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Headlines for Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Kansas Treasurer Drops Senate Bid to Challenge Rep. Watkins

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's Republican state treasurer has abandoned a campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat to challenge a first-term GOP congressman he describes as vulnerable to Democratic defeat. Treasurer Jake LaTurner says Representative Steve Watkins isn't likely to win re-election. LaTurner's announcement  today (WED) comes a week after former Governor Jeff Colyer called on him to run for the eastern Kansas seat that Watkins narrowly won last year. Watkins has faced internet rumors and speculation that he would resign but has tweeted that he is not stepping down. LaTurner told The Associated Press that the speculation played no role in his decision. LaTurner says he worries that Democrats will win the seat if Watkins is the GOP nominee. Watkins won by less than a percentage point last year as a political unknown.

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Welfare Agency Had Repeated Involvement Before Toddler Died

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas child welfare officials say they received repeated reports about a Wichita toddler before he died of an overdose of the addiction treatment medication methadone.  The Kansas Department of Children and Families released a summary Tuesday of its involvement with 2-year-old Zayden JayNesahkluah in response to a records request from The Associated Press. Zayden's mother, 23-year-old Kimberly Compass , was charged last month with first-degree murder.  The agency says the initial reports in December 2018 and January 2019 were about neglect and lack of supervision. Later, the agency received reports that Compass' then-partner was physically abusive, and more that Compass was neglectful.  Although the reports weren't substantiated, Compass received a mental health referral. The agency says a service provider attempted to contact her on May 31, the day Zayden was found dead at a motel.

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Cerner Laying Off 255 Workers in Wider Cost-Cutting Effort

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cerner Corporation will lay off 255 workers as part of a wider effort to cut costs.  Cerner officials said the layoffs will occur across the country, but about half of the layoffs will occur at the company's Kansas City-area offices.  The affected employees were told today (WED) that their last official day will be November 5.  The health care technologies company is Kansas City's largest employer, with about 14,000 workers in the area.  It has a global workforce of about 30,000.  The Kansas City Star reports Cerner is currently considering ways to diversify and is undergoing a review of its operations. CFO Marc Naughton said the company wants to cut more than $200 million in expenses.  The company continues to grow. Cerner has already hired several thousand workers this year and plans to hire hundreds more this year.

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Kansas Tax Collections Slightly Above Expectations in August

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections continued to be a little better than expected in August.  The Department of Revenue said Tuesday that the state collected $497 million in taxes last month when its official revenue forecast predicted $494 million. The surplus was nearly $3 million, or 0.6%.  It was the second month of the state's 2020 budget year, and tax collections for July and August together were nearly $5 million more than anticipated for a 0.5 percent surplus. The state collected $993 million during the two-month period.  The state also collected about $993 million in taxes during July and August 2018.  Tax collections have exceeded expectations 26 of the past 27 months.

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Executive with Ties to Former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Runs for Congress

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas corporate executive with political ties to former Republican Governor Sam Brownback has launched a campaign to challenge freshman Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids.  Amanda Adkins filed paperwork last week with the Federal Election Commission creating a campaign committee for a run for the GOP nomination in the Kansas City-area 3rd Congressional District.  Her move sets up a contested GOP primary for the right to challenge Davids. Former National Down Syndrome Society CEO Sarah Hart Weir opened her campaign in July.  Adkins is a vice president for the medical computer systems firm Cerner Corporation.  She managed Brownback's successful U.S. Senate re-election campaign in 2004 and was Kansas Republican Party chairwoman when Brownback was elected governor in 2010.  She then served as the Kansas Children's Cabinet's chairwoman for seven years.

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Union Picks GM as Target in Contract Talks

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union has picked General Motors as the target company for this year's contract talks.  The move means that GM will be the focus of bargaining and any deal with the company will set the pattern for Ford and Fiat Chrysler. It also means that if the union decides to go on strike, it will be against GM.  The union's contracts with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler expire at 11:59 pm on September 14.  Earlier Tuesday, the union announced that over 96% of its members voted to authorize strikes against the companies.  GM operates the Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, where it employs about 2,700 workers.  Ford operates an assembly plant in Claycomo, Missouri, employing about 7,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers Local 249.  It's the largest car manufacturing plant in the United States in terms of units produced.

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Leavenworth Authorities Investigate Hit-and-Run Fatal

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office is seeking information about a hit-and-run accident that left a man dead.  Undersheriff Jim Sherley says 34-year-old Emanuel Ross, of Lawrence, was found dead early Monday west of Lansing.  The Leavenworth Times reports authorities believe Ross was hit at least once by an unidentified motorist, who then drove away from the scene. Investigators believe Ross was struck early Monday.  Sherley said the incident occurred near the Suncatcher Lake RV Park.

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Man Convicted of Drug Crimes in Lyon County Dies at Larned

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — Kansas prison officials say a 29-year-old man convicted of drug crimes in Lyon County died at the Larned Correctional Mental Health facility.  Michael Jared Fancher was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon.  An autopsy will be conducted to determine Fancher's cause of death.  Fancher was convicted in Lyon County in 2018 for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The Kansas Department of Corrections says he was transferred from El Dorado to Larned in February and would have been eligible for parole in July 2024.  He had previous convictions for drug possession and drug sales.  The corrections department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are conducting a joint inquiry into Fancher's death, which is normal protocol in such cases.

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Sedgwick County Won't Vote on Adding Slots at Greyhound Park

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County commissioners have bet against a request to add slot machines to dog racing at the defunct Wichita Greyhound Park. The commission was asked to consider putting the issue on the November ballot. The track's owner, Phil Ruffin, has said allowing slot machines is the key to reopening the track. The Wichita Eagle reports the commission on Wednesday indefinitely tabled action on the proposal after hearing strong opposition from animal-rights and anti-gambling advocates. The greyhound park has been closed since shortly after an August 2007 election, when voters overwhelmingly rejected a casino in the county and narrowly voted down bringing slot machines to the greyhound track. Forty-one states have banned dog racing. Several others, including Kansas, don't have racing but still have legislation allowing it.

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Dozens of Dogs Rescued from Filthy Home in Kingman County

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — The Humane Society says about 30 dogs were rescued from an alleged animal cruelty situation in south-central Kansas The organization said in a news release the animals were removed Wednesday from a residential property in Kingman County. The exact location wasn't disclosed. The animals were found when the Kingman County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at the property after concerns were raised about the animals' welfare. The release says the dogs appeared to have skin conditions from living in a filthy environment. Some of the dogs were kept in makeshift pens and crawled under trailers for shade. The animals will be examined and taken to an undisclosed location. Kingman County law enforcement and several animal advocacy groups helped with the rescue.

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Judge: Kansas Man's Review of Branson Attraction Was Not Defamatory

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a Kansas cattle farmer did not defame a Branson attraction by leaving a three-star TripAdvisor review. Owners of Bigfoot on the Strip sued Randy Winchester and his daughter in June 2018, claiming the review was libelous and defamatory. Winchester had written that he was disappointed by a tour of Bigfoot Farms and its cattle. Owners of the attraction contended some of the details in Winchester's review were inaccurate. Winchester said after tour owner's contacted him to complain, he changed it to a one-star review. The Springfield News-Leader reports U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beth Phillips ruled late last month that Winchester's statements were factually correct and/or didn't diminish the company's reputation in the community. An attorney representing Bigfoot's owners did not return a call seeking comment.

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Kansas Girl Injured While Tubing on Nebraska Lake

ALMA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say an 11-year-old Kansas girl was injured while tubing with family and friends at Harlan County Lake in south-central Nebraska.  The Harlan County Sheriff's Office says the girl from Phillipsburg was struck by a boat propeller on Monday.  She was taken to Republican City and then flown to a Lincoln hospital. Her name hasn't been released.  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is investigating the accident.

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Corn Harvest Now Underway in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government snapshot of crop conditions shows the harvest of corn is now under way in Kansas.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that 1% of the corn in the state has been harvested, near the 4% average at this point in the growing season.  The agency rates half of the corn out in fields in good to excellent condition, with 34% of the crop in fair shape. About 16% is in poor to very poor condition.  Other crops are also making progress.  About 83% of the soybeans in Kansas are setting pods, with 3% of soybean crops already dropping leaves. About 1% of the Kansas sorghum crop has now matured.

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Court Documents: Man Shot by Police Said He Wanted to Die

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Recently released court documents say a Wichita police officer shot and wounded a man in July after he yelled "I wanna die" and pulled a pouch from his waistband that the officer believed was a gun.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the affidavit says Christian Joel Washington's mother told him he needed to leave after he showed up at his grandfather's house despite having a no-contact order and then called police. His aunt said Washington talked about eating drugs and said he'd "rather be dead" if he can't be with family.  The affidavit says Washington was shot in a nearby field when he drew his right hand out of his waistband. He's jailed on $100,000 bond on charges of felony criminal threat and violating a protection order.

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$1 Million Super Kansas Cash Lottery Winner is a Johnson County Resident

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County resident has claimed a $1 million Super Kansas Cash jackpot.  Lottery officials say the winner chose to remain anonymous.  The winning ticket was sold Aug. 28. The player bought a $2 Quick Pick ticket with the winning numbers 2 - 3 - 15 - 23 - 26 with a Super Cash Ball of 12.  The ticket was sold at a Casey's General Store in Lenexa. The store is eligible for a $1,000 selling bonus.

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Walmart Will Stop Selling Certain Ammunition

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition and also publicly request that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it.  The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.  The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter said Tuesday it will stop selling short-barrel and handgun ammunition after it runs out of its current inventory. It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from handguns and allowing it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.  Walmart is further requesting that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms at its stores unless they are law enforcement officers.

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Linebacker for Kansas Jayhawks Arrested at Lawrence Bar

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas linebacker Thomas Patrick Barrett has been arrested at a student bar on suspicion of contributing to a child's misconduct and displaying or possessing a fictitious or fraudulent ID card.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the 20-year-old from Cleveland posted $1,500 bond and was released from jail a couple of hours after his early Sunday arrest at the Jayhawk Cafe, which is commonly known as The Hawk. The jail booking log shows that Barrett will turn 21 this week.  A statement from the football program says officials are "aware of the situation and are currently in the process of gathering information." The statement says the situation will be handled according to internal policies.  Barrett was redshirted during his freshman season in 2017 and didn't see any game action in 2018.

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Black Lawmakers, GOP Governor in Missouri Talk Gun Violence

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Black lawmakers and Missouri GOP Governor Mike Parson are trying to find common ground to address gun violence in a state led by Republicans.  Missouri Legislative Black Caucus members on Tuesday met with Parson to talk gun control and other possible solutions. A recent string of child homicides in St. Louis drew particular attention to gun violence there and in Kansas City.  But Kansas City Democratic Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove says Parson appeared disheartened about the possibility that gun control could pass the Republican-led Legislature. Lawmakers in 2016 passed a law allowing people to carry guns without a permit.  Parson has instead pitched deploying the Missouri Highway Patrol. He says access to jobs and education are long-term solutions.  Parson says cooperation between federal, state and local officials is needed, too.

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