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Headlines for Thursday, November 3, 2016

Here's what's happening in our area

Kobach Predicting Record 1.3M Voters in Tuesday's Election 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach is predicting that a record number of Kansas voters will cast ballots in Tuesday's election. Kobach said Thursday that he is projecting that more than 1.3 million of the state's 1.8 million registered voters will participate. He said heavy advance voting is a sign. He is forecasting a 72 percent turnout. It would be the highest percentage since the 74.7 percent seen in 1996, when Kansas had far fewer registered voters. Kobach said high interest in this year's presidential race is driving turnout. The Republican secretary of state was an early supporter of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and believes Trump is attracting new voters. Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Heather Scanlon said Trump is also turning out people to vote against him.

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Unaffiliated Numbers Grow More in Kansas Than Major Parties 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has seen faster growth among unaffiliated voters than among Republicans and Democrats. The secretary of state's office said Thursday that Kansas has a record 1.81 million registered voters for next week's presidential election. The figure is 2.3 percent higher than the 1.77 million voters for the last presidential election in 2012. The GOP remains the state's largest party. It has more than 805,000 voters, or 44.4 percent. GOP numbers grew by 1.9 percent in four years. Democrats have 449,000 voters, or 24.8 percent. Their numbers grew 0.7 percent. Kansas has 542,000 unaffiliated voters, or 29.9 percent of the total. Their numbers grew 3.9 percent. Libertarians had the biggest surge with their numbers up 36.2 percent. But with 15,500 voters, they're still less than 1 percent of the total.

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Spending Likely Hits $1M in Campaigns over Top Kansas Court 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A campaign to unseat a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court's members has likely prompted more than a $1 million in total spending by groups opposing and supporting the justices. Conservative Republicans, abortion opponents and critics of court rulings in death penalty cases are seeking to remove four of the court's justices in Tuesday's election. Data released Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity showed groups on opposite sides of the campaign spent nearly $908,000 on television ad time through October. But the figure doesn't include radio ads, mailings, or other expenses. A PAC formed by an aide and former aide to Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running radio spots in the Kansas City area against retaining the justices. Anti-abortion mailers also have targeted the justices.

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UPDATE: 2 Suspects in Triple Homicide on the Run

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in central Kansas are searching for two people now accused in connection with a triple homicide. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton says in a posting on his department's Facebook page that 35-year-old Jereme Nelson and 31-year-old Myrta Rangel are charged in arrest warrants with capital murder and three counts of first-degree murder. Their bond has been set at $1 million each, and the sheriff's department believes they are in Oklahoma. The bodies of 33-year-old Travis Street, 37-year-old Angela Graevs and the couple's Newton friend, 52-year-old Richard Prouty were found Sunday outside a home in a rural area near Moundridge. The victims had been shot. Harvey County Prosecuting Attorney David Yoder says the motive for the killings appears to be drug-related.

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities now say say multiple people may have been involved in the deadly shootings of three people in rural central Kansas.  The bodies of a couple and another man were found Sunday outside a home in a rural area south of Moundridge. The couple was facing drug and child endangerment charges.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton wouldn't elaborate or say how many people may have been involved in the killings. He discussed the possibility of multiple suspects a couple of hours after authorities said a 35-year-old man is being sought for questioning.  The victims have been identified as 33-year-old Travis Street, 37-year-old Angela Graevs and the couple's Newton friend, 52-year-old Richard Prouty. Their bodies and the couple's unharmed 18-month-old were found Sunday outside a home in a rural area south of Moundridge. The couple was facing drug and child endangerment charges.  Harvey County Attorney David Yoder says the motive appears to be drug-related.

Authorities have identified a person of interest in the shooting deaths of three people in central Kansas. Sheriff Walton says investigators want to talk to 35-year-old Jereme Lee Nelson, whose last address was in Augusta.  Walton didn't say why authorities want to talk to Nelson, who isn't charged with any crime.

Nelson is white, 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.  He could be driving either a cream-colored Lincoln MKZ with Kansas plate number 670HHJ or a cream-colored 2005 Cadillac Escalade with Texas plate number SKZ229.

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Report: Kansas Congressman Got $250,000 from Payday Loan Industry

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Contributions from payday lenders are generating attention in a Kansas congressional race amid campaign records showing that incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder is a major beneficiary.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Center for Responsive Politics found that Yoder has taken nearly $250,000 in donations from people and groups associated with the industry during his career. That's more than any other member of the House or Senate.  The payday loan contributions include $48,200 for his race this year against Democrat challenger Jay Sidie, who has no record of accepting such donations. Democrats say Yoder has worked to weaken industry oversight.  Yoder said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that across the board, he favors less federal regulation of financial services businesses in favor of state oversight.

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Kansas Man Deemed Eligible to Vote After Topeka Hearing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man born in 1967 on a U.S. Air Force installation in Germany will be able to vote after he was certified as a U.S. citizen. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the state Election Board made the decision Wednesday after hearing from Dale Weber. It was the fifth time the board convened to sort out a citizenship challenge related to voting eligibility. The high-level examination process followed imposition of rigid standards tied to citizenship for people registering to vote in Kansas. Weber said he couldn't access personal records to demonstrate citizenship. But he was able to recite key details, including his mother's maiden name. A review panel also confirmed the parents' places of birth in Kansas. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said he was satisfied with the evidence presented.

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Black Candidate's Campaign Sign Defaced with "KKK" in Linn County

PARKER, Kan. (AP) - A black candidate for sheriff in Linn County says one of his campaign signs was defaced with white lettering that said "KKK."  LeRoy McConico, a Democrat, says he was surprised by the reference to the Ku Klux Klan on the sign. He has no idea who did it.  The Kansas City Star reports  less than 1 percent of the county's more than 9,000 residents are black. The county is in eastern Kansas on the Missouri border.  The sheriff's office took a report about the incident. The FBI also confirmed Wednesday that it was aware of the vandalism but had no other comment.  McConico, the chief of police in Parker, Kansas, has worked in law enforcement for about 35 years. He's lived in Linn County for 12 years.

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Some Emporia State University Students Oppose Guns on Campus 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Students at Emporia State University are expressing their opposition to guns on campus. The Emporia Gazette reports that The Associated Student Government has released a resolution against guns on campus. The group's president Elijah Williams says a recent survey shows that an overwhelming number of students on campus are opposed to allowing guns on their school grounds. The Personal and Family Protection Act was approved by the Legislature, authorizing concealed carry in state and municipal buildings, including state university buildings. Universities have been given a period of time to prepare for the change, which will expire July 1, 2017. Emporia State University faculty members have also approved a resolution opposing guns on campus.

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Kansas Health Officials Investigate E. Coli Outbreak at Louisburg Ciderfest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli among people who attended the Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Wednesday that seven cases have been confirmed so far but the investigation is continuing.  The festival was held September 24-25 and October 1-2 in Louisburg.  The Kansas Department of Agriculture, the state health department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted an on-site assessment October 27.  Anyone who became ill within one to 10 days after attending the Ciderfest is asked to call the state health department's Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.

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Nominating Panel Member Fundraises to Help Kansas Justices

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An attorney serving on a commission that screens applicants for the Kansas Supreme Court is helping raise funds for a campaign to retain justices in next week's election.  Topeka attorney Natalie Haag said Wednesday that she believes passionately that Kansas has a selection system that gives the court strong justices.  Haag said she's sent hundreds of fundraising emails to fellow attorneys and acquaintances for Kansans For Fair Courts. It is backing the justices.  Five of the seven justices are on the ballot. Four were appointed by predecessors of conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback and are targeted for ouster.  One of Haag's emails this spring told recipients that supporters of the justices needed to raise $500,000 by June 30.  Fellow attorneys named Haag to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission in 2011.

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First Phase of Dredging at John Redmond Reservoir Completed

NEW STRAWN, Kan. (AP) - The first phase of the dredging of John Redmond Reservoir has been completed.  The dredging of sediment from the bottom of John Redmond on the Neosho River began in mid-May.  The project was started after a study determined water supply needs in the region couldn't be sustained during a drought.  A total of 3,000,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from John Redmond.  The sediment has been placed in confined disposal facilities on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land and private property.

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Shawnee County Jail Officials Expand Mental Health Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Shawnee County Department of Corrections says it's expanding its mental health intervention program.  The Topeka Capital-Journal  reports that officials are preparing to ask the Shawnee County Commission for authority to adopt a program next year to better identify inmates with mental health issues, intensify adherence to prescribed medication schedules and engage those juveniles and adults in group or individual counseling and therapy.  The expanded program could feature a 50-bed unit at the county jail for people suffering from psychosis. The cost of adding two floors to the jail's general medical unit could be $7 million.  Corrections department director Brian Cole says a lack of funding for community services and insufficient space at state hospitals leaves the jail to deal with inmates who are more likely to struggle with mental health issues than in the past.

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Fatal House Fire Reported in Ellis 

ELLIS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a fire broke out in a western Kansas home, killing one person. Ellis Police Chief Taft Yates told The Hays Post that emergency crews were called to the house fire in Ellis late Wednesday night. He says one person died, and another survived the fire. The victim's identity hasn't been released. Yates also says the cause of the fire is under investigation. Ellis is a town of about 2,000 residents and is located about 280 miles west of Kansas City.

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Change of Venue Granted After Mistrial in Kansas Killing 

NORTON, Kan. (AP) — A change of venue was granted in a murder trial in Kansas after a mistrial was declared last week. The Salina Journal reports the place and date for the next trial of 37-year-old Bobby Tallent hasn't been scheduled. Norton County Judge Preston Pratt last week declared a mistrial after a station in Kearney, Nebraska, showed footage of potential jurors waiting to be questioned. Tallent faces several charges, including first-degree murder, in the death of 47-year-old Joseph Sweet, whose body was found in March 2015 in a park in Norton, Kansas. Prosecutors allege Tallent shot at law enforcement officers in the park and as they drove near Norton. Tallent also is accused of stealing a vehicle and leading officers on a chase before he was arrested near the Nebraska border.

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EPA Proposes Expanded Use of New Herbicide, Enlist Duo 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed expanding the use a new version of a popular weed killer on genetically modified crops. Environmentalists are outraged with the proposal to increase the number of states that could use Enlist Duo from 15 to 34. The weed killer is a combination of glyphosate and an updated version of an older herbicide named 2,4-D. They note the EPA took steps to withdraw approval of Enlist in 2015 after receiving new information. But the EPA said in a statement this week that a review found Enlist doesn't "show any increased toxicity to plants." A senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety accused the EPA of "capitulation to the agrichemical industry." The Dow Chemical Company said in a statement Thursday that the company is "pleased."

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Group: Similarity Between Amelia Earhart and a Skeleton Found in 1940

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A group investigating the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart says it's uncovered another similarity between the pioneering pilot and a body found 76 years ago on a remote Pacific island.  But The International Group for Historic Aircraft Discovery says its finding doesn't prove the body is Earhart's.  The group says a forensic analysis of a photo of Earhart shows a match between the size of her bones and those of the skeleton found in 1940 on Gardner Island in Kirbati. A 1998 analysis found a general similarity between the bones and a female of Earhart's type.  Some critics insist the Pennsylvania-based group hasn't found anything tied to Earhart.  Earhart's plane vanished over the Pacific while she was attempting to fly around the world in 1937.

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Heritage College Closes 10 Vocational Sites, Citing Finances

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A vocational college with 10 campuses across several states has closed abruptly, citing financial problems and decreased demand for services from for-profit schools. A statement on Heritage College's website says its campuses are permanently closed. The campus locations included suburban Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Fort Myers and Jacksonville, Florida; Little Rock, Arkansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Oklahoma City; and Wichita, Kansas. Students at the Columbus campus found a note taped to the door announcing it had closed Tuesday. Student Kimi Boyce tells WBNS-TV she'd anticipated graduating on November 18 and that after spending $12,000, she's not sure if she'll even receive a diploma. The closure comes as some of the largest for-profit colleges have faced steep enrollment declines, growing competition and new regulation. Some of those schools have closed recently.

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Grandstand Ticket Sales at Kansas State Fair Wane 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The 2016 Kansas State Fair had its second best attendance in at least 40 years, but the number of people gracing the grandstand at the fairgrounds continues to wane. The Hutchinson News reports that nearly $360,000 people attended the state fair this year, but the fair lost a net $56,905 in grandstand tickets sales. That includes revenue from concerts, the demolition derby and the truck and tractor pull. Grandstand acts have collectively lost money six of the past eight years. Some numbers reported to state fair board members Wednesday were positive, including the number of young people who participated in the Kansas' Largest Classroom Program. The board also reported a record high of more than $257,000 for the fair's corporate club sponsorship.

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KU Football Players Shave Heads for Fan Battling Cancer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Several University of Kansas football players have shaved their heads to support a 7-year-old Jayhawk fan with cancer. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the effort is the latest to support Cole Hayden. As the son of the team's academic and career counselor, Cole formed a bond with the team even before he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called undifferentiated sarcoma. Previously, members of the team have visited him in the hospital. And almost all of the KU football players and coaches wore wristbands emblazoned with #TeamCole during the team's August training camp. Junior linebacker Joe Dineen led the head-shaving charge in recent days despite setbacks of his own. Dineen was shut down for the season on Tuesday after battling with a nagging hamstring injury.

 

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