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Headlines for Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

State Mental Hospital in Larned Gets Interim Leader

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has hired a consultant who specializes in temporary hospital management assignments to serve as the interim superintendent of the state mental hospital in Larned. The Department on Aging and Disability Services announced Wednesday that Chris Mattingly has been named to the job by interim Secretary Timothy Keck. Mattingly started Monday. Mattingly is an Oklahoma City-area management consultant who's served as a temporary CEO, chief financial officer or chief operating officer at numerous hospitals. He most recently worked in El Dorado. Keck cited Mattingly's lengthy experience in hospital management. The Larned hospital in western Kansas has faced staffing and budget problems. Superintendent Tom Kinlen resigned in March. KDADS Behavioral Health Commissioner Bill Rein has served as interim superintendent since then. Mattingly is expected to remain interim superintendent for about six months.


Kansas Jewish Center Memorial Honors 3 Killed in 2014 Attack

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Three people fatally shot by a white supremacist at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City are being remembered with a memorial at one of the shooting sites. Family and friends gathered Tuesday for a private dedication of the memorial at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. That's where 69-year-old William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, were killed in the April 2014 attack. Fifty-three-year-old Terri LaManno was the killed at the nearby Village Shalom retirement home. The sculpture is attached to an outside wall and features three waves of intertwined steel strands that cast different reflections as the sun moves. It also includes a plaque with pictures of the three victims. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., of Aurora, Missouri, was sentenced to death in the shootings.


Number of Victims in VA Hospital Sex Abuse Scandal Climbing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former physician assistant is accused of sexual battery and other crimes involving at least seven patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas, and a lawyer says more victims will emerge. Three civil lawsuits filed in recent weeks in U.S. District Court in Kansas accuse Mark Wisner of conducting unnecessary and improper genital examinations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center. He also faces criminal charges of aggravated criminal sodomy, solicitation and sexual battery in Leavenworth County. Wisner surrendered his medical license last year after seven patients accused him of abuse. He acknowledged in a consent decree that he had sexual contact with some patients, made inappropriate sexual comments and overprescribed. His attorney has said little except that Wisner is innocent until proven otherwise.


Kansas Agency Has No Full-Time Large-Scale Feedlot Engineers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has no full-time professional environmental engineers left working in the regulatory agency entrusted with overseeing more than 1,750 large-scale livestock feedlots. State environmental regulators say four engineering vacancies have put the brakes on anybody getting a new facility started or expanding one because there is a backlog of between 20 and 30 permits and delays of an additional three months to review livestock wastewater permit applications. The livestock-feeding industry says the lack of engineers at the state regulatory agency is not a pressing issue. But environmentalists say the public should care because the biggest risks are groundwater and surface water contamination, and avoiding that requires sufficient engineering judgment to ensure feedlots are built correctly.


DH Pace to Expand Headquarters, Add 150 Jobs in Kansas 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A door sales and service company plans to expand and renovate its headquarters in Kansas and add 150 new jobs. The Kansas Commerce Commission announced in a news release Wednesday that DH Pace Company will spend about $3 million to expand its corporate headquarters in Olathe to accommodate the new employees. In 2013, DH Pace relocated from four locations in North Kansas City, Missouri, into one plant in Olathe. The construction is expected to be completed about June 30. DH Pace Company operates facilities in over 25 markets throughout the U.S. It has more than 1,500 employees with annual sales exceeding $300 million.


Police: Graffiti at Wichita Mosque Gang-Related 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say that graffiti that was spray-painted on the side of a Wichita mosque is gang-related and does not appear to be aimed at Muslims. The Wichita Eagle reports that Lieutenant Jeff Gilmore said Tuesday that he was confident that whoever vandalized the building "had no idea" it was a mosque, but found the south side of the building and a board fence to be a "large canvas" for gang-related symbols that included stars and pitchforks. Damage was estimated at $500. The mosque, owned by the Islamic Association of Mid-Kansas, was the site of an arson fire in November 2011, causing $150,000 in damages. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson.


Wichita Police Official Accused of Fraud over Part-Time Job 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police lieutenant is charged in federal court with making fraudulent reports so she would be paid for working a part-time job while on duty. Forty-year-old Heather D. Bachman faces seven wire-fraud counts and one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator. The indictment accuses Bachman of defrauding the Wichita Police Department by working part time for Orion Security Services while on duty and being paid by the department. The city says she has been suspended without pay. A fraud count accuses her of sending an email to Orion making a claim for mileage, although she used a marked Wichita police patrol car. She also is alleged to have electronically filed a state tax return that didn't accurately report part-time earnings. A message left Tuesday with Bachman's attorney, Cyd Gilman, wasn't immediately returned. 


Itch Mites Survive Winter, Bite Again in Wichita Area

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Some oak leaf itch mites that fell from trees and bit people in the Wichita area last fall have managed to stay alive over the mild winter and are biting again. Sedgwick County Extension Education Center agent Matthew McKernan says the office has received about a half-dozen calls over the past couple of weeks from people who have been bitten. The Wichita Eagle reports that the oak leaf itch mite isn't an issue most years and that during a normal winter, low temperatures would have killed them. But some that are living in in leaves fallen from oak trees are too small to see. McKernan says that mites lasting through the winter doesn't necessarily mean there will be another bad crop of new ones later this year.


Soldier Involved in Fatal I-70 Collision

A Fort Riley soldier was involved in a vehicle collision that killed two Manhattan residents. Ronald and Marlene Montgomery were killed while traveling east on I-70 near exit 303 in Geary County after their vehicle was struck by another driver, who has been identified as Sergeant Kevin Runions, a healthcare specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion. Runions was treated and released from Irwin Army Community Hospital. The commander of the 1st Infantry Division released a statement today (WED) expressing his condolences and promising full cooperation with law enforcement agencies in connection with the investigation into the incident. 


6-Year-Olds Take Pickup Truck for Joyride in Kansas

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Police say two 6-year-old boys took a joyride in a pickup truck through a central Kansas town, damaging five other vehicles and two mailboxes along the way. Newton police Sergeant Josh Millspaugh says the boys' three-block journey ended about 4:30 pm Tuesday when they rammed another truck. One of the boys was taken to a Wichita hospital with minor lacerations. The other was released to a parent. Millspaugh said it was "surprising" to see such young occupants when he responded to the scene. He said the boys didn't say where they were going, but had collided with cars and a full-sized van, and occasionally drove through yards. Millspaugh says he didn't know the relationship between the boys. The truck they drove belonged to a parent.


Remains May Be Those of Man Who Stole Kansas City Police Car Found 

PATTONSBURG, Mo. (AP) — Police say bones found in a field in northwest Missouri are believed to be those of a man who disappeared after stealing a Kansas City police car in 2014. A farmer found the remains Monday near Pattonsburg. A shotgun stolen from the police car was nearby. The Kansas City Star reports the remains are believed to be those of 30-year-old Joshua Boyd. They will undergo DNA testing at the Kansas City Crime Lab. Boyd disappeared after stealing the police car in August 2014. After a chase that reached 100 mph, the car was found abandoned on Interstate 35 in Davies County. Boyd was charged with robbery. He had a prior sex crime offense in Utah, and was listed as an absconder on the Missouri sex offender registry.


Former Kansas Teacher Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former suburban Kansas City high school teacher has been ordered to serve 30 days in jail as part of her probation for having sex with a 16-year-old student. The Kansas City Star reports that 33-year-old Jeana Marie Fleming was sentenced Tuesday in Johnson County District Court for unlawful sexual relations. Fleming also will be required to register as a sex offender. Fleming and the boy had sex in December 2014 while she taught in the Olathe school district's alternative education program for high school students. Under Kansas law, it is illegal for a teacher to have sex with a student at the same school, even if the student is above the age of consent. In Kansas, the age of consent is 16.


All-Electric House Completes Move to Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A suburban dream-home prototype that was built in the 1950s has completed its nine-mile journey to a new location in suburban Kansas City. The Johnson County Museum's All-Electric House began its journey Tuesday night in Shawnee. It arrived early Wednesday at the new Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center in Overland Park, where it will be the centerpiece of a new exhibition. The ranch house was built in Prairie Village as a model show house for Kansas City Power & Light. Decades later, its owner donated the home, which was carefully restored. Johnson County Museum Director Mindi Love says the house was called the "Lazy Man's Paradise" when it was built. She told KCTV that it contained a lot of electrical features and gadgetry that weren't typical at the time.


Legal Fight over Sedgwick County Zoo's New Elephants Ends 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A legal fight has ended over the Sedgwick County Zoo's new African elephants. The Wichita Eagle reports that animal-rights group Friends of Animals dropped its lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the transport of 17 elephants from Swaziland to zoos in Wichita, Dallas and Omaha. Friends of Animals' lawyer Jennifer Best says dropping the suit was a tough decision that came down to how to best use the group's time and resources. The Connecticut-based advocacy group filed the suit in February after the agency approved the transfer in January. The group argued that the agency didn't consider the mental and physical toll on the elephants. The zoos joined the government's side and went ahead with the transfer about a month ago as a judge denied the group's last-ditch effort to stop it.


Nebraska Agency Says Unhealthy Smoke Levels Could Continue

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials say air conditions that prompted a health advisory from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department could continue into Thursday. The advisory says the unhealthy smoke levels are caused by agricultural burns in the Flint Hills area of Kansas and areas in Nebraska east of Beatrice. The advisory says the problem may last through Thursday because of winds from the south and relatively low wind speeds. The advisory says older adults and children and people with asthma, lung disease or other respiratory conditions or heart disease to stay indoors and avoid strenuous activity.


South Dakota Officials: Smoke from Kansas Fires Affecting State Air Quality

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota environmental officials say smoke traveling north from agricultural fires in Kansas is affecting air quality in the eastern part of the state. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says air quality conditions will vary throughout Wednesday. Monitoring site readings Wednesday morning indicate "unhealthy" air in Union County, air that is "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in Sioux Falls and "moderate" conditions in Brookings. Sensitive groups generally include children, older adults and people with lung diseases. The department encourages residents to visit the state's Real Time Air Quality Index or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's site for updates.

(Editor's note: Interested in a forecast for Kansas/Nebraska air quality? Click here.)


Salina Police: Woman and 2 Children Found Safe 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police say a mother and her two children who were reported missing March 31 have been found safe. Rebecka Lorentsen and her two children, ages 15 and 7, had not been seen since leaving their Salina home to attend a school event. Police Captain Mike Sweeney said Wednesday that all three have been located. He says they are safe and living in another town. Sweeney says nothing illegal occurred and police are no longer involved in the case. No other details were released.


Former Kansas City Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Fraud Scheme 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City attorney has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1.2 million from St. Luke's Health System. Federal prosecutors say Alan B. Gallas entered the plea Tuesday to mail fraud. He was a partner in the Kansas City law firm of Gallas & Shultz before he surrendered his law license in Missouri and Kansas last year and was disbarred. Gallas's firm was a collection agency for patients with outstanding bills to St. Luke's. Money collected for the health system was placed in a trust account. Gallas admitted that he had employees at the firm transfer money from the trust account to an operating account rather than remitting payments to St. Luke's. Gallas must repay $1.2 million in restitution to St. Luke's. His sentencing date has not been set.


Hutchinson Man Pleads Guilty in Jail Beating 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas jail inmate has pleaded guilty to beating another inmate so severely that the victim had to be flown to a hospital. The Hutchinson News reports that William Alexander pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of aggravated battery. His sentencing is set for June 3. Prosecutors said Alexander and his brother, Antoine Alexander, attacked 30-year-old Darrell Beachy in September in the Reno County jail pod they shared. Beachy was flown to a Wichita hospital with a head injury. Beachy was in custody at the time on numerous charges of theft, burglary, forgery and interference with law enforcement, while the Alexander brothers both were there for failing to appear in unrelated felony theft and drug cases. Antoine Alexander previously pleaded to the same reduced charge in November.


Oil Price Drop Could Mean Fewer Saudis at Wichita State 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University officials say a steep drop in oil prices could mean fewer Saudi Arabian students at the university in the future. Provost Tony Vizzini says losing the Saudi Arabian students would cost the university about $4 million in annual revenue. The Wichita Eagle reports about 260 of the 319 Saudi students currently attending Wichita State are supported by Saudi government-sponsored scholarships. But with the drop in oil revenue, the Saudi government has sharply reduced its scholarships for students who study overseas. Vizzini says Wichita State will continue to recruit international students and he believes many will continue to study in Wichita even if they have to pay their own way. The school's recruiters also will concentrate on other countries that need to train more engineers.


Kansas Man Found Dead in Water Well; Cause Unclear 

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The owner of an electric company was found dead in a water well near Arkansas City. The Arkansas City Traveler reports that 46-year-old Jim Graham's body was found in the well south of Arkansas City early Wednesday. He has been reporting missing Tuesday after he didn't return home from work. Cowley County Undersheriff Jeff Moore says the man has been working on an electrical system on pumps for a well belonging to Cowley County Rural District #1. Moore says it's unclear if he died from health issues or was electrocuted. Foul play is not suspected. An autopsy will be performed. Moore says the electrical systems on the well were operational and the pump was functional when it was turned back on.


Officials Advance Permit Request to Reopen Kansas Racetrack 

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) — Local officials are recommending approval with multiple conditions for a request to allow a Kansas City, Kansas, business to reopen as a racetrack, electronic gaming venue and entertainment facility. The Kansas City Star reports that the city's planning commission heard testimony Monday on a special use permit application request for The Woodlands. The commission voted to send the request on for further consideration by the Unified Government Commission. More than a dozen stipulations, including a main building of at least 85,000 square feet, were attached to the approval. The plan by Ruffin Woodlands LLC calls for a horse racing, electronic gaming and entertainment facility on 317 acres of a 400-acre site. The company is headed by billionaire Phil Ruffin, who owns other racetracks or casinos in Kansas and Nevada.


Wal-Mart Expands Free Curbside Grocery Pickup Service 

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is expanding its service that allows customers to order groceries online and then pick them up outside their local store. The nation's largest food retailer said Wednesday it's adding eight new markets this month to its free curbside grocery pickup service. They include Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas; and Charleston, South Carolina. Wal-Mart has been offering the service in roughly 150 stores in 22 markets. By the end of April, it will offer it in roughly 200 stores in 30 markets. It says it will to add more locations over the course of the year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is aiming to capitalize on its power to combine its brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping as it faces stiff competition in same-day grocery delivery from and others.


Royals Hold On to Beat Astros, 3-2

HOUSTON (AP) — The  Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run homer in the first inning, as the Royals defeated the Houston Astros, 3-2,  Tuesday night. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas hit consecutive singles to start the game before Cain connected on a fastball off Mike Fiers (0-1) to make it 3-0. The Astros got within 1 in the bottom of the inning after an RBI double by Colby Rasmus followed by a run-scoring single by Tyler White. Royals' pitcher Kris Medlen (1-0) allowed six hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in five innings in his 2016 debut. Reliever Wade Davis walked two players with one out in the ninth before retiring Jose Altuve and George Springer for his third save of the season.

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