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Headlines for Thursday, May 4, 2017

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

Kansas Lawmakers to Resume Talks on Tax Increase 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers cancelled a debate on a $1 billion tax increase Wednesday because leaders didn't think it had enough support. House Taxation Committee Chairman Representative Steven Johnson says the measure that was to have been debated Wednesday afternoon didn't have enough support to override a veto, and it might not have enough backing to pass. Legislators are resuming negotiations today (THUR) over increasing income taxes to fix the state budget and provide additional funds for public schools. Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019 and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that state education funding is inadequate. A proposal drafted by negotiators Tuesday but scrapped Wednesday would have rolled back past income tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback to raise more than $1 billion over two years. That plan was dropped because lawmakers worried that it wouldn't raise enough money to satisfy the Supreme Court's ruling on school funding .


Legislators Hope for Progress on Kansas School Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators hope to make progress later this week on a measure that would boost spending on public schools. A House committee on school finance discussed a plan Wednesday that would phase in a $750 million increase in aid to schools over five years. Chairman and Olathe Republican Larry Campbell said he hopes the committee can vote Friday. The state spends more than $4 billion a year on aid to its public schools. Boosting spending would provide more dollars for all-day kindergarten, special education and programs for children at-risk of failing. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state's current education funding is inadequate. But lawmakers are struggling to agree on a plan to increase income taxes to boost school spending while also closing big budget shortfalls.


Top Kansas Court Mulls Leeway in Death Cases 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is struggling with how much discretion it has to spare two brothers from execution for four notorious Wichita slayings following a U.S. Supreme Court decision against them. The Kansas court heard arguments Thursday in the cases of Jonathan and Reginald Carr. They were convicted of dozens of crimes against five people in December 2000 that ended with the victims being shot in a field. One woman survived. The Kansas court previously overturned their death sentences in 2014 in part because it believed it was unfair to have them tried and sentenced together rather than separately. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the U.S. Constitution didn't require separate proceedings. Attorneys for the men argued that the Kansas Constitution requires separate sentencing hearings.


Kansas Lawmakers Advance Bill to Keep Guns Out of Hospitals 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have advanced a proposal to keep concealed guns out of hospitals, mental health centers and nursing homes after June. The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a bill Thursday that would give the facilities a permanent exemption from a 2013 gun-rights law. That law said people must be allowed to bring concealed guns into public buildings that don't have extra security including guards and metal detectors. Universities, state and public hospitals, mental health centers and nursing homes received a four-year exemption expiring July 1. The committee's voice vote sends the measure to the Senate for debate. Gun-rights advocates previously blocked such proposals. But Gov. Sam Brownback last month proposed spending $24 million over two years on extra security at state hospitals for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.


KU Hospital Forming Partnership to Buy Topeka Hospital 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Health System says it will form a partnership with Ardent Health Services to take over the struggling St. Francis hospital in Topeka. The deal announced on Thursday will keep St. Francis Health open and preserve most of the 1,600 jobs at St. Francis, the health system said in a joint news release issued with Nashville-based Ardent. The partnership also will provide the hospital with a $50 million in capital during the first year. The 378-bed hospital is currently owned by Denver-based SCL Health, a nonprofit formerly known as the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. SCL Health has been looking for a buyer for St. Francis since May 2016. It said last month it would stop operating the hospital this summer.


Western Kansas Police Chief Faces Blackmail, Other Charges 

WAKEENEY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas police chief has been charged with blackmail, witness intimidation, phone harassment and several other charges after a months-long investigation. Trego County Attorney Christopher Lyon said in a news release that WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle was arrested and charged Wednesday. He was released on his own recognizance after a hearing. He also faces charges of tampering, attempted interference with law enforcement and theft. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation began an investigation in January at Lyon's request. The KBI said in a news release that the investigation is ongoing and provided no other details. WaKeeney city administrator Hardy Howard says Eberle has been placed on leave. It wasn't known if Eberle had an attorney.


Man Who Fatally Hit Washburn Professor Arrested Again 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A Chanute man who struck and killed a Washburn University professor has been arrested for reckless driving. Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak says 39-year-old Todd Kidwell was arrested Thursday after a sheriff's detective reported seeing him fail to stop at an intersection on Kansas 7. He is free on $500 bond. Peak told The Pittsburg Morning Sun that Kidwell made little, if any, attempt to stop at the intersection. Kidwell served 60 days and was on three years' probation for the June 2015 death of Washburn art teacher Glenda Taylor as she rode her bicycle near Walnut. He pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter. Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso and Kidwell's probation officer could request revocation of his probation, which would need to be determined by a judge.


Family of Boy Killed on Kansas Waterslide to Receive $20 Million in Settlement

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Court documents say the family of a 10-year-old boy who died on a giant waterslide at a Kansas City, Kansas water park will receive nearly $20 million in settlement payments. The Kansas City Star reports that $14 million of the payment to Caleb Schwab's family will come from SVV 1 and KC Water Park. The two companies are associated with Texas-based water park company Schlitterbahn. The rest of the money will come from the general contractor, the raft manufacturer and a company that consulted on the 17-story "Verruckt" waterslide that was dubbed the tallest in the world. The waterslide at the park in Kansas City has been closed since the boy's death in August, 2016. 


Annual Wheat Tour Forecasts Smaller 2017 Harvest in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Participants in the annual hard winter wheat tour have released their final projection on the size of the 2017 crop in Kansas amid uncertainty over the full extent of storm damage from last weekend. The Wheat Quality Council's tour forecast Thursday that farmers will cut 281.7 million bushels. The average yield was pegged at 46.1 bushels per acre. This year's wheat harvest is projected to bring in 185 million fewer bushels than last year. Kansas farmers planted 7.4 million acres of wheat last fall. Disease and damage from snow and freezes may eliminate many fields. That factored into the estimate. The estimate is made from information gathered from 469 fields. That is fewer than the 655 fields scouts looked at last year because the western third of the state was covered with snow.


Kansas Seeks to Ban Pedophiles from Driving School Buses 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — New regulations being considered by the Kansas school board includes a lifetime ban on working as a school bus driver for people who commit any crime involving a child. State director of pupil transportation Keith Dreiling tells the Wichita Eagle that the ban was proposed by a law-enforcement representative on the committee that drafted the regulations about three years ago. He says the process has taken this long because the rules have to be reviewed at several government levels. Current regulations say a person who has committed a crime involving a child doesn't have to report it to the bus driver hiring agency if the conviction was over 10 years ago. The rewritten rule changes the 10-year threshold to a lifetime. Wichita school district spokeswoman Susan Arensman says the change isn't expected to impact the district.


KCI Airport Stops Paper Screening Policy 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City International Airport has been asked to stop a recently added screening procedure that required passengers to remove all paper products from their carry-ons while going through security checkpoints. The Kansas City Star reports the Transportation Security Administration asked the airport's security agency Akal Security Inc. to stop the policy Tuesday because it was affecting operations. The procedure required passengers to remove all paper items including books, loose-leaf paper, Post-It notes and files so they could be screened to make sure no dangerous items were hidden inside. The TSA says random and unpredicted screening measures may be implemented at airports if they follow TSA guidelines. The agency says it has no plans to adopt the paper screening policy on a larger scale.


Kansas Woman Charged in Baby Boy's Death at Day Care 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A woman in Kansas has been charged in the death of a 7-month-old boy who died earlier this year at her day care. The Kansas City Star reports 54-year-old Bilma Maese-Sanchez of Overland Park was charged in Johnson County District Court on Wednesday with aggravated child endangerment and unlawfully operating a child care facility. She was released from custody the same day after posting a $5,000 bond. Court documents show Gabriel Omar Rivera-Contreras died in February at Maese-Sanchez's home after reportedly not breathing. She isn't accused of intentionally harming the child. The charges allege the woman "recklessly" placed Gabriel in a situation where his "life, body or health is injured or endangered." Maese-Sanchez's next court hearing is scheduled for May 11. She is banned from owning, operating or working at any day care facility as part of her bond.


Energy Companies Ask Kansas Regulators to Reconsider Rejection of Utility Sale

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two large utility companies are asking Kansas regulators to reconsider their rejection of the proposed sale of Kansas' largest electric company to Kansas City, Missouri-based Great Plains Energy Inc. Great Plains, the parent company of Kansas City Power and Light, and Topeka-based Westar Energy Inc. announced Thursday that they made the request in a petition filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission. Regulators said last month in rejecting the proposed sale that the $12.2 billion price was too high and would leave the combined utility financially weaker than the separate companies. Great Plains and Westar argued the deal would create nearly $2 billion in operating efficiencies over the next decade to keep electric rates in check. The utilities are asking to have until the end of May to determine whether a revised transaction can be negotiated that resolves the commission's concerns.


Multi-State Crime Suspect Indicted for Murder in Mississippi 

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A man accused of crimes in three states has been indicted on murder and other charges in Mississippi's Rankin County. District Attorney Michael Guest says grand jurors Wednesday indicted Alex Deaton on charges of first-degree murder, auto theft, and drive-by shooting. He's accused of killing his girlfriend, stealing her car, and shooting a jogger in Rankin County. Deaton is also being investigated for a second murder in Neshoba County, Mississippi. After his actions in Mississippi, Deaton is accused of carjacking a couple in New Mexico and shooting a convenience store clerk in Kansas. He was caught in Kansas and is expected to face trial there first on charges of attempted murder, theft, robbery and fleeing police. Deaton is scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 3 in Pratt, Kansas.


Leg Found in Arkansas Lake 16 Years Ago Was That of Kansan 

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say part of a human leg found in an Arkansas lake in 2001 has been identified as that of a Kansas man who drowned nearly 30 years ago. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the man was identified as Steve Peterson. His hometown was not released. The Benton County Sheriff's Office says the lower portion of a leg was found in the Indian Creek arm of Beaver Lake. Sheriff Shawn Holloway says the remains were placed in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database. Sergeant Hunter Petray reopened the case last year and investigated the possibility that the remains belonged to a drowning victim. Peterson drowned near the park in October 1989, but his body was never recovered. Relatives of Peterson provided DNA samples leading to the identification.

Hutchinson Community College Will Publish Final Student Paper Edition 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson Community College officials changed course and decided to allow the final edition of this semester's student newspaper to be published. Earlier this week, the college cancelled journalism classes for the rest of the school year, suspended the paper's faculty adviser and said the final edition wouldn't to be published. KSN-TV reports that College President Carter File says he decided to allow the last issue of The Hutchinson Collegian to be published after meeting with Editor Loribeth Reynolds. Journalism instructor and Collegian adviser Alan Montgomery remains suspended and no journalism classes will be held for the rest of the semester. File has not offered an explanation for Montgomery's suspension.


Olathe Approves Privately-Run Soccer Complex

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Olathe officials have approved a privately-owned soccer complex that will include nine all-weather artificial turf fields. The Olathe City Council on Tuesday approved the 96-acre project, with an estimated cost of $65 million. The Kansas City Star reports the complex is expected to open January 1, 2019. It will include retail space and two hotels. Pete Heaven, attorney for the developers, says the project will not require Olathe tax dollars because the retail and hotels are expected to generate $13 million in its first year of operation. However, the project could qualify for up to $8 million in tax increment financing and $4.5 million in community improvement district financing if it meets certain criteria.


Kansas Police Officer Lauded for Saving 4-Year-Old from Pond 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The mother of a 4-year-old autistic boy says she believes a police officer who rescued her son from a Topeka, Kansas, pond was sent by God. Officer Aaron Bulmer rescued Elijah Hamby from a Central Park pond Sunday. Bulmer was on another call when he saw Elijah walking alone in the park and then lost sight of him. He got out of his car and saw Elijah in the pond, gasping for air. Video from a bodycam worn by Bulmer shows the officer jumping into the pond, pulling the boy out and handing him to another man. Elijah's mother, Jaclyn, said Wednesday her son unlocked a back door while his father was in the bathroom and she was at work. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the boy has fully recovered.


Man Sentenced for Northwest Kansas Park Killing

HILL CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to more than 28 years in prison for killing another man in a western Kansas park and shooting at pursuing law enforcement officers. Thirty-nine-year-old Bobby Tallent, of Norton, was sentenced Wednesday for second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and other related charges. Tallent entered the plea in March after jurors heard four days of testimony but before they began their deliberations. Tallent was previously charged with first-degree murder in the March 2015 shooting death of Joseph Sweet in a city park in Norton. He was arrested near the Nebraska border after a chase. Tallent's trial was moved from Norton County to Graham County after a mistrial was declared in October when a Nebraska television station unknowingly aired footage of potential jurors, which isn't allowed.


81-Year-Old Charged with Topeka Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An 81-year-old Topeka man has been charged with fatally shooting another man in the presence of an 8-year-old child. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Anthony Darcy was charged Wednesday with premeditated first-degree murder in the Monday night killing of 36-year-old Stephen Snyder. Darcy also faces felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated child endangerment. Bond is set at $1 million cash or professional surety. District attorney Mike Kagay said in a news release that Snyder was on the driveway of a home suffering from what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds when police arrived. Darcy was taken into custody. 


2 Charged with Murder in Elderly Wichita Man's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Sedgwick County authorities say two people are charged in the stabbing death of an 86-year-old man. Court records indicate 28-year-old Boe Wayne Adams and 18-year-old Yvonne Mosqueda were charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Otto Meyer. Police say Meyer was found dead Friday at a Wichita house he owned but in which he did not live. The two suspects made their first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court Wednesday. Bond was set at $250,000 each. They are scheduled to be back in court May 17. Police said Meyer's killing was not random but few other details have been released.  


Royals Cruise to 6-1 Win over White Sox

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals' starting pitcher Nate Karns pitched six innings of one-hit ball, striking out four in his final frame, as the Royals cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. Karns (1-2) struck out seven with only one walk in his best performance of the season. The win assures Kansas City of at least a split of the four-game series versus the White Sox. The Royals will face Chicago again this (THUR) afternoon. Chicago pitcher Mike Pelfrey (0-2) kept the White Sox in the game until the sixth, when he gave up a single, double and triple in succession. The Royals' Eric Hosmer followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.

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