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Headlines for Thursday, June 8, 2017

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

Secretary of State Kris Kobach Runs for Kansas Governor

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is helping lead President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud, says he is running for governor.  The Republican announced his 2018 bid today (THUR) in Lenexa.  Kobach has helped draft laws and ordinances in several states aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, and he has a national reputation for championing tough voter identification laws. He has been advising Trump since before the election.  Kobach's announcement comes just two days after Kansas legislators enacted a law rolling back income tax cuts championed by current Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Lawmakers did so by overriding Brownback's veto. Kobach strongly criticized the move.  Kobach is also a strong abortion opponent and gun-rights advocate.  The 51-year-old has been the Kansas secretary of state since 2011.


Democrats Criticize Kobach as GOP Gubernatorial Nominee 

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democratic Party Chairman John Gibson says the Republican Party would continue to endorse "the failure of Sam Brownback" if Kris Kobach becomes the party's next nominee for governor. Kobach, the current Kansas Secretary of State, announced Thursday that he plans to run to replace Brownback. Gibson said in a statement that the Democratic Party's responsibility is to elect a governor who is "grounded in reality and represents the interests of all Kansans." He says Democrats look forward to a vigorous debate on the state's direction with whoever Republicans choose as their candidate. Kobach is leading President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud and has led national efforts to enact tough voter identification laws.


Brownback: Tax Hike Will Be Bad, Long-Term, for Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says the income tax increases legislators enacted over his veto will be bad for the long-term health of the state's economy. The governor said during a news conference Wednesday that he believes the increases will slow job growth and discourage companies from moving to Kansas. Legislators repudiated past income tax cuts championed by Brownback in passing a measure that is expected to raise $1.2 billion over two years. It increases income tax rates and ends an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners. Brownback said the debate became too much about him. The governor refused to take questions after making his statement. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million, and the state Supreme Court ruled in March that its education funding is inadequate.


Kansas Allows for Creation of 'Common Consumption' Areas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will now permit the consumption of alcohol outside of bars and restaurants in new designated districts. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Governor Brownback signed legislation Wednesday which creates "common consumption" areas. Topeka leaders have been working to create the districts since 2008, with the hopes that it will add entertainment possibilities to the area. Vince Frye, who leads Downtown Topeka Inc., says the permanent districts will assist groups that currently apply for a permit every time they host an event. Mike Morse, of KS Commercial, says he hopes to create districts in the downtown area and the arts district. The Topeka City Council will need to approve such plans.


Kansas Governor Signs New Abortion Information Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will require abortion providers to give women more information about their doctors' histories and the new law specifies the information be provided on white paper in 12-point Times New Roman type. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill into law Wednesday flanked by fellow abortion opponents. The new law takes effect July 1. Brownback said the law will protect women by giving them the information they need to make informed decisions. But critics say the law is meant to discourage women from having abortions. The law will require abortion providers to give women information about the physician at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed. The information would include the doctor's credentials, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges and disciplinary record. The abortion clinic also must disclose the year the doctor received his or her medical degree.


Kansas Democratic State Representative Patsy Terrell Dies at 55
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A legislative spokeswoman says Kansas Representative Patsy Terrell of Hutchinson was found dead in her hotel room near the Capitol. She was 55. Heather Scanlon, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Jim Ward's office, says officials became concerned after Terrell didn't arrive for the House's afternoon session on Wednesday. She says the hotel was contacted after several House members failed to reach her. Scanlon says the hotel then notified Ward's office of Terrell's death. The cause is not yet known. Terrell, a Democrat, won her House seat in November, defeating veteran state Representative Jan Pauls, also from Hutchinson. Pauls was a conservative Republican who'd switched parties after serving in the Legislature as a Democrat.  Scanlon says Terrell was "an unrelenting advocate for the people of District 102 and Hutchinson." 


Search Underway for Topeka Woman, Her Estranged Husband

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a Topeka woman and say her estranged husband took her against her will.  Topeka police Lt. Chris Heaven said Thursday morning that officials are "very concerned." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an arrest warrant has been obtained for 38-year-old Pedro Enrique, whose 33-year-old wife, Viviana Vazquez, filed for divorce in April.  Police say her kidnapping was reported around 7 am Wednesday. Authorities say two children were left behind and weren't injured. Divorce records show that the couple had 3- and 10-year-old children.  Later Wednesday, officers thought they saw movement while preparing to serve a search warrant at Enrique's house. But police determined the house was unoccupied after efforts were made to make contact with anyone inside.  Police continue looking for a silver Chrysler PT Cruiser.


2 Injured Following Ammonia Leak at Tyson Foods Plant 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — South Hutchinson authorities say two contract workers were injured after anhydrous ammonia leaked at a Tyson Foods plant in South Hutchinson. Police Chief Scott Jones says one of the workers was treated at the scene after the leak on Thursday morning. The other was taken to a hospital. That person's condition was not immediately released. The plant's employees were evacuated until the leak was contained. The plant, which produces pepperoni, precooked hamburger, sausage crumbles and meatballs, uses anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant. Tyson officials thanked response teams who helped control the leak. The Hutchinson News reports Tyson Foods paid a $3.95 million civil penalty in April 2013 for eight incidents between 2006 and 2010 involving accidental releases of ammonia. An October 2006 accident in South Hutchinson killed a plant worker.


Kansas Man Catches 62-Pound Catfish 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A fisherman in eastern Kansas has reeled in a 62-pound flathead catfish from the Kansas River. The Wichita Eagle reports that Travis Fager of Lawrence caught the giant catfish after midnight on Tuesday. Lawrence angler Josh Hackathorn says it's not uncommon to find catfish nearing 70 or 80 lbs. near the Lawrence section of the river. He says the male fish are bulking up before they spawn later in June and that "right now is your pre-spawn sweet spot." Hackathorn says he's been fishing in the area for nearly two decades and often sees fishermen come from other areas to fish in the specific portion of the river. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says the state record for a flathead catfish is 123 lbs.


Liberal Man Dies While Working Under a Car 

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Liberal man died when the car he was working underneath rolled over him. The High Plains Daily Leader ( ) reports that Liberal Capt. Pat McClurg says the 62-year-old man died Tuesday in the northeast part of the city. The fire department used equipment to lift the car so the man could be removed. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The man's name wasn't immediately released, pending notification of his family.


Officials to Ride Possible Route for Wichita Amtrak Service

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials will ride a proposed route for passenger rail service Friday to determine what is needed to bring the service to the city. The city officials will ride in an observation train from Oklahoma City through Wichita and Newton before heading to Kansas City. The Wichita Eagle reports city council member Pete Meitzner says he is optimistic passenger service could eventually return to Wichita after about 40 years, although he acknowledges it could require some financial assistance in the early years. Meitzner notes a new passenger train that passes through Newton, on its way from Los Angeles to Chicago, is financially viable. And last year Amtrak added a bus to connect passengers from Oklahoma City to Newton, and then ride to Kansas City and Chicago.


Wichita State Professor Resigns Due to New Campus Gun Law 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A communications professor at Wichita State University says she's resigning because a law allowing concealed weapons on campus is "in opposition to the values of higher education." The Wichita Eagle reports that Deborah Ballard-Reisch submitted a letter to university President John Bardo on Monday saying she plans to retire July 1, the day the law goes into effect. The Kansas 2013 law allowing people to bring guns into public buildings had given colleges until this summer to comply. As of 2015, Kansas no longer requires anyone carrying a concealed handgun to obtain a permit. Republican state Representative John Whitmer of Wichita says more than 100 colleges have accepted concealed-carry without incident. Ballard-Reisch, who was robbed at gunpoint in 2014, says she and other gun violence victims have told administrators they feel scared with more guns on campus.


Kansas Man Who Fled State in 2014 Arrested in Mexico

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man who fled the state three years ago before sentencing on a child rape charge has been captured in Mexico. The U.S. Marshal's Service said Wednesday 31-year-old Jeffrey Dane Swindler is jailed in Texas awaiting extradition to Kansas. Swindler fled in May 2014, a month after he was convicted for a second time in the 2008 rape of an 11-year-old child in Sumner County. U.S. Marshals and Mexican authorities determined Swindler was living in Monterrey, Mexico, where he was taken into custody without incident and sent to Texas to await extradition. Swindler was first convicted in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned that conviction but he was convicted again in 2014. 


KU Athletics Budget Will Increase to $93.3 Million Next Year 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Athletics expects its budget to increase about 3.5 percent to $93.3 million for fiscal year 2018. The Kansas Athletics Inc. board approved the proposed budget on Tuesday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kansas Athletics CFO Pat Kaufman told the board the increase could be mostly attributed to an anticipated "modest" increase in revenues from ticket sales for all sports, along with donations. KU Athletics also receives revenue from disbursements, including NCAA and Big 12 revenues. Kaufman said an area of focus will be coaching salaries, which are low compared with peer institutions. He says the goal is to raise salaries to the middle or top-third of peers. Kansas Athletics manages and oversees intercollegiate athletics for the university but the two entities have separate budgets.


Boulevard Brewing Plans $10 Million Expansion in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Boulevard Brewing Co. is planning a $10 million expansion in Kansas City. The company has broken ground on a canning structure that will be adjacent to its brewery. The canning line will be capable of filling 350 12-ounce cans per minute. The first beers canned in the new building will be current beers, such as American Kolsch, Heavy Lifting IPA, Unfiltered Wheat Beer and Tropical Pale Ale. Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels said in a statement that demand for the company's canned beers has continued to grow since they were first offered in 2014. Boulevard Brewing Co. is one of the largest specialty brewers in the Midwest. 


Wichita Man Charged in Girlfriend's Death, House Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man accused of killing his girlfriend and setting her house on fire has been charged with murder. Twenty-nine-year-old Dane Wright made his first appearance Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court, where he heard the formal charges against him. Prosecutors charged Wright with first-degree murder, arson and three counts of child endangerment. Wright's girlfriend, Reyona Caldwell, was found dead inside a burning home on June 2. An autopsy determined she was bludgeoned to death. After an Amber Alert was issued for Wright and three children, the children were found in a south Wichita hotel. Wright was later arrested. He is jailed in Sedgwick County Jail on $500,000 bond.  His next court appearance is scheduled for June 21. 


Kansas City Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Insurance Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man pleaded guilty to participating in a $235,000 arson and insurance fraud conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old Joseph Levi Little pleaded guilty Wednesday. He is the third person to plead guilty in the scheme. Tina Shonk, of Independence, Missouri was sentenced to three years and six months in prison. Roy Thieman, of Kansas City, was sentenced to one year and eight months. Shonk and Thieman were also ordered to pay about $243,000 in restitution and to forfeit about $62,000 to the government. Prosecutors say in 2014 Shonk obtained renter's insurance on a Kansas City house she rented. She and her co-conspirators burned the house and she made false claims on the insured property. She gave some of the insurance money to Little and Theiman.


Police Identify Victims of Triple Homicide in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities say the victims of a triple homicide in Kansas City were men in their 20s and 30s. Police identified the victims as 34-year-old Kevin Murrell, 28-year-old Chad Cain and 28-year-old Cortez Hanley. Officers found them inside a vehicle that was parked in front of a home while responding to a shooting early Wednesday. Emergency crews from the Kansas City Fire Department declared them dead at the scene. Police have released no suspect information. Authorities are urging anyone with information to call a tips hotline. 


2 Men Arrested in Death After Body Found Near Salina 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two men have been arrested in connection with the death of a Salina man. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the body of 29-year-old Brandon Shelby of Salina was found Tuesday one mile east of Salina near the Smoky Hill River Bridge. A preliminary investigation found Shelby suffered blunt force trauma to the head and other severe injuries. An autopsy will determine the exact cause of death. Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan says 30-year-old Charles Rodgers and 40-year-old James Pavey, both of Salina, were arrested Wednesday and booked into jail. Soldan says both men are accused of first-degree murder. Rodgers also is accused of theft and kidnapping. Neither has been officially charged. The sheriff says the investigation is continuing. 


Kansas Man on Mower Attacks Police with Screwdriver, Wrench

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man driving a lawn mower on a western Kansas street attacked officers with a screwdriver and wrench when they attempted to arrest him.  Garden City police said in a news release that officers knew the 53-year-old had a suspended driver's license and attempted to stop him just before noon Wednesday.  The release says he failed to comply with directions and lunged at officers with a screwdriver, striking one officer in the back. The release says he then attempted to stab at officers with a wrench.  The man was booked into the Finney County Jail on suspicion of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, making criminal threats, interference and driving with a suspended license. The release says the driving while suspended charge would be his 13th.


Vargas Pitches Royals Past Astros 7-5 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas tossed five solid innings for his eighth victory, Cheslor Cuthbert drove in three runs and the Royals defeated the Houston Astros 7-5 on Wednesday night. The anticipated pitching duel between Vargas (8-3) and Dallas Keuchel, who have the two best ERAs in the majors, never materialized. Keuchel was a late scratch with an illness after going out to warm up. Instead, the Astros started right-hander Dayan Diaz, who was just called up from Triple-A Fresno. Diaz (0-1) gave up three runs and four hits, including Lorenzo Cain's solo homer, in 2 2/3 innings. Vargas (8-3), who pitched a shutout against Cleveland in his previous start, allowed two runs on Brian McCann's home run and RBI single. He gave up six hits, a walk and hit a batter. Vargas' ERA inched up from 2.08 to 2.18 in the win, the Royals' second straight over the Astros.


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