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Headlines for Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Kansas Voters to Decide Whether to Promote Kris Kobach

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters will decide whether to promote to governor Kris Kobach, an ally of President Donald Trump, who wants to crack down on immigrants living in the state illegally and resume conservative tax-cutting policies that critics labeled a failure.  Republican Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, says he would slash spending and seek tax cuts like those championed by unpopular former Governor Sam Brownback in 2012-13.  His Democratic opponent, state Senator Laura Kelly, has made her opposition to such tax cuts the centerpiece of her campaign.  A wild card is Independent candidate Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman, who Democrats fear could take enough votes to hand the election to Kobach.  Kansas Democrats are also hoping to flip two GOP held U.S. House seats in the eastern part of the state.

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Kansas Governor's Race Still Close with Voting Underway

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have started casting ballots in the state's closely watched governor's race and in two hotly contested U.S. House seats.  The race for governor between Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly was a toss-up in the campaign's final weekend. Kelly is wooing GOP moderates who are put off by Kobach's hardline stances on issues such as immigration, while Kobach expects his conservative base to turn out to counter enthusiasm on the left. A wild card is Independent candidate Greg Orman.  In eastern Kansas, incumbent Congressman Kevin Yoder is facing a formidable challenge from Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids, who would be the nation's first LGBT Native American in Congress. And Republican Steve Watkins and Democrat Paul Davis are battling for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins.

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Kobach Says Turnout Appears Heavy in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says voter turnout appears to be heavy. Kobach talked to reporters Tuesday in Lecompton as he cast his own ballot for governor. He is running for the seat against Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly. She is wooing GOP moderates who are put off by Kobach's hardline stances on issues such as immigration, while Kobach expects his conservative base to turn out to counter enthusiasm on the left. A wild card is Independent candidate Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman, who Democrats fear could take enough votes to hand the election to Kobach. Lines have been reported in locations that include Salina. Kansas Democrats are also hoping to flip two GOP held U.S. House seats in the eastern part of the state.

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Videos, Photos Banned Inside Ford County Poll

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Media is not being allowed to take photos or videos inside the one polling place in Ford County, which has been the center of a controversy for weeks. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports reporters carrying only notebooks were allowed into the Expo Center outside Dodge City Tuesday. Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox said letting the media take pictures and video would be too disruptive. Bradley Schlozman, an attorney representing Cox, said Kansas law allows the election board to control procedures at polling sites. Max Kautsch, an attorney for the Capital-Journal and the Kansas Press Association, said that law needs to be balanced with rights under the First Amendment. He noted Ford County has allowed photographs in previous elections.

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Volunteers Help Ford County Voters Get to Poll

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Volunteers from across the country are in Dodge City to help voters get to the only voting site after it was moved outside of town. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Matias Rico came from San Diego with his cousin to give rides to anyone who couldn't get to the poll. Volunteers from Manhattan, Kansas City, Missouri, and New York City were among those getting driving people to the site. Three women from Lawrence rented a chartered bus to help with transportation. Ford County received national attention when County Clerk Deborah Cox moved Dodge City's only polling place to the Expo Center because the previous site, the Civic Center, was scheduled to undergo construction. The new site is outside city limits and more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.

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Voter Registrations Surge in Kansas for 2018 Election

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voter registrations have surged this past year heading into the midterm election.  The Kansas Secretary of State's office released the latest numbers Monday showing more than 1.84 million registered voters.  Republicans remain the dominant party with 817,713 registered voters, while Democrats grew their ranks to 463,114. Unaffiliated voters totaled 543,403, while Libertarians totaled 17,618.  A comparison shows the state has added 40,825 people to voter rolls since September 2017.  Kansas appears to be becoming more partisan with the number of unaffiliated voters falling by more than 15,000 in the past year in the state.  Both major parties each added more than 27,000 registered voters to their ranks, with Kansas Republicans having an edge of several hundred voters over Democrats in new and switched registrations over this past year.

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President Trump Closes out Furious Campaign Effort with Missouri Rally

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump closed out his midterm election rallies with one in Missouri that featured conservative stars, Republican hopefuls, favorite Democratic targets, and a little drama.  Joining Trump on stage in the Mississippi River town of Cape Girardeau was native son and radio host Rush Limbaugh plus Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.  Trump's stump speech was interrupted for several minutes Monday night when a woman in the crowd required medical attention. People sang the hymn "Amazing Grace" as she was taken outside.  Trump's Missouri rally was his third of the day and his 11th in a spate of campaigning during which he accused Democrats of planning to ruin the country if they succeed in gaining power in Congress after Tuesday's midterm elections.

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Jury Selection Begins in Lawrence Triple Homicide Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jury selection has begun in the trials of three men accused in a shooting that left three people dead in a popular downtown area of a Kansas college town. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 170 potential jurors showed up Monday as the defense and prosecution begin picking a panel to hear the case against 21-year-old Anthony Roberts Jr., 23-year-old Ahmad Rayton and 20-year-old Dominique McMillon. They were arrested last year in the days after gunfire erupted as people were leaving bars, concerts and other events on the main downtown Lawrence street. Two others were wounded but survived the shooting. Roberts is charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. Rayton faces less serious charges of attempted murder, while the charges against McMillon include aggravated assault.

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Driver Who Brought Immigrants to Kansas Pleads Guilty

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man from Mexico has pleaded guilty to unlawfully driving himself and 10 others people who were in the U.S. illegally from Arizona to Kansas. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Alex They Maya-Dimas pleaded guilty Monday to transporting illegal immigrants. He admitted he was driving the 10 people when he was stopped in Ford County in May. The passengers told investigators Maya-Dimas drove them from Arizona to Kansas City. Sentencing is scheduled for January 24.

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Stolen Lizard Returned to Lawrence Pet Store

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a Lawrence pet store says an allegedly stolen lizard was anonymously returned a day after the store posted security footage of the theft on social media. Pet World owner Sherry Emerson tells the Lawrence Journal-World that a bearded dragon named Clearwater was abducted, but she declined to say when the theft occurred. Emerson on Saturday posted security footage that shows a woman placing the lizard into her purse before walking out of the store with two accomplices. Emerson says the lizard was left at the store's door in the middle of the night Sunday. She says the lizard was rehabilitating at Pet World and not for sale. The Lawrence Police Department says a report hasn't yet been filed for the theft.

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Federal Judge Seeks Cult Leader's Arrest in $8M Judgment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas is seeking the arrest of a cult leader who hasn't complied with court orders related to an $8 million judgment for a woman who said he forced her to work without pay for a decade. Royall Jenkins, who calls himself "Allah on Earth" and "The Supreme Being," leads The Value Creators, formerly known as the United Nation of Islam. In May, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued the $8 million judgment , ruling that the group illegally controlled the woman's romantic relationships and imposed strict discipline, making her work without pay in restaurants and as a maid, cook and childcare provider. Crabtree ordered a warrant for Jenkins arrest on Friday after he failed to provide documents and appear for a court hearing related to that judgment.

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Couple Gets Life Sentences in Torture Killing of Wichita Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A couple has received the maximum sentence for torturing and killing a Kansas man in a crime that the judge called "horrific beyond imagination." Jeff and Heidi Hillard were recently convicted of participating in the November 2016 killing of 33-year-old Scottie Goodpaster Jr. of Wichita. Both were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. Prosecutors say Goodpaster and a woman were kidnapped because of $185 in missing drug money. Goodpaster was attacked at a home in Valley Center with an ax, knife and staple gun, and suffered genital injuries. His body was found hanging from a tree six days later. Jeff Hillard was sentenced to another 27 ½ years for other crimes, while Heidi Hillard received an additional 44 ½ years. Those sentences will run consecutively to the life sentences. Attorneys for both defendants say they will appeal the sentences.

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Woman Arrested in Intentionally Set Topeka Nursing Home Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a woman accused of intentionally setting fire to a Topeka nursing home.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Topeka Fire Department responded to the fire around 1:45 p.m. Sunday at Providence Living Center. Fire crews evacuated the building and extinguished the fire, which began in one of the rooms within the multi-person facility. No one was hurt.  The suspect was booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated arson. She is being held without bond. No charges were immediately filed.

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Hit-and-Run Driver Found with List of Drug Buyers on Arm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say things went from bad to worse for a suspect in a hit-and-run crash in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police Chief Terry Zeigler tweeted Sunday afternoon that he had a list of names on his arm that turned out to be buyers of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and ecstasy. Police also tweeted a picture of the drugs in glass mason jars.

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Ex-Kansas Youth Worker Will Be Registered as Sex Offender

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of a suburban Kansas City youth mental health facility has been placed on probation for sex charges. The Kansas City Star reports that 27-year-old Dijon Willis will have to serve 30 days in jail as a condition of probation. He also was ordered Monday to undergo sex offender treatment and be placed on the state's sex offender registry for 25 years. Willis pleaded no contest in August and was found guilty of indecent liberties with a child and attempted sexual exploitation of a child. The charges stemmed from incidents in 2013 and 2014, when Willis worked at KidsTLC in Olathe. Several residents, both current and former, alleged that Willis touched them inappropriately.

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Report: Sedgwick County Counselor Sought Settlement, Apology

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A published report says an attorney representing Sedgwick County Counselor Eric Yost sought a $250,000 settlement before going public with details of an FBI investigation into three county commissioners.  The Wichita Eagle reported Monday that memos show Yost later lowered that request to $125,000 and an apology from a commissioner who had accused him of violating attorney-client privilege. No payment was made.  Yost's lawyer, Austin Parker, held a news conference Friday on the ongoing probe into the attempt to fire County Manager Michael Scholes and Yost's efforts to prevent it. He says commissioners David Unruh, David Dennis and Michael O'Donnell tried to fire Scholes because he cooperated with an FBI investigation into O'Donnell.  O'Donnell faces federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering related to his handling of campaign funds.

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Oregon Man Charged After Allegedly Ramming Deputy's Car

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — An Oregon man is charged after he allegedly rammed a Leavenworth County sheriff deputy's car twice.  Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said Monday that 42-year-old Derek Kelley, of Rainier, Oregon, is charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and three other counts. Kelley is jailed in Leavenworth County.  Leavenworth County Undersheriff James Sherley said when the deputy was out of his vehicle after stopping a pickup truck between Leavenworth and Atchison, the pickup reversed and hit the patrol vehicle before taking off. Sherley says during the ensuing chase, the truck suddenly stopped and reversed into the patrol vehicle a second time.  The Atchison Daily Globe reports the deputy suffered a knee injury.  The truck was found abandoned. Kelley and a passenger in the truck fled into a nearby home before being arrested.

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Kansas Man Who Sold a Pound of Meth a Week Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man who told investigators he sold more than a pound of methamphetamine a week has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.  Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Joseph Cornejo was sentenced Monday for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  Prosecutors say when investigators searched Cornejo's home, they found methamphetamine, about $2,000 in cash and nine firearms.  Cornejo said he sometimes traded meth for guns.

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Backlog Leaves Some Wichita State Veterans Without Benefits

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than 100 student veterans at Wichita State University haven't received GI Bill benefits because of a paperwork backlog, leading some students to drop courses or withdraw from the school.  The delayed payments are the result of understaffing at the university's Military and Veteran Student Center, the Wichita Eagle reported.  Wichita State's Student Government Association issued a resolution last week saying delayed benefits have created "severe financial crisis" for some students.  "We know a lot has to do with the (Department of Veterans Affairs), but the VA can only do so much," said Ciaban Peterson, president of the university's Student Veterans Organization. "This is an ongoing problem, and the university needs to dedicate more people to fix the bottleneck."  The resolution, which was co-authored by Peterson, said that the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends universities have a "school certifying official" for every 200 student veterans. The officials are responsible for certifying enrolled student veterans so they can receive VA education benefits, such as tuition and living expenses.

Wichita State University has 913 students who are veterans, active duty military or dependents who could be eligible for education benefits, according to Deanna Carrithers, director of operations in the university's Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.  She said the backlog isn't "a matter of negligence" and that the university recently hired additional staff to process paperwork.  "We have new certifying officials coming on board that will have the adequate training, and . . . we will be more than staffed — beyond what we're required to do — to ensure that this never occurs again," Carrithers said.  The university can also issue advances to affected students so they can pay for tuition, books and other expenses, she added.  Carrithers said the university is also considering online tools and other strategies to expedite the process of filing and certifying benefits.  "We don't want there to be, at any point, someone who drops out of school because of financial reasons," she said.

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Washburn to Eventually Provide Most Electricity from Wind

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University in Topeka says it is committed to providing most of its energy from a Westar wind farm in the future.  Washburn and Westar Energy announced Monday they have signed a 20-year agreement for energy produced by a new wind farm.  Under the agreement, the university will buy 4 megawatts of energy from a 300-megawatt wind farm that Westar will build in Nemaha County in northeast Kansas. The university said in a news release that would provide about 80 percent of the energy needs for Washburn and the Washburn Tech campuses. The new wind farm is expected to provide energy by the fourth quarter of 2020.  Washburn president Jerry Farley says the agreement will save the university up to $100,000 a year.

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