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Headlines for Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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

Department of Children and Families Offers Some Raises 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department for Children and Families is offering some workers a raise — if they give up the right to appeal disciplinary decisions. DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said the agency has offered 118 classified workers a 2.5 percent pay raise. Another 598 classified and unclassified employees would get the same offer if the Department of Administration approves. Gilmore says of the 118 who were offered the raise, 49 accepted and 69 declined. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the offer comes after some state workers didn't receive a pay increase approved this spring by the Legislature. Robert Choromanski, executive director of the state employees union, says the offer would make it easier for the state to fire employees. Employees who keep their classified status can appeal firings, demotions or suspensions.

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Governor Brownback Issues Executive Order for Hurricane Harvey 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued an executive order to help commercial vehicles headed to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery. The governor's order issued on Wednesday applies only to commercial vehicles participating in relief and restoration efforts in Texas. The order waives some carrier fees and regulations for those vehicles. On another front, the Kansas National Guard is on standby to deploy if asked by the disaster operations command. And Kansas is also the coordinating state for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact in charge of coordinating relief efforts with other states. The executive order takes effect immediately.

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Former State Representative Hutton Jumps into Race for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A former Republican state lawmaker who was a critic of Republican Governor Sam Brownback's tax policies has jumped into the race for the GOP nomination for governor next year. Former state Representative Mark Hutton of Wichita has appointed a campaign treasurer so that he can legally raise campaign contributions. Hutton is one of eight potential Republican candidates so far. Brownback is term limited and has been nominated for an ambassador's post by President Trump. Hutton founded a construction company in Wichita now run by his son. He served in the Kansas House for four years starting in 2013 and did not seek re-election last year. In the Legislature, he advocated rolling back an income tax exemption for business owners that was a key Brownback policy. Lawmakers repealed it this year. The field of Republican candidates for Kansas governor also includes Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer.
  
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State Representative Scott Schwab Enters Secretary of State Race 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican state Representative Scott Schwab says he plan to run for Kansas Secretary of State. Schwab, of Olathe, announced his campaign Wednesday, saying he wants to improve how the state implements its election laws. He said his experience as speaker pro tem of the Kansas House of Representatives and as previous chairman of the elections and insurance committees makes him qualified for the secretary of state's office. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Schwab says he isn't interested in rolling back tough Kansas voting laws supported by current Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Schwab said he and his wife decided early last year that he would run in 2018 but that move was delayed after their son, Caleb, died on a water slide at Schlitterbahn Water Park last summer.

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State Discusses Privatization Plan for Osawatomie 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is promoting a plan to turn over the troubled Osawatomie State Hospital to a private company. Secretary Tim Keck presented information in Topeka Wednesday about Correct Care Recovery Solutions' bid to rebuild and run Osawatomie, which lost federal certification in 2015. Correct Care runs mental health facilities around the country. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Keck believes Correct Care could run the hospital at a lower cost and more effectively recruit staff. The proposal includes a 210-bed hospital. The state agency would continue to operate its 60-bed acute care unit. Keck said the rebuild project is expected to cost between $100 million and $175 million. He said the contract could be final near the end of the year

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Man Charged in 2 Kansas City Deaths is Suspect in Other Hiking Trail Murders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Jackson County, Missouri officials have charged a 22-year-old man in the shooting deaths of two men and say he is suspected in three other killings along south Kansas City trails. Fredrick Demond Scott was charged Tuesday with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action in the deaths of 57-year-old Steven Gibbons and 54-year-old John Palmer. Prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to the victims. Gibbons was shot and killed August 13th, 2016. Prosecutors say police found surveillance video showing Scott follow Gibbons off a Kansas City trail. Palmer was found dead August 19, 2016 in a wooded area near the Indian Creek Trail. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Scott is also a suspect in three other killings along the Indian Creek and Blue River trail systems. 

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KBI Investigates Jail Inmate's Death After Fight

MEADE, Kan. (AP) _ Law enforcement authorities are investigating the death of a Sedgwick County jail inmate at the Meade County Jail. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department says preliminary reports indicate the inmate died just before 7:30 p.m. Monday after fighting with another inmate. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried lifesaving measures on the inmate but he died at the scene. The sheriff's department says the 30-year-old man from Wichita was being held on misdemeanor charges and had been in custody for almost a month. His family has asked that the inmate's name be withheld. The KBI is leading the death investigation.  

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Former V-A Worker Accused of Sexual Battery Goes on Trial  

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former physician assistant at a Veterans Administration hospital in Kansas on trial for sexually abusing patients told investigators in a taped interview that he didn't "have any business in medicine."The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the interview was played Tuesday during the trial of Mark Wisner. The former employee at the Eisenhower Veterans Administration Medical Center in Leavenworth is charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors related to sexual battery and criminal sodomy. He also told investigators on the recording that he "truly messed up." Wisner surrendered his medical license in 2015 after at least seven patients accused him of abuse, and medical regulators said at the time that others could come forward. Multiple former VA patients have sued in federal court, some seeking $3 million in damages.

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More Than 40 Arrested on Drug Charges in Kansas, Colorado 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say they have made more than 40 arrests over three days stemming from an investigation into narcotics distribution in several western Kansas and eastern Colorado counties. The announcement in a press release Wednesday attributes most arrests to a two-month investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Wallace County Sheriff's Office and the Greeley County Sheriff's Office. Suspected crimes include distribution and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, weapons violations and other drug-related offenses. Most of the formal charges will be filed in the Wallace County District Court. Arrests were made in the western Kansas counties of Cheyenne, Ellis, Greeley, Logan, Rawlins, Sherman, Thomas, and Wallace as well as the Colorado counties of Cheyenne and Kit Carson. More arrests are expected.

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Former Kansas Bank Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a southeast Kansas woman has admitted to embezzling more than $210,000 from the bank where she worked. The U.S. attorney's office says 59-year-old Debra Nading, of Oswego, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of theft by a bank employee. She admitted in her plea that the crime occurred while she worked as an assistant cashier and bookkeeping supervisor for the Labette Bank in Parsons. Prosecutors say she used her access to the bank's cred card accounts to make false entries to cover up the theft. Sentencing is set for November 17. She faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

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Newton Man Dead in Central Kansas After a Police Chase

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities have identified the man shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy as 24-year-old William Matthew Holmes of Newton. Newton police say Holmes died Monday night after he was shot by a McPherson County Sheriff's deputy. Newton Police Lieutenant Bryan Hall says the shooting followed a chase that started in Newton when police responded to a burglary call. He says the driver exceeded 100 mph during the chase and then refused to get out of the vehicle when it stopped near Moundridge. Hall says officers used non-lethal means to try and subdue Holmes, who was combative. Police say Holmes was shot when he tried to take a Newton officer's gun during the struggle. A passenger in Holmes' vehicle was arrested on charges of burglary, theft and felony obstruction. 

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Kansas Pulls Police Officer's Certification After Complaint 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas has revoked the certification of a former police officer after a government watchdog's complaint about his 1995 California misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence. State regulators finalized on Tuesday the order against former Marion police officer Michael A. Stone. A complaint filed with the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training alleged the conviction disqualifies Stone from serving as a police officer. The commission said its decision was based on Stone's domestic abuse conviction. Stone's ex-wife filed a protection from abuse petition in 2006 in Kansas that was dismissed. Stone previously worked as a corrections officer at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as a Butler County Sheriff's Department deputy and as police chief in Florence.

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Nebraska Bank Robbery Trial Set for 'AK-47 Bandit' Suspect 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal trial has been scheduled in Nebraska for a man suspected of being the "AK-47 bandit," who investigators believe robbed banks in five states. Court records show Richard Gathercole pleaded not guilty last week to robbery and other charges in U.S. District Court. Gathercole is accused of stealing more than $90,000 in August 2014 from a bank in Nebraska City, which sits about 50 miles south of Omaha. His trial is set to begin October 23 in Lincoln. FBI officials believe the bandit carried an AK-47 while robbing banks in California, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington. Gathercole, of Montana, was arrested near Lexington, Nebraska, after a sheriff's deputy spotted a pickup truck that Kansas authorities had reported stolen by a man who fired at a state trooper.

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Sale of Kansas City Star's 106-Year-Old Headquarters Set 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The sale of The Kansas City Star's 106-year-old headquarters in downtown Kansas City is expected to be completed Thursday. Star Publisher Tony Berg announced the scheduled closing to employees on Wednesday. The building will be sold to Kansas City-based 3D Development, through an entity called 1729 Grand Boulevard LLC. It is led by developer Vince Bryant. The Star reports about 200 employees will move across the street into paper's Press Pavilion. The move is expected within a year. Berg says The Star will rent space in the headquarters and build a modern newsroom during the year before the move.

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Kansas Community Mural Project Launches 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Artists in southeast Kansas are preparing to turn the walls of participating businesses into murals as part of a community art project. The Joplin Globe reports that the Southeast Kansas Art Fest 2017 grant program covers half the cost of the project in Pittsburg, Kansas. The other half will be paid by businesses and patrons. SEK Art Fest is a nonprofit that funds community art projects to promote the arts in the region. Organization spokeswoman Jenna Spencer says the items in the project get auctioned off, with the money used to help fund the grants. She says the cost of each mural depends on the detail and size, and will range from $750 to $3,000. The group hopes to help fund 10 to 15 murals. Application deadline is September 17.

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KU Jayhawks Lose Top Football Recruit to Career-Ending Injury 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas will be without one of its prized recruits after junior college running back Octavius Matthews was found to have an undisclosed, career-ending medical condition. KU coach David Beaty declined to specify the ailment, but he did say the nation's top-ranked JUCO running back would remain a part of the program. Matthews worked out with the team over the summer but was held out of fall camp while awaiting the results of medical tests. Matthews picked the Jayhawks in February over Purdue and Tennessee. Beaty also announced that tight end Kenyon Tabor, offensive lineman Cam Durley and running back Denzell Evans would miss the season because of various injuries. KU plays its opener against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night.

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Royals End Scoreless Drought: Beat Rays, 6-2 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Whit Merrifield, Jorge Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer homered as the Kansas City Royals snapped a 45-inning scoreless streak on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. Merrifield's 16th home run with two outs in the third ended the Royals' drought, three innings shy of the major league record. The 1906 Philadelphia Athletics and 1968 Chicago Cubs share the dubious honor with 48 scoreless innings. Hosmer's three-run homer, his 22nd, in the seventh off left-hander Dan Jennings gave the Royals a cushion. Bonifacio homered with two outs in the sixth off Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb (9-9).
 

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