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Headlines for Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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

Former Leader of Kansas Health Clinic Running for 3rd District Congress

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former president of a children's health clinic in the Kansas City area is running for Congress in Kansas.  Andrea Ramsey announced Tuesday that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the 3rd District seat now held by Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder.  Ramsey was until recently the president and board chairwoman for the Turner House Children's Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas. It serves about 6,000 mostly poor children a year.  The Leawood resident also has worked as an attorney and corporate executive.  Democrats are targeting Yoder because Hillary Clinton carried the district in last year's presidential race. Other Democrats running are retired Army officer and Leawood resident Joe McConnell, Mission Woods businessman Jay Sidie and retired Lenexa electrical worker Reginald Marselus. Sidie was the Democratic nominee last year.

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Centene to Offer Insurance in Kansas and Missouri Federal Exchanges  

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Centene Corporation says it will begin offering coverage under the Affordable Care Act for insurance exchanges in Kansas and Missouri next year at a time other insurers are pulling out of such marketplaces.  Centene announced the expansion Tuesday   It didn't specify whether its foray into Kansas and Missouri will fill a 32-county void that will result from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City's decision to leave that individual insurance marketplace next year.  That Blue Cross decision affects about 67,000 people and 25 Missouri counties will be left with no insurance provider under the exchanges unless another company steps in to sell coverage. Centene, which also plans to expand in seven other states, says 90 percent of its exchange customers are eligible for subsidies.

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Kansas Education Officials Renew Student Testing Contract

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is renewing a contract with the state's student assessment provider despite technical problems that caused delays. Members of the Kansas State Board of Education voted Tuesday to renew the contract with the University of Kansas's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation. The move came two months after technical problems occurred as 15,000 students were simultaneously taking the assessment tests. Testing center official Neal Kingston vowed to "continue to do better and better.'' He directs the university's Achievement and Assessment Institute, which has administered tests for the state's school districts since 1989. Testing problems also have occurred in the past, mostly recently last year when a fiber cable was cut in Lawrence. 

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Ex-Volunteer Firefighter Admits to Role in Tribal Fire Fraud Scheme 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former volunteer firefighter for an American Indian reservation has admitted to covering up for the department's former leader who is charged with arranging for fires to be set that the tribe was paid to fight. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas says 35-year-old Arlene Negonsott, of Horton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to concealing a felony. She admitted through her plea to not telling investigators what she knew about former Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department chief Stephen Ramirez when she was interviewed about a series of fires on the Kickapoo Reservation in Brown County. Ramirez is awaiting trial on wire fraud charges. Prosecutors initially said Ramirez recruited Negonsott to set fires on reservation in 2015 that the department fought. The Bureau of Indian Affairs paid the department $600 for each fire.

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Kansas Man Accused of Seeking to Enslave Mother, Child

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is accused in a criminal complaint of looking for a mother and child to enslave for sex. The U.S. attorney's office says 63-year-old Michael David Mitchell, of Ottawa, told an undercover investigator posing as a woman with a daughter that he would take care of her but that "it won't be easy on either of you." He described himself as "a sadist" who enjoys "inflicting pain." Court documents say he also told them he was willing to pay them. Mitchell was charged Monday with attempted sex trafficking of a child and several other counts after he was arrested at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel where he had arranged to meet them. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. 

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KCK Fairfax Plant Targeted in GM Summer Shutdown 

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is extending the normal two-week summer shutdown at two U.S. car factories because of slumping demand. Union officials say the Lordstown, Ohio, plant near Cleveland and the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will close for as long as five weeks in June and July. The summer shutdown normally lasts two weeks. Lordstown makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact while Fairfax builds the Chevrolet Malibu midsize car. Cruze sales are up 36 percent due largely to fleet sales. Sales to individual buyers are down 3 percent. Malibu sales are down 30 percent through May. Spokesman Jim Cain confirms that some car plants will see more down weeks but wouldn't give specifics. He says GM is adjusting as the market shifts from cars to trucks and SUVs.

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Fort Riley Planning $37 Million Effort to Conserve Energy 

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley officials are hopeful a $37 million program to conserve energy will save the Army post $92 million during the next 22 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that construction began Tuesday as part of 15 energy conservation measures for the fort's 280 buildings. Michael Witmer, with the fort's public works department, says the plan is to reduce energy usage by 25 percent by 2025. The project will be funded over the 22 years by a third party and doesn't require taxpayer dollars. The money from the energy savings will help pay the contractor back for its capital investment and their operations. The project includes expanding and upgrading central plants and energy management controls; performing heating, ventilation and air conditioning work; lighting upgrades; and improving boiler and water conservation measures.

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Man Faces Up to 20 Years for Deadly Kansas City Shooting 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced next month for a deadly Kansas City shooting. Fifty-year-old Christopher Perkins pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the March 2015 killing of 53-year-old Kelvin Paige. As part of his plea, an unlawful use of a weapon charge was dismissed. A witness told police that Perkins and Paige got into an argument before the shooting. Court documents say Paige and a passenger in his car began to drive away when Perkins pulled out a gun and fired into the vehicle. The passenger got out and ran, and Paige's car rolled for about a block until it crashed into a light pole. Sentencing is set for July 14.

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Kansas Lawmakers' Budget Mandates Multiple Reviews of Private Prison Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators want to have multiple reviews of a plan to build a new state prison before Governor Sam Brownback's administration moves forward with the project. They have included a provision in the next state budget requiring the oversight. The Department of Corrections hopes to finalize a contract this fall with a private company to build a new prison in Lansing to replace the state's oldest and largest one. The department has proposed having the company lease the new prison to Kansas for up to 40 years before the state owns it. The proposed budget would authorize a lease-purchase agreement and up to $155 million in bonds for traditional financing of the project. But it also mandates reviews by a building advisory panel, two legislative committees and legislative leaders.

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University of Kansas Dorm Wing Will Cater to LGBT Students

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is devoting a residence hall wing to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Student Housing director Diana Robertson says more than 20 students have signed up to live in the "gender inclusive housing" in Lewis Hall for the upcoming school year. Besides catering to LGBT students, the wing also will house students who don't identify exclusively as male or female, as well as those questioning their sexual identity. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that roommates will be assigned regardless of sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. In the past, university housing officials worked on a case-by-case basis to place students who didn't fit traditional gender profiles.

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Ottawa Man Charged with Attempted Child Sex Trafficking

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man is accused in a criminal complaint of looking for a mother and child to enslave for sex. The U.S. attorney's office says 63-year-old Michael David Mitchell, of Ottawa, told an undercover investigator posing as a woman with a daughter that he would take care of her but that "it won't be easy on either of you." He described himself as "a sadist" who enjoys "inflicting pain." Court documents say he also told them he was willing to pay them. Mitchell was charged Monday with attempted sex trafficking of a child and several other counts after he was arrested at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel where he had arranged to meet them. 

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Salina-Area Zoo Euthanizes Milly, a Southern White Rhino 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Officials with the Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina say a southern white rhinoceros has been euthanized. The zoo said in a news release that the rhino, named Milly, was euthanized Wednesday because of declining health and old age. Milly was one of the first animals at Rolling Hills, arriving in 1996 as part of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan. She was born in South Africa and came to Salina from the Knoxville Zoo. The rhino's age was between 46 and 51. White rhinos are considered a near-threatened species, with about 20,000 remaining in the wild. Milly's body was taken to Kansas State University for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

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Wichita Renames Park in Honor of Slain Police Dog 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita officials are honoring a city police dog named Rooster who was killed in the line of duty. The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to change the name of a city dog park to "K-9 Rooster Park." Rooster was shot to death March 18 during a confrontation outside a south Wichita mobile home park.  Police were responding to a call from a woman who said she was being threatened by 25-year-old Kevin Perry, who she said had a gun and may be suicidal.  Police fatally shot Perry to after the dog was killed. 

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Traffic Deaths in Kansas Averaging More than 1 Per Day

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the troubling rise in traffic fatalities across the state is accelerating.  AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Haugh tells the Wichita Eagle that Kansas is currently averaging more than one traffic fatality a day.  Data from AAA shows that there have been nearly 175 traffic deaths across the state so far this year. That's a 13 percent increase over the same time frame a year ago and a 44 percent increase from 2015.  Haugh says cheaper gas prices usually result in people driving more miles, but that doesn't necessarily mean they drive safer. She says not wearing seatbelts and having short attention spans can contribute to the fatality increase.  AAA reports that there were more than 430 traffic deaths in Kansas for all of 2016.

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Wichita Man Who Texted Photo of Dead Girlfriend Sentenced to Life

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who texted a photo of his dead girlfriend to his family has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her.  Forty-two-year-old Jonathan Perret won't be eligible for parole for 25 years under the sentence imposed Tuesday. He pleaded guilty last month to felony murder for fatally shooting 42-year-old Melissa Englert while she checked on her parents' house. They were out of town.  Messages sent to his son's phone included a photo of a gun and a person lying on the ground. Perret called her a banshee in one message and said someone needed to shoot her, adding that "I did love her though!!!"  Police said the couple had a history of domestic violence.

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Kansas Husband Who Robbed Bank to Avoid Wife Given Probation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 70-year-old man who said he robbed a Kansas City, Kansas, bank so he could get away from his wife blamed his actions on depression.  A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Lawrence John Ripple to house probation.  Ripple robbed a bank located a block away from the Kansas City, Kansas, police headquarters last September.  After a teller gave him the money, Ripple waited in the bank's lobby for police to arrive. Court records indicate Ripple wrote his robbery note in front of his wife and told her he would rather be in jail than continue living with her. Ripple told the judge Tuesday that heart surgery left him depressed and unlike himself before he robbed the bank.

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Kansas Museum to Showcase Duplicate Amelia Earhart Plane

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A nonprofit organization that purchased the last known airplane identical to the one Amelia Earhart flew has announced plans for a new airport facility in Kansas that will serve as a museum to showcase the plane and as a terminal for airport traffic.  The News-Press Now reports the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation is finalizing renderings of the $10 million Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum, developing a branding campaign and beginning a fundraising effort.  The historic plane known as Muriel will be the museum's focal point. Muriel is an Electra Model 10E, which is the same model flown by aviator Earhart in her attempt to circle the globe. Muriel is the last surviving Electra 10E of the 14 manufactured.  Foundation Chairwoman Karen Seaberg hopes the project will be completed within two years.

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5 Plead Guilty in $4.3 Million Kansas City-Area Meth Ring 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five men from Excelsior Springs pleaded guilty this week to their roles in a $4.3 million conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine in five northwest Missouri counties. Federal prosecutors say the men distributed the drugs through Jackson, Clay, Ray, Clinton and Buchanan counties. Those who pleaded guilty this week are 53-year-old Marion Eugene Brammer; 44-year-old Jason Lee Kirtley; 60-year-old Jackie Love; 36-year-old William Dean Campbell, and 32-year-old Steven Lee Schreier Jr. They are the last of 26 defendants indicted in the case who pleaded guilty. In 2010, law enforcement investigated a drug-trafficking organization distributing methamphetamine in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Some co-conspirators distributed the methamphetamine throughout the five Missouri counties. Court documents indicate conspirators sold $4.3 million of methamphetamine and heroin from 2010 to 2015.

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1 Killed in South Kansas City House Fire

MARTIN CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities say a person has been killed in a house fire in the Martin City area of southern Kansas City. WDAF-TV reports that the victim was found in a hallway after the fire was reported Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The victim's name has not been released.

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Vargas Wins 4th Straight Game as Royals Top Giants 8-1 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar hit a two-run double as part of a six-run sixth inning as the Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 8-1 on Tuesday night. Jorge Bonifacio drove in three runs and Alex Gordon added two hits and two runs. Whit Merrifield had a bases-loaded triple to help Kansas City win in its first appearance at AT&T Park since the 2014 World Series. Royals' starting pitcher Jason Vargas (9-3) allowed one run over seven innings to outpitch Ty Blach in a battle of left-handers. Vargas gave up five hits with six strikeouts and one walk for his fourth straight win overall and second against the Giants this season. Buster Posey had two hits and scored San Francisco's only run. The Giants have lost 10 of 14.
 

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