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Headlines for Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Democratic Senator Laura Kelly Pledges Bipartisan Leadership Team as Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic candidate Laura Kelly is promising to appoint a bipartisan Cabinet if she's elected Kansas governor. Kelly made the pledge during a debate Tuesday in Wichita at a Kansas Association of Broadcasters convention.  She is a veteran state senator wooing moderate Republican voters in a dead-heat race against GOP nominee and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  Kelly has portrayed herself as a lawmaker who can work across party lines.  Kobach said he can work with Democrats on many issues even though he is a principled conservative. But he acknowledged that he will not bend on his opposition to abortion and support for gun rights.  Independent candidate and Kansas City-area businessman Greg Orman said his lack of ties to a party would be an advantage in working with legislators.

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Kobach Proposes Tougher Work Rules for Welfare in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach promises to pursue tougher work requirements for recipients of food stamps, cash assistance and state health coverage if he's elected Kansas governor. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, outlined a proposal Wednesday that builds on laws enacted in 2015 and 2016. Those laws require cash assistance and food stamp recipients to work at least 20 hours a week, be looking for work, or be enrolled in job training. Kobach proposes to increase the work requirement to 30 hours a week for able-bodied adults without children. He wants to impose a 30-hour requirement in the Medicaid program providing health coverage for the needy. He said such requirements will encourage people to work in a strong economy. Democratic nominee Laura Kelly has sharply criticized the 2015 and 2016 laws.

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Kansas Democrats in Hot U.S. House Races Outraise Republicans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Finance reports show that the Democratic candidates in two hot Kansas congressional races raised more money than their Republican opponents during the last quarter.  A report from Democrat Sharice Davids available online Tuesday showed that her campaign in the Kansas City-area 3rd District raised almost $2.8 million from mid-July through September.  That was almost three times as much as the $1 million raised by Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder during the period. But Yoder began with far more cash and ended September with $1.3 million, while Davids ended with about $1 million.  In the neighboring 2nd District of eastern Kansas, Democrat Paul Davis reported raising nearly $1.4 million during the period. Republican nominee Steve Watkins raised about $282,000.  Davis ended the period with nearly $1.3 million, while Watkins had about $151,000.

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Democratic Kansas House Candidate Cited Twice for Drunken Driving

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A Democrat running for a suburban Kansas City legislative seat has been cited twice for drunken driving. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Brandon Woodard, of Lenexa, Kansas, previously acknowledged being arrested in 2012 when he was a 22-year-old senior at the University of Kansas. Because Woodard was then vice president of the university's student senate, the student newspaper, the Daily Kansan, wrote about it. The Star then asked him about it after he announced his candidacy for the 30th District seat in the Kansas House. Woodard says he wasn't trying to hide a second 2014 drunken driving arrest in Lawrence during that February interview, but felt under no obligation to volunteer it. Woodard is running against Republican Wendy Bingesser for the seat being vacated by Republican Randy Powell.

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Kansas City Police Swarm Plaza After Shooting Report

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have two suspects in custody after swarming the Country Club Plaza following a report of a shooting.  Officers were searching parking garages on the Country Club Plaza for an armed suspect after reports shortly before noon Tuesday of shots fired into a car outside a restaurant.  The Kansas City Star reports authorities had put parking garages in the area on lockdown while several police officers with rifles were searching them after several men believed to be involved in the shooting ran into them.  Police announced about 3 pm that they had the suspects in custody and were not looking for anyone else.  No injuries were reported.

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Prosecution: 2 Workers Obstructed Inquiry into Slide Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say two maintenance workers at a Kansas water park where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated on a waterslide deliberately mislead investigators as their criminal trial began.  The Kansas City Star reports that attorneys for David Hughes and John Zalsman countered Tuesday that the Kansas Attorney General's Office misunderstood how the 17-story Verruckt waterslide functioned.  The men are charged with obstructing the investigation into the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City.  Hughes and Zalsman are accused of failing to replace a brake mat that fell off a raft two weeks before it went airborne, killing Caleb. The prosecution says the men then lied and said the mat had only been used for testing. The park's co-owner and the ride's designer have also been indicted.

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Judge Delays Trial of Sedgwick County Commissioner 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has again delayed until next year the fraud trial of Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Wednesday set a new trial date for Jan. 29 in federal court in Wichita. It had been previously scheduled to begin Nov. 13. The judge granted an unopposed defense request for more time. Prosecutors say O'Donnell of fraudulently obtained $10,500 from his campaign accounts for his personal use. An indictment charges him with 23 counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The Wichita Republican was elected to the state Senate in 2012 for a term that ended in January 2017. He did not run for re-election and instead was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission. His term is set to expire in 2020.

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Kansas Records First Influenza Deaths of Flu Season

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials say Kansas has recorded its first flu deaths of the season.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says two deaths in the state have already been directly attributed to influenza as of Monday. Pneumonia has been the direct cause of death in another 38 deaths, and the flu or pneumonia have been contributing factors in an additional 132 deaths.  In last week's KDHE flu report for Kansas, there were 101 outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses. The newborn to 4 years old age group had 29 reported cases for the first week of the flu season.  Flu shots are generally recommended for anyone age 6 months and older. Flu symptoms include a fever, body aches, chills, tiredness, cough and headache.

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Ag Secretary Perdue to Speak in November at K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is speaking next month at Kansas State University. Perdue's appearance is part of the Landon Lecture series. The series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. The series was established in 1966 to bring in speakers to discuss issues facing business, politics and international relations. Perdue will talk about lessons in public service that he learned on the farm. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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Feds Credit License Plate Reader for Catching Kansas Robber

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are crediting data from a license plate reader for narrowing the search for the suspect in the robbery of a Walgreens store in Topeka. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release Wednesday that 42-year-old Bill Oliver Chavez of Topeka was charged with one count of robbing a commercial business. The indictment alleges he robbed the store on Sept. 13. Prosecutors say the suspect lifted his shirt at the store to show the cashier what appeared to be the butt of a gun. The cashier emptied the register. Surveillance video showed the robber was driving a four-door Nissan Maxima with a sunroof. An investigator then used license plate reader data to search for similar cars and owners who fit the robber's description.

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Suspect in Custody in Hit-and-Run Crash That Injured Boy

PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have a suspect in custody in a hit-and-run crash that injured a 12-year-old boy in eastern Kansas. Police in Paola said in a Facebook post that the crash happened Tuesday afternoon. The boy was taken to a hospital, but the extent of his injuries weren't immediately known. The post said the sport utility vehicle that hit the child was leaking fluid as it left the scene. Police announced later in the day that the suspect was in custody. The suspect's name wasn't immediately released. The investigation is ongoing.

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Floodwaters Recede in Kansas After Last Week's Deluge

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Floodwaters are receding in Kansas after several creeks and rivers overflowed in the state. The Hutchinson News reports that water levels on the Cow Creek and the Arkansas River in the Hutchinson area had shown a 2.5 foot (0.75 meter) drop Tuesday from their peaks last week. First responders need the levels to drop even further before the damages can be assessed. Reno County Emergency Management listed 37 road closures on Thursday, but the dangerous situations that led to six water rescue calls last Thursday have diminished. Last week, Governor Jeff Colyer has issued a state of disaster declaration, Amtrak rerouted some passengers on buses and some farmland was inundated. The flooding also claimed the life of 78-year-old Hazel Phillips, who was found dead Friday inside her car near Osawatomie.

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Kansas Nonprofit Says Wounded Dog Recovering from Surgery

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A pit bull that survived being shot in the face in Missouri is recovering from surgery. Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission, Kansas, began caring for the dog, named Gloria, after she was found last week near Slater, Missouri. The nonprofit's CEO, Danielle Reno, says in a Facebook post that the veterinarians who operated on her Tuesday suspect someone meant to shoot her between the eyes. Instead, it appears Gloria jerked her head upward, leaving her alive but with a massive cheek wound. Gloria will need to undergo additional surgeries and will be staying in a foster home for at least the next couple of months as she recovers. Reno says she "continues to amaze everyone who meets her!!!" Investigators in Missouri are following leads to find the shooter.

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Man Suspected of Wounding Kansas Woman Arrested in Texas

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A suspect in a Kansas shooting that left a woman in critical condition has been arrested in an area south of Dallas. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the Hill County, Texas, Sheriff's Department arrested 34-year-old Eric James Cravey, of Pittsburg, Kansas, around 3 a.m. Wednesday. He's being held on an attempted murder warrant for allegedly shooting Vanessa Rae McWhirt Martin after an argument. She was found Saturday lying in the driveway of a vacant residence in Pittsburg suffering from an abdominal wound. She was rushed to a Pittsburg hospital in critical condition and then transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Police in Pittsburg expressed thanks in a news release for the tips that led to Cravey's capture. He'll face extradition proceedings in coming days.

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Affidavit: Deputy Admitted Sex Acts with Kansas Inmate

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A court document contends a former Douglas County sheriff's deputy admitted he had sex with a female inmate in his office at the jail and in his personal car on the streets of Lawrence.  The Lawrence Journal-World reported Tuesday it obtained the affidavit detectives prepared in support of the arrest of 47-year-old Mario J. Godinez of Lawrence. Gondinez was charged in August with engaging in consensual sexual activity with the inmate.  The deputy told detectives the woman aggressively seduced him before he touched her and that afterward he felt ashamed of himself.  The deputy was in charge of an inmate work release program at the jail. The inmate was let out of the jail through that program even though no judge ever approved her request for work release privileges.

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Developer Announces $300 Million Plan for Former Kansas Mall Site

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A developer has announced a $300 million plan to redevelop the site of a former suburban Kansas City mall.  KMBC-TV reports that Salt Lake City-based Woodbury Corporation announced in a release Tuesday its plans for a mixed-use development where the Great Mall of the Great Plains once stood in Olathe, Kansas. The company has named the project Mentum.  The plans include about 250,000 square feet of entertainment, retail and restaurants, and 200,000 square feet of office and medical office space. The development also would offer living spaces, including about 300 multifamily apartments and two hotels.  The company says several entertainment-focused anchors are being considered, including an interactive golf facility, a cinema complex and a fitness center.  The Great Mall of the Great Plains closed in 2015.

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Kansas Says All Voting Machines in State Certified

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The director of elections in Kansas says every piece of voting equipment used in the state has been certified at the state and federal level.  His comments Friday come a day after The Hutchinson News reported Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office failed to produce records showing it had certified voting equipment used by hundreds of thousands of Kansans.  The newspaper reported it received just two letters of certification in response to an open records request.  State Director of Elections Bryan Caskey says that is "just a paperwork situation."  Caskey says he is now in the middle of auditing voting equipment in Kansas, something his office does every two years.  He says Kansas doesn't allow any voting machine that hasn't been certified to be used in the state.

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Ruling: Kansas Gun Law No Defense to Federal Firearm Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court has upheld the firearms convictions against two Kansas men who mistakenly believed that a Kansas law can shield from federal prosecution anyone owning firearms made, sold and kept in the state.  The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected on Tuesday challenges by Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler to their federal convictions under the National Firearms Act.  The court did not address the constitutionality of the Kansas' Second Amendment Protection Act. The state law says firearms, accessories and ammunition manufactured and kept within Kansas borders are exempt from federal gun control.  Cox was convicted of making and marketing unregistered firearms, Kettler was convicted over an unregistered gun silencer.  Kettler argued his prosecution resulted from the dispute between Kansas and the federal government over the Kansas law.

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Study Finds Tornadoes Spinning Up Farther East in U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Over the past few decades tornadoes have been shifting — decreasing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas but spinning up more in states along the Mississippi River and farther east, a new study shows. Scientists aren't quite certain why.  Tornado activity is increasing most in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to a study in Wednesday's journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. There has been a slight decrease in the Great Plains, with the biggest drop in central and eastern Texas. Even with the decline, Texas still gets the most tornadoes of any state.  The shift could be deadly because the area with increasing tornado activity is bigger and home to more people, said study lead author Victor Gensini, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University. Also more people live in vulnerable mobile homes and tornadoes are more likely to happen at night in those places, he said.  Even though Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma get many more tornadoes, the four deadliest states for tornadoes are Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Why is this happening?  "We don't know," Gensini said. "This is super consistent with climate change."  As the Great Plains dry out, there's less moisture to have the type of storms that spawn tornadoes, Gensini said. Tornadoes form along the "dry line" where there are more thunderstorms because there's dry air to the west and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the east.  That dry line is moving east.  "This is what you would expect in a climate change scenario, we just have no way of confirming it at the moment," Gensini said.  Gensini said unless there are specific detailed studies, he and others cannot say this is caused by global warming, just that it looks like what is expected.

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Topeka Zoo Welcomes 4 Sumatran Tiger Cubs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of people watched as streaming webcams captured a Sumatran tiger giving birth to four cubs in Topeka.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that their 8-year-old mother, named Jingga, immediately began nursing and caring for the cubs after their births early Monday. This is Jingga's second set of cubs and 400 to 600 people watched their arrival thanks to the KTWU public television webcams.  The genders of the cubs weren't immediately available. Jingga has been at the zoo since 2012. Their first-time father is 7-year-old Sanjiv.  Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with less than 500 left in the wild. Thirty zoos in North America manage a population of 78 tigers with a goal of increasing the population to 150. The zoo posted a picture on Facebook of the cubs snuggled together.

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Kyle Larson Facing Playoff Elimination After NASCAR Penalty

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson has been docked 10 points by NASCAR for a rules violation that could bring an end to his championship chances. Chip Ganassi Racing was penalized for breaking NASCAR's policy on damaged vehicles during the race at Talladega Superspeedway. The points deduction announced Wednesday drops Larson to 36 points below the cutoff for the final transfer position to the third round of the playoffs. NASCAR will cut the playoff field from 12 to eight drivers following Sunday's race at Kansas. Larson crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $25,000 for the infraction and car chief David Bryant was suspended one race.

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Jury Hears Closing Arguments at College Hoops Fraud Trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers at a trial exploring corruption in big-time college basketball clashed in closing arguments Wednesday over the question of whether major programs were harmed by an alleged scheme to give secret cash payments to the families of top recruits. Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk told a jury in federal court in Manhattan that a former Adidas executive and two co-defendants were shady fixers who put Louisville, the University of Kansas and other universities at risk for costly sanctions by the NCAA by concealing the prohibited payments. The cover-up also tricked colleges into giving scholarships to players who should have been ineligible, he said 

"That's a crime," the prosecutor said. "It's called fraud."

A lawyer for defendant Christopher Dawkins, a business manager instrumental in steering prized prospect Brian Bowen Jr. to Louisville, called the government "theory" that the schools were victims "flawed." He claimed that his client thought he was helping the program succeed to the benefit of everyone involved.

"What proof did the government present that Louisville suffered any harm?" said attorney Steven Haney. "In Christopher Dawkins' mind, he thought what he was doing was OK."

Dawkins, former amateur league director Merl Code and former Adidas executive James Gatto, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they committed fraud by plying the families with cash so the prospects would attend colleges sponsored by the athletic wear company. Prosecutors say the three struck an illicit deal to give $100,000 to Bowen's father for his son to commit to Louisville. Once the criminal investigation was made public, Bowen left the school without ever playing and coach Rick Pitino was fired despite denying any wrongdoing. In his closing, Solowiejczyk recounted testimony from cooperators and wiretap evidence about how the defendants took steps to create false invoices to Adidas, route funds through various bank accounts and convert it to cash that was delivered in envelopes to family members in parking lots and hotel rooms. The behavior "tells you an awful lot about the defendants," the prosecutor said. "It tells you that what they were doing was wrong." The defendants haven't denied that there were attempts to funnel cash to the recruits' families. But they've argued that was how the recruitment game was played and that talent-hungry coaching staffs knew it. Haney said Dawkins was even advising Bowen to consider Oregon, a Nike-sponsored school, in a competition known as "sneaker wars." A text message in evidence that Code, who was a consultant for Adidas, sent to Dawkins implored: "Don't send Bowen to Oregon." Dawkins "was working just as much to help Nike schools," the lawyer said. Once the scandal broke, Bowen transferred to South Carolina but was never cleared to play college basketball and is pursuing a professional career. Closing arguments were to continue Thursday with deliberations expected to begin next week.
 

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