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Headlines for Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Here's the latest Kansas and regional news from the Associated Press compiled by KPR staff.

Kansas Governor Signs Budget but Vetoes Pension Payment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed an extra $51 million payment to the state's public pension system while signing the bulk of the next state budget approved by the Legislature. The Democratic governor said Monday that an additional payment to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is not prudent with other parts of state government facing additional needs. The extra payment was meant to offset past instances in which the state shorted its annual contributions. She also used her power to veto individual budget items to reject several other items included by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The budget provides more than $18.3 billion for state government for the fiscal year beginning in July. It includes a pay raise for state workers and extra money for prisons, social services and higher education.

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Already-Soggy Kansas Expecting More Rain, Flooding

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Much of Kansas remains under flood warnings or watches as heavy rains cause streams and rivers to rise. The National Weather Service says more than 3.5 inches of rain fell onto already-saturated ground Monday and early Tuesday in parts of Kansas, with more expected. The central Kansas town of New Cambria has asked residents to voluntarily evacuate because of the potential for record flooding along Smoky Hill River. Officials say a creek near Salina also may flood at record levels. Pittsburg officials say an apparent tornado touched down south of the city Monday afternoon, damaging outbuildings and toppling power lines and trees. Roof damage was also reported to Grubbs Hall at Pittsburg State University. No injuries were reported. In McPherson, residents have been asked to conserve water. The treatment plant there is processing water at less than half the normal capacity because of heavy rains and equipment failures.

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Flooding Possible in Kansas, Missouri After More Storms

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Forecasters are warning of possible flooding across a large swath of Kansas and parts of Missouri as another round of storms passes through the region. The National Weather Service says more than 3.5 inches of rain fell onto already-saturated ground in parts of Kansas Monday and as much as 6 inches of additional rain is possible in some localized areas today (TUE). Forecasters say the heavy rainfall will cause significant rises on area rivers and creeks, with some overflowing their banks. The warnings were issued as Kansas Governor Laura Kelly added 10 counties to the list of those where disasters have been declared from flooding earlier this month. The disaster declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations. New Cambria, a central Kansas town near Salina, asked residents on Monday to voluntarily evacuate for up to 48 hours in anticipation of flash flooding.

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Kansas Law Offers Protections to Some Users of CBD Oil

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly has signed into law a bill that would allow profoundly ill people who have been unable to find relief with pharmaceutical medications to avoid prosecution for possessing certain blends of oil extracted from cannabis plants. The cannabidiol oils, also known as CBD, shielded by the Kansas bill could contain no more than 5% THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high. Known as "Claire and Lola's Law," it was pushed by Gwen and Scott Hartley, whose 12-year-old daughter, Lola, suffers from microcephaly, a medical condition in which a child's brain doesn't fully develop. The condition has already claimed the life of Lola's older sister, Claire, who died in December 2018 at the age of 17. The law goes into effect on July 1.

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Judge Delays Trial of Kansas Online Gamer in Deadly Hoax

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has again delayed the trial of a Kansas online gamer allegedly involved in a deadly hoax to give the parties time to finalize documents for an alternative to prosecution that could spare him from a criminal record. The trial for 20-year-old Shane Gaskill of Wichita had been scheduled to begin today (TUE), but his attorney asked the court for the continuance to finalize paperwork for pre-trial diversion that should be completed within days. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren set a new June 25 trial. Gaskill is charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and making false statement during an investigation. Prosecutors say he was playing an online game when a dispute sparked the false call that resulted in police shooting a man who lived at Gaskill's former Wichita home.

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KU to Sell Former Oldfather Studios Building

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas plans to put a building that has been vacant for two years on the market. A budget bill signed Monday by Governor Laura Kelly includes a provision allowing the university to sell Oldfather Studios, which formerly housed the school's Film and Media Studies Department. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the provision said the university could sell the 18,000-square-foot building after July 1. Chief Financial Officer Diane Goddard told the Kansas House appropriations committee in February the building is in poor condition and would be too costly to repair. The university anticipates selling the property for about $800,000, which would be used for deferred maintenance on the Lawrence campus. The KU endowment bought the building in 1991 with a gift from Charles and Hortense Oldfather.

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Man Who Led Troopers on Chase Pleads Guilty to Gun Charge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who led troopers on a 100-mph chase has pleaded guilty to a federal firearm charge. Federal prosecutors say 26 year-old Codey Elsasser, of Arlington, pleaded guilty Monday to possessing a short-barreled rifle that was not registered. Prosecutors say Elsasser was driving 88 mph in a 65 mph zone in November when a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper tried to stop him. The ensuing chase reached speeds up to 100 mph as he drove from Barton County to Rice County before stopping. Troopers found a rifle, pistol, shotgun, bulletproof vest, ammunition and parts of a homemade silencer in Elasser's car. With two previous drug-related convictions in Barton County, Elsasser was prohibited from having weapons. Elsasser also admitted smoking methamphetamine the morning of the chase. He will be sentenced July 29.

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Larned Mental Health Facility Employee Charged with Sex Crimes

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have charged a 31-year-old Kansas prison employee with having unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett said in a release that Jennifer Stevenson, of Otis, is charged with one felony count of unlawful sexual relations. The alleged incidents occurred at Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility in August and September of 2018. Stevenson has been released from jail pending her preliminary hearing next week.
 
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Wichita Police: Man Stabbed to Death over Loud Music

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a deadly stabbing at an apartment complex apparently was sparked by a dispute over loud music. Captain Brent Allred said officers responded to a call early Sunday and found 45-year-old Joseph Heiman in his apartment suffering from several stab wounds. He died later at a hospital. Allred said the suspect, Darnell Jackson, called 911 to report the stabbing and was arrested at the apartment complex. He was booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and remains jailed on $90,000 bond. Allred said investigators found that Jackson and Heiman had been arguing for several weeks over loud music played by Heiman.

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Dean: Planned Medical School in Wichita May Overwhelm Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita says a private medical school proposed in the city could overburden the state's health care system and its capacity to train medical students. Dean Garrold Minns tells the Wichita Eagle that the planned Kansas Health Science Center would mean more hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices would need to handle the increase in students doing rotations. City spokeswoman Elyse Mohler says Wichita can't speculate how a new facility might impact clinical training rotations. Many Wichita leaders say the private school of osteopathic medicine could boost economic development. The City Council approved a nonbinding development agreement last week and hopes to finalize plans in the coming months. A memorandum of understanding says the new school could open by August 2022.

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12-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Himself in Northwest Kansas

PHILLIPSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 12-year-old boy has accidentally shot himself in northwest Kansas. The Phillips County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that the boy called 911 around 9:50 a.m. Tuesday, saying he had shot himself and needed help. The post says the child was taken to Phillips County Hospital and then transferred in an ambulance to the larger hospital in Kearney, Nebraska, in critical condition. Air crews couldn't respond because of storms in the area. The post urged parents to secure firearms as schools let out for summer break. Phillips County is about 65 miles north of Hays.

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FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says he plans to recommend the agency approve the $26.5 billion merger of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, saying it'll speed up 5G deployment in the U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also said Monday that the combination will help bring faster mobile broadband to rural Americans. Pai said T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. would suffer "serious consequences" if they don't meet their FCC commitments, including the possibility of having to pay billions to the Treasury Department.

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Property Damaged in Disturbance at Kansas Juvenile Lockup

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas prison officials say 10 young male offenders damaged property inside three living units at the state's juvenile corrections center during a Sunday evening disturbance. The state Department of Corrections said Monday that the disturbance at the Kansas Juvenile Corrections Complex in Topeka lasted almost an hour, but did not result in any injuries. Investigators are still trying to determine the extent of the damage. Photos released by the department showed paper littering floors, furniture in disarray and drawers removed from desks. The department said the offenders involved were 17, 18 or 19 years old. Spokeswoman Jeanny Sharp said investigators don't yet know what caused the disturbance or whether it was linked to a fight or fights among inmates. The complex holds about 170 young offenders, almost all of them male.

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Driver Rams Car into Lee's Summit Police Department
 
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) - Police in Lee's Summit, Missouri are investigating after a driver crashed into the department's front lobby. Police said the car's 43-year-old driver was taken into custody after the crash early Monday. The investigation into the cause is continuing. KMBC-TV reports the driver would have had to navigate several obstacles, including several limestone blocks along a pathway, before getting to the building.  After the front lobby was closed for about four hours, city operations returned to normal.
 

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