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Headlines for Saturday, November 9, 2018

New Forecast Boosts Kansas Tax Collections by $291 Million

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor-elect Laura Kelly has received good news about the budget picture in Kansas with the release of a new fiscal forecast for state government. Fiscal forecasters on Friday boosted the projection for tax collections expected during the current fiscal year by $291 million. That's 4.2 percent higher than the previous forecast made in April. The state now expects to collect $7.2 billion in general tax revenues for the fiscal year. The forecasters also are predicting modest growth in tax revenues for the next fiscal year that begins in July 2019. But the picture is not completely rosy. State Budget Director Larry Campbell said the forecasters expect economic growth to slow in 2021. Kelly promised during her successful campaign for governor to boost spending on public schools without increasing taxes.


Woman Pleads Guilty in Death of Pregnant Woman, Unborn Child

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old woman pleaded guilty for her role in the killing an expectant mother and her unborn child. Alora Mendoza, of Kansas City, Kansas, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of reckless second-degree murder in the fatal shooting last June of 23-year-old Jocelyn Ybarra. Ybarra was 12 weeks pregnant and her unborn child also died. The Kansas City Star reports Mendoza was initially charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder and with attempted aggravated robbery. Assistant District Attorney Darrell Smith said Friday that Mendoza helped another person who allegedly shot Ybarra during an attempted carjacking. Mendoza will be asked to testify against her co-defendant as part of Friday's plea agreement. Her sentencing is scheduled for December 20th.


Vote Counting Error Upends Crawford County Commission Race

GIRARD, Kan. (AP) — Inaccurate election results apparently caused by human error left an election for Crawford County Commission up in the air. Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle said results from five of the county's 16 polling locations were counted twice after Tuesday's election. He said the person inputting data cards into software that count votes was interrupted and put some cards in twice. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports the incorrect results had Republican Chad Ulepich defeating Democrat Jeremy Johnson for the commission seat. The race was tied after updated unofficial results. Pyle, who is a Democrat, said 330 provisional ballots that must still be processed could decide the winner. The commission voted Friday to hire an attorney to oversee canvassing of the ballots next Tuesday, and a member of the Kansas Secretary of State's office also will attend.


Olathe Housekeeper Pleads Guilty to Stealing $500,000 in Jewelry

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former housekeeper has admitted stealing more than $500,000 in jewelry while working for a woman in Stillwell. The Kansas City Star reports 43-year-old Sabina Garcia-Rivera, of Olathe, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of felony theft and three counts of making a false writing. She was charged in January with stealing the jewelry over two years before the thefts were discovered in 2017. The false writing charges involve false statements Garcia-Rivera made while pawning some pieces of the jewelry. Prosecutors say she pawned several pieces for far less than they were worth. Under terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will seek a sentence of three years and two months. The defense will ask for a two-year sentence. She will also be required to make restitution.


Racist Slur on Kansas State Campus is a Hoax

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State police say a person who reported being the target of a racist slur admitted it was a hoax. The Wichita Eagle reports it was the second time in two years that a report of racist slurs at Kansas State was a hoax. Kansas State officers were called to the Jardine Apartment Complex on the Manhattan campus Monday, where a note containing a racial slur was hung on a door. Police said in a news release Thursday that during questioning the person who reported the note admitted creating and posting it. In November 2017, a man reported having racist slurs painted on his car in Manhattan. The FBI investigated the case as a possible hate crime. Riley County police says 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, who owned the car, eventually admitted being responsible for the graffiti.


KCK Murder Victim Found with Protection Order

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Court records say a slain woman had an order of protection against the man charged with killing her in her pocket when her body was found in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that 42-year-old Gene Birdsong of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 40-year-old Tabitha Birdsong. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records in Kansas show the couple wed in 2009 and that Gene Birdsong was twice convicted of battering her. He spent 86 days in jail earlier this year after violating his probation for not complying with a protection order. Under questioning, he told detectives it was "self-defense" before stopping the interview and requesting an attorney. The couple has a daughter.


Dispatcher Helps Man Deliver Grandchild in Rural Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man in rural Kansas helped his daughter deliver a baby thanks to coaching from an emergency dispatcher. Harvey County Communications said in a Facebook post that the man called 911 early Thursday morning to report that his daughter was about to give birth. The man followed the dispatcher's instructions to help deliver his granddaughter. Firefighters and paramedics showed up seven minutes later. The post says mom and baby were taken to a Wichita hospital in good condition. The post praised the dispatcher, as well as the infant's grandfather for "calmly" following instruction. A follow-up post reported that the grandfather said it felt like the dispatcher "had done this many times before." However, Harvey County Communications said it's the first time any of its dispatchers have helped deliver a baby.


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