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Headlines for Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Only Kansas Democrat in Congress Supports Impeaching President Trump

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The only Kansas Democrat in Congress supports impeaching President Donald Trump. Freshman Congresswoman Sharice Davids announced Tuesday that she will vote for both articles of impeachment drafted by fellow Democrats over Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden. Davids said in a statement that the evidence against Trump is "overwhelming." The articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abusing his power as president and obstructing the congressional investigation by directing administration officials to defy subpoenas.  The state's three Republican congressmen have all strongly criticized the impeachment process and suggested it is partisan.  

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KBI Serves Warrants in Cloud County Investigation

CONCORDIA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents are serving several search warrants as part of an investigation into the Cloud County Sheriff's Office.  KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said warrants were served Tuesday at homes in Concordia and the Cloud County Law Enforcement Center. The investigation began in June. KAKE-TV reports Underwood said the investigation involves allegations of criminal misconduct against sheriff's office employees but no other details have been released.  No one has been arrested but Underwood said the serving of search warrants is a "significant development" in the case.  The Cloud County Jail is closed to visitors as a result of the investigation.

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82 Veterans Settle Lawsuits Against Former Leavenworth VA Employee

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Eighty-two veterans who were sexually abused by a former physician assistant at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth will divide nearly $7 million after settling their lawsuits against the government.  The physician assistant, Mark Wisner, was convicted in 2017 of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated criminal sodomy and sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison.  As KCUR Radio reported, Wisner was accused of groping and molesting patients at the Dwight D. Eisenhower medical center in Leavenworth between 2012 and 2014.  In dozens of lawsuits, victims contended the U.S. government should have known that Wisner was a danger because he had a history of sexually inappropriate behavior and providing improper medical care. One of the lawsuits cited Wisner's conviction in 1987 for a sex-related crime and complaints from VA patients in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

At his trial, jurors heard a recording of Wisner telling investigators in 2015, "I don't feel good about what happened to these patients."  Dan Curry, a Kansas City lawyer, said 82 plaintiffs will share the $6.97 million settlement. A former Jackson County judge, Jay Daugherty, determined how much each veteran received. The cases were settled months ago but Curry said the disbursements occurred recently.  Curry is asking the Joint Commission, the accrediting body for hospitals, to reopen its investigation into the Leavenworth hospital's handling of Wisner. Several other veterans have sued the government over Wisner's actions. Unless those cases are also settled, they are scheduled to go to trial next year.

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Kansas Ag Department Offers Website for Stressed Farmers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers and ranchers who are stressed over finances or emotional issues have a new place to turn for help. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, along with several other partners, is now providing a website that offers farmers, ranchers and their families resources and support. The department announced the website, kansasagstress.org, on Tuesday. The site offers several topics, including the Kansas Suicide Prevention Line and the Crisis Text Line. The site comes during a time when the suicide rate for farmers and ranchers is climbing across the nation. 

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Kansas State Board Asks Districts to Pass Strict Vaping Bans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education has voted to encourage school districts to pass strict vaping bans. The Kansas City Star reports that the policy approved unanimously Tuesday calls for districts to enact policies prohibiting students and staff from using, possessing or promoting any tobacco products, including vape pens, while on school property, in school vehicles or at school activities. The board also wants districts to bar parents, volunteers, contractors and vendors from using any tobacco products and e-cigarettes “in any district facility, in school vehicles, at school-sponsored activities, programs or events, and on school owned property at all times.”

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Board Member Resigns, Then Changes Mind After LGBT Vote

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita school board member who quit after a vote to expand protections for LGBTQ students and staff has rescinded his resignation. Vice President Mike Rodee brought up concerns about potential litigation in voting against a statement that said the district would not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. After it was passed 5-2 Monday night, Rodee announced his resignation from the board. He then submitted a statement Tuesday afternoon in which he asked board members to continue to consider him an active member of the board. He also said that he remained "committed to serving Wichita students.

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Man Jailed on Rape Charges in New Orleans Faces Additional Charges in Kansas City

A man jailed in New Orleans in a series of rapes has been charged with three sexual assaults in Kansas City. Thirty-five-year-old Daniel Meridy faces three counts of kidnapping, nine counts of armed criminal action and four counts of forcible rape, sodomy and sexual abuse in Missouri's Jackson County. Prosecutors in Missouri previously linked the three 2004 cases to a single suspect and filed a criminal case naming "John Doe," who had been identified only by his DNA profile. In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors named Meridy as the defendant.

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Two Injured when Amtrak Train Hits Car in Independence, Missouri

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police say two people were hurt when an Amtrak train hit a vehicle in Independence. The collision occurred Tuesday afternoon. Two people in the vehicle were hospitalized but their conditions were not immediately available. Amtrak says its Missouri River Runner, which travels from St. Louis to Kansas City, had just left the Independence station for Kansas City when the collision occurred.  No one on the train was injured. The train was not seriously damaged and would continue on its route as soon as the tracks are cleared.

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Multistate Voter Database Suspended in Lawsuit Settlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group says a database that checks whether voters are registered in multiple states has been suspended until security safeguards are put in place as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit. The Interstate Crosscheck program was the subject of a class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request.  Kansas has operated the multistate program since 2005. The ACLU says the settlement includes a list of safeguards Kansas has agreed to implement to protect voter's personal information before the program can resume.

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KCK Police Say Burned Body Found in Barrel

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police say a badly burned body was found inside a barrel near a cemetery. Police spokesman Jonathon Westbrook says the body of a man was found Wednesday after a passerby told police a human limb was sticking out of the barrel. Westbrook said it appeared someone tried to burn the body but it was recognizable. The person has not been identified. The case is being investigated as a homicide. Police think the body was at the site for less than a day. 

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Douglas County Prosecutors Drop 2 More False Reporting Cases

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors in Lawrence have dropped false reporting charges against two more women who reported being sexually assaulted in Lawrence, as questions swirl around the handling of such investigations in the college town. The Kansas City Star reports that Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson says he hopes publicity surrounding a third case he dropped in October won't deter victims from coming forward. In that case, he suspected the woman fabricated her rape out of vengeance and regret. University of Kansas law professor Suzanne Valdez says she doesn't believe police and prosecutors in Lawrence are protecting the victims of sexual assault.

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Construction on American Royal Complex to Start Next Year

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The American Royal plans to begin construction on its new complex in Kansas City, Kansas, next year. Royal officials announced Tuesday the organization has acquired 115 acres in Wyandotte County near the Kansas Speedway. The organization's headquarters has been in Kansas City, Missouri, since 1899. The estimated price of the new complex will be between $220 million and $250 million. About $80 million of that will come from Kansas sales tax revenue bonds, with the rest through private fundraising. An organization official says construction is expected to begin next summer, with significant work completed by December 2021. 

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Missouri School District Vows to Crack Down After Racist Incidents

Leaders of a school district located just north of Kansas City are vowing to push for tougher discipline after a string of racist incidents. The Kansas City Star reports that Platte County school district Superintendent Michael Reik sent a note to parents emphasizing that the district "does not tolerate acts of racism" after a noose made out of white shoestrings was found hanging in a boys bathroom last week. The incident comes one month after a hate-filled rant that repeatedly used a racial slur was shared among more than 200 students and staff. Last year, paper nooses were discovered stuck to the high school's walls.

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New Kansas City Airport Will Include 2 All-Gender Bathrooms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's new airport will include two all-gender bathrooms, as well as other bathrooms designed to be inclusive and convenient. The city's aviation department said Wednesday the airport also will include changing rooms, rooms for nursing mothers and larger stalls with room for passengers' luggage. Justin Meyer, a city aviation official, says the all-gender restrooms will not only help transgender people but families with children of both genders, or someone with an elderly parent of the opposite gender. Kansas City currently is demolishing its three-terminal airport. The new airport is expected to open in 2023. 

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The Kansas City Star Will Drop Saturday Print Edition in March

The Kansas City Star says it will stop publishing a print edition on Saturdays in mid-March as more readers get their news online. The paper said Tuesday in a letter to readers that it is shifting to a Weekend Edition that includes expanded newspapers on Fridays and Sundays. Those papers will include popular fixtures such as comics, puzzles, TV listings and local sports coverage. On Saturdays, the paper will continue to publish breaking news on its website and social media platforms.  The change will take effect March 14. Several other papers around the country also have stopped publishing Saturday editions.

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8 Macaroni Penguins Hatch at Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo says its staff is raising eight fluffy macaroni penguin chicks. It is the first time the zoo has had that species of penguin in its 110-year history. Their eggs were flown in from SeaWorld San Diego and hatched in incubators at their new home. Zoo officials said employees are hand-raising the chicks, and that each of them needs to be fed up to six times a day. Macaroni penguins are native to the subantarctic. The chicks are hidden from the public, for now, but are expected to join the general exhibit in the coming weeks.

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No. 2 Kansas Could Become No. 1 Following Win over Milwaukee and Loss by Louisville

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP / KPR) — Kansas Jayhawk Devon Dotson had 22 points along with nine assists to help No. 2 Kansas to an easy 95-68 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Ochai Agbaji also had 22 points while Udoka Azubuike had 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who ran their home win streak to 26 games. They used a 40-12 run to start the game and basically put it away. Darius Roy led the Panthers with 25 points while leading scorer Te'Jon Lucas was held to just 11.  Elsewhere, another Big 12 team also had a good night.  Texas Tech defeated top-ranked Louisville, 70-57, which could push KU into the Number 1 spot when college basketball's new rankings come out.

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