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Headlines for Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

ACLU Requests Further Updates to Kansas Secretary of State’s Website

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says wording on a state website might leave voters confused about whether they’re eligible to cast a ballot. The group is asking Secretary of State Kris Kobach to change the site. At issue is information on the state’s requirement that new voters prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport. Court rulings say that requirement currently doesn’t apply to people who register to vote at the DMV or use the federal voter registration form. The secretary of state’s office updated wording on the site after questions from Kansas Public Radio about inconsistencies. ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Doug Bonney says those changes weren’t enough. The group says language included in the notice is strikingly similar to wording a federal judge previously said should be stricken from the page. The ACLU has sent Kobach a letter asking for further action.

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Judge Preliminarily Approves Deal in Kansas Jail Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge has given her approval to a deal in a lawsuit filed against the Wilson County sheriff over his jail's policy of allowing inmates to receive and send only postcards in the mail. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson preliminarily approved on Wednesday the class action settlement that would allow inmates to receive letters at the southeast Kansas jail. The jail houses an average of 40 people daily. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective sued Sheriff Pete Figgins last year alleging the policy violated the free speech and due process rights of prisoners and the people who write to them. A fairness hearing on the settlement is set for October 25 in the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas.  

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Judge Dismisses Suit Against Kansas Sexual Predator Program 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Kansas sex offenders confined indefinitely in a state program for post-prison mental health treatment. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled this week that the suit failed to provide details to support claims that the treatment the offenders are receiving at Larned State Hospital in western Kansas is so inadequate that their confinement is unconstitutional. Kansas law allows the courts to order sex offenders held indefinitely for treatment after they've served their prison sentences. The 25 men who filed the lawsuit in 2014 are among more than 250 offenders confined in the program. Only a relative few have been released since it began in 1994. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the program constitutional in 1997 because of the promised treatment.

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Water Main Break in Emporia Prompts Widespread Advisories 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued boil water advisories for 12 public water systems in Lyon and Coffey counties. The advisories were issued Thursday after a major water main break in Emporia left that city nearly without water. The health department says the line break caused a loss of pressure that could result in bacterial contamination in Emporia and other systems. The city of Emporia also is under a boil advisory. Others involved in the advisories include Admire, Allen, Coffee County Rural Water District 2E, Hartford, Lyon County water districts 1-5, Olpe and Park Place Communities Management in Lyon County. The advisory will be in effect until the line break issues can be resolved.

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Kansas Democratic Party Names Executive Director 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Democratic Party's new executive director is a lawyer who has worked on voting rights litigation. The party announced in a news release Thursday that Ethan Corson, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official, will take the party's top job beginning August 1. He previously worked on voter protection litigation for former President Barack Obama's second campaign in Wisconsin in 2012 and for the Kansas Democratic Party in 2014. Party Chairman John Gibson says Corson's previous work is especially important at a time when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is working to tighten the state's and the country's voting laws. Kobach also is running for the GOP nomination for Kansas governor.

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El Dorado Inmate Stabbed This Week During Fight at Prison

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an inmate has been stabbed numerous times during a fight at a south-central Kansas prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig said in a prepared statement that the victim received "several puncture wounds in an inmate-on-inmate altercation" around 7 p.m. Wednesday at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The prison also was the scene of an hours-long disturbance last month in which emergency log books suggest inmates fought and that there was a fire. Fertig says the inmate who was hurt Wednesday received initial treatment at the prison before being transferred to an outside medical facility for "further evaluation and treatment." No other staff or inmate injuries were reported. The state's prison system has been grappling with significant staffing shortages.

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Bag Laced with Moon Dust Sells for $1.8 Million 

NEW YORK (AP) —  A bag containing traces of moon dust has sold at auction in New York City for $1.8 million. The sale at Sotheby's on Thursday was surrounded by some fallout from a galactic court battle. The collection bag was used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969. But the artifact from the Apollo 11 mission was misidentified and sold at an online government auction. NASA fought to get it back. In December, a federal judge ruled that it legally belonged to a Chicago-area woman who bought it in 2015 for $995. Sotheby's has declined to identify the buyer who won the bag.

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Outsourcing Company Plans to Bring 400 Jobs to Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials say an outsourcing firm plans to bring about 400 jobs to the city. Mayor Jeff Longwell announced Thursday that Faneuil, a Virginia-based business services outsourcing firm will open a location in Wichita. The company plans to eventually move to the Union Station area downtown. The company says on its website that it employs about 5,500 people nationwide in more than 20 locations. Workforce Centers of South-Central Kansas will host a job fair related to the announcement Tuesday at the Wichita Workforce Center.

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5 Employees Resign from Southeast Kansas Humane Society 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Five employees of the Southeast Kansas Humane Society have resigned, saying budget constraints, lack of staff training and job responsibility changes put animals at risk. Three former employees tell The Joplin Globe that they could no longer advocate for the animals amid the shelter's conditions. Catherine Geiger worked at the shelter for nearly two years. She says job responsibilities were recently redistributed without giving staff proper training for their new tasks. Logan Rink says she wasn't given formal training when she was hired in May 2016. She says the shelter typically has 150 animals. Valerie Weilert has worked at the shelter since October 2015. She says routine medical tests often weren't performed on animals. Mary Kay Caldwell, president of the shelter's board of directors, declined to comment.

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Texas Agency Apologizes for Out-of-State Toll Billing Errors 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Department of Transportation has apologized to drivers who received incorrect toll tag bills or violation notifications for travel in some other states, including Kansas. TxDOT, in an online statement Tuesday, offered regrets and said agency personnel are working on the problems. The out-of-state issues involve drivers with tags — such as EZTag, TxTag and TollTag — from toll authorities in the Houston, Austin and Dallas areas. Texas officials seek to have toll tags work with Kansas and other states but the transfer of some account information between partnering agencies was delayed. Names of the additional states weren't immediately available. TxDOT says some customers received pay-by-mail invoices and violations in error. Department officials have advised Texas toll tag users to call the agency that handles their account to dispute the charges.

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Wichita Man Catches 80-Pound Catfish 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has caught an unusually large flathead catfish in a lake northeast of Wichita and locals think it's the largest fish of any kind reeled in during the lake's 50-year history. The Wichita Eagle reports that Charlie Henning had caught an 80-pound catfish at Marion Reservoir last week that was more than 50 inches long. All of Henning's gear used to catch the fish, dubbed Moby Catfish, had cost less than some fishing lures. Henning says his equipment may be cheap but it is reliable. Marion resident Warren Kreutziger says the biggest confirmed flathead he knew of was 65 pounds prior to Henning's catfish. Kansas's record for the heaviest flathead is 123 pounds, caught at Elk City Reservoir in 1998.

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Rural Banker Survey Index Drops Dramatically in July 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Drought conditions in some areas and weak grain prices are among factors weighing heavily on the rural economy in parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall Rural Mainstreet Index for the region plummeted to 40.7 in July from June's index of 50. The index ranges between 0 and 100, with any number under 50 indicating a shrinking economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says July's was the largest one-month decline recorded in the index since November 2008, which was in the middle of the Great Recession. The confidence index, which reflects bankers' expectations for the economy six months out, slumped to 38.4 this month from 48.9 in June. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Man Killed During Argument at Overland Park Townhome

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a man has shot and killed his 62-year-old stepfather during an argument at a Johnson County townhome. The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting happened early Wednesday in Overland Park. Police spokesman John Lacy says the suspect's mother called 911 and told dispatcher that her son who's in his 30s and her husband were arguing. Officers heard gunshots as they approached the townhome and took cover. Lacy says the mother told dispatchers her son had shot his stepfather. The suspect was arrested after leaving the building. The victim was found dead inside the townhome, and his name wasn't immediately released. 

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Missouri Man Charged with Driving Off in Police Chief's Car

NORTHMOOR, Mo. (AP) - Prosecutors have filed charges against a man accused of driving off in a suburban Kansas City police chief's patrol car after he was handcuffed. KMBC-TV reports that 23-year-old Jeffery Brown is charged with escape from custody, resisting arrest, tampering with a motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of an accident. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court documents say that the Northmoor police chief handcuffed and placed Brown in a patrol car before going into a pawn shop to investigate a report of fraudulent activity. Brown then is accused of maneuvering his cuffed hands in front of him, getting into the driver's seat and driving toward the chief, who shot at the car. Brown suffered a minor arm wound and was arrested two hours later.

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Royals Surge in 9th Inning to Beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-3 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals' Brandon Moss doubled off the wall in the ninth inning to score the tying run then Alex Gordon drove him home with a sacrifice fly to bail out closer Kelvin Herrera and give the Kansas City Royals a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers last (WED) night.Moss homered in the third inning before coming through against Tigers closer Justin Wilson (3-4) in the ninth — shortly after Mikie Mahtook's two-run shot off Herrera had given Detroit the lead. Moss went to third on the throw to the plate, and Gordon sent a fly ball to center that was just deep enough to give him his sixth career walk-off RBI and the Royals a much-needed win. They had lost the first two games of the series and seven of eight overall. The Royals have one more chance to even the series when they face the Tigers again tonight (THUR) at Kauffman Stadium.

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