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Headlines for Monday, June 4, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Ballot Listing for Kansas Candidates with Same Name Attacked

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic congressional candidate is challenging how Kansas plans to distinguish on its primary ballot between two Republicans in the race with the same first and last names. Democrat Laura Lombard filed an objection Monday to the secretary of state's plan to have the incumbent in the Wichita-area 4th District listed as Representative Ron Estes. The congressman faces another Ron Estes from Wichita in the August 7 primary. The challenger would be listed as Ron M. Estes. Lombard said the plan gives the incumbent an unfair advantage and violates election laws. State law generally prohibits titles on the ballot. But state elections director Bryan Caskey noted that it makes an exception when it's necessary to distinguish between two candidates. A state board could rule by the end of next week.

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16 Arrested for Blocking Door to Kansas Governor's Office

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has arrested 16 protesters who blocked access to Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer's ceremonial office by sitting outside the door. The people arrested Monday for misdemeanor criminal trespassing were part of the Poor People's Campaign. They were protesting over health care issues and environmental problems. Colyer has opposed expanding the state's Medicaid coverage for needy residents as contemplated by the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act. The Republican governor was traveling Monday. The campaign began weekly protests May 21. Each one has started with a rally and ended with a demonstration in which participants have been arrested or cited for blocking traffic. The patrol said the group violated the terms of its permit for Monday's rally by sitting in front of Colyer's office, yelling and singing.

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Kansas Agency Won't Release Info About Dead Boy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's child protection agency says it can't release any information about a dead child because there's no finding the boy died of abuse or neglect. The Wichita Eagle filed a records request with the Department for Children and Families for information relating to 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez after a private investigator found the boy's remains under a bridge and covered with debris. A state law says the department must provide upon request a summary of its previous contact with a child who dies of abuse or neglect. But the agency says there's currently no finding that Lucas died of abuse. Emily Glass is the live-in girlfriend of Lucas's father. She led an investigator to Lucas' remains on May 24, months after reporting him missing. Glass had been suspected of abusing the Wichita boy.

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Kansas Utility Shuts Down Largest Plant After Fatal Accident

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric utility in Kansas has shut down its biggest generating plant following an accident that left two workers with fatal burns. Westar Energy confirmed Monday that the employees died Sunday night at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. They were flown there by helicopter after the accident late Sunday morning at the Jeffrey Energy Center, about 30 miles northwest of Topeka. The company identified the workers as Operations Supervisors Craig Burchett of Overbrook and Jesse Henson of Manhattan but did not provide additional details about them. Westar said equipment with high-pressure steam behind it apparently failed. Westar said the plant's three coal-fired generating units are shut down while the "full circumstances" are reviewed. Jeffrey accounts for nearly 26 percent of Westar's total generating capacity.

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Kansas City Bus Agency Refuses to Disclose Settlement Amount

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has refused to disclose how much it paid to settle a  whistleblower lawsuit, citing a new policy that exempts it from open records laws in Kansas and Missouri.  The Kansas City Star says the transit agency has denied its request for payment information about the 2016 lawsuit. According to the policy adopted in January, the agency may withhold records and close meetings at its discretion.  An internal investigation found that Kansas City's RideKC bus system employees were stealing parts, tools and supplies. The authority's former human resources director, Jimmy Fight, raised the issue to the system's CEO, Robbie Makinen. Fight filed a lawsuit in 2016 that alleged that he was fired for raising the issue. The case was settled in three months.

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Report: Almost Half of Kansas Winter Wheat Crop Struggling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report suggests that almost half of the winter wheat crop in Kansas continues to struggle. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 16 percent of the wheat is rated as "very poor," while another 33 percent is in poor condition. The report said 35 percent is in fair condition, 15 percent is rated in good condition and 1 percent in excellent condition. But 96 percent of the wheat crop has headed, just behind the five-year average of 97 percent at this point in the year. The corn crop is in better shape, with 48 percent in good condition and 10 percent in excellent condition. It's 97 percent planted. The report also said 61 percent of the soybean crop has emerged, well ahead of this time last year.

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Woman Shot, Killed in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a woman was fatally shot in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police said in a news release that officers were responding to a shooting late Saturday when they found the woman dead inside of a vehicle. The release says the woman was in her 20s but her name wasn't immediately released. Police are urging anyone with information to call a tips hotline.

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4 Killed, 4 Hurt, 1 Charged in Missouri Police Chase Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A police chase in suburban Kansas City ended with four people dead, four seriously injured and a driver charged with murder.  On Friday, police in Independence tried to pull over a Jeep, which fled into Kansas City and crashed into another car at an intersection.  Police say car passengers 29-year-old Aaron Daniel and 28-year-old Shawn Johnson of Kansas City were killed, plus a third person whose name hasn't been released.  Police say a 27-year-old woman in the Jeep also died. Three others in the Jeep and another person in the car were seriously injured.  Prosecutors in Jackson County, Missouri, say 24-year-old Victoria Brown, of Kansas City, is suspected of being the Jeep's driver and has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder.  Prosecutors say more charges are expected.

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Ex-Kansas School Official Accused in Explicit Messages Case

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former assistant principal at a northeastern Kansas middle school faces a felony charge after being accused of sending sexually explicit messages to a student.  The Kansas City Star reports that 40-year-old Eric Kilgore was booked into the Johnson County jail in Olathe last week.  He was released Friday on $50,000 bond.  He's charged with unlawful electronic solicitation of a minor under 14.  Kilgore is accused of sending the messages via Snapchat to a student at Piper Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas, earlier this year, when he was assistant principal there. The girl told her parents, who called school officials and police.  Piper Superintendent Tim Conrad says Kilgore was immediately placed on leave and fired in March.  Kilgore's next court appearance is Wednesday.

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Storms in Kansas City Area Knock Out Power to Thousands

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Thousands of people in the Kansas City area found themselves without power following strong overnight storms that knocked down trees and power lines.  The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Power & Light reported 80,000 customers without power at 8 am Saturday. By 10 am, 50,000 customers were still without power. The utility said it expected some outages to "last all day."  Most of outages were reported in Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Liberty and Blue Springs. On the Kansas side of the Missouri River, outages covered Kansas City, Overland Park and Olathe.  Strong storms before dawn Saturday brought strong winds that not only knocked down trees and power lines, but some power poles, too, causing traffic delays.

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Kansas to See Turnover in Statewide Offices, House, Education Board

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will have at least two new statewide elected officials, three new State Board of Education members and 13 Kansas House members next year.  Republican incumbents for those offices did not file to run for them again this year ahead of Friday's deadline.  Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer are running for governor.  Board of Education members John Bacon of Olathe, Sally Cauble of Liberal and Ken Willard of Hutchinson aren't seeking re-election.  In the House, Representative Kevin Jones of Wellsville is running for Congress. Representatives Keith Esau and Scott Schwab of Olathe are running for secretary of state.  Ten other House members are not seeking re-election. They include Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand of Belleville and Water and Environment Committee Chairman Tom Sloan of Lawrence.

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Kansas Governor Candidate Upsets Some with Replica Gun at Parade

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City suburb has apologized after a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Kansas appeared in a parade atop a Jeep with what appeared to be a large gun mounted on the back.  The Kansas City Star reported that some onlookers appeared stunned by the sight of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on the red, white and blue-decorated vehicle at the Old Shawnee Days parade Saturday morning.  A spokesman for Kobach says the gun was a replica.  Shawnee Community Christian Church pastor Johnny Lewis says there were audible gasps from parade-goers as Kobach rode by.  The city of Shawnee issued a statement apologizing to those who felt unsafe and promising not to allow something similar in future.

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Lawmaker to Be Kansas Catholic Conference Executive Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican legislator who is not running for re-election will become the next executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference. The state's four Catholic bishops on Monday announced the appointment of state Rep. Chuck Weber of Wichita. Weber plans to take over the job July 15 and will give up his Kansas House seat then rather than when his two-year term expires in early January. The conference is the church's public policy arm in Kansas and represents the bishops at the Statehouse. Weber will replace Michael Schuttloffel, who is stepping down from the executive director's job after 10 years. Weber is a former television journalist who writes and produces short films, and he has served in the House since January 2016.

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Wichita Seen as Potential Hub for Cybersecurity Jobs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say Wichita could potentially emerge as a hub for jobs battling cybercrimes. The Wichita Eagle reports that the momentum is being driven by the development of cybersecurity programs at several higher education institutions in the city. Officials cite a high demand for employees trained in how to protect computer networks. Colonel Joe Jabara is the vice wing commander for the 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard at McConnell Air Force Base. He says the cybersecurity programs could bring IT firms to the area because of an available newly trained workforce. Jabara also says Wichita could become a cybersecurity hub because it's far from the coasts, where competition for such specialists is intense. The flat terrain would also make it easy for IT companies to get bandwidth.

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Texas Man Sentenced to Prison for Kansas Crash that Killed 3

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for causing the 2016 crash deaths of a mother and her two children on Interstate 70 in Kansas.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 45-year-old Steven Johnson, of Houston, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in March to one count of second-degree murder and two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 14.5 years on the murder count and nearly 3.5 years for each of the involuntary manslaughter counts.  Investigators say Johnson was driving a large box truck that crossed the interstate median on Nov. 15, 2016, hitting a car head-on. The crash killed 26-year-old Jessica Michelle Thompson, 6-year-old Jaydon Allan Thompson and 5-year-old Leah Michelle Thompson.

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New Kansas Children's Home Might Ease Foster Care Pressure

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of a new children's home in Wellington say they hope it will help alleviate the shortage of beds for foster children in Kansas.  The Wichita Eagle reports when AAHN had its ribbon cutting in May, it already housed 11 children. The home has beds for 28 children ages 10 to 18.  Children will come from across the state but priority at the privately-operated shelter will be given to those near Wellington to make family visitation easier. It is an emergency shelter that will house children brought in by law enforcement for a 72-hour stay.  A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families says the new 28 beds will provide much-needed resources for children and their families. Currently, the state has more than 7,500 children in foster care.

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Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri May See More Black Bears

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Black bears awakening from hibernation are now on the move and may be seen wandering around southwest  Missouri.  The Joplin Globe reports that residents may see the animals in Jasper and Newton counties, as well as parts of southeast Kansas.  Frank Loncarich is a wildlife management biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says the potential for increased black bear sightings shouldn't alarm people because the animals are just trying to find food and a place to settle down.  The department recommends property owners reduce the risk of bear encounters by not leaving pet food outside, storing garbage inside a secure bin and keeping grills clean. Those who see a bear shouldn't approach the animal, but if encountered then make loud noises while appearing large to intimidate the bears.

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Governor's Resignation Shifts Missouri's Focus to U.S. Senate Race

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The end of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' tenure as governor could breathe new life into Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley's campaign.  Greitens stepped down Friday. Fellow Republican Mike Parson, who was lieutenant governor, replaced him.  Greitens' months-long fight for political survival left the GOP bruised and fractured. Greitens' troubles posed challenges on multiple fronts for Hawley. While Democrats attempted to tie him to the former embattled governor, Hawley's call for Greitens to step down also angered some Republicans loyal to him.  Although Democrats say they'll keep talking about Hawley's ties to Greitens, University of Missouri-Kansas City political scientist Beth Vonnahme says his resignation could take the bite out of those attacks.  But she added that Hawley still has work to do in mending relationships with Greitens' supporters.

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