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Headlines for Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Here's what we know so far.

Trump to Nominate Sam Brownback for Ambassador-at-Large Position 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will nominate Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to serve as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. If confirmed by the Senate, he'll run the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom. Brownback is a former U.S. senator and congressional representative. The White House says he worked on the issue of religious freedom while in Washington. Officials in Kansas expect Brownback to step down when he's confirmed, but his office would not immediately discuss future plans Wednesday evening.


Kansas Senators Vote to Move Forward on Health Care Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Both Kansas Senators - Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran -- voted in favor of having the U.S. Senate debate health care legislation.  The two Republicans were on the same side Tuesday even though they've taken different stances on a proposal from GOP leaders for overhauling health care.  Roberts has backed the measure, although he acknowledged in an interview last week that he is not entirely pleased with it.  Moran made national headlines for opposing the plan, costing it enough GOP votes to pass and stalling the health care debate.  Moran said in a statement that he's still opposed to the GOP plan. But he said he will vote to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 Affordable Care Act and work on a replacement over the next two years.


Kansas Congressional Delegation Reacts to Transgender Ban 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two members of Kansas's congressional delegation say they disagree with President Donald Trump's proposal to ban transgender people from serving in the military, although they agree the government shouldn't pay for gender transition surgeries or hormone treatments. U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder and U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins, both Republicans, said in statements Wednesday anyone who wants to serve in the military should be allowed to do so. Republican Representative Roger Marshall said he supports Trump's proposal because the president made the decision after consulting with the country's generals. Senator Pat Roberts said only that he wants to hear more from the military. All of the state's Congressional members voted earlier in favor of an amendment prohibiting therapies or surgeries for transgender troops. The amendment failed.


Prison Guards: 2 Unreported Uprisings at Troubled Kansas Prison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Guards at a Kansas prison housing some of the most dangerous criminals say there were two previously unreported disturbances during which inmates took control of the yard for hours before an third uprising that was disclosed last month.  Two corrections officers and a person with access to emergency logs, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from their employer, say low staffing, overcrowding and 16-hour shifts created dangerous conditions at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.  They say inmates took over the yard for hours during a disturbance the week of May 8 and on June 24. Neither incident has been disclosed by the Kansas Department of Corrections. A third incident on June 29 was revealed when inmates got a cellphone and called relatives.


Kansas Lawmaker to Seek Higher Pay for Corrections Officers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker who heads a budget subcommittee says he'll push next year for a pay increase of as much as 20 percent for corrections officers at state prisons. Republican Rep. J.R. Claeys of Salina announced his proposal following an uprising last month at the state's maximum-security prison in El Dorado. His plan could cost as much as $20 million a year. Claeys is chairman of a House budget subcommittee on public safety. State employee union leader Robert Choromanski said Wednesday that the proposal is a good start but working conditions remain a problem. Claeys said the prison system's biggest issue is recruiting and retaining uniformed officers because the pay starts at $13.95 an hour. The state says 12 percent of those positions were vacant this week.


Kansas Employee Pay Raises Lead to Confusion, Resentment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A formula that Kansas lawmakers have used to determine which state workers would get raises this year has sparked confusion and resentment among employees.  The Lawrence Journal-World  reports that state lawmakers approved a budget in June that gives some employees their first pay raise in several years.  The method leaves out employees who have received raises under separate contracts and divides the rest into two categories.  Workers who've been employed over five years and haven't had a raise since at least 2012 were to get a 5 percent raise. Those who've been on the job less than five years would get a 2.5 percent raise.  University of Kansas employee Sara Vancil is excluded from the raise. She says it's "kind of a slap in the face to longer-serving workers."


Chinese Firm to Locate Small Manufacturing Plant in Lawrence 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Chinese firm will locate a small manufacturing plant in Lawrence to build propellers. The company, Sterna Composite Aircraft, will build the plant as part of a joint venture with Lawrence-based DARcorporation. The propellers built at the plant will power everything from drones to airboats. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the plant will create 10 new manufacturing jobs by the end of the year, with perhaps dozens more in future years. Sterna currently produces composite propellers in China but wants to target the U.S. market. DARcorporation president Willem Anemaat says his company has worked with Sterna previously and promoted Lawrence for the company's U.S. headquarters. Anemaat said the long range plan is to have the joint venture company certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to produce propellers for larger aircraft.


Catholic Priest Charged in Kansas with Child Sex Crimes Now Under Arrest in Maryland

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a Catholic priest charged in Kansas with child sex crimes has been arrested in Maryland.  The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office announced Tuesday that the Reverend Scott Kallal was charged Friday with two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Online court records show the 35-year-old was arrested Monday in Rockville in Maryland's Montgomery County.  Prosecutor's office spokesman Jonathan Carter said he didn't know whether Kallal had an attorney. No details were provided about the allegations.  The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced last week that Kallal was pulled from public ministry duties after two sources accused him of "boundary violations." The archdiocese said its preliminary investigation revealed violations of guidelines governing youth interactions.  The archdiocese said in a follow-up statement Tuesday that it would continue to cooperate with law enforcement.

*This story has been corrected to show that the arrest occurred in Rockville, not Rockville City.

Federal Judge: Kris Kobach Has Shown Pattern of Misleading Court

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has demonstrated a pattern of misleading the court about the facts and record in a voting rights case.  U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson refused Tuesday to reconsider a $1,000 fine and order requiring Kobach to submit to a deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union.  Kobach's spokeswoman says they are reviewing the ruling.  A magistrate judge had fined Kobach for misrepresenting the contents of documents he took into a November meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump and a separate draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act.  Robinson cited three earlier instances where Kobach mischaracterized the record or exhibits. She says sanctions are necessary to deter him from misleading the court in the future.  Kobach is vice chairman of President Donald Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.


Hundreds Show Up to Nonexistent Job Fair in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Several hundred people in Wichita have shown up for a nonexistent job fair after a newspaper article about an event two years ago began circulating on social media. The Wichita Eagle reports nearly 300 people showed up to Spirit AeroSystems last weekend after someone shared the newspaper's story about a job fair in 2015 as if it were a new event. The newspaper's data show the article has been clicked on nearly 30,000 times in the past couple of weeks. The newspaper and Spirit tried to get the word out that there's no job fair, but people still showed up. Spirit spokesman Jarrod Bartlett says the company used that opportunity to remind people that Spirit is always hiring.


Wichita Anti-Abortion Protester Acquitted of Battering Guard

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jurors have acquitted a Wichita anti-abortion protester of battering a clinic guard in a dispute over a sign. The Wichita Eagle reports that jurors returned the verdict Tuesday after 74-year-old David Schmidt appealed his municipal court conviction to Sedgwick County District Court. Schmidt credited his lawyers with getting him "out from under a pile of manure." One of his attorneys works for the Thomas More Society, a national nonprofit law firm that litigates abortion and religious-liberty cases. The charge against Schmidt stemmed from a July 2016 incident outside the Trust Women South Wind Women's Center, which offers reproductive care, including abortions. It is housed in the facility where George Tiller performed late-term abortions until he was fatally shot in 2009 at his Wichita church by an abortion opponent.


Fake Doctor Pleads Guilty After Running Clinics in 4 States

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A fake naturopathic doctor accused of operating medical clinics in four states has pleaded guilty. Federal prosecutors say 60-year-old Isabel Kesari Gervais pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding patients in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover in 2015. Authorities say Gervais used the name Dr. Rose Starr to run the Euro Med Klinic. She claimed to use naturopathic medicine to cure illnesses including cancer. But a statement from prosecutors says the woman admitted lying about her medical license, experience and her credentials in her guilty plea. They say she also used aliases to run clinics in Arkansas, Georgia and Kansas over 15 years. Gervais was arrested in March in Arkansas. Prosecutors say she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine at sentencing in November.


Suspects Caught, Woman Rescued After Police Chase Near Wichita

ROSE HILL, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have rescued a kidnapping victim and arrested three people after a police chase ended in a crash near Wichita.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the chase started Tuesday when officers spotted a vehicle that was believed to be connected to a disturbance at a Wichita hotel in which a witness saw a woman being forced into a vehicle at gunpoint.  Officer Charley Davidson of the Wichita Police Department says the chase ended on the north side of Rose Hill. One of the suspects was arrested after running from the vehicle. Drugs also were found during the arrests.  A woman identified as the kidnapping victim, was treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital. Authorities were interviewing her. Davidson says the suspects and victim knew each other.


Kansas Lawsuit over Unsuccessful SWAT-Style Raid Reinstated by Appeals Court

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit filed by a suburban Kansas City couple after a SWAT-style raid of their home in an unsuccessful search for marijuana.  Robert and Adlynn Harte sued the Johnson County Sheriff's Office after the 2012 raid at their Leawood home. Authorities targeted the Hartes, both former CIA employees, after seeing Robert Harte leaving a store that sold hydroponic gardening equipment. Officers armed with assault rifles raided the couple's home while their young children were present.  A two-and-a-half-hour search found only tomato plants the family was growing with the hydroponic equipment.  The Kansas City Star reports  a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2015 but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated parts of it on Tuesday.


Kansas Hunting Guide Guilty of Violating Hunting Laws

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas hunting guide was sentenced to five years on probation after admitting that he routinely violated state and federal laws while taking groups on hunting trips.  Federal prosecutors said 26-year-old Jerad Stroot, of Colwich, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Tuesday for one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacy Act. Stroot said while taking hunters on $300-a-day hunting trips, he baited ponds for waterfowl, helped hunters exceed their daily bag limits and didn't follow state and federal laws on processing, tagging or transporting birds.  Stroot may not hunt, trap or guide during the five years and must pay a $5,000 fine.  A co-defendant, 35-year-old Josh Hedges, of Grenola, owner of Eagle Head Outfitters, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing July 31.


Man Rescued After Fall at Wichita Grain Bin 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita emergency responders rescued a man who was critically injured after he fell about 20 feet inside a grain bin. Deputy Fire Chief Brad Crisp says the man suffered multiple injuries when he fell Wednesday morning at the grain bin in north Wichita. Firefighters and emergency responders were challenged getting access to the man. Crisp says the man was about 170 feet from ground level and had to be raised up a floor before being taken out the side of the grain bin. The rescue took about an hour. Crisp say the man is in critical but stable condition. The part of the grain bin where the accident occurred does not contain grain. It is the mechanical area that moves grain from place to place.


New Mexico Detention Center to Close 

ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — A private owner of a central New Mexico county jail says it's closing that detention center in two months. The Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic announced this week that the company recently decided to shut down the Torrance County Detention Center on Sept. 23 due to a declining inmate population. The facility houses around 600 inmates, most of whom are federal prisoners. CoreCivic is the owner and operator of the Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas. An audit earlier this year at the Leavenworth facility showed problems with understaffing, security, and attempts to hide “triple-bunking” practices from inspectors, according to a Department of Justice report. The detention center holds hundreds of prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service. CoreCivic is one of the nation’s two largest private prison companies. 


War Plane Restoration Honors Deceased Veterans 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A decades-old bomber that was built and restored in Wichita is now being used to honor those who worked on B-29s during World War II. The Wichita Eagle reports the Boeing B-29 Superfortress named Doc has a custom exhaust port on the rear of the plane can spread cremated remains. It took a trip Tuesday in Wisconsin with the cremated remains of one of the men who helped with its 16-year volunteer restoration. The plane was dubbed Doc after being assigned to a squadron of eight bombers named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1945 to 1956. The plane was finished too late to fly bombing missions during WWII, but it served as a radar trainer during the Korean War.


Royals Keep on Rolling, Beating Tigers, 3-1

Whit Merrifield homered and the Royals picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Tigers, 3-1, in Detroit.  Kansas City remains 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central division.



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