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Headlines for Thursday, August 3, 2017

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

Appeals Court Ruling Requires Kansas Secretary of State​ to Testify Under Oath

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal appeals court ruling will force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to answer questions under oath today (THUR) about plans to change U.S. election law. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied Kobach's request for an emergency stay of his deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union. Kobach's office declined to comment on the decision. Judges in Kansas found Kobach misled the court about the contents of a document he took into a November meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump and a separate draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act. The lower court fined Kobach $1,000 and ordered him to testify. The ACLU lawsuit challenges a Kansas election law requiring proof-of-citizenship documents. Kobach is vice chairman of Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. 

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Kansas Unveils New 'Real ID' Drivers Licenses, 3 Years Early 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has unveiled a new driver's license design meant to comply with federal identification requirements for airport security purposes. The new licenses will contain either a gold circle with a white star cutout proving the holder is lawfully in the U.S. and that it is acceptable federal identification, or the words "not for federal ID." The revamped licenses come three years before they are required. Anyone seeking the "Real ID" credential must provide Social Security number documentation, and their birth certificate or valid U.S. passport. People without such documents can get the "not for federal ID" card, which will not be acceptable identification for boarding domestic flights or entering designated federal sites after Sept. 30, 2020. Those cards still will be valid as state identification or as a driver's licenses.

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Kansas Corrections Chief Apologizes to Lawmaker 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood has apologized publicly to a legislator who accused his department of not providing complete information about problems in state prisons. Norwood told reporters Thursday that the Department of Corrections strives to be transparent but will work on improving its communications with legislators. Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka said during a legislative committee meeting on budget issues that she does not feel the department has kept lawmakers fully informed of disturbances at the state's maximum-security prison in El Dorado. It has had several disturbances since May, and two came to light after The Associated Press interviewed employees. Kelly told Norwood that legislators are the department's partners and need to have information to help it deal with its problems.

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Former Kansas Prison Warden to Oversee Training 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood says the former warden of the state's maximum-security prison will oversee training for corrections officers statewide. Norwood told legislators Thursday that former Warden James Heimgartner is now working for the Department of Corrections central office. Heimgartner left the warden's post on July 27 amid increasing scrutiny of inmate unrest and staffing shortages at the El Dorado prison. The department confirmed three disturbances in May and June and a pair of inmate-on-inmate fights on July 28. Norwood said Heimgartner also will help the department find efficiencies in its operations. He said Heimgartner and the department had talked about changing his duties for some time. But Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka called the timing of the job change odd.

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Kansas Prisons Saw Staff Vacancies Increase at End of July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Figures from the Kansas Department of Corrections show that state prisons saw an increase in staff vacancies at the end of July. Figures released Thursday showed 268 vacancies in positions for uniformed officers as of Tuesday. The department reported 236 vacancies on July 24. The figures also showed that the El Dorado Correctional Facility saw its number of vacancies among uniformed officers jump from to 84 as of Tuesday from 73 on July 24. The prison has been the site of several inmate disturbances in recent months. The vacancy rate at the El Dorado prison among uniformed officers was 23 percent as of Tuesday. Prisons in Ellsworth, Hutchinson and Lansing also saw increases in uniformed-officer vacancies. The department released the data to The Associated Press in response to a request.

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Kansas Has 3 Companies Vying for Prison Project 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three companies are seeking a contract with Kansas to build a new prison in Lansing to replace the state's oldest and largest lockup there. Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told lawmakers Thursday of the three bidders. But he declined to name them, saying staff advised him he couldn't for now. But the Department of Administration disclosed their names to The Associated Press last month upon its request. The bidders include Nashville-based CoreCivic and GEO Group of Boca Raton, Florida. Both run private prisons. The third is Lansing Correctional Partners. Its headquarters was listed as Memphis but online searches found no website or business filings for Kansas or Tennessee. Corrections officials contend a new prison will be safer and more efficient. Parts of the existing one date to the 1860s.

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Lawrence Taps Kentucky Police Official for New Chief

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - An Air Force veteran who is currently serving as the assistant police chief in Louisville, Kentucky, has been selected as the new police chief in Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Gregory Burns Jr. has been hired as the city's first black police chief. Burns has been in law enforcement since 1993. As Louisville's assistant chief, he headed a department bureau that includes four divisions: major crimes, narcotics, community services and special operations. Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus says Burns's starting salary will be $130,000. The Lawrence department has 150 officers, 30 civilian staff members and an operating budget of $23.4 million. The city received 31 applications for the chief's job and announced four finalists in June.

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Gay Former Topeka Mayoral Candidate Says He Received Threats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Topeka man who was the city's first openly gay mayoral candidate says he received death threats during his unsuccessful primary campaign. A day after failing to advance to the November general election in the five-candidate race, Chris Schultz told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the threats he suspects were related to his sexual orientation were "kind of traumatizing." Schultz says said he didn't report the texts he received by text and email to law enforcement in an attempt to avoid thinking about them. Michelle De La Isla and Spencer Duncan moved on to the general election. Schultz finished third. De La Isla calls the threats "horrendous" and said she's "very sorry to hear Chris experienced that." She called Schultz "a great person" who "ran a wonderful campaign."

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Former Lawrence Mayor Seeks Probation for Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Lawrence mayor awaiting sentencing for stealing money from a food pantry while he served as the organization's executive director is asking a federal judge for probation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jeremy Farmer says in court filings in advance of his scheduled August 15 sentencing that he has cooperated with authorities and maintained a steady job. He believes that merits probation instead of prison time. Farmer pleaded guilty in September of last year to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds. Farmer resigned from Just Food and his elected seat on the Lawrence City Commission in August 2015 after it was revealed that he had not paid more than $50,000 in federal and state payroll taxes on behalf of the nonprofit Lawrence food agency.

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Police: Husband Kills Wife, Self in Suburban Kansas City

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police investigating the case of a couple found dead in a suburban Kansas City home believe that the man fatally shot his divorce-seeking wife before turning the handgun on himself. Police in Olathe say they found the 36-year-old Amy Mabion and 36-year-old Philip Mabion wounded in their home shortly before 1:30 p.m. Monday. Investigators say Amy Mabion died at the scene, and Philip Mabion died later at a hospital. The Kansas City Star reports that Amy Shaffer filed for divorce June 1, citing incompatibility with her husband of almost 11 years. Mabion countered in his June 27 response that they were not incompatible. Friends of the Mabions say the two continued to live together. Police say the investigation continues.

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Keystone XL Survived Politics but Economics Could Scuttle Project 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Low oil prices and the high cost of extracting Canadian oil are casting new doubts on the Keystone XL pipeline as project developer TransCanada faces its final regulatory hurdle in Nebraska. After nine years of protests, lawsuits and political wrangling that saw the Obama administration reject Keystone XL only to have President Donald Trump revive it, the economics of the project have worsened. Shippers have also found other ways to transport oil. Project opponents say they're not letting their guard down and will continue to protest. Officials with Calgary-based TransCanada will try to persuade the Nebraska Public Service Commission to approve the pipeline during a series of hearings that start Monday. The company says it will decide whether to proceed with the pipeline in late November or early December.

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Kansas Guide Sentenced for Violating Hunting Laws

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The owner of a southeast Kansas hunting guide company pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation for violating state and federal hunting laws.  U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that 35-year-old Josh Hedges, of Grenola, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution. Hedges, owner of Eagle Head Outfitters, also will not be able to hunt, trap or guide for 12 years and agreed to divest himself of the company. Hedges admitted his guides baited ponds for waterfowl, helped hunters exceed their daily bag limits and didn't follow federal and state laws on tagging, processing or transporting birds.

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Federal Prisoner from Missouri Admits Forging Court Order 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, woman faces up to 20 years in federal prison after admitting she forged a court order that tried to get another inmate released. Fifty-one-year-old Margie Shephard pleaded guilty Thursday to an obstruction of justice count. Authorities say Shephard committed the crime while at a federal lockup in Bryan, Texas. She was serving a 10-year sentence for bank fraud conspiracy, identity theft and obstruction of justice. Shephard admitted she fabricated a court order featuring a forged signature of a federal judge. It called for the release of a suburban Kansas City woman who was serving three years for her role in an $11 million mortgage fraud scheme. Shephard mailed the document to a relative, who faxed it to prison officials who ultimately declared the document a fake.

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Kansas City Man Gets 27 Years for Killing Housemate 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man has been ordered to spend 27 years in prison for the shooting death last year of a female with whom he had lived. A Jackson County (Missouri) judge sentenced Dewayne Cornelius on Thursday in Kansas City, where a jury convicted him in June of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Cornelius was ordered to simultaneously serve 27-year sentences on each count. Cornelius was found guilty of having fatally shot 27-year-old Nicole Appleberry in the back in May 2015 during a domestic dispute at the home they shared. Witnesses reported that Cornelius told them he had committed the killing.

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Police: Hidden Camera Found at Wichita Theater 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are trying to determine who placed a hidden camera at a movie theater in west Wichita. Police officer Paul Cruz says an employee of the Palace Theatre reported finding the camera late Saturday. Cruz says the camera had footage from one of the theater's bathrooms. At least one victim, a minor, has been identified. Police have identified a potential suspect but have made no arrests. Further information was not released.

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Longtime Kansas Ranch for Troubled Boys to Be Torn Down 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Commission had decided to tear down a longtime ranch for troubled boys. The commission voted Wednesday to approve contracts to remove asbestos and then demolish the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch near Goddard. The property will be returned to park land for Lake Afton Park. The decision comes after years of debate on the fate of the ranch, which opened in the 1960s. It was owned by the state but operated by Sedgwick County. The center closed in 2014 after the state refused to increase payments to help the county fund operations. The county tried to sell or lease the property since the ranch closed but was not successful. Commissioners who supported the demolition said it would cost too much to repair and renovate the youth residential center.

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Illinois Air Show to Honor Pilot Killed in Kansas Crash 

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) — An upcoming air show in northern Illinois will feature a missing-man formation in honor of a pilot who died while flying a World War II-era plane in Kansas last month. The Chicago Tribune reports that 64-year-old Vlado Lenoch and a passenger died July 16 after the 1944 plane crashed. The crash occurred one day after the P-51 fighter flew in a festival that celebrates famed aviator Amelia Earhart. Northern Illinois Air Show President Tom Coogan says the September 9 show at the Waukegan National Airport will honor Lenoch, who participated at air shows in Waukegan. Coogan says the show will also feature staged dogfights with Korean War-era planes, paratroopers jumping with a giant United States flag and trailing smoke. He says organizers are expecting 10,000 attendees.

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Oklahoma Man Sentenced to 'Hard 50' for Kansas Murder, Arson 

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been sentenced to at least 50 years in prison for killing his estranged wife's boyfriend. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release that 33-year-old Thad Christopher Green, of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, was sentenced Thursday in Montgomery County to life without eligibility for parole for 50 years in the death of Cameron Wawrzyniak. Wawrzyniak's body was found inside a burning house near Independence, Kansas, in December 2015. Green also was sentenced to four years and five months for other charges arising from the crime. He was found guilty in May of first-degree murder, arson and aggravated burglary.

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Orioles Shut Out Royals 6-0 for 3-Game Sweep 

BALTIMORE (AP) — Jeremy Hellickson threw seven outstanding innings in his Orioles debu tas Baltimore beat the Kansas City Royals 6-0 Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep. The Orioles' five-game winning streak is their longest since early May, and they now stand just 2 ½ games behind Kansas City for the second AL wild-card slot. The Royals had won 10 of 11 before coming up flat at Camden Yards, scoring only three runs in 27 innings. They showed their frustration in the ninth inning, when Mike Moustakas was tossed after complaining about a third-strike call and manager Ned Yost was ejected for joining the argument. The Royals return to Kansas City to begin a weekend homestand tonight (THUR) against the Seattle Mariners.
 

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