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Headlines for Friday, September 4, 2015

Officials Hold Leavenworth Hearing on Transfer of Guantanamo Prisoners

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — About 200 people attended a town hall meeting about the possible transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Fort Leavenworth. Governor Sam Brownback announced the meeting after he received notice that the U.S. Defense Department was surveying the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth to assess the possibility of housing Guantanamo detainees. At the meeting Thursday, Leavenworth city officials cited security concerns and said the move would make the community a target for terrorists. But Democratic State Senator David Haley of Kansas City, Kansas, said the town hall was "a political sideshow" and said concerns about safety for Fort Leavenworth and the community have been overstated.

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Brownback Says Kansas Public Pension System on Right Track 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says the public pension system in Kansas is on a solid financial footing, though he's still open to changes such as moving toward a 401(k)-style plan for new teachers and government workers. The Republican governor had a news conference Friday to discuss the financial health of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. The event was less than a month after the state sold $1 billion in bonds to bolster the system's finances. Brownback and KPERS officials argue issuing the bonds makes it easier to close a $9.5 billion gap in funding for retirees' benefits over the next 18 years. Even without the bonds, the state expected to eliminate the shortfall. The governor said his administration is always looking at additional changes, including a 401(k)-style plan.

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Kansas Supreme Court May Review Suit Over Legislature's Authority

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Chief Justice Lawton Nuss won't rule out having the Kansas Supreme Court review a lawsuit that involves an attempt by the Legislature to diminish the high court's administrative power. Nuss said Thursday the high court could invoke what he called "the rule of necessity" to settle whether legislators can strip the Supreme Court of the power to appoint chief district court judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts. A 2014 law gave that power to the district court judges in each district. A district court judge struck down the law Wednesday. Nuss said it might not be practical to replace Supreme Court justices with what he called strangers to hear an appeal. 

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Kansas State Lockdown Lifted After Search for Gunman 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University returned to normal operations after a nearly four-hour lockdown prompted by reports that a gunman might be on campus. The lockdown began after police received several reports early Friday of an armed robbery involving several people. Riley County police said in a news release that officers got into a foot chase with a possible suspect in the robberies, who was last seen running to the campus. That prompted alerts urging everyone on campus to stay indoors and those off campus to stay away. Student dormitories were locked down. After a building-by-building search, the lockdown was lifted at about 9:30 am. The possible gunman was not found. Manhattan Christian College also was closed until 9:30 am because of the search on the Kansas State campus.

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Black Hawk Chopper Makes Emergency Landing Near Fort Riley

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — No injuries were reported after a Black Hawk helicopter made an emergency landing south of Fort Riley. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the crew of a UH-60 Black Hawk made the landing in a field about 5 miles south of Fort Riley on Wednesday night. Fort Riley says in a release the four crew members from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade were uninjured. The cause of the emergency landing is under investigation.

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Legislature Confirms 3 New Board of Regents Members

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has three new members. The Kansas Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee this week approved the appointments of Dave Murfin of Wichita; Daniel Thomas of Mission Hills; and Dennis Mullin of Manhattan. Gov. Sam Brownback announced the appointments in June. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the new members replace Fred Logan, Robba Moran and Kenny Wilk, whose terms expired in June. Murfin is CEO of Murfin Inc., whose interests include Murfin Drilling Co. Inc. and Murphy Tractor and Equipment Co., one of North America's largest John Deere construction dealerships. Thomas is a periodontist in the greater Kansas City area and Mullin is chairman and CEO of Steel and Pipe Supply, one of the country's largest steel service centers. All three serve on several boards and advisory groups.

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Lawrence Woman Sentenced to 50 Years for Killing Roommate 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old Lawrence woman convicted of killing her roommate has been sentenced to 50 years in prison. Sarah Gonzales McLinn was found guilty in March of the premeditated, first-degree murder of 52-year-old pizza shop owner Harold "Hal" Sasko in January 2014. Sasko was McLinn's roommate and former employer. Authorities said he was nearly decapitated. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County District Court judge Paula Martin on Friday gave McLinn the 50-year prison sentence recommended by the jury. Under the sentence, McLinn would be first eligible for parole after serving 50 years. During her trial, McLinn's attorneys acknowledged McLinn killed Sasko, but they sought acquittal by claiming she had mental disease or defect at the time of the slaying. Defense witnesses also testified that McLinn had multiple personalities.

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Suspect Arrested After Threat Against Maize High School

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested a suspect after a high school in Maize was on temporary lockdown due to a threat on social media. Maize High School was placed under "modified lockdown" for a short period Thursday morning. According to Maize Superintendent Chad Higgins, a parent contacted the school's principal about a post on a social media website and said they would be keeping their child at home. Police were notified and the lockdown was put in place while the threat was investigated. District director of communications Lori O'Toole Buselt said the threat was made against specific students at the high school. Higgins said the person who made the threat has been arrested and taken into custody, but declined to say if the person was a student at the school.

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Emporia State Concludes Investigation of Alleged Hate Crime

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Emporia State University says it's completed an investigation into hate crime and discrimination allegations at the eastern Kansas university. Jackie Vietti, ESU's interim president, said in a letter released Thursday the university has concluded its investigation that began July 10 into the alleged hate crime at the university's School of Library and Information Management. Vietti didn't say what the investigation concluded, but says officials will release an investigation summary after meeting with people involved. University spokeswoman Gwen Larson says the investigation stems from allegations by Angelica Hale, a former ESU dean's assistant, and her husband, Melvin Hale, an assistant professor in the university's School of Library and Information Management. The Hales say they've endured a hostile work environment since reporting someone left a racial epithet in Angelica Hale's graduate assistant's office.

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Kansas Case Highlights Paradox in Immigration-Related Cases 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Mexican man who was deported while on bail awaiting trial in Wichita for unlawful re-entry is not getting another chance for freedom for his latest legal troubles. Defense attorneys for Juan Lopez-Morales waived his rights Friday to a detention hearing. His defense attorney says his client is now serving an 18-month sentence in a Texas illegal re-entry case. He says even without that, it would have been difficult to get him bond again. Prosecutors say their case against Lopez-Morales highlights problems that arise when immigrants who are illegally living in the U.S. are granted bail in criminal cases. After posting bond, Lopez-Morales was transferred into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and removed because of an outstanding deportation order. The 41-year-old was indicted in Kansas on a charge of illegal re-entry.

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Kansas City Police Investigating After 2 Bodies Found 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two bodies have been found in a home, and an infant at the home has been taken to a hospital. KMBC-TV reports that police were called to the home Friday after a baby was heard crying. Officers found two people dead inside the home. Police said the baby appears to be all right, but has been taken to the hospital. Detectives at the scene said the deaths appear to be suspicious.

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Judge Approves $90M Settlement for Ex-Boeing Workers 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge gave final approval to a $90 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by former Boeing workers over retirement plan benefits after the sale of the company's Wichita operations. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot found Thursday that the settlement agreement is "fair, reasonable, and adequate," and was entered into in good faith. The class-action lawsuit covers former Boeing workers who were participants in the company's retirement plan in June 2005, had at least 10 years of vesting service and were between the ages of 49 and 55 at the time they went to work at Spirit AeroSystems or its predecessor Mid-Western Aircraft systems. Belot preliminarily approved the settlement in May.

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Jurors to Decide Fate of Man Who Killed 3 at Jewish Sites 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An expert says the Missouri man convicted of killing three people at separate Jewish sites in Kansas will live only five to six more years. Jurors are hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of Frazier Glenn Miller's trial. The 74-year-old is facing either death or life in prison for the April 2014 shootings. Miller, who is representing himself, called Dr. James Lineback to the stand Friday. The pulmonologist says research suggests that Miller, who suffers from emphysema, will live another five to six years. Miller, an avowed white supremacist, killed 69-year-old William Corporon and Corporon's 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, then shot 53-year-old Terri LaManno at the nearby Village Shalom retirement center. None of the victims was Jewish.
Miller, who founded a Ku Klux Klan chapter in his native North Carolina, is facing death or life in prison. Jurors will hear closing arguments Tuesday. 

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Kansas Geological Survey Says Earthquake Problem Continues

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The head of the Kansas Geological Survey says no one should become complacent just because fewer earthquakes are rattling southern Kansas recently. Interim KGS Director Rex Buchanan says oil-waste regulations seem to have contributed to lowering the number of earthquakes but the limits are set to expire September 13. The Kansas Corporation Commission approved regulations in March to limit the underground disposal of saltwater waste that is a byproduct of the hydraulic fracturing oil drilling process. The Wichita Eagle reports injecting that water back into the ground is considered a likely cause of increased earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma. Most of the Kansas earthquakes have been in Harper and Sumner counties. Buchanan says it would be short-sighted to assume the problem is solved and says the state needs to be better prepared than it was in the past.

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Applebee's HQ Moving from Kansas City to California 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The headquarters of Kansas City-based Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar is moving to California. The company also says Steven R. Layt, president of Applebee's, will not move and has resigned. The Kansas City Star reports that a statement from DineEquity Inc., the California company that owns the Applebee's and IHOP chains, said the move to Glendale, California, is aimed at spurring brand growth and developing traditional and non-traditional locations. Applebee's headquarters moved to Kansas City from Lenexa, Kansas, in 2011, after receiving a $12.9 million incentive package.

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KCP&L Gets Rate Hike in Missouri, Awaits Ruling From Kansas Regulators

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State regulators in Missouri have approved an 11.7 percent rate increase for some Kansas City Power & Light customers. The decision will mean about half of KCP&L's Missouri customers will see rates go up nearly $12 a month. The utility says it needs the increase to pay for pollution control at its La Cygne coal-fired plant, improvements at Wolf Creek nuclear power plant and rising transmission costs. The Kansas Corporation Commission is considering a request for a 12.5 percent increase in Kansas to cover similar expenses. The KCC could rule next week. The Missouri rate case covered 270,000 KCP&L customers in its original service area, which includes most of Kansas City. Rates for about 315,000 other customers in western Missouri are set separately.

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Legislature Confirms 3 New Board of Regents Members

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents has three new members. The Kansas Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee this week approved the appointments of Dave Murfin of Wichita; Daniel Thomas of Mission Hills; and Dennis Mullin of Manhattan. Governor Sam Brownback announced the appointments in June. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the new members replace Fred Logan, Robba Moran and Kenny Wilk, whose terms expired in June. Murfin is CEO of Murfin Inc., a drilling and construction equipment supplier. Thomas is a periodontist in the Kansas City area and Mullin is chairman and CEO of Steel and Pipe Supply, one of the country's largest steel service centers. All three serve on several boards and advisory groups.

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Kansas Courts to Centralize Electronic Filing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is launching an initiative to centralize and standardize the electronic filing and storage of documents across the state. A steering committee for the "eCourt" project was having its first meeting Thursday in Topeka. The Supreme Court established the committee in April. The project is being financed with court fees, with at least $4.1 million set aside over the next four years. Some district courts introduced electronic filing in 2009, and more than half of the state's 31 judicial districts allow attorneys and court employees to file and store documents electronically. In Douglas County, electronic filing is required, and the Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals will start requiring it in November. But the Supreme Court wants to standardize filing systems so they can interact.

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Emporia State Ends Investigation Into Alleged Hate Crime

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) - Emporia State University says it's completed an investigation into hate crime and discrimination allegations at the university. Jackie Vietti, ESU's interim president, said in a letter released Thursday the university has concluded its investigation that began July 10 into the alleged hate crime at the university's School of Library and Information Management. Vietti says officials will release an investigation summary after meeting with the people involved. University spokeswoman Gwen Larson says the investigation stems from allegations by Angelica Hale, a former ESU dean's assistant, and her husband, Melvin Hale, an assistant professor in the university's School of Library and Information Management. The Hales say they've endured a hostile work environment since reporting someone left a racial epithet in Angelica Hale's graduate assistant's office.

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Bond Lowered for Woman Charged in Arkansas City Baby's Death 

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The bond has been lowered for a woman charged in the death of her 16-month-old child. The Arkansas City Traveler reports that 29-year-old Lindsey Abegg and 27-year-old Jacob Brickey, both of Arkansas City, are each charged with first-degree murder during the commission of child abuse, and an alternative count of first-degree murder in the commission of aggravated endangerment of a child. Police say 16-month-old Astra Abegg was found dead last month at an Arkansas City apartment. The cause of death has not been announced. Abegg has been in custody since August 19 on $250,000 bond. She's now being held in lieu of $75,000 bond. Her next appearance in court is set for September 28.

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Royals Slam Struggling Tigers in 15-7 Win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run homer, Paulo Orlando added a two-run shot and Kendrys Morales drove in four runs as the Kansas City Royals routed the Detroit Tigers 15-7 on Thursday night for another series win. The Royals' Chris Young (10-6) earned the win with two scoreless innings in relief of Edinson Volquez, who yielded six runs, eight hits and a walk in three innings. The Tigers' Matt Boyd, was hammered for six runs before getting the hook in the second inning. 

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