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Headlines for Sunday, March 19, 2017

4 Kansas City Men Charged with Kidnapping

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two brothers and two other Kansas City, Missouri, men 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 10th, 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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Vaccine Treats Planned for Prairie Dogs in Kansas, Western States

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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Kansas Committee Extends Gun Liability for Public Employers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has advanced a bill that would protect public employers from liability for employees carrying concealed handguns while working outside of a public building. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee passed the bill Friday. Under the bill, a public employer could not be sued if their employee acted wrongfully or negligently with their concealed gun while out of the building for work. Employers are already protected from liability when an employee is in a public building. Wichita Representative John Whitmer says employers shouldn't be held responsible for an employee's personal choice to carry a concealed weapon. Overland Park Representative Stephanie Clayton didn't support the bill and says a victim would be able to sue for more damages from the employer than the employee.

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Kansas Supreme Court Clears Way for New Coal-fired Power Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has cleared a major obstacle to the long-delayed construction of a big, new coal-fired power plant. The state Supreme Court on Friday rejected an effort by an environment group to force the state to regulate emissions linked to climate change. The justices upheld a 2014 decision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to give Sunflower Electric Power Corporation the go-ahead for its project. The utility wants to build an 895-megawatt plant adjacent to an existing one outside Holcomb, in southwestern Kansas and estimates the cost at $2.2 billion. The company and the state's attorney general said they were pleased by the decision. But an attorney representing the Sierra Club said the ruling "opens the door for a lot of pollution in Kansas."

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Gun Ban at Kansas Hospitals May Cost $25 Million

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The cost of upgrading security at Kansas' major mental hospitals in Osawatomie and Larned in order to avoid allowing concealed carry firearms in the building could reach $25 million. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a state law beginning in July requires an open-door policy at the two hospitals serving people with severe mental illnesses unless extraordinary security measures have been taken to protect patients. The same law requires Kansas' community mental health centers, public hospitals and public universities to allow individuals with concealed guns if there is no airport-level screening at building entrances. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck told a House committee Thursday that the statute applies to the state hospitals, and it could cost an estimated $25 million to install metal detection equipment and bolster security staff.

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Man Sentenced in Dodge City Hate Crime

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Dodge City man pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during an investigation of a hate crime attack on three Somali men. Federal prosecutors say 28-year-old Diego Martinez entered the plea Thursday for statements made during an FBI interview in October 2015. The case arose from an unprovoked attack in June 2015 of three Somali men in Dodge City. Martinez's brother and half-brother were sentenced in February for their roles in the crime. Martinez admitted he gave a false alibi to the FBI for his whereabouts when the attack occurred, and falsely said his cell phone wasn't working at the time. Prosecutors said Martinez knew the statements were false and that they obstructed the investigation. Martinez will be sentenced June 1st.

 

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