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Headlines for Saturday, September 4, 2021

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Johnson, Morris Counties Sued over Mask Mandates

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Lawsuits were filed yesterday (FRI) challenging a mask mandate for students and staff in elementary schools in Johnson County and another mandate requiring everyone 5 and older in Morris County to mask. The suits, are believed to be the first since the state’s Supreme Court granted a stay last week allowing enforcement of a pandemic-inspired law. The law allows those who oppose mask requirements or restrictions on public gatherings imposed by Kansas counties to challenge them in court and obtain a ruling within 10 days.

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White House Urged to Shutter Leavenworth Prison

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Civil rights advocates and federal public defenders are urging the White House to intervene to ensure that a privately run federal prison in Leavenworth shuts down when its contract expires at the end of this year. The letter emailed Thursday to a White House office and local Leavenworth officials contends that the Leavenworth Detention Center is dangerously understaffed, unsafe and poorly managed. It details stabbings, suicides and a homicide that have happened there this year. The prison's operator, CoreCivic, says its critics' claims are “false and defamatory." The letter was signed by officials from the American Civil Liberties Union's affiliates in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, and by the heads of several federal public defender offices.

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Dodge City Man No Longer Facing Wichita Murder Charge

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 28-year-old Dodge City man who was facing a possible first-degree murder charge in a shooting death near a Wichita park is no longer facing those charges and they are searching for another suspect. Police said yesterday (FRI) morning that Caesar Hermosillo was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the death of 32-year-old Jason Huber of Wichita. But police said later Friday that Hermosillo no longer faces those charges. He remains in custody on a pending warrant. Police are now searching for another man in connection to Huber's death. Huber was found Wednesday suffering from gunshot wounds near South Riverside Park and he died later at a hospital.

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Governor Kelly Declares Drought Watches, Warnings for Most of Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has declared 87 of the state's 105 counties under a drought watch or warning. Kelly said Thursday encouraged state residents to minimize the risk of fires. Fourteen counties were placed under warnings and 73 are under drought watches. The 18 counties not affected are all in southeast Kansas. The governor said counties in the northwest, central and south-central regions have received less than 60% of their normal precipitation so far this year. Connie Owen, director of the state's water office, said drought-like conditions are expected to continue into the fall, particularly in the northwest region.

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Man Charged with Fatally Stabbing Uncle near Derby

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old man has been charged with stabbing his uncle to death. KSNW-TV reports Douglass McGathy was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, two counts of domestic battery and criminal property damage. Sedgwick County authorities say 48-year-old Kelly Joe Ralph was found stabbed several times on Monday at a home in a rural part of the county near Derby. He died later at a hospital. Authorities said the men apparently fought over a gun deal. McGathy is being  held on $250,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 9th.

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Charges Filed in Two Reno County Deaths

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Eudora man is charged with two counts of first-degree murder after the bodies of two men from Hutchinson were found last week in Reno County. Kyle Hardwick made his first court appearance Thursday and is being held on $2 million bond. He was arrested Wednesday in Maize. Authorities found the bodies August 27th in eastern Reno County. The names of the two victims and information about a possible motive have not been released. Reno County Sheriff Darrian Campbell said the three men were acquainted and agreed to meet at the rural site, apparently to look at a new gun one of them had purchased.  

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Patrol: Salina Man Killed in Western Kansas Crash

COLBY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Salina man has died in a two-vehicle crash on a western Kansas roadway. The crash happened Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 70 near Colby when a westbound car driven by 75-year-old Frank Herman briefly went off the road to the right, overcorrected and crossed both westbound lanes and the median before colliding with an eastbound pickup truck. Investigators say Herman died at the scene. The driver of the truck, a 27-year-old woman from Breckenridge, Colorado, was seriously injured. The patrol says both drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

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