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Headlines for Thursday, October 12, 2017

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

Kansas DCF Official Says State Works to Find Missing Foster Kids

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The leader of the Kansas Department for Children and Families says the state works to find missing foster care children swiftly. The comments come after legislators expressed outrage after learning during a committee meeting Tuesday that more than 70 foster children are missing. DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said Wednesday that many missing children are located quickly and returned to their foster homes. Gilmore also says that in some cases, foster children who are considered to be on the run are actually with a parent who is trying to keep them out of foster care. Department officials and foster care contractors note that the percentage of foster children who are missing is about 1 percent and is in line with the national figure for foster children who are runaways. Gilmore says her department has long has policies in place to see that missing children are located.

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Home Health Care Program in Sedgwick County Suspended
 
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Federal regulators have ordered Via Christi Health in Wichita to suspend a senior care program because of "severe" deficiencies.  The program, Via Christi HOPE, is designed to help senior citizens in Sedgwick County stay in their homes by offering a complete health care plan involving primary care, specialists and nurses.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said program should not enroll new clients because it was not providing participants with medically necessary services.  During an audit in August, regulators found problems that hurt patients' health, a failure to determine if patients could safely live at home, and a pattern of home health aides not showing up for scheduled visits.  A spokesman for Via Christi, Johnny Smith Jr., says the health system is working to address the auditors' findings.

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Man Pleads Guilty in Drunken Crash that Killed Kansas Deputy
 
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - A man who was in the country illegally has admitted causing a traffic accident that killed a Johnson County sheriff's deputy.  Adrian Espinosa-Flores pleaded guilty today (THUR) to reckless second-degree murder in the September 2016 death of Master Deputy Brandon Collins.  The Kansas City Star reports Collins was killed while conducting a traffic stop in Overland Park. A pickup driven by Espinosa-Flores ran into Collins' parked vehicle, pushing it into the SUV the deputy had pulled over.  Espinosa-Flores also pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated battery for injuries suffered by people in the SUV.  Court documents say Espinosa-Flores' blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit when he was arrested.  Immigration officials will take Espinosa-Flores into custody after he completes his prison sentence.

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Missouri State Trooper Accused of Sex Crimes Was Previously Sued

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri state trooper accused of taking sexually explicit photos with a 16-year-old boy was once sued in a separate instance for excessive force at a traffic stop.  The Springfield News-Leader reports that 46-year-old Justin Watson was charged Tuesday with four counts of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual contact with a student.  Investigators say they found sexually explicit photos of Watson and the teen. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the trooper has been placed on unpaid leave.  Court records show Watson was sued in 2009 after a driver alleged Watson attacked him for no reason at a traffic stop in Doniphan. A jury ended up siding with Watson in 2010.  Watson's attorney, Devin Kirby, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

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Kansas Proposal Would Set Interest Rate Cap on Payday Loans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are proposing a bill that would set a maximum interest rate for someone taking out payday or other short-term loans.  The Wichita Eagle reports that a special legislative committee met Wednesday to consider the bill, which would cap the annual interest rate at 36 percent. Supporters say the limit would help borrowers who are caught in a cycle of debt and are unable to get out.  Opponents say the bill would effectively eliminate the payday loan industry and limit a source of credit used by many Kansas residents.  The Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner says more than 60 companies in the state provide payday and title loans at more than 300 locations.  The committee didn't make any recommendations on the proposal Wednesday.

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Lawrence Set to Hold First Veterans Day Parade Since 1968

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - It's been nearly 50 years since Lawrence held a Veterans Day parade.  That will change next month.  On November 11th, the city will hold a Veterans Day parade to honor current and former military personnel from all eras.  One of the organizers is Saundra  Wisdom, a counselor who works with veterans at the local VA clinic in Lawrence.  She said the idea for putting on a parade came after working with a group of Vietnam vets.  Wisdom says the best she can tell, the last time Lawrence held a parade specifically for veterans was in 1968.  Next month's parade will be held on Saturday, November 11th - Veterans Day - in downtown Lawrence.  For more information, visit the Lawrence Veterans Day Parade group on Facebook.

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Kansas Forecast to Harvest Record Soybean and Cotton Crops

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new report says Kansas farmers are expected to harvest record crops of soybeans and cotton this season.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service said it anticipates 209 million bushels of soybeans will be cut in Kansas this fall. That is up 9 percent from last year.  Another record crop is expected to come in for cotton, with harvest forecast at 190,000 bales. That is a 168 percent jump from last year.  Corn production in Kansas is forecast at 697 million bushels.  That's down slightly from last year.

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Author of Transgender Book for Children Will Visit Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The author of a children's book about a transgender fourth-grader is planning to visit a city in Kansas where the book's presence in school libraries has prompted debate.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Alex Gino has announced a Nov. 2 appearance at Wichita State University.  The library supervisor for the Wichita school district has determined that the book contains language and references that aren't appropriate for young children. That means the book, "George," wasn't included in a set of master list titles provided to local elementary schools.  Wichita school librarians are still allowed to carry the book. Four of the district's 57 elementary or K-8 schools had purchased a copy as of last month. The controversy led Gino to donate more than 50 copies. So far, librarians at 30 Wichita schools have requested copies.

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ACLU Sues over Kansas Law Targeting Israel Boycotts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Kansas law prohibiting state contractors from participating in boycotts against Israel. The ACLU filed the lawsuit Wednesday for a Wichita public school curriculum coach. It says Esther Koontz was denied a state teacher training contract because she refused to sign a statement saying she wasn't boycotting Israel. The lawsuit says Koontz is boycotting Israeli products because of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and that the Kansas law violates her free speech rights. The law took effect in July. The pro-Palestinian group Palestine Legal says 21 states have such laws, but the ACLU says this is its first challenge. The Kansas attorney general's office didn't immediately reply to phone and email messages seeking comment.

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Kansas Inmate Charged in Stabbing of Corrections Officer 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas inmate accused of stabbing and injuring a corrections officer has now been charged in the case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 27-year-old Allen Thomas Schroeder Jr. was bound over to for trial after a preliminary hearing Tuesday. He'll be arraigned later today (THUR). Shawnee County corrections officer Lacy Noll alleges Schroeder became angry after she threatened to write him up for screaming and inciting a riot in April. She says Schroeder was initially upset because all the inmates in the module he was in were on lockdown at the same time. Witnesses testify that Schroeder sharpened a broken drawer handle to stab Noll. She says she was struck on her face, back and shoulder.

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Topeka Teen Charged in Fatal Shooting 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A third teenager has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to a fatal shooting outside at a fast-food restaurant in Kansas. 19-year-old Ernest Williams IV has been charged in the death of 18-year-old Justice Mitchell. Topeka police say Williams was in the passenger seat of a car driven by Mitchell on June 26, when another suspect, 17-year-old Lamero Dunstan, was trying to buy marijuana from Mitchell. Authorities say Dustan told investigators he heard a click of a gun held by Williams that failed to fire. Authorities say Dunstan then fired two shots at Mitchell because he assumed Mitchell had a gun. Williams is jailed on a $1 million bond. A court date hasn't been scheduled. Dunstan and another 17-year-old are also charged in the case.

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Former Johnson County Deputy Charged with Unlawful Sexual Relations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy was charged Wednesday in connection with unlawful sexual relations. Robert Lee Weller III, 38, of Olathe, was booked into the Johnson County Jail with a $5,000 bond. On or about August 31, the sheriff’s office became aware of the alleged sexual misconduct. The agency initiated a criminal investigation and a professional standards inquiry. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Weller was placed on administrative leave and then terminated as a result of the alleged incident, the sheriff’s office said. Criminal reports were forwarded to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.

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Woman Dies in Central Kansas House Fire

ENTERPRISE, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a woman has died in a house fire in central Kansas. The Hays Post reports that Dickinson County Sheriff Gareth Hoffman says the home was engulfed in flames Tuesday when fire crews responded. The body of 48-year-old Patricia Humes was found inside the home. Enterprise Fire Chief Cecil Thrush says the cause of the fire has been ruled undetermined and possibly accidental. Two dogs and a cat also died in the fire. Thrush says the home is considered a total loss. Enterprise is in Dickinson County about five miles east of Abilene.

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Mother Accused of Taking Kids from Kansas to Russia 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A woman accused of fleeing Kansas and taking her children to Russia amid a divorce has been charged with international parental kidnapping. Federal prosecutors say a grand jury on Wednesday indicted 37-year-old Bogdana Alexandrovna Mobley. She was arrested last month in Wichita but investigators believe her three children remain in Russia. Prosecutors say she left the U.S. three years ago with one child from her first marriage and another child from a second marriage. She gave birth to a third child about two months after returning to Russia. Prosecutors say she allowed her ex-husband to communicate with the children, but he wasn't allowed to see them when he flew to meet her on the border of Poland and Russia in 2015. She emigrated to the U.S. in 2003 and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

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Topeka School Bus Crashes into Car and House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —A school bus with 24 students collided with a car and then a house in north central Topeka. Initial reports indicated no one was injured. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the accident happened Wednesday morning when a car collided with the bus and the collision pushed the bus into the front of a home. Both vehicles came within a few feet of hitting a telephone poll at the corner. Two students were transported to a hospital after the crash. The other students were loaded onto a second bus which left the scene shortly after the crash.

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KU Volleyball Team Falls to Texas Longhorns

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The ninth-ranked women’s volleyball team at the University of Kansas suffered its first loss in Big 12 play last (WED) night to the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center at Kansas University. In the fifth and deciding set, the Longhorns held off KU’s bid for an upset. Jayhawks coach Ray Bechard says he was hoping someone on his team would take over when the second and fifth sets went down to the wire but says he was disappointed that his team was not more aggressive. Texas takes over sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 5-0 record. KU is tied for second with Baylor, which is KU’s next opponent. Both teams are 5-1 heading into Saturday evening’s match.
 

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