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Headlines for Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Ward Taps Campaign Treasurer, Signals Likely Kansas Governor Run 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Kansas lawmaker has named a campaign treasurer in an ethics filing that lists the office he is seeking as governor. The Wichita Eagle reports House Democratic Leader Jim Ward of Wichita made the filing Tuesday, naming former Kansas Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch to the post. The form enables Ward to begin fundraising. Ward plans an announcement Saturday. Republican Governor Sam Brownback is serving his second term and couldn't run again. President Donald Trump has nominated him to serve as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The timing of a U.S. Senate vote on his nomination is uncertain. Democrats in the race are former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer and former state representative Josh Svaty. GOP candidates are Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer.


Kansas Lawmaker Jones to Make Bid for 2nd District Congressional Seat 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Another Kansas state lawmaker has entered the race to succeed retiring GOP U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Representative Kevin Jones of Wellsville in east-central Kansas's Franklin County announced his candidacy Wednesday for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by Lynn Jenkins. Forty-two-year-old Jones has served in the legislature since 2013. Jenkins has represented the 2nd District since 2009. After being re-elected in 2016, the GOP congresswoman revealed her intention not to seek another term in 2018. Other Republicans in the race include state Senator Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth, and Vernon Fields of Basehor. On the Democratic side, former Kansas House member Paul Davis of Lawrence launched his campaign Tuesday.


Osawatomie State Hospital Unit Passes Key Recertification Milestone

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say a state mental hospital that has suffered from years of neglect and staffing shortages has passed an inspection, moving it closer to being able to receive federal reimbursements. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services secretary Tim Keck said the agency has been "waiting for this for a long time." The federal inspection involved a 60-bed unit within Osawatomie State Hospital. The 146-bed hospital was decertified in December 2015 after a series of inspections that uncovered numerous safety, staffing and patient-care issues, including a patient raping a hospital worker. The decertification made the hospital ineligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements, costing the state about $1 million monthly. The hospital must undergo at least one more inspection before it can be recertified.


Democrat Paul Davis Launches Campaign for 2nd District Congressional Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prominent Democrat and former state lawmaker Paul Davis has kicked off his campaign for the 2nd District of eastern Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Davis told a rally in Topeka on Tuesday morning that the political system is "fundamentally broken." He blamed "unprecedented, unchecked, obscene amounts of money" in government and elections. Davis was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback a tougher-than-expected re-election challenge. Davis is a Lawrence attorney and former Kansas House minority leader. The 2nd District seat will be open because Republican incumbent Lynn Jenkins does not plan to seek re-election. He's expected to face Neosho County resident Kelly Standley in the Democratic primary. State Senator Steve Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth, and Basehor City Councilman Vernon Fields are seeking the GOP nomination.


Former Lawrence Mayor Gets 10 Month Prison Sentence for Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Former Lawrence mayor Jeremy Farmer has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for embezzling money from a food bank. Farmer also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $81,000 for taking the money from the nonprofit Just Food when he was the organization's executive director. Farmer also will be on two years of supervised release after completing his prison term. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the 33-year-old Farmer apologized during his sentencing hearing Tuesday. Farmer pleaded guilty in September 2016 to interstate transportation of embezzled funds and securities. Farmer was hired as executive director of Just Food in 2011. He was elected to the Lawrence City Commission in April 2013 and the commissioners voted him mayor in April 2015. He resigned both positions in August 2015.


Truck Crash Closes Interstate Near Kansas City Overnight

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police say a fiery crash of a semi-trailer truck will close one direction of Interstate 435 near Kansas City through mid-morning Thursday. Overland Park police say the crash occurred about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when the truck went into a median and erupted in fire. The driver suffered only minor injuries but the crash damaged a safety device used to reduce damage in a crash. Repairs to that device aren't expected to be complete until about 10 a.m. Thursday. The Kansas City Star reports the crash is the latest of several wrecks along the same stretch of highway, where a major repair project is under way. Willie "Darryl" Wilson died last weekend of burns he suffered in a fiery, chain-reaction crash July 17 in the eastbound lanes near Wednesday's crash.


Judge Dismisses Charges Against Former Kansas Police Officer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has dismissed charges against a former Bel Aire police officer ensnared in a scheme to buy and sell discounted firearms by falsely claiming they would be used for law enforcement purposes. Court records show prosecutors on Tuesday asked the court to dismiss the indictment against Ricky L. Swanson due to his death. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren granted the request shortly after the government's filing. Court documents offer no other details, and his attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Last Monday's change-of-plea hearing was cancelled after Swanson did not appear as scheduled. Former Bel Aire Chief John Daily was sentenced last year to six months of probation and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft of public funds.

Kansas Joins Interstate First-Responder Network

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas has joined 13 other states in an interstate communications network that allows public safety agencies to communicate across jurisdictions during emergencies. Governor Sam Brownback announced Tuesday that the state has joined the First Responder Network Authority _ FirstNet _ and AT&T, which will build the statewide broadband network. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Brownback said FirstNet would help in emergencies and natural disasters such as the wildfires, tornadoes and ice storms.  He said opting into the program allows the state to have the network without incurring any of the costs. AT&T president Mike Scott said the company would build another 26 towers across the state and add capacity to its existing network towers. FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said the federal government would contribute $7 billion to the project. 


Kansas Man Caught After Escaping Jail

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man who escaped from jail has been apprehended in eastern Kansas and returned to custody. 39-year-old George Burgess Jr. escaped the Leavenworth County Jail through a side door in July while on a work detail. Major Jim Sherley says Burgess was in jail on a misdemeanor count of battery. A Lawrence Police Department statement says officers responded to a call reporting a wanted person at large Sunday. Police say Burgess was located riding a bicycle and attempted to flee by bike and then on foot after seeing the approaching officers. Police apprehended Burgess without further incident and returned him to the jail. Burgess appeared in district court Monday and was charged with escape from custody.


Kansas County Commissioner Found Dead Under Lawn Mower

ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) - The Stafford County Sheriff says the body of a county commissioner has been found underneath an overturned lawnmower. The sheriff says 42-year-old Shane Landon Stimatze was found dead Monday morning under the mower in a pond in rural St. John. The death is under investigation. The Stafford County Clerk's office said Stimatze had just started his second term as county commissioner. 


Missouri Regulators Reject Massive Midwest Wind Power Line

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri utility regulators have rejected a proposed high-voltage power line to carry wind power across the Midwest to eastern states. The decision Wednesday by the Missouri Public Service Commission creates a significant hurdle for Clean Line Energy Partners, which wants to build one of the nation's longest transmission lines. All the other states along its route already have granted approval. The line would run from Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would connect with a power grid for eastern states. Missouri regulators initially rejected the project in 2015, while questioning its benefits and burden on landowners. This time, the regulatory commission cited a recent state appeals court ruling that said utilities must first get consent from affected counties before state approval can be granted. Clean Line lacks local approval from several counties in its path.


Mock Spaceship in Kansas to Be Used for Astronaut Research 

KIPP, Kan. (AP) — A mock-up of a spacecraft built in central Kansas is getting ready to take off for Kansas State University. The Salina Journal reports the spaceship will arrive at the university sometime next week from the Douglas Welding & Machine shop in Kipp. The interior will be finished at the school before the capsule is used in fitness research. A NASA grant is funding research to prepare future astronauts to withstand trips to and from Mars. University professor Carl Ade says the goal is to find the level of cardiovascular and muscle strength needed to complete tasks such as opening a hatch, throwing out a life raft and climbing out within seconds. University representatives plan to present the data at the annual NASA Human Research Program meeting in February 2018.


Wild Black Bear Population Grows in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wildlife experts say black bears wandering into Kansas from Missouri and Oklahoma will likely become established residents of the state within the next decade. The Wichita Eagle reports that two bears were documented in southeast Kansas and another along the Colorado border as recently as two summers ago. For most of the past 15 years, bears only have been seen in extreme southwest Kansas. Experts say the possibility of Kansas having a permanent population of bears could cause safety problems. Neither Oklahoma nor Missouri have reported bear attacks recently, but experts are advising residents in those states on how to protect pets and livestock from the wild animal. Wildlife officials say bears still deserve respect and that most people appreciate having bears around.


KU to Honor Former Coach Mangino During Season Opener
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas plans to honor former head football coach Mark Mangino, who was forced out amid allegations that he abused his players, and the rest of the 2007 team that won the Orange Bowl, during its season opener. The school said Tuesday that the team will be inducted into its Hall of Fame, along with former players Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins, during the opener Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State. Mangino led the long-suffering Jayhawks to a 12-1 record in 2007, a season capped by a victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. But things soon soured and Mangino was forced out in 2009, when allegations surfaced that he physically and verbally abused his players. One of his assistants on the 2007 team, David Beaty, is now the Jayhawks' head coach.


Oakland Athletics Rally in Eighth Inning to Beat Royals, 10-8 

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland's Matt Joyce hit a three-run double to cap a six-run eighth inning as the Athletics rallied past the Kansas City Royals 10-8 on Tuesday night. Joyce also homered and had four RBIs. Khris Davis added his 33rd home run and Matt Olson hit his fourth in five days to help the A's clinch at least a tie for the season series between the former division rivals. The Royals hit three home runs in the top of the eighth, including Mike Moustakas' 35th, to take a four-run lead before Oakland stormed back against relievers Joakim Soria and Mike Minor (5-5). The loss prevented the Royals from moving past the Angels in the race for the second AL wild card.

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