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Headlines for Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter Storm Dumps 2 to 14 Inches, Some Kansas Schools Remain Closed for 2nd Day

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A winter snowstorm closed several universities and school districts in Kansas on Monday as crews worked to clear roads.  A number of Kansas schools canceled classes again today (TUE).  The National Weather Service says the storm dumped from 2 to 14 inches from late Saturday through Sunday across a large swath of the state. As the storm hit, Governor Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency.  The Kansas Department of Transportation was reporting several road closures Monday, mostly in the extreme northeast corner of the state. But crews had managed to clear Interstate 70 enough to reopen the major east-west route.  Some government offices in Topeka opened late Monday.  Several universities and colleges either called off classes entirely on Monday or delayed start times.  


Mother, Boyfriend Charged in Malnutrition Death of Toddler in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A mother and her boyfriend are charged with the malnutrition death of a 2-year-old in a rat infested Kansas City home.  Prosecutors announced Monday that 25 -year-old Saritza Serrano and 24-year-old Ruben Yepez-Ruiz are charged with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death. No attorneys are listed for them in online court records.  Charging documents say emergency crews responded to their home on November 16. They found the boy's body in feces-covered bedroom with a door that latched on the outside.  Serrano told police the boy had been sick for three weeks but that she hadn't taken him to a doctor. She said she fed him milk through a bottle. Yepez-Ruiz said he hadn't seen the child in several weeks, although they lived in the same home together.


Kansas Democrat Backs Nancy Pelosi Bid for U.S. House Speaker

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids says she plans to cast one of her first votes for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.  In an announcement posted on her campaign website, the newly elected congresswoman also said she planned to vote for "several younger and newer members" for other leadership roles in the Democratic Caucus.  Davids says no one else has stood up to challenge Pelosi. She adds Kansans didn't elect her to go to Washington to play political games and take symbolic protest votes.  Her announcement says the best way to move forward is to unite behind the speaker who will stand up to threats to health care access and to democracy.  She says she appreciates that Pelosi has embraced proposed new rules that will begin to make Congress work better.


Man Shot and Killed in Kansas City, Kansas, Home

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting in a Kansas City, Kansas, home.  KMBC-TV reports that police responded to a 911 call Monday morning. The victim had been shot multiple times and died of his injuries.  Police say a woman who was inside the home at the time of the shooting is working with investigators to put together a description of the suspect. Police say he fled from the seen on foot.


Sedgwick County Deputy Shoots, Wounds Man Firing a Handgun

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a deputy shot and wounded a man who was firing a handgun near the Wichita Department for Children and Families. Sheriff's spokesman Tim Myers said the man shot on Tuesday is hospitalized in serious condition. Myers said the man apparently was homeless and may have been intoxicated. He says the man refused to follow orders and was shot when he pointed the handgun in the direction of a Wichita police lieutenant and two sheriff's deputies. One of the deputies shot the man. Officers responded after receiving several 911 calls reporting a shooting near the DCF building. Myers says investigators don't know why the man was shooting or where he got the gun. No one else was hurt.


Police: 74-Year-Old Woman Fatally Shoots Possible Burglar

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Leavenworth police say a 74-year-old woman fatally shot a man who she thought was trying to burglarize her home.  Police Chief Pat Kitchens says when officers responded to the woman's call early Saturday they found the 41-year-old suspect, Ralph Byrd Jr., of Leavenworth, suffering from a gunshot wound.  The Leavenworth Times reports Byrd was pronounced dead at the scene.  Kitchens says the woman suffered a "medical event" after the shooting and was taken to a hospital but was expected to survive.  Kitchens says the focus of the investigation will be to determine if Byrd was committing a burglary when he was shot.


Kansas Company Admits Feed Truck Caused Amtrak Derailment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The upcoming trial over the Kansas derailment of an Amtrak passenger train has been cancelled after Cimarron Crossing Feeders admitted its runaway feed truck damaged the railroad track.  Trial had been scheduled to start next week to determine who is responsible for the March 2016 derailment of Amtrak's Southwest Chief City near Cimarron, about 20 miles west of Dodge. More than two dozen people were injured.  A federal judge summarily found earlier this month that there was no legal fault on the part of Amtrak or BNSF, which owns the track. That left only Cimarron as potentially liable for damages at trial.  Cimarron stipulated in a filing Wednesday its employee was negligent in not setting the brake on an unattended truck, allowing it to roll downhill and strike the track.


65 at the University of Kansas to Take Retirement Incentive

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say 65 faculty members at the University of Kansas are expected to take an early retirement incentive.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the school announced the program in August as a way to help deal with a mandated $20 million budget-cutting initiative for the Lawrence campus. Tenured and tenure-track faculty had until last week to decide whether to participate.  By the time of retirement, participants had to be 62 years old. The provost office said in a news release that their median salary is $100,000. The most retirements are coming from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with 28, followed by the School of Engineering, with 10.  The position may be eliminated, held open for a year or two or filled by new tenure-track junior faculty or instructors.


Man Shot by Officer After Dragging 2 Officers in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a man was shot by a law enforcement officer as his vehicle was dragging two officers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the officers, one from Topeka and one from the Kansas Highway Patrol, were not seriously injured. Police Lt. Andrew Beightel says the man was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries. Beightel said the two officers tried to pull over an SUV while conducting a traffic stop but the car took off, dragging the officers. One of the officers shot and injured the driver. Everyone in the suspect's vehicle fled but were arrested later.


Inmate's Death at Leavenworth Prison Being Investigated

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at a privately-run federal prison in Leavenworth. The Kansas City Star reports 29-year-old Dillon Lane Reed died on Thanksgiving at the Leavenworth Detention Center. Reed's attorney said he was notified of his client's death but was not told the cause of death or any circumstances. Reed was being on federal drug charges. The prison is operated by CoreCivic, a Tennessee-based company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed Reed's death and said an autopsy was conducted. The agency contracts with the company to house federal prisoners awaiting trial and sentencing. Leavenworth police are conducting the death investigation.


Pipeline Builder Asks Judge to Allow Pre-Construction Work

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline is asking a Montana judge to change his order blocking the project so that pre-construction work can continue.  Attorneys for TransCanada will argue on Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Brian Morris should clarify or amend his ruling to say the injunction does not apply to activities such as finalizing contracts, purchasing materials, conducting land surveys and discussing federal permits.  On November 8, Morris blocked TransCanada's permit to build the pipeline from Alberta's oil sands through a half-dozen U.S. states to the Gulf of Mexico.  The judge had ruled the Trump administration had not fully considered the environmental effects of the pipeline.  TransCanada's attorneys say the company wants to continue preparing for construction while it considers an appeal.


State Senator's Election to Lt. Governor Leaves His Senate Seat Open

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A small group of Kansas Democrats will meet Saturday to pick a new state senator for a Wichita area district after Lynn Rogers was elected lieutenant governor.  Rogers will serve as second-in-command under governor-elect Laura Kelly, leaving an opening in the senate, where he had represented the 25th District. The Wichita Eagle reports that the only candidate to announce plans to seek the seat is lawyer Kelly Schodorf.  She is the daughter of former Sen. Jean Schodorf, who held the seat from 2001 to 2013. She said she thinks she would be the best candidate to keep the seat for the Democrats in 2020 because of her name recognition and campaigning experience.  She said her top legislative priorities are ensuring that schools receive adequate funding and expanding Medicaid coverage.


Kansas Sees Growing Urban-Rural Divide in Midterm Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hasn't escaped the growing urban-rural political divide that is playing out nationally, especially after Democratic voters in the state's urban centers fueled Laura Kelly's victory over Republican Kris Kobach in the November governor's race.  The urban-rural divide could make it easier for Democrats to control the governor's office or hold a congressional seat and could help Republicans fortify their hold on rural areas, the Kansas City Star reported.  Ahead of the 2018 midterm election, the percentage of Kansas Democrats registered to vote grew for the first time in years. But Kansas won't have any Democratic state lawmakers west of Hutchinson after several rural Democrats lost their races.

The urban-rural divide has grown gradually in both Kansas and across the county over the last couple of decades, said University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller. The politics and size of the divide "have finally gotten to the point where they're becoming starkly obvious on maps," he said.  The few blue counties in central and eastern Kansas, within a sea of red, were able to push Kelly to victory by 5 percentage points, or about 46,000 votes. Kelly won nine Kansas counties but none west of Wichita.  

Kelly received 86,000 more votes in the state's 10 most-populated counties than the party's 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Paul Davis. Kobach had just about 7,100 more votes in those counties than the 2014 Republican who was seeking re-election, Sam Brownback.  "We've been reaching out to urban voters for years. That's been a big part of what we do as a party," said Kelly Arnold, the outgoing chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. "But it has changed. It is something that as we move forward we need to make sure we're spending enough time on the issues that are important to each district, whether that be a rural district or an urban district."


Wichita State President Hospitalized with Chronic Lung Issue

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University President John Bardo is hospitalized and is not expected to return to campus until next semester. University officials announced Tuesday that Bardo, who is 70, is being treated for a chronic lung condition. Bardo said in social media posts that his doctors say he will need several weeks of convalescence. He says he's in good spirits and is looking forward to being back on campus in the new year. University spokesman Lou Heldman said Bardo was admitted to the hospital just before Thanksgiving. He says Bardo has been able to communicate with administrators about university issues. Provost Rick Muma will fill in for Bardo at commencement ceremonies Dec. 16 and other meetings Bardo would usually attend.


Self-Defense Cited in Shooting of Teen During Fireworks War

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man is claiming self-defense after he was charged with wounding a 17-year-old whose friends were shooting fireworks at a Lawrence apartment building. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 20-year-old Rashan Gill is scheduled to be tried in January on one count of criminal discharge of a firearm. His attorney is citing the state's "stand your ground" law. An affidavit in the case says the girl waited in a car on July 5 while her friends shot Roman candles at the apartment. The friends said that at one point a man ran out of the building toward them, so they shot a Roman candle at him. The victim told police she was shot in the torso and arm as they started driving away. The shooter was later identified as Gill.


Washburn Officer Loses Certification over Intoxication

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state commission has revoked the law enforcement certification of a former officer with the Washburn University Department after he responded to a call while intoxicated. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Benjamin Bemus only worked for the university for about two weeks this spring. Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training says in its revocation order that issues arose in May after a co-worker called Bemus to tell him he was late for a shift. The order says Bemus told the co-worker he thought his shift started two hours later. He then headed to work. While on a call, other officers noticed an alcohol odor. The commission said "performing his duties as a law enforcement officer while under the influence of alcohol demonstrates a lack of good moral character."


Missing Kansas Woman Found Dead

CAWKER CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northern Kansas woman who had been missing since her car became stuck in a blizzard has been found dead. Authorities said the body of 37-year-old Tanya Eshbaugh, of Cawker City, was found Tuesday in a field near Waconda Lake, about three miles from her car. Mitchell County Sheriff Tony Perez told KAKE-TV that he thinks Eshbaugh got disoriented and didn't know which way she was going when she left her car. Eshbaugh called her work on Sunday to report that she couldn't make it because of a blizzard and was turning around to go home. The search began when she didn't show up for work on Monday.

12:25 p.m.
CAWKER CITY, Kan. (AP) — Volunteers and law enforcement were searching Tuesday for a woman whose car was found abandoned in a snowy ditch in rural north-central Kansas after a blizzard. Mitchell County sheriff's Deputy Jason Miner said there was "zero visibility" Sunday morning when 37-year-old Tanya Eshbaugh called her work to report she couldn't get there and was turning around to go home. After she didn't show up for work on Monday, authorities started looking for her. They went to her apartment in Cawker City and found her car missing. Miner said the Kansas Highway Patrol had tagged the vehicle several hours earlier after finding it in a ditch along U.S. 24 near Glen Elder State Park. The sheriff's department said she is believed to have left her vehicle after it got stuck and walked off in an unknown direction. The vehicle is surrounded by drifting snow and there are no footprints, Miner said. National Weather Service Meteorologist Kevin Skow said the area where she disappeared received from 5 to 7 inches of snow. The storm temporarily shut down Interstate 70, closed dozens of school districts and several college campuses in Kansas. As the storm hit, Governor Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency. Miner said the search for her is focused on a 3-mile radius around where her car was found. Miner said the search crew of about 20 people also is looking in the area where her cell phone last pinged. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call law enforcement. She is described as having hair that is dyed a red-purple color. The sheriff's department said she may be wearing a Nebraska Cornhusker jacket.


Kansas Recalls 731 License Plates over Ethnic Slur Complaint

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is recalling hundreds of vehicle license plates on the streets containing the "JAP" lettering in the wake of complaints that it is an ethnic slur offensive to Japanese Americans. The Kansas Department of Revenue said there are 731 active registrations containing that random letter combination on standard license plates. Vehicle owners were sent a letter dated Tuesday asking them to return the plate to their county vehicle office within 30 days for replacement at no cost. Plates not replaced within that period will be identified in the state's system and will be replaced at their annual renewal. The issue arose last year when Keith Kawamoto spotted a car with the Kansas plate in traffic near his home in Culver City, California, and took a photo of it. The 70-year-old California man wrote several letters to Kansas officials, including Governor Jeff Colyer.

"I let them know it is considered a very derogatory racial slur and I don't think it should be allowed anywhere," Kawamoto said.

He got an apology back from the states motor vehicles division, but Kawamoto wanted Kansas to get the plates recalled. Kawamoto's photo of the Kansas plate was first published by the Pacific Citizen , the newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League. When Barbara Johnson, a 67-year-old Japanese-American woman living in Abilene, Kansas, spotted the license plate picture Kawamoto had taken and read the story in the Pacific American it brought back memories of her own childhood.

"It was not a good time to be Japanese because of Pearl Harbor and World War II," she said. "I recall vividly as a child being called 'Jap' — and how it made me feel so small and hurt by being called that."

Johnson knew the license plate wasn't a vanity plate with the offensive slur, and said she thought maybe Kansas officials "just don't know what it means anymore because it was World War II, a couple of generations ago." Together with her husband, Rick, the Kansas couple figured maybe they could do what Kawamoto had not been able to do for the past year from California: get the plates recalled and off the road.

"It was very gratifying to know there is someone in government that was willing to hear our side of the story and to recognize it and to proactively act on it as quickly as it did," Rick Johnson said.

Rachel Whitten, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue said the issue came before the department's review board, which made the decision in late October to pull any current license plates with the "JAP" lettering and restrict its use in future plates.

"We do take these types of complaints very seriously and appreciate that it was brought to our attention," Whitten said.


Report: Adequate Soil Moisture Levels for Kansas Farm Crops

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government snapshot show mostly adequate topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies for Kansas crops.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that about 87 percent of the winter wheat planted in the state this fall has now emerged.  The agency rated winter wheat condition as 9 percent excellent, 37 percent good and 38 percent fair. Just 16 percent was rated as poor or very poor.  Meanwhile, the harvest for other Kansas farm crops is rapidly drawing to a close.  About 94 percent of the corn has been harvested in the state, along with 92 percent of the soybeans and 83 percent of the sorghum. Sunflower harvest is 82 percent finished.  Topsoil moisture supplies are 98 percent adequate to surplus, while subsoil moisture levels are 95 percent adequate to surplus.


President Trump Has Harsh Remarks for GM over Layoffs

DETROIT (AP) — President Donald Trump says his administration and lawmakers are exerting "a lot of pressure" on General Motors in response to its decision to cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and possibly shutter up to five plants.  Trump says he's being very tough on GM chief executive officer Mary Barra. He says he told the company that the U.S. has done a lot for GM and that if its cars aren't selling, the company needs to produce ones that will.  The plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact car is on the possible closure list. Trump says GM needs to "get a car that is selling well and put it back" into the Ohio plant.


Gonzaga Passes Kansas for No. 1 in AP Poll, Duke Drops to No.3

Gonzaga pulled off what some considered impossible, stopping the Duke juggernaut in the Maui Invitational title game without one of its best players. Now the Zags are No. 1 again.  Third in last week's poll , Gonzaga leapfrogged No. 2 Kansas to the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 released Monday. The Zags received 32 first-place votes from a 65-person media panel, edging the Jayhawks by one.  No. 3 Duke received one first-place vote despite losing to Gonzaga in Maui and No. 4 Virginia the other one after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis title.  No. 5 Nevada has its highest ranking ever after winning the Las Vegas Invitational, with Tennessee, Michigan, Auburn, Michigan State and Kentucky rounding out the top 10.  Gonzaga (6-0) is missing do-everything forward Killian Tillie for the first two months of the season because of an ankle injury and was a big underdog heading into the Maui title game last week.

Kansas was the preseason No. 1 until Duke blasted Kentucky in the opener and passed the Jayhawks for No. 1.  Kansas (5-0) has done nothing but win since then yet finds itself looking up at Gonzaga. The Jayhawks beat their second top-10 opponent of the season by holding off No. 6 Tennessee in overtime to win the NIT Season Tip-Off title in New York.


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