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Headlines for Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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

Kansas Tax Collections Exceed Expectations by $37M in February
 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $37 million more in taxes than anticipated in February. The Department of Revenue's report Wednesday is good news for legislators and Republican Governor Sam Brownback as they deal with the state's budget problems. The positive news eases pressure for immediate spending cuts. The department said the state took in nearly $332 million in taxes when the state had projected collections of $295 million. The monthly surplus is 12.5 percent. It was the fourth consecutive month tax collections exceeded expectations. But revenues are being compared against a revised and more pessimistic fiscal forecast issued in November. The state still faces a projected shortfall of $281 million in its current budget and gaps in spending for existing programs exceeding $1 billion through June 2019.

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Trump Condemns Kansas Bar Shooting in Speech

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump opened his address to a joint session of Congress by condemning the recent threats against Jewish community centers and a fatal shooting in a bar in Olathe that's now being investigated as a hate crime. Trump  said that "while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms." The president has been criticized by some civil rights groups who accused him of being slow in denouncing the violent acts. The president had not mentioned the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, one of two Indian men shot inside a bar in Olathe, Kansas, until his speech Tuesday night. There have also been dozens of threats against Jewish community centers — and vandalism in Jewish cemeteries — across the nation in recent weeks.

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Kansas Governor to Meet with Indian Consul over Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An aide says Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer plan to meet with India's consul general to discuss last week's shooting that left an Indian engineer dead and another wounded. Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said the meeting will take place later this week. She said Brownback and Colyer plan to express their condolences and express their support for the Indian community. Witnesses to the shooting in Olathe said 51-year-old suspect Adam Purinton yelled "get out of my country" at 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and 32-year-old Alok Madasani before opening fire. Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani was wounded. Both were working as engineers for GPS maker Garmin. Another bar patron also was wounded.

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Indian Hometown Grieves for Engineer Killed in Kansas Bar

HYDERABAD, India (AP) - Hundreds of grieving family and friends have tearfully mourned a 32-year-old engineer in his southern Indian hometown days after he was killed in an apparently racially motivated shooting in a crowded Kansas bar. Tears rolled down the cheeks of Srinivas Kuchibhotla's parents, Madhusudhan Rao and Vardhini, as his body was cremated Tuesday in Hyderabad. His uncle said losing a young family member is an unbearable pain . Witnesses say the gunman yelled racial slurs at Kuchibhotla and his friend before he opened fire. Kuchibhotla was killed and his friend and another bar patron were injured. Adam Purinton of Olathe, Kansas, remains jailed on murder and attempted murder charges.

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Investigators Look for Cause of Chemical Leak at Salina Food Maker

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are looking for the cause of an anhydrous ammonia leak at the Schwan's plant in Salina. A company spokesman told the Wichita Eagle that the leak was discovered at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday and contained about three hours later. Employees were evacuated from the facility. Two workers received medical treatment as a "precaution." Saline County officials say a voluntary evacuation was issued for people living west of the facility. Schilling Elementary in Salina is closed because of the leak, but no other schools are affected. A Schwan spokesman says ammonia is used in production at the plant as a refrigerant for frozen food. The plant primarily makes pizzas. The company does not know yet the impact of the leak on plant operations.

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Judge Sides with Immigration Agents in Tussle at Kansas Jail 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has sided with immigration agents in a lawsuit filed by a Kenyan man who alleges he was violently attacked at a Kansas jail for refusing to be fingerprinted before deportation. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil's decision on Tuesday reverses her previous ruling that had granted a trial for Justine Mochama, an international college student who overstayed his visa. His lawsuit claimed the agents used excessive force during a January 2014 altercation at the Butler County jail. Vratil cited a recent Supreme Court decision that tightened the legal standard to require plaintiffs to establish "beyond debate" that the actions were unconstitutional. The judge sought written arguments from the parties on that point before summarily ruling that immigration agents Timothy Zwetow and Rodney Nichols are entitled to qualified immunity.

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Authorities Investigate Deadly Western Kansas Stabbing

KINSLEY, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged in a fatal weekend stabbing in western Kansas. The Hays Post reports that 37-year-old Jason Rae Stone is charged in Edwards County with second-degree murder in the death of 52-year-old Daniel O'Brien. Bond is set at $100,000. Edwards County Attorney Mark Frame says the stabbing happened around 1 pm Saturday in Kinsley, about 40 miles east of Dodge City.

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11 Indicted in Mail Thefts Across Wichita over 4 Years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a series of thefts from mailboxes in Wichita began when someone stole a master key to the city's mailboxes.  Eleven people were indicted Tuesday in a scheme that included the mail thefts, identity theft and bank fraud.  The U.S. Attorney's office says when a mail truck was robbed in December 2012, the thieves took an arrow key, which is a master key to unlock mailboxes. Prosecutors say the thieves made copies of that key and stole items from mailboxes over four years. They are accused of cashing about 30 checks.  The thieves hit collection boxes, residential mailboxes, mail rooms, churches, businesses and post offices. Prosecutors say they then forged signatures or made counterfeit checks to cash checks and money orders.  

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Slot Machines Start Arriving at Southeast Kansas Casino

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The new casino in southeast Kansas took another step toward opening when the first of more than 620 slots machines arrived.  The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports the machines were unloaded and checked Tuesday at the Kansas Crossing Casino.  Casino marketing director Carter Blair says the casino's games will include video poker, traditional slots and progressive slots. The casino also will offer 16 table games.  It is expected to open within the next 60 days, although Blair said the opening date has not been set.  The nearly $80 million project includes 123-room Hampton Inn and Suites and a 600-seat entertainment complex.

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Midwest Survey Suggests Manufacturing Boosting Economy

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest that manufacturing is boosting economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released this (WED) morning says the overall economic index for the region rose to 60.5 in February from 54.7 in January. It's the highest figure since April 2014 and the fourth monthly increase in a row. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says the increases point to the improving regional manufacturing economy. The survey surveys business managers in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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Sheriff Says Fugitive Captured in Kansas Will Return to Mississippi 

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on the capture of a Mississippi fugitive in Kansas (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A convenience store clerk in Kansas is in critical condition after police say he was shot by a fugitive charged with two murders in Mississippi. Maria Loving, a spokeswoman for Via Christi Hospital in Wichita, says the clerk is in critical condition Wednesday but she could not release the man's name. Authorities say the man was shot Wednesday in Pratt as officers were searching for 28-year-old Alex Deaton. Pratt Police Sergeant Edward Gimpel said Deaton was being chased in a stolen car when he went into a Kwik Shop, shot the clerk and stole a vehicle. Deaton was later arrested when the vehicle car crashed in Ellsworth County. Mississippi authorities have charged Deaton in the death last week of his girlfriend and the shooting death of another woman at a rural Mississippi church. He's also suspected of other crimes in Mississippi and New Mexico.
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12 p.m.

Mississippi authorities say they will seek extradition of a fugitive who left a nearly 2,000-mile trail of violence that ended in a fiery crash Wednesday in central Kansas. Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey told reporters that Kansas authorities have agreed to hand over 28-year-old Alex Bridges Deaton, who is suspected of strangling his girlfriend last week in a suburb of Mississippi's capital city. Deaton is then believed to have shot a jogger from the SUV he stole from the girlfriend, and officials say he may have also killed a woman at a rural Mississippi church. Bailey says Deaton sent a series of texts, some incriminating, to friends and family before he went silent Saturday. He resurfaced Tuesday, with New Mexico authorities saying he carjacked and briefly abducted two hikers. Kansas authorities say he shot a store clerk in that state and stole another vehicle, before being captured following a chase.

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10:45 a.m.

Authorities have arrested a man suspected of shooting a Kansas convenience store clerk and kidnapping two hikers in New Mexico while on the run after his girlfriend was killed and a jogger was shot in Mississippi. Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Tod Hileman said in a tweet that 28-year-old Alex Bridges Deaton was taken into custody Wednesday near the town of Wilson, about 80 miles from where the clerk was shot. Kansas authorities began pursuing Deaton because he was driving a vehicle reported stolen in New Mexico. Kansas investigators say the suspect ditched the vehicle before shooting the clerk and stealing another vehicle. Hileman says Deaton was arrested after his vehicle crashed and caught fire. Authorities were seeking Deaton in the death of 30-year-old Heather Robinson. Mississippi officials also consider him a suspect in the shooting death of a woman found dead at a rural church.

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Man Accused of Fleecing Mom Sent to Federal Prison 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man accused of defrauding his mother and others out of more than $911,000 has been sent to prison and ordered to pay back the money. Prosecutors say 61-year-old James Kappler Jr., of Topeka, Kansas, was sentenced Tuesday to 63 months for wire fraud. Prosecutors say Kappler had told his mother that he had contracted the staph infection MRSA, which is resistant to many antibiotics. He falsely told her he was involved in a drug study that would pay him $5 million eventually, but he needed help paying for medical care in the meantime. Prosecutors say that when her money ran out, she sought more from her sister and friends. Prosecutor Jan Sharp said Wednesday Nebraska gained jurisdiction over the case because some of the people who helped wired money from Nebraska.

 

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