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Headlines for Monday, April 23, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Panel Approves Pompeo for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a favorable recommendation, narrowly avoiding a rare rebuke as his confirmation heads to the full Senate. Democrats put up stiff resistance and voted against Pompeo, who is now the CIA director. Only a last-minute switch from Kentucky Republican Rand Paul — whom Trump called before the vote — enabled Pompeo to win committee approval. It would have been the first time since the committee starting keeping records in 1925 that a secretary of state nominee faced an unfavorable report. Pompeo's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where votes are tallying in his favor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he looks forward to voting to confirm Pompeo this week.
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5:25 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senator Rand Paul says he now supports Mike Pompeo as secretary of state.  The Kentucky Republican announced his position after talking with President Donald Trump moments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was set to consider the nominee. Pompeo hasn't had sufficient support from the panel for a favorable recommendation, but Paul's support could change that outcome. Paul says on Twitter that after talking with Trump and meeting with the nominee he received assurances that Pompeo believes the Iraq war "was a mistake, that regime change has destabilized the region, and that we must end our involvement with Afghanistan." With those assurances, the senator says he has "decided to support his nomination to be our next secretary of state."
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3:40 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's looking forward to voting to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, later this week in the Senate. McConnell is making the upbeat assessment after two more Democratic senators announced support for Pompeo, now the CIA director, despite steep opposition expected Monday evening at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The panel is unlikely to have the votes to give a favorable recommendation, but the nominee is expected to find wider support in the full Senate. McConnell says that with Pompeo, "the United States will have a chief diplomat who enjoys the total confidence of the president." The Republican leader says he looks "forward to upholding the tradition of this body and voting to confirm him this week."
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1:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Pompeo's nomination for secretary of state has received a boost because two Democratic senators announced they would support his confirmation before the full Senate. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana both backed Pompeo when he was confirmed as CIA director. But other Democrats have been peeling away, and Pompeo is not likely to have enough support Monday for a favorable recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Neither Manchin nor Donnelly is on the panel, but their votes will help push Pompeo's nomination before the full Senate vote expected later this week. Manchin says "during this sensitive diplomatic time, it's important our next secretary of state understands the grave threats facing our nation and can offer diplomatic solutions to avoid conflict, as soon as possible."

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Kansas DCF Proposes New Spending, Hiring Unlicensed Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's top child welfare official is proposing additional spending and says her agency needs to hire workers who are not licensed social workers to conduct investigations. Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel outlined initiatives Monday that would cost $24 million over three years. The new spending would more than double the size of a $16.5 million package of initiatives that she and Governor Jeff Colyer outlined in January to improve services for abused and neglected children. Some of the new funds would go to hire child protective services workers to conduct abuse and neglect investigations. She said the state has more than 200 positions to fill and cannot find enough licensed social workers. Legislators would consider the new proposals after their annual spring break ends Thursday.

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Report: Kansas Can Afford New School Funding Plan Without Tax Increase

(KNS) A new revenue forecast seems to indicates that Kansas can afford its new public school funding plan - without a tax hike.  The report, from the state's official revenue estimating group, says the state will collect about $530 million more in taxes than originally projected between now and the end of the next fiscal year.  The state budget director says that means the state won’t need a tax hike to pay for the school funding plan recently signed into law.  But it remains unclear whether the new increase in school funding is large enough to satisfy an order from the Kansas Supreme Court.  (Find more here.)

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After Brief Relief, Forecasts Indicate Drought Will Continue

Recent showers temporarily relieved drought conditions in parts of the southwestern United States, but dry weather will persist through the summer. Forecasters said Monday a months-long drought is considered "extreme" from southern California to central Kansas. Conditions are even worse in the Four Corners region and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. The drought has contributed to numerous wildfires. Forecasters say it will last at least through July, with some improvement east of a line from Albuquerque to Denver. The scientists said the desert-like air is responsible for some anomalies. At Alva, Oklahoma, the temperature last Tuesday climbed from 33 degrees to 101 in less than a day. Also, Oklahoma hasn't had a tornado this year and storms aren't expected. The state hasn't had an April without at least one tornado.

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Hales Give $500 Thousand to Library Renovation

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has received a $500,000 donation toward the renovation of the first floor of the campus' main library. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the donation comes from the children of Joyce and H.D. "Joe" Hale, who were the main donors for a massive 1990s library renovation and addition. A cafe in the new space will honor the children, John Hale, Dana Nelson, Karen Young, Alan Hale, Lisa Hale and Mollie Carter. The library's renovation will create a more accessible entrance to the first floor. Besides the cafe, it will include group study spaces, instruction rooms, exhibit space for special collections and flexible event space. The project will cost an estimated $6.5 million. Kansas State graduates Dave and Ellie Everitt, of Marco Island, Florida, are contributing $3 million.

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Kansas Hog Farmer Fined $152,000 for Unauthorized Facilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have fined a northwest Kansas swine operation $152,000 for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that documents it obtained show Nelson Farms owner Terry Nelson, working with family and employee partners through limited liability companies, did not get permission from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment before starting to build unauthorized animal confinement buildings and waste-holding facilities in Phillips and Norton counties. The Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club filed a series of complaints about KDHE's oversight of construction in a rural area near the Nebraska border. Neighbors at both locations also filed procedural and environmental objections. The fines ordered by KDHE amounted to a slap on the wrist, said Craig Volland, chairman of the Sierra Club's agriculture committee in Kansas. Aaron Popelka, an attorney with the Kansas Livestock Association who represents the Nelsons on the projects, said the KDHE fine was being challenged, but otherwise declined comment. "These are ongoing issues," Popelka said. "There are facts in dispute." Nelson submitted planning documents to KDHE in October for a facility named Rolling Hills Pork in Norton County and a complex called Old Stone Pork in Phillips County. Rolling Hills would be able to hold 9,300 head, while Old Stone would be capable of handling 24,000 head. KDHE inspectors documented construction activity at the sites even though no preliminary approval for the sites was granted at the time. KDHE Secretary Susan Mosier ordered all work stopped until the state formally approved permit applications, construction plans and waste management programs. But in December, state inspectors twice observed construction at the Rolling Hills Pork and Old Stone Pork locations. KDHE in January sanctioned Nelson and his associates $76,000 for state law violations at the Rolling Hills Pork site and $76,000 for infractions at the Old Stone Pork site. KDHE said the fines are being appealed. The Phillips County project eventually received the agency's approval, but not the Norton County development.

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Convicted Ex-Jail Guard Now Accused of Child Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A former Sedgwick County detention deputy convicted of sex crimes against inmates is now charged with sex crimes against a child.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old David Kendall was charged Friday with several sex crimes, including the sexual exploitation of a child.  Police in Goddard say someone accused Kendall of sex crimes against a 15-year-old.  Kendall has previous conviction for sex crimes.  Prosecutors say several men imprisoned at the Sedgwick County Jail reported they'd been raped or sexually propositioned by Kendall while he worked at the jail in 2012 and 2013.  Kendall's next court date in the latest case set for May 3.

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Newspaper Analyzes Wichita Police Use of Force Data

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas newspaper has found that black residents are more likely to be at the receiving end of force by Wichita police than any other race. The Wichita Eagle has analyzed newly released data that studies the Wichita Police Department's use of force. The data revealed that a Taser is used about once a week and 12 percent of those residents are black. The data figures show that of the nearly 11,300 instances where a resident was shoved by a Wichita officer, 33 percent were black and 11 percent were Hispanic. In the instances where pepper spray was used, 57 percent were black and 12 percent were Hispanic. City Council member Brandon Johnson says racial inequality in the law goes beyond street patrol and extends through the justice system.

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Missouri Has Highest Black Homicide Rate, Kansas Included in Top 10

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the country, with neighboring Kansas coming in the top 10.  The Kansas City Star reports the Violence Policy Center released a study Wednesday that looked at 2015 data law enforcement agencies nationwide submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The report says the homicide rate among African-Americans in Missouri was 46.24 per 100,000. Kansas comes in the top 10, with a rate of 25.02 per 100,000 African-Americans.  The national black homicide rate in 2015 was 18.68 per 100,000. The rate for white homicide was 2.67.  Black residents represented 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2015, but they accounted for more than half of all homicide victims.  The study doesn't offer an explanation for differences among the states or races.  

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Rap Video Filmed in Kansas Brings Prison Sentences

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A rap video filmed in Kansas showing six people smoking marijuana while they possessed guns has brought a federal prison sentence for yet another participant. The U.S. Attorney's Office says 23-year-old Shundell C. Barkus of Wichita was sentenced Monday to four years. He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances. A search warrant of the Wichita home where the video was made found 2.5 pounds of marijuana and several firearms. Co-defendants Dondre Broom was sentenced earlier to four years in prison and De'Adrian Johnson was sentenced to six months. Mario Smith is set for sentencing June 27. Two other participants are awaiting trial. Prosecutors say the case is part of a community outreach program called Project Safe Neighborhoods.

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Kansas Fraternities Developing Hazing and Drinking Policies
 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas fraternity leaders say they are developing plans to reduce hazing and dangerous drinking.  The new initiative comes about a month after a freeze on the fraternities' social activities was enacted and then quickly revoked after fraternity leaders complained.  The new plan will require fraternities to reform recruitment and pledging processes at the 24 chapters. It will also require chapters to meet with university administrators yearly to review progress.  That action came after several houses were sanctioned this semester for hazing and drinking.  The Kansas City Star reports the new initiative also will require fraternities to revise programs for new members, undergo substance abuse education, ban hard liquor at houses and limit the number of guests at social events.  Information on how policies will be enforced wasn't released.

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Internet Providers Look at Kansas Broadband Access
 
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - More than half of Kansas residents aren't using broadband internet despite the availability of the services to nearly everyone in the state.  The Hutchinson News reports that the South Central Kansas Economic Development District recently held a broadband symposium in Wichita for providers. Participants say hardwire broadband services are now available to more than 90 percent of Kansas residents, but less than 60 percent are purchasing it.  Some providers say they're willing to work on getting broadband to nearly any business in the state that wants it, but several community officials say many people perceive just the opposite.  Officials with AT&T, Cox, KsFiberNet and IdeaTek say they could improve getting the message to potential customers and closing the access gap, especially in the state's rural areas.
 
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Senior Living Complex Planned in Topeka
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A senior living company based in New York plans to build a 132-unit independent living facility in Topeka.  Calamar Inc. announced plans for the $15 million-$16 million facility after the Topeka school district voted Thursday to sell 6.5 acres of land in the district's Kanza Education and Science Park for about $950,000.  Deputy superintendent Larry Robbins says school district employees will get the first opportunity to lease an apartment in the Calamar project's first year and their first month's rent will be free.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports construction is expected to begin this fall, with an opening in spring 2020.  Jerry Hill, of Calamar, says the company will encourage interactions between students and retirees living in the complex.  Calamar has properties operating or under construction in Olathe, Shawnee and Wichita.
 
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Australian Animal Health Firm Apparently Leaves Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - An Australian animal health company that received incentives from the city of Lawrence and Douglas County apparently has closed its Lawrence headquarters.  In 2015, Integrated Animal Health moved its global headquarters to Lawrence, prompting the city and county to approve incentives such as subsidized rent and a $100,000 forgivable loan, subject to a three-year performance agreement.  Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard says the city hasn't received formal word from the company but officials believe Integrated Animal Health is no longer operating.  A former company CEO, Blake Hawley, told the Lawrence Journal-World that he and members of the company's local board resigned last year amid financial questions concerning the company's founder.  The company had promised to eventually expand to 50 employees and a $4 million annual payroll in Lawrence.

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Family of Man Whose Body Was Found in KC Airport Lot Sues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The family of a man whose body sat in a Kansas City International Airport parking lot for months is suing the company responsible for monitoring vehicles in the lot.  The Kansas City Star reports that Randy Potter's widow and children sued SP+ Corp. and two of its employees Friday. The lawsuit accuses the Delaware-based company of causing the family "extreme trauma and emotional distress."  Airport police found Potter's body in September in a pickup truck, when someone called to report a bad smell. Potter's parking pass was dated Jan. 17. Police said it appeared Potter committed suicide.  The lawsuit says the family provided SP+ employees a description of Potter's truck and license plate about a week after he disappeared and were assured that if Potter's truck were in the lot, it would soon be found.  SP+ attorney Jan Paul Miller said the company would be "vigorously defending the suit."
 
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Wichita Police Say Its Patrol Truck Vandalized

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police says someone vandalized an unoccupied patrol truck by firing multiple gunshots that damaged the passenger side door. The department said in a news release Monday that the police patrol truck was parked at an officer's residence during the weekend. The officer found the damage early Monday morning. A preliminary investigation found reports of gunshots at about 12:45 a.m. No one has been hurt and no suspects have been identified.

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Report: Nearly Half of Kansas Wheat in Poor Shape

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows nearly half of the Kansas winter wheat crop in poor shape despite the recent rains. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 49 percent of the wheat in Kansas is in poor to very poor condition. The agency says 39 percent of the crop is in fair condition with 11 percent rated as good and 1 percent as excellent. About 35 percent of the winter wheat has now jointed. Corn planting in Kansas is now 15 percent complete. The report covers crop conditions for the week that ended Sunday.

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Motorcyclist Dies While Fleeing from Patrol in Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a motorcyclist has died while fleeing from Kansas Highway Patrol troopers in Hutchinson.  The patrol crash report says 28-year-old Logan Cooper, of Wichita, fled around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The Wichita man was killed when his motorcycle rear-ended a car on the east side of Hutchinson. The driver of the car wasn't seriously hurt.  The patrol says Cooper wasn't wearing a helmet.

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Koch Industries Seeks Rule Change for Lawyers Doing Charity Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Koch Industries is pushing for a change to a Kansas rule forbidding corporate in-house lawyers unlicensed in the state from providing free legal services to needy outside clients.  Koch chief legal counsel Jennifer Adams says the Wichita-based company views it as an issue of equity in a justice system that favors the wealthy.  Kansas businesses can hire attorneys unlicensed in the state if they only represent the company that employs them.  Koch made its argument last month to the Kansas Board of Law Examiners, which has declined to say when or if it will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court, which ultimately will decide the issue.
According to the American Bar Association, 33 states and the District of Columbia already have similar rules.

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Woman Struck, Killed While Crossing Wichita Street

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 70-year-old driver has struck and killed a woman as she crossed a Wichita street. KSNW -TV reports that the crash happened Monday morning in the southeast part of the city. Officer Charley Davidson says the 35-year-old woman was hit when she stepped out into a crosswalk. The woman's name wasn't immediately released. Authorities are trying to determine whether the driver had a medical issue.

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Former Volunteer Charged with Stealing from Missouri Museum

SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) — A former volunteer at a small Missouri museum has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars' worth of Civil War and World War I artifacts. A warrant was issued Monday for the arrest of 38-year-old Terry Cockrell, a 2010 Sedalia mayoral candidate who volunteered for eight years at the Pettis County Museum before moving last fall to Coffeyville, Kansas. He's charged with two felony counts of stealing $750 or more. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police say some of the items missing from the museum, including a surgical kit, firearms and a sword, were tracked to a Tennessee collector, who bought them last summer without realizing they were stolen. Museum co-curator Charles Wise says display cases had been rearranged to conceal the thefts, which weren't reported until last month, The Sedalia Democrat reports. Sedalia police Det. Jill Green said in the probable cause statement that Cockrell falsely told the collector that he received the items as a gift from a neighbor who gave them in return for a favor. Green said Cockrell was tied to the theft by a form he signed that stated he was the true owner of the sword and had obtained it legitimately. Green said Cockrell initially said he had been given the artifacts by someone who died 20 years ago but later admitted to removing them from display case. The collector is helping to return as many of the items as possible after re-selling some of the antiques to buyers in other states. A revolver and a World War I era flare pistol also were reported stolen but weren't sold to the collector. The Pettis County Historical Society, which operates the museum, is now considering new measures to prevent future thefts. Wise said that the museum didn't regularly check its inventory in the past and fully trusted its volunteers.

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Royals Beat Tigers, Split Four-Game Series

DETROIT (AP) - Mike Moustakas hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Kansas City Royals outlasted the Detroit Tigers 8-5 to earn a split of their four-game series. At 5 and 15 on the season, the Royals are no longer at the bottom of the AL Central Division.  The Chicago White Six are.  (Yay!)

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