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Headlines for Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Suspect Dies in Gunbattle with Kansas Law Enforcement Officers

WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a carjacking suspect has been killed in a gunbattle with law enforcement in Kansas.  
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the shooting happened Monday night in Wamego. Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Adam Winters says the suspect in the carjacking was spotted riding a bicycle with a gun.  Officers tried to make contact with the man as he tried to steal another vehicle and gunfire erupted a short time later. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. His name wasn't immediately released.  The KBI says five officers were involved and that they worked for the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office, the Wamego Police Department and the St. George Police Department. None of them were injured, although one was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

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Topeka Drinking Water Violates EPA Contamination Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Utilities officials say Topeka drinking water is out of compliance with a federal standard for contaminants. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the drinking water is still considered safe despite having exceeded an Environmental Protection Agency standard for the presence of haloacetic acids in one location. City utilities director Bob Sample says the EPA notified Topeka this month that recent testing showed the drinking water at one site exceeded standards for the preceding three-month period by containing an average of 60.6 micrograms per liter of haloacetic acids. The EPA allows a maximum of 60 micrograms per liter. The city is mailing out a letter this week to Topeka's 57,000 homes and businesses saying they don't need to take corrective action like switching to bottled water. The city expects to resolve the issue within about six months.

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Report: Nearly Half of Parched Kansas Wheat Crop Struggling

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report estimates that nearly half of the winter wheat crop in Kansas is struggling for lack of adequate moisture.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 49 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition. It rated the remaining crop as 39 percent fair, 11 percent good and 1 percent excellent.  That assessment comes amid estimates that topsoil moisture supplies are running short to very short across 74 percent of Kansas. Subsoil moisture levels were faring only slightly better with 71 percent rated as short to very short.

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KanCare Leaves Seniors Struggling with Medicaid Coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for seniors in Kansas say that several changes made to streamline the Medicaid application and renewal process have actually made it difficult for the state's elderly population.  The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas moved to a new computer system in 2015 for applying for Kansas Medicaid, otherwise known as KanCare. The state then funneled applications and annual reviews previously handled in regional offices into a singles "KanCare Clearinghouse" in Topeka.  Since then, the number of seniors covered by KanCare for in-home nursing help has decreased, as well as the number being covered for nursing home beds.  The director of the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging says that seniors get frustrated trying to get onto Medicaid, and eventually become defeated by the process and give up.

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Police Call Off Park Searches for Missing Wichita Boy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they will stop searching city parks for a missing 5-year-old boy unless new information comes in. Law enforcement officers, using dogs, horses, drones and divers, have searched four parks since Lucas Hernandez was reported missing Feb. 17. Police have not said what led them to search the parks. Officer Charley Davidson said Tuesday no further searches are planned but police detectives are going through information they have already received. Police are asking the public to continue to provide any tips. The Wichita Eagle reports police aren't discouraging citizen searchers from looking for evidence in the parks but ask that people not disturb anything that might be evidence. Lucas's stepmom, Emily Glass, was charged Monday with one count of endangering a child. She remains jailed on $50,000 bond.

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Lawrence Reducing Zebra Mussels in Water Transmission Main

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city officials say new practices significantly reduced the number of invasive zebra mussels in a line that brings water from Clinton Lake to a water treatment plant. Last spring, workers found a zebra mussel colony that extended 2,000 feet within the pipe. The city voted to buy $80,000 worth of the copper ion generation equipment to control the mussels. The equipment passes an electrical current through a copper plate, releasing positively charged copper ions that discourage the mussels from attaching to the line's walls. The Lawrence Journal-World reports if left unchecked, the mussels can choke off the pipes and require costly repairs. Utilities Treatment Manager Steven Craig says the treatment process is going well and no mussels have been found at the plant itself.

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Man Killed in Kansas Shooting That Injured 7 Others Was 27

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have identified the man killed in a Kansas City, Kansas, shooting that left seven others injured. The man was identified as 27-year-old Kevin Forman, of Kansas City, Missouri. He died at a hospital after the February 17 shooting at a packed venue for a local musician. Police say they believe the shooting is gang related. Police say the injuries of the seven who were injured weren't life threatening.

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2 People Killed in Northeast Kansas Fire Identified

NETAWAKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified two people killed in a northeast Kansas house fire. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that 55-year-old Richard Willits and 47-year-old Denise Willits died in the Feb. 16 blaze at a home in Netawaka. The house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. The bodies were found inside the home after the blaze was under control. The sheriff's office and the Kansas Fire Marshal's Office are investigating the cause of the fire.

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Missouri Supreme Court to Hear Wind Transmission Line Case
 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District has sent a case over a stalled multi-state transmission line to the state Supreme Court. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the 780-mile Grain Belt Express wind energy line has been held up since the Missouri Public Service Commission said last year that all counties along its path must agree to the project. Presiding Judge Lisa Page wrote Tuesday that the commission erred when it said it could not authorize the project. The court ordered the case sent to the state Supreme Court. The line would run from wind farms in western Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would connect with a power grid for eastern states. All the other states on the route have approved the $2.3 billion project.

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Kansas Man Sues Vape Shop for E-Cigarette Battery Explosion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man is suing a Wichita vaping shop after he says a spare battery for his e-cigarette exploded in his pants pocket. The Wichita Eagle reports that Daniel Anderson filed a lawsuit Feb. 6 in Sedgwick County against Big E's Vapor Shop. The lawsuit alleges Anderson was carrying the lithium ion battery, his car keys and coins in his pants pocket in February 2016. The touching metal items caused a short to the outside of the battery, which then overheated and exploded. The suit says Anderson had chemical and thermal burns to his left leg and hands from the explosion. Anderson says the shop should've known the battery's defect and failed to warn customers. Big E's owners said last week the company has seen the lawsuit but declined to comment.

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Police Search for 2 Rape Suspects in Manhattan 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police are asking for the public's help to find two people suspected of raping a woman at a Manhattan bar. Police said Tuesday a 24-year-old woman was raped Saturday at O'Malley's bar. Investigators say the woman was in a restroom when the two suspects came in and attacked her. The department is asking anyone who was at O'Malley's Saturday night who has pictures or videos from inside the bar to contact authorities. Information can be offered directly to the police department or through the Crime Stoppers hotline.

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Oklahoma Man Accused of Debit Card Scam in Nebraska, Kansas

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Oklahoma City man jailed in Nebraska on state charges alleging that he tried to trick a credit union into giving him a $4,000 cash advance now faces a raft of federal charges accusing him of carrying out several other scams. Prosecutors allege in court documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Omaha that Sherman Clemons presented bogus prepaid debit cards and identification at credit unions and banks in Bellevue, Lincoln and Seward, Nebraska, and in Wichita, Kansas. The institutions suffered $25,000 in actual losses, and potential losses in Clemons' thwarted attempts added up to $47,000, the federal documents said. When the bank or credit union tellers determined the cards he presented weren't sufficiently funded for the cash advances he sought, he'd direct them to call a phone number on the back of the cards to get funding confirmation, according to the documents. The calls were actually routed to an unknown conspirator who lied to the tellers about the cards having enough funding for the advances. Clemons, 35, faces seven federal charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud and bank and credit union fraud. The documents don't list the name of an attorney representing him in the federal case. He has pleaded not guilty to Nebraska charges of identity theft and attempted theft by deception and is scheduled to stand trial April 24.

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Child Porn Found on Kansas Teacher's Electronic Devices

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Court records say more than 250 images and videos of child pornography were found on the electronic devices seized from a fired Kansas middle school teacher and coach. New details about 37-year-old Cody Chitwood were included in the arrest affidavit that The Wichita Eagle obtained. Chitwood was charged earlier this month with 11 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Derby school district spokeswoman Katie Carlson said school board members voted 6-0 Monday to fire Chitwood "effective immediately." Chitwood was hired by the district in 2004. He taught special education at Derby Middle School and coached football, track and girls' basketball. Chitwood told investigators that "when you're on the internet you see a lot of things" but added that he "never knowingly nor willing traded child pornography on any website."

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Kansas Man Gets 3 Life Sentences for Child Molestation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 35-year-old Kansas man is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced for molesting three young girls.  A Jackson County, Missouri, judge sentenced Jesus Garcia, of Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday to three life sentences, plus 15 years, all to be served consecutively.  Garcia was convicted in December of statutory rape of a victim younger than 12, child molestation, attempted statutory rape and statutory sodomy of a victim younger than 14.  Court documents say the mother of two of the girls told a social worker in 2016 at Children's Mercy Hospital that Garcia had been sexually abusing them from 2014 to 2015.

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Kobach Invites NRA to Hold Convention in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is urging the National Rifle Association to bring its annual convention to Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the Republican gubernatorial candidate tweeted over the weekend that he's reached out to the NRA to urge the group to bring the gathering to Kansas. Kobach earlier tweeted that "Kansas is the most pro-gun state in America." This year's NRA Annual Meeting of Members is being held May 5 in Dallas. But the city's mayor pro tem said last week that the organization should reconsider coming to Dallas after the February 14 deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school. Kobach wrote in a column last week advocating for arming teachers "provided they obtain a concealed carry permit and take appropriate training."

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No Charges in Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Kansas

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have determined that no charges will be filed in a fatal officer-involved shooting in southwest Kansas.  Officers fatally shot 29-year-old Cristino Umana-Garcia last October in rural Finney County. Undersheriff John Andrews says officers shot Umana-Garcia after he became aggressive and threatened them.  Garden City Police Chief Michael Utz said Monday he found the officers didn't violate local policies and procedures, federal law or state law.  The Haskell County Attorney says all reports from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and video footage from the case showed no charges were warranted against the two officers involved in the shooting.  Authorities say all available evidence suggests that both officers reasonably believe that they were in danger when they fired the shots.

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Lawsuit: Same Kansas Trooper Involved in 2 Fatal Pursuits

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The family of a woman killed by a driver fleeing from a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper is suing the state of Kansas. The lawsuit alleges the same trooper involved in the 2016 chase that led to the death of 66-year-old Janet Elmer was involved in another fatal pursuit on the same Kansas City, Kansas street in 2007. The Kansas City Star reports David Wayne Colvin fled when the trooper tried to pull him over, eventually hitting a car Eimer was in. Colvin is awaiting sentencing for involuntary manslaughter. The lawsuit, filed Friday, says the same trooper, who is not named, started another chase in 2007 on the same street. The driver in that chase struck a car, killing 38-year-old Kristin Saragusa. A highway patrol spokesman says the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

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Colyer, Kobach Jockey to Become New Face of Kansas GOP

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The fight to become the next face of the Republican Party in Kansas is heating up following the departure of Governor Sam Brownback.  The Kansas City Star reports that Secretary of State Kris Kobach has long been seen as the GOP front-runner. But the man he wants to replace, Governor Jeff Colyer, is trying to change that and is making strides on the fundraising front.  Campaign finance reports from 2017 showed that Colyer had far outraised Kobach, even after Donald Trump Jr. held an event for Kobach's campaign.  Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University, citing a recent poll, said the two are "battling it out." Others seeking to become the party's torch-bearer include previous nominee Jim Barnett, former state lawmaker Mark Hutton and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer.

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Kansas Doctor Fined After Improperly Prescribing Opiates

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas medical board has fined a doctor $2,500 and put his license on probation after an investigation revealed improper and potentially dangerous opioid prescribing.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas Board of Healing Arts released its order this month saying its investigation into Overland Park doctor Joseph Baker began after a complaint from a pharmacist.  Investigators found that Baker violated guidelines in prescribing controlled substances to at least seven patients in two years.  Baker acknowledges how much he prescribed but says the patients "tolerate it extremely well."  He currently works at Vein Clinics of America. The company's national medical director says the incidents outlined in the board's order happened before he was hired, but that the company is supporting him during his probation.

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Changes to State Criminal Registry Under Consideration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Sentencing Commission is considering ways for the state to reduce the number of people listed on criminal registries in the state.  Kansas News Service reports nearly 20,000 people are listed in a database that provides names and addresses of people who have committed a variety of crimes.  Supporters of reducing the number of people on the list say it has become so large it is almost unusable. They also note the list groups people who have served time for violent crimes such as murder with others who have relatively minor drug offenses.  Law enforcement agencies want to the keep the registry as it is. They contend it helps people know if someone with a criminal record is living in their neighborhoods or near their schools.

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Pratt Man Sentenced to Nearly 19 Years for Sex Crimes 

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old Pratt man has been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison for sex crimes involving minors. Matt Gamblin was sentenced Monday for aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Gamblin pleaded guilty in January. The crimes, involving minors, took place in October 2014 and between January and May 2015. The Pratt Daily Tribune reports assistant attorney general Lyndzie Carter said during the sentencing hearing that despite his guilty plea, Gamblin continued to say he was innocent and blames his wife for wanting revenge against him.

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Rare Identical Triplets Born at Kansas City hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas couple is celebrating after become parents to a rare set of identical triplets. Dr. Josh Petrikin says the boys are "doing wonderfully" while under observation in Truman Medical Center's neonatal intensive care in Kansas City, Missouri. Researchers say identical triplets occur only about once per 20 million to 30 million deliveries.  The boys — Ron, Elkanah, and Abishai — were born Thursday.  The Kansas City Star reports their parents, Nicole and Caleb Choge, already have a 2-year-old son. The father says he, his wife and their toddler prayed for another child and that "God answered everybody's prayer: one, two and three."  Until recently, the family lived in Kenya, where Caleb Choge is from and was working as a pilot. They moved to Ottawa, Kansas, to be closer to Nicole Choge's family.
 
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