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Weekend Headlines for September 16-17, 2017

Bob Dole Officially Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas has officially been awarded one of the highest civilian honors bestowed in the nation. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a bill awarding Dole the Congressional Gold Medal. Dole, who is 94 years old, was honored for his long political career and his Army service in World War II, when he was severely injured during combat in Italy. He served 27 years in the Senate and 10 years in the House and was the unsuccessful GOP presidential nominee in 1996. Since that campaign, he founded the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

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Life Sentence for Garden City Man Convicted of Holding Judge Hostage

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of holding a Kansas judge hostage for several hours has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release Friday that 34-year-old Jason Linn Nichols, of Garden City, was sentenced for terrorism and several other charges. Prosecutors say Nichols forced his way into the judge's Garden City home in May 2016. While holding the judge hostage, Nichols called the Kansas secretary of revenue and demanded that the department provide him with different kinds of information related to state taxes. Nichols was found guilty in July of terrorism, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, criminal threat and criminal restraint. Kansas law says committing a felony to influence government policy or a unit constitutes terrorism.

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Lansing Prison Locked Down after Fight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas corrections officials say Lansing Correctional Facility is on lockdown after a fight between inmates. The Department of Corrections said in a news release that two groups fought for about 30 minutes Friday in the maximum security dining room. Officials say prison staff was able to quickly control the altercation. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Corrections spokesman Samir Arif said no injuries were reported to inmates or staff. He didn't know how many inmates were involved in the fight but said it was "dramatically smaller" than some previous disturbances at the state's prisons. He said the prison wasn't damaged and inmates will have normal visitation hours this weekend. Inmate disturbances have been reported this summer at Norton Correctional Facility and at the state's maximum-security prison in El Dorado.

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Kansas Wesleyan, Saint Francis Team Up on Social Work Degree

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan University and Saint Francis Community Services in Salina are teaming up to increase the number of social workers in the state. Leaders of the two organizations announced Friday that they will develop a bachelor's degree program in social work. Saint Francis president and CEO Rev. Robert Smith says the new program will give students several chances for field experiences in social work while they complete their degrees. Saint Francis will underwrite the initial hiring of a director for the program at Wesleyan. The university plans to pursue accreditation for the program. The Salina Journal reports the accreditation process can take three years but the first students could be accepted by the fall of 2018.

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Shawnee County Jury Deadlocks in Murder Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of a man charged in the fatal shooting of a Topeka pedestrian. The jury announced Friday that it was deadlocked after about a day of deliberations in the case of 21-year-old De'Angelo Megle Martinez, of Topeka. Martinez is charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 20-year-old Brian Wade Miller, who died in April 2016 in a drive-by shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 18-year-old Christopher Pattillo was earlier convicted of first-degree murder in Miller's death. Witnesses during his trial said Martinez was the gunman who fired 14 shots from a van driven by Patillo.

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Kansas Asks Supreme Court to Reverse State Rulings on Immigrants

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse rulings by the state's highest court that they say prevent the state from prosecuting immigrants in the U.S. illegally for identity theft. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release three rulings last week by the Kansas Supreme Court said federal immigration law superseded Kansas law in those types of cases. Schmidt said the Kansas court ruled the state can't prosecute a defendant for falsifying state or private legal documents if that person put the same false information on federal forms for employment verification. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether to consider the Kansas appeal isn't expected until later this year or early next year.

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Salina Family Settles Suit after Daughter Electrocuted

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina has settled a lawsuit with a family whose 12-year-old daughter died several months after being shocked while playing in a rainstorm. The Salina Journal reports that the civil suit filed by Jaymie Hicks and Jonni Cullison was settled for an undisclosed amount. The couple's daughter, Jayden, was 11 years old in May 2013 when she slipped in a puddle and fell onto an in-ground junction box at the entrance to a plaza in downtown Salina. The box had been installed without a grounding wire and contained damaged wires. Jayden underwent months of hospitalization and rehabilitation before she died in December of that year. Her parents previously reached undisclosed settlements with the manufacturer of the junction box and company that installed it. Court records say the city never inspected the wiring.

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Kansas Unemployment increases to 3.9 Percent in August

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in August, an increase of two-tenths of a percent from July. The unemployment rate in August 2016 was 4.3 percent. The department said Friday the increased unemployment was related  mostly to manufacturing layoffs and revised government job estimates. Economist Emilie Doerksen said nonfarm employment grew by 800 jobs last month and the service-providing sector added nearly 2,000 jobs. But that was offset by temporary layoffs in manufacturing and decreased government job estimates. Officials say Kansas has lost 9,000 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs, including 6,300 private-sector jobs.

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Kansas State Students Rally Against White Nationalism

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State students rallied against white nationalism after racist posters were plastered around campus. The Kansas City Star reports that participants in the Thursday night solidarity rally also decried President Donald Trump's decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Children Program, which allows some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay. About 800,000 people are affected by Trump's decision to give Congress six months to end their limbo status. The rally was organized after posters appeared on campus Wednesday. The school described the fliers as "unwelcome" in a statement. The university also found several racist messages on campus during the spring semester, including a noose hanging in a tree. Kansas State created two new diversity and inclusion administrative positions over the summer.

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Topeka-Area Police Chase Ends After Stolen Truck Crashes

TECUMSEH, Kan. (AP) — A police chase in northeast Kansas has come to an end after a stolen box truck full of mattresses crashed into a guardrail on the highway. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Lawrence police chased the truck Wednesday after a delivery driver reported it was stolen. The pursuit went west on U.S. Route 40. The Kansas Highway Patrol, the Topeka Police Department and the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office responded to the chase. Authorities say stop-sticks were used and at least one tire on the vehicle was shredded. The truck crashed into a guard rail just east of Topeka about a half-hour after the pursuit began. The person suspected of stealing the truck was taken to a Topeka hospital to be treated for injuries.

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Wichita Pursuit Ends in Crash with Deputy's Cruiser

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a pursuit has ended with a fleeing driver ramming into the cruiser of a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy. The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened just before 10:30 a.m. Friday near McConnell Air Force Base in southeast Wichita. A Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor says one person is in custody. Authorities are looking for one other person who was in the vehicle. No other details were immediately released.

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