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Headlines for Friday, October 21, 2016

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

Kansas Unemployment Rate Up for 4th Consecutive Month 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lost more than 2,000 private-sector jobs in September as the state's unemployment rate ticked up for the fourth month in a row. The Kansas Department of Labor attributes the rise in the jobless rate to a combination of fewer people in the workforce and a decline in the number of nonfarm jobs. September's unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent in August and 4 percent in September 2015. The Labor Department says the state had 600 fewer nonfarm jobs than in August and 2,100 private-sector jobs overall. The report issued Friday says Kansas has lost 6,300 jobs since last September, including 5,900 since the start of the year. Officials say the state's labor force has fallen by roughly 18,800 people in 2016, including 1,763 in September.

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Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence in 1996 Slaying

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's highest court has upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a college student 20 years ago. The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday let stand Gary Kleypas's death sentence in the 1996 rape and stabbing death of 20-year-old Pittsburg State University student Carrie Williams. The court did throw out Kleypas's conviction of attempted rape and ordered him resentenced for aggravated burglary. Kleypas was the first person to be sentenced to death in Kansas after it reinstated capital punishment in 1994. Kansas hasn't executed anyone in more than 50 years, although 10 men are on the state's death row.

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Kansas High Court Drops Charge Against Man Who Decapitated Housekeeper 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has dismissed an attempted rape charge against a truck driver who was sentenced to death in 2004 for killing and decapitating a Wichita housekeeper. The court ruled on Friday that 54-year-old Douglas Belt should not have been convicted of attempted rape because prosecutors used the same act to get a capital murder conviction. Belt died in prison of natural causes in April. The court ruled on his appeal anyway because it had the potential to exonerate him on one or more convictions. Belt was convicted of the 2002 slaying of 42-year-old Lucille Gallegos, whose headless body was found in an empty apartment at a Wichita complex where she worked. Investigators called the killing one of most gruesome crimes in the city's history.

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Chemical Cloud over Kansas Community Dissipates 

5:20 p.m. update:

At least 85 people sought medical attention after a chemical spill at a distilling plant that released a noxious cloud in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Department of Emergency Management says the cloud occurred Friday morning when two chemicals were mistakenly combined at the MGP Ingredients plant in Atchison. The department says people were allowed back into their homes after the cloud dissipated a few hours later. Atchison Hospital spokeswoman T.C. Roberts says about 67 people sought care at the hospital's emergency room for upper respiratory discomfort. Roberts says one person remained in intensive care Friday afternoon and two others were admitted to the hospital. About 18 others sought care at a hospital in nearby St. Joseph, Missouri. MGP produces premium distilled spirits. It employs about 300 people at the Atchison plant, about 50 miles from Kansas City.

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1:40 p.m. update: 

More than 50 people sought medical attention after a chemical spill at a distilling plant that released a noxious cloud in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Department of Emergency Management says the cloud occurred Friday morning when two chemicals were mistakenly combined at the MGP Ingredients plant in Atchison. The department says people were allowed back into their homes after the cloud dissipated a few hours later. Atchison Hospital spokeswoman T.C. Roberts says 52 people sought care at the hospital's emergency room for upper respiratory discomfort. Roberts says one person remained in intensive care Friday afternoon. She says some were treated and released but did not know how many. MGP produces premium distilled spirits. It employs about 300 people at the Atchison plant, about 50 miles from Kansas City.

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11:50 a.m. update: 

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say it's safe for residents to return home and for students to go back to school now that a noxious cloud that formed over their northeast Kansas community has dissipated. The Kansas Department of Emergency Management says the cloud occurred Friday morning when sulfuric acid and hypochlorite were mistakenly combined at the MGP Ingredients plant in Atchison. The department says 18 people who suffered respiratory problems because of the cloud were taken to hospitals. Their conditions have not been released. Emergency officials ordered the evacuation of schools and homes near the plant earlier Friday, but lifted the evacuation order when the chemical cloud cleared later in the morning. MGP produces premium distilled spirits and employs about 300 people at the plant in Atchison, 50 miles northwest of Kansas City.

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Kansas Community College Conference Eliminates Roster, Scholarship Limits 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An athletic conference composed of 19 Kansas community colleges has dropped a rule adopted during the desegregation era to limit out-of-state players on basketball and football teams. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference announced the change Thursday. Starting next season, the conference will follow National Junior College Athletic Association limits for all sports starting next season. Opponents contended the out-of-state limitations had discriminated against the mostly black out-of-state players. But supporters contend that the rule protected opportunities for Kansas students, boosting their chances of getting a college education through use of athletic scholarships. Eight schools had threatened to leave the conference if the rules weren't changed. Jayhawk president Mike Calvert said scholarship funds for out-of-state players must be privately raised by either booster clubs or foundations.

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Haskell Says Federal Investigation of Nepotism Is Ongoing 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Haskell Indian Nations University is now saying a federal investigation into alleged nepotism at the school is not completed. On Tuesday, Haskell administrators said the federal Office of Inspector General concluded the complaint was unsubstantiated and closed its investigation. But Thursday, Haskell issued a statement saying the earlier announcement was incorrect. The complaint accused of Haskell President Venida Chenault of nepotism for supervising her son, Joshua Arce, while he was acting dean of students for eight months. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the university says an internal investigation by the Bureau of Indian Education's Human Resources Officer found no evidence of wrongdoing by Chenault. However, the Inspector General's investigation is ongoing. The university said it incorrectly assumed the resources officer's investigation was being done cooperatively with the Inspector General's office.

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Judge Says Kansas Man in Conspiracy Bomb Case Poses 'Grave Danger'
 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest on three men accused of conspiring to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where Somali immigrants live in western Kansas (all times local):

3:55 p.m. update

The defense attorney for one of three men accused of plotting to attack Somali immigrants in western Kansas says his client was only preparing to defend himself against massive social upheaval. The comments came during a court hearing Friday for 47-year-old Patrick Stein from Wright, Kansas, whom prosecutors say was the leader of a militia group called "The Crusaders." U.S. Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer ruled that Stein would remain in jail while he awaits trial. Birzer said Stein poses a "grave danger." Stein and two other militia members are accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex in the western Kansas meatpacking town of Garden City. Stein pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Defense attorney Ed Robinson says his client was led by the government's paid informant and an FBI undercover agent.

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2:10 p.m. update

A Kansas man has waived a detention hearing and pleaded not guilty in what prosecutors say was a conspiracy by a militia group to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live. Gavin Wright's decision means the 51-year-old from Liberal remains in federal custody pending trial. The hearing for another defendant is still on track. Defense attorney Kari Schmidt told the court she and Wrignt have concerns about his safety if he's released. Prosecutors contend Wright and two other men arrested in the case pose a "substantial danger" to the community. Wright and co-defendants Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the meatpacking town of Garden City. Wright has no criminal history.

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12:13 a.m. update

Prosecutors say an anti-Muslim militia group in Kansas first came to the government's attention when one member contacted FBI agents and became a confidential source. The new details came in a government court filing in the case of three men accused of conspiring to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the western Kansas meatpacking town of Garden City. Prosecutors say the men pose a "substantial danger" to the community and should stay jailed until trial. Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. They were arrested in what the government calls a foiled plot to attack the apartment complex on November 9.

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Kansas Elections Chief Backs Trump on Election Fraud Claims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The top elections official Kansas is defending Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee claims that election fraud could cost him the election.  Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a Trump supporter and a vocal advocate of tough voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voters.  But the Kansas Republican Party's executive director said Thursday that the party will accept the results after the Electoral College meets in December to formally choose the president. Kobach said if the vote is close in a swing state like Florida, there is what he called a ``legitimate question'' about the results. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker said there might be some election problems but no ``massive election conspiracy.''  Kansas Senator Jerry Moran also says that he'll accept this year's election results and will encourage all candidates for office to do the same. Moran said American democracy depends on the country's ability to elect leaders in a fair and open process. 

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Cable, Telecom and Internet Provider in Lawrence Area Sold 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A company that provides cable, telecom and internet services in the Lawrence area has been sold. Officials with WOW announced Friday that the Lawrence system will be acquired by Midco, which provides cable, internet and other services in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Lawrence Journal-World reports WOW operates in several states but Midco is buying only the Lawrence operations. WOW also owns Channel 6 in Lawrence. Midco officials Tom Simmons says no changes are planned at the station in the short term. WOW has about 70 employees in Lawrence and Simmons says no layoffs are planned. WOW serves more than 30,000 customers in Douglas, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. The sale must be approved by regulators, which could take a few months.

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Federal Disaster Declared for Storm-Damaged Kansas Counties

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for 11 Kansas counties hit hard by last month's severe storms and flooding. The declaration means federal funding is now available for state and eligible local government and some nonprofit organizations. The White House said in a news release that the eligible counties are Cheyenne, Cowley, Ellis, Graham, Greenwood, Kingman, Norton, Rooks, Russell, Sedgwick and Sumner. The storms and flooding occurred during the first two weeks of September.

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Only Half of Saline County Homes with High Lead Levels Investigated 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials say only about half of the 33 cases of elevated lead levels reported in Saline County children were investigated because some people were reluctant to allow officials into their homes. Saline County official Shawn Esterl, who helped the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with the investigations, said other parents didn't like the information they were given by health officials. The Salina Journal reports that the families who didn't participate will not receive specific information about the source of lead in their homes but can still follow general recommendations for controlling lead hazards. The state began an investigation in June because of the high number of children affected. In August, the state notified families that no single cause for the elevated lead levels was found.

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Kansas Man Gets Probation in Octopus-in-Throat Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A southern Kansas man who admitted to endangering a child after a 2-year-old boy in his care ended up with a small octopus lodged in his throat has been sentenced to two years of probation. Thirty-seven-year-old Matthew Gallagher also was sentenced Thursday to a suspended one-year jail term. Gallagher pleaded guilty to a reduced count of child endangerment, as well as charges of battery and interference with law enforcement. All are misdemeanors. The boy's mother told investigators she returned from work April 5 to find Gallagher performing CPR on her son at her Wichita home. A small octopus was found in the boy's throat. He was treated at a hospital. Police say Gallagher told them he had been eating sushi and small octopuses when he fed one to the boy. 

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Food Distribution Company Plans Topeka Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A food distribution company is set to make an $86.5 million capital investment in Topeka, including a new 250,000-plus square-foot facility. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Joint Economic Development Organization lured the Oregon-based Reser's Fine Foods with $665,000 in performance incentives. The company's expansion includes 180 new jobs and upgrades to its current Topeka plant. The company plans for its project to be done in two phases, with a groundbreaking in early 2017. Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, says the one-time economic impact of Reser's expansion is projected to be $115 million. The recurring impact each year is expected to be $90 million.

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Woman Charged in Kansas Cold Case 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A woman has been charged in the death of an 18-year-old woman whose body was found nearly 30 years ago in Kansas City, Kansas. The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office said in a release Thursday that 48-year-old Carolyn J. Heckert is charged with first-degree murder in the December 1989 death of Sarah DeLeon, who was found stabbed to death along some railroad tracks. Heckert is being held on $1 million bond following her arrest Wednesday in Smithville, Missouri, which is about 20 miles north of Kansas City, Kansas. Police have said new DNA collection and testing technology prompted investigators to reopen the DeLeon case in July 2014.  

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Earthquake Reported in Sumner County

CALDWELL, Kan. (AP) _ A 3.6 magnitude earthquake was reported Thursday morning in Sumner County. The Hays Post reports that the United States Geological Survey registered the earthquake just before 7:15 am Thursday. It was centered about 13 miles southwest of Caldwell, near the Kansas - Oklahoma state line. No damage or injuries were reported.

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Police Arrest Second Suspect in Kansas City, Kansas, Killing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have arrested a second suspect in a Kansas City, Kansas, homicide and continue looking for a third. Police said in a news release that 20-year-old D'Adrian Jones turned himself in Thursday. Police continue looking for his 19-year-old brother, Kavon Jones. They have been charged in Wyandotte County with first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Clarence Buford, of Kansas City, Kansas. Buford was killed September 26 in a strip mall parking lot, and police arrested the first suspect the next day. Police said Kavon Jones should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is urged to call police or a tips hotline.

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Kansas State University Announces Next Round of Stadium Improvements

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State University has announced more plans to renovate Bill Snyder Family Stadium, including a new limestone wall encircling the field and an improved sound system. The $3 million project was announced Thursday. Kansas State has already spent nearly $200 million on improvements to the football stadium, all of it funded by private donations. The centerpiece was the massive expansion to the west side, but work has also included new offices and locker rooms that fully enclosed the north end zone. Athletic director John Currie said the project will begin after the football season and should be completed prior to next season. 

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Donors Respond to Plea to Rescue Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers

WASHINGTON (AP) - People are pledging lots of green to restore a pair of famous red slippers. On Monday, the Smithsonian launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $300,000 to preserve its pair of the ruby slippers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas at the end of "The Wizard of Oz." By this (FRI) morning, the campaign had already raised $239,000. More than 4,390 people had backed the project. The slippers have been one of the most beloved items at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History for more than 30 years. They were crafted almost 80 years ago by the MGM Studios prop department. Like most movie props, they weren't built to last. The Smithsonian wants to use the money toward a technologically advanced display case that will preserve them for future generations.

 

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