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Headlines for Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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

Kansas Taxes Nearly $32 Million More Than Expected in October

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected nearly $32 million more in taxes than anticipated in October.  It was the fifth consecutive month tax collections exceeded expectations.  The Department of Revenue reported Wednesday that state took in nearly $501 million in taxes last month. Its official forecast predicted $469 million. The surplus was 6.8 percent.  Since the current budget year began in July, tax collections are $105 million ahead of expectations, or 5.5 percent.  State officials and economists planned to issue a new fiscal forecast Thursday. The current one was drafted in April.  Lawmakers increased individual income taxes earlier this year to help balance the state budget. Those collections are beating projections.  Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said better-than expected sales and corporate income tax collections show the state's economy is improving.


Review Cites Problems Leading to El Dorado Prison Uprising

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An internal review of a riot in June at the El Dorado prison says prison staff didn't secure doors, which enabled up to 70 inmates to leave their cell house. The Kansas Department of Corrections released the review Wednesday. It says a few days after the first incident, some inmates refused to return to their cells because they didn't like new shower schedules. Unrest involving inmates has been reported at several Kansas prisons this year, drawing attention to problems at the institutions. The Wichita Eagle reports Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told a legislative committee Wednesday that El Dorado has worked to improve security and communication since the uprisings in June. The prison remains under emergency conditions, with corrections officers working 12-hour shifts because of staffing shortages.


Missouri Foundation to Study Harassment in Kansas Politics

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri-based foundation that promotes gender equality plans to work with Kansas officials to improve the Legislature's sexual harassment policy after women complained last week about being harassed at the Kansas Statehouse. Attorneys for The Women's Foundation will work with the Kansas legislative counsel and make recommendations to the Legislative Coordinating Council in December, Senate President Susan Wagle announced Monday. The foundation's work comes amid accusations made last week by some women that they were harassed or assaulted and legislative leaders did not adequately respond, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The foundation did similar work with the Missouri Legislature in 2015. "Sexual harassment is unacceptable, and it presents a barrier for women to advance professionally and to lead in the future," Foundation President and CEO Wendy Doyle said in a written statement. "It must not be enabled or tolerated inside or outside the State Capitol." Former Democratic Statehouse staffer Abbie Hodgson said last week that she was propositioned, touched inappropriately and harassed while she was chief of staff for then-House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat. Hodgson did not say who harassed her. She also reported legislators were using female interns as designated drivers. 


Simmons Pet Food Breaks Ground on Emporia Expansion 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Simmons Pet Food has broken ground on a planned expansion at its plant in Emporia. The company says the $38 million facility will create 100 new jobs by 2019. The plant currently employs about 500 people. Pet Food officials said in a news release that the expansion will allow the company to increase production and packaging for wet pet food products and add substantial capacity to allow the company to respond to increased demand for cup, tub, and pouch packaging. Simmons Pet Food expects to increase output to an estimated 12.4 million cases of wet pet food cups and 2.4 million cases of tubs by 2022.


Kansas Gas Companies Told to Accelerate Pipeline Replacement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has rejected a request from three gas companies, sticking to its original ruling that they need to speed up the replacement of obsolete pipeline deemed a safety risk. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the commission ruled in September for Atmos Energy, Black Hills Energy and Kansas Gas Service to create a 10-year plan to replace unprotected and bare steel pipes. The companies also have to recoup funds at up to 40 cents per month per customer. The ruling ended a years-long look at whether the companies needed to tackle their obsolete pipeline faster. The companies filed a petition for reconsideration, but the commission rejected it last week, enforcing the three return with an accelerated replacement plan within three months and a final plan in six months.


Body Found at Kansas Storage Unit During Check on Children 

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Police and court records say an investigation into a man found sleeping with his two children in a Kansas storage unit has led to the discovery of a body in a cooler. Thirty-five-year-old Justin Rey is jailed on $1 million bond in Johnson County, Kansas, on two counts each of aggravated child endangerment and contributing to a child's misconduct. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa say the remains were discovered when officers checked on two small children who had no food or diapers. A Jackson County, Missouri, search warrant obtained by KCTV says a man taken into custody at the storage facility told authorities his wife killed herself after giving birth to their newborn and that her remains were inside a cooler.


Kansas Girl Taken by Dad to Syria Is Returning Home to U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say an American teenage girl who was taken to Syria by her father several years ago is now with U.S. authorities and will be returned home. She has said her father supported the Islamic State group. The officials say U.S.-allied Syrian forces turned her over to the U.S. military. She's now in State Department custody in Iraq. CBS News interviewed the girl near Raqqa earlier this month. She said she had been in Syria for five years and is from Kansas. The officials said it was the same girl, but didn't identify her by name. One said she was forced to marry a Syrian man and is pregnant. The official said her husband died in a coalition airstrike. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.


Woman's Southern Kansas Death Investigated as Suspicious 

PECK, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's office is searching for a 40-year-old Wichita man in the death of a woman whose body was found near train tracks in south-central Kansas. A passerby found the woman's body early Monday near train tracks near Peck. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and emergency responders noticed trauma on the body. The woman was identified Tuesday as 40-year-old Tamsen Kayzer of Wichita. The suspect is described as a black male, 6-foot-1 tall and weighing 190 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.


Missouri Man Charged in Death of Person of Interest in 2016 Killing

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A 21-year-old has been charged in the death of a suburban Kansas City man who was believed to have information about an unsolved 2016 killing. Cole Walker Huff, of Kansas City, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the slaying of 19-year-old Zachary Thomas Murphy, of Gladstone. Bond is set at $1 million. Murphy was found dead last week on the front porch of an apartment building. Court records say his death stemmed from an undisclosed argument. Murphy was a person of interest in the shooting death of 22-year-old Logan Minton, of Riverside, in North Kansas City. Investigators said they believed Murphy had information about who may have shot Minton but refused to cooperate with investigators. 


Survey Suggests Economic Growth for Midwest

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly survey of business leaders suggests economic conditions continue to improve for nine Midwest and Plains states. A report released this (WED) morning says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.8 in October from 58.2 in September. The August figure was 57.5. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. Goss says national and regional indices indicate the manufacturing sector is expanding at a very healthy pace. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. 


Kansas Police Search for Driver in Fatal Car Accident

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a woman involved in a fatal car accident in southeast Kansas. The Joplin Globe reports that Galena police issued a warrant last week for 25-year-old Shelby Colon's arrest. The Cherokee County district attorney has charged Colon with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 66-year-old Charles Burkybile Jr. and 86-year-old Glen A. Roosa. Authorities say Burkybile and Roosa were struck by a vehicle Colon was driving on July 6. Burkybile died at the scene. Roosa later died at a nearby hospital. Police Chief Billy Charles says Colon stopped at the scene and didn't attempt to flee. He says there was no indication she was impaired at the time, but a blood sample was sent to the state crime lab for analysis.


University of Kansas Honors Colombian President

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is calling for the peace process in his county to serve as a beacon of hope while accepting an honorary degree from a university in the U.S. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Santos spoke Tuesday at the University of Kansas, where he earned degrees in business and economics in 1973. Santos won last year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end his country's civil war after five decades of bloodshed. Santos says that despite differences, people need to coexist in times of conflict, when extremism, radicalism, racism or populism might arise. Santos says we "do not fight evil with evil." Santos also says it is always easier to wage war than seek peace and to "go for the emotions rather than for the arguments."


Kansas Man Sentenced for Downloading Child Porn from Germany 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to federal prison in a child pornography investigation that began in Germany. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced Tuesday that 31-year-old Noah Martin, of Lawrence, was sentenced to just over eight years in federal prison for two counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. The investigation began when police in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany put together a list of 155 people in the United States who used a peer-to-peer network to download a video of a young girl being sexually abused. Homeland Security used the information to lead to Martin's home in Lawrence. Investigators found 1,560 images and 202 videos containing child pornography on Martin's computer.


Man Ordered to Repay Government for Court-Appointed Attorney 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was ordered to pay the government back for his court-appointed attorney after authorities discovered he bought a luxury car while his case was pending. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release that a federal judge on Tuesday ordered Antoine Beasley to pay the federal treasury $34,640. That's the amount Beasley paid on a 2015 Audi A7 Quattro. Beasley was sentenced earlier this month to just over five years in prison on gun and drug charges. He had said he was indigent and was given a court-appointed attorney during his case. After sentencing, it was discovered that while the case was pending Beasley spent $76,715 on the Audi. On his credit application, he said he had a monthly income of $10,000, not counting his wife's income.


Police Investigating Racist Graffiti, Threat on Vehicle

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating a report of a vehicle that had been defaced with racist graffiti that was parked near Kansas State University in Manhattan. The Riley County Police Department says in a news release that the crime occurred sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Wednesday. The graffiti included racial slurs and a threat. Police spokeswoman Hali Rowland says the vehicle was owned by 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams. Police are still investigating the incident.


Tests Show Missouri Man Charged in Fatal Wreck Was on Drugs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A suburban Kansas City man has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in a crash that killed two 18-year-olds. Nineteen-year-old Rodriquez Franklin, of Lee's Summit, was charged Tuesday with two counts of driving while intoxicated leading to death. Prosecutors also filed alternative counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors requested that bond be set at $50,000. The charges stem from a crash in January that killed Kaeden Hernandez and Zachary Meyers. The police investigation found that Franklin was speeding when he lost control, struck a curb and a large tree. 


Former Kansas Choir Director Charged for Sex Crimes with Teenager

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A former teacher of the year for a northeast Kansas school district has been charged with sex crimes with a teenager. Two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy were filed Tuesday against 45-year-old Todd Burd, of Gardner. Bond is set at $250,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court documents say the nonconsensual sexual acts are alleged to have occurred last fall with a 15- or 16-year-old. Burd was a choir director and vocal teacher at Gardner Edgerton High School, but is not currently an employee. He received Gardner-Edgerton district's Teacher of the Year honor in 2015. 


Duke Named No. 1 in AP Preseason Poll: KU Ranked No. 4 

Duke University has been named as the preseason No. 1 by the Associated Press for the second straight season. It's Duke's ninth time to receive the ranking, matching rival North Carolina for most all-time. The Blue Devils received 33 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in the AP Top 25 released on Wednesday. No. 2 Michigan State received 13 first-place votes, No. 3 Arizona had 18 and No. 4 Kansas got one. Kentucky rounded out the top 5, followed by Villanova, Wichita State and Florida. The Atlantic Coast Conference had the most ranked teams with five, while the Big 12 and Big Ten had four each. The Big East and Pac-12 each had three. KU extended the nation's longest consecutive poll streak with its 162nd straight Top 25, a run that started on February 3, 2009. 

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