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Headlines for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Here's what's going on.

Kansas Collects $75M More in Taxes Than Expected in December 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas reports it collected $75 million more in taxes than expected in December, and state officials say it's because Congress overhauled federal income tax laws. The state Department of Revenue said Tuesday that tax collections last month were $711 million when the state had forecast $636 million. The surplus was 11.8 percent. It was the seventh consecutive month that tax collections exceeded expectations. Since the current fiscal year began, the state has collected almost $84 million more in taxes than anticipated for a 2.7 percent surplus. Tax collections through December were almost $3.2 billion. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said some individuals made estimated personal income tax payments earlier than normal in December because of a cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes taking effect next year.

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Brownback to Deliver Budget, School Finance Plan, Not Colyer 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he'll deliver budget and school funding proposals next week and won't resign before he's confirmed by the U.S. Senate to an ambassador's post. Brownback said during an Associated Press interview Tuesday that he'll give the annual State of the State address January 9. He also said the budget and school funding proposals will be his, though Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer had more input than usual. President Donald Trump nominated Brownback in July for U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The Senate didn't vote on his nomination by the end of the year, but Brownback said he expects his appointment to be resubmitted. Colyer's influence on budget matters and his appointment of a Cabinet secretary in November prompted questions about whether Brownback had ceded some power.

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Former Longtime US Representative Larry Winn Jr. Dies 

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Representative Larry Winn Jr., who represented a suburban Kansas City congressional district from 1967 to 1985, has died. Winn's son, Larry Winn III, told The Kansas City Star his father died on New Year's Eve. He was 98. Winn died at a senior living facility in Prairie Village after being hospitalized the previous week. Winn, a Republican, represented the 3rd Congressional District currently held by U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder. Yoder issued a statement Tuesday praising Winn for his service to the country, Kansas and Johnson County. Winn is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. His wife, Joan Elliott, died in 2015 after 73 years of marriage. A son, Robert, died in 1983. Services will be at 2 p.m. January 26 at Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City.

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New Year Gets Off to Shaky Start in Southern Kansas

ANTHONY, Kan. (Hays Post) _The new year got off to a shaky start in southern Kansas.  The U.S. Geological Survey says the first earthquake of the new year in Kansas happened yesterday (MON), about 22 miles south of Anthony in Harper County.  The 2.6 magnitude quake was recorded around 2 am Monday.  
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2018 Kansas Legislative Session Begins Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) _ The 2018 Kansas legislative session gets underway next week. Among other things, lawmakers will be working on a new plan for funding public schools.  The state is under a court order to increase funding and distribute that funding in a more equitable way.  A special legislative committee has already begun working on that issue.  Meanwhile, the governor's State-of-the-State address is set for 5 o'clock next Tuesday.  KPR will broadcast the speech live.  The start of a new session comes at the same time Governor Sam Brownback is hoping to leave the state for a state department job in the Trump Administration. Brownback is still waiting for the U.S. Senate to confirm his nomination as ambassador for international religious freedom.  It's unclear just when that vote will take place.

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Attorney: Family of 'Swatting' Victim Wants Officer Charged 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney for the family of a Kansas man fatally shot at the door of his home after a hoax emergency call wants the police officer who killed him criminally charged for his death. Police have said 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot after a prankster called 911 last week with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at Finch's Wichita home. In a letter Tuesday, Finch's mother, Lisa Finch, says officials are compounding the family's grief by not allowing her to see her son's body or returning it for burial. The family's Chicago attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, says justice for them would include criminal charges against the SWAT team officer who shot Finch. Prosecutors are seeking to have a California man accused of making the call sent to Kansas.

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2 Workers Die After Being Trapped at Wichita Grain Elevator 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County officials say two people have died after being trapped in a grain elevator in south Wichita. The county announced the bodies were recovered about 5 p.m. Tuesday at the grain bin at Gavilon Grain. Fire Deputy Chief Larry Tangney says emergency crews responded to the site about 2:30 p.m. after reports two workers were trapped. It was not clear how the two got into the bin and what caused them to become trapped under 20-25 feet of grain. The two workers have not been identified. The elevator, formerly known as DeBruce Grain, was the scene of an explosion in June 1998 that killed seven people and injured 10 other workers.

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Kansas City Natives Buy Alternative Magazine The Pitch 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new Kansas City-based ownership group has bought alternative magazine The Pitch. KCUR reports Carey Media LLC closed the deal on Dec. 31 to buy the magazine from Tennessee-based SouthComm, which bought The Pitch in 2011. The new owners, Stephanie and Adam Carey, say they plan to keep the magazine focused on Kansas City. It is the first time in nearly 20 years that the magazine has been owned and operated locally. Long-time reporter David Hudnall has been named the magazine's new editor. Last year, The Pitch moved from a weekly publication to a monthly.

 

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Power Outages Reported as Temperatures Plunge

FAIRWAY, Kan. (KCTV/AP) - The temperature reached 11 degrees below zero yesterday (MON) -- the second coldest New Year’s Day in Kansas City history.  Wind chills were more than 20-degrees below zero.  As the frigid temperatures took hold, multiple power outages were reported in the metro, leaving residents without electricity and, in may cases, without heat!  Thousands of people temporarily lost power in north Kansas City, Independence and St. Joe, Missouri, and in Shawnee, Kansas.

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Cold Continues, Rain & Snow Coming this Weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) _ Today (TUE) marks the fourth day in a row of sub-freezing temperatures across eastern Kansas.  The last time Topeka climbed above freezing was on December 29th.  Meteorologist Kyle Poage (POGE), with the National Weather Service, says warmer weather is on the way this weekend, along with the chance for precipitation.  Poage says temperatures will reach into the 40s this weekend, with a 50% chance of snow on Sunday.

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Douglas County Asks Judge to Decide Lawsuit over Jail Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County is asking a federal judge to decide a lawsuit filed after a woman's death in the county jail nearly six years ago. A trial in the lawsuit filed by the family of 32-year-old Rachel Hammers was scheduled for this fall. She died in May 2012 while being held in the county jail. The Lawrence Journal-World reports federal Judge Carlos Murguia is considering a motion filed by the county for a summary judgment, which would mean the $1.35 million lawsuit would not go to trial. Hammers's father sued the county and several officials on behalf of his daughter's three children. He claims his daughter died because she didn't receive competent medical care. The county responded that jail staff followed protocol and isn't liable for Hammers's death.

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Missouri Man Facing Charges in 2 Kansas Counties After Chase

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old man who allegedly led Kansas officers on a chase with his 5-year-old daughter in the car is accused of attacking three sheriff's deputies. Robert Robison III, of Ferguson, Missouri, was arrested Friday in Greenwood County. Sheriff Heath Samuels says officers weren't aware the child was in the car when the chase began after they determined Robison's car was sought in a hit-and-run in Missouri. The chase ended when the car crashed south of Severy. The girl was not injured. The Emporia Gazette reports while Robison was being held Friday night in the Lyon County jail, he allegedly attacked three detention officers in his cell. They weren't seriously injured. Robison is facing eight charges in Greenwood County. The Lyon County Attorney's Office will determine if charges will be filed in that case.

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Suspect Arrested in Lawrence Shooting Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A man has been arrested in the shooting death of a woman at a Lawrence apartment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the man had been sought since the death last week of 30-year-old Lei Ala Turner. The suspect was booked into jail yesterday (MON) morning on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Initial information from police indicated the shooting might have been accidental.    

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Wichita Aircraft Training Group Sees Cuts in Funding

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal funds to help retrain Wichita-area workers who have been laid off have fallen by nearly $870,000 in the last two years. The funding cut comes as the local aircraft industry is looking to hire more skilled workers. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas primarily uses the federal funding to help low-income workers or those displaced by job loss pay for technical training in aircraft jobs. The funding is tied to a formula that awards money based on a state's unemployment, poverty rates and population growth. Workforce Alliance CEO Keith Lawing says Kansas's declining unemployment and sluggish population growth has led to less job training money. Lawing says his group has been able to temporarily offset the decline with two grants totaling $680,000.

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2 Riley County Officers Praised for Aiding Distressed Family

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Two Riley County police officers are being praised for their efforts to help a family that had no water or heat. The department said when officers Ian Ford and Shawn Goggins responded to a welfare check this past weekend they found a family with two children who had no water or heat because a water line was broken. The family's car also wouldn't start because of the cold. KSNT reports the family's only heat was from one infrared heater. The officers bought the family cases of water, food and two indoor space heaters, and started the family's vehicle. The officers also contacted an emergency shelter to ensure there would be room if the family needed it. The department says neither officer sought recognition. A dispatcher alerted officials to their kindness.

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Police: Man Pistol Whipped, Shot During Shoe Sale in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man was pistol whipped and shot while trying to buy a pair of shoes from two other men. Police Sergeant Andrew Do says the 20-yer-old man met with two other men on Monday to buy the shoes. After he gave the men his money, they said they wanted the shoes back. Do says the man was pistol whipped and shot in the shoulder during a struggle. He says the man's injuries were not life-threatening. The suspects are still at large.

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Wichita Police Officer's Shot Misses Dog, Injures Girl

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say an officer is on administrative leave after a 9-year-old girl was injured by fragments from a bullet he shot at a dog. Officer Paul Cruz said in a news release Tuesday that the incident occurred Saturday when officers were responding to a call of a domestic dispute. The officer shot at the dog when it charged while officers were looking for a gun. The round broke into fragments and a piece hit the girl in the forehead. She was treated and released from a Wichita hospital. Cruz says a suicidal man in the home was taken for a mental health exam. A woman and three other children at the scene were not injured. The District Attorney's office will review the case.

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People Continuing to Move West; Kansas Among States Losing Most Residents

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Tracking statistics from the moving company United Van Lines indicate that Americans are still heading west, while parts of the Northeast and Midwest are losing people. The suburban St. Louis-based moving company on Tuesday released its 41st annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers' state-to-state migration patterns. Three of the top four destination states are in the West: Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. The outlier is Vermont, a Northeast state that had the highest percentage of inbound migration in 2017. About 68 percent of state-to-state moves in Vermont were inbound last year. At the other end of the spectrum is Illinois, which had the highest percent of outbound moves, followed by New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Kansas.

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Kansas City Police Find Man's Body

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - It took less than two hours for Kansas City to record its first homicide of 2018.  Police found the body of an apparent homicide victim early yesterday (MON) morning when officers responded to a report of a shooting.  They found the body of a Hispanic man in his 20s.  His name and other information about the crime have not been released and no arrests have been reported.

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Toddler Inside SUV Safe After Carjacking

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police say a toddler who was inside a sport utility vehicle when it was carjacked in Kansas City has been found safe in a nearby suburb.  The carjacking took place Sunday morning.  The woman gave chase on foot and then in a taxi as the SUV headed south.  Police in Belton, Missouri reported finding the SUV and the child about an hour later. An unidentified suspect was taken into custody.

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Vandals Damage Cemetery in Butler County

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a vandal or vandals knocked over dozens of headstones and tore emblems off veterans markers in a night of vandalism in Butler County.  Area residents discovered the vandalism at Richland Township cemetery on Friday. Graves had been urinated upon and memorial flowers had been shredded, and the cemetery's U.S. flag had been stolen.   No arrests have been reported.  Mary Staab helps care for the cemetery, and she says some of the tombstones date back to the 1800s.

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Topeka Men Find Valuable Artwork in Storage Unit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two men in Topeka have found several signed works by prominent sports artist Ted Watts.  The art was discovered inside a storage unit.  Joseph Joslin Sr. and Mike Schoep said they came across some of Watts' works after responding to an ad by a woman offering to sell everything in her storage unit.  The men found the unit had a box containing black-and-white drawings by Watts that include a depiction of the 1956 World Series.

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Christmas Trees Turned Into Habitat in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The city of Lawrence is using its Christmas trees to provide a habitat for wildlife where an old landfill used to sit. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city's Christmas tree recycling program began in the early 1990s. The solid waste operations supervisor estimates as many as 50,000 trees have been saved from the city's new landfill and brought to the site. The city's solid waste department is conducting its annual collection of live-cut Christmas trees during this  first week of the new year.
 
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Survey Says: Midwest Economy Improving

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An economist says a business conditions index for nine Midwest and Plains states rose over the past month, pointing to continuing improvement in regional economic conditions.  A report released today (TUE) says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed to 59.0 from 57.2 in November. The October figure was 58.8.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says profit growth, low interest rates and the recently passed tax package pushed business confidence last month to its highest level since January 2011.  The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline.  The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.  The Institute for Supply Management, formerly the Purchasing Management Association, began formally surveying its membership in 1931 to gauge business conditions.  The Creighton Economic Forecasting Group uses the same methodology as the national survey to consult supply managers and business leaders. Creighton University economics professor Ernie Goss oversees the report.  The overall index ranges between 0 and 100. Growth neutral is 50, and a figure greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months.

Here are the state-by-state results for Kansas and three of the four surrounding states for December:

Kansas: Kansas's overall index climbed to 62.0 last month, a regional high, and up from November's 58.0. Index components were new orders at 72.4, production or sales at 63.9, delivery lead time at 57.0, employment at 60.5 and inventories at 56.3.

Missouri: Missouri's overall index fell to 55.3 last month from 59.2 in November. Index components were new orders at 60.5, production or sales at 54.6, delivery lead time at 46.4, inventories at 55.6 and employment at 59.2.

Nebraska: The overall index rose to 57.6 last month in Nebraska from 54.8 in November. Index components were new orders at 67.2, production or sales at 59.9, delivery lead time at 52.4, inventories at 52.2 and employment at 56.2.

Oklahoma: The state's overall index slipped to 59.3 from November's 60.8. Index components were new orders at 69.3, production or sales at 61.4, delivery lead time at 54.2, inventories at 53.8 and employment at 57.9.

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AP Source: Kansas State's Bill Snyder Returning Next Season 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person familiar with his decision says Bill Snyder will return for his 27th season with Kansas State, ending weeks of speculation about the future of the 78-year-old football coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because Snyder has not made his plans public. He said after a Cactus Bowl victory over UCLA last week that he was still mulling whether to return next season or retire for the second time. Snyder was diagnosed with throat cancer last offseason, but hardly missed a practice and headed into the year with high expectations. But a series of early losses scuttled Big 12 title hopes, and it took a run at the end of the year just to become eligible for a bowl game. The Hall of Fame coach is 210-110-1 since taking over the Wildcats in 1988.

 

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