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Headlines for Monday, October 15, 2018

US Secretary of Transportation to Assess Infrastructure in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will be in suburban Kansas City today (MON). Chao will join Congressman Kevin Yoder on a tour of what he calls critical infrastructure needs. Exact details of what those needs are have not been released, Yoder’s congressional office has said the visit will involve a bus tour with elected officials on U.S. Highway 69. That will be followed by a roundtable with the Overland Park Chamber of commerce and community leaders. Yoder is locked in a tight re-election battle for Congress with Democrat Sharice Davids.

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Lawsuit Contests Gender Policy on Kansas Birth Certificates

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit is challenging a Kansas policy that prohibits changing the gender designation on birth certificates for transgender people. Lambda Legal says Kansas is one of three states, along with Tennessee and Ohio, with similar policies. The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of four people and the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project. It seeks an order forcing state officials to provide birth certificates that reflect a transgender person's sex consistent with their gender identity. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in an email that the issue was previously litigated in a state court. Its spokeswoman said the department does not have the authority to change a birth certificate except to make minor corrections or by a court order. Gender identity is not considered a minor correction.

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Topeka Veterans Affairs Opens New Women's Health Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Female veterans now have their own Veterans Affairs' health center in Topeka. Nearly 4,000 women veterans use the VA Eastern Kansas Health Center. VA Eastern Kansas Director Rudy Klopfer said that 10 years ago, the organization had one provider for women housed in a in a small, one-room space.  The new center boasts five exam rooms, two primary care providers, a full-time gynecologist, a mental health provider and a social worker. 15 percent of active military personnel are now women.

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Vacant Teaching Positions Increase in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas public school districts are finding it harder to fill vacant teaching positions this year, even though increased funding allowed many districts to offer higher salaries. A report released by the Kansas State Department of Education said 612 teaching positions are vacant this fall — a 19 percent increase from the same time last year. Deputy Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander says that it’s more challenging to get people to apply for those positions. The report said the majority of the vacancies are in special education followed by elementary education, English language arts, science and math. The largest concentration of vacancies — 21 percent — are in western Kansas.

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Company Seeks to Hire 250 Workers in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Faneuil, a Virginia-based company that plans to bring hundreds of jobs to downtown Wichita, is looking to hire 250 workers in the next few weeks. The company says it will interview customer care representatives tomorrow (TUE) for a call center. Faneuil will train employees, who must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. The hiring rush is prompted by the annual open enrollment period for health insurance. Many of the new hires will work with people enrolling in health insurance plans. Jay Hinckley, senior director of the company's Wichita sites, said with the new employees, the company will have 600 workers in Wichita. Union Station in downtown Wichita is being renovated to accommodate up to 700 Faneuil employees.

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Topeka Elementary Teacher Receives Milken Educator Award

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A fifth-grade teacher from suburban Topeka has been honored with the nation's first Milken Educator Award for the 2018-19 year. Linda Dishman, who teaches at Berryton Elementary, was surprised to receive the award which is given to only about a few dozen teachers across the country and comes with a $25,000 prize. Milken Family Foundation co-founder Lowell Milken made the announcement in person saying Dishman mentors other teachers, is involved in her community and is "a strong instructional leader who helps her students achieve powerful growth."

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Federal Prosecutor Listened to Attorney-Client Calls

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Documents show that a retired federal prosecutor listened to multiple recorded calls between a Kansas inmate and her attorney. KCUR -FM reports that Tanya Treadway was confronted last week during a hearing with her own handwritten notes containing details of phone conversations involving a Leavenworth inmate and the inmate's attorney, Melanie Morgan. Treadway offered various explanations, including that the calls weren't privileged. The testimony contradicted her statement before the judge overseeing the inmate's drug case that Treadway hadn't listened to recorded attorney-client calls, other than to identify who was participating. Morgan said Friday in a phone interview that listening to the calls gave Treadway an "unfair tactical advantage." Treadway couldn't be reached for comment. Federal public defenders have filed a motion seeking to disclose the evidence "to the appropriate disciplinary authorities."

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Minnesota Man Charged with Rape of 12-Year-Old Girl

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A Minnesota man has been charged with raping a 12-year-old Kansas girl who was the focus of an Amber Alert.  The Kansas City Star reports that 23-year-old Dechon Michael White, of South St. Paul, Minnesota, was booked Friday into the Johnson County, Kansas, jail, where his bond is set at $250,000.  Federal prosecutors initially charged White with kidnapping after he allegedly took a bus to Minnesota with the girl in July. She had been reported missing two days earlier in Lenexa, Kansas. The kidnapping case was dropped this summer before Kansas prosecutors filed two rape charges. White met the girl, who is now 13, online. Prosecutors say White and the girl told the girl's mother that he was 16. 

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New Renovations Nearly Complete at Pittsburg Airport

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Construction of a new taxiway and renovation of a runway at Atkinson Municipal Airport in Pittsburg are nearly complete. Airport manager Bill Pyle says the airport averages about 15 to 20 flights a day, with all the plans either privately owned or owned by businesses. The city received more than $675,000 in federal and state grants to fund the renovations. The first project was constructing a parallel taxiway to connect a 600-foot extension with a new turnaround that was built last year. The runway is now 6,100 feet long. The second project seals and repaints a runway. Pyle expects both projects to be completed by the end of this month, weather permitting.

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Kansas Has Adequate Soil Moisture as Farmers Plant Wheat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government crop report shows mostly adequate soil moisture levels across Kansas as farmers plant winter wheat and harvest fall crops. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that winter wheat planting was 62 percent complete, about average for this time of year. The agency says 44 percent of the planted wheat has already emerged in the state. Meanwhile, growers are making some progress in bringing in their fall-harvested crops. Corn harvest is 63 percent finished. Soybean harvest is 16 percent done in Kansas. The state's farmers have also cut about 19 percent of their sorghum and 16 percent of the sunflower fields.

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Dodge City Boot Hill Museum Plans Expansion Project

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Groundbreaking for an expansion project at the Dodge City Boot Hill Museum is scheduled for November 1. Plans are to construct a new 12,000-square-foot building to house nine new exhibits, a gift shop and a 3,000-square foot temporary exhibit hall. Museum officials say the daily gunfights, shows, and dinners will continue during the summer season as they have for more than 60 years. The museum expansion project will have an estimated cost of $5.5 million. STAR bond money will cover about 78 percent of the new building, leaving the museum to fund the rest. The museum has raised $1 million to fund most of the interior costs of the new building.  It will be the largest expansion project in the history of the museum, which opened in 1947.

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Escapee Still in Handcuffs 4 Days Later When Caught

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a handcuffed man who managed to escape from Kansas City, Kansas, officers was still wearing the handcuffs when he was arrested four days later. The Kansas City Star reports that the 42-year-old man was wanted for outstanding warrants when officers first apprehended him Wednesday night. Kansas City, Kansas, Police spokesman Officer T.J. Tomasic says the man apparently managed to work his cuffed hands from behind his back underneath his body to his front. Tomasic says most of the department's police vehicles have windows and locks that cannot be operated from the back seat, but this time the arrested man was likely in a spare car and was able to get out. The man was spotted driving Sunday afternoon and surrendered after a short pursuit.

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Wichita Woman Sought Protection Weeks Before Killing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman fled with her six children and summoned police three weeks before her estranged husband ran her off the road, shot and killed her, according to police and court records. Kristin Florio-Gile, 33, took at least three steps to protect herself and her children from her husband, Randy Gile, which were documented in police and court records obtained by the Wichita Eagle . Gile killed Florio-Gile on Oct. 6 before shooting himself to death. He had tracked her in a rental car on a rural Derby road, forced her vehicle into a spin and chased her down. Florio-Gile's family says the system failed her. Records show that Florio-Gile had filed for a protective order two years previously. She wrote in the court document that Gile "threatens my life, pulled a gun on me" and "threatens to hurt me." Wichita police arrested Gile for felony aggravated assault after he threatened Florio-Gile with a gun on Sept. 15. Officers seized guns and ammunition from Gile and a detective interviewed Florio-Gile and one of their children as part of the investigation. He bonded out of jail within a day. Florio-Gile obtained a new protective order to keep Gile away two days after she summoned police. Police had an order to arrest him again in early October for allegedly violating the protective order. Police had prosecutors move up an appointment for considering charges to Oct. 10, which was four days after Florio-Gile was killed. But Gile wouldn't have had to go back to jail, even if prosecutors had charged him, because he had already posted bond, although prosecutors could have tried to revoke bond if they were able to prove Gile violated the protective order, District Attorney Marc Bennett said. Police weren't able to locate Gile to re-arrest him after that alleged violation.

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Witness Grilled over Texts to KU Men's Basketball Head Coach

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for a former Adidas executive on trial in New York City have zeroed in on texts sent by a college basketball recruiting fixer and the head coach at Kansas. The jury on Monday was shown texts sent by government witness Thomas "T.J." Gassnola last year to Coach Bill Self. In one of them, Gassnola indicated he was in touch with the guardian of Kansas recruit Silvio De Sousa. Lawyers for ex-Adidas executive Jim Gatto have sought to use the texts to show that various basketball programs were aware of efforts to funnel secret payments to the families of De Sousa and other top-flight recruits. Gassnola has admitted he helped broker the payments in violation of NCAA rules. But he said he kept coaches in the dark.

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Kansas City Chiefs Come Up Short Losing to Patriots, 43-40

FOXBORO, Ma. (KPR) - The Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season last (SUN) night, 43-40, as the New England Patriots got the game-winning goal in the last play of the game. The Chiefs tied the game with barely more than three minutes left in the game when quarterback Patrick Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown pass.  But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady directed the game’s final drive that set up a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski as time ran out. The Chiefs will try to rebound from their loss with another Sunday night game next week against Cincinnati at Arrowhead Stadium.

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