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Headlines for Thursday, November 2, 2017

Kansas Taxes Nearly $32 Million More Than Expected in October

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is reporting that it collected nearly $32 million more in taxes than anticipated in October. It was the fifth consecutive month tax collections exceeded expectations.  The Department of Revenue reported Wednesday that state took in nearly $501 million in taxes last month. Its official forecast predicted $469 million. The surplus was 6.8 percent. Since the current budget year began in July, tax collections are $105 million ahead of expectations, or 5.5 percent. State officials and economists planned to issue a new fiscal forecast Thursday. The current one was drafted in April. Lawmakers increased individual income taxes earlier this year to help balance the state budget. Those collections are beating projections. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said better-than expected sales and corporate income tax collections show the state's economy is improving.

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New Kansas Fiscal Forecast Boosts Projected Tax Collections 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has seen its budget picture improve after officials and university economists issued a new fiscal forecast that was a little more optimistic than the previous one. The state's forecasting group on Thursday increased projections for tax collections by a total of almost $225 million for the current and next budget years, through June 2019. Tax collections have been better than expected for the past five months. The new projections are an average of 1.8 percent higher than those in the previous forecast issued in April. The new forecast was issued a month after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that legislators did not increase spending on public schools enough this year to finance a suitable education for every child. The new forecast would allow for some new spending.

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Review Cites Problems Leading to El Dorado Prison Uprising

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An internal review of a riot in June at the El Dorado prison says prison staff didn't secure doors, which enabled up to 70 inmates to leave their cell house. The Kansas Department of Corrections released the review Wednesday. Unrest involving inmates has been reported at several Kansas prisons this year, drawing attention to staffing and security problems at the institutions. Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told a legislative committee that El Dorado has worked to improve security and communication since the uprisings in June. The prison remains under emergency conditions, with corrections officers working 12-hour shifts because of staffing shortages.

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FBI Investigating Kansas Car Graffiti as Possible Hate Crime 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an incident near the Kansas State University campus involving a black man's car being scrawled with racist graffiti is being investigated as a possible hate crime. The FBI said Thursday that its Kansas City field office and its civil rights division have opened an investigation. Riley County police say the vehicle was parked Wednesday near campus when it was defaced with racial slurs and other comments written in yellow paint. Police say the paint was washable and the car wasn't damaged. The university says the car's owner isn't a student at the school in Manhattan, a city about 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of Kansas City. The 21-year-old man declined comment and asked for privacy when contacted by The Associated Press. Black students voiced concerns about recent racist incidents in a meeting Wednesday with school officials.

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High School Girl Declares Bid for Kansas Secretary of State 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A sixth teenage candidate is running for statewide office in Kansas, and her bid for secretary of state makes her the first female to run for statewide office in this election cycle. The Hutchinson News reports  that 17-year-old Lucy Steyer, of Lenexa, has named her father as her campaign treasurer. The other five teen candidates are part of the crowded field of 20 candidates running for governor. Kansas has no age requirement for most state offices. Until Steyer, no candidates for statewide office were women. Steyer wrote in an email to the newspaper that she is ``most definitely excited to be a part of the movement to engage young voters and to encourage political involvement among all ages.'' Steyer is a senior at a Catholic school in Kansas City, Missouri. 

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Manhattan Police Investigate Possible Hazing at High School

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan police are investigating a report that two Manhattan High School students were injured during an apparent hazing ritual involving members of the football team. The Manhattan Mercury reports police records showed the alleged battery occurred Wednesday evening at Bishop Stadium. No other details have been released. Brad Schoen, director of the Riley County Police Department, says the incident will be investigated but a current homicide investigation involving the department will take precedence for now. School officials say they have not been able to determine exactly what happened, so they called police on Friday. Police records say there are "multiple suspects." District officials say they will wait to take any action until after the police investigation is complete.

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Kansas to Get Little Back from Sale of Non-Profit Hospital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will not require a for-profit partnership to set up a charitable foundation as part of its purchase of a charitable non-profit hospital in Topeka. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Schmidt's decision means Kansas taxpayers will not receive compensation from the sale of a hospital that has been tax exempt for more than a century. The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health Services completed acquisition of St. Francis Health Center Wednesday. The partnership paid $1, plus any working capital the hospital had when the sale closed. In the past, foundations were established when charitable hospitals in Kansas were converted to for-profit businesses. Schmidt said the value for the public is a guarantee that the hospital will provide charitable care for three more years.

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Kansas Man Sentenced for Setting Supervisor on Fire 

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former civilian employee at the Fort Leavenworth hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for setting a female supervisor on fire and attacking her with a razor and scissors. Federal prosecutors say 55-year-old Clifford Currie, of Leavenworth, was sentenced Thursday for assault with intent to commit murder. He was also ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution to the victim of the Sept. 2016 attack, Lieutenant Katie Ann Blanchard. Prosecutors say that Currie threw a flammable liquid on Blanchard at the Munson Army Health Center, and assaulted her with a straight edge razor and scissors before he was pulled away. Blanchard told the judge she has recurring nightmares and has undergone numerous surgeries and skin grafts. Testimony indicated Blanchard had difficulties supervising Currie before the attack.

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Arizona Man Removed from Kansas Court After Angry Rant

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) _ A man whose wife's remains were found in a storage unit where he was staying with his two small children was removed from a Kansas courthouse after a screaming rant against authorities. Justin Rey, a 35-year-old from Flagstaff, Arizona, was in court Thursday for a hearing on child endangerment charges. The Kansas City Star reports an irate Rey yelled that Johnson County authorities were trying to take his children after his wife killed herself. A judge ordered him removed from the courtroom. Rey was arrested after he and his children _ and human remains stuffed in a cooler _ were found at a Lenexa storage unit. The remains haven't been publicly identified, but court records indicate Rey said they belonged to his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey. He has not been charged in her death.  

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Central Kansas Sheriff Accused of Prisoner Mistreatment

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) _ A central Kansas sheriff has been ordered to appear in court over allegations that he ``mistreated a confined person.'' The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has announced that a summons was issued last (WED) night for Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellinder. The summons says the alleged mistreatment happened August 10 while the sheriff was serving an arrest warrant. KBI agents investigated. The prosecutor in Chase County will serve as a special prosecutor. Mistreatment of a confined person is a misdemeanor. The KBI said no other details would be released at this time.  

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Simmons Pet Food Breaks Ground on Emporia Expansion

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ Simmons Pet Food has broken ground on a planned expansion at its plant in Emporia. The company says the $38 million facility will create 100 new jobs by 2019. The plant currently employs about 500 people. Simmons Pet Food officials said in a news release that the expansion will allow the company to increase production and packaging for pet food products and add enough capacity to allow the company to respond to increased demand. Simmons Pet Food executives say they expect to increase output to an estimated five million cases of pet food by 2022.  

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Long-Sought Restoration of Santa Fe Train Depot Delayed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The approximately $1.4 million restoration of a 1950s-era train depot in Lawrence is facing another delay. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Department of Transportation recently solicited bids for the restoration of the Santa Fe Station, but no contractors submitted a bid. City officials say the project will be re-bid after the bid proposal is reworked. Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard says potential contractors expressed concerns that some of the proposed specifications posed challenges, especially given the historic preservation requirements. The one-story brick station is an example of mid-century modern architecture. The preservation group, Depot Redux, helped lead the restoration effort. Renovations to the station will include a new roof, structural repairs, heating and cooling system improvements and upgrades required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Southeast Kansas Police Search for Driver in Fatal Car Accident

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a woman involved in a fatal car accident in southeast Kansas. The Joplin Globe reports that Galena police have issued a warrant for 25-year-old Shelby Colon's arrest. The Cherokee County district attorney has charged Colon with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 66-year-old Charles Burkybile Jr. and 86-year-old Glen A. Roosa. Authorities say Burkybile and Roosa were struck by a vehicle Colon was driving on July 6. Burkybile died at the scene. Roosa later died at a nearby hospital. Police Chief Billy Charles says Colon stopped at the scene and didn't attempt to flee. He says there was no indication she was impaired at the time, but a blood sample was sent to the state crime lab for analysis.

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After Long Debate, Work to Begin on Eisenhower Memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) — After years of public controversy and debate, work is finally set to begin on a massive memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower. A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday marked the start of the project, which has been plagued for years by a bitter fight over the memorial's design and aesthetics. Speakers at the ceremony included members of the Eisenhower family, architect Frank Gehry and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. Gehry, who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, was commissioned to design the memorial. But Gehry's original plan was strongly opposed by three of Eisenhower's grandchildren and the organizing commission was hit by multiple resignations. Gehry's vision would transform a four-acre space on Independence Avenue directly in front of the Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education Building. Plans call for a series of columns and multiple statues depicting the 34th president and World War II military commander at various stages of his life and career. An enormous woven metal tapestry would depict the French beach at Normandy, where Eisenhower's troops launched the D-Day invasion. Eisenhower, who was elected president in 1952 and served two terms, died in 1969. Gehry's original plans called for multiple metal tapestries and a heavier emphasis on Eisenhower's childhood in Abilene, Kansas. At one point, Gehry threatened to take his name off the project if too many alterations were made. Eventually, after Gehry made his own changes to the proposal, the Eisenhower family announced their support last year, enabling the project to go forward. Despite the approval of the Eisenhower family, strong criticism of Gehry's vision remains. A group called the National Civic Art Society remains deeply opposed, saying the Gehry design is out of step with the tone of Washington and its monuments. The conservative magazine the National Review has also been a vocal critic; a September article in the magazine called Gehry's design "a repellent monstrosity." Organizers had originally hoped to have the memorial ready by June 2019, the month that includes the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The new deadline goal is May 8, 2020, the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The project is estimated to cost up to $150 million, the majority of that from federal funding. When the memorial is completed, Eisenhower will join an elite club. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt have prominent memorials in the nation's capital.

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Attorneys Mum on Reason for Mistrial in Mississippi Killing

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Attorneys are not saying why a Mississippi judge declared a mistrial in the case of a man charged with killing his wife. Edward Broom was arrested in January 2016 in Manhattan, Kansas, where he had moved after his wife, Lakeyla Broom, was killed in the couple's home in Greenwood, Mississippi, in September 2014. The Greenwood Commonwealth reported the mistrial was declared Wednesday. The defense can seek a mistrial based on improper procedure or improper handling of evidence by prosecutors, or a mistrial can caused by jury tampering or prejudice, or jurors speaking to the media. District Attorney Tim Jones says he will retry Edward Broom early next year. Judge Carol White-Richard said she will decide later whether Broom can be released from jail while waiting for the second trial.

 

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