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Headlines for Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kansas News Headlines from the Associated Press

Audit: Kansas Social Services System $46M over Budget 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A recent legislative audit has found that a new computer system designed to make it easier for Kansas residents to apply for Medicaid and other social services is more than two years past due and at least $46 million over budget. The Legislative Post Audit says the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System won't perform as originally intended when it goes fully online, or produce the projected savings in operational costs. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the system was designed to allow people to fill out a single application that would be used to determine eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance and other social services. Auditors say the project ran into several issues, including complex coordination between federal and state agencies.


Kansas Gains Population More Slowly than US, Neighbors 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has slower population growth than neighboring states and the U.S. as a whole. U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday estimate that the state's total population grew by three-tenths of 1 percent from July 2014 to July 2015. Kansas gained about 9,100 residents to make its population almost 2.912 million. The national growth rate was almost eight-tenths of 1 percent. Also, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri all had higher growth rates than Kansas. Colorado's growth rate of nearly 1.9 percent was the second-best in the nation, behind North Dakota's nearly 2.3 percent. Kansas ranked 32nd among states and the District of Columbia in its growth rate. The Census Bureau also said Kansas saw a net loss from migration over the year of 2 residents per 1,000.


Prosecutor: Lottery Industry Insider Fixed 2 Kansas Jackpots

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ A lottery industry insider allegedly fixed two jackpots in Kansas, bringing to five the number of states connected to the widening investigation. Iowa prosecutor Rob Sand said in court documents Monday that investigators recently linked the Kansas jackpots to Eddie Tipton. Sand says evidence will show that others claimed the prizes and half of the winnings were returned to Tipton in cash in 2011. The documents don't provide additional details. Tipton's attorney, Dean Stowers, dismissed the latest allegations as a publicity stunt. Tipton is former security director of the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association and managed its random number generators. Tipton was convicted of fixing a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot earlier this year. Since then, prosecutors have charged him with fixing jackpots worth millions in Colorado, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. 


At Lottery-Fixing Trial, Prosecutor Wants Bigfoot Hunting Testimony Kept Out 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Three friends involved in buying tickets and claiming jackpots that were allegedly fixed by a lottery insider have something else unusual in common. They allegedly hunt for Bigfoot in their spare time. In a legal motion that is as strange as the elusive humanoid, Iowa prosecutor Rob Sand asked a judge Monday to bar any discussion of Bigfoot hunting at the upcoming trial of Eddie Tipton. He says the "prejudicial effect could potentially be as strong as Sasquatch itself." Tipton is the former Multi-State Lottery Association security director who's accused of rigging jackpots in Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma to enrich himself and his friends. Tipton's attorney, Dean Stowers, says the state's "whole case is a Bigfoot hunt," saying there is no evidence he tampered with lottery equipment.


Death Penalty-Related Motion Filed in Quadruple Slaying Case
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Lawyers for a man accused of killing four people in eastern Kansas have filed motions focused on the death penalty. Kyle Trevor Flack is charged with capital murder in the 2013 slayings of Kaylie Smith Bailey and her daughter. He's also charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew A. Stout, and Steven White. If convicted, Flack could face the death penalty. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Flack's attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to explain to prospective jurors that they can sentence Flack to life in prison, rather than impose the death penalty. They also asked to question potential jurors about their views on the costs of execution versus lifetime imprisonment. Flack is set to appear at a motion hearing in district court today (TUE). 


CDC Reports Another Outbreak of Chipotle-Linked E. Coli Cases -- One in Kansas

NEW YORK (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating more recent cases of E. coli cases linked to Chipotle, and that it does not know yet if they are linked to a larger outbreak that began at the end of October. So far, the agency says five people have been identified in the new outbreak, including one in Kansas, one in North Dakota and three in Oklahoma. It says those illnesses started between November 18 and November 26, and all five said they ate at a Chipotle the week before they got sick. For the larger outbreak linked to Chipotle, the most recent case had been on November 10. Chipotle Mexican Grill has said it is implementing new standards to ensure food safety.


University of Kansas Names Director of Multicultural Affairs 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A longtime member of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas has been named permanent director of the department, which provides diversity education programs across campus. Precious Porras has been interim director of OMA since May and will become its new director on January 4. She joined the office in 2005 and was named its assistant director of diversity education the next year. Her appointment comes more than a month after protests led by a student group that says university administrators haven't made progress on fixing problems faced by minority and marginalized students. Porras expects to finish a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at the university next year.


2 KU Fraternities on Probation for Hazing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two fraternities at the University of Kansas are on probation for hazing. The Lawrence Journal-World reports documents obtained through an open records request show Delta Tau Delta and Phi Beta Sigma were placed on probation this spring. Hazing at Delta Tau Delta occurred in fall 2014, and hazing by Phi Beta Sigma occurred in spring 2015. The university prohibits hazing, which it says can include anything from "extreme embarrassment" to endangering someone's physical health. The university didn't detail what hazing occurred or whether the fraternities have complied with the terms of their probations so far. Delta Tau Delta's national headquarters says some members of the Kansas chapter have been disciplined. The national headquarters of Phi Beta says on its website that a few members have been suspended through 2019.


Man Charged in Fatal Shooting of Musician in Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Missouri, man is accused of killing a musician outside of an Overland Park bar. The Kansas City Star reports that 34-year-old Dale Maurice Willis is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jurl L. Carter. Carter was shot to death September 16 outside of Roxy, a bar in north Overland Park. Bar owner Jim Kilroy says the shooting broke out after a group of men began fighting outside. He says Carter entered a car and started to back away when some men ran after him. Carter was a rapper from Olathe who performed under the names Boogy and Yunglyfe Carter. Willis is being held in jail under a $15 million bond. 


Spirit AeroSystems Plans Temporary Wichita Layoffs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems says it will temporarily lay off up to 70 production workers in Wichita, Kansas, at the start of 2016. The Wichita Eagle reports that while the duration of the layoffs remains murky, affected workers still will get benefits. Spirit has roughly 11,000 employees in Wichita. The company says the temporary layoffs come after fewer production workers retired or quit than were projected, and improvement in some production activities have led to a need for fewer workers.


Judge Rules County Commission Applications Are Open Records 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled the applications of candidates for two county commission openings filled last year by Governor Sam Brownback are not exempt from the state's open records law. Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty sided with The Salina Journal and The Associated Press in favor of disclosure of information about applicants for the newly created Saline County Commission seats. The governor's office said it does not comment on matters under litigation. Saline County residents voted in November 2014 to expand the commission from three to five members. The AP and the newspaper argued that applicants' names and other details are public information, but Brownback's office said they were personnel records.


Kansas Chemical Company Fined for Illegal Dumping 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas chemical manufacturing has been fined $1 million after admitting it unlawfully dumped hazardous wastes down a saltwater disposal well. JACAM Manufacturing LLC of Sterling, Kansas, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Wichita to one count of violating the federal Safe Water Drinking Act and one count of violating the Resource Conservation Recovery Act. Its president, Jason West, entered the plea on his company's behalf under a deal with prosecutors that spared shareholders, employees and contractors from charges. West declined comment after the hearing, saying the company would issue a news release later. The company was charged last month with injecting hazardous chemicals down a well in Rice County without a permit. JACAM makes and sells specialty chemicals used in the oil and gas production and industrial markets.


Fundraiser Launched for University of Kansas Prairie Project 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Historic Mount Oread Friends has kicked off a crowdfunding effort for the University of Kansas's Prairie Acre restoration project with a $2,500 donation. The Prairie Acre is a swath of grass that was designated in 1932 to remain undeveloped and protected by the university. The Historic Mount Oread Friends is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historic architecture and open spaces of the university's campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the school hopes to raise a total of $10,000 by January 13 to help start the first phase of the Prairie Acre project. Jeff Severin, director of the school's Center for Sustainability, says that the total cost for phase one is about $22,500. Restoration plans include replanting native species and repairing the rock wall around the area.


Kansas Group Plans to Restore Monarch Butterfly Habitat 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition has plans to restore, or create, 12,000 acres of monarch butterfly habitat. The coalition received $125,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help restore monarch butterfly habitat across Kansas. The Hutchinson News reports that the foundation recently launched the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund to help restore up to 33,000 acres of monarch habitat in the country after the butterfly population dropped from 1 billion to fewer than 60 million over the past 20 years. The coalition plans to hold informational meeting next year to educate ranchers about its project. Coalition coordinator Barth Crouch says the project aims to restore and enhance mixed-grass and tallgrass ecosystem functions and use invasive-species control and prescribed fire practices in the Red Hills and Flint Hills.


Carbon Monoxide Leak in Lawrence Gym Sends 2 to Hospital 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A carbon monoxide leak inside a Lawrence gym has sent two people to the hospital. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that emergency responders were called to Genesis Health Club around 7 am Thursday. Firefighters discovered the leak in the gym's pool area. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Marshal Jim King says two people exposed to the gas were taken to a local hospital. Further information on their conditions wasn't immediately available. Gym owner Rodney Steven II says a faulty flue vent connected to boilers that heat the pool caused the leak. He says the vent has been fixed. Steven says all gym members who had visited the facility that day were notified of the gas leak.


Sheriff: Man Fatally Stabs Self After Chase Near Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities near Wichita, Kansas, say a man fatally stabbed himself in the neck and chest after leading sheriff's deputies on a multi-county chase. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department says the suspect died roughly an hour after starting the chase near Wichita. His name has not been released. Authorities say that when a deputy tried to stop the suspect's car about 9:45 am Sunday for unspecified reasons, the driver refused to pull over. The chase went into Wichita, then onto the Kansas Turnpike, at one point going northbound in the freeway's southbound lanes. After deputies forced the suspect's car into a ditch, he stabbed himself. Sumner County authorities are investigating the death.


Jackson County, Missouri Executive Resigning

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Jackson County (Missouri) executive has announced plans to resign. The Kansas City Star reports that Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said Monday he's resigning Dec. 31. Sanders was elected Jackson County prosecutor in 2002, then won the election for county executive in 2006. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2014. Sanders established a reputation for recommending lean county budgets without major tax increases. He was criticized over errors in property owners' 2013 assessment notices, but he fixed the problems and found someone new to run the assessor's office. He says he'll appoint 3rd District Jackson County Legislator Dennis Waits as the interim county executive. Voters will then select his successor next year. Sanders says he'll pursue several possibilities, including resuming a legal career.


Investigators Suspect Grass Fire Intentionally Set 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities suspect that a central Kansas grass fire was intentionally set. The Salina Journal reports that the fire started Sunday afternoon. Saline County rural firefighters extinguished the blaze. Captain Roger Soldan says the fire burned about 100 yards of pasture and some fence posts. Soldan said the fire started far from the road, which led officials to the belief that it was not started accidentally.


Kansas Man Sentenced to 13 Years for Raping Girl 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old Kansas man has been sentenced to less than 13 years in prison for raping a girl who was under the age of 14. The Hutchinson News reports that Steve Love Jr. pleaded no contest last month to a single count of rape. In the plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a charge of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced Friday to 12 years and 11 months in prison. He's also required to register for life as a sexual offender and remain under lifetime post-release supervision. The Reno County district attorney's office says it agreed to support a lesser sentence in order to prevent the victim from having to testify. The defendant could have faced life in prison.


Independence City Council Raises Legal Smoking Age to 21 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Independence has become the third Kansas City-area municipality to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone younger than 21. By a 6-1 vote, the Independence City Council passed an ordinance Monday to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old. Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, approved a similar ban last month. The movement Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce launched the "Tobacco 21KC" campaign in October in hopes that other cities join in taking steps to prohibit those younger than 21 from buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. Councilwoman Karen Deluccie, who provided the only opposing vote, says that if a person is 18 years old, they are legally an adult and must make their own decisions about which products to purchase.


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