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Headlines for Monday, December 10, 2018

Kansas Faces New Fight over Taxes After Years of Turmoil

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's new Democratic governor promised voters not to raise taxes to meet her goals of boosting spending on public schools and social services.  Republicans who control the Legislature argue that a tax increase is coming even if politicians do nothing.  One of the first big political fights Gov.-elect Laura Kelly faces upon taking office in January will be over cutting income taxes. The state is receiving a revenue windfall thanks to changes in the federal tax code at the end of 2017.  A spokeswoman says Kelly wants to "let the dust settle" and stabilize the budget first. But top Republicans are saying an early priority for them is rewriting income tax laws to cancel out the unintended benefits of the federal tax changes.

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Incoming Kansas Congresswoman Names Campaign Aides to Staff

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Representative-elect Sharice Davids has given top positions on her congressional staff to key campaign aides. Davids announced Monday that Allison Teixeira Sulier will be her chief of staff once Davids is sworn into office Jan. 3. Davids also said that Danielle Hull Robinson will be district director, managing operations and constituent services in Davids' home 3rd District in the Kansas City area. Sulier was senior adviser on Davids' campaign and previously worked for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and the Democratic group American Bridge. Robinson was communications director for Davids' campaign and previously worked in communications for both businesses and nonprofit groups. Davids defeated four-term Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in the November election.

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UMKC Faculty Worry Buyout Program Could Gut Some Departments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — University of Missouri faculty members are raising concerns that the system's move to offer buyouts to its senior professors could leave some academic departments gutted.  The Kansas City Star reports the university system recently notified full-time and tenured faculty members over 62 of an option to receive a payout of 1.5 times their annual salary, up to $200,000, beginning September 1, 2019. Eligible faculty at the Kansas City, Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis campuses must have worked in the system at least five years.  University system spokesman Christian Basi says the buyout program will save money, allow for more raises and serve as a way to "thank senior faculty for their contributions to the university."  But history professor Gary Ebersole says past buyout programs led to the entire math and statistics department taking an early retirement.

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3 Carnival Workers Charged with Deaths of 2 Kansas Vendors

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three carnival workers have been charged with killing two vendors whose bodies were found in Arkansas days after they disappeared from a fair in Kansas.  The Kansas Attorney General says 52-year-old Kimberly Younger, of McIntosh, Florida, 54-year-old Michael Fowler Jr., of Sarasota, Florida, and 35-year-old Rusty Frasier, of Aransas Pass, Texas, face charges that include capital murder. They are jailed on $1 million bond in Arkansas while awaiting extradition to Kansas.  Two others are charged with obstructing apprehension.  The charges stem from the deaths of Alfred "Sonny" Carpenter and Pauline Carpenter. The Wichita couple was killed in July at the Barton County Fair. Their bodies were later found buried in shallow graves next to a creek bed outside the small community of Natural Dam, Arkansas, in the Ozark National Forest.

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Kansas City Police Find Man, Woman Dead in House

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say officers have found a man and woman dead in a house.  Police say officers were called to the house in the 2900 block of Monroe Avenue around 12:30 am Saturday for an unexplained medical emergency. Once there, the officers found the man and woman unresponsive. Medics who arrived on the scene pronounced both dead.  Police say the deaths are being investigated as homicides.  The names of the victims and details of the deaths had not been released by midafternoon Saturday.  Police are asking the public for any information about the deaths.

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City of Lawrence Asked to Consider Program for Feral Cats

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence will consider a request to allow colonies of feral cats to live in the city if they have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered. The Lawrence Humane Society is proposing the change, which would allow organization workers to trap the cats to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered. The cats would then be returned to the area where they are captured. The Humane Society says it euthanizes dozes of feral cats every year because they aren't adoptable. The city commission will consider several changes to the animal control ordinance Tuesday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports city staff says it doesn't have enough information yet to make a recommendation. Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, have community cat programs and Wichita is considering instituting it.

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Man Gets Life Plus 165 Years for Shooting Death of Boy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man convicted earlier this year in a drive-by shooting that killed a 3-year-old boy has been sentenced to life plus 165 years in prison.  The Kansas City Star reports that 27-year-old Dominque Marchbanks was sentenced Friday in a Jackson County courtroom.  Marchbanks was found guilty in October of second-degree murder and other counts in the May 2015 death of Amorian Hale.  Marchbanks is one of three men charged in the case. Murder charges are pending against SirTerry Stevenson. Sulif Wilkins pleaded guilty to second-degree involuntary manslaughter in October and received a four-year sentence.  Prosecutors say Amorian was asleep when bullets from an assault-style rifle were fired into his family's Kansas City home. A bullet struck the boy in the head, killing him instantly.

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Kansas Man Killed in Single-Vehicle Crash Near Ingalls

INGALLS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in southwestern Kansas say an Ingalls man has died in a single-vehicle crash in Gray County.  Television station KSNW reports that the crash happened around 10:30 am Friday on a county road in Gray County.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says 34-year-old Nicholas Davidson was driving a pickup truck northbound when he veered off the road, overcorrected and lost control. The truck then crashed into a frozen body of water.  Officials say Davidson died from his injuries.

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Kansas Highway Patrol: Newton Woman Killed in Wichita Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Newton woman has died following an early-morning crash in Wichita.  Television station KSNW reports that the crash happened on the northbound exit ramp of I-235 to Central around 6:00 am Saturday.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says a 47-year-old Wichita man was exiting I-235 to Central when his vehicle left the roadway and entered the east ditch. The vehicle then hit a concrete drain.  The driver was injured and taken to a nearby hospital. A passenger in the vehicle, 24-year-old Kelsey Hanna, died from her injuries.

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Former Teller Admits to Embezzling from Savings and Loan

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas bank teller has pleaded guilty to embezzling from the savings and loan where she worked. The U.S. attorney's office says 49-year-old Theresa Williams, of Leavenworth entered the plea Monday. She admitted through her plea to embezzling $13,000 from Mutual Savings Association in Leavenworth. To cover up the crime, she made false entries in bank reports. Sentencing is set for Feb. 25. She faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million.

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Wichita Seeks Amtrak Service, County Shows Hesitance

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials are pushing for Amtrak to restore rail service in the city that hasn't had a passenger train service for nearly 40 years, but Sedgwick County officials aren't ready to embrace the plan. The Wichita Eagle reports that City Hall's lobbying agenda for the state legislative session beginning next month shows that bringing back the rail service is a top transportation priority. The city says passenger rail is critical to attracting and retaining young workers, as well as providing safe travel for an aging population. But Sedgwick County Commission Chairman David Dennis says he can't make a decision on the issue until he knows the service's cost and benefits. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says more than 1,700 Wichita travelers took its bus to connect to the train in Newton over the past year.

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Oklahoma Police Shoot, Kill Man After Kansas Robbery

PERRY, Okla. (AP) — Investigators are looking into a police shooting in northern Oklahoma that left a man wanted for robbery in Kansas dead following a chase. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says it's looking into the shooting death early Monday of 39-year-old Shane Adair Wentling after a police pursuit involving officers from the Perry Police Department and Noble County Sheriff's Office. The OSBI says Wentling brandished a gun after a clerk at a convenience store in Wichita, Kansas, refused to sell him beer Sunday night. After Kansas authorities released details of the robbery, Oklahoma police spotted Wentling's vehicle near Perry and a chase ensued. Investigators say police used a tactical maneuver to stop Wentling's car and he was shot and killed after he exited his vehicle while brandishing a firearm.

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Ex-Teacher Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Encounter with Student

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Olathe teacher and Shawnee City Council member will go to trial after pleading not guilty to having a sexual encounter with a student.  Thirty-three-year-old Justin Adrian waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday in Johnson County District Court.  The Kansas City Star reports the alleged sexual encounter occurred in a classroom at Olathe East High School, where Adrian was a history teacher.  The student was 18, but Kansas law makes it illegal for a teacher to have sexual contact with a student at the same school.  Adrian was a member of the Shawnee City Council but resigned when the allegations surfaced.  He is free on bond while the case is pending. His next court appearance is scheduled for January 23.

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Topeka Says Utility Vendor May Have Been Cyber-Attack Victim

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Topeka say the city's utility billing vendor may have been the victim of a cyber-attack. The city said in a news release Monday that up to 10,000 customers may have been affected, although a data breach hasn't been confirmed. The vendor, Central Square, notified the city of the potential problem Friday. The city's information technology team then helped transition the vendor to a more secure platform. The team was unable to detect any malicious activity. Those who may have been affected set up auto-pay or made one-time credit or debit card payments with the vendor from Oct. 31 to Dec. 7. The city says local law enforcement and the FBI have been notified.

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Kansas City Payday Loan Industry Alternative Gets $1 Million Grant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A startup that launched in Kansas City as an alternative to the payday lending industry has been awarded a $1 million grant to expand its services.  The Kansas City Star reports that The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative recently announced that Onward Financial Inc. is one of 10 companies to be awarded a grant from the Communities Thrive Challenge.  Onward Financial operates a program through an app that employers can use to encourage workers to start a savings plan, learn about personal finance and borrow for emergencies at low interest rates.  Founder Ronnie Washington is based in Washington, D.C. He decided to launch the project in Kansas City because of the payday loan industry's presence in the area and the illegal schemes found in the industry.

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Washburn Tech Gifts a Kansas Mother with a Recycled Ride

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas mother is the latest recipient of Washburn Tech Institute's Recycled Rides program.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kayla Hupp is receiving the program's 25th vehicle since 2011.  Hupp says she's been driving a car with an engine that would stop running at inconvenient and dangerous times.  Recycled Rides partners auto service students with professional mentors in the community to refurbish cars. The cars are then awarded to people in need.  Washburn has given away more cars than all other participating schools combined.

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Man Dies After Crane Collapse in Southeast Kansas

FREDONIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has died after a crane collapsed at a construction site in southeast Kansas.  Wilson County Sheriff Pete Figgin says deputies were called Friday to the site south of Fredonia, where a Fredonia Water Treatment Plant is under construction.  Figgin says officers found two adult men injured at the site.  One man died and the other was treated for minor injuries.  KOAM-TV reports the sheriff said the cause of the crane collapse hasn't been determined.  No names have been released.  Federal safety officials have been contacted about the death.

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FHSU Police Warn of Phone Scam Seeking Nude Videos

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — It might go without saying that a caller claiming to be with police who demands nude videos is a scammer. But Fort Hays State University police are warning the public anyway.  The Wichita Eagle reports that a statement from the Kansas school's campus police department says the calls to students appear to come from its phone number. The caller then tells the recipient that they are connected to a drug investigation before eventually demanding nude videos as proof that the call recipient doesn't have drugs on them or in their room.  Police say the caller becomes belligerent if the recipient asks questions and threatens arrest if the recipient tells anyone of the call.  Victims of the scam are asked to call university police.

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Wichita's Last Drive-In Gets New Owner After Earlier Closing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's last remaining drive-in will be back to show movies next year.  The Wichita Eagle reports an anonymous person has purchased The Starlite Drive-In, which closed in October. The deal was announced Friday by Landmark Commercial Real Estate, a Wichita-based group that brokered the deal.  The purchase price was not disclosed.  The new Starlite buyer will lease drive-in operations to Blake Smith, co-owner of the Admiral Twin of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The drive-in is expected to reopen in spring.  Chuck Bucinski, the previous owner, said in October that he was closing the drive-in because of financial difficulties.  The two-screen outdoor theater is one of only five still operating in the state, and the only one in south-central Kansas. It opened in 1953.

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Wichita State to Launch Campaign to Raise Student Fees

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has given a new name and logo to its campaign to raise student fees in order to finance about $38 million in campus upgrades: "Shock the Future."  Wichita State communications official Tracee Friess tells the Wichita Eagle that the student-led campaign will launch in January. Students will vote in a March referendum on the proposal to double the campus infrastructure fee for all students from $6 to $12 per credit hour for at least 20 years.  Senior student Hannah Foster is working on marketing strategies for the campaign. She says the upgrades are important for the university's legacy and growth.  But the fee increase could face opposition as it comes a year after hundreds of students petitioned against the university raising fees to build a new YMCA on campus.

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Wichita Gets Anti-Gun Violence Mural Sponsored by Toms

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's newest mural is among several pieces of outdoor artwork to be painted throughout the Midwest as a part of a shoe company's national campaign to end gun violence.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Oklahoma artists Daniel Gulick and Anthony Carrera painted the Wichita mural Wednesday for Toms' gun violence awareness campaign. The outdoor artwork features a hand forming a peace sign, surrounded by clouds and a wheat field, with the words "End gun violence together."  Toms announced its campaign on social media last month, helping customers send postcards to urge their representatives to pass universal background check legislation.  Gulick and Carrera have already painted murals in Tulsa and Stillwater, Oklahoma, as well as Wichita Falls, Texas. They plan to travel to Joplin, Missouri, next.

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Nebraska Tourism Guide Mistakenly Features Missouri Picture

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's newest state travel guide mistakenly features a picture of a Christmas celebration at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Omaha World-Herald reports that a production error allowed the picture of the Kansas City station to be used instead of Union Station in Omaha.  A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Tourism Commission Erin Lenz says the two historic train stations look similar, and staff members who proofed the guide didn't catch the error before 200,000 copies were printed.  The publication cost $94,000 to print and another $84,000 to distribute.  The Durham Museum occupies Omaha's Union Station. Museum spokeswoman Jessica Brummer says she figures everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and the error probably earned the Durham some free publicity in Kansas City.

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Kansas Back to No. 1 in Associated Press Men's Hoops Poll

The University of Kansas men's basketball team is back where it started the season. The preseason No. 1, the Jayhawks are again the top-ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 despite struggling to get past New Mexico State at home. Kansas received 57 first-place votes from a 65-person media panel in the poll released Monday, sliding into the top spot after previous No. 1 Gonzaga lost to Tennessee. No. 2 Duke moved up a spot and received four first-place votes. No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Gonzaga, No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Virginia received the other first-place votes. No. 7 Nevada, Auburn, Michigan State and Florida State rounded out the top 10. The Jayhawks were the preseason No. 1, but dropped a spot after Duke decimated then-No. 2 Kentucky to open the season.

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