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Headlines for Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kansas News Headlines From the Associated Press

Kansas Lawmaker Says He Regrets Sharing Facebook Post 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator says he regrets sharing a post on Facebook that mocked Hispanics who speak accented English to make a derogatory comment about President Barack Obama. Conservative Republican Representative John Bradford of Lansing said in a statement Thursday that sharing the post was "in bad taste." Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley and others called the posting racist. Hensley said the House should investigate and consider disciplining Bradford. The original posting was dated Sunday. The Wichita Eagle reported that Bradford shared it Tuesday. He had removed it from his Facebook page by Thursday afternoon. The post featured a man wearing a sombrero and an altered photo of Obama. It made fun of heavily accented English by using several unrelated words to celebrate Obama's leaving office next year.

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Kansas Lawmakers Plan Sunday Meetings; Senate GOP's Meeting Will Be Closed 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers plan to have meetings Sunday before their annual session opens, and a gathering for Senate Republicans is closed to the public. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce's office confirmed that GOP senators plan to meet at 5 pm Sunday at the Kansas Bankers Association headquarters in west Topeka. His office described it as a pre-session orientation session that traditionally has been private. House Democrats have scheduled a retreat for noon Sunday at the Jayhawk Tower downtown, with policy briefings beginning at 1:30 pm. Senate Democrats have been invited, and the event is open to reporters and the public. House Republicans are not planning a gathering. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene at 2 pm Monday for the session's opening day.

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Kansas Launches New Mentoring Program for Welfare Recipients 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is starting a new program to provide volunteer mentors for welfare recipients and plans to expand it this summer to help foster children reaching adulthood. Governor Sam Brownback announced the start of the mentoring program Wednesday. The Department for Children and Families expects to start training mentors in February for recipients of cash assistance. Officials said the goal is to match 1,100 cash recipients with mentors within a year. The department also hopes to match 90 foster children with mentors, starting in July. Abused and neglected children generally leave foster care at 18. State officials said they're modeling the new program on an existing one that helps hundreds of adult prison inmates and juvenile offenders.  
  
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County Officials Express Frustration with Mental Hospital 

PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in an eastern Kansas county say they're frustrated by safety problems at a state mental hospital that recently lost Medicare funding. Federal officials said last month that the Medicare program would stop paying for patient care at Osawatomie State Hospital because the hospital falls short of meeting federal regulations. Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts said at a meeting Wednesday that some of the issues "are not ones that anyone in our county should be proud of." Among numerous issues cited by federal inspectors was a report that an employee was raped by a patient in October. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kelli Ludlum with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services spoke before the Miami County Commission and rejected findings that there was "systemic failure" at the hospital.

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Part of Marion Evacuated After Fire at Grain Elevator 

MARION, Kan. (AP) — A grain elevator fire caused an evacuation of part of an east-central Kansas town but only one worker suffered smoke inhalation. Marion County authorities say the fire Thursday at the Cooperative Grain & Supply in Marion did not cause an explosion. But streets around the elevator were evacuated for about three hours. Marion City Administrator Roger Holter says the fire started when grain dust caught fire in the area where grain trucks unload their cargo. The Hutchinson News reports that a maintenance worker who was in the area dropped to the floor below the fire and was not burned but he was treated for smoke inhalation. Authorities did not have a damage estimate for the grain elevator.

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14 Dogs Die in Baldwin City House Fire

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Fourteen dogs have died in a northeast Kansas house fire that their owner narrowly escaped.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kevin Matthews awoke Tuesday morning to smoke filling his room. He broke through a bedroom window of his home near Douglas County's Baldwin City and jumped out.  Matthews says he then flagged down a driver, who helped him call 911. The fire was under control within an hour, but the house is considered a total loss. Willow Springs Fire Department Assistant Chief Clint Hornberger says the cause appears to be accidental.  Matthews says nine adult dogs and five puppies died in the fire. Several of the dogs were personal pets. He says he had rescued others and was working to find people to adopt them.

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4 Quakes of Magnitude 4.0 or More Hit Northwest Oklahoma 

FAIRVIEW, Okla. (AP) — Four earthquakes capable of causing moderate damage have been recorded in northwestern Oklahoma. The U.S. Geological Survey reports a magnitude 4.7 quake hit just before 10:30 pm Wednesday about 20 miles northwest of Fairview and a magnitude 4.8 quake struck about a half mile away less than a minute later. Two magnitude 4.0 quakes were recorded in the area just after 2:30 am Thursday and 2 pm Thursday. Fairview police say there are no reports of damage or injuries. The quakes were felt in Kansas and the USGS says up to eight states may have been affected. More than a dozen smaller quakes were also recorded Wednesday night and Thursday. Oklahoma's earthquakes have been linked to injecting wastewater underground from oil and gas production. Regulators have ordered a reduction in volume or the closure of some wells.

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Wichita State, Fort Hays School Possible in Dodge City 

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State and Fort Hays State are discussing opening a specialized school for medical training in Dodge City. The talks are in the early stages but representatives of both schools have met with Dodge City officials. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that the universities are considering the former St. Mary of the Plains complex for a school to train physician assistants, nurses and physical therapy. State Representative Bud Estes of Dodge City says the two universities are only exploring the possibility. He says the new school would partner with the city, Ford County and the local hospital in a separate facility that would be a branch of the Wichita State and Fort Hays State. St. Mary of the Plains College closed in the late 1990s because of declining enrollment.

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Former Miss Kansas Pleads Guilty in Illegal Hunting Case 

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former beauty queen who hosted an adventure TV show has pleaded guilty to killing an Alaska grizzly bear without a state tag. The sentence for Theresa Vail, who was Miss Kansas 2013 and participated in the 2014 Miss America pageant, includes one year of probation and a $750 fine. A charging document says Vail, on a guided hunt, held a single bear tag and shot a bear. When she attempted to kill it with a second shot, it says, she killed a second bear. It says the master guide was contacted and a collective decision was made to fly out another tag, which Vail said she signed but backdated at the master guide's request. Vail hosted the Outdoor Channel series "Limitless with Theresa Vail."

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Official: Using Private Vendor for State Testing Could Be Costly 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas education official says using a private vendor for state tests would be more expensive than continuing to use a University of Kansas testing center. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the issue came up after an interim legislative panel released a draft of its public school recommendations. Among those was a recommendation that the state seek a test provider without ties to federal or state government and that it pay for all students to take the ACT. For more than 30 years, the KU Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation has written and administered the state's tests in math, reading and other subjects. The Kansas State Department of Education says Kansas has the second-cheapest state tests in the nation. Deputy education commissioner Brad Neuenswander says changing to a different vendor would cost "much more."

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Kansas Man Arrested in Wife's 2014 Death in Mississippi

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been arrested in his wife's stabbing death in Mississippi.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that Riley County police took 34-year-old Edward Alexander Broom, of Manhattan, into custody Tuesday on a warrant for extradition to Leflore County, Mississippi. He was indicted there Monday on a capital murder charge in the death of his wife, 29-year-old Lakeyla Broom.  It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.  Lakeyla Broom was found dead in her Greenwood, Mississippi, home after a man called 911 saying he had been tied up and stabbed. Police found Edward Broom tied up in a bedroom and his wife's body in another bedroom.  Greenwood Police Chief Ray Moore says authorities believe the crime scene was staged. Broom moved to Kansas after his wife's death.

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Man Enters Plea in Kansas State Lockdown Case

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A man arrested in a series of thefts that led to a nearly four-hour lockdown of the Kansas State University campus has reached a deal with prosecutors. The Manhattan Mercury reports that 20-year-old Johnathon Ryan Elliott has pleaded no contest to one charge of aggravated robbery. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop five other counts. Prosecutors also agreed to seek the standard sentence, which could range from about 5 to 19 years in prison. A police detective says Elliott admitted in an interview that he had been present for planning of the September robberies, provided transportation during the robberies and obtained some of the stolen property. Two other people previously pleaded guilty to charges in the case. A fourth is awaiting a jury trial in March.

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Kansas Officials Move Transportation Engineering Jobs to Lawrence 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation is trying to reduce the number of engineers leaving the agency by moving some jobs to Lawrence. Transportation officials said Wednesday the agency has moved 18 employees, including 16 engineers, from its Topeka office to leased space in the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on the University of Kansas campus. Transportation secretary Mike King says the all of the employees already live in Lawrence. He says the agency has lost "a significant number" of engineers recently. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the staff transferred to Lawrence do design and management work on state road and bridge projects. King says he hopes the move will also help the agency recruit engineering interns from Kansas University.

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Frontier Airlines to Add Non-Stop Flights from Kansas City
 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Frontier Airlines plans to add non-stop flights from Kansas City International Airport to Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia, beginning this spring. The city's aviation department says the airline will start selling tickets for the flights on Thursday. The Kansas City Star reports that services to and from Chicago-O'Hare International Airport will begin April 14 with flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Service to Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport will begin April 15 with flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Service to and from Philadelphia International Airport begins June 2, with flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The announcement comes the same week Frontier launched new non-stop service to Orlando.

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Adventure Show Host Pleads Guilty in Illegal Hunting Case 

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former beauty queen who hosted an adventure TV show has pleaded guilty to killing an Alaska grizzly bear without a state tag. The sentence for Theresa Vail, who was Miss Kansas 2013 and participated in the 2014 Miss America pageant, includes one year of probation and a $750 fine. A charging document says Vail, on a guided hunt, held a single bear tag and shot a bear. When she attempted to kill it with a second shot, it says, she killed a second bear. It says the master guide was contacted and a collective decision was made to fly out another tag, which Vail said she signed but backdated at the master guide's request. Vail hosted the Outdoor Channel series "Limitless with Theresa Vail."

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Judge Sets May Trial for Wichita Anti-Abortion Activist 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a May trial date for an abortion opponent accused of sending a letter to a Wichita doctor saying someone might place an explosive under her car. An order filed Wednesday scheduled a three-day trial for anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard beginning May 3 In federal court in Wichita. The Justice Department sued Dillard in 2011 for sending the letter to Dr. Mila Means, who had been training to offer abortions. At the time, no doctor was performing abortions in Wichita after the murder of Dr. George Tiller. An appeals court ruled in July that the decision about whether Dillard's letter constituted a "true threat" should be left to jurors. It noted Wichita's history of violence against abortion providers and Dillard's publicized friendship with Tiller's killer.

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Bioscience Authority Not Fully Severing Ties with State 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The head of the Kansas Bioscience Authority says the state-established entity will rely more heavily on private-sector support after significant state funding cuts. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kevin Lockett recently took over as president and CEO. He says the agency doesn't intend to fully separate from the state, although it's working to transfer as much of its original mission as it can to the private sector. His comments come less than a week after the group issued a statement that said KBA's board of directors had voted "to shift the organization's mission to the private market in 2016." KBA was established by the Legislature in 2004 to make investments and loans to startup bioscience companies and to make grants to state universities to conduct bioscience research.

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2 Men Arrested After Shots Fired at Police in Kansas

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Two men have been arrested in suburban Kansas City after shots were fired at an officer in an unmarked vehicle. Shawnee police said in a news release that no one was hurt in Wednesday night's shooting. The shooting happened while an officer who was conducting surveillance followed a vehicle from Lenexa to nearby Shawnee. The news release said the Lenexa officer tried to arrange for a marked police vehicle to intercept the suspect vehicle. But before that could happen, two people in the suspect vehicle are accused of shooting at the officer. Police said several police officers responded, and the suspect vehicle was disabled with a tire-deflation device. The two suspects are jailed in Johnson County.

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Sheriff: Manhattan Man Dies After Jailhouse Suicide Attempt 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Manhattan man has died after a jailhouse suicide attempt. Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf said that the man died Monday morning after he was removed from life support.  Wolf said that the man had attempted suicide in his cell December 31 at the county's detention center. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Geary County Sheriff's Office are conducting a joint investigation. The man was initially taken to Geary County Community Hospital and later transported to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. Wolf says the man was in jail for failing to appear on a warrant. He says there was no indication that the man was a danger to himself.

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Lawsuit Over Kansas Toddler's Death Sent Back to Court 

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Fresh life has been giving to a lawsuit claiming that the state child protection agency bears liability in the death of a south-central Kansas toddler. The Kansas Court of Appeals has reversed a lower-court judge's decision to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit. It was filed by Jayla Haag's father against the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The father contends that the child protection agency knew of risks to the 18-month-old girl and could have prevented her 2012 death at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. The girls' injuries included a broken jaw, and she had lived in what's been described as a meth house. Assistant Attorney General Steve Fabert argued previously that DCF, as a governmental agency, has immunity in such a lawsuit.

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Powerball Lottery Jackpot Climbs to Record $700 Million for Saturday
 

The jackpot for the multi-state lottery game known as Powerball has reached a level never seen before: $700 million.  No tickets matched all the winning numbers in the drawing held last (WED) night, pushing the jackpot to a new record this weekend.  The cash option for the jackpot is estimated to reach nearly $430 million for Saturday night's drawing.  It's the largest jackpot in Powerball history and the largest jackpot of any lottery game in U.S. history.  Total Kansas sales for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing were nearly $2.8 million.  That's approximately 10 times what would be typical for a Wednesday Powerball drawing with a much smaller jackpot.  Had the jackpot been won Wednesday night, the winner would have received a $528.5 million annuity (or a cash option of $323.4 million). The winning numbers were 2-11-47-62-63 Powerball 17 Power Play 3.  Powerball tickets cost $2 each.

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McClatchy Names Tony Berg as Kansas City Star's New Publisher 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The McClatchy Co. has promoted Tony Berg to president and publisher of The Kansas City Star. The company announced the 38-year-old Berg's appointment on Wednesday. Berg joined the Star in April 2015 as vice president for advertising after holding a similar job at the Wichita Eagle since 2012. Under his leadership, both newspapers restructured their sales forces, launched new products and services and posted double-digit growth in digital sales. Berg has spent 15 years in the news industry in sales and leadership roles. Berg also worked at the Arizona Republic and the Lawrence Journal-World. He is a native of Emporia, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas. He replaces Mi-Ai Parrish, who became president and publisher of the Arizona Republic last September.

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Bequest Will Bring Asian Garden to Topeka Zoo 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A gift from the estate of the late Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland will help pay for an Asian garden at the Topeka Zoo. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the zoo plans to open the garden in 2018. Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley says the garden will feature lush vegetation, benches, a tea house, pools of water and three bridges. McFarland died last August at age 80. Wiley says that during the last 18 months of her life, McFarland played an active role working with a team to develop plans for the garden. Wiley says the precise amount being endowed remains unknown as steps continue to be taken to finalize her estate.

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Wichita Man Sentenced for Attempted Armed Robbery

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison after trying to rob a business and firing a gun during the robbery attempt. District Judge Jeffrey Goering sentenced 21-year-old Dallas Clayborn to 130 months in prison Wednesday. In November, a jury found Clayborn guilty of attempted aggravated robbery, criminal discharge of a weapon and aggravated assault. Authorities say that in April 2014, Clayborn pointed a pistol at the owner of a Phamily Express gas station. Clayborn then walked across the parking lot, returned seconds later and fired again, missing the owner a second time. 

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Royals Sign Alex Gordon to $72 million, 4-Year Contract

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon has signed a $72 million, four-year deal to remain with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him more than a decade ago. The deal includes a mutual option for the 2020 season. Its value makes it the largest player contract in franchise history. The 31-year-old Gordon is a three-time Gold Glove winner but injuries limited him to 104 games last season. He declined an option for $13.75 million to test free agency. 

 

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