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Headlines for Monday, March 20, 2017

Here's what's happening in our area, accoridng to staff and wire reports.

Kansas Medicaid Expansion Push Continues Despite Uncertainty 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Patients, doctors and advocates are pushing to expand Kansas's Medicaid system despite an ongoing effort in Washington to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Senate Public Health and Welfare committee heard testimony Monday on a bill that would expand Medicaid to between 100,000 and 200,000 low-income adults. The measure passed the House by a wide margin last month. Supporters argue expansion still makes sense for the state because the federal GOP proposal would pay for at least 90 percent of the cost. They say it's an economic win for the state while expanding health care coverage. But the GOP plan would end new enrollment in 2020 and cut overall Medicaid spending. The committee will hear from opponents Tuesday and could vote Thursday or Friday.

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Kansas Lawmakers Advance Pay Increase for Most State Workers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are advancing a proposal to give most state employees a 2 percent pay raise even as lawmakers wrestle with serious budget problems that could force a big tax increase. The state Senate Ways and Means Committee voted Monday to include the raise in its proposed spending blueprint for the fiscal year beginning in July. The committee opted for the broad pay increase instead of larger raises for judges and other workers in the court system. Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss urged lawmakers to boost their pay in his State of the Judiciary address last week. Most state government workers have not seen a pay increase for almost a decade. But the state also faces projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019. 

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Kansas Bomb Suspect Wants to Boot Court-Appointed Attorneys 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The court-appointed attorneys for a Kansas man accused of plotting to bomb to an apartment complex filled with Somali immigrants have asked a court to let them withdraw from the case. The filing Monday by attorneys for Patrick Stein comes in the wake of an arraignment last week on a superseding indictment. Stein told the magistrate judge he was unwilling to be represented by attorneys Edward Robinson and Kristen Wheeler. Stein told the court they were providing "ineffective assistance of counsel," and he wanted to hire his own attorney. Monday's written filing exposes rifts between Stein and his attorneys over how to defend the case. Stein wants to challenge the validity of a search warrant for his home and insists on bringing the case to trial as soon as possible.

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Fire at Overland Park Apartment Building Sparks House Fires 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A huge fire at an apartment building under construction in Overland Park has sparked fires on several homes blocks away. The Kansas City Star reports that the blaze Monday at a building at the multimillion-dollar City Place development blew plumes of smoke and embers along rows of homes nearby. Some residents were being evacuated as a precaution. There are no immediate reports of injuries. Flames and heavy black smoke were pouring from the multi-story apartment building. The newspaper reports the fire appears to be coming from two buildings under construction at the development and within minutes began to spread to nearby houses. Authorities say at least six other fires were reported at nearby homes. Neighboring fire departments are helping the Overland Park Fire Department battle the blazes.

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Four Kansas City Men, Including Two Brothers, Face Kidnapping, Gun Charges

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two brothers and two other Kansas City, Missouri, people are accused of abducting two people.  Federal prosecutors charged 30-year-old Jeremy Dobson, 25-year-old Joshua Dobson, 25-year-old Courtney Devero and 21-year-old Justin Watson with one count each of kidnapping and using a firearm during a violent crime.  Court documents allege a man and woman were tied to a pole in a Kansas City home's basement on March 10, held at gunpoint and beaten by the kidnappers.  Authorities say the woman later was left at a hospital and the male victim was driven by some of the suspects across Kansas and eventually was left tied up in a field near Russell. That victim managed to break free from his bindings and summon police.  Online court records don't show if the defendants have attorneys.

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Kansas City Woman Dies After Cosmetic Surgery in Florida

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Florida are investigating after a 25-year-old Missouri woman died after undergoing a cosmetic procedure at a Miami-area surgery center.  Police in Hialeah, Florida, said in a news release that Ranika Hall of Kansas City died Thursday after undergoing surgery on her buttocks at the Eres Plastic Surgery clinic in Hialeah.  Police say emergency responders were sent to the clinic about 9 p.m. Thursday after fielding a call that Hall was not breathing. She died about an hour later at a hospital.  The Miami Herald reports that Hialeah police are investigating with the Florida Department of Health and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.   The clinic said in a statement Friday night that it is "deeply saddened by what has occurred."

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Feds Seek to Shut Down Kansas Tax Return Preparer 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Justice Department is seeking to shut down a Kansas tax return preparer and his business. A civil lawsuit filed Monday alleges Everett Bias and his company, Integrity Solutions Tax Consultants Inc., prepared fraudulent tax returns for their customers. No working phone numbers could be found to reach them for comment. The government contends in its lawsuit the defendants unlawfully understated their customers' income tax liabilities or overstated their refunds. It also asks the court to order them to turn over the names of customers for whom they prepared federal tax returns since 2012. The complaint also alleges the defendants fabricated the income and expenses of a fictitious business to show a loss.

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Kansas Grandmother of Slain Boy Seeks Home Schooling Reform 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The death of a woman's 7-year-old grandson is propelling her to become an advocate for reform of home schooling. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Judy Conway believes her grandson's father and stepmother used home schooling to prevent anyone from knowing how he was being treated. Police found Adrian Jones's remains in the pigsty at the family's home in Kansas City, Kansas, in November 2015. Prior to his death, the boy had been kept in a shower stall, routinely beaten and starved. His father is scheduled to go on trial next month. Conway wants Kansas to adopt home-schooling requirements, including background checks for those registering for home schooling and a flagging system for at-risk children. Home schools are considered unaccredited private schools in Kansas, which has 30,438 registered unaccredited private schools.

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Wichita Cops Fatally Shoot Man with Gun; Police K-9 Also Killed

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer fatally wounded a 25-year-old man who pointed a gun at officers during an altercation that also led to the death of a police dog.  The Wichita Eagle reports  that the incident happened Saturday night around 8 at the Lamp Lighter Mobile Home Park on the south side of the city.  Police said officers were initially called because of a domestic disturbance. Officers surrounded the home before the 25-year-old walked out with a gun in his waistband.  A police dog was sent after the suspect to stop him from re-entering the home. That's when gunfire was exchanged wounding both the dog and the man.  Authorities believe the suspect shot the dog named Rooster, but an investigation will be conducted.

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2-Year-Old Left in Car While Parents Attended Church Services 

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 2-year-old Kansas boy left for two hours Sunday in a hot car while his parents went to church services has been hospitalized with extreme heat exposure. Law enforcement authorities in Finney County say the child had fallen asleep in the car during the ride to church. The parents both believed that the other had taken the child from the vehicle and was in Sunday school with the other children. The parents began searching for their son after the services ended and the child never came out of Sunday school. He was found unresponsive in the car. The parents took him to a local hospital where he was stabilized and then transported to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. Temperatures at the time were 92 degrees with 7 percent humidity.

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Kansas Man Sentenced to Prison for Sex Trafficking 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office says a Topeka man has been sentenced to 47 months in prison for sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl. Thirty-year-old Reginald Eugene Newman had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. In his plea deal, he admitted he and his wife, Tiara Jade Newman, took the girl in March 2015 from Topeka to Junction City, Kansas, for prostitution. A few days later, his wife took her to Manhattan where she told a customer the victim was new and she was showing her the business. Prosecutors say the Newmans kept all the money from the commercial sex acts. Tiara Newman was sentenced earlier this month to 34 months in prison.

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Police Arrest Victim's Father for Wichita Fatal Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say they have arrested a man in connection with the fatal shooting of his 17-year-old son during an argument in north Wichita. Officers were called at about 9:15 pm Sunday to a shooting and found the victim in a nearby alley. Police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says Police say the victim's friend was with him in the alley and told officers that the father was a possible suspect in the case.  KAKE-TV reports that officers responded to the home and took the victim's father into custody. The boy's father was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder. It is Wichita's seventh homicide of the year, and the second in three days.

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Dry Conditions Hurting Kansas Winter Wheat Crop 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest snapshot of Kansas crop conditions shows the lack of rain is hurting the state's winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that remained dry with limited precipitation in a few eastern counties this past week. The agency says 24 percent of the wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition in the state. About 38 percent is rated as fair while 36 percent is in good and 2 percent is in excellent condition. About 10 percent of the state's wheat crop has now jointed. That is well behind the 18 percent at this time last year, but near the five-year average. Calving was 64 complete across the state, while lambing progress was at 78 percent finished.

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Feds Feed Vaccine to Prairie Dogs to Help Protect Ferrets

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Feeding vaccine nuggets to prairie dogs could help bring back a species of prairie weasel that almost went extinct.  Scientists thought the black-footed ferret was extinct until a Wyoming ranch dog brought a ferret home in 1981.  One of the biggest barriers to restoring the black-footed ferret to Western ranges is plague, a disease that kills prairie dogs by the thousand. Black-footed ferrets feed almost exclusively on prairie dogs, meaning plague can leave ferrets without enough to eat.  To help black-footed ferrets, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others plan to vaccinate prairie dogs against plague in several Western states later this year.  They will use all-terrain vehicles and possibly drones to disperse vaccine pellets across as much as 40 square miles of ferret habitat.

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Wind Energy Firm Trying Again for OK of Cross-Country Line 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A renewable energy company is again facing opposition as it seeks one of the final pieces of regulatory approval needed to carry wind power from the nation's heartland to the east. Missouri utility regulators began hearing testimony Monday on a request from Clean Line Energy to build a high-voltage transmission line from western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to an Indiana power grid that connects with eastern states. The Houston-based company already has won approval from other states, but the Missouri Public Service Commission rejected it in 2015. Clean Line Energy is trying again — this time by showing it has Missouri municipal power companies lined up as customers. Several landowner and farmer groups are questioning the true need for the project and the discounted rates provided to those cities.

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Boston Pops to Showcase Gershwin on Tour of US Midwest 

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Pops is headed to the Heartland. The renowned orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, kicks off a seven-city, seven-state tour around the Midwest this week. Organizers say the tour will showcase the music of George Gershwin. The tour gets underway Friday in Kansas City, Missouri, and moves to Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday and Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday. Next week's stops include Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 27; Chicago on March 31; Van Wert, Ohio, on April 1; and Carmel, Indiana, on April 2. Actress and celebrated Broadway star Bernadette Peters will join the Pops at the Chicago and Ohio stops.

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers Battling Dementia 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Relatives of Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers say the Bears legend has been diagnosed with dementia. His wife, Ardythe Sayers, tells The Kansas City Star that her 73-year-old husband was diagnosed four years ago and she blames Sayers's football career. He played for the Bears from 1965-71 after setting records at the University of Kansas. Ardie Sayers and the rest of the family had made no secret of his condition, but hadn't shared it publicly. She recently determined that it's important that his situation be known and understood to dispel false impressions. His brother, Roger Sayers, says it's "tough" to "build memories all your life, and the next thing you know you don't remember anything."

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Kansas Jayhawks Advance to Sweet 16; Wichita State's Season Ends
 

For the 30th time in program history, the Kansas Jayhawks are headed to the Sweet 16.  Top seed Kansas rolled to a 90-70 romp over Michigan State on Sunday.  The Jayhawks will take on fourth seed Purdue on Thursday, in the Midwest Regional semifinal in Kansas City.  Earlier in the day, Wichita State's season came to end.  The Shockers fell to No. 3 Kentucky, just barely -- 65-62.  Elsewhere, second-seeded Duke was knocked out by South Carolina, leaving just one ACC team, North Carolina, in the tournament.

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4 Finalists Named for Naismith Trophy as Top College Player

ATLANTA (AP) _ KU's Frank Mason III is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy as the top player in men's college basketball.  They were chosen by a national voting panel made up of journalists, current and former head coaches, former Naismith winners and conference commissioners. The winner will be announced April 2.

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Dairy Queen Offers Free Ice Cream Cones

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Dairy Queen is offering free ice cream cones today (MON) -- on this first day of spring.  Anyone who wants a treat can stop by participating locations for a free small ice cream cone.  Dairy Queens will also be collecting donations for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals today (MON).  Over the past 32 years, Dairy Queen restaurants have raised more than $120 million for the hospitals.

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