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Headlines for Thursday, January 12, 2017

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

Winter Storm Expected to Bring Crippling Ice, Rainfall to Central US
 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm that brought heavy snow and rainfall to northern California is bearing down on the southern Plains, where forecasters predict that crippling ice accumulations and heavy rain could cause widespread power outages and flooding. The National Weather Service said Thursday that the potential for a significant ice storm has been increasing. Forecasters say parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri could see up to 1 inch of ice, causing widespread power outages and making roads impassable. Storms are expected Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A winter storm watch is in effect beginning Friday morning for much of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, along with parts of Illinois and Texas. Ice accumulations and winds of up to 15 mph are forecast for much of the area. Heavy rain is likely further south.

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Governor Brownback's Budget Proposals Stir Responses, Reaction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is proposing to freeze the state's contributions to pensions for teachers and government workers to help balance the state budget. The proposal outlined Wednesday would contribute $299 million annually through fiscal 2019. The state has been boosting its contributions each year to help close a long-term gap between the pension system's anticipated revenues and the benefits promised to workers and retirees. The gap stood at $8.5 billion at the end of 2015. A 2012 law put Kansas on the path to eliminating the gap in 2033. Brownback's proposal would delay it 10 years and would cut state pension costs by a total of $425 million through June 2019. Brownback's proposals also include forcing all 286 local public schools districts into a single state health insurance plan for their employees. Brownback projects that the idea would save the state $120 million over the two years starting July 1. Democrats in the Legislature are harshly criticizing Governor Brownback's proposals. State Representative Tom Sawyer of Wichita described the package outlined by Brownback as "a pile of garbage." Sawyer is the top Democrat on the House Taxation Committee. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka called many of the proposals from the governor "taking hocus pocus budgeting to a new level." Brownback's proposals also include diverting highway funds to general government programs and liquidating a state investment fund. His proposals also include raising taxes on cigarettes, wine, liquor and beer. Democrats blame the state's budget problems on personal income tax cuts enacted by Republican legislators in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging.

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Brownback Aide Fires Back at Top Kansas Republican Lawmaker

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An aide to Governor Sam Brownback is suggesting that the Kansas Senate's top GOP leader supports "unfair" tax increases and "punishing" spending cuts to balance the state budget. Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby responded in an email to criticism of the governor's proposals from Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita and three other GOP leaders in the chamber. The senators criticized Brownback for proposing to boost taxes on cigarettes, beer, wine and liquor instead of repealing an income tax break for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. The senators also said the governor relied too heavily on accounting moves. Willoughby challenged Wagle to draft her own budget-balancing plan. Willoughby's email concluded, "Until then, our budget solves the challenges of today, and provides sustainable answers for the future."

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Official: Governor's Proposed Budget Plan Raises Long-Term Pension Costs by $6.5 Billion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas public pension system's top administrator says budget-balancing proposals from Republican Governor Sam Brownback would raise its long-term costs by $6.5 billion. Executive Director Alan Conroy testified Thursday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee about how Brownback's proposals would affect the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and efforts to close a long-term funding gap for the system. Brownback is proposing to freeze the state's annual contributions to public pensions for three years instead of increasing them as planned. The savings would help the state close projected budget shortfalls totaling $1.1 billion through June 2019. Conroy said Kansas would take 10 years longer to close its pension funding gap with higher costs in future years. Brownback said if lawmakers don't like the pension measures, they should offer budget-balancing alternatives.

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Report to Kansas Lawmakers Documents Rise in State Debt 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state official says Kansas should no longer be considered a "low-debt" state. Kansas Development Finance Authority Senior Vice President Jim MacMurray made the comment Thursday in presenting a report on state debt to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The report from the bond-issuing agency showed that since July 2010, the amount of debt to be paid off with state tax dollars has increased 40 percent to nearly $4.5 billion. A May 2016 report by the credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service said Kansas has tax-supported debt of $1,534 per person and ranks 17th in the nation. Kansas issued $1 billion in bonds in 2015 to bolster its public pension system and has issued nearly $1.2 billion in bonds for highway projects since July 2010.

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Kansas House Passes Bill Revising Laws for Special Elections 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill rewriting state laws on special congressional elections so that military personnel overseas have a greater chance of voting. The vote Thursday was 122-1. The measure went to the Senate. The bill arose from Republican congressman Mike Pompeo's nomination by President-elect Donald Trump as Central Intelligence Agency director. If Pompeo is confirmed, the 4th District in south-central Kansas would have the state's first special congressional election since 1950. State law says a special election must occur from 45 to 60 days after the governor declares a vacancy. The bill would make the window from 75 to 90 days so military personnel and other Kansas residents overseas have more time to receive and return ballots. Local Democratic and Republican activists will pick their parties' nominees.

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Topeka to Lose 150 to 200 Jobs in Energy Company Merger 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An official with Great Plains Energy says the Topeka area will lose between 150 and 200 jobs over the next three to five years as its subsidiary, Kansas City Power & Light, merges with Westar Energy. Great Plains spokesman Chuck Caisley told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Wednesday that roughly the same amount of jobs will be lost in the Kansas City area. If the merger is approved, Westar and KCP&L will become a single electric company straddling the Kansas-Missouri border, with 1.5 million customers. Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast says he's confident the job losses will be handled in a way that is least detrimental to those involved.

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Kansas Capitol to Add Mural Celebrating Brown v Board 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says a new mural will be added to the third floor of the Kansas Capitol celebrating the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned segregated education. Brownback unveiled a mockup of the mural Thursday at the state's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Artist Michael Young will paint the mural. It has a group of students of different races with their teacher in the foreground and the building in the background. Raytown School District Assistant Superintendent Anthony Moore spoke on the importance of unity at the MLK Jr. Day celebration and invoked the words of leaders, including President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Moore says Americans have to continue striving for King's dream.

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Former Kansas City "Principal of the Year" Charged with Statutory Rape

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former principal of the year from northern Kansas City has been charged with having sex with a high school cheerleader nearly two decades ago.  The Kansas City Star reports that 48-year-old Matthew Lindsey, of Oak Grove, was charged Wednesday with two statutory rape counts. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.  A North Kansas City School District spokeswoman says Lindsey has been placed on administrative leave from his job as principal of Winnetonka High School.  Authorities allege the sexual encounters began in October 1997 when the cheerleader was 16. At the time, Lindsey was coaching basketball at Richmond High School, located about 35 miles east of Kansas City.  Lindsey won the top principal honor in 2015 from the Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association.

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Kansas Senator Pompeo, Trump's CIA Nominee, Faces Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA says he knows he'll have to make the transition from partisan lawmaker to objective intelligence collector. That's what Mike Pompeo - a conservative Kansas congressman - is telling the Senate Intelligence Committee in prepared testimony released before his hearing gets underway today (THUR). Pompeo also says the United States is facing a complicated and broad array of threats today. The hearing comes as the president-elect and spy agencies are in a testy standoff over the election that has put Trump in power. Pompeo served on the partisan House committee set up to investigate the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

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Kansas Health Agency Promises to Decrease Medicaid Backlog

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it is taking steps to reduce the state's backlog of Medicaid applications for residents of nursing homes. Those steps include more advanced payments and a hotline to assist facilities. The state has a backlog of nearly 2,700 applicants. Many are unprocessed. For others, the agency is awaiting documents from the applicant or the applicant was previously denied and is applying again. Providers testified Wednesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee that the backlog means homes often pay for care and may not be reimbursed. State Medicaid Director Mike Randol told the committee that KDHE would increase advanced payments to nursing homes, set up a hotline and resources for nursing staffs and find long-term solutions to the problem. 

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Freshman Congressman Regains Kansas Seat on House Ag Committee

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas doctor who ousted U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp in the Republican primary has now regained a seat on the House Agriculture Committee important to his farming district. Congressman Roger Marshall was selected Wednesday to serve on the Agriculture Committee. Huelskamp was a tea party favorite who was a thorn to GOP leaders. He was booted off the ag committee in 2012. Farm groups then turned against him, and voters in his sprawling 1st Congressional District saw the loss of the committee seat as a crucial election issue in their farming state. Kansas has had a seat on the House Agriculture Committee for the last century, with the exception of the last three years. The committee will help shape the next farm bill and take up trade issues.

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Man Sentenced for Shooting Death of Teenager at Fort Riley 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old man was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a teenager at Fort Riley. Federal prosecutors say Juwaun Jackson was sentenced Thursday in the September 2015 death of 16-year-old Kenyon Givens Jr. Jackson and Givens both lived at Fort Riley at the time of the shooting. When military police arrived, Jackson reported an unknown, masked intruder forced his way into the home and shot Givens, delaying paramedics from treating Givens until police searched for an intruder. Investigators eventually learned Jackson was playing with a loaded .22 caliber handgun and spun the chamber while holding the trigger. A bullet struck Givens in the chest.

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Family of Boy Killed on Kansas Waterslide Settles with Park 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The family of a Kansas lawmaker's 10-year-old son killed last summer on what was billed as the world's tallest water slide has reached a settlement with the park's owner. Terms of the deal filed Wednesday in Johnson County District Court involving Caleb Schwab's family were not immediately released. A spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, Winter Prosapio, confirmed the settlement. She declined to elaborate, other than to say the park's owners plan to follow through on demolishing the slide as announced in November. An attorney for two women injured with Schwab during the ill-fated ride last August 7 says Wednesday's action does not resolve any potential liabilities against the park by his clients. 

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Wichita City Council Member to Run for 4th District Congressional Seat 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita city council member plans to seek the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that Pete Meitzner is touting his business experience as a potential asset in Congress. He leads telecommunications consulting firm. The 4th District seat is held by Republican Mike Pompeo. He has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be Central Intelligence Agency director. If the U.S. Senate confirms Pompeo, GOP and Democratic activists in the district would pick their parties' nominees, and an election would be held later in the spring. Wichita lawyer and businessman George Bruce announced Tuesday that he would seek the Republican nomination. State Treasurer Ron Estes from Wichita also is running.

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Plan Proposed for Hutchinson Trail to Go Through Fairgrounds 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — City officials are considering adding the Kansas State Fair to the city's trail system. The Hutchinson News reports officials have been working to connect the city's trails together. The trail system would enter the fair at the north end of the fairgrounds. City engineer Bruce Colle met with the fair's building committee January 6 to propose the idea brought forth by fair manager Susan Sankey. The original plan called for the trail to go along State Fair Road, which Colle said was expensive. Sankey says she hopes to plan another meeting as soon as February to go over details, which call for the construction of the 10-foot-wide, multipurpose trail to start this summer. The trail would not be open during the September fair festivities.

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Former Kansas Bank Teller Convicted of Embezzlement 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former bank teller has been convicted of embezzling about $700,000 from a Burlington bank. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release Thursday that 48-year-old Denise Christy was convicted of embezzlement and six counts each of making false bank entries, filing false tax returns and money laundering. Prosecutors say one of Christy's duties at the Burlington branch of Central National Bank was to sell cash in the bank's vault to the Federal Reserve Bank. In May 2014, auditors found $700,000 was missing from the vault. Christy falsely said the money had been shipped to the Federal Reserve. Christy falsified bank records to cover up the embezzlement and spent more than $77,000 in embezzled funds to pay off loans from the Farmers State Bank in Aliceville.

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Kansas Family Sues Neighbors over Death After Fire 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Reno County family is suing their neighbors, contending that a March 2015 wildfire contributed to a family member's death. Cynthia Stohr and her children filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Peter and Shawnee Scharer and a caretaker on their property, David Farris. The Hutchinson News reports the Stohrs claim 60-year-old Ernest Stohr, who was confined to a wheelchair, died from complications of smoke inhalation he suffered in the March 16 fire. The lawsuit contends Farris started a fire on the Scharer property even though the county was under a warning for extreme fire danger. The family contends Farris didn't follow county rules on rural fires and the Scharers were negligent in hiring and supervising Farris. Peter Scharer declined comment on the lawsuit.

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University of Kansas Gets $100K Estate Gift 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is receiving a $100,000 estate gift from a Scandia family that will provide funds for a nursing scholarship, the Dole Institute of Politics and the Spencer Museum of Art. The Salina Journal reports that alumna Marynell Dyatt Reece made plans for the estate gift before she died on July 4. The gift will establish the Marynell Dyatt Reece Spencer Museum Fund to help the existing museum. The nursing scholarship will be named after Reece's mother, Nelle Taylor Dyatt, who was in the university's inaugural graduating class of nurses in 1909. Marynell's daughter says her mother served as the treasurer during former U.S. Senator Bob Dole's presidential run. Marynell was born in Kanorado and studied journalism at the University of Kansas. She graduated in 1942.

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Sisters Found Unharmed in Kansas

GENOA CITY, Wis. (AP) - Two girls reported missing in southeastern Wisconsin have been taken into protective custody in Kansas. Authorities say eight-year-old Katie Brick and six-year-old Jenna Brick were last seen Tuesday leaving a home in Genoa City with their mother who does not have custody of the sisters. Police say the girls were found with their mother in a hotel in Overland Park, Kansas. Police say the boyfriend of the mother was found wandering incoherently in the area and took officers to the hotel. Authorities say the girls were not harmed. The Kenosha News reports the mother is scheduled in Walworth County Circuit Court Thursday on felony forgery and identity theft, charges unrelated to the incident.

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Lawsuit Faults Bureau of Indian Education Schools 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new federal lawsuit says U.S. Bureau of Indian Education schools are chronically understaffed, lack systems to provide special education and have a deficient curriculum. Advocacy groups said Thursday the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Havasupai students at an Arizona school within the Grand Canyon. Lawyers say the lawsuit potentially could impact other BIE schools. The 95-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix faults the federal government for physically excluding Havasupai students with special needs and only teaching math and writing to students. Alexis DeLaCruz, an attorney for the Native American Disability Law Center, says similar problems exist at many Bureau of Indian Education schools. The U.S. Department of Interior did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press. The bureau oversees 183 schools in 23 states.

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Topeka Man Indicted on Bank Robbery Charge 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 20-year-old man has been indicted in a Topeka bank robbery. The U.S. attorney's office says federal grand jurors returned the indictment Wednesday against Dakota Shareef Walker of Topeka. The indictment alleges that he robbed a U.S. Bank branch in November. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

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Parishioner Banned from Kansas City Diocese Properties 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A longtime parishioner of a Catholic church in northern Kansas City has been banned from all church property because of his interactions with children. The Kansas City Star reports that the 70-year-old man was a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church. That's the parish of a former priest whose child pornography scandal led to then-Bishop Robert Finn's conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse. The church's current pastor said last month in a letter that the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph had been monitoring the man after concerns were raised. The letter said he violated "safe boundaries," but there had been no reports of criminal behavior. The parishioner told The Star he had done nothing inappropriate, although he acknowledged violating an agreement to stay away from children.

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North Kansas City School Principal Charged with Statutory Rape 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former principal of the year from north Kansas City has been charged with having sex with a high school cheerleader nearly two decades ago. The Kansas City Star reports that 48-year-old Matthew Lindsey, of Oak Grove, was charged Wednesday with two counts of statutory rape. A North Kansas City School District spokeswoman says Lindsey has been placed on administrative leave from his job as principal of Winnetonka High School. Authorities allege the sexual encounters began in October 1997 when the cheerleader was 16. At the time, Lindsey was coaching basketball at Richmond High School, located about 35 miles east of Kansas City. Lindsey won the top principal honor in 2015 from the Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association.

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Virgin Mobile Looking to Hire Around 100 People in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Virgin Mobile says it plans to open its permanent U.S. headquarters in downtown Kansas City and hire up to 100 people. The communications company currently is in a temporary office in the same downtown building and has been renovating a new floor for its headquarters. It expects to move to the new offices at the end of the summer. The state of Missouri granted Virgin Mobile up to $1.87 million in incentives if the company creates 84 jobs during the next five years. Virgin Mobile is affiliated with Sprint Corporation, which is based in Overland Park, Kansas. The company's decision to expand into Missouri is part of a plan to relaunch the brand under the Sprint banner.  

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2 Admit to Robbing Priest, Pastor, Another Person in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two men have admitted to robbing an 82-year-old Catholic priest, a pastor and another person in Kansas City, Kansas. The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office says 19-year-old Ladarious Racquez Barkers and 20-year-old Marvin Antonio Moore pleaded guilty Tuesday to three aggravated robbery counts. The charges stem from robberies that occurred in August and October. The victims included the Rev. Thomas Kearns, who was struck in the face and knocked unconscious during the assault outside the Blessed Sacrament Church. His car and wallet were stolen. Kearns underwent surgery to repair broken facial bones. The two men also robbed the Rev. Louis Sipple, of Timothy Baptist Church, before they were arrested after an hours-long standoff. Sipple told WDAF-TV earlier that "with God's help, you can forgive." Sentencing is set for February 24.

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KU Hires TCU Assistant Doug Meacham to Oversee Offense 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas football coach David Beaty has plucked veteran coach Doug Meacham from Big 12 rival TCU to serve as his offensive coordinator and work with the Jayhawks' wide receivers. Beaty announced the hiring on Thursday. Meacham was the co-offensive coordinator for the Horned Frogs. He has also coordinated offenses at Houston and several lower-level schools, and spent time working in the Big 12 for Oklahoma State. Beaty said in a statement that he admired Meacham for his "creativity" on offense, and that going against him in the Big 12 only underscored his desire to bring him onto his staff. Meacham shared the Horned Frogs' coordinator job the past three seasons with Sonny Cumbie.

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No. 25 Kansas State Women's Team Beats KU, 73-60

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Breanna Lewis had her second-consecutive double-double and Karyla Middlebrook finished with 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists as No. 25 Kansas State beat Kansas 73-60 on Wednesday night. Lewis scored 15 points, on 7-of-11 shooting, and grabbed 10 rebounds while Kindred Wesemann added 12 points for the Wildcats. Lewis had seven points during a 16-0 run, capped by her 3-point play, to open the game and Kansas State (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) never trailed. KU's Jessica Washington hit back-to-back 3s to pull the Jayhawks within nine with 4:11 left in the second quarter and a 3-pointer by Kylee Kopatich trimmed the Kansas (6-10, 0-5) deficit to 33-26 at the break. But the Wildcats scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to make it 45-26 and led by double figures the rest of the way. The Jayhawks have lost six in a row to Kansas State and five straight overall. 

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