's legislative term. The five who expressed interest at a Reno County Democratic Party gathering are Jim Clark, former union steward and volunteer coordinator for Terrell's campaign; Charles Johnston, producing director at Stage 9; Glenn Owen, former school principal and current paraprofessional; Jason Probst, Opinion/Sunday editor at The Hutchinson News; and Luann Trummel Wellborn, an attorney. Terrell's two-year term ends in January 2019 but the winner could run for a full term next year.

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5 People Seek to Replace Late Representative Patsy Terrell in Legislature 

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Five people say they are interested in completing the legislative term of the late Representative Patsy Terrell. Terrell, a Democrat from Hutchinson, died June 7 in Topeka. Democratic precinct committee members will choose a nominee June 21. Gov. Sam Brownback will formally appoint the replacement. The Hutchinson News reports the five who expressed interest at a Reno County Democratic Party gathering Wednesday are Jim Clark, former union steward and volunteer coordinator for Terrell's campaign; Charles Johnston, producing director at Stage 9; Glenn Owen, former school principal and current paraprofessional; Jason Probst, Opinion/Sunday editor at The News; and Luann Trummel Wellborn, an attorney. Terrell's two-year term ends in January 2019 but party leaders hope the winner will run for a full term next year.

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Arkansas Man Sentenced for Health Care Fraud 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Arkansas man who owned a medical imaging business was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution for health care fraud. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that 39-year-old Cody Lee West, of Paragould, Arkansas, was sentenced Thursday. He also will serve six months of home detention. West owned C & S Imaging, a mobile independent diagnostic testing facility that provided ultra sound diagnostic testing. Prosecutors say West told chiropractors he could provide equipment and an operator at no cost to them. He then fraudulently billed Medicare for exams and Doppler scans. He received up to $410 per patient for services that were not ordered by physicians, not medically necessary, not performed or not documented.

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Texas Woman, 82, Won't Be Charged in Kansas Airport Clash 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An 82-year-old Texas woman who got into a scuffle with a Wichita airport security agent will not face charges. Wichita City Attorney Jennifer Magana said the case against Lila Bryan was dismissed Friday at the request of the security agent. Bryan, of Mesquite, Texas, was cited by police May 31 for misdemeanor battery after she hit a Transportation Security Administration agent at Wichita's Dwight Eisenhower Airport. The TSA said Bryan became upset after the agent tried to confiscate a bottle of foaming hand gel that was too large to carry on the plane. She was arrested, photographed and fingerprinted before being freed. Bryan told The Associated Press after her arrest that she was exhausted and had forgotten to take her medication before the confrontation.

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Layoffs Expected at General Motors Fairfax Plant 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — General Motors has sparked concern about layoffs after announcing plans to eliminate one shift at its plant in Kansas City, Kansas. GM spokeswoman Mary Padilla tells the Kansas City Star that the company will reduce the number of production shifts at its Fairfax Assembly Plant from three to two beginning in late September. The company says the change will mean about 1,000 layoffs. The plant currently has more than 3,000 employees. Padilla says the decision is due to declining market demand for mid-sized cars. She says the market is favoring crossovers and trucks over passenger cars. The announcement came two days after GM made public that the plant would extend its summer shutdown from two weeks to five because of decreased sales of the Chevrolet Malibu, built at the plant.

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2 Years of Kansas Wildfires Could Total $100M

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Back-to-back years of record wildfires in Kansas could end up costing as much as $100 million. Kansas Department of Agriculture and Forest Service reports show that damages so far exceed $80 million. That includes roughly $50 million to cover about 3,700 miles of burned fences and as many as 8,000 dead cattle from wildfires this year along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. But those numbers don't include the loss of homes and other structures, such as barns and garages, or
power lines. The Wichita Eagle reports the department's data also doesn't include the $3 million spent on firefighting or the thousands of hours of lost wages from volunteer firefighters. Some lawmakers are asking to audit Kansas's firefighting system to highlight how the state can improve and provide necessary resources. 

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Former In-Home Caregiver Sentenced to 2 Years for Abuse 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former in-home caregiver has been sentenced to two years in prison for abusing a developmentally disabled man. The Kansas City Star reports 32-year-old April Dawn Reno, of Lawrence, was sentenced Thursday in Johnson County District Court. She pleaded no contest in April to aggravated battery. Court documents indicate the abuse of the man from Lenexa occurred in June 2015. Reno was initially charged with mistreatment of a dependent adult after bruises were found on the man's body during a doctor's visit. The victim, who is in his 50s, was described in court as having limited ability to communicate and requiring full-time care.

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Former Kansas Mail Carrier Pleads Guilty to Mail Theft 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former mail carrier in northwest Kansas has pleaded guilty to stealing mail he was supposed to deliver. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that 25-year-old James Stephenson, of Hoxie, pleaded guilty Friday to mail theft. Stephenson said while he was employed at the Post Office in Hoxie, he stole mail containing cash, gift cards and prepaid debit cards. Stephenson said he watched for special occasion cards that were likely to contain money or cards. Attorneys on both sides have agreed to recommend a sentence of one year and day in federal prison. Sentencing is set for September 14.

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Authorities Recover Body of Man Missing in Perry Lake 

OZAWKIE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have recovered the body of a man who was missing in Perry Lake. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says the man's body was recovered about 10:45 a.m. Thursday. He was identified as 19-year-old Adam Perkins of the Grantville area. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Perkins' disappearance was reported around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Devil's Gap section of the Slough Creek Public Use Area. Perry Lake is about 20 miles northeast of Topeka.

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Kansas Army Veteran Faked Blindness to Get Federal Benefits 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Army veteran from Reno County has admitted he pretended to be blind in order to receive more than $70,000 in benefits. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced Thursday that 62-year-old Billy Alumbaugh, of Turon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. His ex-wife, 58-year-old Debra Alumbaugh, also of Turon, pleaded guilty to concealing the crime. Alumbaugh admitted that he received special monthly pension benefits after falsely telling the Veterans Administration he was blind and homebound. In reality, Alumbaugh was able to drive and take part in other routine activities without assistance. Beall says Alumbaugh's wife accompanied him to medical visits in which they pretended he was blind and needed her assistance. Sentencing is set for September 6.

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Man Convicted of Killing Boss Near Kansas Hospital in 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A jury has found a man guilty of killing his boss outside the University of Kansas Hospital two years ago. A Wyandotte County jury on Thursday convicted 48-year-old Willie E. Parker of first-degree murder in the July 2015 death of Michel Ziade. Parker worked for Ziade, of Lee's Summit, Missouri. Ziade owned First Class Medical Transportation, which provided non-emergency medical transport. The shooting occurred in a parking lot near the hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Parker was arrested about a week later in Missouri after a five-hour standoff with police. Parker will be sentenced July 28.

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Police Say Man Swam Across Missouri River in Escape Attempt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Court records say a man swam across the Missouri River and then tried to swim back to the other side after leading officers on a chase through the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Shane Hyde was charged Thursday with tampering and resisting arrest. The chase began Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri, when the driver of a stolen vehicle rammed a police vehicle and sped away with officers in pursuit. Authorities allege that Hyde then drove off a levee in Kansas City, Kansas, and swam across the river to Riverside, Missouri. When officers approached, he tried to swim back to the Kansas side but signaled for help. Firefighters used a boat to rescue him.

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Kansas Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Daughter's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the death of his 14-month-old daughter. WIBW reports 28-year-old Michael Guerrero was sentenced Thursday for second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the June 2015 death of Leah Kay Ross.  Guerrero told investigators he tried to perform CPR on the child when she started choking on a french fry. But a court affidavit cited doctors saying Leah's bruises were consistent with an ``extremely violent event,'' such as being punched. Guerrero was originally charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and aggravated endangering of a child. He accepted a plea deal in April. Guerrero will spend three years on post-release supervision after he's released from prison. 

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Royals Roll to 5th Straight Win Beating Angels 7-2 

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon hit solo home runs as the Kansas City Royals picked up their fifth consecutive victory, defeating the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 on Thursday night. The Royals have hit 14 homers in this unbeaten stretch. Cain hit a line drive that barely cleared the wall in left center in the third inning, and Gordon followed it up with a shot to center in the fourth, his third of the year. That was more than enough support for Matt Strahm (2-3), who won his first career start after making 41 appearances as a reliever over the past two seasons. Strahm went five innings, striking out three while giving up three hits and one walk. The Angels' Ricky Nolasco (2-8) dropped his sixth straight start, giving up five runs and 10 hits in six innings, while the Angels failed to pick up their first three-game winning streak since Mike Trout's thumb injury.

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