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Headlines for Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Colyer Declares State of Disaster for Kansas Winter Storm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jeff Colyer has declared a state of disaster in anticipation of a winter storm that's expected to hit western Kansas. Colyer's Wednesday declaration authorizes the use of state resources and workers to help affected areas. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning from Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon for parts of northwestern Kansas. The agency is predicting 3-8 inches of snow in some areas. Kansas Division of Emergency Management Deputy Director Angee Morgan is urging Kansans to change or delay travel in affected areas until after the storm. She says those who do travel should be cautious and stock a car emergency kit. The division and the National Guard are preparing to help stranded motorists if needed.

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Departing Kansas Governor Colyer Open to Future Run for Political Office

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Departing Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer isn't ruling out a future run for public office but says he will be looking at opportunities in both business and government service. The Republican governor was not specific about his plans during a recent Associated Press interview, except to say he and wife Ruth will take a vacation to Disney World after leaving office January 14. He said: ``I'll never to say no to public service where I can make a real difference.'' Colyer was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor in January when then-GOP Governor Sam Brownback resigned to take an ambassador's post. Colyer narrowly lost the August primary to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was defeated in November by Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly. 

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Foes of Expanding Medicaid to Lead Kansas Health Committees

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health committees in the Kansas Legislature will be led by two conservative Republican lawmakers from Wichita who oppose expanding the state's Medicaid program. GOP leaders' appointments of Rep. Brenda Landwehr and Sen. Gene Suellentrop will complicate Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly's efforts to expand state health coverage in line with the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act. Landwehr will be chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, a post she's held before during a 20-year legislative career. Suellentrop will be chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. Both take over Jan. 14. Suellentrop replaces departing Sen. Vicki Schmidt of Topeka. She supported expanding Medicaid but was elected insurance commissioner. Landwehr will replace fellow Wichita Republican and Medicaid expansion opponent Rep. Dan Hawkins. He will become House majority leader.

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GOP Kansas House Leader Names Political Veterans to Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A top Republican in the Kansas House has appointed two veterans of state government and conservative politics to key staff positions. Incoming House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins said B.J. Harden and Moriah Day will serve as his chief of staff and communications director. Hawkins is a Wichita Republican who will take over as majority leader January 14. Harden is a deputy transportation secretary who also worked in the state treasurer's and secretary of state's offices. He also held several positions with former Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, who led the chamber from 2013 through 2016. Day is an associate for the GOP consulting firm Singularis Group and the chairman of the Kansas Rifle Association's political action committee. He also worked previously in the secretary of state's office. 

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State Takes over Nursing Home in Central Kansas 

PEABODY, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas officials are taking over a nursing home where inspectors found missing narcotics and more than $240,000 in bills that were more than four months overdue. Anonymous complaints prompted the state to send inspectors to Westview Manor of Peabody, a 45-bed facility in Marion County. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services wrote in court papers filed this month that one staff member reported paychecks bouncing twice. The court filings say several toilets couldn't' be fixed because there wasn't enough money. Inspectors also reported that 119 hydrocodone tablets prescribed to one resident were missing and that there wasn't evidence that unused narcotics prescribed to three other residents were disposed of properly.

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New Kansas Governor: Patrol Chief, Fire Marshal to Stay On

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly will have the current superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol and the state fire marshal stay in their jobs after she takes office. Kelly has announced that Colonel Mark Bruce will continue leading the patrol and Doug Jorgensen will continue serving as the state's chief fire safety official. Both were appointees of former Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Bruce has been Highway Patrol superintendent since January 2015 and has worked for the agency for 29 years. Kelly called him a strong advocate for officers. Jorgensen has been fire marshal since July 2012. He previously worked for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Ellis County Sheriff's Department. Kelly said his experience in law enforcement make him a "valuable addition" to her administration. 

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Staff Allege Violence, Sex Abuse at Kansas Juvenile Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Allegations of violence between staff members and sexual relationships between workers and underage inmates at Kansas' only juvenile corrections facility were uncovered during a state audit prompted by allegations that a former superintendent of the center assaulted an employee. Auditors sought to contact 229 former and current employees of the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka but only 48 responded. Of those, seven people reported being attacked or assaulted by other staff. Auditors also received three reports of sexual relationships between staff and youth at the facility, according to Kansas News Service. Other comments alleged staff removed residents from solitary confinement when auditors visited. Staff at the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit said that the number of responses was too low to draw definitive conclusions but that the comments were still concerning. All the comments were anonymous and could not be verified. 

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Kansas Rep.-Elect Watkins Taps Aides from GOP, Jenkins Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Congressman-elect Kansas Steve Watkins has appointed members of his predecessor's staff and a state Republican Party official to key positions in his congressional office. The GOP congressman has announced that Jim Joice will serve as communications director. Joice has been the Kansas Republican Party's executive director. Watkins also announced that Bill Roe will be deputy chief of staff and Adam York will serve as legislative director. Roe was chief of staff to retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins, and York was her deputy chief of staff. Watkins said earlier that Colin Brainard will be his chief of staff. Brainard worked previously for Jenkins but more recently as executive director of Congress' Joint Economic Committee. Watkins will represent the 2nd District of eastern Kansas and replace Jenkins on January 3.

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Topeka 3-Year-Old Left Alone on School Bus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka school district's new school bus service is facing criticism after one of its drivers left a 3-year-old boy along on a bus for more than two hours when temperatures were in the 30s and 40s. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that that the incident came near end of a year in which Topeka Unified School District 501 hired Kansas Central School Bus to replace the accident-plagued Durham School Bus Services. School district spokeswoman Misty Kruger called the situation unacceptable, adding that the district has taken action to ensure none of its students would ever again ride with the driver involved. The driver's identity hasn't been made public. Kruger says the district was reviewing safety protocols with Kansas Central and reviewing the incident to determine what additional steps were needed.

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Kansas Man's Wish for 2 Front Teeth for Christmas Comes True

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Johnson County man's wish for two front teeth for Christmas is coming true. The Kansas City Star reports that a local church and friends helped raise money for Olathe man Evans Kamuru's dental implants. Kamuru wrote on Facebook that one front tooth broke off when he was using his teeth to cut tape and wrap presents last Christmas season. He says the other one broke in January when he was eating a waffle. Kamuru says both teeth had crowns and were weak. His friends created a group to help raise money for implants. Lenexa's Gospel Outreach Center chipped in $15,000 this month, and a dentist offered a discount. The newspaper reports that it will take months to insert the implants, but Kamuru will have two new teeth by next Christmas.

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Teens Killed in Crash Included Brother of Kansas State RBs

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have released the names of the three teens killed in a weekend crash in suburban Kansas City. Blue Springs police identified the teens Wednesday as 15-year-old Nicholas Fordham, 16-year-old Darrian Warmack and 16-year-old Kaylen Wright. Warmack was a star athlete and the younger brother of Kansas State University running backs, Dalvin and Michael Warmack. The crash happened Saturday when the vehicle in which the teens were riding crested a hill, clipped another car and landed in a ravine. One person was injured in the other vehicle. Dalvin Warmack, who was a senior for the Wildcats last season, expressed thanks on Instagram for the outpouring of support his family had received. He described his younger brother as "special" and already "years beyond" him.

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Mobile Food Truck Aimed at Ending Urban Food Deserts

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A group in Kansas City, Kansas, is getting community members involved in the planning for a mobile grocery truck that would sell healthy and affordable food in neighborhoods that lack good grocery stores. Some Wyandotte County residents gather weekly in the back room of a community health center, getting a say in everything from how to stock the food truck shelves to where the truck will park on which days. The Dotte Mobile Grocer's Mobile Market Community Council figures getting locals involved in the details will increase the chances that their grocery store in a food truck succeeds. The closing of grocery stores has harmed many Kansas communities and left residents with impractical options for getting the fresh produce, meat and other healthy staples, the Kansas News Service reported. Often they are stuck with overpriced, less healthy offerings from bodegas and convenience stores. More than 800,000 Kansans don't have easy access to fresh, affordable food. The planned launch of the Dotte Mobile Grocer in January follows other efforts to use mobile grocery trucks to bring healthier products to so-called food deserts. The Kansas City, Missouri,-based Rollin' Grocer ran for over a year but suspended operations in July. Matt Kleinmann, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas, helped come up with the mobile grocer idea and facilitates the community council. He said grants will fund the truck through its first year, but organizers will then have to make their case to others for funding. Involving community members in even the smallest decisions about the grocery truck can be time-consuming. But backers think having a large group of locals invested in the truck's success will help it survive. Kolia Souza, a food systems development specialist, said community-driven solutions are key to successful solutions in poor food access. When many local residents are invested in a project's success, more people are working to prevent its failure. Operators hope that means they'll stick around and make it work.

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Two Charged in Killing of Accomplice in Botched Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Two 17-year-olds have been charged with arranging a fake drug deal so they could rob the would-be buyers after their accomplice was killed in northern Kansas City. Authorities say that Jackson Frisbie and Jimmy Abron are jailed on $1 million bond on charges of second-degree murder in the death Sunday night of 21-year-old Richard Richardson. Kansas City police found Richardson shot to death in the parking lot of a subdivision clubhouse parking lot. Court records say Frisbie told police that the drug deal he set up through social media was only a ruse so he and others could rob the buyer. After the two would-be buyers got into a car with Frisbie, Abron and Richardson approached. Richardson was shot when he opened the rear driver's side door. 

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Gun Store Courts Women with Department Store Approach

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — With a scent machine that wafts grapefruit and vanilla fragrances through the air, guns displayed in cases similar to those found in jewelry stores and a high-end women's fashion boutique, the suburban Kansas City, Missouri, business that Bren and Mike Brown opened three years ago aims to take the women's gun store concept well past pink guns. "There's nothing like this across the United States," Bren Brown said as she walked around the 33,000-square-foot Frontier Justice store in Lee's Summit. Public radio station KCUR reports the luxury department store concept could be an important development for the $11 billion retail gun industry, which is increasing efforts to target women amid sluggish gun sales following the election of President Donald Trump. Statistics from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System show more background checks for gun purchases were run in 2016 than in any other year on record. In 2017, they dropped by about 8 percent. They are on pace for a slight increase in 2018. 

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Police Shut Down Kansas City Dinosaur March

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City parade of dozens of people dressed in dinosaur costumes was shut down by police. Jacob Honnold says police will send him a ticket for his role in organizing the second annual March of the Dinosaurs Sunday at the Country Club Plaza. Honnold estimated between 100 and 120 people dressed as dinos came for the event. They marched for about 25 minutes before police ordered them to stop. Kansas City Police spokesman Lionel Coln said in an email that the crowd spilled into the street. He says foot and vehicle traffic in the area was at increased capacity because of the holiday weekend, so the flash mob raised safety concerns. He says the event is under review for possible criminal charges.

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19 Kansas State Parks Plan New Year's Day Hiking Events 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Nineteen of the 26 Kansas state parks are offering guided New Year's Day hikes as part of a nationwide initiative. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that most of the First Day Hike events will traverse a 1-mile or 2-mile, family-friendly path with park staff leading the way. Many will be along the shores of large lakes, rugged woodlands or broad native prairies. The hikes are free, but participants will need a vehicle permit. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism state park director Linda Lanterman said in a news release that it's ``an amazing way to get things stared for a New Year.'' She says many participants return to do more hiking throughout the year. The First Day Hikes initiative began 25 years ago in Massachusetts. 
 

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