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Headlines for Friday, September 23, 2016

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

Army Suspends Fort Riley Commander, Launches Investigation 

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army says it has suspended the commander of Fort Riley and launched an official investigation, though no details have been provided about what led to the action. Army spokesman Colonel Patrick R. Seiber announced Friday that Major General Wayne Grigsby has been suspended as commander of the 1st Infantry Division at the Kansas base. He declined further comment. An Army spokeswoman also declined to disclose the nature of the investigation. About 17,000 troops are stationed at Fort Riley. Grigsby assumed command of the base in August 2015, after 31 years of military service that included a stint as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force in East Africa. Grigsby was previously stationed at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and served in multiple deployments to Iraq, including as commander of the 1st Infantry Division's G3 unit.


Brownback: Budget Proposals Not Considered Open Records 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration has declared that budget proposals forwarded to the governor by state agencies are "draft" documents and not subject to the state's open records laws. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Brownback budget director Shawn Sullivan told Cabinet agency staff members recently that budget proposals are internal documents and not subject to the Kansas Open Records Act. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley says the governor's past and current position has been that draft budget documents are not public information until he releases his budget recommendations to the Legislature. Even so, in December 2014 Sullivan shared with select lobbyists an outline of Brownback's ideas for filling a budget hole driven by massive income tax cuts.


Trump Names Brownback to Catholic Advisory Group 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has named Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to an advisory council of prominent Catholics. Brownback was among 34 people named to the council by the Trump campaign Thursday. Trump also named Brownback in August to an agricultural advisory committee. Trump's campaign said in a statement that the new group will provide advice and support on issues of importance to Catholics and other Christians, including U.S. Supreme Court appointments and social issues such as abortion. The statement said the appointment of the council should be seen as an endorsement of "a range of issues and policies." Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002, but even before, as a Methodist, he was a strong abortion opponent. He's also been a vocal opponent of gay marriage.


Kansas Election Official Accused of Not Complying with Order 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a judge to enforce her earlier order requiring Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to put on voter rolls people who registered at motor vehicle offices without providing citizenship documents. In a filing Friday, the group also requested that U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issue an order for Kobach to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. The ACLU contends Kobach has not registered in the official poll books these voters for federal elections. Those voters are not given a regular ballot, but are instead forced to use a provisional ballot. ACLU also argues Kobach violated the order by issuing a confusing and misleading notice to them. Kobach's office says it is reviewing the court filing and will comment later.


Audit Cites Kansas Foster Care System Failures

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Auditors say the Kansas foster care system isn't meeting federal requirements, including ones aimed at providing stability for children. The Wichita Eagle reports that the audit was released Wednesday. It comes after a July audit found the state system failed to ensure the safety of youth in foster care. Among the federal requirements assessed, the foster care system complies with only about a third of them. One failure involved the percentage of children who are adopted within one to two years after entering into foster care. Phyllis Gilmore, head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families spoke told lawmakers that efforts are underway to resolve issues highlighted in the first two of three planned reports. A final audit will focused on the cost of foster care in Kansas.


Medicaid Application Backlog Costs Kansas Over $2 Million 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state audit has found that Kansas spent more than $2 million fighting a backlog of unprocessed first-time applications for the Medicaid health care program that covers the poor. The audit released Wednesday also found that the state has stopped reviewing renewal applications, although it continues to provide services to those waiting for renewal. As of mid-August, nearly 35,000 renewal applications were waiting to be processed. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has sharply reduced the number of unprocessed applications from a peak of about 14,000 a few months ago. About 1,700 applications currently continue to linger for more than 45 days. KDHE Deputy Secretary Aaron Dunkel says the agency has made good progress and would continue to make improvements.


University of Kansas Chancellor to Step Down in Summer 2017 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little plans to step down from the position in the summer of 2017. The university issued a statement Thursday. Gray-Little has served as chancellor of the state's largest university since August 2009. Gray-Little said in a statement that with major initiatives at the university nearing completion, it's an ideal time for her to leave its top administrative job. She also said that announcing her departure now will help the university and the Kansas Board of Regents find a replacement without having to name an interim chancellor for a smoother transition. She was the university's first female and black chancellor. Board of Regents Chairwoman Zoe Newton called her a "transformative figure." Before coming to Kansas, Gray-Little was a top University of North Carolina administrator.


Kansas AG Questions Federal Spending on Gitmo Surveys

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has released a document showing that the U.S. Department of Defense spent nearly $26,000 surveying potential sites last year for housing terror suspects now held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Schmidt says the federal agency may have violated a prohibition from Congress on spending federal money to move the prisoners to U.S. soil. The Fort Leavenworth military prison in northeast Kansas was among the sites surveyed. Local and state officials strongly oppose moving detainees there. In a letter Thursday to the Kansas congressional delegation, Schmidt said he obtained the one-page report after filing a federal lawsuit in July seeking documents related to the Obama administration's plan to move detainees. 


Kansas City Police Investigate 'Good Shoot' Facebook Post

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are trying to determine whether an officer posted on Facebook that the killing of an unarmed black man by a white Oklahoma police officer was a "good shoot." The Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality in Kansas City captured a screenshot of Donald Ebert's reply to an article about Terence Crutcher's death in Tulsa last week. The post reads: "Should have dropped the entitlement card and listened the first time. Good shoot." Police Captain Stacey Graves said by email Friday that police are "investigating for potential officer misconduct." Graves says Ebert works for the department and that police are investigating whether the post came from him. The Associated Press left a message with the police union seeking comment Friday. Ebert's number isn't listed.


Kansas Faith-Based Group Working to Prevent Concealed Guns on Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas faith-based group is hoping to overturn a law allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses across the state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that representatives of the Lawrence-based group, Kansas Interfaith Action, are visiting state universities to increase awareness of the issue. Rabbi Moti Rieber says the group also plans to lobby the Legislature to change the law once representatives return to session in January. Governor Sam Brownback signed the law in 2013 requiring concealed carry of handguns to be allowed in all publicly owned buildings unless the owners provide adequate security to prevent anyone from bringing weapons in. Cities, counties and public colleges and universities were allowed an exemption until July 1, 2017, so they could set new policies and plan for security measures.


Kansas Psychiatric Hospital Prison Warden Leaves Position

LARNED, Kan. (AP) _ State officials say the warden at the Kansas Department of Corrections mental health facility in Larned has left the position. The Hutchinson News reports that Wednesday was the last day on the job for Douglas Waddington. He led the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility, which is on the same campus as the Larned State Hospital. Kansas Department of Corrections Communications Director Adam Pfannenstiel declined to comment about the nature of Waddington's departure, citing policy not to speak about personnel matters. Waddington was named warden at Larned in 2011. His biography says he started his career in corrections more than three decades ago in Oklahoma and had served as a warden at three corrections facilities in Washington state before joining KDOC.


Nonprofit: Chelsea Manning Faces 2 Weeks in Solitary Confinement
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A nonprofit group says a transgender soldier imprisoned in Kansas for leaking classified information faces up to two weeks in solitary confinement in part for a recent suicide attempt. Fight for the Future said in a statement Friday that Chelsea Manning was sentenced Thursday to 14 days in solitary confinement. The statement was backed by one of Manning's lawyers. Manning is serving 35 years in prison at Fort Leavenworth for passing classified files to WikiLeaks. The statement included comments from Manning, who said no date's been set for the discipline to start. She also said she can appeal and that she'll only have to serve seven days in solitary if she stays out of trouble for six months. An Army spokesman said it'd be inappropriate for the Army to comment.


Sale of Westar Energy Clears Legal Challenges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The $12.2 billion sale of Topeka-based Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy has cleared legal challenges after parties in lawsuits challenging the deal have agreed to drop the cases. Missouri-based Great Plains is the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that new Securities and Exchange Commission filings show the three complaints will be dropped. Two were in Kansas and one was in Missouri. One of the Kansas complaints filed in July alleged members of Westar's energy board of directors failed to obtain the best price for shareholders because of a process that discouraged third parties from submitting potentially better proposals. The sale still faces a review by several agencies, including the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.


ACLU of Kansas to Host Town Hall on Voting Rights

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is hosting a telephone town hall on voting rights in the state. The group is inviting 20,000 households across the state to participate in Tuesday's event, which takes place on National Voter Registration Day. Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger will moderate. Panelists are Marge Ahrens, co-president of the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters and Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. The planned event is slated just days after the ACLU was in a Shawnee County court challenging the dual voter registration system in Kansas. 


Immediate Sentencing Sought for Kansas Teen in Fire Deaths 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor is calling for the Kansas Supreme Court to order a judge to immediately sentence a Hutchinson boy for killing his mother and sister in a fire. The Hutchinson News reports that a Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder also wants Samuel Vonachen immediately moved to the county jail. Schroeder made the request Wednesday in a 21-page petition. The petition stems from the judge ordering Vonachen to remain in juvenile custody pending sentencing and then ordering that the teen undergo a mental evaluation. Vonachen was convicted last month of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder and aggravated arson for the September 2013 fire that killed 47-year-old Karla Jo Vonachen and 11-year-old Audrey Vonachen. He was 14 at the time of the fire.


Exhibit to Highlight Kansas Towns That No Longer Exist 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — An exhibit showcasing the collected history of Flint Hills communities that no longer exist will soon open in Manhattan. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the exhibit will open Saturday at the Flint Hills Discovery Center and run through January 8. The seven towns chosen for the exhibit are Broughton, Bodarc, Cedar Point, Chalk Mound, Maple City, Volland and Kaw Village. The exhibit features a story booth, which is a replica of an old general storefront, where people can record their own stories. The stories will also be uploaded to the Library of Congress. Exhibit curator Bonnie Lynn-Sherow says it's meant to make people aware that their story about their hometown is important history. An interactive map near the entrance will show the growth and decline of more than 300 towns in the Flint Hills between 1850 and 2000.


Pittsburg State University Gets Native Prairie Land as Gift 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University has been given two small patches of native prairie land northeast of Cherokee as a gift. The Joplin Globe reports that the university has managed the land known as the O'Malley Prairies for several years and received it as a gift this week from the descendants of Mary O'Malley and her brother, Charles O'Malley. A ceremony was held Thursday to mark the land's transfer. Pittsburg State biology students have since used the land as an outdoor research lab and will continue to do so. The O'Malley Prairies total about 12 acres and are remnants of the vast prairie ecosystem that once covered large swaths of the Midwest.


Delays in Wichita Police Shooting Lawsuit Lead to Sanctions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Delays providing documents in a lawsuit over the fatal 2012 shooting of an unarmed white man in Wichita have led to sanctions. The Wichita Eagle reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale ordered the sanctions this month after finding "inexcusable" but not intentional delays from the city's legal team. The amount to be paid is in dispute. At issue is a lawsuit filed by the mother of Troy Lanning II. He was 24 when he was shot while running from a stolen vehicle. Wichita Police Officer Randy Williamson's lawyer has said the officer saw Lanning reach into a bag and feared he had a gun. Williamson later was accused of filing a false report in another case. He entered a plea and is no longer with the department.


Topeka Man Sentenced in Explosion That Injured 4-Year-Old

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man whose 4-year-old son was severely injured when explosives detonated in his car the day after July Fourth 2015 has been sentenced to 18 months of probation. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jacob Daniel Schell was sentenced Thursday in Shawnee County. An affidavit says Schell's son, Roman, was hurt after a sack containing "several improvised explosive devices" blew up in his lap. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper says the ignition source was a "little cap gun" the boy was using. The explosion was so powerful that it peeled back the metal roof of the car Schell was driving. Gary Conwell, Schell's attorney, says his client thought the cap gun was empty and that all the "improper" fireworks had been used. Schell says it was a "terrible mistake."


Kansas Woman Tried in Killing of Burned, Stabbed Man  

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — The first week of testimony has ended in the trial of a Kansas woman accused of killing a man whose burned body was found after he reported the woman was threatening to pull her children out of foster care. The Joplin Globe reports that 37-year-old Crystal Galloway, of Scammon, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 59-year-old Robin Fought, of Dennis. Five of Galloway's six children were taken into state custody in 2014. On Thursday, prosecutors played a voicemail message that Fought left for a state social worker talking about Galloway planning to flee with her children. The Cherokee County trial recessed Friday after a medical examiner testified that Fought was stabbed. The prosecution and defense haven't indicated how Fought and Galloway knew each other.


Missouri Woman Pleads Guilty to Murder-for-Hire Attempt 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 62-year-old suburban Kansas City woman has admitted trying to hire a hit man to kill her former son-in-law so she could spend more time with her grandchildren. The Kansas City Star reports Teresa Owen of Independence pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to using interstate commerce facilities to commit murder-for-hire. Owen was arrested last year after offering an undercover officer posing as a hit man hundreds of dollars to kill her former son-in-law. Investigators say she told the officer the intended victim was standing between her and her grandchildren. Owen gave the officer a $200 down payment, photographs of her former son-in-law and details on his address and type of car he drove. She remains in custody, and a sentencing date has not been set.


Cleveland Indians Beat Royals,5-2

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians' Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer to push the Cleveland Indians to a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night and nearer to Cleveland's first AL Central championship since 2007. Santana's shot in the sixth inning off Dillon Gee (7-9) snapped a 2-2 tie as the Indians improved to 9-1 against the Royals this season. Kansas City's chances of making the postseason took another blow. The defending World Series champions began the night behind six teams in the wild-card chase. Jason Kipnis also homered for the Indians, who can wrap up a postseason berth this weekend against the Chicago White Sox. The Royals now head to Detroit for a three game series versus the Tigers.

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