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Headlines for Monday, September 19, 2016

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

Kansas Supreme Court to Hear School Funding Arguments

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Four local school districts are asking the Kansas Supreme Court to order the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more per year on public schools. The legal dispute is shaping state politics and threatening Governor Sam Brownback's tax-cutting legacy. The justices plan to hear arguments Wednesday from attorneys on whether the Legislature is fulfilling a duty under the state constitution to finance a suitable education for every child.  


Kassebaum, Dole Promote Bipartisanship at Kansas University Forum

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senators Nancy Kassebaum and Robert Dole said during a forum discussion at the University of Kansas Saturday that they lament the erosion of bipartisanship among political leaders in Washington. Dole and Kassebaum, both longtime Kansas Republicans, appeared at the KU's Dole Institute of Politics. Dole, who is 93, served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996 and U.S. House from 1961 to 1969. Kassebaum, who served 18 years in the U.S. Senate with Dole, received the 2016 Dole Leadership Prize, which is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service inspired others. Dole said he and Kassebaum understood that to get things done you have to work with colleagues outside your political party.


Kansas State Plane Gets New Paint and Electronics Upgrade

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas' executive aircraft is getting a new paint job, a spruced up interior and upgraded avionics this year. Along with regular operating costs, the improvements will cost taxpayers nearly $900,000. The Kansas Highway Patrol, which oversees aircraft operations, says the work on the 15-year-old plane is needed for aesthetic and safety reasons. The nine-passenger plane has the original paint, interior and avionics it had when it was purchased new in 2001, and the aging plane is now showing wear. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley called the spending "highly ironic" at a time when funding for highway projects has been slashed.


KBI Investigating Officer-Involved Shootings

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is looking into two recent officer-involved shootings in northern Kansas. The Salina Journal reports the first shooting occurred Thursday night in Ellsworth County, and involved three officers from two jurisdictions who discharged their firearms during a chase involving a possibly armed subject. The KBI says that suspect was injured. The KBI says the second occurred Friday in Sherman County, and involved a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who shot and injured a man who came from behind a car stopped in the middle of U.S. 70 armed with a machete. The KBI is also still investigating an August 18 incident in which a Hays police officer shot and killed a 36-year-old man with developmental disabilities who failed to obey the officer's commands.


Employee Evaluations Lead to Complaints from Larned Workers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An employees union has received complaints that high-level managers kept some Kansas psychiatric hospital employees from receiving superior ratings on annual performance reviews. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Organization of State Employees says it received complaints from three workers at Larned State Hospital, which has struggled with staffing shortages. The workers told the union that that their hospital supervisors rated them "exceptional" but that those determinations were overruled by central office administrators at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. The employee union's executive director, Rebecca Proctor, says two mid-level hospital supervisors reported executives at KDADS were responsible for lowering staff ratings. KDADS secretary Tim Keck said he hadn't issued a directive to low-ball annual evaluation scores. He says that would undermine employee relations.


Weekend Earthquakes Rattle Northern Oklahoma, Southern Kansas

PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) - More than a dozen small earthquakes were recorded in northern Oklahoma and south-central Kansas over the weekend. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded 13 quakes in Oklahoma between Friday evening and early Saturday morning, including 3.5 and a 3.2 magnitude quakes about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The other Oklahoma quakes range in magnitude from 1.2 to 2.9.The Kansas quake was magnitude 2.9 and recorded at 8:18 am Saturday near Belle Plaine, about 27 miles north of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. No injuries or damage were reported. Scientists have linked the quakes to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production.


Kansas Teacher Sues, Alleging Improper Termination

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas teacher is suing after she was terminated without due process. The Wichita Eagle reports that Janet Decker alleges breach of contract in a lawsuit filed last week in Sedgwick County. The suit says she was issued a notice in April that her contract with the Valley Center district wouldn't be renewed. The Valley Center school board later voted to end Decker's employment after an executive-session meeting with the teacher but without a due process hearing. Decker argues that although Kansas lawmakers eliminated due process for educators in 2014, teachers who earned the right before that change are still entitled to the protection. Superintendent Cory Gibson says district officials haven't had a chance to review the lawsuit. It seeks reinstatement of Decker's teaching position and back pay.


Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas Celebrates New Water Rights Deal 

HORTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Indian tribe is celebrating a new water rights agreement that will help it develop a reservoir on its reservation. The agreement between the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas and the state was approved earlier this month but still must be ratified by Congress. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the deal is the next step toward developing the Plum Creek Project, which has been in the works for decades but slowed by private property owners reluctant to give up land in the watershed. The agreement quantifies the tribe's water rights, which was necessary before it could start storing the water once the project is completed. Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas chairman Lester Randall says in addition to quantity, the agreement also could help improve water quality for the reservation.


Report: Kansas Farmers Planting Wheat, Harvesting Corn 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are planting winter wheat and harvesting their fall crops in parts of the state where fields are dry enough to do so. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that winter wheat planting is 9 percent complete. That is about the same amount as last year and the five-year average. Corn harvest is 17 percent finished in the state. Usually 29 percent is done on average by this time. The condition of corn still out in Kansas fields is rated as 11 percent excellent, 55 percent good and 26 percent pair. About 8 percent is in poor to very poor condition. About 5 percent of the Kansas sorghum has also been cut.


Reno County Investigating Reports of Inappropriate Photos

NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — Reno County authorities are investigating reports of inappropriate photos being circulated at Reno Valley Middle School and Nickerson High School. Sheriff Captain Steve Lutz says authorities questioned students and confiscated phones at the schools. He said Friday the investigation is still open. The Hutchinson News reports someone notified law enforcement about the problem Wednesday, and investigators spent Thursday interviewing students and parents. Nickerson-South Hutchinson Superintendent Dawn Johnson said in a statement that the district is cooperating with the investigation. Further details about the investigation have not been released.


Advocates Criticize Kansas Judge for 'Fifty Shades' Comment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Victim advocates are criticizing a Kansas judge's recent reference to the novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" in an alleged rape case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jacob C. Ewing faces sex crime charges that include rape, criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14. A woman testified Wednesday that Ewing forced her to have sex though she didn't believe she had been raped. Jackson County Judge Norbert Marek Jr. then asked: "Is this 'Fifty Shades of Grey' or 50 shades of illegal?" referring to the novel depicting sadomasochistic themes. Sonja Willms, president of the Topeka chapter of the National Organization for Women, called the comment "dangerous" and said it downplayed the "heinous" accusations against Ewing.


Appeals Court Reverses Reno County Judge in Stalking Case

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling in a stalking case. The Hutchinson News reports court records show a neighbor of Hutchinson resident Danny Brizendine won a petition for protection from stalking against Brizendine in 2015. Brizendine appealed the order, claiming it "effectively rendered him unable to reside in his adjacent apartment." The appeals panel Friday found the judge erred in the case by not advising the parties they had a right to legal representation at the hearing. In reversing, the appeals panel also said another judge should be assigned to the case.


Wichita Police Chief Hopes to Open Door Wider for Recruits 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's police chief is looking for ways to accept at least some candidates who are being turned away today. The Wichita Eagle reports that Chief Gordon Ramsay says he "would like to hire more people that have struggled in life and understand those hardships." He says that could include recruits who have crimes in their past. Neither the Wichita Police Department nor the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office currently accepts job applications from anyone with criminal convictions, including minor cases such as shoplifting. A driving force behind the policies is preventing credibility issues in court. But Ramsay questioned whether a teenage offense should stand in the way of someone working in law enforcement many years later. Local defense attorneys praised Ramsay's intent.


Kansas Fighter Pilot Buried 51 Years After Disappearance

PILSEN, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man whose fighter plane was shot down in North Vietnam in 1965, is finally laid to rest in his native state. Family and friends gathered in Pilsen Saturday to bury Major Dean Klenda. The Wichita Eagle reports Klenda's sister, Deanna Klenda, worked relentlessly with The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency until recovery teams from the U.S. and Vietnam found his remains in 2014. Dean Klenda's burial came on the 51st anniversary of the day he went missing. His F-105 Thunderchief was attacking targets east of Hanoi when it was hit by enemy fire. 


Missouri Man Gets 45 Years for Burglaries During Funerals 

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City, Missouri, man has been ordered to spend 45 years in prison for burglarizing homes while their occupants were attending funerals. The Kansas City Star reports that 36-year-old Dale Lee Parsons of Excelsior Springs was sentenced Monday in Clay County. Parsons pleaded guilty June 13 to burglary, possession of stolen property, attempted burglary, stealing and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White says a series of break-ins took place in October and November of last year. He called the case "very troubling" and the break-ins "unconscionable." It was not immediately clear how many burglaries have been linked to Parsons.


Wichita Police Officer Shoots, Injures Robbery Suspect

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say an officer shot and injured a robbery suspect during a pursuit. Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler tells the Wichita Eagle police received a report of a robbery at a store just after 5 p.m. Sunday. The suspect fled and officers pursued him. According to Seiler, while at an intersection, the man ran from his vehicle and tried to get into others that were stopped and waiting for a light to change. Seiler says "shots were fired" while the suspect was in the back seat of another person's vehicle. The suspect was struck, taken into custody and transported to a hospital, where he was in stable condition. Police are investigating whether the suspect was armed.


Lightning-Damaged Kansas City Sculpture Returns to Bartle Hall 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A lightning-damaged sculpture is again a fixture of the Kansas City skyline after undergoing repairs. The Kansas City Star reports that a helicopter returned the 12-ton metal sculpture to its lofty perch Sunday. It's one of four that sits atop the 300-foot tall pylons that suspend the Bartle Hall Convention Center above Interstate 670. Designed by New York artist R.M. Fischer, their official name is the Sky Station sculptures, although locals call them the "hair curlers." Kansas City engineering firm A. Zahner Co. carried out the repairs at a cost more than $1 million. The city's property insurance covered it. Workers first noticed the damage last fall while setting up blue lights on the sculptures to celebrate the Kansas City Royals' winning season.


Work Begins on Village of Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Work is beginning on a village of tiny homes for homeless veterans in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that the Veterans Community Project, a nonprofit formed by local veterans just nine months ago, hopes to have its first order of 10 tiny houses standing next month. Plans call for the houses to be built off-site and hauled to Kansas City. Lumber for the project arrived over the weekend. It was provided by another nonprofit, 2x4s For Hope, which delivered the goods out of Quincy, Illinois. The group hosts events in which people can sponsor a board, put their names to it and write well-wishes for survivors of disasters. In recent months, the nonprofit's founders have joined a nationwide movement to create tiny-house communities for needy veterans.


Monarch Watch Tagging Day Sets Record for Participants 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A record number of volunteers have turned out to tag monarch butterflies as they make their annual migration to Mexico. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 617 participants showed up Saturday to help at the annual Monarch Watch project at the Baker Wetlands south of Lawrence. Insect ecologist Chip Taylor says the number surpassed the previous volunteer high of 551 at the previous tagging site near Clinton Lake. Taylor is the founder of the University of Kansas's Monarch Watch. He says the small tags being used have an adhesive used to bond it to the butterflies' wings for life. Each has a six-character number/letter combination that will be added to a national database. In the last 24 years, 1.2 million tag numbers have been entered into the database.


Eisenhower's Relatives Drop Objections to Ike Memorial in DC 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Relatives of Dwight D. Eisenhower have dropped their objections to the design of a long-planned memorial for the 34th president in Washington. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced Monday that Ike's relatives now support the memorial designed by esteemed architect Frank Gehry after negotiations "yielded a compromise on several design elements." Former Secretary of State James Baker was involved in those negotiations. The modified design will place more emphasis on Eisenhower's home state of Kansas and will represent the site of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, as it exists today. Congress approved the memorial in 1999 and allocated funding for planning, but the project has bogged down over objections to the design. Supporters are trying to raise $150 million with the goal of completing the memorial by 2019.


Texans Beat Chiefs 19-12 in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins had 113 yards receiving and a touchdown and Nick Novak kicked four field goals, helping the Houston Texans to a 19-12 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Novak connected from 32, 24, 31 and 43 yards for the Texans. Cairo Santos made three field goals in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 19-12, but Houston recovered the onside kick with less than a minute left to seal the victory. The Texans (2-0) showed that they are a much different team than the one that lost a 30-0 wild-card playoff game to the Chiefs (1-1) in January, when quarterback Brian Hoyer had five turnovers. New quarterback Brock Osweiler did throw two interceptions but the Chiefs had more trouble taking care of the ball, with Houston's defense setting a franchise record by recovering three fumbles in the first half. The first came when a high snap sailed over Alex Smith's head. J.J. Watt shoved him out of the way with one hand and pounced on it, showing he was getting back to his old self after July back surgery.


Duffy Leads Royals to 10-3 Win over White Sox

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kendrys Morales homered for his 1,000th career hit and drove in four runs and starting pitcher Danny Duffy worked effectively into the eighth inning as the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 10-3 Sunday. Duffy (12-2) picked up his first victory since August 21. He struck out eight and gave up three runs. Morales homered in the sixth with Paulo Orlando aboard. Orlando reached base four times — two doubles, a walk and hit by pitch — and scored three runs. Morales contributed a RBI single in the first and doubled home Eric Hosmer in the fourth. Hosmer drove in three runs, giving him a career-best 94 RBIs. Whit Merrifield had three hits and two RBIs. Alex Gordon ended an 0-for-21 drought with his 16th home run, which splashed into the upper right-field fountain.


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