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Headlines for Thursday, January 5, 2017

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

Many Missouri Schools Cancel Classes After Winter Storm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Many Missouri school districts have canceled classes or are starting late because of a winter storm. The storm dumped 2 to 3 inches in the Kansas City area. Among the Missouri districts calling off classes Thursday were Kansas City and St. Joseph. The storm was less disruptive to Kansas schools and most opted to remain open as usual. There were numerous minor accidents reported in Topeka.  Topeka police say drivers involved in minor accidents should exchange insurance information and wait until the weather clears to go to the Law Enforcement Center. For now, the department is only investigating accidents that are alcohol related, hit-and-run or involve injuries.

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Mumps Cases Reported at University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Health officials have confirmed one case of mumps at the University of Kansas and are investigating nine other suspected cases. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department announced the suspected cases Wednesday. Mary Beverly, the department's director of epidemiology, says it's not clear where the cases were contracted but some likely spread before the university's winter break on December 16. Beverly said some of the students who became ill lived in group housing but others did not. The University of Missouri reported more than 220 mumps cases in mid-December. The first day for spring classes at KU is January 17. 

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Missouri Prosecutor Seeks Clemency For Man Serving 80-Year Burglary Sentence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri prosecutor is requesting clemency for a man who was sentenced to 80 years in prison for a 1993 home burglary. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker's office said in a news release Wednesday that the lead prosecutor and a victim in the case also support clemency for Alvis Williams. Prosecutors asked for a 20-year prison term when Williams was sentenced in 1994 but a judge opted for the maximum 80-year sentence, which was only possible for about a one-year when second-degree burglary was listed as a dangerous felony. Today, the most severe sentence for the conviction would be seven years in prison.  

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Court Rules City's Interests in Hays Outweigh Worker's Rights 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the "operational interests" of a city as a public employer outweigh the free speech rights of a former secretary who provided an affidavit in support of a fired police officer's lawsuit. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city of Hays, Kansas. A three-judge panel found that administrative secretary Firma Helget's disclosure of confidences in the voluntary affidavit caused her superiors to lose trust in her, undermining the department's operations. Helget was fired in 2012 after submitting her affidavit saying she had been instructed to not order a ballistic vest for a police officer known for union organizing. The officer contended in a wrongful termination lawsuit the city decided not to order the vest prior to the incident used to justify his termination.

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ATF Investigates Explosion in Kansas City Suburb 

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — Investigators are scouring the debris from an explosion at a suburban Kansas City lawn care business. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a news release Wednesday that 19 apartments and nine houses had windows broken but no injuries have been reported. Fire crews evacuated 46 people after the explosion Tuesday night in Grandview. Firefighters reported hearing ammunition going off and the ATF says investigators are talking to the owner of the business.

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Former KU Grad Student Sentenced for False Visa Application Claims 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas graduate student who falsely claimed on his visa application that he served as a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. The U.S. attorney's office says 35-year-old Goran Sabah Ghafour was sentenced Wednesday for visa fraud and aggravated identify theft. The Iraqi man, who lived in Lawrence while he was a student, admitted that he applied for a visa under a program allowing Iraqi nationals who worked for the U.S. government in Iraq to qualify for a visa. Prosecutors say he fabricated a letter from an Army officer who didn't know him to support the claim. Ghafour graduated in May with his doctorate from KU.

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Kansas Family's Pet Deer Shot by Game Wardens 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas family is outraged after game wardens killed a deer that was allowed inside their house and took walks with the family. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kim Mcgaughey, of rural Ulysses, described the deer as "very much a big pet." The 2-year-old mule deer was named Faline, after Bambi's friend and future mate in the cartoon movie. But it's illegal to keep a wild animal as a pet in Kansas, and wildlife officials said something had to be done. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says pet deer have killed at least two people. The department said it was trying to protect people from being physically injured by the deer, and eliminate the possibility of disease being passed to humans, livestock and other deer.

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Manhattan Man Pleads Not Guilty in 3 Rape Cases 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Manhattan man has pleaded not guilty to three rape charges, two that are linked to a federal lawsuit against the university. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Jared Gihring of Manhattan is accused of raping two Kansas State students in 2014 and 2015 during off-campus fraternity parties. He's also accused of raping a third person at an apartment complex. The two students sued Kansas State, claiming the university failed to investigate their reported assaults. The U.S. Department of Education also is investigating the university to determine if it violated federal Title IX rules in its response to the reports. Gihring was expelled from the university before the fall 2016 semester. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 17.

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Plane Engineering Company Moves to Wichita State University 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A European plane maker that established a U.S. engineering outpost in Wichita 14 years ago has moved to a new building at Wichita State University. The Wichita Eagle reports that Airbus Americas Engineering's final group of Wichita employees began working at the two-story, 90,000-square-foot building this week. Brandi Chandler, who coordinated the multi-stage move for Airbus, says it began the first week of December and involved 300 employees. Vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering John O'Leary says the transition "went extremely smooth." O'Leary says the move not only was a means to consolidate its work from two buildings to one, but was also a way to be closer to at university's new Innovation Campus, where there's a pipeline for the company's future workforce.

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Leavenworth Catholic High School to Close in June 

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — After more than a century in operation, a Catholic high school in Leavenworth is closing its doors after this school year. The Board of Trustees of the Leavenworth Regional Catholic School System announced Wednesday it will recommend that Archbishop Joseph Naumann close Immaculata High School, which offers seventh through 12th grade. The Leavenworth Times reports that the school will close June 2. Xavier Catholic School, which offers preschool through sixth grade, will remain open. Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Immaculata will move to Xavier next year. School officials said struggling enrollment has caused cost per student to exceed revenue per student by more than $5,000. The Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas said 66 students are currently enrolled in ninth through 12th grade at Immaculata.

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Education Facility for Homeless Topeka Children Opens

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Children whose families are staying at or receiving services from a Topeka homeless shelter now have a place of their own. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that ribbon was cut Wednesday on the Children's Palace, which it is part of the Topeka Rescue Mission complex. Rescue Mission executive director Barry Feaker says the 18,000-square-foot facility will provide a place for the youngest of homeless children to get age-appropriate development and early education services to prepare them for kindergarten. The colorful building has the capacity for 60 children, age birth to five years of age. There will be an additional 64 slots available after the first year. Feaker says the average stay at the Rescue Mission for families with children in that age range is about four and a half months.

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Man Sentenced for Shooting a Man, Throwing Cat Against Wall 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for shooting another man and throwing a kitten against a wall, causing it to be euthanized. Twenty-nine-year-old Damion Looney was sentenced Thursday after being found guilty in November of several charges. District Attorney Marc Bennett said in a statement that Looney shot Quinton Edwards at a home in July 2015 after Looney argued with his girlfriend in a Wichita bar. The shooting caused Edwards to lose an eye. While investigating the shooting, authorities discovered a video showing Looney throwing a kitten against a wall. The animal was later euthanized. Looney pleaded guilty to felony cruelty to animals in that case.

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2 Salina Men Accused of Human Trafficking Involving Minor 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Two Salina men are accused of human trafficking after allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl who ran away from Kansas City, Missouri. Salina police Captain Mike Sweeney says the men were taken into custody after officers interviewed the girl. She was found Tuesday at a home in Salina. The Salina Journal reports that two toddler girls who were found locked in a bedroom by themselves at the home were taken into protective custody. Their mother was arrested on two counts of endangering a child. Court records indicate one of the men met the girl in Salina, gave her methamphetamine and had sex with her. He then took her to the other man, who allegedly had sex with her before she was taken to the home where she was found.

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Kansas City Group Seeks Citywide Vote for Streetcar Growth 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City group is seeking a required citywide vote before any streetcar expansion can occur. The Kansas City Star reports that the group filed petition signatures with the city clerk's office Tuesday. The city attorney's office will review the petition. Election authorities will see if the group meets the threshold of 1,708 valid signatures of registered voters to place a measure on a Kansas City ballot. City Attorney Cecilia Abbott says former City Attorney Bill Geary reviewed a preliminary petition last summer and made suggestions to its wording. Abbott says she doesn't know if all those suggestions were incorporated, so she'll review the petition language to see if it's constitutional. The newspaper couldn't reach Kansas City attorney Sherry DeJanes, a member of the committee of petitioners, for comment.

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Man to Be Resentenced in Deaths of Kansas City Firefighters
 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The youngest of five people convicted in the deaths of six Kansas City firefighters will be resentenced in February. Bryan Sheppard was sentenced to life in prison for an arson fire that sparked an explosion and killed the firefighters. Sheppard was 17 at the time of the November 1988 explosion. The Kansas City Star reports that Sheppard was granted a new sentencing hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to impose life without parole sentences on juveniles. Sheppard, now 45, will be resentenced February 15 and 16. Firefighters Thomas Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr., Robert D. McKarnin and Michael Oldham died in the explosion at a construction site in south Kansas City.

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KU and Kansas State Women's Teams Both Lose Wednesday Night. 

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) —  The number 20 ranked Oklahoma Sooners women's basketball team defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 85-80 in overtime to win a Big 12 Conference battle Wednesday night. The Sooners now are 3-0 to start conference play. At Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, the number 15 ranked Texas Longhorns defeated the University of Kansas Jayhawks, 66-54, Wednesday night. The Longhorns led by as many as 20 points in the final quarter despite 31 turnovers. The Texas women's team has now won seven straight games. 

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