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Headlines for Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Senate Leader: No Action on School Funding Wednesday 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle says lawmakers won't attempt this week to address the state Supreme Court's most recent ruling on education funding. The Wichita Republican issued a statement Tuesday saying the state's attorneys have not had enough time to analyze the decision. Lawmakers reconvene Wednesday to formally adjourn their annual session. Wagle said she's consulted with Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick and GOP Governor Sam Brownback about Friday's court decision and they've agreed on taking no action yet. Their stance means the Legislature could have a special session in June. The court rejected changes made by legislators earlier this year and said the school finance system remains unfair to poor districts. The justices gave lawmakers until June 30 to fix the remaining problems or face having schools remain closed.


Kansas GOP Leader: Talk of Defying Schools Ruling 'Serious' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican leader in the Kansas Senate says talk among legislators about defying a recent state Supreme Court ruling on education funding is serious. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said Tuesday that the justices have "gone out of their way to pick a fight." The court last week rejected changes made by legislators earlier this year and said the school finance system remains unfair to poor districts. The justices gave lawmakers until June 30 to fix the remaining problems or face having schools remain closed. Bruce said some lawmakers want to test whether the court is serious. GOP leaders didn't plan to have lawmakers consider additional fixes Wednesday before a ceremony adjourning their annual session. Governor Sam Brownback would have to call a special session for lawmakers to act further


Great Plains Energy to Buy Westar Energy in $12B Transaction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Great Plains Energy has announced plans to buy Westar Energy, the largest utility company in Kansas. Great Plains is the parent company of KCP&L. The transaction has an estimated value of $12.2 billion. When the sale is completed next spring, Westar will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Great Plains Energy. The company will have more than 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. According to a press release, Great Plains will buy Westar in a combined cash and stock transaction. Westar shareholders will receive $60.00 per share of total consideration for each share of Westar common stock and $9.00 in Great Plains Energy common stock. The transaction includes about $3.6 billion of Westar's debt. A news release says that the terms of the agreement were unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies.


Crews Resume Search for Missing Boy Swept Away in Creek

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The search for a Kansas boy who fell into a rain-swollen creek is continuing into its fifth day. Fire and rescue teams returned to the Gypsum Creek in south Wichita Tuesday to search for 11-year-old Devon Dean Cooley. Officials say witnesses told them Cooley was walking with three friends near the creek Friday when he tried to walk a path that normally crosses the creek but was swept away by high waters. Devon's family hosted a cookout Monday evening for the recovery and rescue teams. That was followed by a candlelight vigil. The boy would have celebrated his 12th birthday on Thursday.


Man Frees Kansas Judge After Several-Hour Hostage Standoff 

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Garden City says a gunman who held the county's chief judge hostage over a child custody matter eventually surrendered and released the victim without harm. Authorities say the standoff began about 7 am Tuesday, when the suspect forced his way into 61-year-old Wendel Wurst's home and confronted the man and his wife at gunpoint. The gunman released the woman a short time later, and she called police from a neighbor's home. The standoff ended peacefully several hours later. Police say the suspect was upset over a custody case Wurst handled as Finney County's chief judge. There was no immediate word about any charges resulting from the captivity. Wurst was appointed as a district judge in 2004 by then-Governor Mark Parkinson. 


Kansas Teen Sentenced to Nearly 16 Years in Sister's Death 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old Kansas girl has been sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison in the fatal stabbing of her younger sister. Sierra Neihaus was sentenced Tuesday in Saline County, Kansas. She pleaded no contest in March to amended charges of second-degree murder, felony theft, and two counts of interference with law enforcement. Prosecutors allege Niehaus fatally stabbed her 13-year-old sister, Galazia, at the family's rural home on August 1, 2014.


Study: Haskell University Has $23M Economic Impact

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A study commissioned by Haskell Indian Nations University says the school has a $23.1 million economic impact in the Lawrence-area. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the study was completed in December and shared this month with Haskell's board of regents. The authors of the study say Haskell serves several industries in Douglas County, supports local businesses and helps improve the quality of life. Haskell President Venida Chenault says school officials hope the new economic analysis will show investment in Haskell is a wise decision. The study, done by Economic Modeling Specialists International, was based on student and financial data from fiscal year 2013-14.


Barge Traffic Makes a Resurgence on the Missouri River

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Barge traffic is making a slow but steady comeback on the Missouri River, although proponents acknowledge the industry is still swimming upstream against a perception that the river is not reliable enough to be a profitable transportation corridor. Some private barge and tow companies never stopped using the river. But public ports along the 760-mile span from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis virtually disappeared by the early 2000s due to a combination of drought, recession and political infighting. Improved conditions allowed Port KC to reopen the first public port on the Missouri River since 2007 and a public port about an hour north in St. Joseph is undergoing renovations. Proponents of the ports say barge shipping is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and eases stress on the nation's highways and rail transportation systems.


Kansas Woman Admits Shoplifting Thousands of Dollars' Worth of Merchandise 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City woman has admitted in court that she stole tens of thousands of dollars of stolen clothing and merchandise she was peddling out of her nearly $1 million home. Forty-six-year-old Kelli Bauer of Overland Park pleaded guilty Tuesday in Johnson County to a felony theft charge. It alleged she stole between $25,000 and $100,000. Bauer also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor theft counts. Bauer was charged last year after police found stolen merchandise in her home during a search prompted by her Facebook posting for the private sale of more than 1,000 pieces of "high-end" women's clothing. As part of the investigation, detectives also followed Bauer and said they saw her stealing items from several stores. Sentencing is scheduled for July 20.


Colorado Man Killed When UTV Hits Deer in Southeast Kansas

HOWARD, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Colorado man was killed when the four-wheeler he was driving hit a deer in southeastern Kansas' Elk County. KAKE-TV  says 29-year-old Trevor McCoy of Meeker, Colorado died during the accident about 1:40 a.m. Monday. The patrol says the utility task vehicle hit the deer on the road and then overturned.


Kingman County Cemetery Vandalized During Memorial Day Weekend

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) - Vandals hit a private cemetery in south-central Kansas with graves dating to the 1800s during the Memorial Day weekend. Kingman County Deputy Amber Barratti says about 10 to 15 headstones were knocked down in Mount Vernon Cemetery in northeast Kingman County near Cheney. Investigators believe the vandalism occurred late Saturday or early Sunday. No arrests have been made. The Hutchinson News reports (most of the graves there are from the 1880s to the early 1900s.


KCK Police Believe They Have Suspect in 1989 Cold Case Murder

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, investigators say they believe they have identified a potential suspect in the 26-year-old unsolved murder of a 19-year-old woman and an unresolved slaying five years later. The Kansas City Star reports that detectives believe they have found a link between the 1989 killing of Sarah Jo DeLeon, the unsolved 1994 slaying of Diana Marie Ault in Independence, Missouri, and an abduction in 1987.  Detective Scott Howard says the investigation has revealed that the suspect and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals. Kansas City, Kansas Police Detective, Mike Warczakoski says he hopes to present the case in coming weeks to Wyandotte County prosecutors.


Small Professional Theater in Abilene Set for Summer Season

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - The only professional theater between Kansas City and Denver is ready for a summer season in its new home. The Great Plains Theatre in Abilene has put on shows at various sites since a fire destroyed its building in July 2014. The theater is a member of the Actors' Equity Association, as are most of the actors. The new theater is in the former headquarters of ALCO Stores. It seats 150 and provides much more space for the former theater. Besides finding a new home, Great Plains Theatre's finances also are improving, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Astra Bank. The summer season starts June 10 with "Annie Get Your Gun."


Royals Come from Behind Again to Beat Rays, 6-2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer and Lorenzo Cain drove in the go-ahead run in a four-run eighth inning as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Monday night. The Royals have won four straight and have scored 19 runs after the sixth innings in those victories. Cain's single scored Alcides Escobar with the first run of the inning before Hosmer slammed a pitch from the Rays' Erasmo Ramirez (6-3) for his 10th home run. The Royals' Kelvin Herrera (1-1) picked up the victory. 

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