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Headlines for Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kansas Special Election Creates Polling Site Confusion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Polling site changes will make it more confusing for more than 36,000 registered voters to cast a ballot in the race to fill the House seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The April 11th election in Kansas falls during Holy Week, the annual Christian observance leading up Easter Sunday. The timing has bedeviled election officials because many of polling locations are in churches and some were unavailable on short notice for the special election. The Sedgwick County election office says nine polling sites have been moved for the special election in Sedgwick County. That is affecting 36,417 registered voters across 50 precincts. With less than two weeks before the election, officials are still scrambling to find one polling location. The situation concerns the congressional campaigns and voting rights advocates.


Overland Park Officials say Fire Caused More than $23 Million Damage

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Officials in a Kansas City suburb where a fire destroyed a multimillion-dollar apartment building under construction and spread to about two dozen homes estimate the blaze caused between $23 million and $25 million in damage. The Kansas City Star reports that Overland Park officials based the estimate on exterior damage and property values, and that a more precise figure would emerge once insurance adjusters finish evaluating the fire's impact. Fire officials say a welder accidentally ignited wooden building materials on Monday at the CityPlace development. The blaze destroyed the four-story apartment building, heavily burned a second and rained burning debris onto a nearby neighborhood, damaging at least 22 other homes. Overland Park says the damage at the CityPlace site accounted for $20 million of the overall estimate.


Chronic Overland Park Shoplifter Sentenced

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An affluent suburban Kansas City woman with a history of shoplifting has been ordered to spend a year and seven months in prison for the thefts. 47-year-old Kelli Jo Bauer was ordered yesterday (FRI) to pay more than $22,000 in restitution to merchants. Bauer has admitted she stole tens of thousands of dollars of clothing and merchandise she was peddling out of her nearly $1 million home. Bauer had two prior Johnson County theft convictions when she was charged in 2015 with felony theft. That was after police who searched her home found a large amount of stolen merchandise. Last November, she was charged again after stealing bras from a Lenexa department store.


Kansas Lawmakers Considering Pay Raises for Court Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are considering a proposal to increase pay for judges and other state court system workers by as much as 22 percent. The issue arose yesterday (FRI) as the House Appropriations Committee worked on budget legislation. Republican Representative Sean Tarwater of Stilwell proposed that the panel endorse pay raises proposed by the Kansas Supreme Court. His proposal would increase spending by $22 million annually. The committee expects to vote on his proposal Monday. Tarwater said the judicial branch has been underfunded for years. A study done for the high court last year showed that all jobs in the judicial branch pay below market rates. But Kansas also is facing projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019 and lawmakers are considering big tax increases.


Kansas Legislators Advance Proposal to Promote Industrial Hemp

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators who have resisted proposals to legalize marijuana for medical use are advancing a proposal aimed at making the state an industrial hemp powerhouse. The state House gave first-round approval Friday on a voice vote to a bill that would allow state universities and colleges to grow industrial hemp and conduct research on it. The House plans to take a final vote Monday to determine whether the measure goes to the Senate. A 2014 federal law allowed states to set up such programs. Supporters said hemp could become a big crop for Kansas farmers. A majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, but even limited proposals have foundered in Kansas. The House bill would define industrial hemp as cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less of the high-producing chemical THC.


Former Kansas Teacher Convicted of Battery

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — A former middle school teacher in central Kansas has been convicted of misdemeanor battery in an incident involving a 12-year-old child. The Salina Journal reports former Chapman Middle School seventh-grade math teacher Dick Everley was found guilty March 9th in Dickinson County District Court. The criminal complaint states that Everley was charged in January with having physical contact with the child in an insulting or angry manner in December. Roger Unruh, Everley's attorney, said Wednesday that his client is no longer employed at the middle school. He was removed from his teaching duties after charges were filed. Everley faces probation to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6th.


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