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Headlines for Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Final Vote Tally: Kobach Defeated Colyer in Primary by 350 Votes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A final count of all votes shows Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary for governor by 350 votes. Final vote totals in the razor-thin race were posted Tuesday after the last of the state's 105 counties completed their vote canvassing on Monday. More than 317,000 people voted in the GOP primary. Colyer conceded to Kobach on August 14 and has said he will not seek a recount. Kobach received 128,838 votes to Colyer's 128,448 votes in the August 7 primary. Former state Senator Jim Barnett garnered 27,993 votes and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer received 24,807. The final numbers are not official until the state Board of Canvassers certifies them. State law requires that be done before August 31.

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Kansas Governor Candidates Want Power to Change KanCare

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer's administration plans to proceed with changes included in new contracts for KanCare but his administration says the state's next governor will have some flexibility to change the state's privatized Medicaid program. Colyer narrowly lost this month's GOP primary election to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who said he doesn't want the new contracts to prevent him from making changes to KanCare if he is elected in November. Democrat Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman also are planning reforms for KanCare if they win the governor's race. The state has awarded three new contracts for KanCare, which take effect in January as Colyer is leaving office, The Wichita Eagle reported . The governor's top Medicaid official said Monday the contracts provide flexibility to change the program, which provides care for more than 400,000 low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities. The three contracts are worth about $1 billion each annually. The new contracts would include some work requirements, and state officials have promised better oversight and responsiveness to consumers. But State Medicaid director Jon Hamdorf said Monday during a legislative hearing that the administration is delaying many of the changes, including work requirements, to allow lawmakers to review the changes.Kobach said contracts that have already been awarded should be honored but he is planning other reforms, including a pilot program to allow patients to pay their doctor $50 a month for unlimited primary care visits. Kelly has said she wants to eventually move Kansas away from a for-profit Medicaid system and expand the program but she said Monday said she won't "do anything drastic to make an ideological point." Orman has said providers that serve customers better and lower costs should be rewarded with more business. He also wants to create incentives for KanCare recipients to stay healthy and expand Medicaid. The Colyer administration said the new contracts will last three years, with the option for one-year renewals. The contracts also allow for early termination.

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Democrat Challenges Greg Orman's Independent Bid for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic legislative leader's aide is challenging businessman Greg Orman's right to appear on the November ballot as an independent candidate for Kansas governor.  Attorney Will Lawrence filed a formal objection Monday. Lawrence is attorney and chief of staff for Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.  The secretary of state's office said petitions submitted by Orman contained signatures from more than 7,000 registered voters when he needed 5,000 signatures.  Lawrence argued in his objection that some county election officers took a day more than state law allows to finish validating thousands of signatures.  Many Democrats fear Orman's candidacy will help the Republican nominee Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  The challenge will be considered by Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann and Kobach's top deputy, all Republicans.

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Kansas Board to Review Challenge to Orman Candidacy Thursday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state board plans to meet Thursday to consider a challenge to independent candidate Greg Orman's right to appear on the November ballot in the Kansas governor's race. The three-member, all-Republican State Objections Board set its meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday in Topeka. A Democratic legislative leader's chief of staff filed an objection to Orman's candidacy with the secretary of state's office Monday. The objection questions the validity of petitions submitted by the independent candidate and Kansas City-area businessman to get on the ballot.

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KBI Investigators: Violent Crime Rate Goes Up in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says statewide violent crime continues to trend upward as last year's murder rate was more than 40 percent higher than the 10-year average.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bureau released its annual report Friday.  The report says local and state agencies reported 176 murders to the bureau in 2017, a nearly 19 percent increase from 2016. Topeka recorded 30 homicides last year, its highest number of homicides on record.  The number of cases involving multiple victims also increased last year.  KBI Director Kirk Thompson says identifying commonalities can be difficult because circumstances surrounding the death are unknown in about 1 in 5 cases. Thompson says the rise in crime is likely related to drug activity, gang violence and social issues such as poverty.

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Autopsy: Drunk Motorist Killed Himself, Topeka Officer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A newly-released autopsy reports says a 72-year-old Lawrence man was driving drunk when he collided with a vehicle driven by an off-duty Topeka police officer, killing both men.  The crash on May 29 killed 25-year-old officer Trey McCluskey, of Mayetta, and Peter Bieri.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the autopsy found Bieri's blood-alcohol level was much as three times the legal limit when he drove the wrong way on U.S. 75 north of Topeka and collided with McCluskey's vehicle.  The autopsy listed "ethanol intoxication" as a contributing factor in Bieri's death.  No alcohol or drugs were found in McCluskey's system.  McCluskey's wife, 25-year-old Taylor McCluskey, survived after being hospitalized for injuries suffered in the crash.

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2 Shot, Killed in Confrontation Between 2 Groups in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating a shooting that left two men dead.   Investigators say the shooting early Saturday was not gang related and the two victims didn't know each other.  Officer Charley Davidson identified the men Monday as 24-year-old Manuel Otano-Hernandez and 36-year-old Jesse Villalobos, both of Wichita.  Police say Otano-Hernandez and two others were shooting a weapon in an alley near a home where Villalobos and several other people were gathered. Davidson says the two men were shot by an unknown suspect during a confrontation between the two groups.  Otano-Hernandez died from a gunshot to the abdomen and Villalobos died from a gunshot to the leg.  No one else was injured.

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Police: Deaths of Mother and Son Appear to be Murder-Suicide

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say the deaths of a woman and her son appear to a murder-suicide.  Officers were called to a Wichita home late Sunday by a woman who said her family was concerned because they had not been able to reach her sister.  Police found 55-year-old Debra Fisher dead from a stab wound. Her 28-year-old son, Cody Comstock, was found dead in a separate room of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Police say they are not looking for any suspects in the two deaths.

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2 Kansas Men Die After Golf Cart Collides with Pickup Truck

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Dickinson County sheriff says two men are dead after a golf cart they were using collided with a pickup truck.  The crash Saturday night killed Lucas Hicks, of Herington, and Casey Schardein, of Hope. Both men were 28.  Undersheriff James Swisher says the crash occurred on a country road about 3 miles southeast of Hope in rural Dickinson County.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a preliminary investigation indicates the golf cart turned abruptly in front of the truck for an unknown reason.  Hicks and Schardein were pronounced dead at the scene.  The driver of the pickup truck, 27-year-old Craig Banman, of Hillsboro, was uninjured.

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Bike-Riding Bandit Sentenced for Kansas Bank Robbery

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A 57-year-old Kansas man who fled on a bicycle after robbing a bank last year has been sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison.  The Kansas City Star reports that Richard Armenta, of Overland Park, was sentenced Monday for robbing a Capital Federal Savings Bank branch on November 2017. He pleaded guilty in June.  Prosecutors say Armenta got away with cash. Witnesses to the robbery told investigators the suspect was riding a blue bicycle and had a spider web tattoo on his hand.  About a week after the robbery, police responded to a disturbance involving Armenta. He was arrested after an officer recognized the tattoo and noticed Armenta had a blue bicycle in the back of his pickup.

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Kansas Cancels Open Government Training for Lack of Interest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials have cancelled training sessions on open government in Colby and Garden City due to lack of interest.  The Kansas attorney general's office says in a news release it determined too few people were interested in attending this week's training in western Kansas to justify the expense of providing them. Just eight people registered for the two sessions.  Sessions scheduled on Thursday and Friday in Topeka and Fredonia are still on. Others are being planned for Topeka and Johnson County.  The free public seminars about the Kansas Open Records Act and the Kansas Open Meetings Act are sponsored by the Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and the attorney general's office.  The state's attorney general's office is charged by law with training and enforcement of government transparency laws.

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Federal Judge Delays Trial of County Commissioner in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has granted an unopposed defense request to delay the fraud trial of Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Tuesday set a new trial date for November 13 in federal court in Wichita. Prosecutors say O'Donnell of fraudulently obtained $10,500 from his campaign accounts for his personal use. A revised indictment charged him last week with 23 counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. His court appearance on the new indictment is August 28. O'Donnell, a Wichita Republican, was elected to the state Senate in 2012 for a term that ended in January 2017. He did not run for re-election and instead was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission. His term is set to expire in 202 

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Topeka Zoo Welcomes Second Baby Giraffe of the Summer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The newest giraffe at the Topeka Zoo is a girl named Elizabeth. The zoo says an 8-year-old giraffe named Hope gave birth early Tuesday after about an hour of labor. The giraffe's father is named Sarge. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports zoo director Brendan Wiley said the new calf and her mother likely will remain inside on Tuesday. He said it was doubtful they would be outside because of mud in their exhibit from recent rain. More than 1,300 people were watching a live stream from the zoo when the calf was born just after midnight Tuesday. The birth comes after the zoo's other giraffe, Abi, gave birth to a male baby named Konza on July 11.

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Officials: Church Employee Embezzled More Than $400,000

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph says a longtime employee at a Blue Springs church embezzled $446,000 during the past several years. The diocese said Tuesday the woman worked at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church for decades but the embezzlement occurred over the last seven years. Diocese spokesman Jack Smith says the woman agreed to repay the money within 60 days after she was confronted last week. The diocese didn't name the employee. A member of the parish's finance council discovered that the employee had been writing checks to herself and entering the names of vendors on accounting stubs. The Kansas City Star reports the findings of the diocese's investigation were turned over to the Blue Springs police department on Monday.

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Plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education Case Honored

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Springfield, Missouri, is celebrating a man whose civil rights case changed the course of American history.  Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Oliver Brown — the lead plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The 1954 case led to desegregation of schools.  The Springfield News-Leader reports that the Brown family moved to Springfield in 1959 when he became pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In fact, it was in Springfield where he saw the impact of the Supreme Court case bearing his name — his oldest daughter graduated from Springfield's Central High School in 1961.  Oliver Brown died unexpectedly later that summer.  Drury University on Sunday hosted a ceremony honoring Brown's legacy. Mayor Ken McClure declared Sunday Rev. Oliver Brown Day.

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Missouri Opens Hay, Water Programs for Farmers Amid Drought

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — New state programs will allow Missouri farmers suffering from drought to hay and pump water from some state land.  Governor Mike Parson on Monday announced that farmers will have access to water on 28 conservation areas and five state parks in northern and mid-Missouri. Up to 5,000 gallons of water can be pumped daily per farm.  The state on Monday also opened a lottery for haying on nearly 900 acres of Missouri State Parks land. Farmers can apply to hay grasslands now through Saturday. One farmer from each location will be issued a permit that runs from Aug. 27 through November 27.  Missouri has had below-average rainfall since winter. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of Missouri is experiencing drought, with several northern and southwestern counties especially hard-hit.

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Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill Meets with Supreme Court Nominee

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is slated to meet with President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee.  The Democrat is meeting with Judge Brett Kavanaugh today (TUE).  McCaskill faces a tough battle for re-election this year in a state Trump won by 19 points.  McCaskill has said she wants to know Kavanaugh's opinion on the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision that allowed corporate spending in elections.  McCaskill also says she wants to know how Kavanaugh feels about a Republican-led lawsuit to overturn former President Barack Obama's health care law. And she says she's interested in Kavanaugh's views in cases of "the little guy versus the big guy."  Republicans have been pressuring Democratic senators up for re-election this year to meet with Kavanaugh, particularly in states that Trump won.

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Convicted Killer Accused of Raping 8-Year-Old Wichita Girl

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man who was convicted in a 1984 murder is suspected of raping an 8-year-old girl he was babysitting. KAKE-TV reports 56-year-old Clifford Cox is being held on $250,000 bond after being arrested Monday. Officer Charley Davidson said a parent reported his 8-year-old daughter was possibly assaulted by Cox on several occasions in the last few years. He says the alleged assaults occurred while Cox was caring for his children and the girl's siblings. He says Cox and the girl's parents were acquaintances.Cox was released from prison in 2006 after serving time for the May 1984 murder of 22-year-old Cathryn Lynne Hutchins Kessinger in Winfield. Testimony indicated Cox killed Hutchins after receiving $1,000 from her husband, who also was convicted in the murder. 

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TV Star Eric Stonestreet Makes Video of Kansas State Recruiting Trip

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — "Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet is making a tongue-in-cheek video series chronicling his recruiting visit to the Kansas State football program.  The 46-year-old Kansas State graduate says on Twitter that a lot of people are asking him what he will do after the 10th year of playing the character Cameron Tucker on the hit ABC sitcom. He says appearing on TV is one dream, but playing college football is another.  In a preview of the series, the Kansas City, Kansas, native appears in full uniform and says: "I don't know if, God forbid I fell down on the field, if I could get up."  Stonestreet says episodes of the recruiting trip will be released in weekly installments. It's unclear whether coach Bill Snyder will make an appearance.

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Ex- K-State Guard Wainright Pleads Guilty in Road Rage Case

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas State University basketball player Amaad Wainright pleaded guilty to felony charges related to a road-rage shooting. Wainright on Tuesday pleaded guilty to felony obstructing apprehension and aiding a felon. A charge of fleeing from law enforcement was dropped. The Wichita Eagle reports a passenger in Wainright's car fired a handgun into another car on January 17 in Overland Park as the two vehicles were traveling along an interstate. No one was injured. Court records indicate police tried to stop Wainright later that evening but he drove away at 100 mph. Kansas State suspended Wainright, of Kansas City, after he was charged. Wainright, a junior guard, asked to be released from his Kansas State scholarship and joined Louisiana State University Shreveport in July. Sentencing is scheduled for October 24.

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