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Headlines for Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Manhattan Flooding Damaged Hundreds of Dwellings

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan officials say flood waters that inundated the college town over the Labor Day holiday weekend damaged 106 buildings and 381 homes and apartment units.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that local entities haven't yet determined the total cost of the damage, but they expect to have those numbers next week.  Officials say development along Wildcat Creek contributed to the severity of the flooding. Nearly 9 inches of rain caused the creek to burst its banks, forcing more than 300 people to evacuate their homes.  The city's community development assistant director, Chad Bunger, says Manhattan sits at the confluence of two rivers — the Kansas River and the Big Blue River. He says homes and businesses are situated near the drain of the bathtub for Wildcat Creek watershed.

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GOP State Lawmakers Divided over Kobach's Candidacy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach's campaign to become the next Kansas governor is not drawing unified support from the state's GOP lawmakers.  The Kansas City Star reports nearly 40 percent of Republican lawmakers it surveyed either would not say or didn't respond to repeated inquiries into whether they support Kobach's candidacy. Four moderate Republicans from Johnson County have already said they won't vote for Kobach in his race against Democrat Laura Kelly and independent candidate Greg Orman.  The Star surveyed 95 Republican lawmakers who are either up for election in November or who will remain in office next year.  Kobach said the lukewarm reaction is typical of candidates who are considering their district's wishes.  The newspaper said 94 percent of Democrats in the Legislature said they plan to vote for Kelly in November.

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Kobach's Claim About Wichita School Administrators Not True

 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's claim that a Wichita high school has a dozen assistant principals is not true, but his campaign says he stands by his contention that Kansas schools have too many administrators. Kobach made the statement Saturday during a debate between GOP governor's candidates at the Kansas State Fair. The Wichita Eagle reports Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert said a state legislator told Kobach about the Wichita school. After Wichita school officials objected, Herbert said the campaign checked and found that East High School and North High School in Wichita combined have a dozen principals and vice principals, which she says is "clearly excessive.''  Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said he isn't aware of any school in the state with 12 assistant principals.  

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Judge: Kansas Deputy's Demotion Not Due to Sex Orientation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has ruled that a Kansas sheriff's deputy wasn't demoted because he's gay, but rather because he couldn't succeed at the police academy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a federal judge last month dismissed a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed by Kyle Appleby, who has been openly gay at work since 2008.  Appleby's promotion in 2015 from Douglas County corrections officer to deputy was contingent on completing training at the Lawrence police academy. He was demoted after failing to complete the academy. Appleby sued the County Commission last year, alleging that sheriff's employees participated in "sex stereotyping'' and that his superiors made offensive comments about his masculinity. The judge ruled the allegations may be true but that the lawsuit doesn't show how the comments factored into his demotion.  Appleby's attorney and county officials declined to comment.

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Kansas Food Bank Expansion to Provide 1 Million More Meals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Food Bank officials say an expanded Wichita warehouse will allow the organization to provide 1 million more meals across the state. Debi Kreutzman, spokeswoman for the organization, says in a news release that the food bank is using more than $5 million raised in a capital campaign to build a 21,000-square-foot addition. The addition will include a volunteer center, warehouse space and more freezer and cooler space. Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed in May. The Wichita Eagle reports the new addition will allow the organization to increase the meals it serves from 12.3 million to more than 13.3 million, and fresh produce distribution is expected to double. More than 700 partners distribute meals in 85 Kansas counties.

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Kansas Officials Back Trump's Plan for Biodefense Lab in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are backing President Donald Trump's plan to switch federal agency control of a biodefense laboratory complex under construction in the state. The Wichita Eagle reports that the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility is currently controlled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Federal and state officials say the $1.25 billion project in Manhattan will aid efforts to prepare for agro-terrorism and research how to protect the country's food supply.  Trump this year proposed handing over operational control of the facility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of his budget plan. The idea brought some concern, but federal officials and Kansas lawmakers on Monday supported the bureaucratic changeover.  Construction on the facility is about two-thirds complete. The facility is expected begin operating in 2022 or 2023.

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Prison Accused of Discriminatory Treatment of Muslim Woman

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group alleges that staff at a privately run Kansas prison repeatedly disparaged a Muslim woman for wearing a headscarf and ordered her to take it off before allowing her to leave her cell. Washington-based Muslim Advocates raised concerns about the treatment of 49-year-old Valeriece Ealom in a letter to CoreCivic, the Tennessee-based company that operates the prison in Leavenworth. The letter, which was made public Wednesday, also was sent to the U.S. Marshals Service, which contracts with CoreCivic to house federal prisoners, The Kansas City Star reports. CoreCivic did not immediately respond to questions from The Star or The Associated Press. A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service says they are looking into the allegations. Ealom has been held at the Leavenworth Detention Center since last November after federal prosecutors moved to revoke her parole in a drug case. The letter said she "believes it is her fundamental obligation to practice modesty by wearing a headscarf," which a prison chaplain provided. But when other employees allegedly harassed Ealom about wearing it and threatened to discipline her if she did not take it off, Ealom filed a formal complaint. The letter said that only made the harassment worse and that at one point an officer confiscated her scarf as "contraband." She alleged that at other times, a guard has interrupted her prayers to conduct searches of her cell. The letter said the prison's management has "failed to take any meaningful correction action" and that the Marshals Service has "permitted this harassment to continue." In February, acting without a lawyer, Ealom filed a federal civil lawsuit over her treatment. A judge dismissed the suit in June, saying that it didn't provide enough information to show how she had been harmed. Leavenworth Detention Center has faced many complaints in recent years. The prison is the focus of ongoing legal action over the taping of phone calls between prisoners and their lawyers. A Justice Department audit last year blasted the prison for understaffing, security problems and deceptive practices. Prison officials have been accused of retaliating against employees who complain.

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Olathe Mom Charged With Seeking Hit Man for Ex-Husband

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe woman already charged with trying to kill her three children is now accused of seeking a hit man to kill her ex-husband. Therese Irene Roever was charged Wednesday with a second attempted capital murder charge for plotting to have an unnamed person kill John Roever. The Kansas City Star reports 37-year-old Therese Roever was charged in February with attempted capital murder for an alleged attempt on her children's lives. John Roever had residential custody of the children but they were visiting their mother when she and the children were found to have been drugged. Court documents say doctors told investigators two of the children would have died if they had been found later. Court documents containing details of the new allegations are not yet publicly available.

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Kansas Chiropractor Charged with Raping Underage Patient

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An Emporia chiropractor already facing two sexual battery charges is now charged with rape involving an underage female.  The Lyon County Attorney's office charged Eric Hawkins on Monday with raping a patient who was 15 or 16 at the time of the incident. Court documents allege the assault occurred between October 1 and November 30, 2015.  Hawkins was charged in August with two counts of sexual battery involving a 22-year-old and a 32-year-old patient. He is scheduled to appear in court on those charges Thursday.  The Emporia Gazette reports his chiropractor's license was suspended in July pending the outcome of the court cases.

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Kansas Man Accused of Molesting 9-Year-Old Girl

SALINA, Kan. (KAKE) - Authorities have arrested a Kansas man accused of sex crimes involving a 9-year-old girl.  Saline County Jail records show 34-year-old Joe Granado Jr., was booked for aggravated indecent liberties with a child, promoting obscenity to a minor and aggravated indecent solicitation of a child.  Capt. Paul Forrester with the Salina Police Department told KSAL Radio that the girl told her mother that Granado showed her sexually explicit videos and then sexually assaulted her while she was at his home on August 26 and 27.  Granado was taken into custody on Monday. Police say he is an acquaintance of the girl's family.

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Former NFL Running Back Charged with Rape in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been charged with rape in Wichita.  KAKE-TV reports Randle was charged Tuesday with two counts of rape, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, seven counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and one count of aggravated battery. He also was charged with a probation violation. His probation was revoked in two other cases.  Randle was arrested Friday after police were called to an apartment complex, where a 28-year-old woman said Randle had sexually assaulted her.  A judge set his bond at $500,000 and ordered Randle back in court September 27.  Randle has been arrested numerous times in the last several years. He was sentenced to probation in June for a fight at a house party in February 2016.

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Lawrence Student Enters Plea After Taking Handgun to School

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence student pleaded no contest after bringing a loaded gun to school last year. The student, who was 17 at the time, was charged as a juvenile in Douglas County District Court. He pleaded no contest Wednesday to criminal use of a weapon in juvenile court. As part of his plea agreement, a marijuana possession charge from the same incident was dropped. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a school resource officer and a Lawrence police officer found the boy with a .22 magnum pistol in his backpack at Lawrence Free State High School. Prosecutor Bryant Barton said officers searched the student's backpack after receiving a tip from another student. Barton did not say where the boy obtained the gun. His sentencing is scheduled for November 7.

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Man Sentenced for Illegal Driver's License Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man has been ordered to spend a year in federal prison for helping immigrants who are in the country illegally to fraudulently obtain Missouri driver's licenses. The Kansas City Star reports that 38-year-old Martin Lara-Rodriquez was sentenced Friday. He was one of more than a dozen people charged in 2012 with participating in a nationwide conspiracy involving the Missouri Department of Revenue office in St. Joseph. More than 3,500 people in the U.S. illegally obtained driver's licenses as part of the conspiracy, which involved the use of fraudulently obtained birth certificates and social security cards.  Court documents say Lara-Rodriguez himself was in the county illegally and living in North Carolina. He admitted in his plea to making about 10 trips to Missouri, helping about 30 people obtain fraudulent documents.

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5 Men Indicted in Kansas on Illegal Immigration Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted five men who federal prosecutors say unlawfully entered the U.S. after being deported.  U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says all five men were found in various counties in Kansas and face federal prison sentences.  The indictment says 27-year-old Jose Rafael Gutierrez-Yanez has been deported four times. He was found in March in Sumner County. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison.  The other four men, two from Mexico and two whose nationalities were not given, face two years in prison if convicted. They had been deported between once and three times.  They were found in Johnson, Pratt and Ellis counties.

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Kansas Girl Dies After Running into Street, Mother Injured

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say a 2-year-old girl died after she ran into a street and was hit by a truck.  The girl's mother was seriously injured when she ran into the street to stop her and was also hit by the truck on Monday evening.  The Kansas City Star reports police spokesman Jonathon Westbrook says the case was an accident. He says the driver was not speeding and was not under the influence.  The driver immediately pulled over after the accident and is cooperating with investigators.  Westbrook says it's unclear what prompted the girl, Melanie McDonald, to run into the street.  

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Sunda, Elephant at Topeka Zoo, Euthanized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka Zoo officials say a 58-year-old elephant was euthanized after she couldn't get up for the second time this week.  Topeka spokeswoman Molly Hadfield says the elephant, Sunda, was euthanized Wednesday morning because of her deteriorating health and quality of life.  The Topeka Capita-Journal reports Sunda lived at the zoo for 52 years, longer than any other animal there.  On Monday, Topeka firefighters helped lift Sunda to her feet after she was unable to get up on her own. She was unable to stand again Wednesday morning.  Her health problems included a sore behind her ear that wouldn't heal, kidney issues and a mass in her reproductive system.  Hadfield says the median lifespan for elephants is about 46.9 years.

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"Miraculous" - Boy Survives After Meat Skewer Pierces Skull

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A 10-year-old Missouri boy is recovering after he was attacked by insects and tumbled from a tree, landing on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head.  But miraculously, that's where Xavier Cunningham's bad luck ended. The skewer had completely missed Xavier's eye, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels, The Kansas City Star reports.  

Xavier's harrowing experience began Saturday afternoon when yellow jackets attacked him in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, about 35 miles south of Kansas City. He fell to the ground and his mother, Gabrielle Miller, ran down the stairs when she heard screaming. His skull was pierced from front-to-back with half a foot of skewer still sticking out of his face.  Miller tried to reassure her son, who told her "I'm dying, Mom" as they rushed to the hospital. He eventually was transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital, where endovascular neurosurgery director Koji Ebersole evaluated the wound.

"You couldn't draw it up any better," Ebersole said. "It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."  There was no active bleeding, allowing the hospital time to get personnel in place for a removal surgery on Sunday morning that was complicated by the fact that the skewer wasn't round. Because it was square, with sharp edges, it would have to come out perfectly straight. Twisting it could cause additional severe injury.  "Miraculous" would be an appropriate word to describe what happened, Ebersole said.  Doctors think Xavier could recover completely.  "I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete," he said.

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Kansas Man Charged with Election Fraud Can Remain on Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas panel has ruled that a suburban Kansas City man who is charged with election fraud can remain on the November ballot.  The Kansas City Star reports that the state objections board issued its ruling Monday in the case against Adam Thomas, of Olathe. The finding that the Republican candidate for the 26th District House seat can remain on the ballot has nothing to do with his pending court case.  Thomas was arrested last Thursday and charged with election perjury. Democratic state Representative Vic Miller, of Topeka, had called for an investigation into Thomas in June after presenting evidence that he didn't live in the district where he was running.  Thomas' attorney, Michael Kuckelman, maintains that Thomas will be acquitted in the court case.

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Accountant Sentenced for Embezzling Thousands to Gamble

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old staff accountant who embezzled more than $500,000 from a Wichita company has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.  Phillip Jelinek, of Wichita, was sentenced Tuesday for felony theft after he stole at least $587,000 over two years from A-OK Enterprises in Wichita. Prosecutors say he transferred money from the company's PayPal accounts into his personal bank account and used some of it to gamble. The Wichita Eagle reports that the company estimated Jelinek embezzled about $1.5 million.  The Sedgwick County district attorney's office said Jelinek's crimes forced A-OK to declare bankruptcy, lay off employees and close some Wichita locations.  Jelinek asked to be placed on probation because he is seeking treatment for a gambling addiction and sold his home to help pay back the money.

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Duck Boat Operators Criticize Attorney General's Lawsuit

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The operators of a Missouri duck boat that sank in July, killing 17 people, say in a court filing that a lawsuit from Missouri's attorney general is "irresponsible" and "littered with factual inaccuracies and innuendo."  The lawsuit accuses Branson Duck Vehicles and Ripley Entertainment Inc. of violating Missouri's consumer protection law and putting profits above safety. The suit seeks financial penalties. It also asks a judge to ban operation of the amphibious vehicle tours, though tours ceased after the July 19 accident on Table Rock Lake near Branson.  Attorneys for the companies, in a rebuttal filed Monday, seek dismissal of Hawley's lawsuit.  A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley called the rebuttal "a frivolous attempt ... to evade responsibility for the deaths of 17 people."

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Trump Cancels Missouri Rally as Hurricane Florence Nears

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump is canceling a campaign rally in Missouri as a potentially catastrophic hurricane nears the East Coast.  On Tuesday, Trump announced he's axing his planned visit to Cape Girardeau on Thursday. His campaign says that's the safest decision in light of the approaching hurricane.  Hurricane Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.  Trump had planned to urge the defeat of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill at the rally. He's backing her Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.  Trump won Missouri by 18 percentage points in 2016. McCaskill is a top target for Republicans seeking to expand the party's slim 51-49 edge in the U.S. Senate.  She is among 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that Trump won.

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Wichita Approves $81 Million for New Triple-A Baseball Stadium

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita city officials have approved spending up to $81 million to build a new ballpark for a Triple-A baseball franchise.  The council on Tuesday approved a plan that will also pay $2.2 million to the Wichita Wingnuts to break the independent baseball team's lease at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which will be torn down.  Mayor Jeff Longwell announced last week that the Triple A team will move from New Orleans to Wichita. The team is an affiliate of the Miami Marlins.  The Wichita Eagle reports the new stadium will cost $75 million and must be completed by March 15, 2020. The city's agreement includes building a $6 million pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River.  The move is not final and City Manager Robert Layton said changes could still be made in the agreement.

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Kansas Among States Urging Appeal Hearing in Kennedy Cousin Case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Eleven states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Connecticut's appeal in Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's murder case and reinstate his conviction. The states filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday. The court is deciding whether to take up the appeal. The Connecticut Supreme Court in May vacated Skakel's conviction in the bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were teenagers. The 4-3 majority said Skakel's trial lawyer failed to contact an alibi witness. Connecticut prosecutors argue the court didn't properly weigh the overall performance of Skakel's defense. The states say a ruling in Connecticut's favor is needed to thwart excessive challenges of defense lawyers' performance. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

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