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Headlines for Monday, May 14, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Greitens Says Dropped Charge a 'Great Victory'

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is calling the decision to drop a criminal charge against him "a great victory that has been a longtime coming." The St. Louis circuit attorney's office abruptly dropped an invasion-of-privacy charge Monday against Greitens after the third day of jury selection for his trial. Prosecutors cited a decision by the judge to allow Greitens' attorneys to call Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as a witness. Greitens' attorneys have accused a private attorney hired by Gardner of committing perjury. Greitens appeared outside the courthouse afterward and made a brief statement denouncing the "false charges" and apologizing "for the pain" that his actions cause. Prosecutors said they will make a decision later on whether to seek a special prosecutor or appoint someone to continue pursuing the case.

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Kansas Lawmakers Likely to Respond After Ruling Legalizes Sports Betting

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized sports betting, but Kansas lawmakers likely won't respond until next year. Lawmakers had considered bills to legalize sports gambling in anticipation of the ruling, but none advanced before the session ended earlier this month. Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said in a statement that legalizing sports betting would held reduce illegal gambling. She says she's confident lawmakers will act on the issue next year.

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More Than 20 Cited in Topeka Protest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police issued more than 20 citations in Topeka to people participating in a nationally-organized protest against poverty, racism and other concerns. Police say they cited 24 people Monday for unlawful obstruction of a street after protesters sat down and blocked traffic in a street near the state Capitol. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports more than 20 Topeka police and Kansas Highway Patrol officers watched the protest and issued the citations after the protesters refused to move. No one was injured. Earlier in the day, more than 200 people joined clergy and activists from across Kansas to protest as part of the Poor People's Campaign, a 30-state, six-week program. Kara Courtney, a minister from Wichita, says the state's decision not to expand Medicaid is placing low-income working people at risk in Kansas.

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Kansas Legalizes Self-Serve Beer Taps

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is loosening up its laws on brews and booze by authorizing self-serve beer taps, allowing longer hours for bars and taverns and legalizing candy laced with alcohol. Republican Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill Monday that makes the changes. He said during a ceremony on a downtown Topeka sidewalk that the legislation shows Kansas is forward-thinking and willing to help entrepreneurs. The new law takes effect later this month and ends the state's status as one of the few that don't allow self-serve beer taps. The provision was inspired by plans for a new downtown Topeka restaurant near the Statehouse. The new law will also allow bars, taverns and restaurants to begin serving alcohol at 6 a.m. rather than 9 a.m. and permits liquor stores to sell alcohol-laced candy.

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1 Man Rescued, Another Missing in Kansas River

DE SOTO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have rescued one man from the Kansas River and are searching for another.  WDAF-TV reports that crews were called around 5 pm Sunday to a boat ramp at Riverfest Park in De Soto, which is about 25 miles west of Kansas City, Missouri.  Police say two men were swimming with family along a sand bar. One of the men was found downstream and was able to be rescued. He is now in stable condition.  Todd Maxton, the interim chief of with Johnson County's Northwest Consolidated Fire District, says the search for the other man was suspended as darkness fell. Several departments had helped with the search, including a Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter crew.

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Teen in Critical Condition After Apartment Pool Rescue

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a teenager is in critical condition after nearly drowning in an indoor apartment pool in suburban Kansas City.  The Overland Park Fire Department said in a news release that crews responded around 1:20 pm Sunday to the pool in the Meadowlark Hill Apartments. The statement said witnesses reported that the teen may have been underwater for two to three minutes before bystanders pulled him from the water.  Rescue crews began performing CPR and rushed the teen to a hospital.

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Missouri Exports Sex Offenders to Surrounding States

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's tough treatment of sex offenders living outside of prison is sending hundreds of the offenders to neighboring states, where laws are not as stringent.  Missouri requires sex offenders to register for a lifetime, with no exceptions. Other states require registrations for a specific number of years, with a lifetime registration only for high risk sex offenders. Kansas is one of at least 20 states with no sex offender residency restrictions The Columbia Missourian analyzed Missouri State Highway Patrol records of more than 2,500 offenders who moved out of the state in the past two years. Kansas, Illinois and Arkansas are the top destinations for sex offenders.  The Missouri House passed a bill that would establish a tiered system of years for sex offenders. The bill is before the Senate.

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Auditors Unable to Analyze KanCare Data

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Legislative auditors say Kansas' data is too poorly documented to find out whether the state's privatized Medicaid plan is working.  The Kansas City Star reports lawmakers directed their independent auditors in April 2017 to determine KanCare's effect on beneficiaries' health outcomes. But auditors last month said data reliability issues prevented them from evaluating the health plan's effectiveness.  Former Governor Sam Brownback and his successor, Jeff Colyer, say the plan enacted in 2013 has saved Kansas $1 billion while improving care for 400,000 low-income and disabled residents. But provider groups and health care workers say the program is rife with billing problems, secrecy and finance-based decisions.  Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Jeff Andersen says he's requested more money to hire more employees and strengthen KanCare oversight, including data verification.

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Wichita Police Say Officer Saved 2 Women Caught in Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita fire officials are investigating how two women caught fire at a city restaurant. And they are praising an officer who came to their aid.  Officer Charley Davidson says an officer was driving by Rostizeria Los Reyes Friday night when a woman who was on fire ran out of the building. He stopped and used his hands to extinguish the flames.  The woman said her sister was inside the restaurant. Davidson said the officer broke a window to get into the business and found the second woman. He again used his hands to extinguish the flames.  Both women — ages 51 and 57 — were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. The officer had minor injuries. No one else was in the building at the time.

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Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City authorities are investigating a possible hate crime after a Muslim couple reported someone vandalized their home.  The Kansas City Star reports the couple reported someone spray-painted "Allah Scum," and other slurs on surfaces throughout their home. Police suspect charcoal lighter was used to set fire to a staircase.  Kansas City police's bomb and arson unit is investigating. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the agency has been in contact with police about the incident.  The man is a native of Pakistan and his wife is a black woman from Kansas. The Star says they asked that their names not be used because police have not made an arrest. They told police they found the damage when they returned home one night last month with their three children.  The family does not plan to return to the home.

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Jail Officer in Jackson County, Missouri, Charged with Having Sex with Inmate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A corrections officer at the Jackson County Detention Center is charged with having sexual contact with an inmate.  Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges Saturday against 25-year-old Jaroyne Wright.  Court documents indicate sheriff's deputies were called to the detention center after corrections officer commanders who were reviewing surveillance tapes say inappropriate conduct between Wright and a female inmate.  The contact occurred April 29 while Wright was working in the detention center's medical housing area. Further details were not released Saturday.  Prosecutors requested a bond of $100,000. The defendant is being housed in another county detention center.

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Kansas Man Who Stole from His Disabled Brother Avoids Prison

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man convicted of stealing more than $43,000 from his mentally disabled brother must pay restitution but will not serve prison time.  The Hutchinson News reports 66-year-old Kenneth Leamon McDonald was placed on three years' probation, with an underlying prison term of nearly three years.  McDonald has been removed from the brother's financial accounts.  Assistant Attorney General Paul Brothers contested a claim by McDonald that he spent nearly $43,000 on expenses while visiting his brother in Hutchinson. Brothers says McDonald spent the money in Johnson County, near his home.  His 63-year-old brother, Larry, has lived at TECH group homes in Hutchinson for years.

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Lawrence Underground Railroad Site Gets National Designation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A city-owned property in southwest Lawrence is now a nationally designated Underground Railroad site.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the site, known as the Grover barn, was originally the barn of abolitionist settlers Joel and Emily Grover. The two-story limestone building once hid fleeing slaves, including a group of freed slaves from Missouri led by abolitionist John Brown.  The city acquired the barn in 1980.  Kerry Altenbernd, chairman of the Guardians of Grover Barn, said the designation from the National Park Service is the first step toward recognizing the barn's important place in American history.  The designation allows the city to apply for grants to preserve the building and create historic markers or signs for the site.  The building is currently used by the fire/medical and police departments.

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Kansas State Polytechnic Offers Robotics, Automation Degrees

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina is offering new degree options.  The Salina Journal report s beginning in the fall, the school will offer a bachelor of science in robotics and automation engineering technology.  The degree option applies concepts of mechanical engineering technology, electronics engineering technology and computer systems technology to the design, building, programming and use of controlled machinery or systems.  Students will receive hands-on experience learning the basics of the necessary machines and circuits, as well as specialized training in robotics and automation topics.

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Chancellor, President Picked for New Mexico State University

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A two-person leadership team will replace Garrey Carruthers when he retires as New Mexico State University chancellor and president.  The NMSU regents on Friday announced the selections of Dan Arvizu as chancellor and John Floros as president.  Arvizu is a former senior U.S. Department of Energy official while Floros is dean of the Kansas State University agriculture college and K-State Cooperative Extension.  Arvizu will oversee the entire NMSU system while Flores will focus on the Las Cruces main campus.  They were among the top five candidates in a national search for the next chancellor.  The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that regents Chair Debra Hicks said she discussed the possibility of splitting the job titles with both men after the regents agreed Monday to take that approach.

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Summer Trial Date Set for Sedgwick County Commissioner

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a summer trial date for a Sedgwick County commissioner accused of misspending more than $10,000 in campaign funds and trying to cover it up.  U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Friday scheduled Michael O'Donnell's trial for July 10 in federal court in Wichita.  O'Donnell has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud and money laundering related to his handling of campaign funds.  A 12-count indictment unsealed this month alleges the 33-year-old Wichita man took $10,500 from campaign accounts to put into his personal bank account and to give to friends, then filed false reports with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.  O'Donnell was elected to the state Senate in 2012. He didn't run for re-election and was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission for a term set to expire in 2020.

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Jury Selection in Missouri Governor's Trial to Enter 3rd Day

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jury selection is taking longer than expected in the criminal trial of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.  Opening arguments had been expected to begin Monday. Instead, attorneys who began screening 160 prospective jurors last week are to continuing doing so Monday. And that process is now expected to last into Tuesday.  Greitens is charged with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a photo of a woman in a compromising position without her permission in March 2015.  The Republican governor has denied any criminal wrongdoing but has acknowledged having an extramarital affair with the woman. He hasn't directly answered questions about whether he took the photo.  The affair ended more than a year before Greitens won election in November 2016.

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