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Headlines for Tuesday, September 4, 2018

 

UPDATE: Kansas Governor Declares State of Disaster Emergency Due to Flooding

Governor Jeff Colyer has declared a state of disaster emergency for five Kansas counties affected by flooding over the weekend. Named in the declaration are Jewell, Kingman, Marshall, Pratt, and Riley Counties.  Damages in these counties includes washed out roads, bridges, culverts and flooding to some businesses and residential properties.  The state declaration could be amended to include additional counties, as more damage assessments are conducted. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery efforts in the affected counties.  

(earlier reporting)

Over 300 People Evacuated from Flooded Kansas College Town

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Heavy rain caused a creek to burst its banks and flood the Kansas college town of Manhattan, forcing more than 300 people to evacuate their homes, including some who were ferried to dry land in boats.  Nearly 9 inches of rain fell from Sunday night into Monday. Kansas State University's main campus in Manhattan wasn't flooded, but a help center has been set up for displaced students. Photographs posted on Facebook by the Riley County Police Department show buildings flooded nearly to their roofs.  Only minor injuries have been reported, said Hali Rowland, a police spokeswoman. She said the number of power outages has dropped from 3,000 to fewer than 200 as of Tuesday. Crews are assessing the damage but no official count has been released of inundated buildings.

Kirstin Pounds said she awoke around 7 am Monday to the sound of trickling water in her ground floor apartment on the west side of Manhattan. She said there was water on her floor and her truck was already halfway underwater.  "I got out with the clothes on my back, my phone, my computer and my dog," Pounds said.  She and her dog were among 50 people and 20 pets rescued from the apartment complex, the Manhattan Mercury reports.  Pat Collins, the director of Riley County Emergency Management, told The Kansas City Star that at least 20 people were rescued from their flooded homes by boat.  "It was one of the most significant events that we've experienced in my history here," Manhattan city manager Ron Fehr said at news conference Monday. "Things got flooded this time that have never been flooded before, even some of the rural areas."

Another 1 to 2 inches is forecast for the area through Thursday, and a flood watch is in effect through 7 pm Tuesday, says Brandon Drake, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said the creek has receded.  Two emergency shelters were established.  Damage assessment teams from the police, fire and codes department, along with Westar Energy, had already been dispatched throughout the area.  "Really it is our highest priority to make sure things are safe," Fehr said.

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Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves Endorses Democratic Nominee Kelly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former moderate Republican Governor Bill Graves has endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the Kansas governor's race. Kelly's campaign announced the endorsement Monday and posted a YouTube video of Graves praising Kelly, a veteran state senator from Topeka. Graves says in the video that Kelly will bring Republicans and Democrats together to solve problems. The former GOP governor's endorsement came after the union representing firefighters in Kansas endorsed Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach last week. It previously has endorsed Democrats. Kelly and independent candidate Greg Orman are wooing moderate Republicans alienated by Kobach's conservative politics and advocacy of tough immigration policies. Graves served two terms as governor from 1995 until 2003. He won re-election in 1998 with a record 73 percent of the vote but clashed frequently with GOP conservatives.

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Kansas Collected $6 Million More in Taxes than Expected in August

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $6 million more in taxes in August than expected to extend its longest streak of better-than-anticipated revenues in at least 50 years. The state Department of Revenue reports that tax collections were $494 million last month. The state's official forecast had predicted $488 million. The monthly surplus was 1.3 percent. It was the 15th consecutive month that tax collections have been better than forecast. An AP spreadsheet compiled from monthly reports shows the state hasn't seen such a long streak since at least February 1968. Since the current fiscal year began in July, tax collections have run almost $18 million ahead of expectations for a 1.8 percent surplus. The state also ended its last fiscal year on June 30 with better-than-expected tax collections.

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Kansas Trying New Way to Keep Soil Out of Its Reservoirs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is trying a new way to reduce the amount of sediment in the state's reservoirs.  The Salina Journal reports the state will pay landowners up to $50 a ton for the amount of sediment they keep out of a watershed leading to a state reservoir.  Kanopolis Reservoir, which has lost 39 percent of its water supply storage, is one of the four reservoirs included in the Kansas Reservoir Protection Initiative.  The state has budgeted $900,000 for Kanopolis, Fall River, John Redmond and Tuttle Creek reservoirs.  Many sediment best-practices are eligible for the initiative, including cover crops, reducing tillage and soil health.  Applications will be taken throughout the year. Initial approvals are expected by the end of September.

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Wichita Parents Charged in Death of 2-Month-Old Boy at Motel

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a 2-month-old boy found dead at a Wichita motel are now charged with involuntary manslaughter and several counts of child endangerment. The baby's father, Kyle Kempton, and his mother, Christy Rollings, were both charged Tuesday in the death of Patrick Kempton at the Scotsman Inn. The parents will have court-appointed attorneys and are due back in court on September 20. The Wichita Eagle reports the boy was found dead beside his father in a motel bed last Thursday. His twin was not injured and was put into protective custody. Officer Charley Davidson says officers found the parents intoxicated two days before the child was found dead. The children were placed with a relative after that incident but the relative returned them to their parents.

(-related-)

State Welfare Officials Raise Questions in Death of Twin

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State welfare officials say police should have considered taking 2-month-old twins into protective custody before one of them died at a west Wichita motel. The Wichita Eagle reports that in the Wichita area, when police put children into protective custody, it often means taking them initially to a facility that offers emergency, temporary care. From there, they can go to a foster home or relative while the child protection system determines an eventual placement. Instead, police put the infants with a relative on August 28 after finding that their parents were intoxicated at the motel where the family stayed. The next afternoon, the relative returned the babies to the parents. One of the twins was found dead at the motel Thursday morning. The parents have been arrested.

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Lawsuit: Urgent Care Doctor Responsible for Leg Amputation

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City area man has filed a lawsuit alleging that a trip to an urgent care clinic for a foot wound led to gangrene and a leg amputation. The Kansas City Star reports that Trenton Twidwell filed the lawsuit last month against Kristin Duncan, the doctor he saw at the CareNow urgent care clinic in Overland Park. The lawsuit alleges that Duncan diagnosed Twidwell with a common infection called cellulitis in August 2017. The lawsuit alleges Duncan prescribed ineffective antibiotics, never cultured the wound and didn't order any lab work. The suit says Twidwell developed gangrene and sepsis just weeks later, leading to a below-knee amputation. The newspaper was unable to reach Duncan for comment. A CareNow employee says she no longer works there.

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Sentencing of Day Care Worker in Baby's Death Delayed

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas home day care worker who was convicted in the death of a 9-month-old baby is seeking a new trial. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 44-year-old Carrody Buchhorn was scheduled to be sentenced Friday. She was convicted in July of unintentionally but recklessly causing the death of Oliver "Ollie" Ortiz, of Eudora, on September 29, 2016, at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home in Eudora. Buchhorn has a new legal team that is trying to get her a new trial. Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny rescheduled Buchhorn's sentencing for October 18 to allow time for her new attorneys to file their motion for a new trial and the state to file its response. Since her conviction, Buchhorn has been in jail without bond.

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Man Testified He Dismembered Wife's Body to Keep His Children

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man charged after investigators found him and two young children in a Kansas storage shed with bags of his wife's remains says he cut up her body to protect his family. During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, 36-year-old Justin Rey testified that he dismembered his wife's body at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel in October 2017. Investigators later found him and two small children with the remains at a Lenexa storage unit. He said he was taking the remains back to Arizona for burial. Rey has said his wife died in childbirth but also told investigators she committed suicide. The Kansas City Star reports a not guilty plea was entered for Rey. Rey is charged in Kansas and Missouri with child endangerment. He's charged with abandonment of a corpse in Missouri. He isn't charged in his wife's killing.

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Life in Prison for Murder Outside Ford Claycomo Plant

CLAYCOMO, Mo. (AP) — A 27-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a friend outside the Ford assembly plant in Claycomo.  Deonte Buffington-Hardy was sentenced Friday in Clay County. He was found guilty in July of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 26-year-old Brandon Nunnally.  The Kansas City Star reports Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White said the killing appeared to have "zero motive."  He says the two men appeared to be friends right up until the gunfire started.  Buffington-Hardy also was convicted of armed criminal action and sexual misconduct.  Prosecutors say after he was identified as a suspect, Buffington-Hardy exposed himself to detectives who were questioning him.

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Rare Bird Sighting in Topeka Draws Birders to Capital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A rare bird sighting in northeastern Kansas is drawing birders to the capital.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that birders first spotted a swallow-tailed kite last week in Topeka. The newspaper reports that birders from across the state have traveled to the Cedar Crest governor's mansion and Kaw River State Park to catch a glimpse.  Topeka Audubon Society board member Sue Newland saw the bird with a group of about 15 Mississippi kites, which are cousins of the swallowed-tailed kite and are more common in Kansas.  Newland says the last time the bird species was seen in Shawnee County was in September 1972. She says there have only been 15 documented sightings of the bird in Kansas since 1968.  The predatory bird has a white head and distinctive forked tail.

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Kansas Man to Start Hemp Farm for Research Program

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man is preparing to start an industrial hemp farm as part of a new state pilot program.  The Hutchinson News reports that PJ Sneed plans to open the Always Sunny Hemp and Bee Farm in western Reno County. The farm comes after Governor Jeff Colyer signed the Alternative Research Act in April allowing the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the growing of industrial hemp through a research program. Sneed and his wife plan to participate in the program.  Sneed recently retired after more than two decades as a burn trauma nurse at Via Christi Hospital in Wichita. During his career, he grew interested in the medicinal uses of hemp, such as cannabidiol.  Sneed can't officially grow hemp until the Agriculture Department finalizes regulations.

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Judy Garland's Stolen Ruby Red Slippers from "Wizard of Oz" Found

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal authorities say they have recovered a pair of sequined ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" that were stolen from a museum in her northern Minnesota hometown 13 years ago.  The slippers were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids in August 2005 by someone who climbed through a window and broke into the small display case. The shoes were insured for $1 million. Law enforcement offered an initial $250,000 reward, and a fan in Arizona offered another $1 million in 2015.  The FBI planned to announce details of how the shoes were found at a news conference Tuesday. The North Dakota U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers and Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson were due to attend.

The slippers had been on loan to the museum from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw. Three other pairs that Garland wore in the movie are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Smithsonian and a private collector.  The ruby slippers are key in the 1939 movie. After mysteriously landing in the colorful Land of Oz after a tornado hit her farm in Kansas, Garland's character, Dorothy, has to click the heels of her slippers three times and repeat "there's no place like home" to return.  The shoes are made from about a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic and glass. Most of the ruby color comes from sequins, but the bows of the shoes contain red glass beads.

The genre-busting Wizard of Oz — presented in black and white, and color — was a box office smash and won multiple Academy Awards, including the Oscars for best picture and best cinematography.  Garland, who was born Frances Gumm, lived in Grand Rapids, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Minneapolis, until she was 4?½, when her family moved to Los Angeles. She died of a barbiturate overdose in 1969. The Judy Garland Museum , which opened in 1975 in the house where she lived, says it has the world's largest collection of Garland and Wizard of Oz memorabilia.

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Wichita Optometrist to Offer Free Glasses, Exam to Uninsured

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita optometrist is giving away free eye exams and glasses to people without insurance.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Child and Family Eyecare is offering the free services from 8 am to 1 pm Friday.  It's available to anyone without eye care coverage. The service includes a full eye health checkup and a set of prescription glasses, including bifocals.  The newspaper reports that the annual event started in 2016.

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Crews Work to Finish Hy-Vee Arena in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Crews are working to finish renovating Kansas City's Kemper Arena into the new Hy-Vee Arena just weeks before the facility hosts its first pickleball tournament.  The Kansas City Star reports that Foutch Brothers is spending $39 million to renovate the facility. The arena will serve as a youth and adult sports facility with various retailers, such as coffee shops, arcades, games and wellness businesses.  The new arena features 5,000 upper level seats and 3,500 lower level seats. Hy-Vee acquired the naming rights in May.  Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor says the facility will draw visitors from around the country.  The arena is scheduled to host its first pickleball tournament Sept. 21 and will open to the public October 5.

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Backers of Election Security Bill Say Legislative Delay Helps Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just two months before the midterm elections, bipartisan legislation to try to prevent foreign hacking into U.S. election systems is stalled in Congress.  The White House and some Republicans worry it would exert too much federal control over the states. Supporters of the bill say the delay could embolden Russia, which attempted to breach election infrastructure in at least 21 states in 2016.  A committee vote on the bipartisan bill was abruptly canceled two weeks ago after objections from some Republican senators and the states they represent.  Republicans and Democrats who are supporting the bill say they don't know when or if the measure will be taken up again in the few remaining weeks Congress is in session before midterm elections.

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Wyandotte County Attorney Unveils Conviction Integrity Unit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office is opening a division to look into claims of those who say they've been wrongfully convicted.  The Kansas City Star reports that County Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. announced Friday during a news conference that his office expects to hire three people for the new conviction integrity unit. That includes a full-time senior attorney, a part-time investigator and a part-time assistant.  Dupree says that after a cursory review of claims, 19 deserved further examination.  Dupree has pointed to the case of Lamonte McIntyre, whose convictions for a 1994 double murder were thrown out last October, as an example of why the unit is needed.  The district attorney's office will receive payments of about $167,000 this year and next to support the new unit.

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Kansas Nonprofit to Start Camp for People with Disabilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A longtime Topeka-area Girl Scout camp that closed last year will become a camp for people with disabilities and their families.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Hope Ranch Inc. plans to turn the former Camp Daisy Hindman into its Mission Creek Camp and Conference Center.  Executive Director Ken Scroggs said Wednesday that there aren't many opportunities for people with disabilities to attend summer camp. Many of the camp's buildings will comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.  The camp in Dover will also have a therapeutic riding center, something the nonprofit has operated in Manhattan for years.  Hope Ranch will launch a fundraising campaign in the next two months to pay for the camp property and improvements. The nonprofit hopes to open its first camp season next summer.

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Ex-Professor Pleads No Contest to Selling Marijuana Edible

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A former Fort Hays State University assistant professor has pleaded no contest to a charge involving marijuana edibles.  Bryan Bennett, who taught political science, was placed on 18 months of probation Thursday for possession with intent to distribute a hallucinogenic drug. Three other felony drug charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.  The Salina Journal reports Bennett was arrested December 6.  According to a court affidavit, Hays police were contacted by an informant who said Bennett had offered her edible marijuana. The informant later met Bennett on the Fort Hays campus and gave her marijuana edibles. Prosecutors said officers later found marijuana in Bennett's home.

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Wichita Farm that Provided Pumpkins and Corn Mazes to Close

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After nearly a century of growing pumpkin patches and providing corn mazes for visitors, Wichita's Cox Farm will close soon.  Ron and Vickie Stein, third-generation owners of the farm, announced Thursday they will close the 92-year-old Wichita institution in late September or October.  The Steins, who have operated the farm for 12 years, are retiring. Both are 71 years old.  The Wichita Eagle reports Ron Stein says the couple has worked seven days a week for their entire lives and they have had enough.  Stein said the property has already drawn interest, with some wanting to keep it a farm and some wanting something else on the site.  Ron Stein's grandparents, Roy and Daisy Cox, started Cox Farm in 1926.

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Man Arrested After Woman Killed in Hit-and-Run in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 34-year-old man was driving drunk with a suspended license in Wichita when he ran a red light and hit another vehicle, killing the driver. The suspect was arrested and jailed Monday hours after 56-year-old Marsha Oglesby of Wichita was killed in the crash. Officer Charley Davidson says Oglesby died at a Wichita hospital about an hour after the collision. The driver fled from the scene but was arrested with the help of citizens in the area.

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Report: Midwest Economic Conditions Take Leap Forward

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey report suggests economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states took a leap forward last month.  The report released Tuesday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index jumped to 61.1 in August, compared with 57.0 in July. It's the 21st straight month that the index remained above growth neutral 50.0.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the region's manufacturing growth of 3.1 percent over the past 12 months exceeds the U.S. growth rate of 2.6 percent.  The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline.  The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Gay Softball World Series in Ohio; Next Year It Comes to Kansas City

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's capital city is once again hosting the Gay Softball World Series, dubbed the world's largest LGBT single sport, week-long athletic competition.  The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance on Sunday announced that Columbus will host the 2020 series in August of that year.  It's the third time Columbus has hosted the event following the 2010 and 2015 competitions.  Linda Logan is executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. She estimates the event will bring more than 5,000 participants from 45 cities, 25 states, and several Canadian provinces.  Tampa, Florida, is hosting the 2018 Gay Softball World Series this month, with Kansas City, Missouri, hosting in 2019.

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Sporting KC Signs 4 of Its All-Stars to New Deals

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City signed a quartet of its All-Star players, including longtime star Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler, to multi-year contract extensions on Tuesday. Midfielders Roger Espinoza and Ilie Sanchez also signed extensions, ensuring that four of the club's most popular and important players will remain its foundation for at least the next couple years. Terms were not disclosed. Besler and Zusi joined the club in the 2009 draft, and quickly became stars not only of Sporting KC but also the U.S. national team. Espinoza has represented Honduras in the World Cup and Olympics, while Sanchez joined the club last year and has started 68 of 69 games across all competitions. Sporting KC is currently 13-7-6 and third in the Western Conference.

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