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Headlines for Monday, March 12, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Junction City Middle School Student Arrested for Bringing Airsoft Pellet Gun to School

 A Junction City Middle School student has been arrested for bringing an airsoft gun to school.  The Daily Union newspaper in Junction City reports that Police Capt. Trish Giordano says the student (a 12-year old boy) didn’t make threats to shoot anyone, but did show the gun to other students who then notified staff.  “The School Resource Officer was notified a student possibly had a weapon,” Giordano said. “The officer located the student and took custody of the air soft pistol.”  No injuries were reported.  The gun was seized, and the student was arrested for charges of criminal threat under the reckless action.  An airsoft pistol is generally a very low-power type gun designed to shoot pellets or BBs.  The student was transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.  Middle school parents were notified of the late morning incident by email around 12:30 pm.  School officials said there were no threats made to the school or any students or staff and the middle school was never placed on lockdown.

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Kansas Social Workers Keep Licenses Despite Child Tragedies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A newspaper review of five years of disciplinary actions shows that social workers rarely lose their license after high-profile deaths or injuries of children under the care of the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The Wichita Eagle examined every disciplinary action posted on Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board's website from 2013 through the first months of this year. The board has the power to both issue and revoke licenses for social workers. The review found that licenses were rarely revoked in DCF-related cases where the board has disciplined social workers. The department says it encourages workers to report unethical behavior, but acknowledges the agency itself doesn't make complaints to the board. DCF is facing public scrutiny over several child deaths, including a 3-year-old Wichita boy whose body was found encased in concrete last year.

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Kansas Lawmakers Looking to Name Official Rocks, Fish

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have advanced a bill to set in stone choices for the state's official rock, mineral and gem, plus a state fish. The House gave first-round approval Monday to a bill designating four new state symbols. A final vote is expected Tuesday. The bill would make limestone the state rock, galena the state mineral and jelinite the state gemstone. The original bill focused only on rocks but a committee amended it to honor the channel catfish. Republican Representative Jan Kessinger of Overland Park said the catfish was added at the request of a fourth-grader who provided impressively researched testimony on the fish's behalf. And Democratic Representative Eileen Horn of Lawrence assured the House that channel catfish could still appear on the menu even if the state honors it.

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Kansas Lawmakers Pass Bill Aimed at Luring Big Chicken Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have given final approval to a bill aimed at attracting large chicken-processing plants to the state. The House's vote Monday was 84-37 and sent the bill to Republican Governor Jeff Colyer. The Senate approved it last month. The House's vote came six months after Arkansas-based Tyson Foods put plans on hold for a $320 million chicken-processing plant outside Tonganoxie amid opposition from many local residents. The bill rewrites laws regulating animal feedlots to set specific standards for large-scale chicken farms. It would allow farms with up to 333,000 chickens a quarter mile away from homes. Cloud and Montgomery county officials still are trying to attract a Tyson plant and see the bill as helpful. Critics said the measure would not do enough to protect the environment.

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Council Freezes Activities for 24 KU Fraternities

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Interfraternity Council at the University of Kansas is voluntarily imposing a temporary freeze on activities at all 24 fraternities it oversees. Monday's announcement comes after at least three Kansas fraternities were disciplined because of violations of university codes. Few details about the violations have been made public. The council says it will work with university officials to improve oversight and address "systemic behavioral issues." During the freeze, the council plans to develop a plan that will include higher standards in several areas. During the freeze, fraternities will be allowed to have only chapter meetings, philanthropic events and service events. Fraternity members will be able to continue living in the houses. The length of the freeze and conditions for having it lifted has not been determined.

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Wichita Police Close Tip Line in Missing 5-Year-Old's Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The tip line for a 5-year-old Wichita boy who's been missing for more than three weeks is closed but police are asking the public to continue providing information. Officer Charley Davidson said Monday people are calling in fewer tips in the case of Lucas Hernandez, who hasn't been seen since February 17. Although the emergency operations line is closed the public can call detectives or Crime Stoppers. The boy's stepmother reported him missing, saying she last saw him at their home when she took a shower and took a nap. Police say they have found no evidence that Lucas was abducted. Texas EquuSearch, a mounted search and rescue team for missing persons, returned to Wichita Monday to search again for Lucas.

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Man Dies After Explosion, Fire at Salina Home

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police say foul play is not suspected in a fire and explosion at a Salina home that killed a man. The explosion happened around 4 a.m. Sunday. By the time firefighters arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames, but they were able to keep it from spreading. Salina police spokesman Captain Paul Forrester identified the victim Monday as 42-year-old Justin Rogers. He said police are awaiting preliminary autopsy results. Salina Fire Marshal Troy Long said the fire was particularly intense and spread almost instantly throughout the house. The Salina Journal reports Long said it appears "very likely" the furnace was involved in the blast but an official cause is still under investigation.

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Man's Body Found Inside Crashed SUV Was Fatally Shot

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating after a man was found dead with a gunshot wound inside a crashed SUV.  The Kansas City Star reports that the body of a man in his 30s was discovered Sunday afternoon inside a Chevrolet Suburban that had crashed into a tree near an apartment complex.  Police don't know what led to the shooting, but Chief Terry Zeigler said on Twitter that police do not believe it was a random act of violence.  The name of the victim has not been released.

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Police: 1 Man Killed, Another Injured in Wichita Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old man has died and a passenger has been injured in west Wichita crash.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened around 1:30 am Saturday.  Police say a pickup truck was traveling north when it ran a stop sign, jumped a curb, went through a wooden fence and hit a tree in a lawn.  Police say a passenger, a 29-year-old man, was found outside the truck by officers who responded to the call. The driver was pinned in the wreckage, which caught fire after the crash. He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police have not yet released the names of men.

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Missing Wichita Child's Stepmom Asks for Release from Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The stepmother of a missing Wichita boy is asking a judge to lower her bond so she can be released from jail. An attorney for 26-year-old Emily Glass said in a motion filed Friday that Glass's $50,000 bond is too high. Glass is the stepmother of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, who hasn't been seen since February 17. She is jailed on a misdemeanor child endangerment charge involving her 1-year-old daughter. Glass' attorney argues she is not a threat to the community and wants to be with her husband and other child, who has been placed in state custody. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. Also Monday, Wichita police said they have closed an emergency tip line for information on Lucas but urged the public to call in any tips they might have.

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Native American Carving in Kansas Defaced

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is searching for whoever defaced an ancient Native American petroglyph in Kansas.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the names "Isaac" and "Emily" have been etched over a petroglyph Kanopolis Lake. The damage to the petroglyph is irreversible.  Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the petroglyphs are believed to be more than 150 years old. The images were created by engraving, carving or scratching away the darker layer of rock varnish to reveal the lighter rock underneath.  Tim Meade is archaeologist for the Corps of Engineers. He says the petroglyphs have an important spiritual meaning for Native Americans and represent the work of their ancient ancestors.  The Corps is asking for any information regarding the vandalism.

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Arts Campus in Kansas City Back on Legislative Agenda

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State funding for a portion of a proposed arts campus in downtown Kansas City is back on the legislative agenda, a year after Governor Eric Greitens vetoed a similar plan.  Missouri Representative Noel Shull, a Republican from Kansas City, reintroduced a bill that would fund half the cost of building and furnishing a $96 million downtown Conservatory of Music and Dance near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The new bill is similar to one approved last session by the Missouri Legislature but vetoed by Greitens, The Kansas City Star reported.  "I went ahead and reintroduced it because my sense is that there is still a lot of interest in allowing the downtown conservatory to move forward as planned," Shull said.  The former plan would require the state to issue up to $48 million in bonds in a 50-50 match program for capital projects at Missouri-Kansas City. The university had already raised $48 million and was waiting for the state match when Greitens vetoed the plan. The governor said the plan "would put taxpayers on the hook for over $75 million to build and run a conservatory for dancers and art students." He said the university should raise private funds and make difficult budget decisions to fund the project.  Supporters feared the veto would jeopardize millions in private pledges but University of Missouri System officials vowed to find the money without the state's help. They contend the downtown conservatory would boost cultural and economic development in Kansas City.  In January, The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation dealt a blow to the project when it withdrew its $20 million pledge.

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Critics Call Kansas House GOP's School Safety Plan Weak

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas have responded to the mass Valentine's Day shooting at a Florida high school with a plan to mandate state safety standards for schools.  The measure they unveiled this week also would provide state funds to school districts for training and security upgrades.  But the bill faces skepticism from educators and other legislators.  The skeptics say the new spending is not enough and argue that the House GOP leaders who drafted the plan are ducking a core issue by not proposing gun control measures.  The bill would require the State Board of Education to impose standards for securing school entrances, using surveillance, training employees and conducting drills for students.  It would set aside $5 million for grants to local schools for training and security upgrades.

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Amendments Stall Kansas Domestic Violence Gun Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas bill that would make it a crime for people recently convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to have a firearm has stalled in the state Senate.  The bill unanimously passed the House last month but has stalled after the Senate's Federal and State Affairs Committee amended language regarding silencers and throwing stars, The Kansas City Star reported.  "Everybody wants the foundation bill, but I don't want any more amendments on it," said Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park.  The Senate version only makes possessing a throwing star a crime if it's intended to be used unlawfully against another person. It also makes it legal for Kansas residents to own a silencer under certain stipulations.  "The underlying bill is good," said Senator Ty Masterson, R-Andover, who made the throwing star amendment. "This just solves another problem all in the same time. So, if you're saying solving more problems is better, yes, it's better."  Jo Ella Hoye, a leader with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she still supports the bill, despite the amendments.  "Women and families across Kansas will be safer the day this bill takes effect," she said in an email.  The bill would also ban fugitives, those in the country illegally and people subject to certain protection orders from having a gun.  State law currently prohibits people convicted of felony domestic violence from owning a gun.  The legislation comes amid continued debate over guns following the mass shooting at a Florida high school last month.

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Police Make 47 Arrests During Manhattan Celebration

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Police say they arrested 47 people and issued 494 citations during this year's Fake Patty's Day celebration in Manhattan. The Riley County Police Department said in a news release Monday that law enforcement responded to 287 calls from citizens during a period spanning from 7 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Complaints included reports of parking problems, welfare checks, calls for disturbing the peace and reckless driving. Police say that the crimes resulting in arrests included 13 for driving under the influence, 10 for disorderly conducted, seven for unlawful possession or consumption by a minor and two for possession of marijuana. Police also issued 208 citations for possession of an open container, 54 citations for possession of alcohol by a minor, 156 parking citations and 33 for minors obtaining alcohol.

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No Charges Filed in Manhattan High School Football Beating

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — No Manhattan High School football players will be charged in a beating that injured two teammates last fall.  Lyon County Attorney Marc Goodman said in a letter to Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson this week that he found insufficient evidence to prove a criminal case in the October incident. He said investigators were given vague and conflicting statements and he was unable to determine who participated or caused injuries.  The Manhattan Mercury reports two high school football players were hurt by teammates when they were hit and kicked in what was called a "birthday beatdown." Goodman said the conduct did not rise to the level of a criminal act.  The case was sent to Lyon County because two of the players' parents work at the Riley County Attorney's office.

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Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Shut Down at University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A fraternity at the University of Kansas has been closed because of several health and safety violations and a failure to meet its national organization's guidelines.  The national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization announced Thursday that the Kansas chapter will close after 115 years at the university. The national organization didn't elaborate on what led to the closing. All Kansas members have been suspended indefinitely.  The chapter will remain closed for no less than four years or until the last current members have graduated or left the university.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university had placed the fraternity on probation for two years after violations of the students' code of conduct.  Two other Kansas fraternities, Delta Upsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon, have been suspended this year.

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Settlement Reached in Lawsuit of Syngenta GMO Corn Seed

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Swiss agribusiness giant has agreed to a $1.5 billion settlement in a lawsuit over genetically modified corn seed variety. Officials for Syngenta and attorneys for thousands of farmers, ethanol plants and other grain handlers announced the settlement Monday of a class action lawsuit. The lawsuits were filed after Syngenta introduced its Viptera seed strain to the U.S. market before it was approved by China for imports. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Syngenta's decision cost U.S. corn producers and handlers access to the Chinese corn market for years. Syngenta began selling Viptera in the U.S. for the 2011 growing season but China didn't approve it until 2014. The settlement covers all U.S. producers who sold corn priced after September 2013. A federal judge still must approve the settlement.

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Law Firm Announces Pro Bono Help in Kansas Deportation Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A large Kansas City law firm is offering free legal help to a Kansas chemist facing deportation.  The Polsinelli law firm said this week it will work with immigration lawyer Rekha Sharma-Crawford to secure the release of Syed Ahmed Jamal, who was arrested in January and nearly deported after living in Kansas more than 30 years. He lived with his wife and three children in Lawrence.  Jamal remains jailed in Platte County, Missouri. He was returned there nearly a month ago after attorneys secured a court order to remove him from a plane in Hawaii that was flying him back to Bangladesh.  An attorney at Polsinelli's, Alan Anderson, is Jamal's neighbor.  Jamal's case is being reviewed by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals and federal courts in Washington, D.C.

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Missouri River Reservoirs Ready for Spring Runoff

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More snowfall over the past month prompted officials to increase the forecast for runoff in the Missouri River this spring.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now predicting the amount of water that will flow into the river will be about 115 percent of normal this year.  But nearly all the space reserved for floodwaters in the seven reservoirs along the river is free at this point of the year.  The river forecast could still change this spring. The mountain snowpack in the region usually peaks in mid-April.  The navigation season is expected to open in mid-March, and there should be enough water in the river to allow full service navigation through at least the first half of the year.

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Virginia Unanimous No. 1 in Final AP Top 25; KU Rises to 4th

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Virginia went from being an unranked team that few expected to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the unanimous No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 of the season. The Cavaliers (31-2) earned all 65 first-place votes in Monday's poll to remain on top for the fifth straight week, the past two by unanimous counts. That came after Virginia completed a 20-1 run against Atlantic Coast Conference teams by winning the league tournament , which helped the Cavs secure the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. "Each year presents different opportunities and challenges," coach Tony Bennett said after the field was unveiled Sunday. "You've heard me say it and it's what I keep saying is you can't overcomplicate it. "You prepare well, you try to improve and then you play to win and I think that's that best way to go about it from past experiences and all that." Virginia was picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the ACC, but climbed to No. 1 exactly one month ago for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Now the Cavaliers, who headline the NCAA South bracket, will try to make the Final Four for only the third time and first since 1984. The top four teams in the AP poll matched the selection committee's No. 1 seeds. Villanova (30-4) won the Big East Tournament and stayed at No. 2, while Xavier (28-5) was third and the University of Kansas (27-7) jumped five spots to fourth after winning the Big 12 Tournament. Villanova is the No. 1 seed in the East , Xavier in the West and Kansas in the Midwest.

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Kansas is No. 1 in Midwest Region Featuring All-Time Greats

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Midwest Region could be called the NCAA Tournament's Blue Blood Bracket.  Top three seeds Kansas, Duke and Michigan State have combined for 271 wins in 118 tournament appearances, 39 Final Fours and 10 national championships — and all could be in Omaha for the Sweet 16 in two weeks.  Kansas is a No. 1 seed for a third straight year and eighth time since 2007. The Jayhawks, who lost by 18 points to Oklahoma State on March 3 after they had locked up their 14th straight Big 12 regular-season title, cast aside any doubts about their worthiness with a dominant three-game run through the conference tournament. The Jayhawks open in Wichita with a Thursday game against Penn.  Duke, runner-up to Atlantic Coast Conference champion Virginia in the regular season, plays Iona on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Michigan State , the Big Ten regular-season champ, meets Bucknell on Friday in Detroit.  Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team has lost in regional finals the last two years, said the Jayhawks' path sets up well if they can beat Penn and then No. 8 Seton Hall or No. 9 North Carolina State. Wichita is a 2½-hour drive from their campus in Lawrence, and Omaha is three hours to the north. They played first- and second-round games in Omaha in 2008, 2012 and 2015.  

Kansas is among three Big 12 teams in the Midwest, with TCU earning a No. 6 seed and Oklahoma a No. 10.  The inclusion of the Sooners, who lost eight of their last 10 to finish 18-13, raised some eyebrows. NCAA Selection Committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen, the athletic director at Creighton, said OU's case was buoyed by quality nonconference wins.  "We look at the entire body of work," Rasmussen said. "The games in November and December count the same as the games in February and March, and Oklahoma had six wins against top-35 RPI. They had some absolutely great wins. We know they stumbled down the stretch and that certainly affected their seeding, but they had enough on their resume to get in."

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