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Headlines for Monday, June 10, 2019

Kelly Requests 'Major Presidential Declaration' for Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly is seeking a major presidential declaration for public assistance for 63 Kansas counties recovering from record rainfall and severe weather. The declaration would cover damage from record rains and numerous tornadoes beginning April 28 through May. The Public Assistance program helps pay for restoration of public infrastructure and other damage caused by the severe weather. The request filed Monday follows one Kelly sent in May seeking a federal disaster declaration. That provides federal money for shelter management, water rescues, human services support and other needs. The following counties are listed in Monday's request: Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Barber, Barton, Bourbon, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Edwards, Elk, Ellsworth, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Gray, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Norton, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson.

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Strong Job Market Hampers FEMA Hiring in Flood-Ravaged States

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing an unexpected challenge in meeting the needs of the many people affected by this spring's widespread flooding and violent storms: a strong economy.  Tasked with responding to natural disasters that seem ever more frequent and destructive, the agency finds itself further challenged by the robust job market and an inability to match what the private sector can offer, in many cases.  FEMA officials are turning for help to retirees, recent college graduates and those who lost their jobs to the disasters, though they're finding few available workers in many of the rural communities that are in some of the hardest-hit areas.  In no place is that clearer than Nebraska and Iowa, which were ravaged by floods and have some of the nation's lowest unemployment rates.

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Entire State Under Moderate Risk of West Nile Infections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say every county in the state is at moderate risk of West Nile virus infections.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday no human cases have been reported as of May 25.  The virus can cause fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop swelling of the brain or brain tissue that in some cases can cause death. The virus cannot be transmitted from human to human.  The health department says people should remove standing water from their property. To avoid being bitten, people should wear insect repellant, long sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

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Man Using Torch to Cut Open Metal Drum Dies from Explosion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man local Kansas authorities say was using a blow torch to cut into what he thought was an empty metal drum died after the drum exploded.  The Topeka Fire Department says in a news release that the explosion happened Friday evening near a maintenance building at the Heartland Motorsports in Topeka. Firefighters arrived to find 41-year-old Joshua Darryl Aubert suffering from critical injuries. Officials say he died at the scene.  Investigators say while Aubert thought the drum was empty, it was labeled as containing methanol, which is a highly volatile compound.  Officials have listed Aubert's death as accidental.

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Pilot Suffers Minor Injury in Missouri Small Plane Crash

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in western Missouri say a pilot suffered only minor injuries when his small airplane crashed at the Lee's Summit Airport.  The Kansas City Star reports the crash happened Friday evening. Emergency responders called to the airport just east of Kansas City found the single-engine plane just off the runway at the northeast edge of the airport. It was unclear whether the crash happened during landing or takeoff.  Lee's Summit police Sgt. Chris Depue says damage to the plane was extensive, but that the pilot — the only person in the plane at the time of the crash — was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.  The pilot's name has not been released.  The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.

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Kansas Appeals Court: Man Who Stole Items from Church Won't Face Burglary Charge

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A state appeals court says that a Kansas man who stole items from a Catholic church in Wellington won't face burglary charges because the church was open.  The Wichita Eagle reports the Kansas court decided that the 2017 theft that Edward Glover was convicted of didn't meet the definition of burglary in state law.  Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burger wrote that Kansas law says burglary involves unauthorized entry into a building, so this situation didn't fit because the church was unlocked and open to the public.  The court also ruled that Glover didn't commit burglary when he broke into a locked room within the church.  It's not immediately clear whether prosecutors will appeal to a higher court.

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Activist Sues over Kansas Legislature's Lack of Assistance for Deaf

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas activist is asking the state's highest court to require the Legislature to provide sign-language interpreters for its sessions and better captioning for its audio and video feeds.  Chris Haulmark of Olathe filed a petition last week with the Kansas Supreme Court. He argues that state and federal law and the Kansas Constitution require accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing.  He is asking the court to require the Legislature to provide a professional interpreting team to sign House and Senate sessions. He also wants lawmakers to be required to provide real-time captions for the video of their sessions and audio of committee meetings and to post transcripts of their meetings on the Legislature's website.  Legislative Administrative Services Director Tom Day declined Monday to comment on the petition.

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Kansas City, KS to Get Rare Downtown Housing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An $11 million project is scheduled to bring new apartments and townhomes to downtown Kansas City, Kansas, for the first time in several decades. The Boulevard Lofts project from the Prairie Fire Development Group and Community Housing of Wyandotte County will include about 50 units, ranging in price from $500 a month to $1,100 a month. KCUR reports Boulevard Lofts is being financed with affordable housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and a grant from the Board of Public Utilities. Eighty percent of the units will be income-restricted, while the remaining 20 percent will be market rate. Kelley Hrabe, one of the project developers, said construction is scheduled to begin this week. He hopes to begin pre-leasing next May and open in late summer 2020

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Clarification: Church Theft Not Burglary Story

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — In a story June 9 about a Kansas Court of Appeals decision, The Associated Press reported that a Kansas man who stole items from a Catholic church won't face burglary charges because the church was open. The story should have made clear that the man was also charged with one count of felony theft that was not at issue in the appeals court ruling.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Regulation of Gun Silencers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is rejecting a challenge to federal regulation of gun silencers, just days after a gunman used one in a shooting rampage that killed 12 people in Virginia.  The justices did not comment Monday in turning away appeals from two Kansas men who were convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers. The men argued that the constitutional right "to keep and bear arms" includes silencers.  Kansas and seven other states joined in a court filing urging the justices hear the appeal. The states said the court should affirm that the Second Amendment protects "silencers and other firearms accessories."  The other states joining Kansas in the court filing are: Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

President Donald Trump's administration asked the court to stay out of the case and leave the convictions in place.   Shane Cox, owner of a military surplus store, was convicted of making and transferring an unregistered silencer, and customer Jeremy Kettler was convicted of possessing one, all in violation of the 85-year-old National Firearms Act. Both men were sentenced to probation.  Meanwhile, police are trying to determine a motive for the deadly shootings in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Authorities have said that city employee DeWayne Craddock opened fire in a municipal building on May 31. Police say Craddock was armed with two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammunition magazines.  Craddock later was killed in a shootout with police.

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Former Kansas Congressional Candidate Diagnosed with Cancer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas attorney who was eying a possible run for U.S. Senate has announced that he has been diagnosed with cancer and likely won't run for elected office again.  Democrat James Thompson announced Sunday in a Facebook post that he has a carcinoid tumor that metastasized into multiple lesions on his liver. He said the "good news" is that the cancer is "slow moving." But he said he is experiencing dizziness and extreme fatigue.  Thompson has run twice for the south-central Kansas congressional seat once held by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Thompson had been weighing a 2020 campaign to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.  He says his "one wish is that people step up to take the baton and continue fighting for a better Kansas."

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Report: Kansas Farmers Behind in Getting Crops Planted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows Kansas growers are still behind in getting their crops planted. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that sorghum planting is running late with 25% planted. That is half of what is normally seeded by this time. Just 48% of the state's soybeans have also been planted so far. Usually by this late in the spring Kansas farmers already have 69% of the crop seeded. Corn planting is 89% finished, compared to the 97% average. Winter wheat condition is rated as 12% poor to very poor, 30% fair, and 58% good to excellent. The state's wheat crop is developing very slowly this season, with only 2% now mature. Typically 25% has matured by this date.

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Wichita Police Join National Group to Find Violent Criminals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department will join a national partnership aimed at fighting violent crime.  Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Monday that Wichita is one of 10 U.S. cities chosen for the U.S. Department of Justice's National Public Safety Partnership.  Under the program, Wichita police will receive training and technical assistance from federal and state crime-fighting agencies.  Kansas Senator Jerry Moran said in a news release the program establishes federal partnerships with state, local and tribal agencies to pursue violent criminals. The effort will target gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence in Wichita and Sedgwick County.

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Wichita Man Sentenced to Four Years in Butter Knife Attack on Officer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for attacking an officer last year with a butter knife.  Television station KAKE reports that 54-year-old Darren Hutcherson was sentenced Friday to four years and three months in prison.  Police say the attack happened October 10, when officers were sent to a Wichita homeless shelter to arrest Hutcherson on a warrant. Officers found Hutcherson in the dining hall and told him put his hands behind his back. Police say Hutcherson instead lunged at an officer holding a butter knife and tried to stab the officer in the chest. The knife hit the officer in his bullet-proof vest and fell to the floor, causing no harm to the officer.  Hutcherson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and other charges.

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Plant in Central Kansas to Produce More Wind Turbines

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Spanish renewable energy company's plant in central Kansas is upping its capacity to manufacture wind turbines.  The Hutchinson News reports that the Siemens Gamesa plant in Hutchinson could primarily make one type of turbine three years ago. The plant soon will be producing five.  Plant Manager Danilo Bezerra says the company's newest product, a 4.5-megawatt wind turbine nacelle, will go into full production by spring 2020.  Bezerra says the newest turbine is larger and about 50% more complex than the plant's other offerings. It's also so heavy that the plant has to manufacture and ship the turbine in several parts.  He says the plant expects to hire up to 35 more people once the new turbine is in production. The plant currently employs about 280 full-time workers on the manufacturing line.

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Kansas Vice Provost Picked for Secretary of Administration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has nominated University of Kansas vice provost DeAngela Burns-Wallace for secretary of administration. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kelly announced her pick Friday. Burns-Wallace will replace Duane Goossen, who is retiring after serving in the secretary position on an interim basis throughout the legislative session.  Burns-Wallace is the vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas and previously worked as a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department.  Burns-Wallace's federal work included stints in China and South Africa.  John Yeary, a legal adviser in the Department of Administration, will serve as interim secretary through the end of the month.  Kelly praised Goossen for his efforts to install accountability and transparency in state government.

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Missouri Agency Seeks Input on Rules to Combat Deer Disease

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Department of Conservation is proposing new rules on the handling of deer carcasses in an effort to combat chronic wasting disease.  The Springfield News-Leader reports that the department's Conservation Commission is seeking public comments through early August on the proposed regulations that would further restrict how deer carcasses are transported. The rules also outline how meat processors and taxidermists should dispose of deer parts.  The fatal deer disease has been detected in 16 Missouri counties.  Department official Jason Sumners says the agency has found new cases that suggest the disease isn't being spread by the natural movement of deer, but rather by people.  The commission will decide whether to approve, alter or reject the proposed regulations on August 23. If approved, the regulations would go into effect February 29, 2020.

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Missouri River Boat Race Delayed Because of Flooding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An annual paddle boat race on the Missouri River is being postponed because of flooding.  The organizers of Missouri River 340 announced the decision Friday.  Race director Scott Mansker said in a Facebook post that the river would be in a "dangerous condition," through July 16-19, the event's scheduled dates.  He says it would be impossible for paddlers to safely navigate the river because it is too high after weeks of heavy rains.  A new date will depend on the river's water levels in the next few weeks.  Paddlers may participate in the rescheduled race or defer their registration until 2020.

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"Wizard of Oz" Comes to Life in Western Michigan Park

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Families in western Michigan can follow the yellow brick road as a project brings "The Wizard of Oz" to a Holland park.  The Holland Sentinel reports that yellow bricks have been laid in Centennial Park as part of the Holland Oz Project. It'll direct visitors to a living mosaic book that's been constructed out of plants and flowers in a tribute to the L. Frank Baum novel and classic 1939 film.  The outdoor exhibit will also include life-sized bronze sculptures of characters that Kansas girl Dorothy met along her journey through the whimsical world of Oz. The sculptures will be installed in August.  The city has collaborated with the Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Holland in Bloom and the Herrick District Library to bring the project to life.

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KU Adds Iowa Guard Moss as Graduate Transfer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The KU men's basketball team added Iowa sharpshooter Isaiah Moss as a graduate transfer on Monday, strengthening its backcourt and providing a 3-point threat that the Jayhawks had been lacking on their roster. Moss was a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes, averaging 9.2 points last season. He was second on the team in steals and fourth in assists while hitting 42.1% of his 3-pointers. That mark from beyond the arc was the sixth best by an Iowa junior in school history. Jayhawks coach Bill Self says the NCAA's recent decision to move the 3-point line back beginning next season made it crucial to add another deep threat. Self anticipates Moss will still shoot between 40 and 45%. Moss joins a trio of newcomers in combo guards Isaac McBride and Christian Braun and swingman Tristan Enaruna. Those three will be freshmen this fall.

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