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Headlines for Monday, June 20, 2016

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

Most New Funds for Kansas Schools Would Lower Local Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — If Kansas legislators increase aid to poor school districts to satisfy a recent state Supreme Court order, much of the money would go to dropping local property taxes instead of classroom spending. That bothers many Republicans. The Legislature convenes Thursday for a special session to address the court's order last month declaring that the state's education funding system remains unfair to poor school districts. The justices warned that schools might not be able to reopen after June 30 if further changes aren't made. Governor Sam Brownback has embraced a proposal to increase education funding by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year to help poor districts. But as much as 75 percent of the new dollars would to property tax relief, replacing existing dollars that districts already raise locally.


Kansas Lawmakers Recall 2005 Special Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — As Kansas lawmakers prepare to start a special legislative session on school funding, some lawmakers who were around for a 2005 school funding special session say the bitterness between the state Supreme Court and the Legislature is the same. In 2005, as now, lawmakers and the state Supreme Court were at odds over which branch of government had authority to decide how schools are funded. The special session scheduled to start Thursday was called after the high court said the state's education funding system remains unfair to poor school districts. Former Representative Mike O'Neal was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 2005. He says this session could be more contentious than the 2005 session in part because few believed schools would actually be closed.


Report: Kansas Lost Thousands of Construction Jobs in 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal report shows that construction jobs in Kansas fell 3,400 over the past year. The U.S. Labor Department report released Saturday shows that employment in Kansas' construction industry since May 2015 slipped 5.6 percent. The Kansas percentage decline was surpassed only by drops in West Virginia and North Dakota. The report also shows that four neighboring states experienced growth in the construction jobs sector, adding a combined 20,000 jobs to the economy. Bob Totten, executive vice president of the Kansas Contractors Association, said diminished state spending on bridge and road work was a factor in Kansas' low ranking on construction employment. In April, Kansas delayed up to three years authorization of highway construction projects valued at $550 million because of budget shortfalls.


Superintendents Say They Won't Disregard Transgender Bathroom Directive 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several dozen central and western Kansas school superintendents say they have no intention of following the advice of U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp to disregard a recent transgender bathroom directive from President Barack Obama's administration. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that it reached out to 129 school superintendents who were given the Republican congressman's letter and received responses from 30 of them. Huelskamp used the letter to encourage districts to "stand up to the Obama administration." But none said they would directly disobey the directive that students should use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Many district leaders dismissed debates over transgender students as irrelevant to their rural districts. Others explained the policies and procedures they have established to ensure transgender students are treated fairly.


Kansas Court: Solitary Confinement Can Violate Prisoner Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says solitary confinement can violate an inmate's constitutional rights in some extreme cases. Friday's ruling came in the case of 33-year-old James Jamerson, who was serving 24 years for second-degree murder linked to a 2001 Topeka homicide. Jamerson was placed in solitary confinement in 2010 after being threatened with gang violence and accused of taking part in contraband trafficking. He filed a writ of habeas corpus in August 2013 after he had been in solitary confinement for more than 1,000 days. The court ordered Kansas judges to consider an inmate's duration in solitary confinement when determining whether the inmate's rights had been infringed upon. The ruling has no effect on the Jamerson's treatment because he is no longer in segregation.


Johnson County Reports 1 Case of Zika Virus

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - Health officials say a Johnson County resident who traveled to an area where mosquitoes are spreading Zika virus is the county's first case of the virus. The county health department didn't provide details about the returned traveler or the travel destination. The Kansas City Star reports that the county health department says the risk of contracting Zika in the area is extremely low. State health officials said in March that an adult from southwest Kansas was the state's first confirmed case of the Zika virus. That person also had traveled to a country with "local Zika virus transmission." The Zika virus is spread mainly by a tropical mosquito and causes a mild illness in most people. But infection during pregnancy can cause fetal deaths and birth defects.


University of Kansas Drafts Plan to Deal with Tree Insect 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has tentative plans to try and save some notable ash trees on its campus from the invasive beetle known as the emerald ash borer. According to a draft of the University of Kansas's ash tree management plan, about 20 trees that are in significant locations on campus would be injected with insecticide to prevent ash borer infestation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that trees left untreated would be monitored for signs of infestation. Diseased or distressed trees would be removed. The plan also calls for replacing ash trees with other species over five years. The University of Kansas Facilities Services would carry out the management plan. The ash borer feeds on tree tissue beneath the bark, destroying the ability to move water and nutrients to branches.


Immigration Policies Again Before Sedgwick County Commission 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Commission will consider asking state officials to bar immigrants living in the state illegally from receiving in-state tuition and from participating in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. The Wichita Eagle reports the commission will consider a proposal Wednesday asking the Legislature to bar immigrants who aren't in Kansas legally from receiving in-state tuition. And they might ask the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to block immigrants without legal status from participating in the WIC program, which funds nutritional foods and beverages for low-income families. Commissioner Richard Ranzau says taxpayers shouldn't have to support immigrants in the country illegally. But Commissioner Dave Unruh says he thinks county taxpayers want the commission to focus on the county and stay out of state and national issues.


Police Investigate After Dog Left in Car at Kauffman Stadium 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating after someone left a dog in a sweltering car at Kauffman Stadium during a Kansas City Royals baseball game. The dog was rescued by fans who heard it whimpering when they left a game on Sunday. The fans took the dog, which had no access to food and water, into the stadium and left a note for the car's owner. As of Monday afternoon, no one had claimed the dog, which is being kept at a shelter. It will be up for adoption if the owners don't contact the shelter within five days. The Kansas City Star reports that one of the dog's rescuers is interested in adopting the puppy. The penalty for animal cruelty is up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.


Clinic Seeks to Help Juvenile Offenders 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nonprofit wants to help people who qualify expunge their records of crimes committed as juveniles. Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters is hosting a free Juvenile Expungement Clinic on July 16 in Wichita. Brittany Waldman, recruiter and events coordinator, told The Wichita Eagle that the purpose of the clinic is to help anyone who qualifies to expunge their records or to help them successfully complete their diversion programs. She says to qualify applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 24 and have had some type of contact with the juvenile justice system. They cannot have had any adult convictions. Participants will meet with staff to learn how the expungement process works. Waldman says representatives from Kansas Legal Services will also be available.


Woman Drives Away with Johnson County Deputy's Vehicle 

MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman has been arrested after driving off with a Johnson County deputy's vehicle. The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that the vehicle was recovered around 2 am Monday — just minutes after the woman drove off in it. The theft happened after the deputy was dispatched to De Soto to check on a distraught woman standing on a street corner. The release said the woman asked to be taken to a hospital in Merriam after it was determined that she hadn't committed a crime and wasn't a victim. Upon arriving at the hospital, she is accused of sliding from the passenger seat to the driver's seat as the deputy was walking around the vehicle to let her out. The woman was apprehended nearby.


Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Made Progress Before Rains 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows Kansas farmers have harvested 25 percent of their winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that wheat harvest progress for the state is near the 27 percent average for this time of the year. It rated wheat still out in the fields as 62 percent good to excellent, with 30 percent in fair condition. About 8 percent of the crop remains in poor to very poor shape. The industry group, Kansas Wheat, reports that rain over the weekend in central Kansas is expected to put a damper on what had been an otherwise great yielding harvest. Storms in Reno and McPherson counties brought harvest to a halt on Sunday, and likely for Monday, in parts of the state.


Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to Interstate Sex Trafficking 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 46-year-old man has admitted to conspiring to operate a prostitution business based in Topeka. Sean Hall pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Hall was part of a prostitution business that at times used up to 20 females, some of whom lived in houses rented by the organization. The conspirators used Web sites, social media and cell phones to advertise sexual services and to keep track of prostitutes. Hall will be sentenced October 3. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Co-defendant Frank Boswell, of Topeka, is awaiting trial. Co-defendant Rachel Flenniken, also of Topeka, pleaded guilty earlier this month and will be sentenced October 17.


Wichita Man Sentenced for Identity Thefts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for a series of identity thefts that cost victims more than $11,000. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown ordered Reu Chamberlain to serve 38 months in prison for 10 counts of identity theft, one count of forgery and one count of theft by deception. Chamberlain must also pay restitution. Court records show Chamberlain pleaded guilty to the charges in April. Prosecutors agreed to drop several other criminal counts against Chamberlain and to not charge him in other cases in exchange for his guilty plea. The district attorney's office says Chamberlain used personal information to open credit accounts at Wichita businesses between September 2015 and January of this year.


4 Killed in NE Kansas Crash

PERRY, Kan. (AP) -  Four people were killed and two others were injured when two vehicles collided head-on in Jefferson County Sunday afternoon. The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 24 near Perry. Casey Quigley, fire chief of Perry and Kentucky Township, said the four people killed were in a pickup and SUV that collided head-on. He says one of the vehicles was on fire when emergency responders arrived. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened when 56-year-old Ronald Heston, of Oskaloosa, veered off the side of U.S. 24 in his pickup truck, overcorrected and crashed into an oncoming minivan. The victims in the minivan were identified as 35-year-old Travis Askew, 27-year-old Ashley Askew and 6-month-old Haley Askew all of Basehor. Two others in the minivan - a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old girl - were taken to a Topeka hospital.


KCK Company Recalls Pies Because of Peanut Risk

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas-based company has recalled some of its pies because the flour may contain peanut residue. The Kansas City Star reports that Tippin's Gourmet Pies has voluntarily recalled certain key lime pies because of the possibility of peanut residue in the flour. The company initiated the recall after learning that Kellogg Co., its supplier of graham cracker crumbs used in pie crusts, had recalled the crumbs. Tippin's says it hasn't received any notices of allergic reactions involving its pies. The recall affects its 8-inch key lime pies with a UPC code of 680816050057 sold in Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona and Illinois. The possibly affected pies carry lot number dates between April 7, 2016, and May 17, 2016.


Religious Image Stolen from Wichita Church

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita church is tightening its security after one of its important religious images was reported stolen. Mike McDaneld, pastoral assistant for St. Joseph Catholic Church, said a painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was stolen from the sanctuary recently. He says the icon has been an important focal point for the church community since it arrived from Rome in the 1920s. He told The Wichita Eagle he doesn't know if the 24-by-30-inch painting has any real value, aside from its ornate frame. Before the theft, he says it was customary for St. Joseph to leave its doors unlocked during the day. But now the church will lock its doors between services. Wichita police say so far there are no suspects


Big Slick Raises $1.3M for Kansas City Children's Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several celebrities, including actors Paul Rudd and Eric Stonestreet, helped raised more than $1 million for a Kansas City children's hospital. The Kansas City Star reports organizers of the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend announced Saturday they had raised $1.34 million. That's the most the annual event has raised for the Cancer Center at Children's Mercy since the event began several years ago. The weekend included an auction Saturday night, where a visit to the "Modern Family" set, courtesy of Kansas City, Kansas, native Stonestreet, sold for $30,000. Another bidder paid $90,000 for a VIP package to the August premiere of Rudd's next film, "Sausage Party." The annual event is hosted by hometown celebrities Rudd, Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Riggle, as well David Koechner, who's from Tipton, Missouri.


4-Year-Old Boy Killed in Rolling Kansas City Gun Battle 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a stray bullet from a rolling gun battle struck and killed a 4-year-old as he rode in the backseat of a car in Kansas City. Police said in a news release that Mahsaan Kelley-Wilson, of Kansas City, died at a hospital after the car's driver rushed him there. Police say his parents unknowingly drove into the gunfight early Monday involving people in two vehicles east of downtown. No one else was wounded. The shooting happened after another 4-year-old boy suffered a critical head wound Saturday across the state in St. Louis while riding in a car with his father and another man. Police say another vehicle pulled alongside and someone opened fire. No arrests have been made in either shooting.


Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City, Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a man was fatally shot while riding in a vehicle in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said in a news release that officers were summoned to a hospital Sunday after the driver took the shooting victim there. The victim died from his injuries and was identified as 24-year-old Ramon Minjares-Garcia. He was from the city of Camargo in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Police said officers found several bullet holes in the vehicle in which the victim was riding. Authorities are seeking information about a red- four-door vehicle that may be linked to the shooting. Anyone with information is urged to come forward.


Chiefs Safety Berry Wins PFWA Award for Overcoming Adversity 

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry has won the George Halas Award for overcoming adversity to succeed. The Professional Football Writers of America honored Berry on Monday. Berry, the AP's Comeback Player of the Year, overcame a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma in late 2014 to return to the field and have an All-Pro season in 2015. The 47th Halas Award winner, Berry is the first member of the Chiefs to receive the honor. He underwent six rounds of chemotherapy treatment from December 10, 2014 until May 13, 2015. Berry was declared cancer free last June 22, and he was on the field for the first training camp practice July 29. Berry returned to the starting lineup in Week 2, was third on the team with 61 tackles (55 solo), and had a pair of interceptions.


Royals Beat Tigers, 2-1, in 13 Innings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals' Cheslor Cuthbert singled home Lorenzo Cain in the 13th inning to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers Sunday. The Royals won six of seven on their home-stand and have the best home record in the American League at 25-8. Salvador Perez led off the 13th with a single to right off Tigers' left-hander Kyle Ryan (1-2), who was just promoted from Triple-A Toledo. Cain ran for Perez and advanced to second on Miguel Cabrera's error. After Kendrys Morales was walked intentionally walked, Paulo Orlando moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Ryan walked Brett Eibner intentionally to load the bases. Kansas City's Chien-Ming Wang (4-0) allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings to pick up the victory.


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