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Headlines for Monday, May 13, 2019

UPDATE: No One Believed to Still Be Missing After Water Rescue

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say no one is believed to still be missing after three people were rescued from a flooded vehicle in east-central Kansas. Lyon County Undersheriff John Koelsch says the three people who were rescued early Saturday told deputies that there were initially five people in the car. They said two of them left to get gas for the stalled vehicle because they thought it was out of fuel. They never returned, and the three who were rescued after the car floated into a ditch didn't know their full names. Koelsch says the area was searched and no one else was found. Authorities also arrested a man on a bicycle who ignored officers' commands to stay put and attempted to go into the water to rescue the stranded motorists.

(– previous reporting –)

3 People Rescued from Car Swamped in Emporia; 2 Missing

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The Lyon County Sheriff's Office says officials are searching for two missing people who left a car that was overcome by floodwaters in east-central Kansas.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that deputies responding to a call about 4:30 am Saturday of a car in floodwater in Emporia found a car that had floated into a ditch that had people inside.  Firefighters were able to get to the car by boat and rescued two men and a 17-year-old girl.  The three told their rescuers that two other people had left the car around 2 am when it went into floodwaters. Despite a search, the sheriff's office said the two people had not been found hours later. Saturday's rescue was the second in as many days. Deputies rescued a 19-year-old woman Thursday after her car was swept off a Lyon County roadway by floodwaters.

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Court: Kansas Senate Must Vote to Keep Nominee off Bench

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Supreme Court ruling will force the state Senate to vote to reject a nominee for a lower-court judgeship if senators want to keep him off the bench because of his political tweets.  The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that Gov. Laura Kelly did not have the authority to withdraw her nomination of Labette County District Judge Jeffry Jack for the state Court of Appeals.  Kelly dropped Jack's nomination after political posts on his Twitter feed in 2017 came to light.  Kelly chose a second nominee, but Senate President Susan Wagle argued that the appointment went to Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.  A 2013 law on appellate court appointments doesn't say what happens when a candidate withdraws. The Supreme Court said that means a nominee cannot withdraw.

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GOP Recruiting Women, Political Outsiders to Run for U.S. House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Republicans are hunting across the nation for just the right candidates to help them win back the House in next year's elections.  A major emphasis is on finding women and minorities, since the House GOP is overwhelmingly white and male.  They also want candidates who could attract moderate GOP voters who've turned against President Donald Trump. In some places they want political outsiders without voting records to attack, in others it's political veterans who've shown they can win votes. Also desirable are people with enticing personal stories and an aptitude for raising money.  One potential challenger they like is one of the few Republican women in the Oklahoma state Senate . Another is a black political novice from Houston who flew combat helicopters in Iraq and has three master's degrees.  Republican leaders expect Sara Hart Weir, 37, to seek a House district that includes Kansas City, Kansas. Weir until recently was president of the National Down Syndrome Society, which gives her fundraising experience and familiarity with health issues. She says she's met McCarthy and nearly every GOP congresswoman and would challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, one of Congress' first Native American women.

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US Farmers Who Sell to China Feel Pain of Beijing's Tariffs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — China's announcement Monday of higher tariffs on $60 billion of American exports — retaliation for President Donald Trump's latest penalties on Chinese goods — hit a particular nerve here in the farm belt. China's vast consumer market has been a vital source of revenue for Americans whose livelihoods depend on farm exports. Beijing's action wasn't unexpected. But it still felt like a heavy blow to many. Since December, when U.S. and China negotiators called a truce to tariffs and began signaling that an agreement might be reached, soybean farmers had been holding out hope that sales to China would resume, said Todd Hultman, an Omaha-based grain market analyst with agriculture market data provider DTN. In the meantime, the farmers had been storing a record stockpile of nearly 1 billion bushels.

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Court: Kansas Bars Can't Be Sued by Drunken Driving Victims

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says victims injured by drunken drivers can't sue the bars that served them. KCUR-FM reports that the high court's ruling on Friday comes in the case of Jeff Kudlacik, who was placed in a medically induced coma and faced months of rehabilitation following a car accident involving a drunken driver in 2015. The driver who hit Kudlacik, Michael Smith, had a blood alcohol content of nearly 0.18, which is more than twice the legal level of impairment in Kansas. Kudlacik sued the two bars that served Smith before the accident. But the Supreme Court says it's bound by a 1985 case that found Kansas doesn't have a law allowing victims of drunken driving accidents to hold alcohol vendors accountable for their patrons. The court says it's up to the Legislature to change the rule.

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Kansas State School Board Concerned About Students Vaping

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education is concerned enough about e-cigarette use among high school and middle school students that it is reviewing the issue. The 10-member elected board is scheduled to have a presentation on vaping Tuesday, during its regular monthly meeting. The board plans to get a briefing from a Kansas Department of Health and Environment official who oversees efforts to reduce youth tobacco use and a presentation from the Blue Valley school district in Johnson County about its efforts to reduce vaping. The federal Food and Drug Administration says e-cigarette use among high school and middle school students nationally jumped 78 percent between 2017 and 2018. The state school board said a 2017 survey showed that more than one-third of high school students had tried e-cigarettes.

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Man Charged in Crash that Killed Officer, Son Has Court Hearing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man charged in a crash that killed an off-duty Wichita police officer and his young son is set to stand trial.  Television station KSNW reports that James Dalrymple was in Sedwick County Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing on charges of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and failing to yield the right of way. A judge found there was enough evidence for Dalrymple to stand trial. Dalrymple's arraignment is set for June 25.  The April 2018 crash killed 37-year-old Stacey Woodson and his 9-year-old son, Braedon. Woodson was a 16-year Wichita police veteran who worked in the motorcycle unit.  Authorities say Dalrymple pulled out in front of the Woodsons' motorcycle. Stacey Woodson died at the scene. His son died later at the hospital.

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New Crop of Hemp in Kansas Delayed by Rain, Flooding

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Recent flooding is delaying plans for a newly legal crop of hemp in Kansas. Rick Gash is a farmer in rural Butler County who operates the Hemp Development Group. He is one of many farmers who hoped to plant hemp seeds this year after the Legislature legalized the crop in 2018 and allowed Kansas farmers to begin harvesting hemp this year. The crop can be farmed only through the state's research program, which requires a state-issued license. Gash was preparing 80 acres to plant hemp last week but his land was flooded after heavy rains. The Lawrence Journal-World reports some farmers will still get to plant their seeds and start hemp production. Gash says he's working with farmers to amend their state licenses if the weather prevents them from planting.

( – related –)

Rains Slow Fieldwork for Row Crops Across Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spring fieldwork at farms across much of Kansas has stalled after days of widespread rains and flooding. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that growers had a little more than a day this past week that was suitable for fieldwork. Corn planting in Kansas is behind with just 46% of this season's crop now seeded. Usually by this late in the spring about 67% of the corn has been planted. Soybean plantings are at 7%, also behind the 16% typically seeded by this time. About 1% of the sorghum and sunflower crops have been planted. The agency reported that 35% of the winter wheat is headed, behind the 64% average. It rated wheat condition as 56% good to excellent, 33% fair, and 11% poor to very poor.

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Kansas Participating in States' Lawsuit over Generic Drugs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has joined 42 other states and Puerto Rico in a federal lawsuit alleging that large manufacturers of generic drugs have conspired to artificially inflate prices. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced the state's participation Monday. The states filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut. The lawsuit alleges that 20 firms conspired to inflate prices for more than 100 generic drugs. They include treatments for diabetes, cancer and arthritis. The lawsuit also names 15 senior executives responsible for pricing, sales and marketing as defendants. It asks for a finding that the defendants' actions violated federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws. A company named in the lawsuit, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, has said it hasn't engaged in conduct that would lead to civil or criminal liability.

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4th Person Dies from Crash That Followed State Football Win

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A fourth person has died from injuries suffered in a Kansas crash that happened more than a year ago as they returned home from watching two family members play in a state football championship. Popkess Mortuaries says Lee Fred Ukele, of Sabetha, died Wednesday at the University of Kansas Hospital. He was critically injured in a November 2017 crash that killed his wife, his 11-year-old daughter and his brother. They were returning home from watching the Sabetha High School football team win the state championship when 49-year-old Maria Perez Marquez, of Omaha, Nebraska, crashed into their minivan while trying to pass another vehicle north of Holton. At the time, two of Lee Ukele's sons played on the team. Marquez is scheduled to be sentenced in June on three misdemeanor counts of vehicular homicide and one felony count of aggravated battery.

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Details Emerge in Case Against Dental Instructor at Topeka Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A court document reveals lurid details of sexual abuse allegedly committed against inmates by a former dental lab instructor at the Topeka Correctional Facility. The suspect, 73-year-old Tomas Co, is facing seven charges of unlawful sexual relations with seven different inmates at the women's prison. The affidavit is based on interviews with 25 inmates during an investigation by a Kansas corrections department special agent. It says Co flaunted his authority over inmates, touched them inappropriately and removed the pockets of his pants to allow one inmate to touch him sexually.A judge made the affidavit public Friday after The Topeka Capital-Journal asked for its release. Co taught inmates to make dentures in a program designed to teach them a marketable skill. He was fired in December. His attorney, Chris Joseph, said no one has independently verified the women's stories.

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Missouri's Freshman GOP Senator Taking on Candy Crush

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is taking on the tech industry, including apps and tools aimed at children.  Hawley last week introduced legislation that would ban "pay-to-win" apps like Candy Crush. The Kansas City Star reports the games are often free, but users can buy upgrades and bonus features.  The distributors of Candy Crush say the bulk of users are adults, but Hawley says it is marketed to children.  The bill is one in a series of moves the freshman Republican has made against the tech industry. In a recent speech to Stanford University's Hoover Institution, he questioned the value of social media and slammed the industry for profiting off the addiction of its users.

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Task Force Effort Brings 219 Arrests in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials say 219 people were arrested and 583 warrants were cleared during a crime-fighting initiative in Kansas City, Kansas. The effort involving local, state and federal agencies was called Operation Lateral Storm.Police Chief Terry Zeigler said Monday the task force ran from March 1 until the end of April and targeted gang, drug and gun activity. Officers concentrated on five districts with the most crime in the city. The Kansas City Star reports Zeigler said this type of operation has a long-term impact on crime because it targets the worst criminals and results in them getting long prison sentences. The initiative had a budget of $60,000 to cover overtime for officers. It falls under the U.S. Marshals' nationwide crime reduction initiative called Operation Triple Beam.

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Keystone Dam Water Released After Levels Reach 21-Year High

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to release the largest amount of water to run through Keystone Dam in 21 years after torrential downpours soaked the Arkansas River drainage basin in northeastern Oklahoma. The Tulsa World reports that on Monday, the corps will release 85,000 cubic feet (2407.2 cubic meters) of water per second from the dam, which is located about 24 miles (38 kilometers) northwest of Tulsa. The rate's equivalent to an Olympic-sized swimming pool flowing into the Arkansas River every second. Volunteers filled over 4,000 sand bags on Saturday to help prevent flooding. Storms dumped up to 9 inches of rain in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma last week, with some runoff in the Arkansas River basin ending up in Keystone Lake, popular for boating and fishing and camping.

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Kansas Man Sentenced in Fatal Joplin Shooting During Robbery

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A 21-year-old Kansas man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a fatal robbery at a Joplin home in 2017. Brock Robinson was sentenced Monday for second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree assault. He is the second of three men from Columbus, Kansas, sentenced in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Taven Williams and the wounding of another man. The Joplin Globe reports a sentencing hearing for 21-year-old Azaiah Forester is scheduled for June 10. The third defendant, 23-year-old Erik Jones, was sentenced in November to 15 years in prison. Police say Williams was killed in January 2017 when he tried to stop the three men from robbing another man of a large amount of marijuana. The target of the robbery was wounded.

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Kansas City's Schools Are Segregated, Costly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City district has found that its public and charter schools are increasingly racially segregated, expensive to operate and losing high school students.  KCUR-FM reports the district released new analysis showing that 78% of schools in the Kansas City system were racially segregated by 2017, well over the 32% of schools in 1999.  The report says it's in part due to white families opting out of the system. Only 10% of the city's public school students are white.  The analysis also says Kansas City spends $80 million more on administration, transportation and overhead than the comparably sized Springfield district. The report attributes high costs to inefficiencies from operating 83 schools, compared to Springfield's 53.  Public schools have been losing nearly half of all students between kindergarten and 12th grade.

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Nonprofit Names Wichita Boy "Hero" After Road Rage Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita boy who was wounded in a road rage shooting last fall has been named the hero of the year at the children's hospital where he recovered from a stray bullet that shattered his hip bone and lacerated his liver and kidney.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Wesley Children's Hospital held a ceremony Tuesday honoring Andres Arambula as Kids Wish Network's hero of the year. The national nonprofit serves children with exceptional medical circumstances.  Andres was among six children inside a sports utility vehicle that was shot at in Wichita on October 17.  The 4-year-old was taken to the hospital in critical condition and had to undergo surgery to remove the bullet and repair his organs.  His mother, Lucero Arambula, says Andres isn't just a hero, but a miracle for surviving and dealing with the pain.

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Kansas Nurses Try to Shake Physician Contract Rule

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas nurse practitioners are fighting to get rid of the state requirement that they get permission to work from a physician.  Kansas is one of the few states that still makes advanced practice nurses sign contracts with doctors. Physicians argue the contracts are to protect patients by ensuring that nurses collaborate with their more educated colleagues.  But nurses are fighting back against the contracts, which they say limit patient options and can even give doctors a cut of their earnings for little to no work.  A bill seeking to drop the collaborative contract requirement died in a legislative maneuver this year. But nurse practitioners hope to try again, offering to make new nurse practitioners work a few years before dropping their contracts with doctors.  Many physicians say they're skeptical of nurses' independent practice and distrust the Board of Nursing's oversight.

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Missouri Man Gets Life in Prison for Fatal Kansas City Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man from Jackson County, Missouri, has been sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting another man in 2017.  The Kansas City Star reports that 30-year-old Patrick Powell, of Greenwood, was sentenced Friday for the November 2017 death of 52-year-old Rodney Thurber. Powell was convicted in March of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.  A witness told police that Powell taunted Thurber while shooting him several times.  A woman who was with Powell after the killing, Caitlyn Riffle, is also charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Her case is pending.  Court records say a witness told police the shooting occurred after a woman believed to be Riffle visited Thurber to retrieve a handgun.

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Company Claims It was Told Duck Boats Were OK Before Sinking

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — An entertainment company that owned a duck boat that sank on a Missouri lake last summer is disputing that an independent inspector told it that its vehicles did not comply with a government standard.  Steve Paul says Ripley Entertainment hired him in 2017 before it bought the boats from Missouri company Ride the Ducks International to determine whether they met the Department of Transportation's regulations. Ripley says Paul passed the boats in his report.  Paul has said he inspected 24 of the 40 boats that Ride the Ducks was selling and that all of them were deficient under the department's standard because of the location of their tailpipes.  Florida-based Ripley ultimately purchased 22 of the boats in December 2017. One sank in Branson last July, killing 17 people.

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Report: Doors Unlocked Before Tiger Attack at Kansas Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state report says that safety doors in a Sumatran tiger's enclosure at a Kansas zoo were left unlocked before the animal attacked and injured a veteran zookeeper.  The report released Friday by the Kansas Department of Labor agreed with the Topeka Zoo's assessment that no equipment failure or other problem with the enclosure led to the April 20 attack.   Zookeeper Kristyn Hayden-Ortega was hospitalized after suffering puncture wounds and lacerations to her head, neck and back.  Hayden-Ortega had gone into the outdoor area of the tiger's enclosure to clean it. The animal was supposed to be in an indoor area, behind two doors. The report says the doors "had been locked in the open position."  The report said the zoo is now requiring that two employees check the doors.

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