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Headlines for Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Livestock Virus Raising Concerns in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR / KNS) - A livestock virus in nearby states has Kansas officials warning farm animal owners to be on the lookout. The V-S virus is confirmed in horses in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. But it can spread to cattle and other animals by flies or contact between livestock. It causes mouth lesions, which means animals might refuse to eat or drink, triggering weight loss and other complications. Andy Hawkins, with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, told Kansas Public Radio that horse owners should take precautions at competitions that bring horses together.  Hawkins says livestock owners should immediately report symptoms of the disease to a veterinarian. Kansas is adding stricter import requirements for animals from areas where the virus is confirmed.

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Kansas Senator Disagrees with Trump's Remarks About Democratic Congresswomen

LOUISBURG, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas says President Donald Trump's suggestion that four Democratic congresswomen of color "go back" to where they came was inappropriate because the women are Americans.  At a town hall meeting Monday in Louisburg, Moran says he disagreed with the congresswomen targeted in Trump's tweets on many policies. But he said there is "nothing to be gained" by personal attacks on elected officials or Americans.  The president on Sunday said on Twitter that the four congresswomen hate America and should go back to their countries, and he continued his attacks Monday and Tuesday. All the women are American citizens.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Moran said "It is inappropriate to suggest they go home to any place - they are home."

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USDA: 40% of Transferred Ag Researchers to Move to Midwest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Department of Agriculture says fewer than 40% of the researchers whose jobs are being transferred from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City will make the move to the Midwest.  U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in June that the USDA would move more than 550 jobs to Kansas City. A USDA spokesperson told The Kansas City Star that 145 workers will follow their jobs to Kansas City, while 250 will leave the agency.  Members of the Kansas and Missouri congressional delegations and the states' governors praised the USDA's move, saying the research agencies are a good fit for the region.  Critics argued that moving them will make it harder for federal policymakers to get objective research.

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New Climate Report Suggests Midwest Could Experience More Extreme Heat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Harvest Public Media) - A new climate change report suggests the Midwest could experience far more days that feel like at least 105 degrees by the end of the century. That’s a worst-case scenario from the Union of Concerned Scientists that assumes little would be done to combat climate change.  The study’s worst-case scenario is bleaker than many climate change projections, but Vanderbilt University’s Jonathan Gilligan says even the report’s medium-case scenario would require increased efforts to combat climate change.  The study looks at the heat index, or what the temperature would feel like given temperature and humidity.  Gilligan told Harvest Public Media that the research adds to a growing body of work showing how challenging heat increases will be.

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Lawrence to Require Sex Harassment Training for Bar Managers 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city leaders have voted to require some bar and restaurant workers to get sexual violence intervention training. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the city commission adopted an ordinance Tuesday requiring the training as a requirement for the establishments to keep their local liquor licenses. The ordinance requires training for on-site managers. Both the city-issued license and a state liquor license are required to serve alcoholic beverages. Businesses where alcohol is not consumed, such as liquor and grocery stores, are exempt. Several bar owners asked for the city to reconsider the ordinance, saying they were concerned that intervening in harassment situations could create liability for a bar owner and that it might hurt some bars financially.

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KU to Begin Beer, Wine Sales at Memorial Stadium

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas will begin the sale of beer and wine at home football games this season, joining a growing number of Big 12 schools to offer alcohol sales at sporting events. Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long said Wednesday the decision is merely an expansion of a trial program that Kansas has been using in select areas of venues. Long said it was made in response to fan input, and that alcohol sales will be suspended at the end of the third quarter. The school is also instituting a "no re-entry" policy at Memorial Stadium. There are about 50 Division I football programs that now allow alcohol sales on football game days, including Big 12 schools Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech.

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Superintendent Says He Didn't Know Nurse's History in Pending Sex Case

DE SOTO, Kan. (AP) — The superintendent of a suburban Kansas City school district says he wasn't aware that a school nurse who's charged with two counts of unlawful sexual relations with a minor had faced similar accusations at a previous job. The Kansas City Star reports that De Soto, Kansas, Superintendent Frank Harwood said Tuesday that Richard Finazzo wouldn't have been hired if the district "had any idea" of the suspicions. Charging documents say Finazzo resigned from De Soto High School in October while under suspicion for the same conduct that led to his firing two years ago from the nearby Gardner-Edgerton High School. Prosecutors say Finazzo has claimed he was the victim of a "double standard" that wouldn't apply to female nurses. The Gardner-Edgerton district didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from The Star or The Associated Press.

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Wichita Officials: Lab Technician "Fudged" Wastewater Data

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita lab technician "fudged" the test results of sewage treatment plant wastewater that is dumped into the Arkansas River.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Director of Public Works Alan King said Tuesday that the city caught the error during a spot check and immediately reported it to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The employee has since resigned.  The problematic test results falsely reported how much organic and inorganic substance is floating in the water. It's generally used as an indicator of sediment or silt in the water.  King says Wichita's permits shouldn't be affected, and there was no danger to the public. Results from around the same time as the false one show that the city likely stayed within an acceptable range.

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"Mayor Pete" Campaigns for President in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR / KNS) - Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is visiting Kansas City this week, the first 2020 presidentail candidate to visit the metro.  Buttigieg told KCUR Radio that President Trump's trade rift with China is hurting farmers in Midwestern states like his, as well as in Kansas and Missouri.  The South Bend, Indiana, mayor attended a fundraiser last (TUE) night.  Today (WED), he's expected to tour a tiny house village put up by the locally based Veterans Community Project.  The mayor, a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, says the group is helping lead the fight against veteran homelessness by connecting veterans to each other.  

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Kansas State Senator Recovering in Colorado from Fall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Republican state senator from Kansas has fractured vertebrae while vacationing in Colorado.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 73-year-old Ed Berger, of Hutchinson, is recuperating at a Denver-area hospital after falling down steps on July 4 at an Airbnb unit west of Winter Park.  He said Tuesday in a phone interview that surgery went well and that he is undergoing physical therapy with family by his side. He is in a brace and using a walker but expects to walk unaided.  He says he hopes to return to Hutchinson early next week. He anticipates that his recovery will take about six weeks.  He says his fellow lawmakers have been "very nice'' and "very supportive."

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Couple Wins One, Loses One in Lawsuits Against Emporia State University

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ A black couple who filed separate discrimination lawsuits against Emporia State University won one lawsuit while the other was dismissed. The Kansas City Star reports a federal judge ruled Tuesday the university retaliated against Angelica Hale by not renewing her contract after she complained about racial discrimination during the 2014-2015 school year. A jury on Monday dismissed her husband Melvin's $10 million lawsuit against five university administrators. The couple worked at Emporia State's School of Library and Information Management. They alleged their employment ended after they found a racial slur written in a notebook and pushed for an investigation. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree awarded Angelica Hale damages of $1 and said she may recover her costs. She also will be allowed to submit a brief concerning whether front pay, reinstatement and back pay are appropriate. 
   
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Wichita Man Sentenced for Burglary, Shooting at Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 22-year-old Wichita man who exchanged gunfire with police during a chase has been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.   KAKE-TV reports Elijah Martinez was sentenced yesterday (TUE) to 280 months for intentional second-degree attempted murder and three counts of burglary after the confrontation in December 2017.  Investigators say officers began pursuing Martinez after a man reported seeing two people stealing mail in west Wichita.   Police said gunfire was exchanged at a business and when Martinez drove his vehicle toward officers. He then fled and was pursued in a chase with speeds reaching 80 to 100 mph. The chase ended when Martinez pulled into a parking lot, lost control of his vehicle and crashed.  Martinez suffered a gunshot wound to the jaw. No officers were seriously injured.

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Wichita Police Investigate Woman's Death at Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police are investigating the death of a woman in northeast Wichita home.  Officer Kevin Wheeler said a woman in her 70s was found unresponsive in the home Monday evening.  Emergency responders tried unsuccessfully to revive the woman.  Wheeler says officers were notified about a possible disturbance at the home before the woman was found.  The investigation is continuing.

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Texas Woman Dies, Transportation Worker Injured After Wreck

LYNDON, Kan. (AP) - A 52-year-old Texas woman died in a wreck that later led to a Kansas Department of Transportation worker being injured.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says Patricia Falconer, of Canyon Lake, Texas, died in the accident Monday on Interstate 35 in Osage County.  Falconer lost control of her vehicle and over-corrected, causing the vehicle to roll several times. She died at the scene. A passenger, 27-year-old Jeffrey Cadman, also of Canyon Lake, was seriously injured.  The patrol says about 90 minutes later, a state transportation worker who was helping direct traffic around the wreck was struck by a tractor-trailer.  The worker, Christopher Staley, of Williamsburg, was taken to Coffey County Hospital with minor injuries.

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Pigs Fall from Truck; Officer Thinks Dispatch said "Kids" Instead of Pigs

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Confusion about whether pigs or kids had tumbled out of a vehicle in Kansas led to a humorous exchange between a dispatcher and an officer.  Police in Riley County posted audio of the exchange on Facebook under the hearing, "Just a typical day in Kansas."  It starts with a dispatcher telling an officer, "We evidently have a truck that is losing pigs out the back. The officer then attempts to clarify, saying "Kids, as in children?" The dispatcher then clarified, "No, pigs. As in little pink animals with curly tails."  Body-camera video shows the officer then arriving at the scene to find two people who had apparently captured the pigs holding them with leashes.

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Kansas Muslim Group Wants Independence, Missouri Councilman to Resign

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas chapter of a Muslim civil rights group is calling for the resignation of an Independence, Missouri, city councilman who said during a meeting that Middle Eastern owners of discount smoke shops will "sell anything out the back door.''   The Kansas City Star reports Councilman Curt Dougherty made the comment Monday while discussing a proposal to regulate medical marijuana facilities in Independence.  He was arguing that the city had rules restricting several types of businesses, including smoke shops run mostly by Middle Easterners. The Kansas chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations said in a statement Wednesday that Dougherty should resign. CAIR-Kansas Board Chairman Moussa Elbayoumy said the comment showed Dougherty couldn't represent a diverse constituency. Dougherty did not immediately respond to an email or phone message seeking comment.  

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Man Struck, Killed by Passenger Train near Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been struck and killed by an Amtrak train while walking across a stretch of railroad tracks south of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the man killed in Tuesday's crash has been identified as 64-year-old William Reynolds III, of Topeka. Shawnee County sheriff's Sgt. Todd Stallbaumer says about 150 passengers were aboard the train at the time he was hit. The train didn't move for about two hours afterward. None of the passengers were hurt. The collision is under investigation.

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Woman Admits Crashing Car into Cabela's to Steal Guns

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A 27-year-old woman has admitted that she and a co-defendant intentionally drove a car into a Cabela's store in Kansas in order to steal guns.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release that Brenda Tosh, of Kansas City, Kansas, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to steal guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer.  She admitted that she and a man crashed the car into a Cabela's in Kansas City, Kansas, in November . They attempted to steal several shotguns and rifles but Tosh was arrested before she could leave the store.  Her co-defendant, 29-year-old Kle Mendez, of Kansas City, Kansas, was arrested after trying to steal a car from a nearby dealership. He is scheduled for a change of plea hearing August 19.  Tosh will be sentenced September 30.

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Wichita Mother of 4 Killed, Boyfriend Arrested

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 25-year-old mother of four young children was shot to death at a southwest Wichita home and her boyfriend has been arrested. Spokesman Officer Charley Davidson said Elsey Puente was found suffering from a gunshot wound Tuesday evening. She died later at a hospital. The Wichita Eagle reports her boyfriend, 29-year-old Victor Manuel Castro, was arrested at the home and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail. Davidson said Puente was shot after a "domestic violence disturbance" between Castro and Puente inside the home. Puente's four children were inside the house at the time but were not injured. Davidson said they staying with relatives. He said Castro is not the children's father.

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Army Corps Opens Fort Peck Spillway as Reservoir Level Rises

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partially opened two of the Fort Peck Dam's spillway gates to relieve the rising water level in the reservoir. The Billings Gazette reports Fort Peck had been holding back water on the upper Missouri River because of this year's flooding downstream in South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. The water in the dam had reached an elevation of nearly 2,247 feet (685 meters), with the top of the gates at 2,250 feet (686 meters). Opening the gates on Monday brings the amount of water moving through the dam to 15,000 cubic feet per second (425 cubic meters per second). The corps' Darin McMurry says that will likely be the level through August. Last year's peak releases from Fort Peck dam were 20,000 cubic feet per second (566 cubic meters per second).

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KU Football Enters Season Under New Management

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Kansas football coach Les Miles figures he's back where he belongs -- on the sideline after 2 and 1/2 years away from coaching. The national championship winner at LSU has a rebuilding job similar to the last time he was in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State 18 years ago.  Miles led the Cowboys to bowl games the last three of his four seasons there.  He was fired at LSU midseason in 2016.  Now Miles is trying to lift a woebegone Jayhawks program with an 18-90 record since 2010.
     
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