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Headlines for Friday, February 23, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Scared Elementary School Student Brings Weapons to School

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a scared elementary school student brought a gun and knife to school in Kansas after seeing a threatening Facebook post the child thought was directed at the school. School officials said Friday that the student meant no harm to anyone at Stewart Elementary School in Salina. The weapons were immediately secured and the student was removed from the property. School district spokeswoman Jennifer Bradford-Vernon says the student was afraid after a Facebook post on Wednesday threatened a potential shooting against a school with the initials SHS. Investigators determined the threat was directed toward a school in Ohio. The Salina Journal reports that Bradford-Vernon didn't release the student's age or gender, or say how the weapons were discovered.

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Kansas Senate Approves Industrial Chicken House Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have advanced a bill that would allow industrial chicken farms to house more birds closer to homes and communities despite a public outcry last year over a proposed Tyson Foods chicken plant. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that senators on Thursday passed the bill that would increase the number of chickens a producer could have in a concentrated area by changing the formula for determining the number of birds allowed. Support for the bill was driven by lawmakers wanting to bring large-scale poultry producers and the jobs that come with them. Opponents argue the facilities harm the environment and communities. The bill comes after residents in northeast Kansas counties successfully beat back a plan Tyson proposed to build a $320 million facility processing 1.2 million birds weekly in Tonganoxie.

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Spirit to Pay Millions in Bonuses to Wichita Employees

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — About 11,500 Spirit AeroSystems workers in Wichita have all received bonuses. The Wichita Eagle reports that the employees received bonuses Thursday after the aircraft supplier reported a 13 percent year-over-year increase in profit on revenue of $7 billion last year. Spirit spokeswoman Debbie Gann wouldn't say exactly how much employees received in bonuses, but says "there will be millions of dollars infused into the Wichita economy through these payouts." The bonuses are awarded through the company's short-term incentive plan. Gann says the payouts are given annually only if Spirit meets or exceeds financial and operational goals set by its board. Friends University professor Malcolm Harris says the fact that the city's largest employer is paying bonuses to its workers means Spirit executives feel good about the health of the company.

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2 Men Killed in Small Plane Crash in Southwest Kansas

SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two men died when their plane crashed in southwest Kansas.  The plane went down Thursday night in Grant County. The two men aboard were 68-year-old Daniel Dunn and 64-year-old Michael Steele, of Scott City.  The patrol says the 1970 Beech aircraft was flying from Ulysses to Scott City when it crashed. Both men died at the scene.  The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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Southwest Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in Wife's Death

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old southwest Kansas man has pleaded guilty in his wife's death.  Jacob Ohnmacht of Larned pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter in the December 2016 death of 21-year-old Kayla Parrett at their home in rural Pawnee County.  He had originally been charged with second-degree murder and several counts of interfering with law enforcement.  Hutchpost reports Ohnhmacht said during his plea hearing that his wife had threatened to leave him. He had told law enforcement he found her hanging in an outside garden shed.  A sentencing date has not been scheduled.  In August 2017, Ohnmacht was convicted of trying to contaminate food by spitting on pizza he made for a police officer at Casey's General Store in Larned. As part of the plea, he agreed to waive an appeal of that conviction.

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Wichita Woman Competent to Stand Trial for Murdering Another Woman and Taking Her Newborn Baby

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a 35-year-old woman is competent to stand trial in the death of a Wichita woman and the kidnapping of the woman's newborn child.  Thirty-five-year-old Yesenia Sesmas is scheduled for trial March 26 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated interference with parental custody and other counts.  Prosecutors allege she fatally shot 27-year-old Laura Abarca of Wichita in November 2017 and abducted the woman's 6-day-old daughter.  The suspect and the baby were found two days after the abduction in Texas. The child was returned to relatives in Wichita.  The Texas woman allegedly drove from Dallas to Wichita to meet Laura Abarca, who she met years ago while working at a Wichita restaurant.

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Pawn Shop Sued over 2016 Kansas Business Shooting

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas pawn shop is being sued over the sale of firearms used in a 2016 mass shooting at a lawn equipment factory.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Harvey County. As a convicted felon, gunman Cedric Ford was barred from possessing the AK-47-type semi-automatic rifle and .40-caliber handgun used in the shooting at the Excel Industries factory in Hesston. Ford was killed after fatally shooting three people and wounding 14 others.  He got the weapons through his ex-girlfriend, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges. The lawsuit alleges that the Newton store, called A Pawn Shop, should have known she was a straw purchaser. The pawn shop owner declined comment, saying he hasn't received a copy of the lawsuit.

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Kansas Lawmakers Cancel Debate on NRA-Backed Gun Safety Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislative leaders have canceled a debate on a gun-safety education bill.  The proposal would have given preference to a National Rifle Association gun safety program used in elementary schools.  Top Kansas House Republicans say they called off today's Thursda's debate because they want to work on a comprehensive plan for preventing gun violence at schools.  But they were facing backlash from Democrats and GOP moderates. Republican Representative Stephanie Clayton said it was too soon after a Valentine's Day shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.  The bill would allow schools to offer gun-safety courses starting in kindergarten but mandate that the curriculum be based on the NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe program through the fifth grade.  Supporters said the bill would encourage schools to teach gun safety and the NRA has a good program.

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First National Bank to Halt Production of NRA Credit Card

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The nation's largest privately-owned bank says it will stop producing credit cards for the National Rifle Association in response to customer feedback.  The Nebraska-based First National Bank of Omaha announced on Twitter Thursday that it will not renew its contract to issue the group's NRA Visa Card.  The announcement came after the progressive news website ThinkProgress listed the bank as a company that supports the NRA. ThinkProgress noted that First National Bank offered two NRA cards with a $40 bonus and touted it as "enough to reimburse your one-year NRA membership!"  The NRA has faced intense criticism following the school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.  First National Bank has offices in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas. A bank spokesman declined to comment.

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Missouri's Governor Indicted on Felony Charge

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The governor of Missouri -- Eric Greitens -- has been indicted.  A grand jury in St. Louis indicted the Republican governor on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to his affair with a woman in 2015.  The indictment was announced Thursday.  Prosecutors launched an investigation in January after Greitens admitted to an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser that began in March 2015.  Greitens was elected governor in November 2016.  

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Bad Weather Closes Schools, Keeps Workers Home

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas school districts and universities called off classes Thursday and many state employees were told to stay home after another round of winter weather.  With about three-fourths of the state under a winter weather advisory, Governor Jeff Colyer ordered the closure of state government for nonessential employees in Shawnee County.  The University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Johnson County Community College, Emporia State and Wichita State all cancelled classes Thursday.  Snow days also were declared in many school districts.  In Wichita, a driver was rescued from a vehicle that slid into the frigid Arkansas River.  And at the Kansas City International Airport, about two dozen morning flights were canceled and another eight delayed because of the weather.

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2 Men from Oregon Say They Plan to Run for Kansas Governor, Lt. Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The arts editor and theater critic at an Oregon weekly paper say they plan to run for governor and lieutenant governor of Kansas.  Editor Bob Keefer and critic Rick Levin of the Eugene Weekly say they mailed a notarized affidavit of candidacy to the state on Feb. 14. If 5,000 Kansas voters sign petitions to get their names on the ballot, Keefer would run for governor and Levin for lieutenant governor.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the men's campaign is mocking Kansas' lack of standards for candidates.  The state currently has no age or residency requirements to run for statewide office. The Kansas House this week advanced legislation that would allow candidates only 18 and older and impose a residency requirement.

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3 Fraternities at University Kansas Suspended in 2018

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Three fraternities at the University of Kansas have been suspended since the beginning of the year.  Representatives from the national headquarters of Delta Upsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon told The Kansas City Star that their Kansas chapters are not operating as the university investigates possible violations of fraternity policy.  A spokesman for Sigma Alpha Epsilon (Johnny Sao) said that fraternity's chapter was closed January 19 until further notice while possible health and safety violations are investigated. KU says the fraternity is on probation until January 31, 2020.  A spokeswoman for Delta Upsilon International Fraternity (Ashley Martin) says its Kansas chapter was put on "emergency suspension" January 29. The fraternity doesn't currently appear on a list of student organizations sanctioned by the school.  A Sigma Phi Epsilon representative says its chapter is being investigated for possible hazing.

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Topeka Capital-Journal Names New Publisher 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former intern at the Topeka Capital-Journal has returned to the city to become publisher of the newspaper. Gatehouse Media announced the appointment of Stephen Wade on Friday. As a young journalism student at the University of Kansas, Wade got journalism experience as an intern at The Capital-Journal. Wade was most recently general manager and president of The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. He previously worked as a picture editor in Los Angeles, and was publisher in Pittsburg, Kansas, Independence, Missouri, and Florence, South Carolina. Gatehouse regional vice president Grady Singletary says Wade also will be Kansas senior group publisher for the media company, which bought The Capital-Journal in October 2017. In that capacity, Wade will work with Gatehouse papers throughout Kansas.

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Records: Missing Boy's Dad, Stepmom Had Violent Relationship

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police records show the father and stepmother of a missing 5-year-old Kansas boy had a sometimes violent relationship.  The Wichita Eagle reports that police provided several incident reports about the couple after announcing that the 26-year-old stepmother, Emily Glass, had been arrested on suspicion of endangering the boy and another child.  Glass reported her stepson Lucas Hernandez missing on Saturday. She hasn't been formally charged.  One police report says Glass held a wooden ax handle during an April 2016 argument in which the boy's father, Jonathan Hernandez, suffered a bloody nose and other injuries. Glass had bruises on the side of her head and accused him of slapping her.  The report says officers couldn't determine the primary aggressor. Glass was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The same charge against Hernandez was dismissed.

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Kansas Man Charged with Beating Dog, Burning Her with Propane Torch

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man is accused of beating the family dog and burning her with a propane torch.  The Kansas City Star reports that 57-year-old Lemuel Dean Hunter Jr. was charged Wednesday with a felony count of cruelty to animals. His bond has been set at $10,000.  Leavenworth Police say they were called to a home Monday and were told by someone there that a relative, now identified as Hunter, was abusing the family dog. Police say the 3-year-old corgi and beagle mix was struck with a board, kicked, choked and burned with a torch.  Hunter has denied the allegations and tells police he was trying to move the dog from one kennel to another.  Authorities say Leavenworth Animal Control evaluated the dog and kept her in their custody Wednesday.

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Kansas City Woman Sentenced for Forging Prison Release Form

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City, Missouri, woman was sentenced to nearly 3.5 years in federal prison for forging a court order to get another inmate released from prison.  Prosecutors say 53-year-old Margie Shephard was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months without parole.  Shephard was an inmate at a federal prison in Bryan, Texas, when she tried to forge a document to get fellow inmate Leann Raejeana Turner, of Blue Springs, Missouri, immediately released from prison. The document included a forged signature from a federal judge.  Prosecutors say Shephard mailed the document to her sister, who faxed it to prison officials from a grocery store in November 2014. Prison officials became suspicious because of the reduced sentence and typographical errors in the order.  The forgery is Shephard's 30th felony conviction, most involving fraud.  

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Kansas Senate Wants to Restore Business Tax Break, Despite School Funding Woes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill restoring a small business tax break has advanced in the Kansas Senate despite concerns that the money may be needed to fund public schools.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the measure received first-round approval Wednesday. It would allow individual tax filers who run their own businesses to deduct the costs incurred when placing certain tangible property and computer software into service. It was repealed as part of the 2012 tax overhaul that eliminated all taxes on income derived from those people's business operations. When lawmakers reversed that tax policy last year, the deduction wasn't restored.  School funding uncertainty kept some senators from supporting it. The Revenue Department estimates the tax break would cost $21 million in the upcoming fiscal year, and about $10 million each year after that.

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Kansas Senate Passes Tougher Lobbying Law, Higher Gift Limit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a bipartisan bill for strengthening lobbying laws that also would allow state officials to take more expensive gifts from people seeking to influence them.  The measure approved unanimously Wednesday would require people trying to promote contracts or influence actions by executive branch agencies to register as lobbyists and disclose some spending.  That is broader than current Kansas laws requiring lobbyists to report some spending when they seek to influence legislators or work for or against an administrative rule.  But the bill also increases the total value of small gifts that state officials can accept in a year from an individual to $100 from $40.  The measure was sponsored by Republican Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita and Democratic Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.

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Kansas Lawmakers Advance Law Enforcement Transparency Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators who want to make law enforcement more transparent are focusing on measures dealing with officers' body camera footage and agencies' seizure of property.  The House gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill on each topic that has bipartisan support and represents a compromise with law enforcement groups. Supporters said each is a step forward on transparency.  House members expected to take another, final vote on each by Thursday to determine whether they pass and go to the Senate.  The body camera bill would require agencies to show footage to the subject of the video or family members within 20 days of receiving a request.  The asset-forfeiture bill would require the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to compile information on the property seized by law enforcement agencies.

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Wichita Bank Sues After ATM Gave out $100s instead of $5s

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita bank is trying to get money back from a woman it accuses of making more than 50 withdrawals from an ATM that was spitting out $100 bills in place of $5s.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Central National Bank sued last month in Sedgwick County District. It's demanding that Christina Ochoa return about $11,600 plus interest.  The bank contends the withdrawals stretched over a five-day period from January 13 to January 17. Most were made in the middle of the night.  Ochoa's mother, Christy Ochoa, is also named because she drove her daughter to the ATM. The Ochoas have denied any wrongdoing. Christy Ochoa said her daughter wanted $5 bills to craft a "money cake" as a gift for an acquaintance who'd just had a baby.

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