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Headlines for Wednesday, September 27, 2017

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

Kansas Governor Announces Hearing Date for Ambassador Nomination 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says a U.S. Senate committee hearing is set for next week on his nomination for ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. But Brownback told reporters Wednesday he's not sure how quickly the Senate could vote on his nomination after the October 4 hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. President Donald Trump nominated the two-term Republican governor for the ambassadorship in late July. Brownback said he'll step down as governor when the Senate confirms him. Brownback's departure will automatically elevate fellow Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer to governor. Colyer said Wednesday that his administration will have a different tone, without elaborating. Brownback already was term-limited. Colyer and seven other candidates have announced campaigns for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Five Democrats have said they're running.

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Tax Office Workers Say They Couldn't Call 911 After Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state is investigating reports that workers at a Wichita tax office were unable to call 911 on their office phones after a co-worker was shot last week. Kansas Organization of State Employees executive director Robert Choromanski told The Wichita Eagle  that workers shouldn't have to use their personal cellphones in an emergency. And he questioned how many critical minutes, or seconds, elapsed before emergency services could be contacted. State spokeswoman Rachel Whitten confirmed Tuesday that employees have complained about the inability to call 911. Whitten said Secretary Sam Williams visited the Wichita office Monday and made a test call to 911, which went through. Ricky Wirths is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of tax agent Cortney Holloway. Revenue officials say Wirths owes almost $400,000 in taxes.

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Tyson Considering Cloud County for Chicken Processing Plant

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County commissioners are supporting an effort to bring a Tyson chicken plant to Cloud County and Concordia. The commission Tuesday signed a letter in support of the $300 million project. The Salina Journal reports letter says the plant would benefit the entire region because Tyson will invest $100 million to help farmers and ranchers raise poultry. Tyson was planning to build the plant near Tonganoxie but put those plans on hold after fierce opposition from nearby residents. On September 19, the Leavenworth County Commission rescinded an offer for $500 million in industrial bonds for the plant because of the opposition. Governor Sam Brownback's administration had pledged an undisclosed amount of tax breaks to persuade Tyson to locate on a 300-acre site south of Tonganoxie.

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Majority of New Kansas Prison to Be Double-Bunked When Open

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas corrections officials say most cells in a new state prison they're planning would house two inmates when the facility opens. Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told a legislative committee Wednesday that cells in the new Lansing prison would be large enough to meet national standards for double bunking, including in maximum-security inmates. The department plans to build a new prison in Lansing to replacing the state's oldest and largest correctional facility there. The project could cost up to $155 million; three companies submitted proposals last week, and the department hopes to have a final contract in November. Some legislators have questioned whether additional double-bunking of inmates has led to unrest at state prisons in recent months. But Norwood told legislators that the practice is common across the nation.

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Former Missouri Doctor, Boy Scout Leader Admits Assaulting Boy
  
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - A former Blue Springs doctor and Boy Scout leader is being held without bond after admitting that he sexually assaulted a boy for years. 45-year-old Joseph Mackey, of Lee's Summit, pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to statutory sodomy. Court records indicate the victim met Mackey through scouting activities and was also one of the doctor's patients. He was abused dozens of times between age 14 and adulthood. Investigators also found other victims who said they were abused by Mackey. He told some victims he was coordinating a sexual activities study for the University of Kansas. University officials told investigators the study didn't exist. Mackey surrendered his license in 2013. He is scheduled to be sentenced November 3. 

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Topeka Student Arrested After Threat Against School

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka high school student was arrested after reportedly making social media threats against the school. The student at Seaman High School was arrested Monday night. The student was taken to juvenile intake for making a criminal threat. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the threat was sent via Snapchat and contained a reference to Columbine, the infamous 1999 high school shooting in Colorado that left 15 people dead and more than 20 injured. Shawnee County sheriff's Sergeant Todd Stallbaumer said the threat did not target specific people at the school. An email sent to parents Tuesday said the school contacted law enforcement immediately after learning of the threat and the student was arrested at his home. 

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Topeka Police ID 2 Fatal Stabbing Victims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police have identified the two people killed Sunday night at an apartment complex near the Kansas Statehouse. Police say the victims were 61-year-old Thomas P. O'Conner and 22-year-old Chance C. Crank, both of Topeka. Police say the two men were stabbed to death. A man who lives at the apartment where the killings occurred, 62-year-old Maximo Campillo-Echevarria, was booked into the Shawnee County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder. WIBW reports that Kansas Corrections records show Campillo-Echevarria was convicted of first-degree murder for a 1981 Shawnee County death and was paroled in 2000. He returned to prison for 2004 convictions including aggravated assault and domestic battery but was paroled in January 2015.

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Kansas Woman Given Probation for Embezzling from Newspaper 

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman was sentenced to five years of probation for embezzling more than $48,000 from a local newspaper where she worked. Sixty-year-old Diane Neises, of Cheney, pleaded guilty in July to felony theft and computer crime. The crimes occurred while Neises was an officer manager from 2009 to December 2013 at the Times-Sentinel Newspapers in Cheney. District Attorney Marc Bennett says in a news release that she wrote herself 168 unauthorized checks. Neises also was ordered to pay $390 a month restitution.

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Western Kansas Man Makes Court Appearance in Homicide 

SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man charged in a shooting death in western Kansas is now charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Fifty-year-old Rene Inguanza, of rural Scott County, made his first court appearance Wednesday. He is charged in the September 22 death of 44-year-old Darryn Rodenberg, who was found dead of a gunshot wound at a rural Scott County home. Deputies found Inguanza in a pickup about a half mile from Rodenberg's home. The Hays Post reports investigators believe Inguanza was angry with Rodenberg for selling drugs to his son. Inguanza remains jailed in Scott County on a $500,000 Bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 11.

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Owner Creates $10 Million Fund for Workers in 'Pink Slime' Case
 

DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. (AP) — The family that owns a South Dakota meat producer has set up a $10 million fund for employees laid off when the company closed three plants in 2012 over reports of a beef product that critics dubbed "pink slime." Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. announced the BPI Family Support Fund on Wednesday. BPI founder Eldon Roth says the company is pleased to "finally re-connect with those former employees" and try to help them recover. The company laid off about 750 workers and closed plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa in 2012, saying ABC's coverage of the producer's lean, finely textured beef product misled consumers into believing the product is unsafe. ABC stood by its reporting. BPI sued ABC for defamation and the parties settled in June. Terms are confidential.

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Syngenta Settles GMO Corn Lawsuit With Farmers in Kansas and Other States

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta has agreed to settle tens of thousands of U.S. lawsuits by farmers over the company's rollout of a genetically engineered corn seed variety before China approved it for imports. Terms weren't disclosed in the deal reached Tuesday. Syngenta began selling Viptera to farmers in Kansas and throughout the U.S. for the 2011 growing season. But China didn't approve the modified seed until 2014. The lawsuits allege Syngenta's move wrecked China as a market for U.S. corn and resulted in price drops that hurt all corn producers. Syngenta had argued it was larger market forces, not China's rejection of Viptera, that drove corn prices down. Syngenta says the settlement would establish a fund to pay claims and says details will be announced after the agreement is submitted for court approval later this year. 

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Maize Police Still Looking for Woman Missing for 4 Months 

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — Maize police are asking for the public's help as they continue to try and find a woman who's been missing for more than four months. Police say 30-year-old Kendra Leigh Nystrom was last seen around on the morning of May 4 when she left her parents' house with her dog, a black and white Chihuahua. The Wichita Eagle reports she left on foot and left all her personal belongings behind, including her cellphone. The house was near Cowskin Creek, which was running high that day. She is 5-feet-4-inches tall and weighs between 100 and 120 pounds. She is white, has reddish-brown hair and the initials "R.J." tattooed on her left ring finger.

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University of Kansas Museum Unveils T. rex Skeleton
 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is now home to a Tyrannosaurus rex fossilized skeleton thanks to a team who helped dig up the specimen and bring it to Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the crew spent the past four summers in Montana excavating the skeleton little by little. University paleontologist David Burnham says he and his crew have nicknamed the female dinosaur Lucy. The university's Biodiversity Institute labs are still cleaning some of the bones. Burnham says they'll eventually be added to the exhibit at the school's Natural History Museum. Burnham, a team of students and volunteers, and donors had unearthed about 25 percent of Lucy's skull, about 60 percent of her hip bones and 45 percent of her leg bones. The paleontologist estimates she died at about 15 years old.

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Kansas City Man Who Said 'I Won' After Wife Killed Sentenced 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who declared "I won" after killing his wife has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. A Clay County (Missouri) jury in August convicted 45-year-old Thomas Santamaria Jr. of first-degree murder in the beating and strangulation death of his 50-year-old wife, Yuvett Santamaria. Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White said video and audio recordings taken when Santamaria was being led away from the crime scene show him telling an acquaintance "I won." The victim was found dead on a bedroom flood in March 2015. Her husband was asleep in the bed in the same room. The Kansas City Star reports trial testimony indicated Santamaria suspected his wife was having an affair and wanted a divorce.

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Vargas Wins 18th Game to Tie MLB Lead as Royals Top Tigers 2-1 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jason Vargas tied for the major league lead with his 18th victory, lifting the Kansas City Royals over the Detroit Tigers 2-1 on Tuesday night. Vargas (18-10) went six innings to match Cleveland's Corey Kluber and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for most wins in the majors. He gave up a run and five hits, inducing groundball double plays in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Vargas had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and only made three starts last year, but he's now the first Royals pitcher to win 18 games in a season since Kevin Appier in 1993. The Tigers have lost eight straight and dropped to 4-21 in September. Anibal Sanchez (3-6) allowed two runs in six innings.
 

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