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Headlines for Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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

Kobach Says Staying in Kansas Is 'Best Thing for Me to Do'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he's planning to remain in Kansas rather than take a job in President Donald Trump's administration. Kobach made the remark Tuesday morning during an interview on the Fox News program "Fox & Friends" about Trump's plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Kobach advised Trump's campaign last year. Asked why he wasn't a part of the administration, Kobach said he has decided "the best thing for me to do right now is to stay in my home state of Kansas." He didn't mention plans to run for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, but he's long been seen as a potential candidate. GOP Governor Sam Brownback is term-limited. Kobach's spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press.

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Kansas Republican Becomes Newest Member of U.S. House 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Ron Estes, winner of a closer-than-usual congressional election in Kansas, has been sworn in as the newest member of the House. Estes's race attracted national attention because it was the first congressional election since Donald Trump became president and it was seen as a possible bellwether of the conditions Republicans will face in the 2018 midterms. Estes ended up winning by 7 percentage points after the president recorded a telephone pitch on his behalf and the national campaign arm for House Republicans pumped money into the race in the closing stretch. Estes has served as the state treasurer in Kansas since January 2011. He represents a congressional district in south-central Kansas formerly held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Republicans now hold a 238-193 majority in the House.

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Kansas Legislative Panels to Resume Work on Budget Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas legislative committees are resuming their work on budget issues this week before all lawmakers return to the Statehouse next week. The House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees are scheduled to have a joint meeting Thursday morning. They plan to review a new fiscal forecast issued last week. The new forecast is more optimistic than one issued in November and boosted the state's projected tax collections. But Kansas still faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $889 million through June 2019. And the budget gaps don't include extra money for public schools following a Kansas Supreme Court ruling last month that education funding is inadequate. The committees also plan to have separate meetings Thursday and Friday to draft budget measures to consider after lawmakers return from their annual spring break May 1.

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Health Care Operator Eyes Distressed Topeka Hospital 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group that specializes in turning around distressed hospitals has expressed interest in acquiring a nonprofit Catholic hospital in Topeka. California-based Prime Healthcare's nonprofit arm notified Governor Sam Brownback last week that it has "potential interest" in "saving" St. Francis Health. The letter was given anonymously to The Topeka Capital-Journal and also provided to The Associated Press. St. Francis's Denver-based owner, SCL Health, said previously that it would stop operating the 378-bed hospital whether or not it is successful in finding a buyer. SCL Health spokesman Brian Newsome said in a statement that several groups "have come forth to discuss potential scenarios." Brownback's spokeswoman says there are "multiple options" for keeping St. Francis open. Among them, St. Francis has approached a second Topeka hospital about taking over its operations.

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Federal Audit Criticizes Private Detention Center in Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An audit says a private prison company was slow to address understaffing at a federal detention center in Kansas and once hid triple-bunking in two-person cells. The report Tuesday from the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general also said the federal Marshals Service failed to provide adequate oversight for its Leavenworth Detention Center. The 1,033-bed center operated by Nashville-based CoreCivic is used mainly to house defendants awaiting federal criminal trials. The audit said the Leavenworth Detention Center closed some security posts in 2014 and 2015 because of staffing problems. The report also said that in 2011 the center removed beds from cells to hide triple-bunking before an American Correctional Association audit. CoreCivic and the Marshals Service said in written responses that they have taken steps to address issues in the audit.

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Kansas Governor Signs Bill to Tighten Regulations After Boy's Waterslide Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback signed legislation Monday to strengthen regulations on amusement park rides. The death of a colleague's son apparently motivated Kansas lawmakers to toughen the state's inspection requirements for amusement parks. The bill passed the House and Senate by wide margins. The change comes after Representative Scott Schwab's 10-year-old son, Caleb, died last summer on a waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. An investigation into the death is ongoing, but the "Verruckt" waterslide, which the park called the world's highest when it opened, has been closed since the accident. The Schwab family has settled with the park's owner, the manufacturer of the raft that carried riders down the slide, a general contractor and a consulting company. 

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GateHouse Executive Based in Hutchinson Is Resigning 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — GateHouse News Senior Group Publisher John Montgomery says he plans to leave the company, effective May 8. Montgomery was publisher and editor of The Hutchinson News for 10 years before Gatehouse Media purchased the Harris Group in November. When that sale was complete, Montgomery became publisher for 16 newspapers. Most are in Kansas and three are in Colorado. The 50-year-old Montgomery said Monday he will move to the Kansas City area but has no immediate plans. Montgomery was editor and publisher of the Ottawa Herald and The Hays Daily News before moving to Hutchinson. The Hutchinson News reports that Steven Curd, of Lee's Summit, Missouri, will be interim replacement for Montgomery. He is currently Group Publisher for GateHouse Media in Independence, Missouri.

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Kansas Officials Certify Special Congressional Election 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Ron Estes will take his seat in Congress today (TUE) after Kansas officials certified his victory in the state's special election. On Monday, Governor Sam Brownback, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker certified the results in the race for Kansas' 4th Congressional District seat. The special election was held April 11th. Estes will replace former Republican Representative Mike Pompeo, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to head the CIA. Totals released Monday show Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson by 6.2 percentage points, considered a strong challenge by a Democrat in a historically GOP district. Pompeo was re-elected to the seat by about 30 percentage points in November. Estes was state treasurer before the election. Brownback nominated state Senator Jake LaTurner to the post and he will be sworn in Wednesday.

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Cerner Fraud Conspirator Sentenced in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The leader of a multi-million fraud that involved impersonating Cerner employees was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $19 million in restitution Monday. Fifty-six-year-old Albert Davis, of Richardson, Texas, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say the conspirators created a fake Cerner business entity, a fake Cerner bank account, a fake Cerner Internet domain and leased virtual office space for a fake Cerner address in Kansas City. He also created fictitious employees and documents then used the fraud to turn business deals, solicit investors and obtain bank loans. Davis acknowledged in his plea that he was the leader of the scheme. Four others have pleaded guilty in related cases.

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U.S. Senate Confirms Sonny Perdue As Agriculture Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate has confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary. The vote Monday was 87-11. The owner of several agricultural businesses and the son of a farmer, Perdue will be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. Perdue has assured farm-state senators that he will advocate for rural America, even as President Donald Trump's administration has proposed deep cuts to some farm programs. His promise to reach across the aisle won him several votes from Democrats.

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Kansas City Man Charged with Fatal Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City man has been charged with fatally shooting a man who tried to intervene in an argument the suspect was having with his ex-girlfriend. Twenty-three-year-old MarKivius Woods was charged Monday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 23-year-old Austin Cupp. No attorney is listed for Woods in online court records. Bond is set at $250,000. Court records say the shooting happened early Sunday when Woods went to see his son. The child's mother asked Woods to leave, saying he showed up too early. The two were arguing when others arrived. Wood told police he fired what he intended to be a ``warning shot'' when Cupp lunged at him. Woods says he then fired two more shots when the victim continued to confront him. 

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Woman Accused in Kansas Triple Killing Facing Gun Charges 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman already charged in connection with a triple killing in central Kansas now is accused in a federal indictment of providing a gun to a co-defendant. The indictment returned Tuesday in Wichita accuses Myrta Rangel of four drug-related weapons counts and single counts of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction and of giving a firearm to a convicted felon. The indictment alleges the 31-year-old Wichita woman gave a .40-caliber handgun to Jereme Nelson. Rangel and Nelson are charged in Harvey County with one count of capital murder and three first-degree murder counts in last October's shooting deaths of three people, ages 52, 37 and 33, at a rural home near Moundridge. Federal online court records don't show whether Rangel has an attorney.

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Woman Killed, Firefighter Hurt During Lawrence House Blaze

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman was killed and a firefighter injured during a blaze at a house in Lawrence. The city's fire department said in a news release that firefighters managed to pull the woman from the burning, one-story home about 5:45 am Tuesday, but she died at the scene. Her name was not immediately released. The city said a firefighter sustained a minor injury. There was no immediate word on what may have sparked the fire.

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University of Kansas Greek House Landlords Form Coalition 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Representatives from the University of Kansas' most well-established fraternities are forming a business league to help protect the groups' houses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Kansas Fraternity Landlords' League formally incorporated in fall 2015. Its executive director, Aaron Racine, says the League is looking to become more active this semester. Racine says the nonprofit is similar to trade associations and business leagues. He says the League ensures that the fraternities' business models support their many assets. Racine says the real estate for the fraternities in the group is worth an estimated $35.7 million. The League currently represents landlords for 10 fraternity houses that are home to nearly 1,000 students.

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Kansas Student Tries to Keep Training Service Dog on Campus 

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A student in Kansas is pushing back against a private college's policy to keep her "service dog in training" on campus. KSNW-TV reports that Southwestern College freshman Casey Cargill is a certified dog trainer with the nonprofit Training to Lead. Cargill began training a poodle named Ike in March, and says she sent the college a courtesy letter explaining why Ike would be living on campus and going to class with her. The dean of students sent a letter dated April 19 that said Cargill was no longer allowed to have her dog on campus because the school's policy only allows service animals on campus for people with disabilities, not trainers. Cargill, who has trained over 20 dogs, says she plans to fight the college's policy.

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Kansas Man Pleads No Contest in Fatal Car Crash 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man has pleaded no contest to charges in connection with a head-on car collision that killed a Salina woman. The Salina Journal reports that 33-year-old Patrick Driscoll pleaded Monday to a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and endangerment. Driscoll was allegedly driving a pickup truck south in a northbound lane early April 27, 2016, when he crashed into a sport vehicle driven by 55-year-old Song Horton. Horton died the next day at a Wichita hospital. Prosecutor Brock Abbey says Driscoll's blood-alcohol content was more than double the legal limit two hours after the crash. Ryan Gering, Driscoll's attorney, requested the judge to let Driscoll stay in Saline County Jail instead of an area county facility so he can receive medical care for his wounds from the crash.

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Topeka Man Convicted of Murder in Child Slaying 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who was charged in the death of a 14-month-old will be sentenced to 14 years in prison as part of a plea agreement. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 28-year-old Michael Guerrero pleaded no contest April 17 to charges of reckless aggravated battery and reckless second-degree murder of the child. A charge of aggravated endangering of a child was dismissed. A police affidavit says Guerrero called 911 in June 2015 saying the child was choking on a french fry and that he was trying to save her by shaking her, giving her blows on the back and attempting CPR. The child was taken to a hospital with bruising and died three days later. A Children's Mercy Hospital official says CPR couldn't have caused that much bruising on a child. Guerrero will be sentenced in June.

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Police: Suspect in Kansas Woman's Killing Found Dead 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say a man suspected of shooting a woman to death later was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say 24-year-old Tabitha Newbill was killed late Saturday after being repeatedly shot during a domestic dispute at her home. The suspected gunman was found dead Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri. His name has not been released. Kansas City, Kansas, police say they are not actively seeking any other individual or suspect.

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White Privilege Conference Coming to Kansas City This Week
 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — About 2,000 people are expected to attend a conference in Kansas City designed to address inequality by discussing the difficult topic of white privilege. The 18th annual National White Privilege Conference is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday. Conference organizers say it provides participants of all races a chance to examine the idea that whites in America have more advantages than others because of their skin color. Supporters also hope it will lead to conversations in the region about its racial and economic history. The Kansas City Star reports that several social justice activists wanted the conference to come to Kansas City. The conference is popular with academics, teachers and professors, students, social workers and community organizers. Media are not permitted to record the sessions or interview participants.

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Wichita Eagle Publisher Leaving as Part of McClatchy Restructuring 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita Eagle publisher and president Roy Heatherly is leaving the company as part of a larger restructuring by the McClatchy Co. Tony Berg, regional publisher for McClatchy's Midwest Division, announced Monday that Heatherly's last day will be May 5. Heatherly joined The Eagle in June 2015. Berg said he will hire a general manager to lead The Eagle and its sales operations. Berg told employees the McClatchy reorganization is designed to streamline the company's operations and refocus resources as it works to increase the pace of its digital transition. The Wichita Eagle reports McClatchy recently announced a regional publishing structure that moves its markets into four regions across the country. Berg also oversees The Kansas City Star, the Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Kansas City Police Take 4 into Custody After Facebook Threat 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, police say four people are in custody after one of them allegedly threatened a student with a handgun during a confrontation broadcast live on Facebook. Police said there's no evidence the incident just after 2 pm Tuesday near the freshman center building in the Hickman Mills school district took place on school grounds. There were no injuries. Police say a male suspect was armed with a gun he waved threateningly at a student. Other students who saw the Facebook posting told school administrators, who notified police. It was not immediately clear if any of the four people taken into custody were students at the freshman center, which briefly was put on lockdown.

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White Sox Rout Royals, 12-1

CHICAGO (AP) — The White Sox' Matt Davidson had two hits and three RBIs in an eight-run sixth inning. It marked Chicago's highest-scoring inning in five years as the White Sox routed the struggling Kansas City Royals 12-1 Monday night. Davidson set a career-high with three hits and tied his best with four RBIs in the game. Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier and Tyler Saladino also drove in two runs each for the White Sox. The Royals have lost five straight games and scored a major league-low 47 runs. Kansas City's Jason Vargas (3-1) gave up four runs — three earned — and seven hits in five innings. His ERA rose from a big league-best 0.44 to 1.40.
 

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