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Headlines for Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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

Centene to Offer Insurance in Federal Exchanges in 3 More States

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Centene Corporation says it will begin offering coverage under the Affordable Care Act for insurance exchanges in Kansas, Missouri and Nevada next year at a time other insurers are pulling out of such marketplaces.  Centene announced the expansion today (TUE).  It didn't specify whether its foray into Kansas and Missouri will fill a 32-county void that will result from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City's decision to leave that individual insurance marketplace next year.  That Blue Cross decision affects about 67,000 people, and 25 Missouri counties will be left with no insurance provider under the exchanges unless another company steps in to sell coverage.  Centene also plans to expand in other states (Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Washington).  It says 90 percent of its exchange customers are eligible for subsidies.

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Ottawa Man Charged with Attempted Child Sex Trafficking

TOPEKA, KAN. (KPR) - An Ottawa man has been charged in federal court with attempted sex trafficking of a child.  U.S. Attorney for Kansas, Tom Beall, says 63-year-old Michael David Mitchell was charged yesterday (MON) with one count of attempted sex trafficking of a child, six counts of electronic solicitation, one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, and one count of interstate travel for the purpose of having sex with a minor.  Prosecutors say Mitchell told undercover investigators that he was looking for a mother and children to enslave for sex and he was willing to pay for it. In a text exchange with an undercover investigator posing as a woman with a daughter, he said: “I will take care of you, but it won’t be easy on either of you. I’m a sadist and enjoy inflicting pain. Neither of you will ever be allowed to say no to me.”  Mitchell agreed to a meeting at the Adams Mark Hotel in Kansas City.  He was arrested when he arrived.  If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 10 years on the attempted sex trafficking count, up to five years on each electronic enticement count, not less than 10 years on the coercion and enticement count, and up to 30 years on the interstate travel charge. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting.

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Man Who Texted Photo of Dead Girlfriend Sentenced to Life

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who texted a photo of his dead girlfriend to his family has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her.  Forty-two-year-old Jonathan Perret won't be eligible for parole for 25 years under the sentence imposed Tuesday. He pleaded guilty last month to felony murder for fatally shooting 42-year-old Melissa Englert while she checked on her parents' house. They were out of town.  Messages sent to his son's phone included a photo of a gun and a person lying on the ground. Perret called her a banshee in one message and said someone needed to shoot her, adding that "I did love her though!!!"  Perret told investigators that Englert asked to be shot after a night of drinking. Police said the couple had a history of domestic violence.

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Wife's Concerns Led to Inquiry into Former Kansas Police Sergeant
 
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Court records say an investigation into a former Kansas police sergeant who's charged with sex crimes began when his wife reported concerns about him texting teenage girls. The Wichita Eagle reports that the affidavit for Valley Center police Sergeant Thomas Delgado was released Monday. The 49-year-old is facing charges of sexual exploitation of a child, sexual battery, attempted sexual battery, official misconduct and three counts of harassment by telecommunications device. The affidavit says his wife contacted a sheriff's lieutenant in November, the same month she filed for divorce. She reported that Delgado was "constantly'' texting 14-to 17-year-old girls. Delgado resigned after his December arrest. He was previously a Sedgwick County sheriff's patrol deputy. 

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Former Leader of Kansas Health Clinic Running for 3rd District Congress

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former president of a children's health clinic in the Kansas City area is running for Congress in Kansas.  Andrea Ramsey announced today (TUE) that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the 3rd District seat now held by Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder.  Ramsey was until recently the president and board chairwoman for the Turner House Children's Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas. It serves about 6,000 mostly poor children a year.  The Leawood resident also has worked as an attorney and corporate executive.  Democrats are targeting Yoder because Hillary Clinton carried the district in last year's presidential race.  Other Democrats running are retired Army officer and Leawood resident Joe McConnell, Mission Woods businessman Jay Sidie and retired Lenexa electrical worker Reginald Marselus. Sidie was the Democratic nominee last year.

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Traffic Deaths in Kansas Averaging More than 1 Per Day

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the troubling rise in traffic fatalities across the state is accelerating.  AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Haugh tells the Wichita Eagle that Kansas is currently averaging more than one traffic fatality a day.  Data from AAA shows that there have been nearly 175 traffic deaths across the state this year through the end of May. That's a 13 percent increase over the same time frame a year ago and a 44 percent increase from 2015.  Haugh says cheaper gas prices usually result in people driving more miles, but that doesn't necessarily mean they drive safer. She says not wearing seatbelts and having short attention spans can contribute to the fatality increase.  AAA reports that there were more than 430 traffic deaths in Kansas for all of 2016.

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University of Kansas Dorm Wing Will Cater to LGBT Students

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is devoting a residence hall wing to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their supporters.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Student Housing director Diana Robertson says more than 20 students have signed up to live in the "gender inclusive housing" in Lewis Hall for the upcoming school year. Robertson says a small waiting list for the wing indicates "we're hitting a need."  Besides catering to LGBT students, the wing also will house students who don't identify exclusively as male or female, as well as those questioning their sexual identity.  Roommates will be assigned regardless of sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. In the past, university housing officials worked on a case-by-case basis to place students who didn't fit traditional gender profiles.

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Kansas Husband Who Robbed Bank to Avoid Wife Given Probation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 70-year-old man who said he robbed a Kansas City, Kansas, bank so he could get away from his wife blamed his actions on depression.  Today (TUE), a federal judge sentenced Lawrence John Ripple to probation.  Ripple robbed a bank located a block away from the Kansas City, Kansas, police headquarters last September.  After a teller gave him the money, Ripple waited in the bank's lobby for police.  Court records indicate Ripple wrote his robbery note in front of his wife and told her he would rather be in jail than at home.  The Kansas City Star reports Ripple told the judge Tuesday that heart surgery left him depressed and unlike himself before he robbed the bank.

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Kansas Lawmakers' Budget Mandates Multiple Reviews of Private Prison Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators want to have multiple reviews of a plan to build a new state prison before Governor Sam Brownback's administration moves forward with the project.  They have included a provision in the next state budget requiring the oversight.  The Department of Corrections hopes to finalize a contract this fall with a private company to build a new prison in Lansing to replace the state's oldest and largest one.  The department has proposed having the company lease the new prison to Kansas for up to 40 years before the state owns it.  The proposed budget would authorize a lease-purchase agreement and up to $155 million in bonds for traditional financing of the project.  But it also mandates reviews by a building advisory panel, two legislative committees and legislative leaders.

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Hundreds Gather to Grill U.S. Senator Jerry Moran

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran told a sometimes raucous crowd of hundreds Monday that he would have voted against a House-passed bill that would repeal and replace the Obama-era federal health care overhaul law.  Moran told the crowd at a conference center in Lenexa that he's waiting to see the final version of the Senate's bill before determining how he'll vote. He said hewas displeased with the Senate's decision to draft the bill in closed meetings. Moran says he would have preferred the Republican health care bill to replace "Obamacare" be discussed in an open forum but he wouldn't commit to withholding his vote if there are no open hearings.  It was Moran's first, in-person public town hall meeting in Johnson County since President Trump took office. Senator Pat Roberts and Representative Kevin Yoder haven't held any such meetings with constituents in recent months.

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Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of Kansas Representative Patsy Terrell 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Flags are being flown at half-staff in honor of Kansas Representative Patsy Terrell who was found dead last week in her hotel room near the Capitol. Flags will remain lowered at all state buildings, state grounds and state facilities through Saturday, when Terrell will be interred. The Hutchinson Democrat was found dead last Wednesday. Topeka police said they don't believe foul play was involved. The day before her death, Terrell was one of 88 House members who voted to override Brownback's veto of a tax bill. The freshman legislator said in one of her last tweets that she was "happy to be one of those override votes'' and that it was "what people sent me here to do.'' 

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Lottery Programmer Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme in Kansas, Other States

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors will ask for 25 years in prison for a lottery computer programmer who has admitted to rigging jackpots in multiple states, including Kansas.  The plea agreement shows former Multi-State Lottery Association security director Eddie Tipton has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges in Iowa and Wisconsin. The document also says his brother, Tommy Tipton, will plead guilty to theft charges in Iowa. The document calls for the brothers to pay back a total of $3 million in lottery winnings that were linked to rigged drawings in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. They've also agreed to tell investigators "all facts related, directly or indirectly, to their actions to fix, win and claim lottery jackpots."

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Kansas Museum to Showcase Duplicate Amelia Earhart Plane

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A nonprofit organization that purchased the last known airplane identical to the one Amelia Earhart flew has announced plans for a new airport facility in Kansas that will serve as a museum to showcase the plane and as a terminal for airport traffic.  The News-Press Now reports the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation is finalizing renderings of the $10 million Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum, developing a branding campaign and beginning a fundraising effort.  The historic plane known as Muriel will be the museum's focal point. Muriel is an Electra Model 10E, which is the same model flown by aviator Earhart in her attempt to circle the globe. Muriel is the last surviving model of the 14 manufactured.  Foundation Chairwoman Karen Seaberg hopes the project will be completed within two years.

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Hot & Dry Weather Helping Put Kansas Wheat Harvest in High Gear

Hot, dry and windy weather is helping put the Kansas wheat harvest into high gear.  But production will still be down.  The USDA says farmers are expected to bring in about 304 million bushels this season.  That's a 35 percent drop from last year's harvest of 467 million bushels.  And farmers are still struggling with low prices.  Wheat is trading for about $4.45 per bushel.

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Former Kansas City Star Managing Editor, KU Educator Tom Eblen Dies

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas City Star editor and University of Kansas journalism educator Tom Eblen has died.  The university's journalism school says Eblen was 80 when he died Saturday after a long illness.  Eblen joined the Kansas City Star in 1960 and rose through the ranks, serving as a reporter, copy editor, assistant city editor, city editor and eventually managing editor before serving as editor and general manager of the Fort Scott Tribune.  He later spent more than 15 years as general manager and news adviser to the University of Kansas' student newspaper before retiring in 2001.  Eblen later served as a Kansas Press Association news consultant, serving as that group's president in 1988. He was twice elected to the national board of what now is Associated Press Media Editors.  

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Wichita Police Seek Driver After Passenger Dies in Train Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are looking for a driver who escaped from a car before a deadly train crash in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sergeant Nikki Woodrow says the collision happened Sunday night when the vehicle left a road and became stuck on the railroad tracks. The driver was able to get out of the car as a BNSF train approached, but a 40-year-old passenger was killed in the crash. Woodrow says the driver left the scene and that police are trying to identify him. Anyone with information is urged to call authorities.

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Man Killed in Eastern Kansas Tractor Accident 

HOYT, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been killed in a tractor accident in eastern Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse identified the victim as Ethan Everts, of Hoyt. He was operating a tractor when it rolled over around 5 p.m. Sunday in Jackson County. Everts was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Jury Recommends Prison Term for 19-Year-Old in Kansas City Killing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A jury is recommending a 32-year prison sentence for a Kansas City man convicted in the fatal shooting of a suburban father who had been trying to sell a gun at a grocery store's parking lot. Jackson County jurors made the recommendation Monday, three days after finding 19-year-old Fazon Swinton guilty of second-degree murder, attempted robbery, armed criminal action and leaving the scene of a shooting. Authorities say 39-year-old Jacob Branter of Lee's Summit was shot and killed in April 2016 outside a Price Chopper store. Prosecutors allege that Swinton made arrangements to buy a handgun from Brantner but stole it instead, running off before exchanging gunfire with Brantner.  Swinton's sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 4.

 

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