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Headlines for Friday, June 22, 2018

update: State of Kansas Inspecting Homes with Immigrant Children

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer ordered an immediate inspection of Topeka group homes that are housing unaccompanied immigrant children. Colyer directed the state Department for Children and Families to inspect The Villages homes Friday after four Democratic state legislators criticized him during a Statehouse news conference. They said Colyer was not being aggressive enough in seeking information about the immigrant children there. The Villages has a federal contract to house 50 unaccompanied immigrant children at its seven group homes in Topeka and Lawrence. But it won't say whether any of them had been separated from their parents during recent crackdown at the border. Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said the state doesn't have control over the federal contract but can ensure that the homes continue to meet state standards.


11:10 a.m.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers demanded Friday that Republican Governor Jeff Colyer become more aggressive in seeking answers about immigrant children housed in northeast Kansas group homes and suggested he's too passive because he's locked in a tough GOP primary. Four Democratic legislators criticized Colyer's administration during a Statehouse news conference following reports that children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are being housed by the nonprofit agency The Villages. It has two group homes in Lawrence and five on a wooded, 400-acre site outside Topeka. "It's about transparency," said Representative John Alcala, a Topeka Democrat. "Are those kids being cared for and how is the money being spent? And as elected officials, we owe those answers to our constituents." The Villages confirmed Thursday that it has a federal contract to house 50 unaccompanied immigrant children aged 6 to 18. It has had the contract since February 2017, and it's worth more than $5.9 million over two years, according to an online federal database. But The Villages would not say whether any of the unaccompanied immigrant children had been separated from their parents during recent crackdown on illegal crossings at the border and did not provide other details about them. The Democratic lawmakers said Colyer's office told them that it did not have any information about the children being housed by The Villages, and the nonprofit said it needed two weeks' notice to give them a tour of its homes. "It's my understanding that there hadn't been any notification from the federal government on this program," Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said. "After reaching out, trying to figure out what was going on with the situation, we still weren't getting much information." The Democrats said Colyer should develop a plan for ensuring that the children are reunited with their families. Alcala was joined by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, another Topeka Democrat, and House Minority Leader Jim Ward and Rep. Ponka-We Victors, both Wichita Democrats, in decrying the separation of immigrant children from their families. Ward and Hensley said they're skeptical that President Donald Trump's administration did not at least notify a Republican governor that children separated from their parents would come to his state. Ward later said he doubts the federal government would bring the children to Kansas if Colyer objected. Colyer is in a tough primary GOP primary race against Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is known nationally as an advocate of tough policies against illegal immigration and has advised the president on homeland security issues. "I believe that would explain his reluctance to enter the fray," Hensley said of Colyer. But Marr said it's unfair for Democrats to accuse Colyer of "colluding with the Trump administration" when they don't have "any sort of evidence."


Kansas Lawmaker to Visit Tent Shelters for Young Immigrants

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kansas Representative Roger Marshall plans to travel Saturday to Texas to visit a center with tent-like shelters for hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant boys. Marshall said Friday that he is heading to the El Paso area to assess the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he plans to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and visit the center near the Tornillo port of entry. The federal government began housing teenage boys who entered the U.S. illegally at the Tornillo shelter last week to open space elsewhere for younger immigrant children separated from their parents in a crackdown on illegal border crossings. The port is located about 40 miles southeast of El Paso in an area that's mostly desert. The shelter's tent-like structures have air conditioning.


Juvenile Offenders Make Comfort Kits for Kids in Hardship

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Children at a Kansas juvenile detention facility are learning the value of volunteer work by making stuffed animals and comfort kits for youth experiencing hardship. The Wichita Eagle reports that children in the Sedgwick County Juvenile Delinquent Facility began creating comfort kits Wednesday with Sheriff Deputy Aaron Miller and volunteers from IMA Financial Group. All the facility's children ages 10 through 17 will get an opportunity to make a kit this week. Each kit contains a children's book, crisis information, a stuffed animal and a birth certificate for the toy. Local law enforcement can give the kits to children in difficult situations, such as house fires, car accidents or at court during divorce cases. Miller says making the kits gives the facility's children a sense of purpose.


Kansas Chooses 3 Companies to Manage Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has awarded new contracts to three insurance companies to manage the state's privatized Medicaid program. Two of the new contracts announced Friday are renewals for companies currently in the program, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc. and United Healthcare Midwest Inc. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that the third contract went to a company new to the program, Aetna Better Health of Kansas Inc. The companies were selected from six candidates. Current contractor Amerigroup was not selected for renewal. Under the program, called KanCare, the companies are paid a per-person rate for managing patient care. About 400,000 low-income families, seniors and disabled individuals are in the program.


Inmate Charged with Capital Murder in Kansas Deputy Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old inmate was charged Friday with capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Kansas sheriff's deputies who were overpowered by him while they were trying to move him between a courthouse and jail. Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree announced that his office charged Antoine Fielder with two counts of capital murder in the deputies' deaths. In Kansas, the intentional, premeditated killing of a single law enforcement officer is eligible for the death penalty. "We will do our best to bring justice," Dupree said during a news conference. Wyandotte County deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa King were killed June 15 when, according to police, they were apparently overpowered by Fielder in a gated area behind the courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, possibly with one of their own guns. He was being transported between the jail and courthouse for a hearing in another case. "He then overpowered one of the deputies and caused the incident that ultimately caused us to charge these crimes," Dupree said. Dupree also charged Fielder with one count of aggravated robbery over the June 15 incident. The charge says only that Fielder took property from Rohrer "by force or threat," without mentioning a gun. Rohrer, 35, died shortly after the shooting and King, 44, died the next day at a hospital. A joint funeral service was Thursday. Fielder was shot but survived. Dupree said his office has no reason to believe that Fielder had any help. Fielder has an extensive criminal history. He was tried twice for the June 2015 killing of 22-year-old Kelsey Ewonus, a single mother whose body was found in a parked car in Kansas City, Kansas. But the murder charge was dropped in September after a second trial ended in a hung jury. Authorities allege that Fielder then fatally shot 55-year-old Rosemarie Harmon in December in Kansas City, Missouri, and wounded her friend. Ballistics testing on a gun stolen during a carjacking in Kansas City, Kansas, earlier in December tied him to Harmon's slaying. At the time that the deputies were shot, Fielder already was facing a first-degree murder charge in Jackson County, Missouri, in Harmon's death as well as multiple charges in Wyandotte County in the carjacking. Online court records don't list an attorney for Fielder. He could face charges for additional crimes.


Man Shot, Granddaughter Abducted in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Missouri, are searching for a 15-year-old girl who was reported missing after her grandfather was found shot.  Police were called Thursday night to a home where the grandfather was found wounded. He is hospitalized in stable condition.  The man told police he didn't know the suspect who shot him before leaving with the victim's granddaughter, Brajaean Sledge. The suspect drove away in the victim's car.  Authorities believe the suspect is between the ages of 18 and 20 and may be armed and dangerous.  A potential motive for the shooting has not been disclosed.


Hundreds Attend Funeral for Designer Kate Spade

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners braved drizzling rain to attend the funeral for fashion designer Kate Spade in her hometown of Kansas City.  Many of those attending the Thursday church service carried her iconic purses.  Her family released a statement shortly before the funeral began, saying her father had died the night before. The statement said 89-year-old Earl Brosnahan Jr. had been in failing health and was "heartbroken" after his daughter's suicide.  The 55-year-old mother was found dead in her New York City home on June 5. Her husband says she'd had depression and anxiety for years, and that she'd been seeing a doctor.  A high school classmate said Thursday that Spade was "incredibly kind" and had a memorable laugh.


More Information Released on 2 Kansas City Police Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are releasing more details about two officer-involved shootings last week that left three people dead.  Officers fatally shot a woman who was involved in a standoff Thursday after she was seen walking with a sword in a northern Kansas City neighborhood.  About an hour later, police shot and killed two men who were fighting in downtown Kansas City.  Police say Timothy Mosley of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Robert White, a homeless man, had several confrontations on Barney Allis Plaza before officers arrived. The two men were again fighting when police say Mosley pointed a gun at officers, prompting the officers to shoot and hit both men.  In the second shooting, police say they shot 28-year-old Ashley Simonetti after she ran at officers with a 27-inch steel sword after the standoff.


Kansas Group Mum on Immigrant Children in its Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas nonprofit that shelters troubled children isn't answering questions about the immigrant children staying at its facilities.  Joseph Wittrock, president of Topeka-based The Villages, said Thursday that the group has a contract with the federal government to house 50 "unaccompanied children" aged 6 to 18.  Wittrock's comments followed a media report that the agency had children separated from families at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a zero-tolerance immigration policy in place since April.  Wittrock wouldn't say whether the youth in their care were separated from families at the border or had entered the country without family members as unaccompanied minors.  The Villages operates five group homes on a 400-acre rural outpost outside Topeka and two group homes in Lawrence. The seven homes can hold 80 children.


Judge Delays Trial of Sedgwick County Commissioner

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed the trial of a Sedgwick County commissioner accused of misspending more than $10,000 in campaign funds and trying to cover it up.  The jury trial of Michael O'Donnell that had been scheduled for July 10 has been continued to Sept. 18 in federal court in Wichita. The unopposed change was requested by his defense attorney because he already had another trial scheduled on that initial week and needed more time to prepare pretrial motions.  O'Donnell has pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment alleging fraud and money laundering.  Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Wichita man took $10,500 from campaign accounts to put into his personal bank account and to give to friends, then filed false reports with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.


Kansas Regents Approve Tuition Increases for Universities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has approved tuition and fee increases for all six public universities, citing a need to keep pace with rising costs and declining state support.  Full-time resident undergraduate students attending the University of Kansas in Lawrence will see a combined increase of about 3 percent. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the increase will bring the total cost of tuition plus fees to nearly $5,574 per semester.  The increase comes at a time when the university is also cutting its budget for the Lawrence campus by about $20 million.  Other state universities will impose tuition and fee increases ranging from 1.2 percent to 2.8 percent.  Total state funding for higher education in the upcoming year will be nearly $73 million less than it was a decade earlier.


Kansas Priest Defrocked After Child Sex Abuse Allegations

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas priest has been revoked of his rank years after an investigation into multiple child sexual abuse allegations against him.  Archbishop Joseph Naumann issued a decree in December removing the Rev. John Wisner from the clergy. The decree was announced May 25 after the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed it earlier this year, the Kansas City Star reported.  Naumann immediately suspended Wisner from active ministry in May 2012 after a sexual misconduct complaint from a 45-year-old man, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. The man alleged Wisner inappropriately touched him in 1982 on a youth outing when he was 15.  The archdiocese later received two more similar allegations from men in their 40s.  An internal investigation found the allegations credible and officials sent information to the Vatican in November 2012, according to the archdiocese.  Wisner has denied the allegations, according to the archdiocese. He didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment Wednesday.

The archdiocese said it notified law enforcement, but Wisner was never criminally charged in relation to the allegations.  Wisner was ordained in 1972, serving as an associate pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park and working at parishes in Shawnee and Kansas City, Kansas. A medical doctor, Wisner also taught at the University of Kansas School of Medicine until he retired in 2012, according to the school.  A victims' advocate group criticized the archdiocese on Wednesday for taking so long to announce Wisner's defrocking.  "While we are glad that this former priest has been removed from ministry, we are disappointed that the resolution of this case was kept virtually secret," said Melanie Sakoda, secretary of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "The survivors who came forward at great personal cost deserve to be validated publicly."


Investigation Continues in Fatal Sedgwick County Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An investigation continues after a 41-year-old woman was found fatally shot in a home near Wichita. The shooting happened Wednesday night in northeast Sedgwick County. The victim was identified on Friday as Lisa Marie Trimmell. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Tim Myer of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says two juveniles who were inside the home at the time of the shooting have been questioned but no arrests have been made.


Wichita Gets Serious About Fireworks Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita city leaders are promising to levy fines for people who violate the fireworks ordinance — and this year, they say, they mean it.  The Wichita Eagle reports that fireworks sales in the city start Wednesday. Mayor Jeff Longwell says that the city is taking a more serious approach in assuring that people shoot off only legal fireworks.  Those who don't could face a $250 fine. Longwell says that in previous years the fine was $2,500, but the law was seldom if ever enforced.  This year, with the lower fine, he promises that violators will be ticketed.


KC Airport Project Now Expected to Be Complete in 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The developer for the new single-terminal Kansas City International Airport is now projecting an opening date of October 2022, nearly a year later than originally anticipated. The Kansas City Star reports that officials with Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate told the Kansas City Council of its new plans Thursday. Edgemoor was chosen for the project that Kansas City voters approved in 2017. The project is expected to cost up to $1.4 billion. The original project cost was estimated at $964 million in 2014. Inflation is responsible for part of the increase, but the new plan also accounts for 39 gates instead of the original plan's 35. Airlines, not taxpayers, are responsible for funding the construction project.


Brothers Hope Previously Capsized Kansas Boat Floats Again

PERRY, Kan. (AP) — The new owners of a Kansas cruise boat are hoping it can float again 40 years after a tornado sank the boat and killed more than a dozen people. A tornado capsized the Whippoorwill paddle boat in 1978 on Pomona Lake, killing 16 of the 58 people on board. The Kansas City Star reports that Josh and Matt Abramovitz bought the boat for $4,000 to restore the 45-ton (41-metric ton) craft. Josh Abramovitz says the boat's close to seaworthy again after decades of repairs by his family and three previous owners. The brothers hope to get the boat out on Perry Lake near Topeka by July 4 and eventually carry paying passengers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the brothers must complete many requirements before using the boat commercially.


Missouri Senator's Husband Invested in Hedge Fund Tied to Caymans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Four years after Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill co-sponsored legislation targeting tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, her husband began investing in a hedge fund tied to the Caribbean nation — an investment that has paid off handsomely.  The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that Joseph Shepard has invested $1 million in Matrix Capital Management and that it has earned him between $230,000 and $2.1 million in income.  Shepard declined comment. He and McCaskill file taxes separately.  McCaskill campaign spokeswoman Meira Bernstein says the senator has no involvement in her husband's investments, and doesn't consider his business interests when doing her job in the Senate.  McCaskill's financial disclosure forms identify Matrix Capital Management's location as Waltham, Massachusetts. The U.S.-based fund feeds into a "master fund" located in the Caymans, which makes the actual investments.


Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor Buried in Colorado

DENVER (AP) — A sailor from Kansas who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has been reburied in Colorado, not far from his family.  Wallace Eakes (EEKS) was buried with full military honors at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver on Thursday. About 100 people, mostly veterans with no other connection to Eakes, attended the service.  Eakes was born and raised in Caney, Kansas. He was a storekeeper third class on the USS Oklahoma and was killed when the ship was torpedoed and sank on December 7, 1941.  He had been buried as an unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, but his remains were recently identified through DNA.  His nephew and next of kin, Gary Eakes of Tacoma, Washington, decided to have his uncle's body reburied in Colorado. Wallace Eakes' parents and sister moved from Kansas to Colorado and are buried in a private cemetery in the area.


Slow Growth Likely Continues in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy should continue growing slowly in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but the most recent survey of bankers in the area doesn't reflect all the recent tough trade talk.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says farmers are concerned that new tariffs could hurt exports at a time when their profits appeared lean, at best.  The overall index for rural parts of the region slipped to 56.1 in June from May's 56.3, but it remained in positive territory over 50.  Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy in the months ahead, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.  Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Ex-Dallas Cowboys Running Back Strikes Plea Deals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say they have reached plea deals with former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle that allow him to be released on probation as long as he stays out of trouble. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office said in a news release Friday the agreements cover four cases against Randle. He has already been in jail more than two years. Taken together, the pleas call for a controlling sentence of 80 months that allows him to be free on probation for 60 months. If he violates probation, prosecutors can seek imposition of the prison sentence. Randle was sentenced Friday for aggravated battery, aggravated burglary, criminal threat and marijuana possession. He will be sentenced on Aug. 17 on cases related to a jail fight, interference with a law enforcement officer, breaking a jail TV and threatening a guard.


Clarification: Kansas Pro Bono Rules Story

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — In a story June 19, The Associated Press reported that a proposed rule change being considered by the Kansas Supreme Court would allow lawyers who aren't licensed in the state to provide free legal services. The story should have noted that the existing rule allows lawyers who are licensed outside of the state to obtain a "restricted" license to work only for their employer while in Kansas, and the proposed change would also allow them to provide free services to clients other than their employer.


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