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Headlines for Friday, June 23, 2017

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

Kansas Jury Awards $218M to Kansas Farmers in Syngenta Suit 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal jury in Kansas has awarded nearly $218 million to farmers who sued Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its introduction of a genetically engineered corn seed variety. Friday's verdict after a three-week trial in Kansas City, Kansas, involves four Kansas farmers representing more than 7,000 farmers in the state. Another trial involving about 60,000 cases begins next month in Minnesota. The lawsuits allege Syngenta introduced the seed variety to the U.S. market before China approved it for imports, wrecking an increasingly important export market for U.S. corn and causing price drops. The Kansas trial was the first test case. It and the Minnesota trial will provide guidance for how the complex web of litigation in state and federal courts could be resolved.


Judge Fines Kansas Elections Official for Misleading Court
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has fined Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach $1,000 for misleading the court about the contents of materials he was photographed taking into a November meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump. The ruling Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge James O'Hara also requires Kobach to submit to a deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union about that document as well as a separate draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act. The ruling stops short of ordering the materials be made public as the ACLU had requested. But O'Hara says they would become a judicial record if attorneys file them as exhibits in a motion. The parties would then face a tougher standard to meet to keep them secret. Kobach did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Kansas Governor Signs Bill Delaying Amusement Park Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill that will delay enforcement of part of a new law that toughens regulations for amusement park rides. The measure signed Friday calls for stricter inspection requirements and more oversight of rides and still will take effect July 1. The bill Brownback signed delays a provision that creates criminal penalties for operating a ride without a license until January 1 and prohibits the Department of Labor from enforcing penalties until new rules are published. The department had been concerned that some parks wouldn't be able to comply with the new tougher standards by July 1. The initial law was enacted in April after the death of Republican Representative Scott Schwab's son, Caleb, last summer at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas.


Appeals Court Rules Against Kansas Woman in Prayer Lawsuit 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal appellate court has upheld a judge's dismissal of a Kansas woman's lawsuit against police officers.  Mary Ann Sause, a Catholic former nurse, claims that police officers who came to her home wouldn't allow her to pray during their encounter. A 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Denver affirmed a Kansas district court's decision last year to dismiss Sause's case against two Louisburg officers. Sause alleged the officers responding to a noise complaint demanded to be let into her apartment, wouldn't specify why they were there and called a copy of the Constitution she showed them "just a piece of paper." Sause said that when she began praying, an officer unconstitutionally ordered her to stop. Hiram Sasser, a First Liberty Institute attorney for Sause, says lawyers for the woman are weighing their legal options.


Kansas Appeals Court Upholds Commune Leader's Convictions
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the convictions for murder and other charges against the leader and self-proclaimed seer of a Kansas commune which lived off the life insurance payouts of its dead members. The state's highest court affirmed on Friday the convictions against Daniel U. Perez. Perez was also convicted of fraud for lying on life insurance applications along with numerous counts of rape and other sexual assault charges involving young girls who had been living at the commune with their mothers. Although Perez was charged with only one murder count for the 2003 death of Hughes, several members who carried hefty life insurance policies also died. Perez was charged in 2011 when a woman who had been 12 at the time told authorities the drowning was staged.


Shawnee County Approves $10,000 Settlement in Jail Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County will pay a woman $10,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after she fell from an upper bunk in the county jail. Giuseppina Rogers sued the county, its corrections department and some officials in 2012. She claimed she asked to be allowed to sleep on a lower bunk or the floor of the cell because she it is difficult to climb down from the upper bunk. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Rogers was assigned an upper bunk. She said she suffered permanent injuries when she fell from the bunk, hitting the floor and a toilet bowl. The commission approved the settlement Thursday. County counselor Jim Crowl says the lawsuit's claims had no merit but he recommended settling the case, which has been in litigation for five years.


Former KU, NFL Player Keith Loneker Dead at 46

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Keith Loneker, the former Kansas University offensive lineman who spent three years in the NFL before pursuing an acting career, died yesterday. He was 46. His son, current KU linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. said his father been diagnosed with cancer late last year. Loneker spent three seasons in the NFL playing for the St. Louis Rams. Later he was featured in several Hollywood films, including Superbad, Lakeview Terrace, with Samuel L. Jackson, and Leatherheads, a football movie starring George Clooney. Loneker, who turned 46 on Wednesday was a substitute teacher at Free State High School in Lawrence 


Kansas Republican Event Promoted with 'Olathe Lives Matter!' Slogan 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A GOP leader in a largely white Kansas City suburb says the party "didn't mean anything" by promoting a picnic with the slogan "Olathe Lives Matter!" and a rainbow font. The Kansas City Star reports that Olathe Republican Party chairman David Lightner says each year the party attempts to include a humorous line in its invitations and that he's sorry "if it was taken the wrong way." He says, "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." Olathe is more than 80 percent white. Lightner also added that the use of rainbow font wasn't intended to be a reference to the LGBT rights movement. The Faith and Freedom Picnic is scheduled for tomorrow (SAT). Among the speakers is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is running for governor.


Homeless Man Charged with Topeka Gas Station Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A homeless man has been charged with killing another man behind a Topeka gas station. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 41-year-old Jason Hottman was charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the killing 34-year-old Jason Baker. Police found Baker bleeding and unresponsive June 2 behind the Haag's Express gas station in the western part of the city. Police said that on June 4, Hottman jumped off a bridge onto Interstate 70. He sustained injuries not believed to be life-threatening. The prosecutor's office didn't immediately return an email message asking whether Hottman has an attorney. 


City of Topeka Seeks to Padlock Nuisance House 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Topeka wants to padlock a house where police have been involved in 84 incidents in six years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the city argued in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Shawnee County that the house should be locked up for two years under the state's nuisance laws. City attorney Lisa Robertson also is asking that a fine of $25,000 be assessed. The petition says authorities have recovered stolen vehicles, encountered a self-described methamphetamine addict and collected numerous drugs and paraphernalia. Jeffrey Patton told the Capital-Journal that there have been ``run-ins with the law'' during the six years he's lived in the home, sometimes with other people. But he says ``cops cause more problems than I do.''  It's the first case of its kind that the city has filed.

Flying Drones at Night Allowed at K-State Polytechnic in Salina 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus in Salina is going to be flying unmanned aircraft systems after dark. The school announced Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration granted it a waiver to federal law regulating the unmanned systems, often called drones.  Generally, flying the unmanned aircraft is not allowed at night. The night flights will be conducted for research, commercial flight training courses and as in the curriculum of the UAS degree program. The Applied Aviation Research Center offers several different UAS short courses and is introducing night operations in its commercial remote pilot training course starting Friday. The school offers two UAS degree options and one minor.  


Excel Industries to Lay Off over 200 Employees in Hesston 

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — Excel Industries in Hesston says it is reorganizing its operations and will lay off about 270 employees, effective immediately. Excel announced the layoffs Thursday in a letter to employees. Company officials said in a news release that demand for the turf care products it makes grew rapidly in the last three years but returned to more normal levels this year. They say Excel continues to grow but the overall market for turf care products is flat or down, in part because of weather and economic conditions in some areas. Excel is Hesston's second-largest employer. The plant was the scene of a shooting that left four dead and 14 wounded in 2016. 


KU to Move Forward with $300 Million Stadium Renovation Plan 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — University of Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger says plans to renovate Memorial Stadium and build an indoor training facility are moving forward and will cost around $300 million. The Kansas City Star reports that Zenger made the announcement Wednesday night at an event for the football team. He says architectural drawings are in the works for the renovatation of the, nearly century-old, stadium. Zenger offered few details, saying he will speak more in the coming months after the designs are shown to fans in September. Kansas football coach David Beaty says fans "deserve a really, really nice stadium." He's trying to turn around a program that ended with a 2-10 record last season. University officials have considered a stadium overhaul for more than a decade.


Postal Employee from Kansas City Admits to Stealing Mail 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a postal employee from Kansas City, Missouri, has pleaded guilty to stealing mail. The U.S. attorney's office says 55-year-old Terry Williams admitted Thursday that the theft occurred in 2015 and 2016 while he was working at a mail processing center. Prosecutors say federal agents watched Williams pluck colored envelopes from the trays of mail he was loading to be processed. When approached at the end of his shift, he dropped a bag he'd dropped the envelopes into and ran. Agents chased Williams, tackled him to the ground and handcuffed him. Agents seized two gift cards from Williams and found 232 greeting cards in the bag he'd kept under this work station. Inside his vehicle's trunk, agents found 104 greeting cards, 34 Netflix DVD mailings and three gift cards.


Kansas Man Injured After High-Speed Chase 

WILSON, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man who allegedly led law enforcement on a high-speed chase has been injured after his vehicle crashed. The Salina Journal reports that the 47-year-old was transported to Wesley Medical Center following the Thursday crash just south of Wilson. A hospital spokesman says the man was in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon. A Kansas Highway Patrol report states that the man was being pursued by law enforcement when he attempted to turn into a field entrance at a high rate of speed, causing his vehicle to roll several times. Ellsworth County Sheriff Murray Marston says the county deputy was investigating a parked car when the car took off at high speeds and crossed into Russell County.


K-State Touts Large Capital Projects in Last 5 Years

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State University says it has added or renovated more than 1 million square feet of space on the Manhattan campus in the last five years. The university announced Thursday in a news release it also has renovated or erected several structures on its Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina during the past five years, including an unmanned aircraft systems laboratory and the Bulk Solids Innovation Center. Kansas State President Richard Myers says the construction is part of the university's goal to become a Top 50 public research university by 2025. Current and upcoming large projects including renovation and expansion of Seaton Hall, renovating the Student Union, two more phases of renovating Bill Snyder Family Stadium, an office park and an agronomy education center.  


Three Kansas Players Picked in NBA Draft

PHOENIX (AP) — The NBA tapped into the talent pool at Kansas and Kansas State during last (THUR) night's draft. The Phoenix Suns selected University of Kansas forward Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick. 20-year-old Jackson was the Big 12 freshman of the year for 2017. In the second round, Jackson’s KU teammate, guard Frank Mason, went to the Sacramento Kings. The Orlando Magic took Wesley Iwundu who finished his college career at Kansas State.

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