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Headlines for Thursday, February 8, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

New Kansas Governor Promises New Open-Government Websites

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer is promising that state government will launch two new accountability websites within four months. Colyer signed four executive orders Thursday aimed at promoting government transparency. He took office last week. One order requires state agencies to set performance goals and develop ways to measure their progress toward meeting them so that the information can be available online. The order calls for the state to have a website posting the information within four months. Another order creates a website for posting notices of agencies' public meetings and documents associated with those meetings. Colyer said it would be set up within three months. Colyer also signed orders designed to make obtaining government documents less expensive and to prevent officials from using private email accounts for state business.

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Kansas GOP Leaders See Flexibility on School Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republicans in the Kansas Legislature say new GOP Governor Jeff Colyer is being more flexible on school funding issues than his predecessor.  Colyer told legislators Wednesday that he wants to phase in an increase in spending on public schools without raising taxes. He addressed a joint session of the House and Senate in his first major policy speech since taking office last week.  Colyer replaced former Republican Governor Sam Brownback when Brownback took an ambassador's post. Brownback had proposed phasing in a $513 million increase in aid to public schools over five years and relying on growth in state revenues to pay for it.  Republican leaders noted that Colyer did not set a figure for the increase. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Colyer backed off Brownback's plan.

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Instructor Facing Deportation from Kansas Gets Temporary Stay

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An adjunct college chemistry instructor living in Kansas who faced imminent deportation to Bangladesh has been granted a temporary stay. Lawyers representing 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal announced Thursday that a judge issued the temporary stay. Federal Judge Glen Baker issued the stay Wednesday and gave the Department of Homeland Security until February 15 to respond to a motion to stay the deportation and re-open immigration proceedings. Jamal currently teaches at Park University in Missouri. He was arrested January 24 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. He arrived legally in the U.S. in 1987, but after pursuing a doctorate degree, he overstayed his visa. Since his visa expired, he has been allowed to stay in the U.S. and report regularly to immigration authorities. He and his Bangladeshi wife have three children who are American citizens.

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HCA Medical Moving Headquarters from Missouri to Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — HCA Midwest Health will move its headquarters from Kansas City, Missouri, to Overland Park, Kansas, in the latest move in a business "border war" between the two states.  The Kansas City Star reports the company, which owns eight hospitals in the Kansas City area, will receive tax incentives from Kansas. State officials say the details of the incentives aren't final.  The Kansas Department of Commerce announced the move Wednesday, saying HCA Midwest plans to invest $10.8 million in its new headquarters.  The new Kansas governor, Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon, is the associate clinical director of a burn center at Research Medical Center, which HCA Medical owns.  The headquarters will relocate about four miles this summer when the lease expires at its Missouri location.

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City Estimates Lawrence Population Has Topped 100,000

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say the city's population has crossed the 100,000 mark. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that estimates from the city's planning and development department show the city crossed the threshold this year. The planners are pegging the city's population at 102,002. That figure represents a jump of about 2,500 people, or about 2.5 percent, over last year, and the biggest increase in more than a decade. Lawrence Mayor Stuart Boley says he thinks the trend shows there are a lot of people who love Lawrence. He says the city is "very fortunate."​

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Fire Destroys Classic Cars, Business Near Topeka

MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a Topeka-area auto body and restoration shop says it was "brutal" watching his business burn, knowing that six classic cars inside the building were destroyed.  High Torque Racing Auto Body and Paint in Meriden was destroyed in the fire early Wednesday.  The company owner, Mike Garrison, said the fire destroyed a 1967 Buick GS-400 convertible, one of only 421 ever built. Other cars included a '69 Camaro convertible Restomod, a 1957 Chevy and a 1972 convertible.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Garrison says he hopes his insurance is enough to cover a claim that could reach $1 million. The cause of the fire is under investigation.  He says he plans to rebuild the Meriden business.

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Wichita Man Charged in YMCA Rape Arrested in Another Assault

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita area man charged with the rape of a 4-year-old girl at a YMCA has now been accused of sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl at the same location. The Wichita Eagle reports that 21-year-old Caleb Gaston was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The arrest comes one day after he was released from jail. Gaston was arrested last week and charged with rape in a reported Jan. 29 sexual assault at the Downtown YMCA. Police say they were investigating the incident when they identified a second victim in an assault that occurred Jan. 24. Gaston worked at the Greater Wichita YMCA's Kid Zones, an area for children 6 weeks to 7 years old. The CEO vowed on Wednesday to make the necessary changes to ensure the safety of children.

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Mother Sues over 2-Year-Old Daughter's Death in Kansas

GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — A mother of a slain 2-year-old has filed a lawsuit against the suburban Kansas City girl's father, his fiancée and the fiancee's father. The Kansas City Star reports that Stephanie Porting alleges in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that Lindsey Thomasson committed intentional battery as well as negligent physical discipline. Thomasson was caring for Porting's daughter, Presley, when the girl died in February 2017. Thomasson has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge in Presley's death. The charge alleges the girl died from child abuse. Presley's last name has been listed both as Russom and Porting in court documents. The suit also alleges Presley's father, Nick Russom, and Thomasson's father, Michael Thomasson, should have known Thomasson was abusing Presley. The girl lived with Russom and his fiancee in Gardner.

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2 Teenagers Sentenced in Baseball Bat Beating of Wichita Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two teenagers were each sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for beating a man with a baseball bat and stealing about $20, two guns and some food.  The man, Horace Johnson, was beaten in May in his Wichita home and remains in a coma. Police say a relative found him unconscious on the floor, likely two days after he was attacked.  The family went to the home after police found Johnson's car abandoned and couldn't reach him.  District Attorney Marc Bennett says 16-year-old Jalen Oliver and 17-year-old Matthew Florez-Duran broke into Johnson's home, robbed him and beat him in the head with the bat several times.  The teenagers were prosecuted as adults for attempted first-degree murder.  Florez-Duran was sentenced Wednesday. Oliver was sentenced two weeks ago.

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Woman Arrested at Missouri Hotel Charged in Kansas Killing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been charged in a Kansas City, Kansas, stabbing death after she was arrested over the weekend following a disturbance at a Missouri hotel. Twenty-eight-year-old Tara Treece, of Kansas City, Kansas, is awaiting extradition to Wyandotte County, Kansas, where she is charged with second-degree murder and criminal use of a weapon. Prosecutors say in a news release that she is accused of killing 32-year-old Megan Hernandez last month. Treece was taken into custody Sunday at a Marshall, Missouri, hotel, on suspicion of disturbing the peace. Marshall police say officers were at the hotel waiting for a warrant when staff reported that Treece was "being violent in her room and throwing items into the walls." No attorney is listed for her in online court records.

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Kansas State Coach Thankful for Support After Son's Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State associate head coach and special-teams coordinator Sean Snyder is expressing thanks for an outpouring of support after the death of his 22-year-old son. Sean Snyder tweeted a family photo Wednesday describing his son, Matthew Snyder, as having a "big heart" and a "desire to help others." Police ruled Matthew Snyder's death last month at his home in Manhattan a suicide. Matthew Snyder also was the grandson of head coach Bill Snyder. Sean Snyder said in the tweet that he and his wife, Wanda, are grateful. The message said: "There are no words that comfort or mend the emptiness we have." But he added that it has been comforting to hear stories about his son, whom they will "forever miss."

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Wichita Police Identify 18-Year-Old Woman Killed in Drive-By Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have identified the 18-year-old woman who died in a drive-by shooting as she sat in a car with her mother and boyfriend.  Police say Myranda Keck died of a single gunshot wound early Tuesday.  Officer Charley Davidson said Keck, her 40-year-old mother and her 18-year-old boyfriend had just arrived at a home when a car drove by and someone fired shots into their car.  The mother and boyfriend were not injured.  Police don't have a description of the suspects or their vehicle.

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DNA Links Convicted Sex Offender to 2016 Sexual Assault

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say DNA testing has linked a convicted sex offender to a 2016 sexual assault in Kansas City.  Fifty-seven-year-old Arthur Norman, of Kansas City, was charged Wednesday with rape as a persistent offender. That means he could face a life sentence if convicted.  Court records say the victim told police a man forced his way into her locked bedroom, held a knife to her throat and assaulted her. DNA collected during a sexual assault exam of the woman was matched to Norman last month. Court records say Norman told police this week that he knew the victim but denied any sexual contact or relationship with her.  Missouri's Sex Offender Registry says Norman was previously convicted of sex crimes in Eudora, Arkansas, and Missouri. Two of the four victims were children.

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Kansas State Coach Thankful for Support After Son's Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State associate head coach and special-teams coordinator Sean Snyder is expressing thanks for an outpouring of support after the death of his 22-year-old son. Sean Snyder tweeted a family photo Wednesday describing his son, Matthew Snyder, as having a "big heart" and a "desire to help others." Police ruled Matthew Snyder's death last month at his home in Manhattan a suicide. Matthew Snyder also was the grandson of head coach Bill Snyder. Sean Snyder said in the tweet that he and his wife, Wanda, are grateful. The message said: "There are no words that comfort or mend the emptiness we have." But he added that it has been comforting to hear stories about his son, whom they will "forever miss."

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2 Die in Northwest Missouri Tractor-Trailer Crash

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say two people have been killed in a tractor-trailer crash on Interstate 29 in northwest Missouri.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the victims as 62-year-old George Walker and 68-year-old Rose Walker, of Wheatland. The patrol says the crash happened Tuesday night when the rig in which they were riding went off the side of the interstate about 10 miles north of St. Joseph. The rig then traveled down an embankment and struck a creek bank.  The victims were pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday morning.

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Fort Riley Soldier Dies in Germany, Cause of Death Unclear

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley officials say a soldier deployed from the fort to Europe has been found dead in Germany.  The fort announced Wednesday that 1st Sgt. Nicholas Amsberry, who was from Mesa, Arizona, was found dead Sunday near a train station in Parsberg, Germany.  The cause of 34-year-old's death is under investigation.  Amsberry was part of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He was serving a nine-month deployment to Europe that began in September 2017. He was stationed at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany, at the time of his death.  Amsberry joined the Army in 2003 as an infantryman.

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Kansas Bill Would Teach Gun Safety to Young Students with NRA Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would require certain curriculum for schools offering gun safety courses.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bill wouldn't require schools to provide gun safety training. Schools are already permitted to teach it.  The bill would mandate schools offering training for children in kindergarten through eighth grade to use the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle Gunsafe" program. High schools offering training would have to use the hunter safety program offered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.  Most lawmakers on Tuesday supported providing gun safety training to students. But some argue that requiring a particular curriculum course would represent an overreach by state government into decisions that should be made by local school boards.

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Kansas Woman Guilty of Stealing from Missouri School District

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A former employee of the Jasper School District pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $145,000.  Prosecutors say 55-year-old Karla Justice, of Columbus, Kansas, pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud and credit card fraud.  She was head bookkeeper for the district from 2009 until she resigned in 2016.  The Joplin Globe reports she authorized more than $80,000 in extra pay for herself between 2014 and 2017. Justice, who is also known as Karla Jessee, also added more than $6,000 to her retirement account and made about $14,000 in payments for transactions unrelated to education.  Prosecutors say Justice also opened a Home Depot credit card and made personal purchases of more than $2,100 using district funds.

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