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Headlines for Thursday, August 1, 2019

UPDATE: Heavy Rain Leads to Water Rescues in Eastern Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Thunderstorms and heavy rain in parts of eastern Kansas have forced multiple water rescues.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that authorities in Douglas County were called to rescue nine people this (THUR) morning from homes around Lone Star Lake southwest of Lawrence.  County spokeswoman Karrey Britt said three people were rescued from flooding along Washington creek in the Lawrence area, one from a vehicle.  Officials said roads were flooded throughout the county, including the underpass leading into North Lawrence from downtown Lawrence.  Water rescues were also needed early today (THUR) north of downtown Ottawa. Some areas saw up to 10 inches of rainfall.  The National Weather Service says more rain is possible into Saturday morning.

(-related-)

Rainfall Causes Equipment Failure at Lawrence Wastewater Plant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say heavy rainfall has forced its wastewater treatment plant to shut down, diverting sewage into the Kansas River and into nearby streams.  Officials say the exceptionally heavy rainfall caused equipment failure at the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant, so... the city shut down the plant for repairs.  The city is advising the public and their pets to avoid contact with any floodwater in low-lying flooded areas because of potential contamination.  The city says the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and municipalities downstream have been notified.

(-earlier reporting-)

Flash Flooding After Heavy Rain in Eastern Kansas

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Flash flooding has been taking place in portions of eastern Kansas where up to 10 inches of rain was reported in some places.  The National Weather Service in Topeka says the rain fell early Thursday in Douglas, Jefferson, Franklin and Anderson counties.  The weather service issued a flash flood warning for those counties, where another 1 to 3 inches of rain is still possible.  KMBC reports several water rescues were needed early today (THUR) north of downtown Ottawa, where more than 7 inches of rain fell overnight.  A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect for Franklin County and the city of Ottawa until at least 4:15 pm today (THUR).

(-earlier reporting-)

Heavy Rains, Flash Flooding Hit Eastern Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR)  — The National Weather Service in Topeka issued a Flash Flood Warning for portions of eastern Kansas, including Douglas, Franklin, Southern Jefferson and Anderson counties until at least 10:15 this (THUR) morning.  By 6:10 am, Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated that heavy rain had already fallen across the warned area, as much as 10 inches in some places.  As a result, flash flooding was already occurring.  Some locations affected by the flooding include: Lawrence, Ottawa, Baldwin City, Garnett, Wellsville, Centropolis, Perry, Pomona, Meriden, Lecompton, Clinton, Richmond, Colony, Williamsburg, Lone Star, Greeley, Princeton, Lane, Rantoul and Westphalia.  Forecasters say additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are still possible in the warned area.  KMBC TV reports that multiple water rescues were needed in the area north of downtown Ottawa early this (THUR) morning.  Crews near Main Street and 68 Highway are evaluating levees in the area and surveying roads covered with water.  The area is bracing for more rain through tomorrow (FRI) morning.

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Kansas Tax Collections Slightly Better than Expected in July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is reporting that its tax collections were slightly higher than expected in July.  The Department of Revenue says the state collected $496 million in taxes last month when its official revenue forecast predicted $494 million. The $2 million difference was a surplus of 0.4%.  It was the first month of the state's 2020 budget year. During the 2019 budget year, the state's tax collections of almost $7.5 billion were $191 million more than expected, for a surplus of 2.6%.  Tax collections have exceeded expectations 25 of the past 26 months.  But the new budget year is getting off to a slightly slower start than the 2019 budget year.  The state collected $499 million in taxes in July 2018, or almost $3 million more than last month.

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Last Man Sentenced in Lawrence Triple Murder Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old Topeka man has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of killing three people in downtown Lawrence.  Anthony Laron Roberts Jr., was sentenced today (THUR) for the October 2017 shootings that killed 22-year-old Leah Elizabeth Brown, of Shawnee; 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson III, of Topeka; and 24-year-old Tre'Mel Dupree Dean-Rayton, of Topeka.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports two other men were shot but survived. Brown was the only victim who didn't know anyone involved.  Two co-defendants, Ahmad Malik Rayton and Dominque Jacquez McMillon, both of Topeka, pleaded to lesser charges earlier this year.  The shooting started with a fistfight between two groups of Topeka men who had previous confrontations and ended when more than 20 shots were fired.

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Wendy's Customer Shot to Death in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A customer at a Wendy's in Kansas City was shot to death during an argument with an employee.  Police say 23-year-old Aaron Mason, of Kansas City, died after last (WED) night's shooting in midtown Kansas City.  Captain Tim Hernandez says Mason walked behind the counter to confront the employee during an argument and the two exchanged gunfire.  Gunshots were fired inside and outside the restaurant before Mason collapsed in the parking lot.

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Kansas Woman Convicted of Killing Driver in Wyoming Crash

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A Kansas woman has been convicted in the deadly crash she caused when she fell asleep while driving a tractor-trailer in Wyoming.  The Laramie Boomerang reports an Albany County jury found 48-year-old Tonya Hightower guilty Wednesday of aggravated homicide by vehicle.  Authorities say Hightower drove through a median into oncoming traffic on Interstate 80 after she fell asleep in March 2018.  Her truck collided with the car driven by 57-year-old Vidal Madera of Laramie.  Wyoming Highway Patrol says Madera suffered "extreme, fatal injuries" and was ejected from his car despite wearing a seatbelt.  Hightower told authorities after the crash that she lost control of the vehicle but didn't know what happened.  Court documents say Hightower did not test positive for narcotics.

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Federal Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty in Kansas City Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for two men charged in two Kansas City-area killings.  The U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday the decision involves 30-year-old Shawn Burkhalter, of Kansas City, and 25-year-old Joshua Nesbitt, of Crowder, Mississippi.  The announcement comes after the U.S. Justice Department announced last week that it would resume executing federal death row inmates.  Both face several charges, including using a firearm to commit murder and murdering a potential witness.  The men are accused of killing Anthony Dwayne Johnson and Danny Lamont Dean in 2015 while trying to steal drugs they intended to sell.  Prosecutors also allege Burkhalter and Nesbitt planned to kill or threaten Johnson to stop him from testifying in court or talking to law enforcement.  A superseding indictment on Tuesday contained additional charges against the two men.

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ACLU: Lawyer Filed Bogus Complaint Against Kansas Activists

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union has sued on behalf of two environmental activists who claim a lawyer with the state utilities regulating agency filed a baseless complaint against them as retaliation for their protests.  The federal lawsuit claims that Dustin Kirk, a former lawyer for the Kansas Corporation Commission, filed a bogus consumer protection complaint last year against activists Cindy Hoedel and Scott Yeargain.   Kirk's complaint said the two activists were practicing law without a license when they protested against the KCC's handling of injection wells.  Kirk could not be reached for comment.  The KCC itself declined to comment on the lawsuit.  A KCC spokeswoman says Dustin Kirk left the agency a year ago and it did not learn about his complaint to the Kansas attorney general's office until after he had left the agency.

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UPDATE: Quinton Lucas Sworn in as Kansas City's New Mayor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City has inaugurated Quinton Lucas as its new mayor.  Lucas took office following a swearing-in ceremony Thursday morning at City Hall.  Lucas, a 34-year-old black man, succeeds two-term Mayor Sly James. He defeated outgoing Councilwoman Jolie Justus in the mayor's race in June.  In his inauguration speech, Lucas asked city leaders to work with him to get Kansas City off the FBI list of most violent cities, and to reduce the homicide rate.  Lucas becomes the mayor of a city where he and his family were often homeless during his childhood on Kansas City's impoverished east side. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell Law School and is a practicing attorney.  Six new and six returning members of the City Council also took office Thursday.

(-earlier reporting-)

Kansas City Set to Inaugurate New Mayor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City is set to inaugurate its new mayor.  Quinton Lucas will take office following a swearing-in ceremony this (THUR) morning at City Hall.  Lucas, a 34-year-old black man, will succeed two-term Mayor Sly James. He defeated outgoing Councilwoman Jolie Justus in the mayor's race in June.  Lucas becomes the mayor of a city where he and his family were often homeless during his childhood on Kansas City's impoverished east side. Despite those struggles, Lucas won academic scholarships to a prestigious private school in Kansas City and then to Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell Law School. He is a practicing attorney and a member of the University of Kansas law faculty.  Six new and six returning members of the City Council also will take office Thursday.

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Coach: Kansas Football Player's Death was Act of God

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The former head football coach at a Kansas community college where a defensive lineman died of heatstroke after the first day of practice says the death was an act of God.  KCUR Radio reports that the comment by former head coach Jeff Sims comes nearly one year after 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth collapsed following practice at Garden City Community College. Sims made the remark Wednesday during football media day for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  Sims said, "It's unfortunate what happened, but God has a plan."  He insisted Bradforth's death was not his fault, but instead an act of God. He also noted it didn't happen at football practice, but after practice.  Sims left after the 2018 season to take the head coaching job at Missouri Southern University in Joplin.

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Former K-State Researcher Headed to Prison for Shooting, Wounding Police Officer

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old former university researcher has been sentenced to prison for shooting and wounding a Kansas police officer.  Riley County police said Mark Harrison, of Manhattan, was sentenced Monday to four years and two months in prison. He previously pleaded no contest to attempted voluntary manslaughter in the shooting of police Sgt. Pat Tiede.  The charges stem from a three-hour standoff with police in February 2018 during which Harrison fired 33 times. One of the bullets hit Tiede, who recovered at a hospital. He has returned to the police force.  The Wichita Eagle reports Harrison was previously convicted of criminal damage to property arising from a domestic dispute that led to the standoff.  Harrison was a researcher in the mechanical and nuclear engineering department at Kansas State University.

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Wichita Man Charged in Shooting that Killed McConnell Airman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 25-year-old Wichita man is charged with first-degree murder in a shooting that killed a McConnell Air Force Base Airman from South Carolina and injured three others.  Markeithen McClaine made his first court appearance Wednesday. He is also charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder.  KAKE-TV reports officers responding to an apartment complex early Saturday found 20-year-old Chancelor Williams unresponsive in the parking lot. He died at the scene. Two other men and a woman were injured.  Officer Kevin Wheeler said a disturbance erupted in the parking lot after a party at one of the apartments. Investigators say McClaine fired several shots into the crowd.  Williams was an Airman 1st Class from Spartanburg, South Carolina.  McClaine's next court date is August 15. He remains jailed on $500,000 bond.

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Wyandotte County Official Guilty of Battery Against Employee

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Wyandotte County government official has resigned after being found guilty of misdemeanor battery against a female employee.  A jury on Tuesday convicted Dennis Laughlin of grabbing Maddie Waldeck in May 2018 and pushing her against a wall during what had been a "light-hearted" conversation with colleagues after work.  He resigned Tuesday after the jury verdict.  KCUR Radio reports Laughlin was General Services Director for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. He was Waldeck's boss.  Laughlin faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. He will be sentenced in late August.  The Unified Government said in a statement that an earlier investigation came to a different conclusion than the jury.

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Human Remains Found in Missouri in Search for Missing Wisconsin Brothers

SHAWANO, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say human remains have been found on a northwest Missouri farm that has been the focus of a search for two missing Wisconsin brothers.  Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish announced Wednesday the remains were found on a farm near Braymer.  He says the remains have not been officially identified. No cause of death has been determined.  Authorities have been searching a farm near Braymer for 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel and his 24-year-old brother, Justin Diemel, who have been missing since July 21.  The farm was operated by Garland Joseph Nelson, who authorities say moved a rental vehicle the brothers were using during a trip to Missouri for the livestock business they operated in Bonduel, Wisconsin. Court documents indicate the brothers visited the farm and Nelson was later seen driving their truck away. It was later found abandoned in a commuter parking lot.

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Man Shot by Wichita Police is Charged with Making Threat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old man shot by Wichita police in July is charged with making a criminal threat.  The Wichita Eagle reports Christian Joel Washington was charged last week with criminal threat and violating a protection order.  Police have said Washington displayed "aggressiveness" toward an officer before he was shot on July 14. They say the officer thought Washington had a gun but it was later determined that he was holding a pouch with a metal piece.  The confrontation occurred when officers responded to a woman's call saying her son was causing a domestic disturbance.  Washington was shot once in the abdomen and was hospitalized before he was booked into jail.  In court documents, Washington said he was homeless and unemployed. He is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail.

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Kansas Congressman Steve Watkins on Mueller Report: Not Much There

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins says he is "very concerned" about the integrity of elections but wasn't impressed with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Watkins, in his first term representing much of eastern Kansas, met with voters Tuesday in Oskaloosa. He says fewer than 1% of constituents who contacted his House office mentioned the Mueller report.  He said that "There doesn't appear to be much there."  Watkins says building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico would slow the influx of immigrants entering the country illegally and drug trafficking. He recently visited the border to observe enforcement activities and said he didn't see inhumane treatment of detainees.  Democratic lawmakers who recently toured detention stations for migrants along the Texas border described jam-packed, fetid holding areas.

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Man Dies After Being Trapped in Machinery in Sedgwick County

VIOLA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a 56-year-old man died after becoming trapped in machinery at a manufacturing business.  Emergency crews were called Wednesday to Younger & Sons Manufacturing north of Viola.  The Wichita Eagle reports the worker was trapped in a tooling machine he was working on. The Sedgwick County Fire Department and other company employees were able to reverse the machine. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.  It is currently unclear how the man became trapped. His name has not been released.  Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office Lt. Tim Myers said in a news release that the man worked for a company that performs maintenance on machines at company.

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Wichita Attorney Pleads Guilty to Spending Client's Money

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita attorney who spent nearly $1 million of a 103-year-old client's trust money has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft.  The Wichita Eagle reports 71-year-old Larry Toomey spent nearly $962,000 from the woman's bank accounts for personal expenses. Court records show about $496,000 of that went to cover his gambling addiction.  Prosecutors allege Toomey stole from the women for seven years. His client was in poor mental and physical health and was living in a Wichita nursing home.  Prosecutors originally charged Toomey with five felonies but some of those charged were dropped as part of his plea deal.  He is scheduled for sentencing on October 4.

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Saline County Sheriff: DNA May Show if Exhumed Body is Belgium Woman

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County authorities say a body exhumed this week could be that of a woman missing from Belgium.  Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan said Tuesday DNA will determine the identity of a body exhumed from Gypsum Hill Cemetery.  The woman, referred to as "Miss Molly," was buried 33 years ago after her body was found in January 1986 in a creek near Salina.  Soldan told The Topeka Capital-Journal the death was investigated as a homicide because the woman was beaten and thrown off a bridge into the creek.  He says Interpol in Europe has DNA from the missing Belgium woman but Kansas authorities didn't have DNA to try for a match until the exhumation.  Soldan says DNA tests could take six to eight months.

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Wichita State Settles with Pregnant Professor over Job Offer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has paid $50,000 to an Ohio professor who said she lost a job offer after she revealed she was pregnant.  Evangeline Heiliger sued the university in December after the school withdrew a job offer for an assistant professor of women's studies. She said the offer was rescinded after she told Center of Women's Studies director Chinyere Okafor that she was expecting a baby.  The Wichita Eagle reports Heiliger was a visiting professor at Oberlin College in Ohio when she applied for the Wichita State job in 2017. She says after she told Okafor about her pregnancy, then-department head Ron Matson notified her she had been removed from consideration.  Wichita State University counsel David Moses has said an administrative agency investigation found the university didn't violate any laws.

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Lawrence Developer Convicted of Illegal Asbestos Disposal

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence developer has been convicted of illegally disposing of roofing material containing asbestos while remodeling a country club.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that jurors deliberated about two hours before finding Thomas Fritzel guilty of three federal charges related to the failure to properly handle the debris.  Asbestos was used for decades as insulation and as a fire-resistant material. But it can cause lung diseases, cancer and other health problems.  Federal prosecutors said that Fritzel was aware that the Alvamar Country Club contained asbestos and didn't follow state disposal requirements. Defense attorney Edward Novak maintained that Fritzel took appropriate steps to dispose of the asbestos.  Fritzel faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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Kansas City Police: 10-Year-Old Takes Mom's Car to go to McDonald's

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a 10-year-old girl who took her mother's SUV because she wanted breakfast got lost and collided with another vehicle.  Police said in a news release the girl's mother was asleep Wednesday when the girl took the vehicle because she wanted food.  The girl drove "a couple miles" but got lost and eventually collided with another vehicle that was going in the opposite direction.  Police said the child was taken to a hospital with minor bumps and bruises.  The driver of the other car wasn't hurt.  The two vehicles both were heavily damaged. An electrical utility box and a stop sign were also damaged.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Pretending to be FBI Agent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old southern Kansas man who pretended to be an FBI agent to get out of a traffic ticket has been sentenced to a year of probation.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Jarrod Andra, of Milan, must also pay a $1,000 fine.  He had previously pleaded guilty to impersonating an agent. Andra was stopped for speeding in Sumner County in November 2018.  In his plea, he admitted that he claimed to be a special agent with the FBI and presented a Sumner County sheriff's deputy with what appeared to be an FBI identification card with his photo.

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Survey: Slower Economic Growth Forecast for Midwest, Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new report says a July survey of business supply managers suggests economic growth will slow over the next three to six months in nine Midwest and Plains states.  The report issued Thursday says the Mid-America Business Conditions index dropped to 52.0 in July from 55.4 in June. It's the lowest figure in more than three years.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he blamed the slowdown on weak farm income, produced in part by tariffs and flooding.  The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline.  The survey covers Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Judge Dismisses Kansas Lawmaker's Lawsuit Against Former Columnist

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has thrown out a defamation lawsuit filed by Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning against former Kansas City Star columnist Steve Rose.  Public radio station KCUR reports that Johnson County District Court Judge Paul Gurney ruled that Denning had not established the falsehood of the views against Medicaid expansion that Rose attributed to the Overland Park Republican in a January column. Gurney also said Denning had not shown a likelihood that he would prevail before a jury.  Denning alleged Rose attributed statements to him that he hadn't made. Rose said Denning made the comments, but at a time earlier than his column indicated.  Denning said he's disappointed in the ruling and that Rose misled readers. Rose resigned after Denning complained about the column.

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