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Headlines for Friday, September 22, 2017

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

Kobach: Kansas Election Systems Not Targeted by Hackers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says federal officials have told his office that the state's election systems were not targeted by hackers last year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems. The systems were not breached in most cases. Kobach said Friday that in other states, hackers scanned voter registration systems hoping to do a superficial probe of them. He said Kansas has extra security that may have discouraged such an attempt. He also said there is no indication that vote-tabulation systems were targeted. He said tabulation in Kansas is "very secure" because officials typically call in or email results and there is no internet uploading of results. Kobach is vice chairman of President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud.

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State Security Measures Under Fire in Wake of Employee Shooting
 
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Revenue is reviewing security at its offices after a shooting this week injured an employee in Wichita.  The agency moved out of the now-vacant Finney State Office Building in downtown Wichita three years ago as part of Governor Sam Brownback's push to privatize office space. That building had guards and other security for employees.  The Wichita Eagle reports there was no protection Tuesday when tax compliance agent Cortney Holloway was shot at the office.  The suspect, 51-year-old Ricky Todd Wirths, of Wichita, owed nearly $400,000 in outstanding tax warrants.  Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat from Wichita, and Robert Choromanski, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, both criticized the decision to provide no protection for state employees at offices the state rents from private owners.

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Wichita Man Charged in Shooting of Kansas Department of Revenue Agent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A man accused of shooting a Kansas Department of Revenue agent has been charged with attempted first-degree murder. Ricky Wirths made his first appearance in court Thursday. He's charged in Tuesday's shooting of tax agent Cortney Holloway at a Wichita office. Revenue officials say Wirths owes almost $400,000 in taxes and the department was at Wirths' home seizing his assets hours before the shooting. Holloway was involved in the investigation of Wirths. Police say Wirths walked into the office Tuesday, asked to see Holloway and shot him several times before fleeing. During Thursday's hearing, Wirths' bond was increased to $500,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 5.

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Court Records: Kansas Commerce Secretary Forced to Resign 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Court documents filed in a dispute between former Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave and his business partner say Gov. Sam Brownback forced Soave to resign. Soave resigned in June and announced earlier this month that he was running for Congress. His resignation came two weeks after business partner Paola Ghezzo sued Soave in Johnson County, alleging fraud and other financial misdeeds. Ghezzo, who was a consultant at the Commerce Department, alleges that Soave used funds from their consulting business for personal bills and expenses related to state business. The Kansas City Star reports court documents show Soave's business was intertwined with the Commerce Department and say Brownback's chief of staff knew about the fraud allegations in February. Brownback denied forcing Soave to resign.

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Spokeswoman: Bob Dole Hospitalized for Low Blood Pressure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokeswoman says former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is hospitalized for low blood pressure.  Dole spokeswoman Marion Watkins said in an email Friday that the 94-year-old former Kansas senator has been hospitalized since September 13 at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.  She says he was admitted after a routine checkup. She say his low blood pressure is being treated with medication.  Dole's wife, former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, tweeted a request for prayers. He then tweeted that he hopes to be home in a few days, "sipping a cosmo."  Dole served in the U.S. Congress for 35 years. He left the Senate in 1996 for his campaign against President Bill Clinton. Congress recently voted to award him a Congressional Gold Medal.

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Study Finds GOP Health Bill Would Reshuffle Dollars, Benefit Kansas  

WASHINGTON (AP) —  A study finds the latest GOP effort to end "Obamacare" would take federal dollars away from states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The study says the states that didn't expand Medicaid would initially get more federal dollars under the Republican Graham-Cassidy bill. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation study came out Thursday. It estimates the states that didn't expand Medicaid would get an average of 12 percent more. The study says states that expanded Medicaid to serve more low-income adults would face a cut of around 11 percent from 2020-2026. The biggest losers, percentage-wise, would be: New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and Minnesota. California would be the biggest loser in dollars. The biggest winners would be:  Kansas, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, South Dakota, and Tennessee. But the study says those gains could vanish over time.

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Kansas Board of Regents Lists Conflicts of Interest 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has voted to accept staff recommendations that members excuse or monitor themselves when engaging in potential conflicts of interest. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports four board members on Thursday acknowledged their significant financial ties to higher education institutions, necessitating recusals to avoid a conflict of interest. Julene Miller is part of the board's general counsel. Miller says individuals with conflicts of interest will abstain from voting and from participating in discussion regarding particular areas where they have conflict. She says the exception would be if the board determines the member with a conflict could provide information unobtainable from other sources. Board member Shane Bangerter says the board policy seems thorough and fair. Bangerter owns a law firm that provided legal services to Dodge City Community College.

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Murder Charge Filed in Kansas Woman's Death While Fleeing 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wyandotte County officials have charged a man with murder in the death of a woman who died in a traffic crash while she was fleeing from an alleged rape. Prosecutors filed the felony first-degree murder charge Friday against 35-year-old Orlando Taylor, of Kansas City, Kansas, in the death of 39-year-old Shannon Keithley. The Kansas City Star reports Keithley died August 18 when the car she was driving hit a concrete pillar less than mile from her home while she was calling 911. Taylor was arrested that day while hiding under the deck of Keithley's house. He was originally charged with rape and burglary. District Attorney Mark Dupree said in a statement Friday that Keithley died as a result of Taylor committing underlying felonies of rape and burglary.

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Kansas Daycare Worker Ordered to Stand Trial for Murder

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) - A judge has ordered a Eudora home daycare worker to stand trial for murder in the death of a 9-month-old baby. After a preliminary hearing Thursday, Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny ruled 43-year-old Carrody Buchhorn should be tried in death of Oliver Ortiz. The child died in September 2016 at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home. The Lawrence Journal-World reports medical examiner Erik Mitchell ruled Oliver's death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head and torso. Mitchell testified Thursday that he couldn't create a scenario to explain the boy's death as an accident. The trial was scheduled to begin February 12. The license for the daycare was put on emergency suspension after the toddler died and the state later ordered the business closed.

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2nd Man Charged in Deadly Lawrence Motel Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A second man has been charged with killing one man and wounding two others at a Lawrence motel.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 19-year-old Shawn Smith, of Kansas City, Missouri, appeared Thursday via video from jail on a charge of first-degree murder and three other felonies. Bond is set at $1 million.  Authorities say 23-year-old Cameron Hooks, of Lenexa, was killed, two others were hurt and a fourth man was threatened with a gun on September 2.  Lawrence police say Smith was arrested September 15 in Kansas City, Missouri, and booked Wednesday into the Douglas County jail. Smith told a judge that he already had an attorney he planned to hire to defend him in the murder case.  A 19-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man also is charged in the case.

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Man Charged with Murder in Deadly Lawrence Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man who is charged in a deadly Lawrence shooting told a judge that he's "not a criminal."  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Steven Drake III said during his first appearance Thursday on a first-degree murder charge that he came home to someone trying to steal from him. Drake was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after 26-year-old Bryce Holladay was found dead Tuesday night at a home.  Court records show that Holladay was free on bond when he died, awaiting trial in an unrelated auto burglary and theft case. When Drake began talking about what happened via video from jail, the judge cut him off, suggesting it wasn't in his best interest to continue speaking.  The judge set bond at $750,000 and appointed an attorney to represent Drake.

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Douglas County Offering Text, Email Election Notifications 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Voters in Douglas County can sign up for text and email notifications for information on upcoming November local elections. This pilot project was announced Friday between the Douglas County clerk's office and the nonpartisan Democracy Works. Douglas County is the only county in Kansas offering it and is among the first in the nation participating in the pilot project. People who sign up at the Douglas County election website receive updates with dates, deadlines and voting information. This is the first year local elections in Kansas have been moved to November. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says voters are busy and the lack of information can be a barrier to voting. He says the goal of the project is to remove any barrier through efforts like this one.

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Lawrence Police: Shooting Death of 1-Year-Old Was Accident 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say the shooting death of a 1-year-old girl was an accident. Police were called to a home in northern Lawrence Friday morning where the child had been shot. Efforts to save her were unsuccessful. Police said in a news release that the Douglas County District Attorney's Office will review the incident once the investigation is complete. No further details about the death have been released.

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Kansas Veterinarians Warn Dog Owners of Diseased Raccoons 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University's Veterinary Health Center is warning dog owners to be careful amid a recent outbreak of a highly contagious disease among raccoons. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that veterinarians at the center say they've recently seen a high number of raccoons suffering from canine distemper. The viral disease can spread to susceptible dogs. Kansas State wildlife professor James Carpenter says raccoons infected with the disease are often found outside during the day. He says they show abnormal behavior, such as incoordination, difficulty walking and aimless wandering. Carpenter says it's important for dogs to be vaccinated against the disease beginning at six weeks old. Once dogs are 20 weeks old, he says vaccinations should be done every one to three years.

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Suspect Jailed in Fatal Hutchinson Shooting 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating the shooting death of a Hutchinson man. Police Captain Troy Hoover says 42-year-old Clarence Allen was found dead Friday in a Hutchinson home. A 34-year-old suspect was arrested and is being held in the Reno County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Moore says the suspect went to a home early Monday and shot Allen several times before fleeing. A friend who went to the house later found Allen's body. Further details of the shooting were not released.

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St. Joseph Woman Killed, Grandson in Custody

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — St. Joseph police are investigating the death of a 77-year-old woman as a homicide and her grandson is in custody.  The victim, Beverly Forrester, was found dead at a St. Joseph home late Thursday.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports police say the victim's 28-year-old grandson is in custody.  Information on how the woman died and other details of the case have not been released.

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Charges Dropped in Kansas City, Kansas Double Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors have dropped two first-degree murder charges against a Kansas City, Kansas, man accused in a 2015 drive-by shooting. Wyandotte County authorities say the charges against 25-year-old Christopher Lewis were dismissed Thursday. He was tried last year, but jurors deadlocked over whether to convict him of killing 23-year-old Deron Rucker and 24-year-old Antonio Rucker. Both victims were from Kansas City, Kansas. A Wyandotte District Attorney's Office spokesman says charges could be filed again if an ongoing investigation yields additional information that will support a conviction

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New Methane Plant at Lawrence Landfill Turns Trash into Fuel 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new $20 million methane plant at a landfill in Lawrence is turning trash into an energy source. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the plant at the Hamm landfill has begun collecting harmful greenhouse gas produced by rotting trash and turning it into fuel for natural-gas-powered vehicles. Hamm officials said at a ceremony Wednesday that the new plant joins other recent projects that lessen the landfill's environmental impact, including a recycling center and a new system for capping landfills. The plant collects and processes methane gas that is released as organic material as trash decomposes. The plant includes extraction wells, a gas-processing facility and a seven-mile gas pipeline. The landfill serves about 500,000 Kansas residents. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that landfills produce about 20 percent of all methane emissions.

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Bankers: Rural Economy Continues to Struggle in 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new report says low commodity prices and weak farm incomes are continuing to hamper the rural economy in parts of 10 Plains and Midwestern states. The Rural Mainstreet Index for the region fell to from 42.2 in August to 39.6 in September, its lowest level in 2017. The index released Thursday ranges between 0 and 100, with any number under 50 indicating a shrinking economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey of bankers, says more than half of the bankers reported that they have restructured farm loans. Nearly 20 percent have increased their collateral requirements. Bankers reported a 2.1 percent increase in farm loan defaults over the past year. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Royals Shut Out Toronto Blue Jays, 1-0 

TORONTO (AP) — Royals' starting pitcher Jason Vargas and four relievers combined on a two-hitter as the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 Thursday night. Vargas (17-10) struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings to win his third straight start. Melky Cabrera had three hits and the game's only RBI.  The Royals, who have 10 games remaining, began the day 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot. Los Angeles and Texas are both ahead of Kansas City. The Royals' one run came in the third against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (9-11). Alex Gordon walked with one out and advanced to second on a two-out single by Lorenzo Cain before Cabrera hit an RBI single to center.

 

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