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Weekend Headlines for July 8-9, 2017

Secretaries of State Meet, Kobach Absent

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — California's chief elections official is puzzled by the absence of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from a gathering of elections officials from across the nation. Kobach is the co-chair of a White House voter fraud commission that's investigating allegations made by the President Donald Trump without proof that there were millions of fraudulent ballots cast during last November's election. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said yesterday (SAT) that it's "awkward, to put it mildly" that Kobach opted against attending the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Indianapolis this weekend. Kobach, a Republican, sent letters last week to all 50 states requesting voter information, including dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, addresses and voting histories. The request drew blowback from Republicans and Democrats alike. Padilla, a Democrat, said that if Kobach was serious about working with states to improve the integrity of U.S. elections, he would have attended the conference. A spokeswoman for Kobach did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Wildlife Park Introduces First Pygmy Hippo Born in Kansas

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — A wildlife park near Wichita is showing off the first pygmy hippo born in Kansas. The Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard says the pygmy hippo was born recently. It will be on exhibit at the wildlife park starting yesterday (SAT). The baby is believed to be a girl. It weighed about 13 pounds and is about the size of shoebox. Tanganyika Wildlife Park's two adult pygmy hippos are the only ones living in Kansas, and the first to give birth in the state. Assistant Director Matt Fouts says the birth is a "huge milestone" for the wildlife park. He says it is the park's 40th successful breeding for rare or endangered species. There are only 70 pygmy hippos in the U.S. and about 3,000 on the planet.


KU, UMKC Add Gender-Inclusive Housing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas are joining a national trend toward setting aside areas in residences halls to accommodate students who don't identify with a specific gender. The two universities each have assigned housing for more than 20 students who might be transgender, transitioning from their birth gender or who don't fit into the traditional idea of male or female roles. The Kansas City Star reports more than 200 universities across the country have made similar arrangements. Supporters say the change makes those students comfortable in residence halls. Even some conservative groups that have fought other transgender-related issues say setting aside gender-inclusive suites is better than opening all dorms to students of various gender identities.


Wichita ID Theft Suspects had 429 Job Applications

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A search warrant shows authorities are investigating two suspected identity thieves found with a box filled with hundreds of Dollar Tree job applications apparently obtained by going through trash containers in Wichita. The warrant was filed recently in U.S. District Court in Kansas. It outlines the investigation into a pair found three years ago with employment applications for 429 people as well as forgery tools. Some of those applications included copies of driver's licenses and Social Security cards. Chesapeake, Virginia-based Dollar Tree said in an email that it's committed to safeguarding personal information of its workers and job applicants. The discount store chain says it has specific processes in place to support this commitment.
The company says it's investigating the Wichita incident. Dollar Tree has 10 stores in Wichita.


Overland Park Man Drowns at Lake of the Ozarks

VERSAILLES, Mo. (AP) — A 25-year-old Kansas man has drowned while fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the family of Connor Mohr reported him missing yesterday (SAT) morning after he was fishing at a dock and didn't return. Mohr was found in the water near the dock after a brief search.


Kansas Man Dies After Being Hit by Truck on Interstate 70

RUSSELL, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Kansas man died after he was hit by a car while he worked along Interstate 70. The patrol says 47-year-old Jeffery Lynn Harris, of Russell, died Friday night. He was working on the side of the road when he was hit by a pickup truck about 10 miles east of Russell. The Hays Post reports Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. No other details were released.


Some Kansas Cities Closing Water Slides in Response to Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas pools and water parks are closing their water slides after a new state law tightened regulations on amusement park rides. The law, which took effect July 1st, was passed after a state lawmaker's son died last summer on the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports the law defines a water slide as an amusement ride if it is at least 15 feet tall and uses water to propel someone through the ride. Erik Sartorius, head of the League of Kansas Municipalities, says the law isn't clear whether the water on some slides propels people forward. Water slides have closed in Chanute and the Roeland Park Aquatic Center. The Lindsborg water slide was closed but has reopened.


S&P: Kansas Budget Issues 'Likely to Persist' After Tax Hike

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A major financial rating agency says a structural imbalance in Kansas' budget is "likely to persist" even after the state increased income taxes. S&P Global Ratings said in a report this week that while the state boosted its revenues, it also increased spending for the next two years. S&P also said the state still is diverting money from highway projects to sustain other spending and is not fully funding contributions to public pensions. S&P did not change its negative credit outlook for Kansas. Legislators enacted the tax increase over Republican Governor Sam Brownback's veto to raise $1.2 billion over two years. The new law rolls back past tax cuts Brownback championed. The S&P report came a month after Moody's Investors Service upgraded the state's credit outlook to stable from negative.


Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder in Kansas

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A man suspected of killing and wounding people in Mississippi, New Mexico and Kansas in February has pleaded guilty to charges arising from the Kansas case. Alex Bridges Deaton, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, pleaded guilty Friday to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery stemming from the shooting of a convenience store clerk in Pratt in March. Two other charges were dropped. Sentencing is scheduled for October 16th. Deaton is charged in Rankin County, Mississippi, with first-degree murder, auto theft, and drive-by shooting. He's accused of strangling his girlfriend, stealing her car, and shooting a jogger in February. He's also suspected in the killing of a woman cleaning a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi. He also allegedly carjacked a couple in New Mexico before fleeing to Kansas and shooting the clerk.


Kansas Highway Patrol Helicopter Makes "Hard Landing"

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two Kansas Highway Patrol troopers escaped serious injury when the patrol helicopter they were occupying made a hard landing at an airport in Topeka, Kansas. The patrol says the accident happened early Friday when the Bell 407 helicopter's tail rotor hit a hangar at Philip Billard Municipal Airport. The pilot, 54-year old patrol Captain Gregory Kyser, was taken to a hospital for observation and possible treatment. A passenger, 36-year old state trooper Ryan Nolte, was treated at a hospital for slight injuries.


Kansas to Pay Settlement to Worker Attacked at Mental Hospital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has agreed to pay $133,000 to woman who filed a federal lawsuit after being attacked by a patient while working at a state mental hospital. Governor Sam Brownback and top legislative leaders approved the settlement Friday. It still must be reviewed by a federal judge. Patient Aaron C. Goodman was charged with rape in connection with the attack in October 2015 at Osawatomie State Hospital. The woman filed her lawsuit against the state last year. She alleged that other staffers failed to perform routine security checks and no one warned her about Goodman's history of being sexually aggressive. The attack was among the reasons the federal government decertified the eastern Kansas hospital in December 2015. The action is costing Kansas up to $1 million a month in federal funds.


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