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Headlines for Monday, July 1, 2019

Ex-Prosecutor Running for US Senate in Kansas as Democrat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former federal prosecutor who's been an executive in a company that invests in medical marijuana has launched his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City-area attorney Barry Grissom entered the race Monday after months of hinting that he would run. Four-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts is not seeking re-election in 2020. Grissom served as U.S. attorney for Kansas from 2010 to 2016 as an appointee of Democratic President Barack Obama. He has since served as corporate counsel and a vice president for Nevada-based Electrum Partners. Grissom jumped into the race after state Senator Barbara Bollier said she may seek the Democratic nomination. Bollier won her Kansas City-area district as a moderate Republican and switched parties last year.

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AG Tosses Part of Closure Complaint Against Kansas Senate 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A government transparency group says the Kansas attorney general's office has dismissed part of a formal complaint, while continuing to investigate whether the public was denied the right under the Open Meetings Act to observe Senate business after the visitor gallery was closed during a protest. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government sought intervention by Attorney General Derek Schmidt after the May 29 Senate session was interrupted by supporters of Medicaid expansion. Reporters were removed from the chamber during the protest. Senators, legislative staff, employees of the governor and others were allowed to remain. Sunshine Coalition President Ron Keefover says the attorney general's office notified the organization that allegations the Senate violated its own rules and operated contrary to the First Amendment went beyond its authority.

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Dispute Escalates in Kansas over Change for Food Assistance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A dispute is escalating in Kansas between top Republicans and Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's administration over looser rules for people who receive food assistance.  The state Department for Children and Families on Friday released an internal analysis defending the legality of a new policy that makes it easier for adults who are not working to keep receiving food assistance. DCF made the change in May.  Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature contend that the policy violates a 2015 law setting stricter requirements for food and cash assistance. They have promised that a committee will review the issue later this year.  GOP Attorney General Derek Schmidt sent DCF Secretary Laura Howard a letter earlier this week saying the policy appeared to violate state law. Howard released the legal analysis in response.

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Topeka DUI Case Against Kansas Lawmaker Referred to County

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The DUI case against Kansas state Senator Vic Miller has been referred to Shawnee County District Court from Topeka Municipal Court, where Miller used to be chief judge. City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield says the case was referred to the county for charging consideration due to potential conflicts. Miller was the municipal court's administrative judge from 2011 to 2015. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the court's website shows that the municipal charges for DUI and inattentive driving were dismissed on June 20. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay says his office has received the charging affidavit from Topeka police and the case will go through the normal review process. Topeka police arrested Miller in May after finding him inside his crashed vehicle in the ditch. Police said he wasn't injured but appeared intoxicated.

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Kansas Man Gets 27 Months for Attack on Internet Provider

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a 35-year-old man was sentenced to more than two years in prison for a series of attacks on a Kansas internet service provider. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release Monday that Michael D. Golightley of Larned contacted an entity called DDosCity to arrange for a series of denial of service attacks on Nex-Tech's computer. Nex-Tech is an internet provider with multiple offices across Kansas. Its commercial customers include the Pawnee County Courthouse. The company was hit by three denial-of-service attacks that overloaded its servers on March 30 and 31, 2017. The government alleged at trial that Golightley threatened Next-Tech after it removed an ad he placed on its classifieds for a PlayStation 3 game that had been modified to bypass a system security check.

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Body of Missing Teen Found in Back of Tractor-Trailer

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found the body of a missing teen in the back of a tractor-trailer in Kansas City, Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that 17-year-old Jasmine Mills, of Olathe, had been missing for two days when her remains were found Saturday morning in an industrial area near the Kansas River. Her mother, Deanna Peters, says her daughter was supposed to go do some odd jobs for an adult friend when she was last seen.  Peters says the friend Jasmine was supposed to be working for told her Jasmine never arrived. Peters is waiting for police to determine what caused her daughter's death.  Police in Kansas City, Kansas, and Olathe are investigating. Olathe police have released little information except to say the death is suspicious.

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UPDATE: Body of Missing Boater from Eudora Recovered at Marion Reservoir

HILLSBORO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found the body of a missing boater in a central Kansas reservoir.  The Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that 49-year-old Steven Meyer, of Eudora, was found around 9:15 this (MON) morning in Marion Reservoir.  He was reported missing around 1:20 am Sunday. The release says his truck and boat trailer were found at the Marion Cove boat ramp. And his unoccupied boat was recovered just after 3 am Sunday, floating against trees along the north side of the Marion Reservoir.  The release said an autopsy is pending.

(earlier report)
Sheriff: Search Continues for Missing Eudora Man at Marion Reservoir

According to the Hays Post, emergency crews in Marion County continued searching for a missing boater Sunday at the Marion Reservoir.  Authorities have been using boats as well as a drone to search from above.  Just before 1:30 am Sunday, the sheriff’s office received a report of the missing boater identified as a 46-year-old man from Eudora.  Authorities located the victim’s truck and boat trailer at the Marion Cove boat ramp.  Crews later recovered the unoccupied boat floating against trees along the north side of the reservoir near Nighthawk Road.  The Marion County Sheriff’s Office, boats from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and aircraft from the Kansas Highway Patrol have been assisting in the search.  The family has asked for the missing boater's name to be withheld.

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Kansas Man Pleads No Contest in Police Shooting Incident

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old man accused of trying to kill a Manhattan police officer has pleaded no contest to attempted voluntary manslaughter. The Manhattan Mercury reports Mark Harrison of Manhattan entered the plea Thursday. The charges stem from a standoff with police on Feb. 5, 2018 during which he fired more than 30 times . One of the bullets struck Riley County Police Sgt. Pat Tiede. A jury found Harrison guilty in February of criminal damage to property for gunshot damage to an armored vehicle sheltering officers. He was found not guilty of attempted capital murder related to two officers who were inside it. A retrial had been scheduled on the attempted capital murder charge involving Tiede after jurors could not reach a verdict on that count. Sentencing is July 22.

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Officials ID Man Killed in Plane Crash in Northeast Kansas

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified a man killed in a small plane crash in the northeastern corner of Kansas north of Hiawatha.  Topeka television station KSNT reports that the crash happened late Friday afternoon in a cornfield near Highway 73, just a mile north of the local airport. Emergency responders say the plane was engulfed in flames when they arrived at the scene of the crash.  The Kansas Highway Patrol said Saturday that the pilot, 67-year-old Bruce Lutz of Andover, died in the crash. The patrol says the cause of the crash is not yet known.  Members of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Kansas Highway Patrol and Brown County Sheriff's Office are investigating.

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Wichita Apartment Complex Evacuated for Fire; 2 Injured

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita fire officials say two people were injured in an apartment fire that saw the complex evacuated.  Television station KSNW reports the fire was reported around 9:30 pm Friday in southeast Wichita near the Garvey Sports Center YMCA.  Fire officials say the blaze was quickly extinguished, and the two people injured suffered only minor injuries.  Damage was sustained to two of the buildings. Officials say residents were displaced due to smoke and fire damage.

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Police: Woman Found Shot to Death in Kansas City Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are investigating the shooting death of a woman.  Police say in a news release that officers were called around 7:30 pm Friday to a home in the North Blue Ridge neighborhood for a shooting. Arriving officers found the door to the home partially open. Inside, they found 19-year-old Breana Robinson already dead.  No arrests had been reported by midday Saturday.  Police are asking for anyone with information to contact homicide investigators or leave an anonymous tip on the TIPS hotline.

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Man Who Cut up Wife Sentenced to Nearly 9 Years in Prison

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man who was found at a Kansas storage unit with his dismembered wife's remains and two of their children has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison.  Thirty-six-year-old Justin Rey was sentenced Friday for child endangerment, contributing to a child's misconduct and sexual exploitation of a child. The exploitation charges stem from sexually explicit photos of teenagers found on his phone.  Rey hasn't been charged in the death of his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey, who died after giving birth in October 2017 at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel. Rey told authorities both that she killed herself and that she died of childbirth complications. The coroner couldn't determine her cause of death.  Rey also is charged with abandonment of a corpse in Missouri and with a California homicide.

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Kansas Program Helps Teachers Incorporate Cultural History

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas lawmakers are encouraging teachers to incorporate culturally relevant studies into their lesson plans.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic Reps. John Alcala and Valdenia Winn have spearheaded the Kansas Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Summer Intensive program, which is in its second year.  Alcala helped create the initiative after noticing a lack of representation of various ethnic groups in history text books.  The four-week-long program teaches Kansas educators about culturally relevant pedagogy, including Native American, Chicano/Latino, African American and Asian American studies. Teachers then implement the lessons in their classrooms, and share with program directors what did and didn't work.  Alcala says all teachers who participate will be certified in culturally relevant pedagogy upon completion of the program. He says those educators can then share the information with other teachers.

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Survey Suggests Midwest Economic Growth Will Continue

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new report says a June survey of business supply managers suggests economic growth will continue over the next three to six months in nine Midwest and Plains states.  The report issued Monday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 55.4 last month from 54.3 in May. The April figure was 55.9.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says "weak farm income, produced partially by tariffs and flooding, pulled regional growth below that of the nation."  The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline.  The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Kansas City Public Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Got an overdue book from a Kansas City library weighing on you?  You're in luck; the Kansas City Public Library has forgiven $250,000 in overdue fines and will no longer charge late fees on any materials starting Monday.  The Kansas City Star reports that the changes were announced Friday at the library's southeast branch.  Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas said the decision was give more people access to the city's libraries.  About 9,000 patrons with suspended library cards will regain access to library resources.  Library director Crosby Kemper III says the fee change will increase children's use of the library system.  More than 450 libraries in the US have done away with fines, but Kemper says the Kansas City Public Library is the first major library in the region to do so.

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Family of Kansas Murder Victims Settles Lawsuit with Killer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit brought by the family of a Kansas murder victim against his killer has been settled. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County court records show the case against Danny W. Queen was dismissed after an undisclosed settlement was reached. The 38-year-old Eudora man is serving nearly 19 years for the murder of 32-year-old Bo Hopson in 2017. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder as well as attempted second-degree murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter for trying to shoot two other bar patrons. Queen was kicked out of the bar after making offensive comments to women. When Hopson offered to find Queen a ride home, Queen pulled a gun and shot Hopson, who was the bar's security guard. The victim's father, Scott Hopson, sued after Queen's arrest.

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Bethany College's President to Take Job with Kentucky School

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — The president of Bethany College in Kansas has resigned to take a job leading Georgetown College in Kentucky. The Salina Journal reports that William Jones will be introduced Wednesday as the new president of the small liberal arts Baptist college in Kentucky. Jones arrived at Bethany in the summer of 2016. In a statement, Bethany College board of directors chairman Corey Peterson credited him with "back-to-back record freshman classes and strong enrollment growth." Peterson says he is "saddened" to have Jones leave but "thrilled for him and his family to have an opportunity to move back to his home state." Following the appointment of an interim president in the coming weeks, Bethany's board of directors will begin a national search for a permanent successor.

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Lawsuit Challenges US Approvals of Keystone XL Pipeline

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmentalists asked a federal judge on Monday to cancel permits and other approvals issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, opening another legal fight over a long-delayed energy project backed by President Donald Trump. Attorneys for the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club and other groups filed the latest lawsuit against the $8 billion tar sands pipeline in Montana, where they've previously won favorable rulings in related cases. They claim the Army Corps did not examine the potential for oil spills and other environmental damages when it approved plans submitted by pipeline developer TC Energy. The line would cross hundreds of waterways along a 1,184-mile path from Canada to Nebraska. Almost all the crossings fall under an Army Corps program that gives blanket approval to individual pieces of a bigger project without considering the potential cumulative impacts, according to the lawsuit. That means no analysis was done of the possibility that the line would break and cause an oil spill or of its potential contributions to climate change, the lawsuit says. The U.S. Army Corps public affairs office said in response to queries from The Associated Press that it was not commenting because the matter is under litigation. First proposed in 2008, Keystone XL was rejected by President Barack Obama but revived under Trump. An appeals court last month lifted an injunction that blocked construction of the project. That came after Trump issued a new permit in a bid to nullify a legal challenge to the pipeline by canceling its previous permit. A lawsuit challenging the president's actions on the permit is pending in federal court. TC Energy said prior to injunction being lifted that it was too late in the construction season to begin work on the line this year.

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Family Donates $1 Million to Kansas Wesleyan Nursing Center

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina family has donated $1 million to Kansas Wesleyan University's new Nursing Education Center.  The university said this week that the gift from the Jack and Donna Vanier family comes shortly after Salina Regional Health Center donated $1 million to the center.  The Salina Journal reports the new nursing center will be the first new instruction-only facility on campus in 50 years.  The estimated cost of the building renovation is $4.5 million. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with a completion date of December 2020.  The new center will be capable of teaching at total of 80 nursing students in junior and senior classes. Nursing students will spend their freshman and sophomore years taking basic education courses.

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Authorized Medicinal Pot Growers May Need to Break the Law

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The first authorized marijuana farmers in Missouri will have to commit a crime to begin growing, and regulators are expected to turn a blind eye.  In November, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana and marijuana-infused products for patients who suffer from serious illnesses.  But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the amendment doesn't indicate how growers should get their first seeds. It is a felony to acquire new marijuana plants or seeds already in Missouri, or to get them from one of the 32 other states with legal marijuana.  Medical marijuana can't be grown, used or sold until authorized by state regulators. That could be as early as December for businesses owners.  National Cannabis Industry Association officials say it'll probably be "don't ask, don't tell" until then.

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Kansas Considers Quarantine for Invasive Bluestem Grass

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas agricultural officials are considering a quarantine to slow the spread of an invasive plant that's threatening native grasses.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Agriculture recently sought public input on a plan to quarantine invasive yellow and Caucasian bluestem grasses. The varieties have invaded all but three Kansas counties.  Declaring the quarantine would prohibit the movement of all seeds, plants or parts of bluestem grasses within Kansas or into the state.  The move could affect some ranchers who rely on the species when cutting hay to feed livestock.  Ron Klataske leads environmental nonprofit Audubon of Kansas. Klataske supports the proposal, saying bluestems destroy all native plants.  Kansas Livestock Association Attorney Aaron Popelka says the group opposes the plan because it could economically hurt producers.

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Nebraska Measure Could Tip the Number of States with Casinos

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska voters may decide next year whether to legalize casino gambling in a ballot measure that could tip the number of states that allow commercial gambling into the majority.  Supporters of legalized casinos have launched a petition drive to place the issue on the 2020 ballot with financial backing from the economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.  The National Conference of State Legislatures says 25 states allow casino gambling with games such as slot machines, craps and roulette wheels. That includes Nebraska's neighbors of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. Iowa casinos, in particular, cater to Nebraska residents looking to gamble.  The measure is certain to face opposition from casino opponents, who say it will worsen the social ills associated with gambling.

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Police Dog That Comforted Crime Victims Dies of Cancer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police dog that helped comfort crime victims has died of cancer. The city of Wichita announced the death of the yellow Labrador retriever named Laddy on social media Sunday. Mayor Jeff Longwell said in a tweet that he would "immensely miss Laddy stopping by for treats and pats." The Wichita Eagle reports that Laddy was trained at the Kansas Special Dog Service campus in Washington to act as a calming presence to people struggling with stress and anxiety from violent crimes. Laddy joined the Wichita Police Department's Victims Assistance Unit in 2016 at the age of 2. Michele Blunck, Laddy's handler, said at the time that dogs aren't "silent" or "judgmental." Blunck says, "They just are there for you."

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