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Headlines for Monday, September 11, 2017

Here's what's happening.

Report: Kansas Didn't Follow Up on Half of Problems Found in Nursing Homes 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal report says Kansas inspectors failed to follow up on nearly half the problems they found in nursing homes in 2014. The Inspector General's report issued Monday said federal officials examined 100 deficiencies related to health services that were found by state inspectors at 79 nursing homes. The federal investigators found that the state verified that the nursing homes fixed the problems in only 48 cases. The Kansas City Star reports in other cases, inspectors from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services required the nursing homes to submit plans to correct problems but didn't check to see if the plans worked. The report cited a shortage of inspectors as a possible reason for the findings. Governor Sam Brownback said he would study the federal findings.


Governor: Kansas Prisons Face Disruptions in the Near Term 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas prisons are likely to see "real disruptions" as inmates are moved around the system in preparation for building a new prison to replace the 1860s-era facility in Lansing. Inmates rioted last week at Norton Correctional Facility, and El Dorado Correctional Facility had three disturbances this summer. Brownback said Monday a new Lansing prison and pay raises given to corrections officers last month should ease the situation in the long run. Low pay had been considered a factor in high turnover among corrections officers. The governor told The Wichita Eagle building a new prison will require moving inmates out of the current facility and into others, which disrupts the system Senate President Susan Wagle, of Wichita, says inmates are acting badly to get media attention.


Pedestrian Struck and Killed on Kansas Highway 10 Identified

Douglas County authorities have released the identity of a man who was struck and killed while walking on Kansas Highway 10, east of Lawrence.  The victim is 74-year-old Douglas Petty, of Leawood, who was killed shortly before 5 o'clock Saturday morning (in the eastbound lane, near Mile Marker 15).  The Douglas County Sheriff's office continues to investigate why Petty was walking on the highway at that time.  The driver of the vehicle that struck the man stayed at the scene after the collision. The eastbound lanes of K-10 were reduced to one lane of traffic while law enforcement investigated the fatality.  The highway reopened fully to traffic at around 9 am.


Topeka Man Charged in String of Home and Garage Arsons

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An 18-year-old is facing 11 felony charges related to a string of arsons in Topeka.  KSNT-TV reports Alexander Jarvis, of Topeka, was arrested last December and originally charged as a juvenile because of his age at the time. He turned 18 in February.  Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Friday that Jarvis is now charged as an adult with four counts of arson of a dwelling, four counts of aggravated arson of an occupied dwelling, one count of arson of a building, and two counts of criminal damage to property.  The charges are related to fires set at homes and detached garages in Topeka neighborhoods. A total of 15 fires were intentionally set between April and December 2016.  The fires didn't cause any deaths or serious injuries.


Kansas Prisons Chief: Outside Protests Fuel Inmate Unrest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's top prison official says protests outside the walls are helping to fuel unrest in state prisons by inspiring inmates to use mass demonstrations to air grievances.  Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood said in an Associated Press interview that he doesn't see any other connection between a recent uprising at the Norton Correctional Facility in northwestern Kansas and past disturbances at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado.  Norwood said Tuesday night's riot in Norton appeared to be spontaneous. Inmates set small fires, smashed windows, threw rocks and were told they could face lethal force.  He said political protests seem to be more common outside of prison and inmates who have some access to television are noticing.  But some lawmakers said inmate transfers or increased double-bunking are contributing to the unrest.


Police: DNA Confirms Identity of Boy Encased in Concrete 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say DNA results have positively identified the Kansas boy discovered earlier this month encased in concrete. Wichita police said in a news release Monday that the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center has notified them that the remains are those of 3-year-old Evan C. Brewer. Police discovered on September 2 his body inside a Wichita rental house where his mother and her boyfriend had been living. The landlord who was cleaning out the property alerted police to the suspicious concrete structure emitting an odor. Police removed it and later found the body inside it. The boy's father, Carlo Brewer, had earlier contacted state officials and police concerned about his son's welfare. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says the case has not yet been presented for prosecution.


Nine People Indicted for Drug Trafficking in Northeast Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities have indicted nine people in a drug trafficking operation in northeast Kansas.  U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced that a six-count indictment alleges the nine people obtained methamphetamine from California and distributed it to buyers in Marshall County.  The defendants face charges including conspiracy to distribute meth, possession with intent to distribute meth, conspiracy to launder money and money laundering.  Defendants live in Waterville, Marysville and Blue Rapids, Kansas, while one lives in Porterville, California.


High-Speed Toll Lane Opens on Kansas Turnpike 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A lane that allows drivers to pass through tollbooths without slowing down has opened at the Kansas Turnpike's eastern terminal. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the single, westbound fast-lane opened to traffic last month near Bonner Springs. Drivers with a K-Tag transponder will have their bank accounts automatically charged when they drive through a gateless toll lane and onto the turnpike without slowing down. Other drivers still can use tollbooths. A Kansas Turnpike Authority spokeswoman says the speed limit through the fast lane is currently 55 mph due to the area's ongoing construction. The speed limit will be 75 mph when construction is finished, which is expected by November. The Turnpike Authority is also planning high-speed toll lanes at the southern terminal and eastern Topeka toll plaza.


University of Kansas Library Adds Gender-Neutral Restrooms 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A library on the University of Kansas campus now offers gender-inclusive restrooms. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Watson Library has debuted two private, non-gendered bathrooms this semester. Dean of Libraries Kevin Smith says the renovations create a more welcoming space for those who don't identify with traditional binary genders. He says the response has overall been very positive. Smith says the staff-led restroom renovation project is part of the university libraries' Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. Other bathrooms in the library have also been renovated to be more accessible to those with disabilities. Smith says the Spencer Research Library is also planning to add single-user restrooms similar to the new restrooms in the Watson Library.


Salina Police Investigating Solomon Man's Death 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found inside a car as a homicide. Police say 52-year-old Raul Lopez-Vargas, of Solomon, was found dead Sunday inside the car at a home in Salina. Captain Mike Sweeney says the case is being treated as a homicide. He says residents in the area called police. Further information was not immediately released.


Report: Winter Wheat Planting Underway in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows that planting for the 2018 winter wheat crop is now under way in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 3 percent of the wheat has been planted. That is equal for the five-year average for this time of year. Kansas farmers are also busy harvesting some of their fall crops. About 10 percent of the corn and 1 percent of the sorghum in the state has now been cut. Growers have also harvested 1 percent of the cotton crop in Kansas.


1 Seriously Injured in House Explosion in Butler County 

ROSE HILL, Kan. (AP) — The Butler County sheriff says a person was seriously injured in a house explosion northeast of Rose Hill. Sheriff Kelly Herzet says the explosion happened about 3:15 p.m. Monday. He says at least one person was injured and taken to Via Christi Hospital at St. Francis. He says the man suffered severe burns and was listed in critical condition. KAKE-TV reports a propane tank was on the property but the cause of the explosion is under investigation.


Fake Finger Research at Kansas Community College Getting Attention

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Fake fingers are bringing some national attention to Johnson County Community College.  Health care students at the community college use plastic fingers that hold liquid to simulate drawing blood for glucose testing. The Kansas City Star reports it's the first product conceived, funded, developed and marketed by the college.  In recent months, the University of North Carolina and Texas Tech University have ordered some of the fingers.  Dr. David Zamierowski, a medical adviser for the college's Healthcare Simulation Center, says the college hopes to continue to develop and market such products, much like practices at larger research universities.  He teamed with nursing professor Kathy Carver to develop the fingers so nursing students can practice glucose testing, which is important for the growing number of diabetic patients.


Delayed Minnesota Lawsuit Against Syngenta Heads to Trial

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A test lawsuit goes to trial in Minneapolis Monday against Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta for introducing a genetically-engineered corn variety before China approved it for imports.  The case alleges Viptera corn wrecked an important export market for U.S. corn and hurt prices. But Syngenta says the 2013 price drop resulted from larger market forces, not China's rejection of Viptera.  The trial had been set for May. It would have been the first of tens of thousands of cases to go to trial. But the Minnesota trial got delayed, so a lawsuit in Kansas went first, resulting in a $218 million award to Kansas farmers. Syngenta is appealing. In a third case, an Ohio judge backed Syngenta.  The test cases are meant to provide guidance for resolving the complex litigation.


Former Astronauts Will Serve as Grand Marshals at Kansas Homecoming

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two former NASA astronauts who graduated from the University of Kansas will be grand marshals at next month's homecoming parade.  The university says retired astronauts Joe Engle and Steven Hawley will lead the October 6 parade through downtown Lawrence. Both men are Kansas natives.  The theme of the 105th homecoming is "Jayhawks of the Galaxy."  Engle grew up in Chapman and graduated from Kansas in 1955 with a degree in engineering. He was commander of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 and the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985.  Hawley, a Salina native, graduated from Kansas in 1973 with an astronomy degree. He was a mission specialist on five space shuttle flights from 1984 to 1999, logging more than 770 hours in space. He teaches in Kansas' physics and astronomy department.

The Jayhawks will play their first road game of the season next Saturday as they travel to 1-1 Ohio in their non-conference season finale.


Kansas City Man Found Not Guilty in Library Confrontation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City librarian has been found not guilty of charges he faced after he tried to stop the arrest of a library patron during a public forum.  A municipal court judge on Friday found Steve Woolfolk not guilty of obstruction, interfering with an arrest and assaulting a police officer.  The Kansas City Star reports Woolfolk was charged after a May 2016 confrontation at Kansas City library lecture by Middle East expert and diplomat Dennis Ross. Woolfolk intervened when off-duty police and private guards arrested Jeremy Rothe-Kushel of Lawrence, who was trying to ask Ross several questions.  Library executive director R. Crosby Kemper III publicly criticized the arrest. The library and Woolfolk received national awards for his stance.  City prosecutors had earlier dropped trespassing and resisting arrest charges against Rothe-Kushel.


Kansas City Royals Clobber the Minnesota Twins 11-3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jason Vargas snapped a personal four-game losing streak with his career high 15th victory, Brandon Moss homered and drove in four runs and the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 11-3 on Sunday.  Moss had an RBI double in a six-run second inning and a three-run homer in the seventh.  Eric Hosmer doubled twice among his four hits for his fourth straight multi-hit game. He has 12 hits in his past 15 at-bats to raise his average to .328.  Vargas (15-10) gave up a run and four hits over five innings. He was 2-7 with an 8.13 ERA in his previous 11 starts.  Byron Buxton tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the second for the only run against the Royals' starter. Vargas worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth when Brian Dozier grounded into an inning-ending double play.  The Royals sent 11 men to the plate in a six-run second inning off Bartolo Colon (6-12).

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