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Headlines for Thursday, August 17, 2017

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

Osawatomie State Hospital Unit Passes Key Recertification Milestone

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the state's largest mental hospital that has suffered from years of neglect and staffing shortages has passed an important federal inspection, moving it a step closer to being able to receive federal Medicare reimbursements again. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck said the agency has been "waiting for this for a long time." The federal inspection this week involved a 60-bed unit within Osawatomie State Hospital. The 146-bed hospital was decertified in December 2015 after a series of inspections that uncovered numerous safety, staffing and patient-care issues, including a patient raping a hospital worker. The decertification made the hospital ineligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements, costing the state about $1 million monthly. The hospital must undergo at least one more inspection before it can be recertified.

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Kansas Lawmaker Jones to Make Bid for 2nd District Congressional Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Another Kansas state lawmaker has become the third Republican to enter the race to succeed retiring GOP Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. Representative Kevin Jones of Wellsville in Franklin County announced his candidacy Wednesday for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Jenkins. After being re-elected in 2016, the GOP congresswoman revealed her intention not to seek another term in 2018. Jenkins has represented the 2nd District since 2009. Forty-two-year-old Jones has served in the state legislature since 2013. Other Republicans in the race include state Senator Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth, and Basehor City Councilman Vernon Fields. On the Democratic side, former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence launched his campaign Tuesday.

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Ward Taps Campaign Treasurer, Signals Likely Kansas Governor Run 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita has named a campaign treasurer in a filing that indicates he is seeking to run for governor next year. Ward made the filing Tuesday, naming former Kansas Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch to the post of campaign treasurer. The move will allow  Ward to begin fundraising. Ward says he plans an announcement Saturday. Governor Sam Brownback is serving his second term and is term-limited. Other Democrats in the race include former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer and former state representative Josh Svaty. On the Republican side, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer have declared as candidates 

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Brownback to Make Announcement at El Dorado Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback's office says the governor will make an announcement this (THUR) afternoon about the Department of Corrections at a prison that has seen at least three significant disturbances in recent months. Lawmakers and the state employees' union have urged the administration to address chronic staffing shortages and low pay among Kansas corrections workers. The governor's office has not disclosed what Brownback will say at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The Department of Corrections has confirmed three inmate disturbances at the maximum security prison in May and June and a pair of inmate-on-inmate stabbings on July 28. The prison is struggling with an annual turnover rate of nearly 50 percent among uniformed officers and those remaining are sometimes working 16-hours shifts because of staffing shortages.

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Shawnee County Jailer Arrested, Accused of Sexual Relations With Inmate 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas jailer has been arrested on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County Jail officials say the corrections specialist was booked into the facility Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of four counts of felony unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. The jail officials said in a news release that the investigation leading to Anderson's arrest began after department employees "detected an irregular pattern of behavior" between Anderson and inmates within a female housing unit. The release says the behavior reflected an "undue level of familiarity." Investigators determined there had been sexual contact after interviewing inmates and reviewing extensive video evidence. The case has been referred to prosecutors, and the jailer has been placed on unpaid leave while the investigation continues.

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Missouri Regulators Reject Massive Midwest Wind Power Line

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri utility regulators have rejected a proposed high-voltage power line to carry wind power across the Midwest to eastern states. The decision Wednesday by the Missouri Public Service Commission creates a significant hurdle for Clean Line Energy Partners, which wants to build one of the nation's longest transmission lines. All the other states along its route already have granted approval. The line would run from Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would connect with a power grid for eastern states. Missouri regulators initially rejected the project in 2015, while questioning its benefits and burden on landowners. This time, the regulatory commission cited a recent state appeals court ruling that said utilities must first get consent from affected counties before state approval can be granted. Clean Line lacks local approval from several counties in its path.

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Truck Crash Closes Interstate Near Kansas City Through Morning Hours

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Police say a fiery crash of a semi-trailer truck will close one direction of Interstate 435 near Kansas City through mid-morning today (THUR). Overland Park police say the crash occurred about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when the truck went into a median and erupted in fire. The driver suffered only minor injuries but the crash damaged a safety device used to reduce damage in a crash. Repairs to that device aren't expected to be complete until about 10 a.m. Thursday. The Kansas City Star reports the crash is the latest of several wrecks along the same stretch of highway, where a major repair project is under way. Willie "Darryl" Wilson died last weekend of burns he suffered in a fiery, chain-reaction crash July 17 in the eastbound lanes near Wednesday's crash.

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Wild Black Bear Population Grows in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wildlife experts say black bears wandering into Kansas from Missouri and Oklahoma will likely become established residents of the state within the next decade. The Wichita Eagle reports that two bears were documented in southeast Kansas and another along the Colorado border as recently as two summers ago. For most of the past 15 years, bears only have been seen in extreme southwest Kansas. Experts say the possibility of Kansas having a permanent population of bears could cause safety problems. Neither Oklahoma nor Missouri have reported bear attacks recently, but experts are advising residents in those states on how to protect pets and livestock from the wild animal. Wildlife officials say bears still deserve respect and that most people appreciate having bears around.

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Mock Spaceship in Kansas to Be Used for Astronaut Research

KIPP, Kan. (AP) _ A mock-up of a spacecraft built in central Kansas is getting ready to take off for Kansas State University. The Salina Journal reports the spaceship will arrive at the university sometime next week from the Douglas Welding & Machine shop in Kipp. The interior will be finished at the school before the capsule is used in fitness research. A NASA grant is funding research to prepare future astronauts to withstand trips to and from Mars. University professor Carl Ade says the goal is to find the level of cardiovascular and muscle strength needed to complete tasks such as opening a hatch, throwing out a life raft and climbing out within seconds. University representatives plan to present the data at the annual NASA Human Research Program meeting in February 2018.

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Royals Surge Past A's, 7-6 to Win Series

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Royals' Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth after Oakland tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. The Kansas City Royals beat the Athletics 7-6 on Wednesday. Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale. Oakland's Matt Chapman hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth against Royals releiver Brandon Maurer (1-1), who wound up the winner. Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the fourth and added a key RBI single in the eighth. Royals starter Danny Duffy struck out eight over five innings Kansas City began the day tied with Minnesota six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.

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