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Headlines for Monday, August 13, 2018

Kobach Clings to Narrow Lead as Count Begins

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach hung on to his narrow lead for the Republican nomination in the governor's race, but the state's two most populous counties won't be reporting their canvass results until Tuesday. Kobach had a 206-vote lead over Governor Jeff Colyer by the time the secretary of state's office closed for the day Monday, with 43 counties left to report their results in the coming days. The count resumes Tuesday morning. The campaigns for both Republican candidates said they planned to continue campaigning for the general election as if they were the GOP nominee.


Johnson County Won't Count Some Disputed Ballots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  The top election official in Kansas's most populous county says they are not counting some 35 provisional ballots where the unaffiliated voter did not complete a party affiliation declaration on Election Day. How to handle such ballots in Johnson County and across the state has emerged on the first day of canvassing as the most contentious issue in the razor-thin race for the Republican nomination for governor. A legal opinion issued Monday by the governor's top attorney took issue with the guidance issued by the person Kobach appointed to oversee vote counters after he recused himself. Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker has told election officials that provisional ballots cast by such voters should not be counted — a guidance Johnson County apparently appears to be following. The results for the state's two largest counties will not be finished until Tuesday.


Results from Largest Kansas County Due Tuesday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Commissioners say results from Kansas's most populous county won't be available until Tuesday afternoon in the review of some 9,000 provisional ballots in the tight Republican primary for governor. In suburban Kansas City's Johnson County, commissioners agreed Monday morning to throw out 898 provisional ballots and to count 1,451 of them. Secretary of State Kris Kobach led Governor Jeff Colyer by 110 votes out of 313,000-plus cast, after late mail-in ballots from all 105 counties were added Friday to totals from advance voting and ballots cast at the polls last Tuesday. That grew to 113 votes Monday morning after the results were posted from four small counties. Even as counties begin to review provisional ballots, the outcome of those reviews is in question. On Monday, the governor's chief counsel disputed guidance issued by the deputy whom Kobach appointed to oversee vote counters.


Disputed Primary Pits Low-Key Governor Against Flashy Rival

In a deeply conservative state where some fellow Republicans built national reputations, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer is known mostly as a low-key policy wonk. The 58-year-old former surgeon once compared himself to the "Star Trek" character Mr. Spock. Now Colyer is locked in a remarkably close GOP gubernatorial primary with Kris Kobach in a battle of contrasting political styles. Kobach is the outspoken and controversial secretary of state. He leads by just 110 votes out of more than 313,000 cast in last week's primary. Colyer served in the Kansas House and Senate. He became Sam Brownback's running mate in 2010 and spent seven years serving as his loyal lieutenant governor. When Brownback left office to become the Trump administration's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Colyer rose to governor.


Historic Jeans-Maker to Leave Merriam Headquarters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials with Lee Jeans say the company plans to move its headquarters from Merriam, Kansas, to North Carolina. The company announced Monday that the move to Greensboro, North Carolina, is part of a reorganization and split by its parent company, VF Corp. Lee Jeans will join Wrangler jeans in North Carolina as part of a spinoff from VF Corp. The Kansas City Star reports Vanessa McCutchen, spokeswoman for VF Corp., says the company is still considering the fate of the 130 Merriam-based Lee employees. It wasn't clear whether they would relocate to Greensboro or otherwise remain with the company.


Turn5 Car Parts Distribution Center Coming to Lenexa

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Turn5, an online car-parts retailer, plans to open a distribution center in Lenexa and hire 100 workers in the next three years. The company announced Monday that its center will officially open October 29. It will distribute products under the American Muscle, Extreme Terrain and American Trucks brands. The Kansas City Star reports the Kansas Department of Commerce said the state typically offers incentives to companies such as Turn5 but those details won't be released until contracts are final. The city of Lenexa will not provide incentives because Block Real Estate Services received a tax abatement to build the facility where Turn5 will locate.


Man Arrested in Woman's Death Last Year in Rural Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been arrested in a woman's death last year in rural Kansas. The Riley County Police Department says 32-year-old Steven Meredith, of Junction City, was arrested Saturday night on a first-degree murder warrant in the October 2017 death of 48-year-old Carrie Jones, of Junction City. He is jailed on $1 million bond. Authorities haven't said how Jones died. Her body was found in the southern part of Riley County. Meredith doesn't yet have an attorney.


4-Year-Old Boy Fires Handgun in Kansas Home; No One Hurt

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a 4-year-old boy fired a semi-automatic handgun into living room chair at his home. Salina police Captain Mike Sweeney reports that two adults were home Thursday when the weapon was fired. The Salina Journal reports that no one was injured. Police are investigating how the boy got the gun. Sweeney says the case is being referred to the county attorney for possible charges of child endangerment.


Kansas Couple Says Hospital Billing Fraud Scheme Spread to Other Hospitals

MISSION HILLS, Kan. (AP) — A couple from a Kansas City suburb alleges that a $90 million billing scheme found last year at a rural Missouri hospital has spread to as many as 10 other hospitals. The Kansas City Star reports that James and Phyllis Shaffer of Mission Hills, Kansas, are suing Jorge Perez over alleged replays of the original scheme discovered at Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri. Missouri's auditor released a report in 2017 saying the hospital billed insurance companies for lab tests that didn't occur at the facility and received a cut of payments funneled to another lab company. The audit doesn't name Perez, but records show he's vice president of Florida-based Hospital Partners Inc., which the audit prominently mentioned. The newspaper was unable to reach Perez for comment.


Fired White Leavenworth Police Officer Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Kansas Man

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A fired white Kansas police officer has been indicted in the fatal shooting of a black man. Leavenworth County Prosecutor Todd Thompson announced Monday that Matthew Harrington, of Henderson, Nevada, has been indicted on one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Antonio Garcia Jr. The shooting happened in July 2017 when Harrington was investigating a domestic dispute involving a reported stolen vehicle. Harrington was fired in January for what Leavenworth Police Chief Patrick Kitchens called a violation of the department's use of deadly force policy. Attorney Ken Barnes says the Garcia family is "relieved" and is considering a wrongful death lawsuit. Harrington's bond was set at $50,000 when he appeared in court Monday. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message.  (Read more about this story.)


Officials Identify 3 Kansas Teens Killed in Church Van Crash

BOLIVAR, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials have identified three Kansas City-area teens killed in the crash of a church van that injured 10 others.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Friday's crash happened when a rear tire of the van blew out, causing it to skid off of a highway 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Bolivar in southwestern Missouri. Killed were 16-year-old David Martin, of Olathe, Kansas; 14-year-old Hannah Foy, of Louisburg, Kansas; and 17-year-old Samara Bayse, of Stillwell, Kansas. Eight other children and two adults on the bus were injured.  The Polk County coroner says the three teens killed had all been thrown from the van when it overturned and hit a tree. The van was carrying children and two chaperones from Faith Chapel Assembly of God of Overland Park to a weekend floating trip.


Teen Baseball Star Partially Paralyzed After Diving Accident

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City high school baseball star has been paralyzed from the waist down after a diving accident.  The Kansas City Star reports that Nolan Sprague was hurt Thursday. Mill Valley High School baseball coach Jeff Strickland says the pitcher for the Shawnee school went through an hours-long surgery on Friday.  Strickland says the teenager was alert and talking when he visited him Sunday, but tired and in a lot of pain. Strickland says Nolan is a "fun-loving, really good kid" who was headed for college baseball. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with medical expenses.  Nolan's father, Kevin Sprague, operates the Strike Zone Baseball academy in Shawnee.


Kansas Superintendents Work Together to Address Teen Suicide

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas superintendents are working together to fight teen suicide.  The Kansas City Star reports that Blue Valley, De Soto, Gardner Edgerton, Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Spring Hill school districts in Johnson County have announced plans to work together on the issue. The districts also plan to consult mental health providers, parents, religious leaders and local businesses.  Tim DeWeese is the executive director of Johnson County Mental Health. He says it's an unprecedented collaboration for the area, as school leaders and community groups have typically worked separately on mental health and suicide prevention programs.  Johnson County Mental Health says the teen suicide rate in the county has nearly doubled in the first six months of 2018. Eight teens died by suicide last year through November 2017, two more than in 2016.


Topeka Officer Bitten by Man He Was Trying to Arrest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Topeka police officer suffered minor injuries when he was bitten by a man he was trying to take into custody.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the incident happened Friday afternoon when police were called for a man refusing to leave another person's apartment.  Shortly after the first officers arrived, a call went out for an officer in need of assistance, drawing a large police response.  The officer bitten was taken to a local hospital with injuries that included broken skin. Three other officers were taken to a local hospital for decontamination for exposure to blood and pepper spray.  The man accused of biting the office also was taken to a hospital with more serious injuries, although police did not detail what his injuries were.


University Community Invited to Memorial Service for Chancellor Shankel

The University of Kansas community is invited to celebrate the life of Chancellor Del Shankel on Saturday, August 18 in Woodruff Auditorium at 4 pm.  The service will feature remarks by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod, KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson and former Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, as well as faculty colleagues and family members who knew Chancellor Shankel best.  Chancellor Shankel passed away in July at the age of 90. He leaves behind his wife, Carol, their two children and two grandchildren, and countless Jayhawks whose lives he touched.  You can learn more about Chancellor Shankel’s remarkable life by reading Chancellor Girod’s message to the university sent July 12.


Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center Seeing More Women

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center class has a record number of women.  The Hutchinson News reports that 15 of the 58 people in Class 252 are women. It's the most women the center has trained in a single class since it started operating at the formal naval base in rural Reno County in 1968.  The 14-week course features classroom training as well as hands-on experience. Students then become certified law enforcement officers.  Executive Director Darin Beck sayd officials aren't sure if the increase in women is an anomaly or if it's a growing trend. He says women used to account for about 10 percent of each class, but that number has slowly increased over his 20 years at the center.


Report: Plane Climbed Slowly Before Fatal Oklahoma Crash

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) — The National Transportation Board says a small airplane that crashed in northern Oklahoma, killing four members of a Kansas family and a family friend, was seen climbing slowly before it went down in a soybean field.  The brief report dated Thursday says a witness saw the Extra EA-400 aircraft take off August 4 from the airport in Ponca City, about 90 miles north of Oklahoma City, but said it was slow to climb.  The report says another witness saw the plane crash and burst into flames.  The NTSB says the plane was flying to Independence, in southeast Kansas.  Killed in the crash were Nicholas Warner and his two young sons, his father, Bill Warner and family friend Tim Valentine.  The report does not identify who was piloting the plane.


Multistate Crime Suspect Pleads to Some Mississippi Charges

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A man is pleading guilty in Mississippi to two in a series of killings and shootings of which he's accused. Alex Deaton pleaded guilty Monday in Rankin County Circuit Court to murder, drive-by shooting and motor vehicle theft. A judge is sentencing Deaton to life in prison. Deaton admits that he killed his girlfriend, stole her SUV and shot a jogger in February 2017 in the suburbs of Jackson. Police say Deaton then carjacked a New Mexico couple, fled to Kansas, shot a store clerk and stole the clerk's car. Deaton pleaded guilty in July 2017 in Kansas to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. He was sentenced there in October to nearly 13 years in prison. Deaton is also indicted for killing a woman near Philadelphia, Mississippi.


Salina Lake Closed Due to Toxic Algae Bloom Threat

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health and parks officials have closed a Salina lake because of a toxic blue-green algae bloom.  The Salina Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have closed Lakewood Park Lake.  Officials say conditions at the lake are extremely dangerous for humans and pets. All contact with the water at Lakewood Park Lake is prohibited.  Also, a public health warning was issued for Webster Lake in Rooks County. Boating and fishing are allowed, but bodily contact with the water should be avoided.  Skin exposed to the toxin can develop rashes and blisters, and drinking tainted water could cause headaches, nausea and muscle pain.


Kansas Land Institute Continues Work on Perennial Crops

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Land Institute continues to grow slowly in Kansas.  For more than 40 years, The Land Institute has been working to develop perennial crops that grow together but are harvested at different times, The Salina Journal reported.  Institute leaders believe this will project the soil and help the environment. The ultimate goal is to protect the Earth's resources while feeding a growing population and creating a more sustainable place.  The mission is slowly gaining momentum, said Fred Iutzi, the institute's president.  "We're on our way, but we're not there. That would be the worst assumption we could make," he said.  While has made progress, breeding and selecting the best traits for crops takes time, said Lee DeHaan, the lead scientist for the domestication of Kernza perennial wheatgrass at the institute.  "It's fun to see the work we've been doing hopefully starting to make a difference," DeHaan said. "That's kind of a thrill for me."  The institute collaborates with experts around the world who are studying new scientific techniques when it comes to perennial grain crops.  "What I'm confident in is that perennial grain will become household names," Iutzi said. "The point here is to change fundamentally how agriculture is done and what we think about agriculture."  The institute is currently looking to add a commercialization manager and work toward promoting Kernza.  "We have something marketable now as a specialty crop, but we're looking to improve it over time to be a major crop," Iutzi said.  The grain can be used in a variety of ways, including for pizza, pasta, breads, desserts and beer.  "It has a sweet and nutty, honey aroma as you bake it," DeHaan said of Kernza's flour.  The Institute will eventually expand efforts to develop perennial corn and soybeans, Iutzi said


Kansas City Groups Rethink Drug Recovery for Mothers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City health and social service groups are testing a new approach for mothers undergoing drug recovery by keeping families together.  Children's Mercy Hospital neonatologist Jodi Jackson tells KCUR-FM that the birth of a child can be an opportunity for transformation, even for women who've used drugs for years. Jackson says mothers in recovery who can stay with their children are more likely to stay sober. She says it can potentially end generational cycles of substance abuse.  Keeping families intact can be costly, requiring funding from a patchwork of federal, state and private agencies for years.  National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children official Stacee Read says there's potential for abuse since many treatments are narcotics themselves.  But Jackson says breaking the cycle will reduce foster care and state intervention costs.


Columbia Museum Exhibit Tracks History of Fake News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A museum exhibit in Columbia is unpacking how the concept of fake news has developed over time.  The Columbia Missourian reports that the Boone County History and Culture Center recently opened the exhibit, "The History of Fake News (and the Importance of the World's Oldest School of Journalism)." Visitors can learn about how misinformation spreads until January.  Curator Clyde Bentley is also a professor at University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Bentley says fake news started long before President Donald Trump's campaign. He tracks fake news back to England's King Charles II, who banned coffee in the 1600s on the grounds of fake news.  The exhibit also highlights the Missouri government's suppression of news during the Civil War.


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