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Headlines for Friday, December 6, 2019

KU Names New Provost, Executive Vice Chancellor for Lawrence Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — University of Kansas alumna Barbara Bichelmeyer has been named the next provost and executive vice chancellor of the Lawrence campus.  Bichelmeyer is currently the provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she also served as interim chancellor.  KU officials made the announcement today (FRI).  Bichelmeyer earned four degrees from KU.  She will begin her new role with KU in late February 2020.  (Read more about KU's new provost.)

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Deaths of 2 Men from Junction City Considered Murder-Suicide

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Authorities say the deaths of two men from Junction City are being investigated as a murder-suicide. Geary County authorities say the bodies of 27-year-old Zachary Lima and 24-year-old Christopher Young were found late Thursday near Milford Lake Dam in Junction City. Geary County Sheriff's Deputy David Gilbert said investigators believe Lima forced his way into a home and took 24-year-old Christopher Young out of the house before the men's bodies were found. No further information was released.

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Textron Aviation Announces Layoffs, Most Job Losses Will Affect Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Textron Aviation says the company is laying off an undisclosed number of workers, with most of the layoffs at its headquarters in Wichita. The company announced the layoffs Thursday but did not say how many employees would be affected. Company spokeswoman Stephanie Harder said in a statement the job losses would be mostly in engineering and business support.

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Man Dies in Central Kansas Duplex Fire

MARION, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly fire at a duplex in central Kansas. Police in Marion say the west side of the duplex was fully engulfed in flames when officers responded shortly before 3 pm Tuesday. Once the fire was under control, a man was found inside the structure. The man wasn't immediately identified. The Kansas State Fire Marshal was contacted to help investigate the blaze. Marion is located about 60 miles northeast of Wichita.

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Kansas Judge Accused of Bigotry, Profanities in Courthouse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A foul-mouthed Kansas judge accused of bigotry and racism is facing complaints that his conduct violates the central judicial canons of independence, integrity and impartiality. The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications will next week consider whether Montgomery County Judge F. William Cullins performs his duties with sufficient competence and diligence that he can continue on the bench. One former clerk was so disgusted with his obscene outbursts at courthouse employees that he kept a "swear journal" that will be presented as evidence. According to the commission's pretrial order, Cullins acknowledges that he needs "a more effective management style."

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Elections Chief Resigns in Johnson County Beset with Problems

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top elections official has resigned in a populous Kansas county plagued in two recent elections with delays in reporting results. The Kansas secretary of state's office announced Thursday that Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker stepped down, but Metsker didn't give a reason in his resignation letter. Metsker had been commissioner since February 2016 and was appointed by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Johnson County is the state's most populous county and saw delays in reporting election results in November 2016 and August 2018. But a spokeswoman for current Secretary of State Scott Schwab said those problems were not why Metsker resigned.  

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Driver Crashes into Wichita Home While Fleeing from Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A driver has crashed into a Wichita home while fleeing from police. KAKE-TV reports that the chase ended around 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the southeast part of the city. Witnesses told the television station that officers were chasing a car when it crashed into two parked vehicles and the garage of a home. The suspect fled, and officers used a police dog to track him. No information was released about what led up to the crash or whether anyone was injured. 

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Corps of Engineers Reduces Amount of Water Released into Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water being released into the lower Missouri River is being reduced ahead of winter, so flooded areas along the river will see some relief. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the amount of water being released from the Gavins Point dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border has been reduced to 57,000 cubic feet per second, and it will be cut further to about 27,000 cubic feet per second by mid-December. The reductions will allow the river to fall below flood stage in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri by the end of this month.

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After Long Debate, Olathe Approves Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The city of Olathe has approved a nondiscrimination ordinance to provide protections to LGBTQ residents. The city council's vote on Tuesday came after months of debate and before a packed meeting room. The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It includes exemptions for educational, religious and political institutions. Olathe is the last of the major cities in Johnson County to adopt such an ordinance.

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Kansas GOP Congressman Faces Probe of Voter Registration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities plan to investigate whether a freshman Kansas congressman broke state laws by listing a UPS Inc. store as his address on a voter registration form and for obtaining a mail-in ballot in a November election. Rep. Steve Watkins' spokesman said Wednesday that the Republican congressman's use of the UPS store's address in southwest Topeka was an inadvertent mistake that will be corrected.  But his actions raised a question  about the legality of Watkins' registration and the ballot he cast November 5. The local sheriff said he would investigate the matter at the local district attorney's request.  

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Authorities Seek Help Locating Stolen Native American Items

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are seeking help finding several Native American pieces that were stolen during a residential burglary near Salina. The Saline County Sheriff's Office released photos Friday of several of the items that were taken during the May heist in an effort to locate them. The items include a hand-carved Malaysian mask, a moose jaw dream catcher, a beaver fur shield with a feather and a dance stick made from a hawk’s leg with a talon. KSNW reports that the total loss is estimated at nearly $15,000.

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Kansas City Looks for New Homes for Some City Inmates

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials are searching for new places to house about 110 municipal inmates after a rehabilitation facility it was using to house them loses its insurance in January. The city has used Heartland Center for Behavioral Change as a jail since the Jackson County Detention Center stopped taking city inmates earlier this year. Heartland's chief executive told city and police officials that insurance carriers canceled the organization's liability and workers compensation policies, effective in January. Heartland provides substance abuse treatment and was not designed as a detention facility.

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New Law School Approved for Topeka's Washburn University

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University School of Law will be getting a new home. Washburn's Board of Regents on Wednesday approved the plan for a $33 million building on the Topeka campus. WIBW reports the university will begin working on the plans immediately. A completion date is not yet set.

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Large Santa Statue Stolen from Historic Kansas City Area Mansion

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A Grinch has stolen a large Santa Claus from the porch of a historic mansion in the Kansas City area. Police in Independence say the jolly old elf was snatched Tuesday or Wednesday from the Vaile Mansion. Built in 1881, the three-story Gothic-like structure is open to the public as a museum. Police say the Santa belongs to a Parks and Recreation employee and has “much sentimental value.'' In effort to track down leads, police posted pictures on Facebook showing the missing Santa posed next to a giant reindeer and beside a fireplace. Several dozen people responded to the post with outrage. One poster predicted that the thief would be ‘’on Santa's naughty list this year.''

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

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