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Headlines for Friday, December 15, 2017

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

State Senator Laura Kelly to Campaign for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. - The already crowded race for Kansas governor now has its first female candidate.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that State Senator Laura Kelly filed paperwork this (FRI) morning to create an exploratory committee and begin collecting contributions to finance her campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. 67-year-old Kelly will be jumping into a race which already has 20 candidates in the running. The Topeka senator says her campaign will target Democrats and moderate Republicans who have expressed displeasure with the conduct of the state’s conservative politicians. Kelly says she will focus on balancing the state’s budget, early childhood education, public pensions and health care issues. Kelly is the first woman in the field. Three other prominent Democrats are already in the race: former state Representative Josh Svaty, current state Representative Jim Ward and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer Republican candidates include Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer.  Johnson County businessman Greg Orman recently launched a campaign for governor as an independent.  


Kansas Congress Hopeful Ends Campaign over 2005 Harassment Suit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A female former executive running for Congress in Kansas has dropped out of the race over a 2005 federal lawsuit accusing her of sexually harassing a male employee whom she supervised. Andrea Ramsey called the allegations that she harassed and retaliated against Gary Funkhouser "a lie" in a Facebook post Friday announcing the end of her campaign. Ramsey was seeking the Democratic nomination in the Kansas City-area 3rd District and hoped to challenge incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder next year.  She said the national Democratic Party declined to support her over the lawsuit, filed by Funkhouser against Kansas City-area company LabOne. Ramsey was a vice president, and Funkhouser said he was fired after rebuffing her sexual advances. Court records show the case was dismissed after settlement talks in 2006.


Acting DCF Secretary Concerned About Discrimination Claims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The acting secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families says allegations that the agency discriminates against gay and lesbian couples are concerning, and she pledged a "zero tolerance" policy. The Wichita Eagle reports that Gina Meier-Hummel on Friday made a sharp break from her predecessor, Phyllis Gilmore, who dismissed allegations of discrimination against same-sex couples in adoption and foster care cases. State auditors released a survey of attorneys who deal with the child welfare system. About 35 percent said gay and lesbian parents are not treated the same as other parents.  Meier-Hummel told a legislative committee reviewing the survey that she will have "zero tolerance for any violation of the law."  DCF came under scrutiny in 2015 amid multiple allegations that it discriminated against same-sex couples. A Johnson County judge in a sealed 2013 court order wrote that DCF showed more concern about sexual orientation than the best interest of a child.  The agency disagreed, but Gilmore said at the time that the "preferred (situation) is every child to have a mom and a dad" if possible. Meier-Hummel became acting secretary December 1, when Gilmore retired. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is expected to become governor if Gov. Sam Brownback leaves for a diplomatic post, made the selection.


Interim Commerce Secretary Stepping Down

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's interim commerce secretary is stepping down, the latest departure from Governor Sam Brownback's administration. Brownback on Friday announced Jordan's resignation. A replacement was not immediately named. Jordan is among several officials to leave the administration as Brownback waits to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a job in President Donald Trump's administration. Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore and Department for Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier also left. Jordan is a former state senator who has also served as revenue secretary and CEO of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors. He stepped into the role of commerce secretary when Antonio Soave resigned in June, two weeks after a business partner filed a lawsuit against him.


DA Not Filing Charges over Alleged Assault at KU Men's Dorm 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The local prosecutor does not plan to file sexual assault charges over a report that a 16-year-old girl was raped in December 2016 in the dorm housing the Kansas men's basketball team. Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson's office said Friday in a statement that it does not have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault occurred. The statement also said the investigation did not identify a suspect. Branson said his office still may file misdemeanor, alcohol-related charges. The university police report from the incident said rape, contributing to a child's misconduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor were reported and allegedly occurred at the dorm. Five players were listed as witnesses, though police have said that did not necessarily mean they were eyewitnesses.


Lawsuit Alleges Girl Was Raped by Boy in School Bathroom

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleges that a 12-year-old Kansas girl was raped by a boy in a school bathroom after a teacher failed to supervise their return to a classroom. The Kansas City Star reports that the girl's mother filed suit Thursday against Olathe Public Schools, the school board and the student who allegedly assaulted her daughter. The suit says the victim and the boy finished an assignment in the common area at Olathe's middle school in 2015 and the common area teacher sent them back to their classroom without supervision. The suit says the boy pulled the girl into a boys bathroom and raped her. The girl told a teacher that day and was taken to a hospital. A message left Friday with a district spokeswoman was not immediately returned.


10 People from Missouri, Kansas Indicted in Meth Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ten people are facing federal indictment in a $5.4 million methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Larson of Missouri's Western District announced the indictments Friday. The suspects range in age from 25 to 65 and live mostly in the Kansas City area. The indictment alleges that more than 321 kilograms of meth were distributed from Jan. 1, 2015, through Nov. 16 of this year. One of the suspects allegedly told investigators that she distributed about 200 pounds of meth per month during some of the months prior to her arrest. Seven of the suspects are from Missouri, two from Kansas, and the address for one is unknown.


Father of Topeka Man Fatally Shot by Police to View Footage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A city of Topeka spokeswoman says the father of a black man fatally shot by police will view body camera footage from the incident Friday. City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield says a family attorney is scheduled to join Kelly White in viewing the footage from the September 28 shooting of 30-year-old Dominique White. A state court judge last week named Kelly White special administrator for his son's estate. The city had said Kansas law allowed only an administrator or Dominique White's young children, as his heirs, to view the footage absent a court order. Topeka police shot and killed Dominique White near an east Topeka park. The two officers involved have not been identified. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay is reviewing the case.


6-Year-Old Delivering Homemade Gifts to Thank Police 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A 6-year-old Kansas boy is spreading Christmas joy to police in the Kansas City area, delivering more than 300 homemade ornaments to show thanks for their service. The Kansas City Star reports that Brandi Davis has joined her son, Oliver, in stopping at various police departments since December 5 to surprise officers with heart-shaped ornaments, all personally signed by Oliver with a message that includes: "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all you do to keep us safe." Oliver delivers the gifts from his wagon, and he's already made stops at several suburban Kansas City departments, including the one in Overland Park, where the family lives. Oliver is already an honorary Leawood officer, after setting up a free stand of doughnuts and lemonade for police.


Kansas State University Officials Say Nation's Food Supply Threatened

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The president of Kansas State University has told Congress that the country is unprepared to deal with threats to its food supply that he says is endangered by both terrorism and natural plant and animal diseases. Kansas State University President Richard Myers was invited to testify by Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Myers told the panel that there's an urgent need to protect the country's food supply from ``naturally occurring and intentionally developed and delivered biological threats.'' Myers also said the university needs federal funding to continue research on four emerging animal diseases. The university has been using its own biological isolation labs to research the diseases in anticipation of the opening of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Roberts says Myers's recommendations should be written in Congress's next farm bill.


$10,000 Reward Offered in Wichita Pizza Hut Driver's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Pizza Hut is offering a $10,000 reward for information in the death of one of their drivers last month in Wichita. The company announced the reward Thursday, seeking tips in the November 26 killing of Hasan Rahman. His body was found in the trunk of his car in east Wichita. Police say he was shot to death. Rahman delivered Pizza Hut orders the previous night but didn't return to the restaurant. Investigators say they currently have few clues or leads in his death. Crime Stoppers has also offered a $2,500 reward in the case. Rahman moved to the United States from Bangladesh seven years ago and married three years ago.


Former Coffey County Sheriff's Deputy Pleads to Child Sex Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Coffey County deputy has pleaded no contest to multiple child sex charges. Matthew Vander Linden entered the plea Thursday. He was charged with two counts each of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy. As part of the plea deal, a charge of unlawful sexual relations was dropped. Prosecutors say Vander Linden had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old in November 2016. He was arrested and was fired in December 2016. Sentencing is scheduled February 1.


Man Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping, Raping Kansas Deputy 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Blue Springs man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a sheriff's deputy in Johnson County. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old William Luth will face a recommended sentence of more than 40 years in prison after entering the plea Friday. A second suspect, Brady Newman-Caddell, is due in court Thursday. The attack happened in October 2016 outside the Johnson County Detention Center in Olathe. The female deputy testified at a preliminary hearing in February that she was on her way to work when a man punched her and forced her into a vehicle, where another man was in the driver's seat. The deputy testified she was attacked by both men. Authorities say DNA testing was among the evidence linking the men to the crime.


Kansas Judge Orders Mental Treatment for Man Accused of Dismembering Wife 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - A homeless man is headed to a mental hospital for treatment. Justin Rey told police he dismembered his wife in a Missouri hotel room then slept in a Kansas storage unit with their two children and the woman's remains. A Johnson County judge on Thursday found Rey not competent to stand trial and ordered the mental evaluation. Rey is charged in Kansas and Missouri with child endangerment. He's also charged with abandonment of corpse in Missouri. He isn't charged in his wife's killing. Investigators say Rey took photographs of himself with his wife's body before dismembering her and taking her remains to the storage unit in Lenexa, Kansas. Rey said she died during childbirth and that she killed herself. He's also charged in the death of a California man whose body hasn't been found.


NextEra Considers Wind Farm in Kansas Area

HAVEN, Kan. (AP) — A Florida energy company is considering an area in south-central Kansas for a potential wind farm. The Hutchinson News reports that more than 100 people attended NextEra Energy's open house Thursday in Haven. Many residents went to the event to check if their property fell within the approximately 29,000 acres NextEra is looking at. The company is proposing a 200- to 300-megawatt wind farm containing about 100 wind turbines. Project Director Sam Massey says the industry standard is about $4,500 a year per megawatt in payments to area landowners. Landowners can also receive money for using their land to store or transmit energy from the turbines. NextEra currently operates six wind projects in Kansas. The company makes money by selling its energy to wholesale companies like Westar Energy.


Kansas State University President Starts New Coin Tradition

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The president of Kansas State University has started a tradition of giving special coins to members of the school community as a token of appreciation. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the K-State Coin features a purple Powercat and President Richard Myers' name on one side, with the university seal on the other. Myers says the tradition in inspired from his time in the U.S. military. He says he liked the idea of military members receiving coins from commanding officers as a token of gratitude. Myers says he awards a coin if someone's efforts go "above and beyond." The president estimates he's handed out about 50 coins to faculty, staff and students at the university.


Kansas Officers Employ Pit Bull Police Dog

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) _ Police in central Kansas have a new drug detective: a pit bull that was rescued by a Texas organization and trained for law enforcement work. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Stafford Police Department recently employed Kano, a 55-pound pit bull puppy. He participated in his first drug bust this week. The department believes Kano is the first pit bull to work in such a role in Kansas. Kano trained with Universal K9, a San Antonio-based organization that rescues pit bulls and trains them for police work. The organization partnered with the Animal Farm Foundation to start a grant program to train rescue pit bulls to locate narcotics or explosives. Officer Mason Paden is Kano's handler. He says the breed is ``misunderstood,'' and he hopes to change people's perception of the pit bull breed.


Grizzly Crime Solved: Candy Factory's Stolen Bear Found

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Police say a sweet tip led to the recovery of a bear statue that was stolen from outside a candy factory in central Kansas a year ago. Abilene Police Department assistant chief Jason Wilkins says the Russell Stover Candies sculpture, depicting a sitting teddy bear covered in chocolate, was found in a Salina home following a tip from someone apparently unconnected to its theft. Detective Karmen Kupper says a suspect has been identified but hasn't been arrested. Wilkins tells The Wichita Eagle that early leads in the November 2016 theft from the company's Abilene factory didn't pan out and that the bear investigation had "become a running joke." Kupper describes the 150-pound, 4-foot tall sculpture as a "huge landmark" and a popular backdrop for pictures.

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