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Headlines for Monday, September 18, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

UPDATE: Tyson Evaluates Kansas Chicken Plant After Officials' Move 

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman says Tyson Foods Inc. is evaluating its options after local official backed away from offering a key incentive for a planned chicken-processing plant in northeast Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said the company was disappointed in the Leavenworth County Commission's decision Monday. The commission voted 2-1 to rescind a previous resolution in favor of issuing $500 million in industrial revenue bonds to help finance the project. The resolution would have made the project eligible for an 80 percent property-tax reduction. The commission's vote came three days after a town hall meeting persuaded local legislators to oppose the project. From 2,000 to 3,000 people attended, and many objected to the project. The Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson has said the new plant would employ 1,600 workers.

(​earlier report) 

Leavenworth County Officials Back Off Incentive for Tyson's Proposed Chicken Plant

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Local officials have backed away from offering a key incentive for a planned Tyson Foods Inc. chicken-processing plant in northeast Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Leavenworth County commissioners said today (MON) that they're no longer prepared to issue industrial revenue bonds for the $320 million project south of Tonganoxie.  The commission voted 2-1 to rescind a previous resolution favoring $500 million in bonds to help finance the project. The resolution would have made the project eligible for an 80 percent property-tax reduction.  The commission's vote came three days after a town hall meeting persuaded local legislators to oppose the project. From 2,000 to 3,000 people attended, and many objected to the project.  The Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson announced its plans earlier this month and said the new plant would employ 1,600 workers.

(earlier report)

Tyson Protests Turn Lawmakers Against Plant Proposal

TONGANOXIE, Kan. — State lawmakers are vowing to help fight the proposed Tyson Foods plant after hearing opposition to the massive plant from more than 2,000 people who turned out for a town hall meeting Friday. The Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is proposing a chicken processing plant outside Tonganoxie that would produce nearly a million chickens per week. Nearly all of the attendees said they were opposed to the plant. Lawmakers heard a steady stream of concerns about issues including noxious odors and environmental pollution. Republican State Representatives Willie Dove and Jim Karleskint attended the forum along with Democratic State Senator Tom Holland. The lawmakers told the group that they don’t have the authority to halt the project, because it’s up to local officials to control the permitting.  When the deal with Tyson was announced, Governor Sam Brownback said it would be a big economic development project and creates more than 1500 jobs in the Tonganoxie area.


Kobach's Use of Private Emails for Trump Panel Questioned 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is facing criticism for using a private email account for business associated with his work as vice chairman of President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud. The Kansas City Star reports that a Kansas Press Association leader and a media attorney are questioning whether Kobach is flouting a year-old state law. It makes public officials' emails about public business subject to disclosure under the Kansas Open Records Act even if they are on private accounts or devices. Kobach told the investigative site ProPublica last week that it would be a waste of state resources to use his state email account because he's serving on the commission as a private citizen. He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Monday from The Associated Press.


Kansas Wesleyan, Saint Francis Partner on New Social Work Degree

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan University and Saint Francis Community Services in Salina are forming a partnership to increase the number of social workers in the state. Leaders of the two organizations announced Friday that they will develop a bachelor's degree program in social work. Saint Francis president and CEO Reverend Robert Smith says the new program will give students several chances for field experiences in social work while they complete their degrees. Saint Francis will underwrite the initial hiring of a director for the program at Wesleyan. The university plans to pursue accreditation for the program. The Salina Journal reports the accreditation process can take three years but the first students could be accepted by the fall of 2018.


Lawrence Needs to Dispose of 10 Million Gallons of Contaminated Water

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The city of Lawrence is trying to determine how to truck 10 million gallons of nitrogen-contaminated water away from the former Farmland fertilizer plant. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the city has been using a pipeline from the site to carry contaminated water across the Kansas River to farmers north of Lawrence, who can use it to fertilize their land. However, improvements to the pumping system this year caused increased water collection while the farmers were using less water. With storage at near capacity, the pumping station has been temporarily shut off. The city is taking bids for trucking the water, which is enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Director of Utilities Dave Wagner says officials will work on a long-term solution that works financially and also the most environmentally friendly.


Appeals Court to Hear Kansas Voting Audit Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court will hear arguments on whether to allow a recount of votes on audit tapes from voting machines to test the accuracy of the tallies in Sedgwick County. The case stems from a seven-year effort by Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson to gain access to the tapes. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman denied the request, and that decision was upheld in district court. The Wichita Eagle reports a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals on Tuesday will take up the case at Friends University in Wichita. Lehman contends no problem exists and releasing the tapes would risk compromising the secrecy of people's ballots. Clarkson has done several statistical analyses of elections and believes there may be tampering with the electronic machinery that counts votes.


Civil Air Patrol Officer Reinstated After Controversial Post, but Won't Return to Position

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Civil Air Patrol who resigned his command after posting on Facebook that a state lawmaker should "swing from a tree" has chosen not to resume participation in the volunteer organization after being cleared to do so. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Colonel Linette Lahan, commander of the Kansas Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, says Jonathan Holder is "not active." The Civil Air Patrol conducts emergency searches. Holder had led a squadron at the based at the Kansas National Guard Armory in Emporia. The dispute stems from a Facebook post saying that Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park ought to die for introducing what he considers an unconstitutional bill to block carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses.


Sheriff Won't Release Mugshots of Convicted Child Molesters 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is refusing to release booking photos of some people accused of child sex crimes. A provision in state law allows authorities to pick and choose which mugshots to publicly release. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that policy is now being used in two cases, including at least one where the suspect was involved for years in youth sports. The sheriff's office says the booking photos were denied because they could help identify the victims. But open government advocates argue that while they agree that protecting the identity of sexual assault victims is important, it is difficult to understand how the release of booking photos identify the victim. They say that makes it harder for parents to find out whether their children have interacted with the suspect.


AGs Want Health Insurers to Review Policies in Opioid Fight 

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Attorneys general from 35 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are urging health insurers to review their policies for pain management treatment to spark higher use of alternatives to opioid prescriptions. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Monday announced the bipartisan coalition's efforts in the ongoing fight to end opioid addiction. Morrisey says in a news release that the coalition wants health insurers to avoid contributing unintentionally to the deadly problem. Other co-sponsors of the effort are attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah and Virginia. West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States at 41.5 per 100,000 residents — more than twice the national average.


Report: Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Makes Progress 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government update shows winter wheat planting in Kansas is making some progress. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that about 7 percent of the 2018 winter wheat crop has now been planted. That is near the 8 percent that would be average for this time of year. Kansas farmers are also harvesting their fall crops. About 19 percent of the corn in the state has now been cut, along with 1 percent of the soybeans and 2 percent of the sorghum. Cotton harvest is just 2 percent completed.


Patient Charged in Fatal Stabbing of Kansas Psychiatrist 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A patient of a psychiatrist stabbed to death in the alley behind his holistic practice in Kansas has been charged with first-degree murder. Twenty-one-year-old Umar Dutt made his first court appearance Monday in the September 13 death of Achutha Reddy at the Holistic Psychiatry Services clinic in Wichita. He is being held on a $1 million bond. KAKE-TV reports that his attorney Kurt Kerns says the case is complex and sad. An attorney for Dutt's family released a statement offering their condolences to the doctor's family for their loss. Raj and Azra Dutt say their family has also suffered and will continue to suffer "the terrible toll and consequences of mental illness." His next court appearance is set for October 3.


1 Dead After Train Collides with Vehicle in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One person is dead after a collision between a train and a vehicle in Wichita over the weekend. Wichita Police are investigating the crash that happened Saturday evening around 8:30 in southeast Wichita. Few details about the crash have been released but authorities said the driver of a vehicle died after a train struck the vehicle.


Former Mail Carrier Sentenced for Stealing Mail in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former mail carrier in in Sheridan County has been sentenced to six months in prison for stealing mail. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release that 25-year-old James N. Stephenson of Basehor, Kansas, was also ordered Monday to pay $4,000 in restitution. Stephenson admitted in his plea the thefts occurred while he was employed at the post office in Hoxie, Kansas. He stole mail containing cash, gift cards and prepaid debit cards.


Kansas Banker Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud Scheme 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former Kansas banker has been sentenced to prison eight months in prison for a wire fraud scheme that included the theft of funds from a bank and an insurance company as well as filing false tax returns. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release Monday that 61-year-old Keith L. Shaffer of Altamont will also have to serve four months of home confinement after he completes his prison term. Jurors convicted Shaffer in November on charges of misapplication of bank funds, wire fraud, misappropriation of insurance funds and making false statements on a federal tax return. Shaffer was an employee of Labette Bank when he diverted more than $134,000 in commissions on sales of insurance belonging to the bank into his personal account.


Bob Dole Officially Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas has officially been awarded one of the highest civilian honors bestowed in the U.S.  President Donald Trump has signed a bill awarding Dole the Congressional Gold Medal. Dole, who is 94, was honored for his long political career and his Army service in World War II, when he was severely injured during combat in Italy. He served 27 years in the Senate and 10 years in the House and was the unsuccessful GOP presidential nominee in 1996. Since that campaign, he founded the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.


Man Convicted of Kidnapping Kansas Judge Sentenced to Life

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of holding a Kansas judge hostage for several hours has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says that 34-year-old Jason Linn Nichols, of Garden City, has been sentenced for terrorism and several other charges. Prosecutors say Nichols forced his way into the judge's Garden City home in May 2016. While holding the judge hostage, Nichols called the Kansas secretary of revenue and demanded that the department provide him with different kinds of information related to state taxes. Nichols was found guilty in July of terrorism, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, criminal threat and criminal restraint. Kansas law says committing a felony to influence government policy or a unit constitutes terrorism.


Jury Deadlocks in Shawnee County Murder Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of a man charged in the fatal shooting of a Topeka pedestrian. The jury announced Friday that it was deadlocked after about a day of deliberations in the case of 21-year-old De'Angelo Megle Martinez, of Topeka. Martinez is charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 20-year-old Brian Wade Miller, who died in April 2016 in a drive-by shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 18-year-old Christopher Pattillo was earlier convicted of first-degree murder in Miller's death. Witnesses during his trial said Martinez was the gunman who fired 14 shots from a van driven by Patillo.


Kansas State Fair Officials Pleased with Event's Outcome 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas State Fair official says the event ran relatively smooth despite minor hiccups that were expected. The Hutchinson News reports that this year's fair featured a new website, new ticketing system and other new infrastructure. Fair General Manager Susan Sankey says that while those new features meant inevitable problems this year, those problems were minor in the grand scheme. Sankey says some positives from the fair were great working relationships with Kansas Highway Patrol, emergency medical services, staff, vendors and exhibitors. She also says many people had good things to say about performers in Gottschalk Park. The annual 10-day fair, beginning the Friday after Labor Day, is held at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.


Kansas Teacher Educates on Sexual Assault Through Rap

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school teacher is educating his students about sexual assault by rapping about it. The Kansas City Star reports that David Muhammad's song "Fallen" was released Sept. 5. The social studies teacher wrote the song under the name "Brotha Newz." The song is inspired by things that trouble Muhammad about the way society talks about and addresses sexual violence. Reports of two sexual assaults at Shawnee Mission East shook the school community at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. One of the victims was Muhammad's student, prompting him to want to speak more about preventing sexual assault. Muhammad hopes his song will spark a conversation about the importance of men talking to men about sexual assault, and challenge the ways some mend are conditioned to sexualize women.


Chiefs Win Home Opener, Beating Eagles 27 to 20

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt reached the end zone twice, Travis Kelce took a shovel pass 15 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Kansas City held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 on Sunday. Kelce finished with 103 yards through the air, highlighted by his somersaulting score. Alex Smith had 251 yards passing for the Chiefs (2-0). Cairo Santos was 2 for 2 on field goals.

Indians Edge Royals 3-2 and Celebrate AL Central Title

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The Indians' starting pitcher Corey Kluber pushed to the front of the Cy Young race with another dominant start and Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer as the Cleveland Indians celebrated a division title and defeated the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Sunday. Kluber (17-4), who has lost once since July 4, allowed three singles in seven innings and has not given up a run in 22 straight innings. Encarnacion homered in the fourth off Danny Duffy (8-9) as the Indians improved to 33-5 since August 11 despite getting only three hits. The Royals closed to 3-2 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single by Brandon Moss. 


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