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Headlines for Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Kansas Judge Won't Give Go-Ahead for Telemedicine Abortions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state court judge is declining to give a Kansas clinic permission to provide telemedicine abortions.  On Monday, Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson rejected a request from the Trust Women Foundation to block Kansas from prohibiting telemedicine abortions.  Trust Women operates a Wichita clinic that in October began providing pregnancy-ending medications to patients who conferred with off-site doctors by webcam. But the clinic stopped December 31 because the legal climate was uncertain.  Another Shawnee County judge ruled December 31 in another case that three bans enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature since 2011 can't be enforced. But Trust Women said state and local officials wouldn't promise that the abortions would be allowed.  The earlier decision was not binding on Watson when Trust Women filed its own lawsuit in January.

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Former Sebelius Aide Running for Congress in Kansas 2nd District

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A one-time speechwriter for former Governor Kathleen Sebelius says she will begin a campaign today (TUE) for an eastern Kansas congressional seat.  The Kansas City Star reports that Democrat Abbie Hodgson will seek the party's nomination to challenge freshman GOP Congressman Steve Watkins in the state's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence, Topeka and Leavenworth.  The 37-year-old Hodgson is a former Kansas House Democratic staff member who has spent the past two years working in Washington, D.C., for Pew Charitable Trusts. She has moved back to Kansas and says she will step down from her position with Pew's State Strategy Group.  Hodgson in 2017 criticized the treatment of women in the Statehouse and revealed that lawmakers relied on underage interns as designated drivers following lobbyist-hosted cocktail hours. Her disclosures were among the events that spurred efforts to reform the Legislature's sexual harassment policies.  Hodgson, who grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, said her campaign will focus on health care, agriculture, trade policy and the financial well-being of Kansans.  "When I talk to voters when I walk down Kansas main streets you don't get that sense of optimism from people," she said. "They don't feel like they have enough money in their savings accounts to weather a crisis." 

The 2nd District has not elected a Democrat since 2006 and is not currently considered a 2020 target for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Hodgson said she has met with EMILY's List, a national group dedicated to electing Democratic women. The organization hasn't made an endorsement, but spokesman Benjamin Ray said the group is "excited to see a strong candidate like Abbie Hodgson step up."  Watkins' spokesman Jim Joice said EMILY's List promotes an "out-of-touch radical agenda."  The 42-year-old Watkins defeated former state legislative leader and former candidate for governor Paul Davis last year.

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Kris Kobach Kicks Off Campaign for U.S. Senate Seat in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate next year.  Kobach filed paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission forming a campaign committee and made his formal announcement in Leavenworth.  He is seeking the Republican nomination for four-term GOP Senator Pat Roberts' seat. Roberts is not seeking re-election in 2020.  Some Republicans do not want Kobach to run for the Senate because he lost the governor's race last year to Democrat Laura Kelly.  Kobach is an advocate for tough immigration policies. He was an early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016 but has frequently alienated GOP moderates.  Kobach is joining a potentially crowded race. At least 16 prospective candidates have expressed an interest in running.

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Man Dies After Fight in Salina McDonald's Parking Lot

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Salina man has died after a fight in a fast-food restaurant parking lot.  According to the Salina Journal, police Captain Gary Hanus said in a news release that officers were dispatched Friday afternoon to a McDonald's for a report of an unconscious person. Thirty-two-year-old Scott McMurray was transported from the scene to the Salina Regional Health Center, where he died later that night.  Witnesses said that a 29-year-old man had punched McMurray during a physical altercation, causing McMurray to fall to the pavement. The 29-year-old was questioned and booked into jail before he was released early Sunday with no charges filed.  The investigation is ongoing, and an autopsy has been ordered to determine McMurray's exact cause of death.

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Texas Man Pleads Guilty in Deaths of Kansas Fair Vendors

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has pleaded guilty in the deaths of a couple who were killed at a Kansas fair after one suspect ordered the killings as part of a "carnival mafia" initiation.  Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office said in a news release that 36-year-old Rusty Lee Frasier of Aransas Pass, Texas pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the 2018 deaths of Alfred "Sonny" Carpenter and Pauline Carpenter at the Barton County Fair, where they were vendors. The bodies of the Wichita couple were discovered in a national forest near Van Buren, Arkansas.  Prosecutors said 32-year-old Thomas Donald Drake of Van Buren, Arkansas, also pleaded guilty Monday to one count of obstructing apprehension.  Their sentencing has not been scheduled.  Investigators say there is no "carnival mafia ."

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Suit: Deputy Fired After Reporting Sexual Assault

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas sheriff's deputy alleges in a lawsuit that she was forced out of her job after reporting that a fellow deputy had sexually assaulted her. The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court. The suit says the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office fostered a culture of sexual harassment throughout the plaintiff's employment. It also says that after a two-month suspension, her abuser returned to work with no further disciplinary measures. The sheriff's office declined to comment on the suit because the office has not been officially served with the documents. The Star generally does not name victims of sexual assault without their permission. The Star has not named the deputy accused of sexual assault because the paper had not reached him individually for comment as of Tuesday.

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Police: Woman Fired Gun After Calling DMV Wait 'Ridiculous'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a woman upset about the line at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Kansas City went outside and fired a gun after being asked to leave. Officer Darin Snapp says no one was injured. He says around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday the woman announced that the "wait time is ridiculous." Snapp says staff asked her to leave because she was being "loud and obnoxious." He says the woman then said she was going to get a gun. Snapp says an off-duty officer who heard a gunshot approached the woman and ordered her to put the gun down. The woman was jailed but no charges were immediately filed. Her name hasn't been released. Snapp says: "She just wasn't very happy about the wait at the DMV."

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Kansas Man on Horseback Finds Missing 87-Year-Old Woman

STERLING, Kan. (AP) — A man on horseback has found a missing 87-year-old Kansas woman with Alzheimer's. KWCH-TV reports that 76-year-old Garry Battey was out riding when he found Vonita Renae Colle safe Tuesday about a quarter mile (0.4 kilometer) from her home in Sterling. Colle had been reported missing Monday, leading to a search. Battey says the Lord told him where to go. Colle was taken to a hospital for evaluation, and a statewide Silver Alert for her was canceled.

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KC Police Investigating 4 Deaths, Including Woman's Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are investigating four recent deaths as homicides, including the shooting of a woman riding in a vehicle.  Police said 25-year-old Ki'essence Pelton was pronounced dead at a hospital early Sunday morning. They said the driver of the vehicle in which she was riding took her there after realizing she had been shot.  The Kansas City Star reports that her death was part of a violent Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Police found 30-year-old local rapper Mack Jones's body on Saturday morning in a parked vehicle, days after he was reported missing.  Also, the body of 30-year-old Gregory Payton Jr. of Kansas City, Kansas, was found in a parked vehicle the same morning.  And 48-year-old Lynn Armstrong's body was found inside an apartment Friday morning.

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Kansas Highway Patrol: 7-Year-Old Boy Killed in ATV Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 7-year-old boy has died after an ATV crash in western Kansas.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Highway Patrol says Kanon Michael Bowles of Syracuse died Saturday.  Investigators say Bowles was driving an ATV in Hamilton County when it began to spin off the road. Troopers say the ATV rotated multiple times over the driver's side and Bowles was thrown from the vehicle. Emergency crews took Bowles to Hamilton County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Going Slower than Normal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas growers are still far behind in bringing in this season's winter wheat crop.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 61% of wheat in the state has been harvested. That is well behind the 84% typically cut by this late in the season.  About 92% of the wheat in Kansas has matured.  The agency said about 58% of the wheat out in the field is in good to excellent condition. About 27% is rated as good with 15% in poor to very poor shape.

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ACLU of Kansas Selects Google Manager as its New Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has named a Google manager and former U.S. State Department employee as its new executive director.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Nadine Farid Johnson takes over Monday. The ACLU of Kansas has fought legal battles with the state over voting rights issues, the ability of transgender residents to alter their birth certificates and rules restricting protests at the Statehouse.  Former Executive Director Micah Kubic resigned last year to lead the ACLU of Florida. Johnson has been a manager at Google for two years, overseeing diversity and inclusion initiatives on the company's Los Angeles campus. She worked for the U.S. State Department from 2011 to 2017 and developed policy on the Middle East and North Africa.

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Kansas Junior College President Announces Plans to Retire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ A suburban Kansas City community college's president has announced plans to retire just months after controversy erupted over statements he purportedly made about the affluence of its students. Johnson County Community College said Tuesday that Joe Sopcich plans to step down July 1, 2020. The board renewed his contract last month. A college spokesman noted that Sopcich turns 65 in April 2020. Issues arose in February when a Democratic National Committee member live-tweeted remarks he overheard Sopcich make while discussing tuition increases with a college trustee during a breakfast at a Washington, D.C., hotel.  In one tweet, Sopcich was quoted as saying, "Show me anyone who struggles at JCCC..I walk the parking lot and I see a whole lot of very nice cars.'' Sopcich previously described the conversation as "hyperbole.'' 

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Popular Cafe Among Casualties of July 4 Flooding in Kansas

DURHAM, Kan. (AP) — The owners of a tiny central Kansas cafe whose Mennonite-style cooking had a large following are looking for someone else to reopen the business after it suffered extensive damage in Fourth of July flash flooding. The Wichita Eagle reports that the restaurant, called Main Street Cafe, was among one of many businesses and homes flooded in the Marion County town of Durham after a thunderstorm. Wendell Wedel says the cafe he had run with his wife, Linda, for 24 years was filled with about 32 inches of water. Wedel, who's 65, says he might keep his sausage-making business going, but he hopes that someone younger will step in and reopen the cafe. Durham has around 110 residents and is located about 55 miles north of Wichita.

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Wichita Opens Wetlands Park in Migratory Bird Resting Spot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita has opened a 91-acre wetland park in an area where thousands of migratory birds stop each year. The Wichita Eagle reports that visitors to the Pracht Wetlands Park can walk over galvanized-steel boardwalks and watch birds behind two observation points that are similar to duck blinds. Eventually there will be a half-mile loop of boardwalk circling the northern half of the park with multiple observation points and an observation tower. The total budget for the project is around $7.5 million. The City Council representative for the area, Bryan Frye, says that just under $2 million has been invested in it so far. Just to the west of the park, a major new retail-and-restaurant development is in the works. Frye described the project as "an eco-tourism opportunity."

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