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Headlines for Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Federal Agency Proposes $232K Fine for Kansas Nuclear Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal regulators are proposing to fine the operators of Kansas's only nuclear power plant $232,000 over what regulators say was retaliation against an employee who reported a possible safety issue. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Tuesday that it found the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. violated federal regulations. The Wolf Creek plant is 55 miles south of Topeka. The NRC said that during a fall 2016 refueling outage at the plant, a contract employee reported a safety concern. The NRC said plant operators placed the employee on paid administrative leave. A corporation spokesman did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment. The NRC said the corporation disputed that a violation had occurred. The NRC said the corporation has 30 days to dispute the fine or seek mediation.

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Lawmakers Could Face Decisions on Earthquake Damage Payments

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers are likely to face renewed debate in the next legislative session about how or whether to hold oil and gas companies accountable for property damage caused by earthquakes in Kansas. Earthquakes have increased in Kansas since 2013 when fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, became more common for oil and gas exploration. Some researchers believe injection of wastewater from the explorations into underground wells contributes to the quakes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Joe Spease, of the Kansas Sierra Club, says lawmakers should require oil and gas companies to pay a fee to help pay for damages from earthquakes. But Ed Cross, executive director Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, says companies would go out of business and jobs would be lost if such fees were imposed on the industry.

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Missouri Woman Who Drove Car into Kansas River Pleads Guilty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Missouri woman who intentionally drove her vehicle into the Kansas River in Lawrence has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Scharron Dingledine, of Columbia, Missouri, entered the plea Monday. As part of the plea, she won't be eligible for parole for 25 years.  Prosecutors say Dingledine drove a car into the Kansas River near downtown Lawrence in August in an effort to kill herself and her children.  Rescuers pulled Dingledine and her 1-year-old son, Elijah Lake, from the water but were not able to save her 5-year-old daughter, Amiyah Bradley. Her body was recovered from the river the next day.  Elijah was critically injured.

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Kansas Fixes Medicaid Billing that Cut Pediatricians' Pay

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' Medicaid director is reversing a billing change that resulted in pay cuts to pediatricians.  KanCare Director Jon Hamdorf announced Monday that Kansas is fixing the billing change that went into effect November 1, which split a bundle of services for child checkups into 12 separate codes, the Wichita Eagle reported. Hamdorf said he realized pediatricians weren't getting paid the same amount for each visit after reviewing data submitted by doctors last week.  "We did identify a place where it would have been a reduction in reimbursed services," Hamdorf said. "We're fixing it today and our staff is going to make it retroactive to November."  Pediatricians had reported that checkup rates for children of certain ages had dropped dramatically, including from $70 to $26 for 1-month-olds. Some doctors said they'd have to cut back on serving KanCare patients.  Hamdorf said $70 will be the lowest rate for future visits, with additional fees for each of the formerly bundled services. But the $70 rate is still low compared to surrounding states, he said.  Hamdorf will consider recommending that the new administration of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly, who takes office next month, raise rates to about $110 for visits.  "The last thing we want to do is underpay our pediatricians," Hamdorf said.

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Kansas Cuts Fine Against Hog Farmer for Unapproved Building

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have slashed a fine against a northwest Kansas swine operation for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment slashed to $34,000 the fine levied for building confined feeding facilities in Norton and Phillips counties without permits and for ignoring the state's cease-and-desist orders to halt the work. A pair of consent agreements covering Rolling Hills Pork and Old Stone Pork dismissed a majority of the original $147,000 fine imposed in January, the department said. KDHE can demand payment of up to $25,000 from Rolling Hills Pork and as much as $21,000 from Old Stone Pork if the businesses again violate state law before October 2020.

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Judge Delays Trial for Online Gamer in Deadly Kansas Hoax

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed the trial of an online gamer charged with a hoax that ultimately led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man. The attorney for 18-year-old Casey Viner of North College Hill, Ohio, asked for more time to complete plea negotiations. The judge on Tuesday set a new trial for Feb. 12. Viner had faced trial in January on charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts. Viner allegedly became upset over a $1.50 bet while playing online a Call of Duty WWII video game with 20-year-old Shane Gaskill of Wichita. Prosecutors say Viner then asked Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles to "swat" Gaskill at a Wichita address. Swatting is sometimes used by gamers to send first responders to an opponent's address.

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Prairie Village Passes Ordinance to Shield LGBTQ Residents

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — The Prairie Village City Council has approved an ordinance that shields LGBTQ individuals from many types of discrimination within the city. The council's unanimous approval on Monday night came after more than three months of sometimes contentious public debate on the issue. The Kansas City Star reports that the measure bans discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity when it comes to housing, employment or receiving public services from stores, restaurants or other businesses. The City Prosecutor's office will investigate discrimination claims, with possible fines up to $1,000 per violation. The ordinance doesn't apply to religious institutions or non-profit private clubs. City officials in Mission and Merriam are expected to vote soon on similar antidiscrimination ordinances.

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Man Who Killed 3-Year-Old Kansas Boy Given Lengthy Sentence

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Kansas man has been sentenced to 109 years and six months in prison for abusing and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old son, whose body was found encased in concrete in the garage of a Wichita rental home they had lived in.  Stephen Bodine was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2017 killing of Evan Brewer. He was sentenced Monday.  Prosecutors say that Bodine and Evan's mother, 37-year-old Miranda Miller, tortured the boy for months before his death, including chaining him naked in a basement and forcing him to stand in a corner for hours.  Miller pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder and other charges. Her plea deal required her to testify against Bodine. She is due to be sentenced in January.

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Kansas City Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Fatal Shooting

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the shotgun killing of another man.  Kevin Michael Moore was sentenced earlier this month for the January shooting death of Jacob Wood in Gladstone.  The Kansas City Star reports prosecutors said Moore drove to a Gladstone house after he called a woman and overheard Wood yelling at her. He was armed with a shotgun when he confronted Wood.  The woman said she heard a gunshot and saw Wood fall. She said Moore ran out of the house and drove away.  Moore claimed he shot Wood in self-defense after Wood confronted him.

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Sentencing Delayed for Man Convicted of Eudora Bar Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Douglas County judge is weighing the sentence for a man convicted in a fatal shooting outside a Eudora bar.  Judge Peggy Kittel was scheduled to sentence 37-year-old Danny Queen on Monday for the death of 32-year-old Bo Hopson but instead took the matter under advisement.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Queen was convicted August 1 of second-degree murder after Hopson was shot outside the D-Dubs Bar and Grill. Both men are from Eudora.  Hopson was working security at the bar when Queen was thrown out. While bar patrons tried to calm him down, Queen pulled out a handgun and shot Hopson.  Queen was also convicted of attempted second-degree murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say he tried to shoot two other bar patrons but his gun jammed.

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Remains Identified as Wichita Man Missing Since May 2017

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Human remains found in Wichita have been identified as a man who was reported missing more than a year ago.  A Kansas hunter found the bones last month in south Wichita.  Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson said Monday the remains were those of 56-year-old Donald Cook, of Wichita. He was reported missing on May 15, 2017.  The Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center identified the remains.  The investigation is continuing.

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Man Who Worked with Disabled Kids Charged in Child Porn Case

PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who worked at a center for children with developmental disabilities pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.  Federal prosecutors say William Bresee, of Fontana, pleaded guilty Monday to possession of child pornography and three counts of distribution of child pornography.  Bresee worked an overnight shift at Lakemary Center in Paola. Prosecutors say Bresee admitted that federal agents downloaded child pornography from his computer at work after investigators traced child pornography to a computer IP address at the center.  His sentencing is scheduled for March 4.

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Suspect Killed, Officer Wounded in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a suspect has been killed after wounding an officer in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police Chief Terry Zeigler says the shooting happened Sunday night when officers responded to an indecent exposure call.  Police said in a news release Monday that a man at the house, 46-year-old Richard Johnson, died after being shot by an officer.  Two officers responded to the call and Johnson was able to get a gun from one of the officers. Police say during the ensuing struggle, Johnson fired a shot and a second officer returned fire.  The officer who was shot suffered non-life threatening injuries.

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Troopers Shoot Teen Who Attacks Woman, Flees on Horseback

SMITH CENTER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say investigators shot and wounded a 15-year-old after he attacked a woman, fled on horseback and then fired on law enforcement in Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says Smith County sheriff's deputies responded to a rural home on Saturday where a 66-year-old woman reported being restrained, beaten and choked. She was taken to a hospital. The bureau says the teen fled on horseback. Kansas Highway Patrol troopers later found the armed teen and spent a few hours trying to apprehend him. Investigators say the teen fired at troopers, and two of the troopers returned fire, striking the teen. He was flown to a Nebraska hospital. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says he remained hospitalized Tuesday in serious but stable condition. No law enforcement officers were hurt.

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Wichita Man Convicted in Drug Deal Shooting Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita man has been convicted in the deadly shooting of another man during a drug deal in a mobile home park.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 29-year-old Keeshaun Milo is scheduled to be sentenced next month for first-degree murder in the death of Michael Hamilton. The 45-year-old was shot in December 2016 in his residence and died at a hospital.  Court records say marijuana had been brought to Hamilton's home to be sold to him. Police said a fight broke out before shots were fired. Prosecutors say Milo pulled the trigger. Another suspect also was arrested in the shooting.

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Security Firm with Guards Facing Murder Charges May Close

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas security company says it may go out of business because of licensing problems that began when two of its employees were charged with fatally shooting a man outside a Missouri bar.  The Kansas City Star reports that the latest blow to Overland Park-based Force One Security is the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners voting Monday to deny its appeal of a license revocation. It mostly does business in Missouri.  After the two guards were charged in July with leaving their post to investigate a wreck and killing a motorist, the company was placed on probation for five years and fined $5,000. The board then revoked the company's license to operate in Kansas City in September because two of its employees failed their firearm qualification test.

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Man Sentenced for Role in Drug Ring Run from Barbershop

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old man who was part of a drug ring that operated out of a barbershop has been sentenced to four years and four months in federal prison. Jason Bell, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, was sentenced Tuesday for his role in the $4 million drug ring in Kansas City, Kansas. He admitted he was part of a ring that operated out of Cocoliso's Barbershop, which is five blocks from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department headquarters. The U.S. Attorney's office said in a news release that Bell sold thousands of dollars of methamphetamine to undercover investigators before he was arrested at the barbershop. Bell worked at the barbershop, which was co-owned by his co-defendant, Edwin Pacheco. Pacheco is awaiting sentencing in the case.

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Kansas Wants to Charge $50 Fee at New State Park

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wants to charge $50 a day for access to fragile rock formations at the state's newest park.  The department is proposing a $50 permit for anyone who wants "backcountry access" in the Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in Logan County, which is expected to open next year, the Wichita Eagle reported. The fee aims to preserve the rare geological attraction that features the state's largest Niobrara chalk formation, according to department officials.  But the park's landowner, The Nature Conservancy in Kansas, hasn't approved the permit. The conservation nonprofit said it's committed to keeping park access affordable.  "We have not yet agreed to special access permits or associated fees and plan to continue to work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to ensure all fees are reasonable," the group posted on Facebook last week.  In 2016, the conservancy purchased 330 acres, which included Little Jerusalem, from a family that had owned the land for at least five generations. The conservancy agreed to make Little Jerusalem part of the state park system, in keeping with the wishes of the land's former owner.  While the conservancy retains ownership of the land, Kansas' parks department will manage the rock formations, which hold fossils and unique ecosystems.  Gerald Lauber, chair of the parks department's commission that voted on the fee last week, said parts of the "park can't withstand unfettered access." The department wants to use the access permit to regulate the area and pay for staff to monitor visitors, ensuring there's no damage to the rocks.  Park staff will act as guides for visitors who pay for the permit, said Linda Craghead, assistant secretary for the state's parks department.  "It's a guided tour that will go into the belly of the badlands," Craghead said. "If they want to just come in and walk around and see the broad view of the badlands, no extra cost."

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Man Sentenced in Conspiracy That Included 27 Robberies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 24-year-old Missouri man was sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole for participating in a conspiracy involving at least 27 armed robberies, which ended when police fatally shot one suspect. Deonte Collins-Abbott, of Grandview, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court. He admitted to committing eight armed robberies in February and March 2016. Collins-Abbott said he and co-conspirators robbed businesses in Blue Springs, Independence, North Kansas City, Raytown, Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. In March 2016, Collins-Abbott and two other men robbed a Walgreens in Blue Springs, Missouri. Collins-Abbott and Jermon Seals, of Shawnee, Kansas, were confronted by police when they left the store. Police say Seals was shot when he pointed a gun toward officers. Three other men are awaiting sentencing in the case.

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Kansas, Duke, Tennessee Remain 1-2-3 in Men's AP Top 25

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Kansas didn't get the chance to hold onto its PREseason No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 very long, even as an unbeaten team. But the Jayhawks are sticking around this time.  KU sat atop Monday's latest men's college basketball poll for a second straight week. That didn't happen earlier this season, when Duke jumped Kansas to take No. 1 in the first regular-season poll after a dominating romp against Kentucky despite the fact the Jayhawks had beaten a top-10 Michigan State team.  The Jayhawks (9-0) spent four weeks at No. 2, including one in which Gonzaga hurdled them for No. 1 after beating the Blue Devils in the Maui Invitational championship game. But Kansas reclaimed the top spot last week after Gonzaga's loss to Tennessee and stayed there after beating reigning national champion Villanova 74-71 at home.  It marked Kansas' fifth victory by six or fewer points this year, including an overtime win against now-No. 3 Tennessee on Nov. 23.

Kansas, Duke and Tennessee were 1-2-3 for the second straight week, with the Jayhawks earning 56 of 65 first-place votes to stay firmly in place. The Blue Devils got five first-place votes to stay at No. 2, while the Volunteers had two.  Michigan and Virginia each claimed one first-place vote, helping them climb into the top five.  Among that quintet, Tennessee is at its highest spot since reaching No. 1 in February 2008 while Michigan has its highest ranking since February 2013.

The rest of the top 10 featured Nevada at No. 6, followed by Auburn, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Michigan State.

Kansas State and Syracuse fell out of the poll. They were both tied with Indiana at No. 25 last week — the first three-way tie in the AP Top 25 since three teams shared the No. 13 ranking in 1991.  The Wildcats beat Georgia State in their only game last week and were among the leading vote-getters just outside the rankings. The Orange lost at home to Old Dominion.

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