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Headlines for Monday, June 19, 2017

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

Kansas Supreme Court to Hear School Funding Case July 18 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court plans to hear arguments from attorneys July 18 on whether a new school funding law complies with the state constitution. The court set an expedited schedule Monday for its review. A four-page order from Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said the new law will take effect July 1 as planned and remain in force during the court's review. The law phases in a $293 million increase in spending on public schools over two years. It also creates a new per-pupil funding formula for the state's 286 local school districts to provide more funds to programs for low-performing students. The court ruled in March that the state's $4 billion a year in education funding is inadequate under the state constitution. Four school districts sued Kansas in 2010.

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Thousands in Kansas City Lack Power After Weekend Storms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than 12,000 utility customers in the Kansas City area still lacked power Monday morning after severe storms moved through the area over the weekend. The Kansas City Star reports the storms knocked down trees and power lines across the area on Saturday night. Kansas City Power & Light reported that at the peak of the outages, 93,000 customers—more than 10 percent—were without power in the utility's service area, which covers 46 counties in Kansas and Missouri. At 8:00 this (MON) morning, more than 12,000 customers were still offline.  KCP&L says it expected the outages to continue until sometime this (MON) evening. 

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Kansas Tax Hike Hailed as Fix Doesn't Quite Balance Budget 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The big income tax increase Kansas legislators enacted over Governor Sam Brownback's veto won't balance the budget by itself, despite immediately boosting the state's credit outlook. Even though the reversal of most of Brownback's income tax cuts will inject $1.2 billion in new revenue through June 2019, lawmakers will have to continue relying on some of the same fiscal patches they've employed in recent years to keep the books balanced as state law requires. It's partly because legislators also approved an increase in spending on public schools to meet a state Supreme Court mandate. However, the problems were deep enough that the GOP-controlled Legislature couldn't raise taxes — or cut spending — enough to fix all of them at once and still get the supermajorities needed to override Brownback's veto.

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Lawmakers Say Governor Brownback Preferred a Tax Veto Override

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Three Kansas lawmakers say Gov. Sam Brownback told a small group of legislators it would be politically better for him if they overrode his veto and repealed tax cuts rather than proposing another tax plan for him to sign. The Kansas City Star reports nine lawmakers met privately with Brownback the morning of the day the Legislature overrode his veto of a tax bill. They said the meeting swayed some conservative Republicans to join moderates and Democrats in the override. Representative Erin Davis, an Olathe Republican, said after several options were discussed, Brownback said it would be better to have his veto overridden than to sign a different tax bill. Other lawmakers disputed that interpretation of Brownback's words. The governor's office neither denied nor confirmed the exchange.

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Governor's Veto Blocks Lottery Vending Machines in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has vetoed a bill that would have allowed vending machine sales of lottery tickets in Kansas. The bill had strong bipartisan support but Brownback said that an expansion of state-run gambling would hurt the poor. Lottery officials had worked for months to get lawmakers to pass the bill authorizing vending machine sales. They argued that it could boost annual sales by as much as $30 million and generate between $8 million and $10 million in revenues to the state. Legislators agreed to dedicate much of the state's proceeds to community mental health services. Missouri and most other states allow vending machine sales of lottery tickets. Kansas has resisted even after legalizing state-owned casinos. Brownback has long been wary of expanding legalized gambling.

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GOP's 2006 Nominee for Kansas Governor to Run Again in 2018

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas state senator who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2006 is running again for the office next year. Topeka physician Jim Barnett has announced that he will kick off his campaign for the GOP nomination tomorrow (TUE) in Topeka and have events in eight other cities over the next two days. Barnett served a decade in the Senate as an Emporia resident, starting in 2001. He lost the 2006 governor's race to Democratic incumbent Kathleen Sebelius. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District of central and western Kansas in 2010. Barnett is joining a hotly contested race to replace term-limited GOP Governor Sam Brownback. Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Wichita businessman Wink Hartman are also seeking the Republican nomination.

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Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest on Track Compared to 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows the Kansas winter wheat harvest is mostly on track compared to this time a year ago. The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated on Monday that 22 percent of the wheat in the state has been cut. That is the same progress at this point a year ago and near the 25 percent average — despite widespread rains this past week that slowed the harvest. Harvest activity has begun across much of the state. The exceptions are in the northwest and west-central parts of Kansas where cutting has yet to start. The agency reports harvest is about 48 percent finished in south-central Kansas and 62 percent completed in southeast Kansas. It is just ramping up in north-central Kansas where 7 percent of the wheat has been harvested.

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Incoming KU Chancellor's Salary More than Gray-Little's

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Incoming University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod will earn a higher salary than outgoing chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. The 59-year-old Girod, who becomes chancellor July 1, will earn $550,000 plus $31,250 in deferred compensation at the end of the year. Gray-Little, Kansas chancellor for eight years, earned $510,041 this year. Girod, currently executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and a practicing surgeon, will be paid increasing deferred compensation for each year he remains chancellor, up to a maximum $125,000 annually after four years. He also will be able to continue to practicing medicine. The state will pay $375,000 of Girod's salary, with the rest from paid by the KU Endowment.

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Aircraft Parts Maker to Invest $30 Million in New Wichita Center

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems is investing $30 million in a new Wichita center. The Wichita Eagle reports that the city's largest employer announced the investment this (MON) morning at the Paris Air Show. Spirit's vice president of fabrication, Alan Young, said in an interview that the facility, called the five-axis center of excellence, is expected to be operational later this year. Young says five-axis machines fashion ``some of the most complicated parts on an airplane'' including aluminum and titanium parts for an airplane's fuselage, pylons and wing. The expansion of the parts manufacturing and chemical processing isn't expected to create more jobs or the need for more buildings. The center will be placed in an existing plant.

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Small Earthquake Rattles North-Central Kansas

MANKATO, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Geological Survey says a small earthquake has shaken north-central Kansas. The Hays Post reports that the 2.9 magnitude earthquake was reported just after 2 a.m. Monday. It was centered 6 miles northwest of the Jewell County town of Mankato. The Jewell County Sheriff's Department says there have been no reports of damage or injury. Three other quakes were reported last week in the county. 

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Wichita Man Arrested After Threatening Post on Facebook 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 28-year-old man is jailed on suspicion of making a terroristic threat after several people reported a threatening post on Facebook. Police say the man was arrested at a business Monday morning. Officer Charley Davidson says Sedgwick County 911 dispatchers started getting calls Sunday night from people concerned about the post that includes threats from a person who sounded suicidal. Davidson said the threat didn't mention a specific target. The post included a picture of a large rifle and bullets. When the suspect was arrested, he had a BB gun with him.

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Kansas Man Sentenced to Life in Killing of Nebraska Man 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to life in prison in the killing of a Lincoln, Nebraska, man in the parking lot of central Kansas motel. The Salina Journal reports that DiAntre Lemmie was sentenced Monday for first-degree murder and five other charges in the April 2016 death of 32-year-old Adonis Loudermilk at the Starlite Motel in Salina. He must serve 25 years of the life term before becoming eligible for parole. He also faces another 11 years for the other charges. Prosecutors say Loudermilk was shot during a botched robbery. A co-defendant was sentenced last month to nearly 31 years in prison for her role in the killing. Lemmie was arrested after a chase in which he hoped a curb and traveled about 200 yards in a railroad right-of-way.

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Historic Church in Kansas Listed for Sale 

VINLAND, Kan. (AP) — Shareholders who worked to save and restore a 138-year-old church just south of Lawrence have put the property on the market. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Stephens Real Estate held an open house Saturday for the Vinland Presbyterian Church, which is listed at $249,000. The 17 shareholders of Vinland Preservation LLC bought the property in 2001 with the goal of saving the neglected church. The group managed to secure the church's place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and leveraged about $120,000 in preservation grants. The grants helped to rebuild the crumbling foundation, strengthen the roof, reconstruct arched windows and repair the steeple, among others. Shareholder Stan Lawson says the ideal buyer would be an artist or craftsman with an interest in historical preservation.

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Wichita State Offers New Degree Program for Game Designers and Filmmakers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita State University is offering a new degree for aspiring filmmakers, video game designers and sound engineers. The Kansas Board of Regents approved the bachelor of applied arts in media arts degree last week. To make the degree possible, the college will take over the Bethany College at MindFire Academy production studios in July. The facility will be renamed Shocker Studio. Wichita State students will take classes there and at the main campus. The program will merge arts, science and technology. Students can specialize in one of the university's technical and creative tracks: animation, audio production, game design or filmmaking. Meanwhile, Bethany College at MindFire will relocate to its main campus in Lindsborg with new labs and facilities. 

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Lawrence Cracks Down on Illegally Parked Bicycles

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The city of Lawrence is cracking down on illegally parked bicycles. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city plans to start tagging bicycles that are chained to trees, light poles, fire hydrants and traffic signs starting today (MON). Bikes that are improperly parked on sidewalks also will receive what the city describes as an educational ``ticket.'' It's not a citation but a map designating legal parking areas in the city's downtown. The tag also includes a warning that illegally parked bicycles can be removed and stored by the Lawrence Police Department. The city says the goal is to reduce congestion on sidewalks and encourage bicyclists to use newly designated bike corrals, as well as bike racks and bike repair stations. 

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California Cyclist Dies in Kansas Cross-Country Race

LEOTI, Kan. (AP) - A driver struck and killed a California man as he biked across Kansas during a cross-country race over the weekend. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 61-year-old Eric Fishbein, of San Luis Obispo, California, was killed Saturday night. The patrol says that a car hit the bicyclist from behind on Kansas 96, about eight miles east of Leoti. The small town is near the state's western border with Colorado. Fishbein was competing in the 4,300-mile Trans Am Bike Race, which began June 3. The patrol says the car's 25-year-old driver and a 27-year-old passenger were taken to a hospital with possible injuries. A 2-year-old boy also was in the car, but wasn't hurt.

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Kansas City Man Charged in Neighbor's Killing 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with killing his neighbor one day before what would have been her 25th birthday. Twenty-five-year-old Cedrick Russell was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the May 31 killing of Ashley Geddes. He's also charged with sodomy or attempted sodomy, first-degree burglary, stealing, tampering with a motor vehicle and tampering with physical evidence. Prosecutors are requesting a $500,000 bond. Online court records do not indicate if Russell has an attorney. Court records say Russell told police that Geddes stopped breathing as he choked her during sex. Geddes's mother, who found her daughter's body inside her Kansas City townhome, said Geddes barely knew Russell. He is accused of taking her car, phone and jewelry. Prosecutors say the missing jewelry was pawned shortly after her death.

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Crews Find Drowning Victim in Suburban Kansas City Lake 

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a 50-year-old man from a suburban Kansas City lake where he drowned while boating with family. Jackson County (Missouri) Sheriff Mike Sharp says the man began struggling Sunday after jumping off a pontoon boat into Lake Jacomo. The Kansas City man then disappeared under the water and didn't resurface. WDAF-TV reports that the Lee's Summit Underwater Recover Team found the man's body at 11:20 p.m. Sunday. His name wasn't immediately released.

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Men Investigated in Missouri Abduction, Georgia Death 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Georgia man is accused of killing a neighbor, stealing his car and later kidnapping a Missouri woman before he was finally apprehended in Kansas. Prosecutors in Georgia have charged 53-year-old John Czarnecki with murder in the death of 56-year-old Abraham Rudolph Jacobs. Czarnecki and 43-year-old Christopher Smith of Cave Springs, Georgia, are charged with kidnapping and robbery in Missouri. Police found Jacobs's body Thursday inside Czarnecki's apartment in Chamblee, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The men lived in the same apartment complex. Authorities say Czarnecki picked up Smith and they drove Jacobs' stolen SUV to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where they kidnapped a woman Thursday morning outside a Wal-Mart store. She was taken to a cornfield and robbed but released unharmed. Both men were arrested Friday night in Grinnell, Kansas.

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Vargas Gets 10th Win as KC Powers Past Angels for 7-3 Victory

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Royals' starting pitcher Jason Vargas earned his 10th win, the most in the major leagues, and Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer as the Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-3 on Sunday. Mike Moustakas had a three-run double for the Royals, who went 7-2 on their road trip to San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim, California. Vargas (10-3) gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings. Facing a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the sixth, Vargas was able to limit the damage to one run before departing. Perez launched a drive to center field for his 14th homer of the season as part of a four-run outburst in the fourth. Moustakas doubled in the third with the bases loaded, giving him 19 RBIs this month.

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