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Headlines for Thursday, July 05, 2018

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

Man Charged in Shooting Outside Kansas School

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged in a shooting near a Kansas elementary school that killed one man and left another critically injured. The Kansas City Star reports that 32-year-old Anthony Grable was charged Thursday with premeditated first-degree murder and seven other counts. His bond was set at $1 million. The shooting occurred Tuesday morning outside Sunrise Point Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas. Grable and the two victims were contractors installing new turf on the school's playground. Police say 48-year-old Todd Davis, of Lee's Summit, Missouri, died after the shooting. Fifty-four-year-old Efren Gomez remains in critical condition Thursday. Police are investigating the shooting.

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New Hiring Rule for Child Protection Workers Faces Pushback

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department for Children and Families is facing criticism from some in the child welfare community over the department's decision to loosen requirements for some inspector positions. Under new rules, the state will hire people with bachelor's degrees to investigate claims of abuse and neglect. Formerly only licensed social workers were hired for those jobs. State officials say there is a very high rate of turnover for investigators and they need to attract more applicants to fill vacancies. The department says that it has 76 vacant child protection positions. According to the department, Kansas was one of only 10 states requiring social work licenses for such positions. But many child welfare advocates, including members of the Kansas National Association of Social Workers, oppose the move, and see loosening requirements as lowering standards for workers who make life-changing decisions daily. The Association says that requiring a social worker's license helps ensure an investigator is knowledgeable and ethical. 

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Two Young Girls Found Dead in Rural Area Near Kansas City

KEARNEY, Mo. (AP) - Two young sisters have been found dead in a rural area northeast of Kansas City, Missouri. Clay County sheriff's Captain Will Akin said the girls were found outside their home just after noon Wednesday by their mother and were not breathing. Both girls were under 5 years old. Akin said foul play is not suspected and neither water nor firearms appear to have been involved, but the deaths are under investigation. The incident was reported near Missouri Highway 92 east of Kearney. The mother ran to a neighbor's house and the neighbor called 911. 

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Wichita Fireworks Enforcement Sparks Confrontations, Assault

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A fire official says Wichita's enhanced fireworks enforcement sparked some street confrontations, including a Roman candle assault on a city firefighter. Deputy Chief Stuart Bevis says most of the 133 people cited for illegal fireworks accepted their tickets without causing trouble. The Wichita Eagle reports that authorities enforcing the fireworks code were confronted in several cases by crowds and backed off rather than escalate the situation. He says one of his firefighters got hit over the head by an elderly lady with a Roman candle. The city sent out 22 teams of firefighters and police officers in unmarked cars Tuesday and Wednesday. City leaders contemplated this year dropping the fireworks restrictions, but most people wanted it toughened instead. The council set the fine at $250.

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Former Sheriff's Deputy Alleges Age Discrimination in Firing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Crawford County deputy alleges in a lawsuit she was fired after the sheriff told her she was too old and too feeble to do the job. Mary Mays spent more than 20 years at the sheriff's office before she was fired last fall after failing a firearms test. The lawsuit alleges younger deputies were allowed to retake it if they didn't pass. The Topeka Capital-Journal says the lawsuit accuses the county of age discrimination. She was 59 at the time she was fired. County officials declined to comment. The lawsuit names the as defendants the Board of Crawford County Commissioners.

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Manhattan Implements Hiring Freeze Amid Budget Shortfall

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The city of Manhattan has implemented a hiring and travel freeze amid budget shortfalls it blames on sluggish tax revenues. KSNT-TV reports that says Kansas State University is seeing declines in enrollment as well as fewer solders at Fort Riley. Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr says this results in fewer shoppers in Manhattan and could be part of the reason for the stagnant tax revenues. The city had $250,000 less revenue than expected in 2017. That trend is continuing this year with the city revenues more than $80,000 dollars down in May. Fehr says they are going to be more conservative when estimating revenues in the future.

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Home Destroyed After Fireworks Reignite in Trash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Fire investigators say a fire that destroyed a house near Topeka began when fireworks thrown in the trash reignited. The Kansas State Fire Marshal's office says both residents inside the home just south of Topeka city limits escaped the early Thursday fire after being awakened by smoke detectors. Firefighters rescued a dog and cat inside the home. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports firefighters responded to the fire near Lake Sherwood early Thursday. The fire has been ruled accidental. Fire investigator Tony Celeste says the fireworks were put in a trash bin near the house after they were shot off Wednesday evening. He says the blaze damaged two vehicles.

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Police: 80 Firearms Stolen from Topeka House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a small armory's worth of weapons and ammunition were stolen this week from a Topeka house. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Thursday that the thefts included 80 firearms, including rifles, shotguns and handguns. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were also taken in the heist. Officers were dispatched to the house just before 6 a.m. Tuesday. Police say a witness saw three men exit the rear of the residence. Topeka police are asking people to be aware of anyone attempting to sell a large amount of guns and ammunition.

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University of Kansas Bans Tobacco, Vape Use on Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas students and faculty can no longer use tobacco or vaping products on campus under a new policy pushed by a group of health-conscious students. The university banned smoking, vaping or using any other tobacco products on school grounds as of July 1. A survey conducted in 2016 by the university's Student Senate showed that the majority of students support a tobacco ban. "We know the health consequences of tobacco by now," said Savannah Cox, a  senior who is the president of Breathe Easy, a school group that has advocated for tobacco-free campus. "I thought this is definitely something we should try to get off our campus, clean the air and motivate people struggling with addiction."  The new rules affect all University of Kansas campuses, which will no longer have designated smoking areas. The university provides free programs for students and employees to help fight nicotine addiction. 

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Employee Fired after Finding Secret Camera Sues 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former legal director for a commercial development firm in Kansas City alleges in a lawsuit that she discovered a camera installed underneath her desk and was fired after calling police. Mary Caffrey, of Leawood, Kansas, is suing Legacy Development, managing partner Dan Lowe and the firm's chief financial officer, Sue Gallatin, in Jackson County Circuit Court. Caffrey alleges that she called police last summer after finding the secret recording device underneath her office desk and pointed in her direction. She was terminated five days later. The lawsuit says Lowe and Gallatin knew Caffrey used her office to undress and change into workout clothes. Caffrey is seeking unspecified damages.

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Man Accused of Ramming Kansas Highway Patrol Car

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man he allegedly rammed a Kansas Highway Patrol car while trying to flee with a stolen vehicle. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that 29-year-old Robert A. Servantez was booked into jail early Wednesday. Police spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen says Servantez led police on a chase Tuesday when they tried to stop the stolen Chevy Tahoe he was driving. Police discontinued the pursuit at one point because it was endangering too many people, and they and the Highway Patrol later resumed it in a less populated area. A trooper forced the Tahoe off the road after it struck a car containing two people. Troopers used their vehicles to block him from driving away, and he was arrested at the scene. Court records do not indicate charges or defense attorney.

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Off-Duty Officer Hurt, Intruder Killed in Gunfire Exchange 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say an off-duty Wichita officer was wounded and a suspected home intruder killed in an exchange of gunfire.  Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says 24-year-old Christian Webb shot the officer in the leg after entering the officer's home through an unlocked door. The officer then returned fire, hitting the Webb several times. Webb died at a hospital. The officer was treated and released. Ramsay says the officer's wife and children were home at the time of the shooting and are shaken up but uninjured. Ramsay says some cars had been broken into near where the shooting happened. Ramsay says there is no connection between the suspect and officer.

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3 Lawsuits Accuse Prison Guard of Assaulting Female Inmates

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri prison guard now faces a third lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting female inmates at a prison in the western Missouri town of Chillicothe.  All three lawsuits naming Edward Bearden have been filed over the past five weeks in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri. The lawsuits say that the Missouri Department of Corrections knew or should have known about the assaults.  Bearden has not been criminally charged. The latest lawsuit, filed this week, accuses Bearden of fondling and assaulting an inmate several times starting in October 2015.

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Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty to 2016 Triple Killing

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) — A woman associated with a triple murder north of Wichita has entered into a plea agreement. The Wichita Eagle reports that Myrta Rangel pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges for her role in the October 2016 killings of Travis Street, Angela Graevs and Richard Prouty. The charges involve Rangel giving a gun to her boyfriend Jereme Nelson, who's facing capital murder and first-degree murder charges in the slayings. The plea agreement says Nelson, Rangel and her estranged husband in Mexico had arranged to sell methamphetamine to Street. The agreement says Rangel gave Nelson a handgun because she knew he was going to Street's house to collect a drug debt. Mexican authorities found the couple and turned them over to U.S. law enforcement. Rangel is scheduled for sentencing September 19.

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University of Kansas Hires Jeff Long as Athletic Director

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas will hire former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long to lead its athletics department. KU announced Thursday that Long will replace former athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who was fired May 21. Long was athletic director at Arkansas from 2008 to 2017 before being fired last November amid criticism over the football team's performance. The university said Long agreed to a five-year contract paying $1.5 million per year. Private funds from Kansas Athletics will pay $1.3 million, with the remaining $200,000 paid by KU.Long will be introduced at a news conference July 11 and will start his new job Aug. 1. He was chairman of the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee for 2014 and 2015 and was part of the committee through 2017.
 

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