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Headlines for Wednesday, October 23, 2019

 

Autoworkers from Closed Plants Fight New GM Contract

DETROIT (AP) — If they can close our plant, they can close yours, too.  That's the message from workers at three shuttered General Motors factories that didn't get new products under the tentative contract agreement reached last week between GM and its striking union.  Many workers from those closed factories say they want to vote down the contract and continue the 6-week-old strike.  But few think they will be successful because the agreement is too attractive.  (Read more about this story.)

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Low Pay Biggest Concern Among State of Kansas Employees

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A survey of 8,000 0state of Kansas executive branch employees shows that the biggest concern for most of them is low pay and poor benefits. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that while 65% of respondents from 14 Cabinet agencies are satisfied with their jobs, three in five cite low pay and benefits as their most significant workplace concern. The Kansas Department of Administration released findings Wednesday of the anonymous, voluntary survey. It was conducted in June at the urging of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. The department says 54% of employees from the Cabinet agencies responded. Lawmakers this year approved a bill signed by Kelly to provide state employees with a 2.5% pay raise. Health insurance plan premiums for state workers were lowered in 2019 by 6%.

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Fossils Stolen from Museum Display Case in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence are investigating after three fossils were stolen from a display case at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the fossils were reported missing Monday but were believed to have been stolen Friday or Saturday. The university police crime log says someone pried hooks from a display case to open it and take the fossils. It's not clear what kind of fossils were taken or how much they're worth.

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3.7 Magnitude Earthquake Rumbles at Kansas-Oklahoma Border

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — A 3.7 magnitude earthquake centered near the Kansas-Oklahoma border was felt as far as 75 miles away, but no injuries have been reported. The Kansas City Star reports that the temblor happened just after 4 p.m. Tuesday and was centered in northern Oklahoma, about 15 miles south of Anthony, Kansas. The town of about 2,200 residents is 10 miles from the Oklahoma state line. Light to moderate shaking was measured near the epicenter. People as far away as Wichita, 75 miles away, reported feeling the earthquake. Dozens of small earthquakes have rattled the same area in recent days, but the earthquake on Tuesday was the strongest in the area in the last 30 days.

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Squirrel Blamed for Power Outage in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A wayward squirrel is being blamed for a power outage in Topeka. KSNT-TV reports that about 3,000 Evergy customers were without electricity when the power went out around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Crews had the lights back on within about a half-hour. The electric company says a squirrel made contact with equipment, causing the outage. Among those impacted were businesses, Topeka West High School and several traffic lights.

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News Conference in Missouri Set Regarding Death Investigation into Missing Wisconsin Brothers

KINGSTON, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri prosecutor and sheriff will give an update Wednesday into the disappearance of two Wisconsin brothers missing since July and presumed dead.  Caldwell County Maj. Mitch Allen told the Kansas City Star that new charges will be filed against Garland Nelson, the Missouri man already charged with tampering with a vehicle rented by Justin and Nick Diemel of Shawano County, Wisconsin. Officials with the sheriff's and prosecutor's offices would say only that a news conference is planned at the courthouse.  The brothers were reported missing July 21. They had been visiting Nelson's farm while on a trip related to their cattle business.  Human remains were found on the farm but had not been identified.  A message left Tuesday with Nelson's attorney was not immediately returned.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Plans to Visit Wichita for Event with Ivanka Trump

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to visit Wichita this week for an appearance with Ivanka Trump.  It's Pompeo's fourth visit to Kansas this year, again creating speculation about whether he plans to run for the Senate. Pompeo is a former Wichita-area congressman and many Republicans see him as an ideal candidate to replace retiring GOP Sen. Pat Roberts next year.  The Wichita Eagle reports that both the White House and Republican Congressman Ron Estes confirmed Pompeo's plans to visit Thursday.  Estes' office said the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board will have a round-table discussion on workforce development featuring him and Pompeo.  The board advises the federal government on improving skills-based education. It is co-chaired by Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and a White House adviser.

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Military IDs Remains of Korean War Soldier from Kansas

SEDGWICK, Kan. (AP) — The remains of Korean War soldier from Kansas have been identified nearly seven decades after his death.  A Defense Department agency that's tasked with accounting for missing troops announced Tuesday in a news release that the remains are those of Sgt. James Ernest Smith Jr. of Sedgwick.  He was reported missing in November 1950 after enemy forces attacked his unit near Kujang-dong, North Korea. Several returning American POWs said Smith died several months later at a temporary prisoner of war camp. He was just 21.  Last year, North Korea turned over 55 boxes of purported human remains. And in August, scientists identified Smith's remains, in part through a DNA analysis.  The release says Smith's remains will be buried at Arlington Cemetery, although the date hasn't been determined.

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State Agency Revokes License of Kansas Police Officer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A state agency has revoked the license of a Kansas City, Kansas, police officer who flashed his badge and threated to use his gun when he was being kicked out of a bar last year.  The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training issued the order of revocation last week for 41-year-old Robert Ward. He was accused of threatening a bartender in nearby Johnson County while trying to pursue a woman during an argument.  The Kansas City Star reports that he was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty in July to three counts of assault and one count of possessing a firearm while under the influence.  His employment with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department subsequently ended. Police didn't immediately respond to The Star's request for comment.

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Ex-AMC Exec Alleges She Was Fired for Seeking Equal Pay

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former female executive of the Kansas-based movie theater company American Multi-Cinema Inc. alleges in a lawsuit that she was fired in retaliation for asking for equal pay.  The Kansas City Star reports that Tonya Mangels, of Kansas City, Missouri, contends that as vice president of product marketing, she performed the same work as several other men in vice president roles. But she says in the lawsuit filed last week in federal court that she was paid between $117,000 and $149,000 per year less than them.  After a failed pay-focused mediation session, AMC fired her last month, alleging that she tipped off her team about impending layoffs. Mangels contends she had no prior knowledge of the job cuts.  An AMC spokesman said Monday that AMC typically doesn't comment on pending litigation.

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Kansas Man Dies After Jumping from Moving Car

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old Kansas man is dead after, according to police, he jumped from a moving car.  KSNW-TV reports that Chad Lee of Wichita died Monday night. Police say Lee was the passenger in a Ford Fusion driven by a 32-year-old woman. Officer Charley Davidson says the two were arguing and Lee apparently jumped from the car as it was going about 35 mph.  Arriving officers found Lee in the roadway, unresponsive.  An investigation continues.

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Farmer Pleads Guilty to Crop Insurance, Bankruptcy Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say they plan to seek more than $2.1 million in restitution from a Kansas farmer who pleaded guilty to crop insurance and bankruptcy fraud.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Kevin Struss, of rural WaKeeney, entered the guilty plea Monday in federal court. Struss admitted in the plea that he underreported the total bushels of corn and milo that he harvested as part of a scheme to fraudulently collect crop insurance benefits. The crop insurance fraud charge stems from false reports in 2015, although prosecutors say the false reports continued in 2016 and 2017.  Struss also admitted that when he filed for bankruptcy in April 2018, he lied about transferring $470,000 to someone three months earlier.  Sentencing is set for January 15.

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Kansas GOP Leader's Medicaid Plan Would Boost Tobacco Taxes

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The legislative leader spearheading an effort to pass a GOP plan for expanding Medicaid in Kansas has drafted a proposal that would raise tobacco taxes and that does not include a work requirement for program participants.  The proposal outlined Monday by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning differs significantly from an expansion plan backed by Governor Laura Kelly and fellow Democrats. It includes provisions designed to keep some working-class Kansans in private health plans rather than providing them with state Medicaid coverage.  The tax on a pack of cigarettes would rise by $1, to $2.29.  The Senate's GOP leaders blocked Medicaid expansion earlier this year but pledged to draft a Republican alternative. Denning provided details in an interview and a legislative committee was set to review them Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Wichita Driver Arrested in July Crash that Killed Passenger

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita driver has been arrested in a crash that killed a passenger.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County Jail booking reports show that 21-year-oldEric Lane Turner Jr. was taken into custody Saturday. He had a warrant for charges of reckless involuntary manslaughter, failure to stop at the scene of an injury accident and driving while suspended in the crash that killed 21-year-old Leon Turner. He also is being held on a warrant alleging that he violated probation in a 2018 case.  Wichita Police Department spokesman Officer Kevin Wheeler says Eric Turner was driving a car that struck two parked and unoccupied vehicles around 8:25 am on July 5. Leon Turner was pronounced brain dead two days later.  Wheeler says he doesn't know the relationship between the two men.

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Kansas Farmers Make Progress Planting Next Year's Wheat Crop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government snapshot shows Kansas growers making progress planting next year's winter wheat and harvesting fall crops.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that winter wheat planting was 77% complete, near the five-year average for this time of year in Kansas. Nearly half had already emerged.  Kansas farmers had also cut about 62% of their corn, along with 32% of the soybeans and 27% of their sorghum crops.

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Kansas City Area Woman Accused of Slashing 18 Police Car Tires After Her Arrest

RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, woman is accused of slashing the tires on eight police vehicles one day after her arrest.  The Kansas City Star reports that 46-year-old Eunice A. Fisher is charged with first-degree property damage.  A caller told police at 3 am Sunday that a burglary was in progress at a bank. It turned out to be a hoax, but Raytown officers who responded to the call found out a total of 18 tires were flat on eight police vehicles. Damage is estimated at around $2,500.  Police say surveillance video shows Fisher damaging the tires. The officer reviewing the video recognized Fisher — he had arrested her the day before.  Fisher does not have a listed attorney. She is on probation for drug, motor vehicle tampering and burglary conviction

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