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Headlines for Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Here's the latest Kansas and regional news from the Associated Press compiled by KPR staff.

Storms Spark Flooding Concerns in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A handful of residents in Missouri's capital city and some businesses have been ordered to leave as the Missouri River rises. Jefferson City issued a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday for residents and businesses on the north side of the river. The capitol building, state penitentiary and nearly all of the city's homes are on the south side of the river. Residents of several communities in Oklahoma and Kansas also have been urged to evacuate as rivers and streams rise.
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12:30 p.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Residents of two more Oklahoma towns are being encouraged to leave their homes ahead of expected flooding that has also prompted flooding concerns in Missouri and Kansas. Residents in the Tulsa suburb of Sand Springs and in Fort Gibson, about 50 miles southwest of Tulsa are being urged to evacuate because of flooding forecast on the Arkansas River. Residents of Webbers Falls, some 70 miles southeast of Tulsa, were advised earlier to evacuate. The National Weather Service reports the river was at 37 feet late Wednesday morning, 9 feet above flood stage and expected to reach 41 feet by Friday morning. River levels were rising Wednesday, after days of severe weather that has been blamed on at least three deaths.
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11:55 a.m.

Severe storms that churned up tornadoes have prompted flooding concerns in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. River levels were rising Wednesday, after days of severe weather that has been blamed on at least three deaths. The deluge inundated roadways, closing highways in 17 Kansas counties, along with more than 330 Missouri roads. Amtrak also suspended train service Wednesday and Thursday along a route between St. Louis and Kansas City because of congestion and flood-related delays. In Oklahoma, officials are urging residents of Webbers Falls to evacuate as the Arkansas River heads toward near-historic levels. Forecasters say parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas could see more severe weather Wednesday night into Thursday.

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Kansas Paid $899,000 in Effort to Defund Planned Parenthood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The state of Kansas paid outside law firms at least $899,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. KCUR reports records it obtained through an open records request show the state paid three high-powered East Coast law firms to defend its case for nearly three years before Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's administration dropped the effort in April. Planned Parenthood sued the state after then-Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to defund the organization. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment notified the organization in May 2016 that its Medicaid contract would be ending. Invoices from the law firms redacted descriptions of what services the attorneys performed. Health department attorney Katelyn Radloff told KCUR the redacted information involved the attorney-client privilege exception to the Kansas Open Records Act.

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Kansas Clinic Returns to Court over Telemedicine Abortions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A clinic in Kansas stopped providing telemedicine abortions months ago because it concluded that the legal climate remains uncertain despite a judge's order saying the state couldn't stop them. The Trust Women Foundation was back in state court Wednesday for a hearing on its request for another order to prevent the state from enforcing laws on its books barring clinics from providing pregnancy-ending medications to patients without a doctor physically present. The foundation operates a clinic in Wichita and filed a lawsuit in January after it couldn't get written assurances from state and local officials that they wouldn't enforce bans on telemedicine abortions. A judge previously ruled in December that no ban can be enforced. The clinic started offering telemedicine abortions in October but stopped at the end of December.

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Kansas Christian School Founder Acquitted of Child Sex Abuse

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ The co-founder of a suburban Kansas City private school has been found not guilty of child sexual abuse charges. 49-year-old Dennis Creason was acquitted yesterday (TUE) on several counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Creason and his wife, of Bonner Springs, co-founded Oaklawn Christian School in Shawnee, Kansas. He was accused of lewd fondling or touching of children under the age of 14 between 2009 and early 2018.  The school closed following Creason's arrest. Creason testified during the trial that he never had sexual contact with the children. His attorneys argued the five girls who testified were coached about what to say. But prosecutors argued the children were afraid of Creason and had no reason to lie.  

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Kansas Law Offers Protections to Some Users of CBD Oil

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Laura Kelly has signed into law a bill that would allow profoundly ill people who have been unable to find relief with pharmaceutical medications to avoid prosecution for possessing certain blends of oil extracted from cannabis plants. The cannabidiol oils, also known as CBD, shielded by the Kansas bill could contain no more than 5% THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high. Known as "Claire and Lola's Law," it was pushed by Gwen and Scott Hartley, whose 12-year-old daughter, Lola, suffers from microcephaly, a medical condition in which a child's brain doesn't fully develop. The condition has already claimed the life of Lola's older sister, Claire, who died in December 2018 at the age of 17. The law goes into effect on July 1.

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KU to Sell Former Oldfather Studios Building

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas plans to put a building that has been vacant for two years on the market. The budget bill signed by Governor Laura Kelly includes a provision allowing the university to sell Oldfather Studios, which formerly housed the school's Film and Media Studies Department. The budget allows the university to sell the 18,000-square-foot building after July 1. Chief Financial Officer Diane Goddard told the Kansas House appropriations committee in February the building is in poor condition and would be too costly to repair. The university anticipates selling the property for about $800,000, which would be used for deferred maintenance on the Lawrence campus. The KU endowment bought the building in 1991 with a gift from Charles and Hortense Oldfather.

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New Law Enforcement Unit to Crack Down on Cybercrime

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The state of Kansas will create a law enforcement unit designed to combat an increase in computer crime in the state. The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the state attorney general say online criminal activity is rapidly increasing in Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the FBI's internet crime center said losses by Kansas victims of cybercrime increased from about $4 million in 2015 to $17 million in 2018. The state budget recently signed by Governor Laura Kelly includes $1 million for the new investigative group. KBI Director Kirk Thompson said the money will allow the agency to assign six agents, a supervisor and a crime analyst to the unit. The KBI agents also will collaborate on computer-oriented cases with the attorney general's office. 

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Salina Man Found Not Guilty in Animal Abuse Case

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Salina man has been found not guilty of animal abuse charges stemming from the seizure of 189 animals. A Saline County jury deliberated less than an hour after a five-day trial of Matthew Fullen before returning the verdict Tuesday. The Salina Journal reports the animals were seized in April 2018 from a pasture in Assaria. Investigators alleged the cows, horses, bulls, dogs, cats and rabbits were neglected or starving. Fullen and his mother, Beverly Fullen, were initially arrested 165 misdemeanor counts and four felony counts of cruelty to animals. Matthew Fullen was tried on five counts of animal abuse. Beverly Fullen's trial is scheduled for June 17.

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Man Who Led Troopers on Chase Pleads Guilty to Gun Charge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man who led troopers on a 100-mph chase has pleaded guilty to a federal firearm charge. Federal prosecutors say 26 year-old Codey Elsasser, of Arlington, pleaded guilty to possessing a short-barreled rifle that was not registered. Prosecutors say Elsasser was driving 88 mph in a 65 mph zone in November when a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper tried to stop him. The ensuing chase reached speeds up to 100 mph as he drove from Barton County to Rice County before stopping. Troopers found a rifle, pistol, shotgun, bulletproof vest, ammunition and parts of a homemade silencer in Elasser's car. With two previous drug-related convictions in Barton County, Elsasser was prohibited from having weapons. Elsasser also admitted smoking methamphetamine the morning of the chase. He will be sentenced July 29.

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Dean: Planned Medical School in Wichita May Overwhelm Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita says a private medical school proposed in the city could overburden the state's health care system and its capacity to train medical students. Dean Garrold Minns tells the Wichita Eagle that the planned Kansas Health Science Center would mean more hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices would need to handle the increase in students doing rotations. City spokeswoman Elyse Mohler says Wichita can't speculate how a new facility might impact clinical training rotations. Many Wichita leaders say the private school of osteopathic medicine could boost economic development. The City Council approved a nonbinding development agreement last week and hopes to finalize plans in the coming months. A memorandum of understanding says the new school could open by August 2022.

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Trump Awards Medals to Public Safety Officers, Including 2 in Kansas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fourteen public safety officers were awarded the Medal of Valor by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, including eight who responded to a shooting at a southern California polling place.

"Every officer, firefighter and first responder who receives this award embodies the highest ideals of service and sacrifice, character and courage," Trump said during a White House ceremony.

The medal is the nation's highest honor for bravery by a public safety officer. Eight men from the Azusa, California, police department were honored for placing themselves in danger and saving the lives of civilians and fellow officers during the shooting on Election Day 2016. The recipients were: Retired Lt. Xavier Torres; Sgt. Seth Chapman; retired Sgt. Terry Smith Jr.; Sgt. Thomas Avila III; Sgt. Rocky Wenrick; Cpl. Andrew Rodriguez Sr.; senior officer Carlos Plascencia; and detective Manuel Campos. When they arrived at the polling place, a person was shooting from a house across the street from a park. An elderly woman had been killed and a man lay wounded on a sidewalk. Two vehicles had collided and a woman in one of the cars was critically injured. The shooter was eventually killed and the officers were credited for preventing other deaths and injuries.

The other recipients included Fire Capt. Dustin Moore and firefighter and paramedic Andrew Freisner of the fire department in Lenexa, Kansas, who risked their lives to rescue a family from inside a burning apartment building on April 24, 2017. They climbed a ladder to the second floor, went inside and rescued an unconscious adult, two young children and the family dog. Two awards also were given to the families of fallen officers in Tennessee and Texas. 

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Missouri Man Accused of Assaulting Hotel Workers and Guests During Attempted Robbery 

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) _ A 19-year-old Missouri man is accused of assaulting workers and terrorizing guests during an attempted robbery at a hotel. James A.R. Hughes, of Deepwater, Missouri, is charged with attempted robbery and armed criminal action after the alleged attack Sunday at a Holiday Inn Express in Lee's Summit. The Kansas City Star reports police went to the hotel after a caller reported a man in the front lobby was threatening to shoot people. Police say Hughes forced a family who was leaving to return to the hotel and said he was going to shoot them. Hughes allegedly chased and hit hotel employees and threatened to shoot and rape others. Hughes was arrested at the hotel and is being held on $250,000 bond. Online court records don't list an attorney for Hughes.  

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12-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Himself in Northwest Kansas

PHILLIPSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a 12-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in northwest Kansas. The Phillips County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that the boy called 911 Tuesday morning saying he had shot himself and needed help. The post says the child was taken to Phillips County Hospital and then transferred in an ambulance to the larger hospital in Kearney, Nebraska, in critical condition. Air crews couldn't respond because of storms in the area. The post urged parents to secure firearms as schools let out for summer break. Phillips County is about 65 miles north of Hays.

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17-Year-Old Kansas Student  Earns Diplomas from High School and Harvard University 

ULYSSES, Kan. (AP) _ A 17-year-old Kansas student will collect diplomas from high school and Harvard University this month. Braxton Moral received his high school degree from Ulysses High School Sunday. He will graduate with a bachelor's degree from Harvard on May 30. The Hutchinson News reports Moral's parents are likely to miss both graduations because his mom, Julie Moral, had kidney transplant surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center last week after being on a wait list for nearly a year. The teen majored in government and minored in English through Harvard's extension program. He took classes online during the school year and on the Harvard campus during summers. Some Harvard classes substituted for high school class credits. Moral now plans to attend law school but he hasn't yet chosen a school.  
 

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