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Headlines for Monday, August 19, 2019

Company Sees Retaliation in Kansas Ending Literacy Grant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The president of a company that saw Kansas cancel its grant for a public elementary school literacy program is disputing the reasons state officials are giving for the action. Andrew Hysell told reporters Monday that he believes the Kansas Department for Children and Families is retaliating against Washington-based Hysell & Wagner for refusing to agree to changes after signing a grant extension in late June. The department announced Friday it had ended the Reading Roadmap grant that started in 2014 and once was worth more than $9 million annually. The department said it found questionable spending and a failure to control administrative expenses. Hysell said the claims are false and accused the department of abusing its authority. He said the department wanted changes in how funds are distributed to schools.

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Gunfire at Country Club Plaza Injures Four Teenagers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities in Kansas City say four teenagers have been wounded in a shooting at a hotel on the Country Club Plaza.  The Kansas City Star reports that witnesses told police that "many teens" were gathered in a room early Sunday at the Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza when an argument broke out.  Gunfire erupted inside the room, injuring four teens -- two of them critically.  Police say there was at least one shooter, who fired multiple rounds.

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High Winds Knock Over Freight Trains in Central Kansas

NEWTON, Kan. (KPR) -- Strong storms rolled across Kansas Friday night and into the weekend, bringing torrential rains to many parts of the state.  A line of strong storms in central Kansas on SATURDAY night knocked over two BNSF trains in Harvey County, near the small town of Walton.  The 70 mile-per-hour winds pushed over the trains and a number of empty train cars.  No one was injured, but the railcar debris on the tracks prevented Amtrak's Southwest Chief from heading west, to its next stop, at Newton.

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Police: Men with Guns in Missouri Walmart Broke No Laws

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two men with handguns in their waistbands alarmed shoppers when they entered a Kansas City-area Walmart on Sunday, but police say they were just buying ammunition for target practice.  Kansas City, Missouri, police say the men were cooperative and were released because they hadn't violated Missouri law.  Shopper Clennon Jones said he saw officers speed into the parking lot and one jumped out with shotgun in hand. Jones says shoppers streamed out of the store and warned others not to enter.  Missouri does not require a permit to openly carry a firearm for those 19 years or older. The Walmart store the men entered does not prohibit guns in the store.  Earlier this month, 22 people were killed during a mass shooting at another Walmart in El Paso, Texas.  Since then, there have been a number of incidents at Walmart stores around the country.  Last week, prosecutors charged a 20-year-old man with making a terrorist threat after he walked into a Springfield, Missouri, Walmart wearing body armor, carrying a loaded rifle and handgun, and filming himself with a phone.

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Kansas Couple Sue to Keep Son from Being Vaccinated

STILWELL, Kan. (AP) - A suburban Kansas City lawyer and his wife are suing to try to keep from having to vaccinate their 4-year-old son.  The Kansas City Star reports it's the second time Linus and Terri Baker, of Stilwell, have sued over the issue. They sued the Kansas Department of Children and Families after the agency in 2017 said it would vaccinate the boy against their wishes. That never happened, even though a judge dismissed the suit.  The Bakers say they are worried vaccines could affect the health of the boy, who was born with a heart condition that has since been corrected with surgery.  They are now suing the Blue Valley school district and various state officials, seeking an injunction to allow the boy to attend school without being vaccinated and without filing religious or medical exemptions. They're also asking a judge to declare Kansas's vaccination requirements unconstitutional.  The school district and health agency declined to comment to the newspaper.

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Judge Says Fired Prison Worker's Argument Is 'Absurd'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that it is "absurd" for a fired Kansas prison dental instructor to attempt to have charges accusing him of nonconsensual touching of female inmates dismissed on the grounds that the state law barring such conduct only mentions consensual sex acts. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Judge Cheryl Rios rejected the argument Friday and ordered Tomas Co to stand trial on Jan. 27 on five charges of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, said state law is ambiguous and Co shouldn't be held accountable for the Legislature's bad policy. But Rios said that, "The absurd result would be for an adult who doesn't consent and is incarcerated, a corrections officer or parole officer or anyone else could do whatever they want."

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Distracted Driver Causes Deadly Kansas Crash, Patrol Says

HOISINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas driver who was distracted by her cellphone caused a crash that killed a California woman. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 78-year-old Ida John, of Lincoln, California, was killed Friday in the crash on U.S. 281 near the small Kansas town of Hoisington. The patrol says she was a passenger in a car whose driver was waiting to turn left into a private driveway when the distracted driver smashed a pickup truck into the stopped vehicle. The truck ended up in a front yard and the car in a wheat field. The patrol says the car's driver also was hurt, but the truck's 25-year-old driver had no apparent injury.

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KBI Investigating Drowning Death of Man in Southeast Kansas

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the drowning death of a man who fled from police on an ATV. The KBI said in a news release Monday the man drowned in the Verdigris River in Montgomery County Friday. The chase began when South Coffeyville, Oklahoma, police were told an ATV stolen Thursday night from the Montgomery County Fair was seen on U.S. 169 headed toward the Oklahoma border. A South Coffeyville officer saw the driver turn the ATV off the road and travel through a field to the river. The officer discovered the ATV had hit a tree and then saw the man struggling in the river. Authorities threw ropes to the man and emergency responders entered the water but their rescue attempts were unsuccessful. The man's identity hasn't been released.

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2 Killed, 2 Hurt After Truck Overturns in Northeast Kansas

NEWMAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people have been killed and two injured in a northeast Kansas crash. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that the crash happened Saturday night in Jefferson County when a driver lost control on a curve and went off the side of Kansas 237. The pickup truck then overturned several times. The patrol says the crash killed two passengers — 46-year-old Christopher Webb, of Topeka, and 21-year-old Luke Puccinelli, of Oskaloosa. The driver and another passenger were taken to a Topeka hospital with injuries that were believed to be serious.

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Feedlot Closes After Controversy over Expansion Plans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri cattle feedlot that sought to greatly expand its operations is closing after more than a year of fighting opponents, including a nearby botanical garden. Valley Oaks Steak Co. announced Monday it was closing immediately because of financial hardships caused by legal battles and the need to market its plans to counter its opponents. The cattle feedlot near Lone Jack, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Kansas City, wanted to expand from fewer than 999 head of cattle to as many as 6,999 head. It promised it would be one of the most environmentally friendly cattle operations in the nation. But leaders at the Powell Gardens botanical site and neighbors near the cattle farm opposed the plan and filed a lawsuit in July to stop it.

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17-Year-Old Arrested in Shooting That Killed 18-Year-Old

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 17-year-old in a Topeka shooting that left an 18-year-old woman dead. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the male suspect is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, criminal use of a weapon and theft in the death of Ashley Usher. She was found inside a house suffering from a gunshot wound Saturday afternoon. Police Lt. Jerry Monasmith says that when she was transported to a hospital, her injuries weren't believed to be life-threatening, but she later died.

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Kansas City T-Bones Team Evicted from Kansas Stadium

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The struggling Kansas City T-Bones baseball team is being evicted from its stadium in Kansas because of unpaid debts. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City Kansas announced Monday it is ending its management agreement with the T-Bones and has given the team until Sept. 13 to remove all its property from the publicly-owned stadium in Kansas City, Kansas. The government said in a news release the T-Bones owed a total of nearly $763,000 in current and past due utility bills, and past due payments for use of the stadium. The Unified Government said it intends to pursue all remedies to collect the debt. The T-Bones are part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball and not affiliated with Major League Baseball. A team official didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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Wichita Man Shot, Killed in Gang-Related Drive-By Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man was gang related. Officers found 24-year-old Elbert Costello dead from several gunshot wounds Sunday in the parking lot of an apartment complex in northeast Wichita. A 24-year-old man who also was shot was taken to a hospital, where he is in serious condition. Officer Kevin Wheeler said in a news release that investigators believe two groups of people shot at each other in the parking lot. No suspect information was released. Some damage was reported to apartment buildings and vehicles near the shooting.

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Inmates' Families Worry About Losing Contact After Move

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The families of several hundred Kansas inmates who are being sent to a private prison in Arizona worry about how often they'll be able to see their loved ones after the move.  Leoti Masterson says she treasures her weekly visits with her son even though she has to drive about two hours each way every time. Masterson says it's hard to imagine being able to visit the CoreCivic prison in Arizona as often.  Masterson says she wants to be part of her son's rehabilitation as he serves his sentence for sexual exploitation of a child.  Kansas prison officials haven't yet said which inmates will be transferred but 360 are expected to move over the next four months. The move is designed to help relieve overcrowding in state prisons.

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1,040 Kansans Ignore School Bus Stop Signs in 1 Day

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas education officials are expressing concern after a recent survey found more than 1,000 motorists illegally passed stopped school buses in one day.  A task force is expected to make recommendations during the next legislative session on how to reduce the number of violations.  In the April survey, 220 districts in Kansas that use 3,300 school buses reported 1,040 violations by motorists. That compares with April of 2018, when 214 districts operating 3,347 buses documented 1,030 infractions.  Jim Porter, the southeast Kansas representative on the Kansas Board of Education, noted the sample included only three-fourths of the state's districts.  Kansas law requires all vehicles to stop when approaching a stopped school bus displaying flashing lights and a stop arm.

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Kansas City, Kansas, Police Investigating Shooting Death

Kansas City, Kan. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating the overnight shooting death of a man.  Police say officers were called around 8 am Saturday to an area in the North Town Fork Creek neighborhood for a report of a body found. Arriving officers found a man who had been shot. Medics declared the man dead at the scene.  Police have not released the victim's name or age.  No arrests had been reported by late Saturday morning, and investigators are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call the TIPS hotline.

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Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal 2017 Wichita Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been sentenced to prison for a 2017 shooting that killed another man and injured two other people.  A judge on Friday sentenced 23-year-old Jeremiah Mork to more than 26 years for the December 2017 shooting that killed 45-year-old Randy Gibson, of Wichita, and wounded two other men. A jury convicted Mork earlier this year of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated battery and a weapons count.  Police say Gibson and the two other men injured were moving Gibson's belongings from a home when Mork shot them. An autopsy revealed Gibson was shot 15 times.

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Towns near Flint Hills Trail Working to Draw Visitors

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Towns along the new Flint Hills Trail park are working to draw visitors as a way to improve the rural economy.  The Wichita Eagle reports towns including Osawatomie, Ottawa and Council Grove are planning music festivals, opening breweries and bike shops, and offering Airbnbs to trail visitors.  The Flint Hills Trail will eventually stretch 117 miles across east central Kansas. Currently about 95 miles of the state park are open in six counties. Visitors can hike or bike over rocky streams, hills, tallgrass prairie and hardwood forests on the trail, which was named a state park last summer.  Kansas parks department natural resource manager Jim Manning says the trail got off to a slow start but he is confident its popularity will grow.

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Backers of Rural Dental Care Find Something to Smile About

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Dozens of countries use dental therapists to bring basic dental care to remote areas, often tribal reservations.  But in the U.S., dentists and their powerful lobby have battled legislatures for years on the drive to allow therapists, who perform basic procedures and leave the more complex work to dentists.  The tide is starting to turn, though.  Several states have recently passed laws authorizing dental therapists. Among them are Vermont and Connecticut.  Some states won the support of dentists after bills required higher levels of education that are still less than what a dentist requires.  But the states looking to allow therapists must also find ways to train them. Only two states, Alaska and Minnesota, have educational programs.  Some lawmakers in Maine are optimistic about Vermont's efforts to set up a dental therapy program with distance-learning options.

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2 Accused Drunk Drivers Hit Wichita Police Vehicles

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two people who are suspected of drunken driving hit patrol cars in separate incidents during the weekend. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says the first collision occurred early Saturday when a man driving the wrong way on a city street hit a patrol car. The officer was able to avoid a head-on collision and was treated for minor injuries. KAKE-TV reports police arrested 58-year-old James Johnson on several possible charges, including aggravated battery and his third DUI. Davidson said the second incident occurred Saturday night when a driver hit a patrol car and another vehicle while police were working an accident. Thirty-seven-year-old Lesster Raudales-Varela was stopped a short time later and arrested on possible DUI and careless driving charges. No one was hurt in the second collision.

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