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Headlines for Thursday, October 31, 2019

Kansas Lawmakers Take Steps Toward Legalizing Medical Marijuana

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative special committee has approved two early steps toward advancing a medical marijuana bill.  The committee on Federal and State Affairs on Wednesday recommended that Kansas lawmakers consider allowing residents from other states where medical marijuana is legal to use the product in Kansas if they have permission from their home states.  The committee also suggested Kansas study Ohio's approach to medical marijuana use. Ohio limits patients to 90-day supplies and prohibits smoking medical marijuana. Edibles, patches and oils are allowed.  Supporters said the use and acceptance of medical marijuana is growing across the country, and in states adjoining Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports the committees vote is non-binding. And any legislation supporting medical marijuana will face continued opposition from law enforcement and some medical organizations.

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Black Ice, Cold Temperatures Cause Wrecks in KC Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Black ice and frigid temperatures are proving to be a bad combination in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Star reports that more than 170 morning rush hour accidents were reported Thursday in the metro area. Kansas City, Missouri, police alone responded to 116 accident calls from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., including 77 involving injuries. The region's first blast of winter arrived unusually early, on Halloween, long before the official start of winter. The metro area received 1-2 inches of snow, but some other nearby areas got up the 5 inches of snow. Temperatures fell to 22 degrees in Kansas City, and roads were icy and slick. The Kansas Highway Patrol responded to 38 morning crashes. Several accidents also were reported in Lenexa, Overland Park and other Kansas suburbs.

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USDA Picks Missouri Office Building as Its Kansas City Site 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it has signed a lease for permanent office space at an office building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, for two of its research agencies. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release Thursday that signing the lease is an important next step for the agencies' efficiency, effectiveness and service to customers. The USDA announced plans in June to move roughly 550 employees of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture by the end of September to the Kansas City area. The announcement of the new office space comes amid charges from a federal employees union that the move has left them critically understaffed, saying it will take years to hire replacements for the highly specialized positions.

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Kansas City Royals Hire Mike Matheny as Manager

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have hired Mike Matheny as manager. The 49-year-old Matheny was manager of the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals from 2012-18, going 591-474 and becoming the first manager to reach the postseason his first four seasons. The Cardinals reached the World Series in 2013, losing to the Boston Red Sox. Matheny was fired in July 2018 with the Cardinals 7½ games out of the NL Central race at the time. He was hired last November by the Royals as a special adviser for player development, putting him in place to succeed Royals manager Ned Yost. Yost announced his retirement last month.

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Bonner Springs Woman Sentenced in Home Foreclosure Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 74-year-old Kansas woman who helped defraud people facing foreclosure on their homes has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.  Federal prosecutors said Ruby Price, of Bonner Springs, was sentenced Wednesday for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister's office said Price was one of three people charged in January 2017 with several counts of fraud. The three told customers not to worry when they received foreclosure notices. They promised to customers obtain lower interest rates and loan modification.  Tyler Korn, of St. Ann, Missouri, was sentenced earlier this year to four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Amjad Daoud, of Lutz, Florida, fled before appearing for a change of plea hearing in January 2018.

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Rig's Driver Fled Scene in Stolen Truck After Fatal Crash that Killed 2

HICKOK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a tractor-trailer driver who is suspected of causing a rural Kansas crash that killed two people from Oklahoma and then fleeing in the vehicle of a motorist who stopped to help.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Saturday when the rig's driver failed to yield the right-of-way at an intersection in southwest Kansas' Grant County and drove directly into the path of a pickup truck. Trooper Michael Racy says that the rig's driver then drove off in the witness' pickup truck. The Hays Post reports that the truck was later found abandoned in a field in a neighboring county.  The patrol identified the crash victims as 57-year-old Kevin Coyle, and his father, 81-year-old Gerald Coyle, of Turpin, Oklahoma. The patrol has tweeted a picture of a person whom they are seeking to locate.

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Democratic Senator Wants Review of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Visits to Kansas

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator from New Jersey is questioning whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trips to Kansas violate federal election laws.  Senator Robert Menendez sent a letter Tuesday to the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel seeking a review of Pompeo's four trips to Kansas this year. Pompeo's came last week for events on workforce development with Ivanka Trump.  Fellow Republicans have speculated for months that Pompeo might run for the Senate in Kansas next year. Menendez is suggesting that Pompeo's trips could violate a law against federal employees engaging in political activity on the job.  The State Department did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Pompeo said in a Fox News interview Monday that he will remain secretary of state as long as President Donald Trump wants.

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Inmate Death Reported at Lansing Correctional Facility

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Corrections says an inmate with convictions in Wyandotte County has died at the Lansing Correctional Facility.  Prison officials say 48-year-old Raymond Davis died Monday.  The cause of death has not been determined.  Davis was serving about 54 years in prison for convictions in Wyandotte County that include aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

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Ex-Elementary School Teacher Pleads Guilty in Child Sex Case

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A former fourth-grade teacher in St. Joseph has pleaded guilty to second-degree sodomy involving two minor males.  Cole Charboneau, who taught at Eugene Field Elementary, pleaded Wednesday, less than three weeks before he was scheduled to go to trial on multiple charges. He waived his sentencing hearing and was sentenced to seven years in prison.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports court documents allege Charboneau exposed himself, showered with and engaged in sexual contact with at least two males under the ages of 12 and 15. The incidents occurred at his home. He was arrested and charged in December 2017.  Two civil cases continue against Charboneau, the St. Joseph School District and some of its former and current administrators.

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Kansas Sex Offender Accused of Child Sex Crime

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old convicted sex offender is jailed on $1 million bond after a Great Bend girl contacted police about an alleged sexual offense. Great Bend police say Nicholas Schwerdtfeger was arrested Thursday and booked into the Barton County jail on possible charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Police say a teenage girl reported an incident involving Schwerdtfeger in September to officials at Great Bend Middle School. The Great Bend Tribune reports school officials said the incident didn't happen on school grounds and Schwerdtfeger is not a district employee. State prison records show Schwerdtfeger was convicted in 2008 in Barton County of the attempted indecent solicitation of a 16-year-old girl and attempted aggravated sexual battery of a 20-year-old woman. He also has several Kingman County convictions of voluntary sexual intercourse with a child.

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Kansas Woman Sentenced in Home Foreclosure Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 74-year-old Kansas woman who helped defraud people facing foreclosure on their homes has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.  Federal prosecutors said Ruby Price, of Bonner Springs, was sentenced Wednesday for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister's office said Price was one of three people charged in January 2017 with several counts of fraud. The three told customers not to worry when they received foreclosure notices. They promised to customers obtain lower interest rates and loan modification.  Tyler Korn, of St. Ann, Missouri, was sentenced earlier this year to four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Amjad Daoud, of Lutz, Florida, fled before appearing for a change of plea hearing in January 2018.

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Woman Dies in Shooting in Western Kansas Town of Hays 

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A woman is dead after a shooting in western Kansas. Hays police say officers responded at 5:36 a.m. to a call of a woman being shot. She died at the scene. Her name has not been released. Police are not saying if anyone is in custody but a news release on the department's Facebook page says the "neighborhood is safe." The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting police in the investigation. Hays, a town of 20,500 people, is 180 miles northwest of Wichita.

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Wichita State University Names Jay Golden as Next President

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A vice chancellor at East Carolina University experienced in building research campuses will become the new president of Wichita State University. The Kansas Board of Regents announced Thursday that Jay Golden will assume the job in January. He replaces John Bardo, who led the university from 2012 until his death in March. His responsibilities at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, included developing public-private partnerships. He also was an engineering professor there. Golden says Wichita State can be the next great public research university. That includes, he says, developing business and entrepreneurial approaches that make a Wichita State university degree "more accessible, more affordable and more valuable for all students and all Kansans." The university touted his experience in environmental sustainability, applied learning and economic development.

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Woman Admits Selling Heroin Used in Kansas Man's Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A 50-year-old Kansas City woman has admitted selling heroin to a Kansas man who later died of an accidental overdose. Valerice Ealom pleaded guilty Thursday to distributing heroin. She admitted that she sold heroin two days in a row in June 2016 to a man identified in court documents as ``J.B.'' The man's body was found the next day in his Overland Park home. Investigators found heroin and drug paraphernalia near his body. An autopsy concluded J.B. died from an accidental heroin overdose. Ealom was on supervised release when she sold the heroin, after serving a 10-year sentence for distributing controlled substances. The plea agreement recommends that Ealom be sentenced to 15.5 years in federal prison without parole. 

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Keystone Oil Pipeline Leaks 383,000 Gallons in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators say the Keystone pipeline leaked more than 383,000 of oil in the northeastern part of the state. Calgary-based TC Energy says in a statement that the pipeline leak affected about 22,500 square feet of land near Edinburg, in Walsh County. The company says the spill has been contained and its cause is unknown. North Dakota regulators were notified late Tuesday night of the leak. They say some wetlands were affected, but not any sources of drinking water. Water Quality Division Director Karl Rockeman says the pipeline has been shut down since the leak. The Keystone pipeline is part of a 2,687-mile system that also is to include the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

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Mayors for Pete: Buttigieg Hunts for Support in City Halls Across America

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — As Pete Buttigieg works to prove the leader of a city of roughly 100,000 people is ready to assume the American presidency, he's relying on help from politicians who would know best: his fellow mayors.  The South Bend, Indiana, mayor has amassed a network of roughly 60 "Mayors for Pete," a collection of local leaders pushing for his underdog bid. The group includes mayors from former industrial cities, thriving metros and tiny towns of just a few thousand people.  The campaign believes the mayors bring credibility to the 37-year-old Buttigieg's chief pitch — a promise to usher in the next generation of Democratic politics and a more pragmatic, no-excuses style of governing.  While smaller-city mayors may not seem like coveted presidential endorsements, they are more closely connected to voters than most politicians and are responsible for functions of government that often have a more direct impact on voters' lives.  Buttigieg has already won over Sly James, the former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, and former head of the African American Mayors Association, and Michelle De La Isla, the first Latina mayor of Topeka, Kansas. Christropher Cabaldon, of West Sacramento, is Filipino, part of the West's growing Asian-Pacific Islander community.

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Capuchin Monkey Injured During Kansas Zoo Break-In Has Died

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A monkey injured last month during an apparent break-in at a Kansas zoo has died.  The monkey was initially injured while trying to protect his offspring from being taken by an intruder.  Officials at the Wright Park Zoo in Dodge City say the 32-year-old Tufted Capuchin monkey was found unresponsive early Tuesday. City spokeswoman Abbey Martin says the zoo's veterinarian was unable to revive the monkey, named Vern.  The Hutchinson News reports a necropsy will be done to determine the cause of death.  Vern underwent surgery for broken bones after the September 3 break-in. A younger monkey named Pickett was found loose within the city limits and returned to the zoo.  Vern and a female monkey named Charro arrived at the zoo in 1988. Their two youngest sons, Jack and Pickett, are part of the zoo's current capuchin troop.

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Owner Closes Two Lawrence Restaurants After Political Backlash over Kris Kobach

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A restaurant owner says he closed two locations in Lawrence because of backlash from people who believed he had ties to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  Morrie Sheets closed two Jimmy's Egg restaurants Monday, less than six months after they opened.  He says customers wrote "(Expletive) Kobach" on the diner's tables and on his car, as well as smearing excrement on the car.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Sheets says he's never met Kobach, who has drawn national attention for advocating tough immigration policies. But Wink Hartman, Kobach's running mate in an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2018, was an early investor in the parent company of Jimmy's Egg. Sheets say Hartman has been his banker for 10 years.  Campaign finance records show Sheets donated $4,000 to Hartman's campaign in 2017 and $2,000 to Kobach's campaign in 2018.

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Ex-Milwaukee Sheriff to Appear at Wichita Event for Kobach

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A tough-talking former Wisconsin sheriff with a national following among conservatives plans to help Republican Kris Kobach raise money for his U.S. Senate campaign in Kansas.  Kobach has scheduled a Nov. 12 fundraiser in Wichita with ex-Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Kobach's campaign is charging $25 for general admission tickets, $200 for VIP tickets and $350 to sponsor tables at the event.  The VIP package includes a photo with Clarke and Kobach and opportunity to win a .50-caliber black-powder muzzle-loading rifle.  Clarke was Milwaukee County's Democratic sheriff from 2002 to 2017, resigning to join a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump.  He gained national attention for supporting Trump and criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement but also faced criticism over multiple deaths at his county jail.

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