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Headlines for Thursday, November 19, 2015

Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake Rattles Northern Oklahoma, Southern Kansas

CHEROKEE, Okla. (AP) - A magnitude 4.7 earthquake rattled northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas early this morning (THUR). Two smaller quakes struck the same area hours later. According to the National Earthquake Information Center, the quake happened at 1:42 a.m. and was centered about 8 miles southwest of Cherokee, Oklahoma. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake, which was felt throughout southern Kansas and more than 300 miles away in the Kansas City area. Two other earthquakes were also reported later this morning (THUR): a 3.1-magnitude temblor at 3:46 a.m. and a 3.7-magnitude quake at 6:03 a.m. Both were also centered southwest of Cherokee, near the Kansas state line. The National Earthquake Information Center says Oklahoma has seen more than 20 earthquakes with greater than 4.0 magnitude this year.


Attorneys Seek Class Action Status for Kansas Voter Lawsuit

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys who filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a Kansas voter registration law are seeking to make the suit a class action. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach suspended the pending registrations of more than 36,000 would-be Kansas voters earlier this year until they provide proof of citizenship. Former Lawrence Representative and 2014 candidate for governor Paul Davis and another attorney in Davis' law firm, filed a suit in September seeking a preliminary injunction. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the original plaintiffs are two Douglas County residents who applied to register to vote but were turned away when they did not submit acceptable proof of U.S. citizenship. Kobach filed a motion last week saying the lawsuit was moot because he had registered the two men after pulling their birth certificates from Kansas Vital Records. Now the attorneys have filed an amendment asking for class action status to include all voters suspended because of the 2013 law requiring proof of US citizenship.


Kansas Board of Regents Discusses Racial Tension on Campuses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has discussed the issue of racial tension on university campuses as a debate over the racial issues continues at the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU student body president Jessie Pringle encouraged the board to take action on the issue of creating more inclusive college campuses.  But meanwhile, the University Senate has called for the impeachment of Pringle and two other student officers for what critics called their lack of response to diversity complaints. Board chairman Shane Bangerter says changes will most likely occur at the campus level because the Board of Regents sets broad policy and doesn't dictate details to universities.


3 Top Student Leaders at KU Remain in Posts Amid Turmoil 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas student government has taken steps to impeach three top leaders after concerns were raised about their handling of racial issues. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Student Senate introduced a bill of impeachment Wednesday night against Student Body President Jessie Pringle, Student Body Vice President Zach George and Chief of Staff Adam Moon. The process could take weeks. The three leaders said Wednesday that they wanted to remain in the Student Senate. On Monday, they issued a joint statement outlining 11 proposals for increasing diversity within student government. A student government committee is pushing for their departure, based in part on what members see as an inadequate response to diversity demands to the university from a campus protest group called Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk.


KU's Plan on Diversity Worries Some GOP Lawmakers  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A plan at the University of Kansas to require ``inclusion and belonging'' training for everyone on campus is drawing criticism from some Republican legislators.  Several said Wednesday they worry the training will become an effort to squelch conservative thought. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that won't happen and such training is common among businesses. Lawmakers' concerns could complicate the university's relationship with the GOP-dominated Legislature as it faces tough budget decisions and potential spending cuts.  Diversity training is among the demands from the student protest group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk. The university says it is creating an advisory team to produce an ``action plan'' by mid-January that will cover ``mandatory education.''  


Brownback Cites Importance of Water Policy Reforms

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas has to make changes to address concerns over the state's water supply. Brownback told about 600 participants in the state's annual water conference Wednesday in Manhattan that the time has come to make changes to extend life of the underground Ogallala Aquifer and to rehabilitate silted reservoirs to preserve the state's water resource. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback says he intends water preservation to be part of his legacy as governor. He also says wells that enable irrigation of crops, withdrawal for business use and pumping for the drinking supply were depleting the aquifer at an unsustainable rate and that work begins soon on a $25 million project to dredge the John Redmond Reservoir, which has lost considerable water storage capacity to silt.


County Commissioner's Remarks, Slide Show Draw Ire 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Muslim group wants Kansas political and religious leaders to repudiate views expressed by Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn at a county commission meeting. The Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday condemned the Republican commissioner's remarks a day earlier saying he was providing "a public warning for citizens." Peterjohn put on a slide show at the session of people named "Mohammed," or some derivation of that name, who committed crimes. Commissioners also passed on a 4-1 vote two resolutions offering condolences to Russia and France for the recent attacks, while condemning U.S. leaders for not calling them "Islamic terrorism." CAIR spokesman Moussa Elbayoumy says people are concerned about a crescendo of calls from mostly Republican politicians racing to see who is more bigoted than the other.


Audit Faults Topeka Court over Communication

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An audit report says Topeka's municipal court has been affected by a lack of professional respect between the court and the prosecutor's office. But city and court officials dispute the audit's claims, saying the problems have been resolved. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the city commissioned the audit over concerns raised in a federal report on Ferguson, Missouri. The Topeka audit report also faults the municipal court on high turnover rates in the clerk and prosecutor offices. Administrative Judge Vic Miller says the auditor's weeklong visit this summer doesn't reflect the court's daily workings. Miller says the audit's assertion of a long-standing problem is wrong and that communication between parties has been restored since a new chief prosecutor took over in October.


Kansas Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Slaying Uncle 

WESTMORELAND, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years in the 2014 slaying of his 70-year-old uncle. KMAN reports 37-year-old Christopher Arand of rural Belvue was sentenced Thursday in the death of Larry Arand, who was beaten in the back of the head with brass knuckles before being suffocated with a plastic bag on November 10, 2014. Arand pleaded guilty in October to premeditated first-degree murder just before jury selection was scheduled to begin in his trial. Pottawatomie County District Judge Jeff Elder said he decided not to give Arand a Hard 50 sentence because of Arand's mental health status and to spare his family additional grief. Arand also admitted killing his uncle's cat.


Kansas Mental Health Center Denies Sexual Harassment Claims 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A mental health center in Great Bend has denied allegations it was aware that its former executive director was a serial sexual predator who had inappropriate contact for almost 30 years with clients and staff. The Center for Counseling and Consultation filed late Wednesday its response to the federal lawsuit brought against it in September by two women. The women allege the board allowed its ex-executive director to resign last year following an investigation into sexual harassment complaints brought by several women. The lawsuit contends the board then retaliated against the complainants. In addition to broadly denying the claims, the center argued it cannot be held liable for acts of its managerial employees that were contrary to its own good-faith efforts to comply with federal law prohibiting employment discrimination.


Kansas Aviation Museum Seeking New Director

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita again needs a new director. Richard Moore, president of the museum's board of directors, told The Wichita Eagle that Daniel Bateman, who started in May 29, has left the museum. Bateman's last paid day was Friday. Bateman said Tuesday he's pursuing job leads, but also says he's more concerned with his family and medical issues his mother is having in Colorado. Bateman replaced Lon Smith, who announced his resignation in March. Smith had been the museum's director for seven years and is now president of the Wichita Independent Business Association. A search committee is being formed and a national search will begin for the museum's new director.


Committee Formed to Find New Bethany College President

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — Bethany College has selected a committee to find the college's next president. The Salina Journal reports that the college's board of directors on Tuesday announced the selection of a search firm and presidential search committee. Edward Leonard III announced his resignation six months ago to take the same position at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. He had been Bethany's president since 2007. Robert Vogel has been serving as interim president since July. Sean Patty, vice chairman of the board of directors, says the committee will begin meeting in January, and the search is expected to run through May. Bethany is a private, liberal arts college with about 600 students.


Bankers Predict Weak Economy in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers continue to predict the economy will slow in the months ahead in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states. The economic index for the region slipped to 43.7 in November from last month's 44.4. The overall index is based on a monthly survey of rural bankers Creighton University conducts, and organizers say any score below 50 suggests that factor will decline. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says low crop and commodity prices and manufacturing slowdowns are all weighing down the economy. The confidence index fell to a weak 38.9 in November from October's 42.1. The strong U.S. dollar is also hurting exports. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Sedgwick County Group Seeks Recall of County Commissioner  
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A group of Sedgwick County residents have filed a request to recall County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau over his proposal to restrict people who are in the U.S. illegally from participating in a federal nutrition program. The organizers of the recall say Ranzau has failed to fulfill his legal obligation to contract for the protection of public health in the county. Ranzau says he stands by his proposal regarding who can receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program. He asked the state to change its eligibility requirements.  


KCMO Council Approves Raising Age for Tobacco Sales

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Council has approved an ordinance raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products and alternative nicotine items to 21. On an 11-1 vote, council members on Thursday approved the measure, which covers cigarettes, e-cigarettes, rolling papers and related products. Supporters say raising the legal age to 21 will make it harder for younger smokers -- including 18-year-olds who are still in high school -- to obtain tobacco products and provide them to younger friends and relatives. The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is leading the effort to have the ordinance passed in all cities in the metropolitan area. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, is scheduled to vote on a similar measure Thursday night.


3 Top Prosecutors: Don't Send Us Guantanamo Detainees 

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Top prosecutors in three states reportedly being assessed as potential future homes for Guantanamo Bay detainees are imploring the Obama administration not to send the prisoners to their states. Attorneys general from Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina on Wednesday wrote to President Obama, telling him that bringing detainees to their areas "will create imminent danger" and make "targets" out of the communities where they are placed. A Defense Department team recently finished surveying seven sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas as possible sites to place some of the 112 detainees currently housed at Guantanamo Bay. Closing the detention center has been a top priority for President Obama. The effort has faced hurdles, including opposition among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. 


Kansas City Task Force to Focus on Violent Crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City has established a task force to seek ways to reduce violent crime after homicide totals rebounded from last year's dip. Mayor Sly James announced Wednesday that the citizen task force will gather information and make recommendations for addressing street crime, illegal weapons, domestic violence and other violent situations. Task force members include a former judge, a councilwoman, a pastor and business leaders. James said that he is "disheartened by persistent and senseless violence." Kansas City already has exceeded the 81 homicides it recorded in 2014 and is on pace to end the year with around 100.


Southeast Missouri State Names New Provost 

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A new provost has been named for Southeast Missouri State University. University officials announced Wednesday that Karl Kunkel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, has been named provost at Southeast Missouri State University. The provost is the university's chief academic officer and is responsible for nine colleges and schools at the university. The Southeast Missourian reports that Kunkel was one of five finalists who visited Southeast for interviews in late October. Kunkel begins his new job in February with an annual salary of $190,000. He succeeds Southeast's interim provost Gerald McDougall, who returns to his position as associate provost of Extended and Online Learning, dean of the Harrison College of Business and executive director of the Missouri Innovation Corporation.


Sporting KC Announces Partnership with Children's Hospital 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — MLS club Sporting Kansas City has announced a 10-year partnership with Children's Mercy Hospital that will include branding of its stadium and a pediatric sports medicine center. The team will now play at Children's Mercy Park, which has been known as Sporting Park ever since Livestrong was stripped of its naming rights following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The sports medicine center will be part of the 174-acre, $62 million National Training Center, which will break ground next spring. The training center will serve as the home of the U.S. Soccer Federation and its national teams. The partnership with Children's Mercy will also support Sporting Moves, a program designed to get children active, and the Victory Project, which helps kids dealing with serious illnesses. Sporting KC announced the agreement Thursday.


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