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Headlines for Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Fired KU Football Coach David Beaty Files Breach of Contract Lawsuit, Seeks $3 Million

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas football coach David Beaty said Tuesday he was suing the school's athletic department in federal court, alleging breach of contract and seeking $3 million he contends he is owed after he was fired in November. The Jayhawks said they are withholding the money pending an NCAA investigation into possible rules violations by the former coach. Beaty was let go with three games left last season but finished out the year to end his tenure with a 6-42 record in four seasons. The woeful program did post a conference victory over TCU and end a 46-game road losing streak under Beaty, whose contract was extended two years through 2021 in late 2016.  

Beaty's attorney, Michael Lyons of Dallas, said the contract guaranteed payment if Beaty was terminated without cause and that the coach would be paid $3 million owed to him. Instead, the attorney said, Kansas officials discussed what it would take to avoid paying Beaty and contends he was told in December there were "allegations involving a member of the football staff and that Kansas athletics would not make the guaranteed payments" pending an investigation.  "Beaty has cooperated with the investigation and has been unequivocal that he is unaware of any violations of any NCAA rules while the head football coach at KU," according to an excerpt of the lawsuit.  

Jim Marchiony, a Kansas associate athletic director, said the school learned "of possible NCAA violations allegedly committed by Beaty" after the season during exit interviews with football coaches and staff.  "KU contacted the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference and began an investigation into the matter. Beaty refused to cooperate with the KU review and, ultimately, the NCAA took the lead in the still-ongoing investigation," Marchiony said.  He also said the money owed to Beaty is being held in escrow "in a show of good faith" pending the outcome of the NCAA probe.

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GOP Wants More Say in How Education Funds are Spent

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - If Kansas' highest court is going to force state lawmakers to boost public education funding again, some conservative Republicans want something in return.  Their list includes a say in how new dollars are spent and a voucher program to allow bullied kids to switch to private schools.  A state House committee expects to have hearings this week on an education bill drafted by its conservative chairwoman and introduced Tuesday.  It's an alternative to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's proposal for an increase of roughly $90 million in the state's more than $4 billion a year in education funding.  The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year that education funding remains inadequate despite increases in recent years. The state's attorneys must report in writing by April 15 on how lawmakers addressed the problem.

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Kansas Legislators Vote to Condemn New York Abortion Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have condemned New York's new law protecting abortion rights in a statement that will be sent to every New York legislator and its governor. The Kansas House on Wednesday approved a resolution declaring that New York's law "violates the life and well-being of a woman and her unborn child." The 85-38 vote came after some Democrats questioned whether the GOP-controlled Legislature was wasting its time. The Kansas Senate approved the resolution last month. The New York law was designed to codify protections for a woman's right to obtain an abortion granted by federal courts. Abortion opponents across the nation have argued that it allows abortions up to the moment of birth. Democratic New York state Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan says opponents are "spreading misinformation and falsehoods."

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Troubled Kansas Hospital Closes After Facing Overdue Bills

HORTON, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas hospital run by an embattled health management company has shut down operations after struggling for months without enough funds to pay its employees or buy medication and food for patients. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the city of Horton's only medical provider, Horton Community Hospital, closed on Tuesday. Residents will now have to travel 12 miles to Hiawatha for medical care. The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Richard Brown, says the closure didn't come as a surprise. Hospital staff said they've had to negotiate with city officials to keep the lights on at the hospital, which faced mounting, overdue bills. The hospital was transferred to iHealthcare after being managed by EmpowerHMS, which is associated with other Kansas hospitals that have struggled to pay bills.

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Man Convicted in Death of Girlfriend's Mother's Boyfriend

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been convicted of killing his girlfriend's mother's boyfriend near a northeast Kansas lake. Jurors in Jefferson County found 23-year-old Jonathan Davis Blevins, of Topeka, guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Taylor Dean Sawyer. His body was found March 14, 2018, at Perry Lake. Sentencing for Blevins is set for April 18. His girlfriend, Ashlyn Hemmerling, will be arraigned later this month on a charge of first-degree murder. Her mother, Sarah Hemmerling, initially was charged with obstruction, but that charge was dropped. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig said previously that authorities believe Ashlyn Hemmerling helped orchestrate the homicide. He said circumstances leading to the homicide may have involved a domestic dispute as well as drug use.

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Former Kansas EMT Sentenced for Stealing Morphine from Vials

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former emergency responder in Jackson County, Kansas, has been sentenced to five years on federal probation for stealing morphine from vials. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 33-year-old Colby VanWagoner, of Mayetta, was sentenced Tuesday. He was also ordered not to work anywhere that gives him access to controlled substances without prior approval from his probation officer. And he must complete a drug treatment program. He pleaded guilty in December to obtaining a controlled substance by deception and making a false statement. Prosecutors say VanWagoner replaced morphine with saline solution while working for the Jackson County Emergency Medical Service in Holton. Tests showed the concentration of morphine in vials that were tampered with was 1 percent or less. The concentration of morphine should have been 100 percent.

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Wichita State University President Dies After Illness

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita State University has announced the death of its president after an illness.  The university said in a news release that 70-year-old John William Bardo died Tuesday at Wesley Medical Center.  He was admitted to the hospital in late November suffering from a chronic lung condition. Bardo spent several weeks in rehabilitation and at home before returning to the hospital last weekend.  Bardo became Wichita State's president in July 2012.  He began his career at Wichita State as an assistant professor of sociology. After leaving Wichita State, he held leadership appointments at various universities. Those included Western Carolina University where he was chancellor from 1995 to 2011 before returning to Wichita State.  He is survived by Deborah Bardo, his wife of 44 years, and their son, Christopher.

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3 People Die in Southeastern Kansas Accident

CANEY, Kan. (AP) - Three people are dead after an accident on a highway in southeastern Kansas.  The accident happened around 8:25 a.m. Tuesday near the junction of U.S. 75 and U.S. 166 in Montgomery County, about three miles north of the small town of Caney.   Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Rick Wingate says in a posting on the agency's Facebook page that the wreck involved two vehicles. Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fourth person was taken to a hospital in Oklahoma.  Names of the victims have not been released, and the patrol offered no additional information about the cause of the crash.  Caney is about 115 miles southeast of Wichita.

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Woman Gets Probation for Stealing Donations Meant for Young Burn Victim

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 34-year-old woman who stole charitable donations meant for an 11-year-old burn victim has been sentenced to a year of probation.  KAKE-TV reports Cinthia Davis, of Wellington, was sentenced Tuesday and ordered restitution to the victim's family. Davis was found guilty of felony theft in January.  Prosecutors allege Davis and her husband set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for a Haysville girl who was burned in September 2015.  More than $8,000 was raised in less than a month.  A Haysville police investigator testified during Davis' trial that all the funds were withdrawn and spent within 60 days after the fundraiser ended.  The girl's mother received only a few hundred dollars.  Davis' husband, Martin Kerr, pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to probation last year.

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Planners in Overland Park Approve Islamic Center Plan

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Planning commissioners in a Kansas City suburb approved a proposal for a new Islamic center that could serve as a centralized location for Muslims in Missouri and Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Overland Park Planning Commission gave preliminary approval Monday to the Islamic Center of Kansas's plan to build a roughly 111,000-square-foot religious facility. The move came after hundreds of residents petitioned for the proposal to be delayed or dismissed.  The center's plans include a mosque, school, day care and banquet hall.  Neighbors say the size and scope of the Islamic center make it a bad fit for the area. Many expressed concerns about noise, traffic and the impact on wildlife and the area's green space.  Residents could file a protest petition within two weeks.

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Olathe Man Dies in Bicycle Race at Cheney Reservoir

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) - Reno authorities say an Olathe man died during a cycling race at Cheney Reservoir during the weekend.  The Reno County Sheriff's office says 48-year-old William "Craig" Henwood died during the Rage Against the Chainring gravel bicycle race Saturday.  Henwood was injured when his bike started to drift left in front of several riders and left the road. Authorities say he fell over the handlebars and hit his head.  The Hutch Post reports CPR was performed and Henwood responded for a short time but was eventually pronounced dead at the scene. He was taken to the Wichita Forensics Center for tests to determine if he suffered a medical condition before the accident.  The Rage Against the Chainring is part of a race series sponsored by the Kansas Cycling Association.
 
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Romanian National Sentenced for ATM Skimming

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Romanian national who used skimming devices on ATMs to steal debit card information has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison without parole.  Federal prosecutors say 24-year-old David Velcu, also known as Luca Antoni, was in the U.S. illegally when he committed the crimes on ATMs in Kansas and Missouri in April 2018.  He was sentenced Monday to three years and 10 months in prison and ordered to pay $5,904 in restitution.  Velcu pleaded guilty in September to possessing counterfeit unauthorized access devices. He admitted using skimmers and pin cameras at ATMs to capture account numbers and personal identification numbers. He transferred the information to 78 re-encoded magnetic strips on gift cards, and used the information to withdraw money from stolen accounts.

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Trial Set for August in Shooting of Manhattan Officer

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A 38-year-old man accused of trying to kill a Manhattan police officer is now scheduled for trial in August.  Mark Harrison faces one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer. Prosecutors say he fired 33 shots during a three-hour standoff with police in January 2018.  The Manhattan Mercury reports one shot hit Riley County Police Sgt. Pat Tiede in the leg. The defense has argued that shot hit Tiede after it ricocheted off a sidewalk.  In February, Harrison was found not guilty on two counts of attempted capital murder, stemming from shots that hit an armored SWAT vehicle with two officers inside. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on the count involving Tiede.  Harrison's new trial is scheduled for August 6.

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Driver in Fatal Wichita Accident Sentenced to Probation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A drunken driver who killed a 35-year-old motorcycle rider will serve two days in jail, five days of house arrest and a year of probation. Alexandra Eslinger pleaded guilty in January to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence, both misdemeanors, in the July 2017 death of Jesus Navarro-Gonzalez. She was sentenced last week. She was also ordered to complete drug and alcohol treatment. The Wichita Eagle reports police said Eslinger turned into a parking lot and caused a crash that killed Navarro-Gonzalez. Court records say Eslinger had a blood-alcohol level of .102, above the legal limit of .08 at the time of the crash. The probation carries an underlying sentence of a year of jail time if she violates probation. Court records indicate Eslinger had a previous DUI conviction.

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EPA Ledges $16 Million Per Year for Tar Creek Superfund Cleanup

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has pledged more than $16 million annually for the continued cleanup of toxic mine waste at the heavily polluted Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma.  Superfund is a law that gives the EPA funding and authority to clean up contaminated sites. Tar Creek, in Ottawa County, covers a 40-square-mile area and is one of the nation's oldest, most complex Superfund sites.  The Tulsa World reports the EPA, in collaboration with Oklahoma and the Quapaw Nation, announced Monday that their plan is open for a 30-day public evaluation. The plan provides an update on cleanup progress and establishes framework for cleaning up mining waste in Ottawa County over the next five years.  The EPA is expected to release a final Tar Creek Strategic Plan this summer.

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