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Headlines for Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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

4.3 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Northern Oklahoma

WAKITA, Okla. (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey says a 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck extreme northern Oklahoma late Monday and was widely felt throughout parts of Kansas. No injuries or damage were reported. The earthquake was centered near the Kansas state line and about 100 miles north of Oklahoma City. The USGS says the quake was felt in Wichita and other parts of Kansas. Scientists have linked Oklahoma's sharp increase in earthquakes to the underground injection of wastewater by oil and gas companies. State regulators have asked companies in earthquake-prone areas to reduce the volume of wastewater or shut down the wells altogether. Earlier this month, a 5.8-magniutde earthquake struck Oklahoma, making it the strongest on record in the state.


Kansas Joins 20 Other States Challenging New Overtime Rule 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is joining a challenge to a new federal overtime rule that would allow hundreds of government workers to receive overtime for working more than 40 hours a week. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the rule goes into effect in December and will affect about 550 state employees in the executive and judicial branches who aren't currently entitled to overtime pay. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office announced Tuesday that Kansas would join 20 other states in fighting the U.S. Department of Labor mandate. The department estimates the rule also will affect about 36,000 private employees in Kansas. Schmidt called the initiative part of a "cascade of unauthorized rules and regulations emerging from Washington in the final months of the Obama administration


Voting Rights Group Says 6,570 Kansas Registrations Purged 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The League of Women Voters says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has discarded as of August the registrations of about 6,570 prospective voters under a rule that allows him to toss them after 90 days because they did not prove citizenship. Those prospective voters likely registered at some place other than a motor vehicle office without providing citizenship documents, so their voting rights are not protected by recent court orders. They would need to register again to vote in November. Kansas requires proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. The Secretary of State's office says it could not immediately confirm the number. The League purchased copies of the Kansas voter suspense list in March and in August, and compared them to calculate the number of missing registrations.


Campus Gun Policy Transparency Act Introduced in U.S. House 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Representative Keith Ellison has introduced federal legislation that would require schools that receive federal funding to provide fuller disclosure of their campus gun laws. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the proposed law would require federally-funded universities to publish their gun policies on their websites and in other promotional materials. Presently, Kansas law allows concealed carry by anyone who is legally eligible to own a gun. Ellison introduced the legislation after Minnesota resident Marti Priest contacted Ellison with concerns regarding the University of Kansas's lack of disclosure its campus gun rules. Priest was worried for her son Erik Nelson after a professor disclosed that the school would comply with the state's concealed carry law. University of Kansas officials say they have not yet decided what their specific policy will be.


Wichita Machinists Ban Former President from Holding Union Office

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former president of a troubled union district office in Wichita has been banned from holding an officer position for five years. The Wichita Eagle reports that the ban affecting Frank Molina follows a union determination of "financial mismanagement." International Association of Machinists spokesman Frank Larkin says Molina can appeal. Molina is the former leader of the union's District 70. It represents 8,000 Machinists members in the Wichita area. Earlier this year, the IAM took over the operations of the District 70 office under a process it calls trusteeship. Larkin says the trusteeship could be lifted following an election of new officers, but it isn't clear when that would happen. Molina and another fired union employee previously sued for wrongful termination, breach of contract and defamation.


Parents File Civil Lawsuit over Murder-Suicide at Kansas City Store 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A civil lawsuit has been filed over a murder-suicide at a Kansas City business. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jackson County Circuit Court lawsuit stems from last month's deaths of Desmond Bell and Cheri Bland. Her parents claim that the manager of the 7th Heaven knew her son was armed and distraught about a recently filed protection order and planned a confrontation. But the suit says police weren't notified and the 28-year-old Bland wasn't hidden at her workplace. Police said Bell killed Bland before killing himself. The couple had a baby together. The lawsuit alleged that the store, identified in court records as Music Distribution Network, failed to provide a safe work environment. 


Suspect in Fatal Crash Allegedly Drove with Illegal Blood Alcohol Level

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Court documents allege that a man's blood-alcohol level was double Kansas's legal threshold when he caused a crash that killed a Johnson County sheriff's deputy. The Kansas City Star reports Adrian Espinosa-Flores' blood-alcohol content measured .160 after the September 11 crash. Espinosa-Flores is charged with involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatality traffic crash in connection with the accident that killed Master Deputy Brandon Collins. Collins was conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 69 in Overland Park when authorities say a pickup truck driven by Espinosa-Flores ran into Collins's parked patrol vehicle from behind.  Adrian Espinosa-Flores told police he had been drinking beer at a friend's house before the crash and that he was in the country illegally. His public defender hasn't returned messages seeking comment.


Man Sentenced in Crash That Killed Police Investigator 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been ordered to spend 22 years in prison for causing a 2013 crash that killed a crime scene investigator. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office announced Tuesday that 31-year-old Larneal Davis was sentenced Monday for involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene. He also was fined $200 for reckless driving. Prosecutors said he was fleeing from police when he crashed into Michael Chou's car. Chou had been driving out of the police crime lab parking lot and was killed. Davis had consumed alcohol while celebrating his birthday before the crash. At the scene, officers detected the strong odor of alcohol on Davis and his blood-alcohol was .083 hours after the collision.


OSHA: Man Loses Leg After Co-Op Auger Accident 

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Federal workplace safety officials are investigating a Kansas grain bin accident in which a worker's leg got caught in a running auger and was later amputated. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday that the 28-year-old Ellsworth Co-op worker had his left leg surgically removed Monday after the accident. OSHA says in a statement that the unidentified worker stepped into an open auger well inside a steel grain bin while the auger was operational. As OSHA's regional chief in Wichita, Judy Freeman says workers should never enter such bins when an auger is running. The co-op's general manager and president, Larry Sheridan, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that OSHA investigators haven't been to that site since the accident and that he had no comment.


Kansas Launches Campaign Against Texting While Driving

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has launched a campaign against texting while driving that includes a contest for university fans. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer announced the campaign on Monday. The campaign's message, Don't Text #Just Drive, is being promoted through a contest. The campaign will focus on getting 40,000 to 50,000 Kansas residents to sign a pledge indicating they won't text and drive. The pledges include the opportunity for people to show which of the six Kansas Regents universities they support. Universities are planning various programs to encourage students, faculty and alumni to pledge. According to Selzer, a simulator that demonstrates how difficult it is to text and drive will be sent to the universities. Selzer says there's been a long-term decline in accidents with fatalities until about a year ago, when numbers started to spike.


Man Wounded During Law Enforcement Chase Faces Charges

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A man who was shot and wounded during a central Kansas law enforcement chase faces multiple felony charges. The Salina Journal reports that 35-year-old Alberto J. Garcia y Tapia was charged Friday in Ellsworth County District Court with felony fleeing, felony aggravated assault on law enforcement officers and felony DUI. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that three officers from two jurisdictions fired their weapons during the chase Thursday night with a possibly armed person. The shooting is under investigation. The suspect continues to recuperate in a Wichita hospital. He has not made a court appearance and no court date has been scheduled. Tapia's condition was not released Monday morning. Authorities have not said where on his body he was wounded.


Vermont Sparks Reconsideration of Testing Cost Shift 

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Representatives from a consortium of states are reconsidering a decision that would greatly increase the costs for some smaller population states, including Vermont, of testing students who have significant cognitive disabilities. The move comes after Vermont Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe wrote a letter Sept. 8 to the governing board of the Dynamic Learning Maps assessment. Vermont's congressional delegation also this week complained that the pricing structure will shift the cost of rising prices onto small states like Vermont, which would see a more than 1000 percent price increase from $39 to an estimated $459 per test. The director of the Achievement & Assessment Institute at the University of Kansas said Tuesday that there's a very good chance that the governing board will change the cost allocation method.


Employee Evaluations Lead to Complaints from Kansas State Hospital Workers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An employees union has received complaints that high-level managers at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services kept some employees at Larned State Mental Hospital from receiving superior ratings on annual performance reviews. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Organization of State Employees says it received complaints from three workers at Larned, which has struggled with staffing shortages. The workers told the union that that their hospital supervisors rated them "exceptional" but that those determinations were overruled by central office administrators at KDADS. The employee union's executive director, Rebecca Proctor, says two mid-level hospital supervisors reported executives at KDADS were responsible for lowering staff ratings. 


Activist Promotes Expanded Light Rail in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Longtime light rail activist Clay Chastain is promoting his plan for a 40-mile Kansas City system ahead of the November election. Chastain outlined the plan Monday. Chastain says the system could be built for $45 million per mile. Destinations would include the Kansas City International Airport, the Truman Sports Complex and the Kansas City Zoo. Chastain says suburbs would want to build their own connections to the system. Although Chastain gathered enough signatures to trigger an election, members of the City Council don't support his plan. He says that if voters reject the plans, he will "accept that and consider the light rail issue in Kansas City is dead." This spring, the city began operating a 2.2-mile downtown streetcar line.


Audit: Iowa State Tax Expert Used School for Personal Gain 

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Auditors say an agricultural law expert at Iowa State University collected $278,000 in speaking and consulting fees that should have been deposited with the school. A report issued Tuesday by the state auditor says Roger McEowen had a "clear conflict of interest" that university officials failed to recognize or manage for years. McEowen was director of the ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation until his resignation in January. He also owned a private company that provided many of the same educational and legal services as the center. The report says McEowen received fees for dozens of seminars and speaking engagements in Kansas, North Dakota and elsewhere. It says that money should have gone to the center because he did them on university time, using the center's staff and materials.


Kansas Massage Parlor Owner Admits Sex-Trafficking

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita, Kansas, owner of a massage parlor has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a sex-trafficking case involving a Chinese woman. Prosecutors say 60-year-old GiGi's Elite Massage owner Samir Elias pleaded guilty in federal court Monday in Wichita to one count each of harboring an alien for financial gain and of importation of an alien for prostitution. Prosecutors said Elias was housing a Chinese woman who worked at his massage parlor, knowing she was selling sex at the business. Elias admitted collecting from her money he knew were proceeds from that activity. Prosecutors say the woman was arrested after offering sex acts to an undercover police detective who went into Elias' parlor for a massage. Elias' sentencing is scheduled for December 12.


Wichita Police Chief Hopes to Open Door Wider for Recruits 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's police chief is looking for ways to accept at least some candidates who are currently being turned away. The Wichita Eagle reports that Chief Gordon Ramsay says he "would like to hire more people that have struggled in life and understand those hardships." He says that could include recruits who have crimes in their past. Neither the Wichita Police Department nor the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office currently accepts job applications from anyone with criminal convictions, including minor cases such as shoplifting. A driving force behind the policies is preventing credibility issues in court. But Ramsay questioned whether a teenage offense should stand in the way of someone working in law enforcement many years later. Local defense attorneys praised Ramsay's intent.


Report: Kansas Farmers Planting Wheat, Harvesting Corn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas farmers are planting winter wheat and harvesting their fall crops in parts of the state where fields are dry enough to do so. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that winter wheat planting is 9 percent complete. That is about the same amount as last year and the five-year average. Corn harvest is 17 percent finished in the state. Usually 29 percent is done on average by this time. The condition of corn still out in Kansas fields is rated as 11 percent excellent, 55 percent good and 26 percent pair. About 8 percent is in poor to very poor condition. About 5 percent of the Kansas sorghum has also been cut. 


Eisenhower's Relatives Drop Objections to Ike Memorial in DC 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Relatives of Dwight D. Eisenhower have dropped their objections to the design of a long-planned memorial for the 34th president in Washington. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced Monday that Ike's relatives now support the memorial designed by esteemed architect Frank Gehry after negotiations "yielded a compromise on several design elements." Former Secretary of State James Baker was involved in those negotiations. The modified design will place more emphasis on Eisenhower's home state of Kansas and will represent the site of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, as it exists today. Congress approved the memorial in 1999 and allocated funding for planning, but the project has bogged down over objections to the design. Supporters are trying to raise $150 million with the goal of completing the memorial by 2019.


Ventura Posts 1st Complete Win, Royals Beat White Sox, 8-3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals' starting pitcher Yordano Ventura picked up his first complete-game victory as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Chicago White Sox 8-3 Monday. The Royals have won three straight, keeping their faint playoff hopes flickering with 12 games remaining. The Royals went 14-5 against the White Sox this year. Ventura (11-11) gave up nine hits, struck out five and walked one. His only other complete game in the majors was a loss July 28 at Texas. Royals' DH Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer off Carlos Rodon (7-10) in a four-run fifth inning. Morales has homered in back-to-back games, bringing his total to 29. The last Royal to hit 30 home runs in a season was Jermaine Dye, with 33 in 2000.  


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