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Headlines for Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Cleanup Begins After Large Tornado Passes Through Dickinson County

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a large tornado damaged or destroyed about 20 homes in a rural area of northern Kansas and came within a mile of hitting a small town. There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities from the tornado that the National Weather Service said was on the ground for about an hour and a half Wednesday night. Weather service meteorologist Chad Omitt says the heart of the twister at one point was just about a mile south of Chapman, a town of about 1,400 that was devastated by a deadly tornado in 2008 but spared on Wednesday. Emergency managers are coordinating volunteers to assist in the cleanup. Chancy Smith, Dickinson County emergency management director, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he is preparing telephone lines, and that coordination is key because he doesn't want people "randomly driving around looking for people to help." More than 120 responders searched through debris and damaged homes overnight looking for injured residents. The National Weather Service says the tornado covered about 23 miles between Niles and Chapman in Dickinson County. Chapman is about 140 miles west of Kansas City, Kansas. Power outages have been reported across the region Thursday. 

** For more information on area relief efforts, visit the webpage where you'll find press releases from the Kansas Adjutant Generalthe Dickinson County webpage; or the American Red Cross web site


Chapman Tornado Had Winds Near 180 MPH

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service says a tornado that damaged or destroyed about 20 homes near the northeast Kansas town of Chapman was an EF4 with estimated peak winds of 180 mph. Weather service surveyors determined the tornado started at 7:10 pm Wednesday and stayed on the ground for 26 miles before ending around 8:40 pm. Kansas officials said Thursday numerous power lines and a set of railroad tracks were damaged in the storm. The twister passed just south of Chapman, a community of 1,400 that in 2008 lost more than 60 homes and had several school buildings and churches damaged by a similar-sized tornado that cut through the heart of the town. The weather service says Wednesday's tornado was a half-mile wide and completely destroyed a farmstead near Chapman. Earlier Thursday the weather service had rated the tornado as an EF3.


More Severe Weather, Tornadoes Roil Plains; No Injuries

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — Severe weather spawning numerous tornadoes roiled large stretches of Kansas for a second day Thursday, prompting residents to anxiously watch the skies but causing only scattered damage in rural areas and no injuries or deaths. A late afternoon tornado warning in the Kansas City area prompted a brief precautionary evacuation of Kansas City International Airport in Missouri, forcing travelers and other visitors into parking garage tunnels, local media reported. The area was on high alert a day after a half-mile-wide tornado stayed on the ground for about 90 minutes near Chapman Wednesday night and traveled 26 miles.


Forecasters Raise Tornado Threat Level in Kansas 

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — Forecasters say Kansas will see more bad weather as communities clean up from storms that included a tornado on the ground for about 90 minutes. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said there was a "moderate risk" that Kansas would have tornadoes on Thursday, including some twisters with winds above 136 mph. A strong storm Wednesday churned across the prairie near Chapman, Kansas, for an hour and a half. In an updated advisory, forecasters say storms will develop by mid-afternoon in southwestern Kansas and then move toward more-populated areas of the state. Some storms could also form in northwestern Oklahoma. From Texas to Nebraska and Iowa, about 23 million people have at least a 2 percent chance of a tornado forming within 25 miles of them. In Kansas, the chance jumps to 15 percent — including in Chapman, where Wednesday night's storm struck.


GOP Leader Seeks Kansas Senate Vote Against Federal Order 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle wants the chamber to vote next week on a resolution condemning a recent federal directive on accommodating transgender students in public schools. Wagle's office disclosed Thursday that she is drafting a nonbinding Senate resolution to be considered next week, when lawmakers have a brief ceremony scheduled to formally adjourn their annual session. Wagle sent an email to GOP senators Wednesday evening. President Barack Obama's administration earlier this month directed public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms associated with their gender identities rather than their birth genders. Many GOP officials in Kansas question whether the Democratic president's administration has the legal authority to issue such a directive. LGBT rights advocate Tom Witt said Thursday that lawmakers are singling out transgender children for harassment.


Kansas Launches New Campaign Finance Website Amid Criticism 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has launched a new campaign finance website that officials say might not address the public's needs. The website aimed to give people easier access to information about which political candidates are receiving money and who's contributing to campaigns, The Lawrence Journal-World reported. Carol Williams, who heads the commission, said the website won't address many of the concerns raised in a new national report that says most states have campaign finance websites that are confusing, difficult to navigate and often provide inaccurate information. Williams said she believes the new website is easier to navigate but that the data itself is still the same. It's composed mainly of PDFs, which are hard for users to search or navigate because many of them are handwritten.


Attorney Running for Congress as Democrat in Kansas 4th District 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Wichita attorney is running for Congress as a Democrat in the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas. Dan Giroux filed the necessary papers and paid a $1,760 fee Thursday at the Kansas secretary of state's office in Topeka to secure a spot on the August primary ballot. Giroux said he's running for Congress because he's concerned about the area's economy and has seen most of his 11 brothers and sisters move out of the state. Republican incumbent Mike Pompeo captured the seat in 2010 and is favored to win a fourth two-year term in November. Giroux is the second Democrat to file. The other is retired Wichita court services officer Robert Tillman. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2010 and was the party's nominee in 2012.


Judge Gives Kansas a Bit More Time to Register Voters 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to issue an order that would stop voter registration for people without proof of citizenship in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday instead extended a temporary stay of her ruling requiring Kansas to add to its federal voter rolls while an appeal makes its way through the courts. Thousands of Kansans who did not provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices are waiting to have their voting status clarified. The move gives Secretary of State Kris Kobach more time to register more than 18,000 eligible voters or to submit a motion seeking a stay from an appeals court. Robinson cited the "fair amount of administrative effort" by officials to comply in extending her temporary stay to June 14. The previous deadline was May 31. Kobach has filed a notice of appeal of the preliminary injunction with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.


Kansas Indictment Accuses 13 in $3.5M Identity Theft Scheme 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal indictment in southern Kansas accuses 13 people of roles in an identity-theft ring involving more than $3.5 million of thievery. The 50-count indictment unsealed Thursday in Wichita alleges the conspirators divided up the work of stealing from mailboxes, forging identification documents, obtaining fraudulent credit cards and shopping with stolen identities. Authorities say some conspirators were paid in drugs for their labor. Prosecutors said items bought with ill-gotten gains from the scheme included a $43,500 Jaguar car and a $62,000 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The indictment's charges include aggravated identity theft, trafficking in stolen identities, receipt of stolen mail, unlawful production of identity documents, bank fraud, and drug and gun counts.


Wichita Teachers Vote for Shorter School Year, Longer Day 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Union officials say Wichita teachers have approved a plan to lengthen the school day and shorten the year. United Teachers of Wichita president Steve Wentz tells The Wichita Eagle that nearly 70 percent of the more than 4,000 ballots the union received Wednesday morning were in favor of the proposed calendar. The calendar was proposed as a way to trim about $3 million from next year's budget. It'll shorten the school year by 15 days for Wichita students and lengthen the school day by 30 minutes. The Wichita school board must approve the proposed change. Members are expected to approve an addendum to this year's teacher contract noting the calendar change, as well as a new calendar for the 2016-17 school year, during its June 6 meeting.


Missouri Woman Accused of Embezzling $1.2M from Garmin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman already accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from engineering firm Black & Veatch is now charged with stealing $1.2 million while on the job at Garmin International. A federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday indicted 43-year-old Patricia Webb of Lee's Summit on 23 counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Webb already was charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Black & Veatch while working there as a global payroll manager. The new indictment also accuses her of stealing more than $1.2 million while previously working as a senior payroll specialist for the Olathe, Kansas-based Garmin between early 2012 and May 2014. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with her attorney.


Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri Planned Parenthood Groups to Merge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri plans to merge with the abortion provider's central Oklahoma affiliate in July. The Kansas and Mid-Missouri affiliate announced the merger Wednesday. President and CEO Laura McQuade has been the central Oklahoma affiliate's interim CEO since January. The new, larger affiliate will be Planned Parenthood Great Plains. It will continue to operate eight existing clinics in the three states and announced plans to open a new one in July in northwest Oklahoma City. The merger comes with all three states looking to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. But McQuade said those actions against Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with the merger. She said the two affiliates have been in merger talks for a year and no staff will be laid off.


Suspended Kansas Sheriff's Detective Charged with Perjury

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A suspended Kansas sheriff's detective has been charged with three counts of felony perjury after an investigation into inconsistencies on investigative reports. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Attorney General's Office filed the charges Tuesday against Shawnee County sheriff's Detective Erin Thompson. The 39-year-old is free on bond. Her lawyer, Tom Lemon, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. She doesn't have a listed phone number. Sheriff Herman Jones said during a news conference that it was "a sad day" for his office and the community. Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave in September. Jones said that Thompson will remain on paid administrative leave pending completion of a professional standards unit investigation or resolution of her criminal case.


Man Dies After Being Struck in Southern Kansas Hit-and-Run

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in southern Kansas has died from his injuries. The Wichita Eagle reports that 31-year-old Grant Burris died Monday at a Wichita hospital. His brother, Roger Silva, said Burris was a Marine and a Purple Heart recipient. He suffered back, neck, pelvis and leg injuries when he was hit from behind May 13 while checking the mail at his parent's house near Haysville. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said in a crash report that a 26-year-old man was booked into jail the next day on suspicion of aggravated battery and failure to stop at a crash resulting in great bodily harm. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office plans to present the case to the District Attorney's Office this week.


Kansan Pleads Guilty in Girl's Chase-Related Shooting Death 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man faces life in prison now that he's admitted in federal court that he kidnapped his Kansas girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter and killed her during a police chase. Thirty-two-year-old Marcas McGowan pleaded guilty Thursday in Kansas City to charges of kidnapping resulting in death, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Authorities allege McGowan abducted Cadence Harris on July 18, 2014, after a domestic dispute in the Atchison, Kansas, home they shared with the girl's mother. During an ensuring chase in which McGowan fired at police, authorities pursuit him into Missouri before officers shot McGowan after they say he pointed a gun at them in Leavenworth. Sentencing is scheduled for September 6. Both sides have agreed to recommend a sentence of life on the kidnapping charge.


Kansas Man Re-Sentenced for Killing Wife

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man convicted of killing his wife has been resentenced after the Kansas Supreme Court vacated his sentence. The Salina Journal reports that 41-year-old Davin Sprague will be eligible for parole after 25 years under the sentence imposed Tuesday in Saline County Circuit Court for first-degree-murder. Sprague was sentenced in 2012 to at least 50 years in prison for killing 28-year-old Kandi Sprague by hitting her in the head with a pipe and then strangling her. He buried her on their rural property. In December, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld his sentence but vacated his sentence because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled such sentences are unconstitutional unless a jury finds the existence of aggravated factors. Sprague initially was sentenced by a judge, rather than a jury.


KCMO Police Shoot, Wound Woman After Standoff
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City, Missouri, police say an officer shot and wounded a woman after they say she pointed a gun at them during a standoff in a car. Police say the woman had threatened to harm herself and was found alone in a car with a gun Wednesday afternoon. Authorities say they were trying to negotiate with her when she emerged from the vehicle, pointed a gun at officers and was shot in the chest after failing to comply with police commands.

Bees, Butterflies to Get Better Habitat Along Interstate 35 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Six states and the Federal Highway Administration have agreed to make the roadsides along Interstate 35 friendlier for bees and butterflies to help the insects boost their declining populations. The 1,500-mile stretch of road between northern Minnesota and southern Texas is a path for monarch butterflies that migrate between Mexico and Canada. Both the butterflies and bees pollinate plants that produce much of the nation's food. Officials from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and the federal government signed an agreement Thursday to improve the habitat and develop a branding campaign informally naming the interstate the "Monarch Highway." Honeybee and monarch butterfly populations have been dwindling in recent years.

Twins Avoid a Sweep with 7-5 Win over Royals
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins lost an early lead but came from behind to overtake the Kansas City Royals and win 7-5 Wednesday night.  Kansas City won two of the three games but the Twins staved off a series sweep with Wednesday night's victory. The Twins' Miguel Sano, Eduardo Nunez and Brian Dozier each homered. The first two batters hit home runs off pitches by Royals' starter Dillon Gee (1-2). The Twins' Tyler Duffey (2-3) gave away a 3-0 lead during a five-run rally by the Royals in the fourth inning but the Twins came back to secure the victory. The Royals return to Kauffman Stadium tonight to begin a four-game home stand versus the Chicago White Sox.

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