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Headlines for Friday, January 3, 2020

Gov. Kelly: Kansas Psychiatric Hospital Unit Needs Changes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says a troubled unit within a state hospital for the mentally ill is “not a therapeutic environment" and promised changes. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kelly discussed the latest problems at Osawatomie State Hospital on Thursday after federal inspectors again threatened to pull Medicare funding. Kelly says the 60-bed Adair Acute Care unit is “way too small to have 60 people with some serious mental health issues in that one place.” She says state officials are working on improvement plans to lower the number of patients in the unit and provide beds elsewhere.

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UPDATE: Humboldt Water Plant Reopens After Chemical Spill Scare

HUMBOLDT, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a southeast Kansas town are able to once again use the city water after a water plant that was shut down reopened. Humboldt officials urged residents on Thursday to conserve water because of a chemical spill in the Neosho River. State health officials gave the all-clear and residents were told they could go back to regular water use after  3 p.m. Friday. The chemicals were spilled during a fire at Mid-West Fertilizer in Iola. 

(–earlier reporting–)

Chemical Spill in River Shuts Down Humboldt Water Plant

HUMBOLDT, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas town is operating without its water plant after a chemical spill in a nearby river. Officials in Humboldt, in Neosho County, urged residents on Thursday to conserve water because of a spill in the Neosho River. The chemicals were spilled during a fire at Mid-West Fertilizer in Iola. Officials said the water in the city's water tower is safe but there is a limited supply. The city won't process water until the threat is over. Humboldt's water plant shut down its intake valve on Wednesday. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it is awaiting results of tests in the water. 

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Kansas Taxes Nearly $39 Million More than Anticipated in December

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected nearly $39 million more in taxes than expected in December. The state Department of Revenue said Thursday that the state took in nearly $757 million in taxes last month. The official prediction for tax collections was $718 million, and the surplus was 5.4%. Tax collections have exceeded expectations for 11 months in a row and in 30 of the 31 months dating back to June 2017. The state has collected nearly $3.6 billion in taxes since the current budget year began July 1. That's $51 million more than anticipated for a surplus of 1.4%.

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Lawrence Apartment Fire Causes Nearly $500,000 in Damage but No Serious Injuries

LAWRENCE, Kan. — No serious injuries are reported after an early morning fire at a central Lawrence apartment complex.  According to the Lawrence Journal-World, the blaze at Village 1 Apartments did not seriously injure anyone, but it caused almost half a million dollars in property damage.  The fire, which displaced a dozen residents, was reported just after 1 am today (FRI).  Officials say the building did not have a sprinkler system but did have smoke alarms.  Four people suffered from minor injuries but all were treated at the scene and no one was taken to the hospital. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

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St. Joseph Man Sentenced in $6 Million K2 Distribution Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 42-year-old St. Joseph man was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole for his role in the distribution of nearly $6 million of synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2. Shakeel Khan was sentenced Thursday and ordered to forfeit $2 million seized by law enforcement. He also must pay $4.7 million judgment. Prosecutors said that accounted for all the K2-related money in his bank accounts. Two co-defendants, both of California, were sentenced in December to four years in prison without parole.

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Paroled Kansas Killer Charged in Another Homicide

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A convicted Kansas killer has been charged with another homicide just months after he was released on parole. The Wichita Eagle reports that 39-year-old Ahmad Khaasanouva Bey was charged Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court with first-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Melinda Sprague, whom police said he had dated. Bey is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Another suspect, 34-year-old Vanessa Lynne Waner, is charged with interference with law enforcement. Her body was found Dec. 26 in an abandoned vehicle, two days after she was reported missing.

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Man Charged in Kansas with Killing Ex Girlfriend, 2 of Her Children

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend and two of her children whose bodies were found after a house fire in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors say 31-year-old Ismael Caballero is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. He is jailed on $1 million bond. The charges stem from the discovery of the bodies of 32-year-old Yazmine Rodriguez-Santilla, 14-year-old Amerikha Rodriguez and 10-year-old Jean Carlos Rodriguez by crews battling a house fire early Monday. Prosecutors allege in charging documents that he set fire to the house as well as to a minvian.

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Group Resists Identifying Donors After Pro-Kobach Ads Aired in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group that sponsored ads promoting conservative Republican Kris Kobach during his failed 2018 run for Kansas governor says it isn't legally required to disclose its donors to the public. The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has given Per Aspera Policy until January 15 to file public reports on its activities during the last governor's race. The commission issued a notice to the group this week. But a Washington attorney representing the group told the commission in a letter that it is not required to disclose any information under Kansas law because its ads did not "expressly advocate" Kobach's election.

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Man Admits Shooting Fake Attack Ad in Wichita Mayor's Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The lawyer for a man who shot a false attack ad against Brandon Whipple during the Wichita mayoral race says his client did not act alone. Whipple, who won the mayor's race, is suing unknown people and 21-year-old Matthew Colborn, a video producer who admits shooting an ad that falsely suggested that Whipple had been accused of sexual harassment at the Kansas Statehouse. In court filings on Tuesday, attorney Ross Hollander wrote that Colborn made the video at the direction of others, who are not identified in court records. It’s still unclear whose idea the video was and who financed it.

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Smokers Need Not Apply: U-Haul Won't Hire Some Nicotine Users

NEW YORK (AP) — U-Haul has a New Year's resolution: Cut down on hiring people who smoke. The moving company said that it won't hire nicotine users in the 21 states where it is legal to do so. It says that it wants to make its work environment "healthier." The new policy will start February 1, and won't apply to those hired before then. The Phoenix-based company has more than 30,000 employees. U-Haul operates in dozens of states, including Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Texas.  Company officials said people hired before the policy goes into effect won’t be affected.  U-Haul International employs some 30,000 woorkers across the U.S. and Canada.  

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Man, Woman Fatally Shot at Hotel Near Downtown Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the deadly shooting of a man and woman at a hotel near downtown Wichita. Police Capt. Wendell Nicholson says officers responded around 12:20 am. Thursday and found the victims suffering from gunshot wounds at the Hotel at WaterWalk. Both victims died at the scene. They were in their 30s, but their names weren't immediately released. Police don't have any suspects, although investigators are talking to witnesses who saw someone running away from the scene. No motive has been released.  

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Missouri Man Sues Federal Public Defenders Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man whose conviction was overturned after he spent more than two years in prison is suing the federal public defender's office. Thirty-year-old Aaron Winters says in his lawsuit that his public defender told him to plead guilty even though he was innocent. Winters was sentenced to 30 months in prison after his arrest in 2012 for being a felon in possession of a firearm. However, Winters later learned that he was not banned from having a gun because he had been sentenced to less than a year on an earlier conviction for possessing marijuana without a tax stamp. Federal prosecutors then recommended Winters conviction be overturned. 

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Browns Interview Chiefs Coordinator Bieniemy for Coach Job

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns are interviewing Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City to possibly be their next head coach. Bieniemy is the third candidate to interview with the Browns, who fired Freddie Kitchens after he went 6-10. On Thursday, the team met with former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy and Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam wants to hire a coach before turning his attention to finding a new general manager following John Dorsey's sudden departure this week. Bieniemy is in his second season running the Chiefs' high-powered offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

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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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