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Headlines for Monday, September 3, 2018

Flash Flooding Prompts Evacuations in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Flash flooding has prompted about 300 people from the northeastern Manhattan area to evacuate. The Wichita Eagle reported Monday that nearly 9 inches of overnight rain caused flash flooding along Wildcat Creek. There are two shelters in the area for those displaced by flooding. Riley County police in a Facebook post wrote that water is receding in some areas but rising in others. Police warned against going through areas with high water. There also were some evacuations Monday in Pratt, and a shelter was set up for displaced residents. A National Weather Service meteorologist told the newspaper that about 6 to 8 inches of rain fell overnight in the area.

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Kansas Court Rules for Grand Jury Investigation of Kobach

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court says a grand jury must be convened to investigate whether Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016. The ruling came from an appeal by Kobach of a Kansas Court of Appeals' ruling in June that found a Lawrence resident had met the legal requirement for circulating petitions to summon a grand jury. Kansas is one of six states that allow citizens to request grand juries through petitions. The petition from Douglas County resident Steven Davis alleges that Kobach or his subordinates didn't process online voter registrations and prevented qualified voters from casting their ballots. Kobach is running for governor. Davis is a Democratic candidate for the Statehouse.

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Wyandotte County Attorney Unveils Conviction Integrity Unit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office is opening a division to look into claims of those who say they've been wrongfully convicted. County Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. says that his office expects to hire three people for the new conviction integrity unit. That includes a full-time senior attorney, a part-time investigator and a part-time assistant. Dupree says that after a cursory review of claims, 19 deserved further examination. Dupree has pointed to the case of Lamonte McIntyre, whose convictions for a 1994 double murder were thrown out last October, as an example of why the unit is needed. The district attorney's office will receive payments of about $167,000 this year and next to support the new unit.

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KC Guard Sentenced for Smuggling Contraband into Jail

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Jackson County, Missouri detention officer has been sentenced to federal prison for smuggling contraband to inmates in the jail. 27-year-old Andre Lamonte Dickerson, of Kansas City, has been sentenced to one year and four months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to two counts of using a telephone with the intent to further illegal activity. In his plea, Dickerson admitted that he took a $500 bribe to smuggle cell phones, cigarettes and other contraband into the jail. Prosecutors say a corrections official found Dickerson's phone in a control station, and investigators discovered text messages about drug deals between the guard and inmates.

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Kansas Trying New Way to Keep Soil Out of Its Reservoirs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is trying a new way to reduce the amount of sediment in the state's reservoirs. The Salina Journal reports the state will pay landowners up to $50 a ton for the amount of sediment they keep out of a watershed leading to a state reservoir. Kanopolis Reservoir, which has lost 39 percent of its water supply storage, is one of the four reservoirs included in the Kansas Reservoir Protection Initiative. The state has budgeted $900,000 for Kanopolis, Fall River, John Redmond and Tuttle Creek reservoirs. Many sediment best-practices are eligible for the initiative, including cover crops, reducing tillage and soil health. Applications will be taken throughout the year. Initial approvals are expected by the end of September.

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Kansas Man to Start Hemp Farm for Research Program

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A central Kansas man is preparing to start an industrial hemp farm as part of a new state pilot program. The Hutchinson News reports that PJ Sneed plans to open the Always Sunny Hemp and Bee Farm in western Reno County. Governor Jeff Colyer signed the Alternative Research Act in April allowing the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the growing of industrial hemp through a research program. The Always Sunny Hemp and Bee Farm can't officially grow hemp until the Agriculture Department finalizes regulations.

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Former Professor Pleads No Contest to Selling Marijuana Edibles

HAYS, Kan. (AP) - A former Fort Hays State University assistant professor has pleaded no contest to a charge involving marijuana edibles. Bryan Bennett, who taught political science, was placed on 18 months of probation for possession with intent to distribute a hallucinogenic drug. Three other felony drug charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Bennett was arrested December 6.  According to a court affidavit, Hays police were contacted by an informant who said Bennett had offered her edible marijuana. The informant later met Bennett on the Fort Hays campus and gave her marijuana edibles. Prosecutors said officers later found marijuana in Bennett's home.

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Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder Outside Ford Claycomo Plant

CLAYCOMO, Mo. (AP) - A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a friend outside the Ford assembly plant in Claycomo, Missouri. Deonte Buffington-Hardy was sentenced in Clay County. He was found guilty in July of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 26-year-old Brandon Nunnally. Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White said the killing appeared to have "zero motive." He says the two men appeared to be friends right up until the gunfire started.

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Two Hurt in Downtown Kansas City Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police say a collision at an intersection in downtown Kansas City led to two vehicles crashing into an occupied apartment building. The crash happened early Saturday morning near the Kansas City Convention Center. Investigators say the impact of the crash sent both vehicles slamming into the apartment building. Two people in one of the cars were taken to an area hospital. Police say the driver of the other car fled the scene. Police have not said whether anyone in the building was hurt or whether any arrests have been made in the case.

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Kansas City Mayor Hopes Hotel Boom Will Attract Events

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City's mayor says he hopes a hotel boom that's happening in the area will make the city an appealing candidate to host big events. Visit KC estimates that more than 15 hotels are opening in the area by the end of the 2020. Five of those properties have opened or will open this year. The extended-stay hotels, boutiques and high-end facilities will add more than 450 rooms in the area. Kansas City Mayor Sly James hopes the new accommodation options will help the city land conventions and tournaments that could bring out-of-town spending into the local economy. James says Kansas City was considered to host the 2016 Republican National Convention but was ultimately eliminated from the running because of a lack of rooms.

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New Safari Opens in Topeka Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Visitors to the Topeka Zoo's newest exhibit can now experience what it's like to go on a safari. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Camp Cowabunga has opened to the public. The exhibit is based on zoo director emeritus Gary Clarke's experiences leading safaris. The new presentation at the zoo features a mixed species animal exhibit with patas monkeys, guinea fowl and tortoises and displays a Land Rover, a hot air balloon basket and a canoe, all of which are modes of safari transportation. The exhibit is part of a larger plan that involves the zoo opening a tract of land for the elephants to roam.

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Kansas Nonprofit to Start Camp for People with Disabilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A longtime Topeka-area Girl Scout camp that closed last year will become a camp for people with disabilities and their families. Hope Ranch Inc. plans to turn the former Camp Daisy Hindman into its Mission Creek Camp and Conference Center, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported . There aren't many opportunities for people with disabilities to attend summer camp, Executive Director Ken Scroggs said Wednesday. Many of the camp's buildings will comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. "I'd really like to give them an experience that they can't get anywhere else," Scroggs said. The camp in Dover will also have a therapeutic riding center, something the nonprofit has operated in Manhattan for years. "I got started in this because I really thought that it was an incredible thing to be able to watch these kids smile and progress in the middle of what's going on," Scroggs said. "When you do this kind of thing, it's just so enveloping and so wonderful to watch what happens that it's kind of like you get a passion for it." Hope Ranch will launch a fundraising campaign in the next two months to pay for the camp property and improvements. "We've got enough right now to get everything going and moving," Scroggs said. Hope Ranch doesn't own the property yet. Scroggs said another organization bought the property for the nonprofit but must be paid back within a certain time frame. Scroggs declined to share more detail about the purchase arrangement. The nonprofit hopes to open its first camp season next summer. Camp Daisy Hindman provided a camping experience to Girl Scouts since 1930. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri council said in September 2017 that the camp would close because of low attendance and lack of funding.

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Rare Bird Sighting in Topeka Draws Birders to Capital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A rare bird sighting in northeastern Kansas is drawing birders to the capital. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that birders first spotted a swallow-tailed kite last week in Topeka. The newspaper reports that birders from across the state have traveled to the Cedar Crest governor's mansion and Kaw River State Park to catch a glimpse. Topeka Audubon Society board member Sue Newland saw the bird with a group of about 15 Mississippi kites, which are cousins of the swallowed-tailed kite and are more common in Kansas. Newland says the last time the bird species was seen in Shawnee County was in September 1972. She says there have only been 15 documented sightings of the bird in Kansas since 1968. The predatory bird has a white head and distinctive forked tail.

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Wichita Optometrist to Offer Free Glasses, Exam to Uninsured

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita optometrist is giving away free eye exams and glasses to people without insurance. The Wichita Eagle reports that Child and Family Eyecare is offering the free services from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. It's available to anyone without eye care coverage. The service includes a full eye health checkup and a set of prescription glasses, including bifocals. The newspaper reports that the annual event started in 2016.

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Wichita Pumpkin and Corn Maze Farm to Close 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After nearly a century of growing pumpkin patches and providing corn mazes for visitors, Wichita's Cox Farm will close soon. Ron and Vickie Stein, third-generation owners of the farm, announced Thursday they will close the 92-year-old Wichita institution in late September or October. The Steins, who have operated the farm for 12 years, are retiring. Both are 71 years old. The Wichita Eagle reports Ron Stein says the couple has worked seven days a week for their entire lives and they have had enough. Stein said the property has already drawn interest, with some wanting to keep it a farm and some wanting something else on the site. Ron Stein's grandparents, Roy and Daisy Cox, started Cox Farm in 1926.

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