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Headlines for Thursday, June 15, 2017

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

Kansas Governor Allows Concealed Carry Bill to Become Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has allowed a bill designed to keep concealed guns out of public hospitals and mental health centers to become law without his signature. The governor acted Thursday and broke with gun-rights allies. The new law allows a permanent ban on concealed guns at state hospitals, other public hospitals, community mental health centers, publicly owned nursing homes and indigent clinics. It also allows the University of Kansas Health System and the university's medical school in Kansas City, Kansas, to ban concealed guns. A 2013 state law required public buildings to allow concealed guns if those buildings lacked heightened security such as guards or metal detectors. Universities and public health facilities received a four-year exemption due to expire July 1. The new exemption does not apply to universities.

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Kansas Governor Signs School Funding Bill; Court Review Next 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed into law a measure to increase the state's funding on public schools in response to a court mandate. Brownback acted Thursday on the bill, which would phase in a $293 million increase in aid to public schools over two years. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's $4 billion a year in education funding was inadequate. The court is expected to review the new law. Attorneys for four school districts suing the state have said they'll challenge the new law because they believe it still falls hundreds of millions of dollars short of adequately funding schools. But the justices did not set a figure when they told lawmakers to pass a new school funding law by June 30.

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Kansas Governor to Act on Bill to Keep Guns Out of Hospitals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Gun-rights advocates and Kansas hospital administrators will learn later today (THUR) whether public health facilities will have to upgrade security to keep out concealed weapons. Governor Sam Brownback is required to act by the end of the day on a bill designed to allow state hospitals and mental health centers to ban concealed guns without increasing security. He can sign the measure, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.  Brownback has been a strong gun-rights advocate, and the National Rifle Association and its state allies oppose the bill. But hospital administrators and the University of Kansas Hospital System strongly support it. A 2013 law requires public health care facilities and universities to allow concealed weapons into buildings that don't have extra security, such as guards or metal detectors, starting on July 1st. 
 
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Strong Winds, Hail Possible in Southern Plains Storms
 
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Forecasters say severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail are possible from northern Oklahoma to central Kansas. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said Thursday there is an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms in an area of the Southern Plains that covers more than 45,000 square miles and is home to about 1.6 million people. Forecasters say there is also a slight risk of severe thunderstorms in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and the Central Plains to northwestern Texas, an area encompassing almost 14 million people. Thunderstorm development is likely along a dryline extending south-southwest across the Southern Plains. Warm temperatures and high humidity will likely result in thunderstorm development Thursday afternoon and evening. Forecasters say strong winds and large hail will be the primary threat.

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Kansas Budget Mandates Review of Prison Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators want to have multiple reviews of a plan to build a new state prison before Governor Sam Brownback's administration moves forward with the project. They have included a provision in the next state budget requiring the oversight. The Department of Corrections hopes to finalize a contract this fall with a private company to build a new prison in Lansing to replace the state's oldest and largest one. The department has proposed having the company lease the new prison to Kansas for up to 40 years before the state owns it. The proposed budget would authorize a lease-purchase agreement and up to $155 million in bonds for traditional financing of the project. But it also mandates reviews by a building advisory panel, two legislative committees and legislative leaders.

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Coroner: Representative Patsy Terrell Died of Natural Causes 

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A coroner says Representative Patsy Terrell of Hutchinson died of natural causes. Terrell, a Democrat, was found dead June 7 in a Topeka hotel room. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County Coroner Charles Glenn said Thursday Terrell had "significant medical problems" consistent with her death. On Wednesday, five people said they are interested in completing Terrell's legislative term. The five who expressed interest at a Reno County Democratic Party gathering are Jim Clark, former union steward and volunteer coordinator for Terrell's campaign; Charles Johnston, producing director at Stage 9; Glenn Owen, former school principal and current paraprofessional; Jason Probst, Opinion/Sunday editor at The News; and Luann Trummel Wellborn, an attorney. Terrell's two-year term ends in January 2019 but the winner could run for a full term next year.

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Regents Approve Tuition Hikes for Kansas Universities 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has approved tuition rate increases for the state's six universities mostly ranging from 2.5 percent to 2.9 percent. The rates for the next school year approved Thursday for resident and non-resident tuition include 2.5 percent increases at the University of Kansas; 2.9 percent at Kansas State University; 2.5 percent at Wichita State; 2.7 percent at Emporia State; 2.8 percent at Pittsburg State and 2.9 percent at Fort Hays State. The exceptions are a 5.5 percent increase for the compact rate at Kansas, a 5 percent increase at the University of Kansas Medical Center and no increase at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. The compact rate allows incoming freshmen to lock in tuition for four years.

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Fort Riley Planning $37 Million Effort to Conserve Energy

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) _ Fort Riley officials are hopeful a $37 million program to conserve energy will save the Army post $92 million during the next 22 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports construction began Tuesday as part of 15 energy conservation measures for the fort's 280 buildings. Michael Witmer, with the fort's public works department, says the plan is to reduce energy usage by 25 percent by 2025. The project will be funded by a third party and doesn't require taxpayer dollars. The money from the energy savings will help pay the contractor back for capital investment and operations. The project includes expanding and upgrading central plants and energy management controls; performing heating, ventilation and air conditioning work; lighting upgrades; and improving boiler and water conservation measures.  

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KCK Fairfax Plant Targeted in GM Summer Shutdown 

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is extending the normal two-week summer shutdown at two U.S. car factories because of slumping demand. Union officials say the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas and another plant in Ohio will close for as long as five weeks in June and July. The summer shutdown normally lasts two weeks. The Fairfax plant builds the Chevrolet Malibu midsize car. Malibu sales are down 30 percent through May. Spokesman Jim Cain confirms that some car plants will see more down weeks but wouldn't give specifics. He says GM is adjusting as the market shifts from cars to trucks and SUVs.

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Authorities Recover Body of Man Missing in Perry Lake 

OZAWKIE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have recovered the body of a man who was missing in Perry Lake. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says the man's body was recovered about 10:45 am Thursday. He was identified as 19-year-old Adam Perkins of the Grantville area. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Perkins's disappearance was reported around 8:30 pm Wednesday in the Devil's Gap section of the Slough Creek Public Use Area. Perry Lake is about 20 miles northeast of Topeka.

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Kansas Army Veteran Faked Blindness to Get Federal Benefits 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Army veteran from Reno County has admitted he pretended to be blind in order to receive more than $70,000 in benefits. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced Thursday that 62-year-old Billy Alumbaugh, of Turon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. His ex-wife, 58-year-old Debra Alumbaugh, also of Turon, pleaded guilty to concealing the crime. Alumbaugh admitted that he received special monthly pension benefits after falsely telling the Veterans Administration he was blind and homebound. In reality, Alumbaugh was able to drive and take part in other routine activities without assistance. Beall says Alumbaugh's wife accompanied him to medical visits in which they pretended he was blind and needed her assistance. Sentencing is set for September 6.

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Kansas Man Hopes for Return of Urn Holding Brother's Ashes 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man is hoping for the return of an urn containing his brother's ashes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that someone broke into Gabe Bullard's car this week in Topeka. The 26-year-old says several items were stolen, including the small urn and an antique compass given to him by his uncle. Bullard's brother, Chris, died in 2010 at the age of 29. Family members say Bullard kept the urn in his vehicle as a way of taking his brother with him everywhere. The urn is small enough to fit in a person's hand and has even traveled to the Philippines and Tokyo. Bullard's wife, Rica, says they filed a police report about the break-in and theft Tuesday evening.

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Northeast Kansas Man Convicted in Fatal Wedding Party Crash

BASEHOR, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas man has been convicted in a crash that killed two relatives on the same day the three were supposed to be groomsmen in a wedding. The Kansas City Star reports that Leavenworth County jurors found 22-year-old William Mathew Wilson, of Basehor, guilty of one count of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 29-year-old Jesse Aldrich and 34-year-old Justin Wilson. William Wilson was driving a pickup truck that left a road and struck a tree around 5 a.m. on June 13, 2015. His brother was supposed to get married later that Saturday at a winery in Basehor. But authorities say the wedding was postponed after the crash. County Attorney Todd Thompson described the case as a ``horrible tragedy all the way around.'' Sentencing is set for July 21.

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Former Volunteer Firefighter Admits to Role in Kansas Tribe's Fraud Scheme 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former volunteer firefighter for an American Indian reservation has admitted to covering up for the fire department's former leader. Former Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department Chief Stephen Ramirez is charged with arranging for fires to be set so that the tribe would be paid to fight the fires. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas says 35-year-old Arlene Negonsott, of Horton, pleaded guilty to concealing a felony. She admitted to not telling investigators what she knew about the actions of Ramirez when she was interviewed about a series of fires on the Kickapoo Reservation in Brown County. Ramirez is awaiting trial on wire fraud charges. Prosecutors initially said Ramirez recruited Negonsott to set fires on the reservation in 2015 that the department fought. The Bureau of Indian Affairs paid the department $600 for each fire.

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Man Convicted of Killing Boss Near University of Kansas Hospital in 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A jury has found a man guilty of killing his boss outside the University of Kansas Hospital. A Wyandotte County jury on Thursday convicted 48-year-old Willie E. Parker of first-degree murder in the July 2015 death of Michel Ziade. Parker worked for Ziade, of Lee's Summit, Missouri. Ziade owned First Class Medical Transportation, which provided non-emergency medical transport. The shooting occurred in a parking lot near the hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Parker was arrested about a week later in Missouri after a five-hour standoff with police. Parker will be sentenced July 28.

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Kansas Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Daughter's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the death of his 14-month-old daughter. WIBW reports 28-year-old Michael Guerrero was sentenced Thursday for second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the June 2015 death of Leah Kay Ross. Guerrero told investigators he tried to perform CPR on the child when she started choking on a french fry. But a court affidavit cited doctors saying Leah's bruises were consistent with an "extremely violent event," such as being punched. Guerrero was originally charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and aggravated endangering of a child. He accepted a plea deal in April. Guerrero will spend three years on post-release supervision after he's released from prison.

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Bankers Don't Expect Much Economic Growth in Rural Areas 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers continue to expect little economic growth in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states because of weak commodity prices. The overall economic index for the region slipped to the neutral score of 50 in June from May's 50.1. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says grain prices remain below the breakeven point for most farmers, but commodity prices have stabilized and improved a bit. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Planners Apologize to Former Kansas City Chief Perez for Botched Party

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Event planners have issued a letter of apology to former Kansas City Chiefs player Joe Perez to settle a lawsuit after he was left to take the heat for a botched New Year's Eve fundraiser. The Kansas City Star reports that Perez's name was used to market the Hangar 9 New Year's Eve party in 2014 to benefit the city's Airline History Museum. But he wasn't involved in setting up for the event or problems that included inadequate food and drink. Michelle Sedighi and Sundee Pickering said in a notarized statement that media inquiries were directed to Perez because they ``wished to remain anonymous.'' They owned a now defunct event-planning company called KC Connections. Perez received no money. He says his goal was to ``bring the truth to light.'' 

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Salina-Area Zoo Euthanizes Milly, a Southern White Rhino

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Officials with the Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina say a southern white rhinoceros has been euthanized. The zoo said in a news release that the rhino, named Milly, was euthanized Wednesday because of declining health and old age. Milly was one of the first animals at Rolling Hills, arriving in 1996 as part of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan. She was born in South Africa and came to Salina from the Knoxville Zoo. The rhino's age was between 46 and 51. White rhinos are considered a near-threatened species, with about 20,000 remaining in the wild. Milly's body was taken to Kansas State University for a necropsy to determine the cause of death. 

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K-State's Isaiah Maurice Kicked Off Team for Rules Violation 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State forward Isaiah Maurice was dismissed from the basketball team Thursday for a violation of team rules, leaving the Wildcats even thinner in their front court. Maurice showed flashes late last season of becoming a significant contributor, averaging 5.9 points over the team's last seven games. The redshirt freshman appeared in 30 games overall, including both of its NCAA Tournament games. Wildcats coach Bruce Weber did not specify the rules violation, but said in a statement that Maurice failed to meet the standards and responsibilities of the program. Kansas State lost D.J. Johnson to graduation, leaving Dean Wade as the only experienced big man. The Wildcats also have James Love III, who missed last season to injury, incoming freshman Nigel Shadd and Makol Mawien, a transfer from New Mexico Junior College.

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Royals Hit 3 Home Runs in 7-2 Win over Giants 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mike Moustakas hit his 18th home run to lead off the second inning, Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain followed with back-to-back shots in the third and the Kansas City Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Wednesday to complete a two-game sweep. Bonifacio finished with two hits and three RBIs, Whit Merrifield added three hits and three runs while Alcides Escobar singled three times to help pitcher Jason Hammel end an eight-game winless stretch on the road that dated to 2016. Hammel (3-6) allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings to beat the Giants for the first time in 12 starts. The right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked one. Moustakas, one of Kansas City's top hitters over the past two weeks, stayed hot with his home run off former Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto (5-6) that landed in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. It was the fifth homer in 12 games for Moustakas, who is already just four short of his career-high.
 

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