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Weekend Headlines for April 28-29, 2018

Governor Colyer Hopeful about Kansas Funding Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer says he hopes to sign a bill next week to fix a flaw in a recently enacted education funding law. Colyer issued a statement Saturday after the House approved the measure on a 92-27 vote. The House's vote sends the measure to the Senate, and senators are expected to debate the legislation next week. The law was designed to phase in a $534 million increase in spending on public schools over five years in hopes of meeting a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost education funding. The flaw inadvertently lowered the total increase by $80 million. Colyer said the new law gets more dollars into classrooms and requires schools to improve student performance. He also said the state can afford the extra spending without raising taxes.

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Lost Kansas City Open for Tours

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Limited tours of a lost city are being offered in south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that Donald Blakeslee, an anthropologist and archaeologist at Wichita State University, announced last year he had discovered the lost city of Etzanoa. It's located about 50 miles southeast of Wichita. It will take years for the preservation and development of Etzanoa to be made ready for visitors year-round. But for now, Arkansas City historians and leaders are letting the public see glimpses of what the mysterious city once was. The tours are of the remnants of Etzanoa, located on the bluffs near the confluence of the Walnut and Arkansas rivers. The Etzanoans are ancestors of the Wichita tribe, who were farmers and cultivated beans, maize, pumpkin and squash and slaughtered bison.

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Motorcycle Crash Kills Off-Duty Wichita Officer, Injures Son

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 37-year-old off-duty officer has been killed and the officer's 10-year son critically injured in a crash that investigators say was caused by a drunk driver. Police say the crash happened around 8:15 p.m. Friday when a pickup truck pulled out in front of a motorcycle operated by Officer Stacy Woodson. The officer's son was riding on the back of the bike. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 35-year-old driver of the truck was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and aggravated battery from a DUI. He was not hurt. Police say Woodson was pronounced dead at the scene. His son was taken to a Wichita hospital, where he remained Saturday in critical condition. Woodson was a 16-year veteran of the Wichita Police Department.

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Gunman Drops Effort to Change Guilty Plea in Topeka Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who pleaded guilty to killing a drug dealer during an attempted robbery has dropped his efforts to withdraw his plea. Court records show 25-year-old Kelsey Lee Fairchild abandoned the plea change this week. A hearing on the plea change had been scheduled for Friday. WIBW-TV reports Fairchild pleaded guilty in July 2016 to a reduced charge of intentional second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated robbery in the death of 18-year-old Colton Christenson. Prosecutors say Christenson was shot in January 2015 as the two men struggled when Fairchild tried to leave a drug deal with marijuana and cash. The court motion did not specify why Fairchild decided not to withdraw his plea. Fairchild was sentenced to 27 years and one month in prison.

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Man Convicted in Wichita Restaurant Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man shot during an attempted robbery at a Wichita restaurant has been convicted of attempted murder for shooting the restaurant's owner. A Sedgwick County jury found 27-year-old Reginald Kane guilty Friday of that and other charges in the June 2017 confrontation at Ruben's Mexican Grill. Prosecutors say Kane entered the restaurant as it was closing and demanded money. The owner, Ruben Acosta, testified that Kane took the money and was leaving when he suddenly turned and fired at Acosta. Acosta also was armed and fired back, wounding Kane. Acosta spent three weeks in a coma and says he likely will never be able to use one of his arms again. Kane's attorneys contended the gunman's face was completely covered and no one had a clear description of the shooter.

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Extensive Photo Exhibit Opens at KC Art Museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An extensive photography exhibit spanning 190 years is opening at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Kansas City Star reports the free exhibit that opens this Saturday displays some of the photographs purchased in recent years with a $10 million grant from the Hall Family Foundation. It includes a rare 1826 image by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, the man credited with inventing photography. It's one of eight known to exist. It also features the work of human surrealist Diane Arbus and contemporary German photographer Thomas Demand. The exhibit of nearly 100 photographs is entitled "The Big Picture: A Transformative Gift from the Hall Family Foundation." It marks the 75th anniversary of the foundation created by Hallmark Cards Inc. founder Joyce C. Hall. The exhibition runs through October 7th.

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Caretaker Admits Mistreating Elderly Man at Atchison Facility

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman admitted in court that she mistreated an elderly man she was supposed to be caring for at an Atchison residential care facility. 38-year-old Tammy Puckett on Friday pleaded guilty to mistreatment of a dependent person. Atchison County Attorney Jerry Kuckelman said that Puckett was employed at Medicalodge in Atchison. He said in March she didn't provide for the physical and mental needs of an 80-year-old man who was dependent on her. The details of the neglect were not released. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that sentencing is scheduled for June 15th. Puckett is out of jail on $15,000 bond.

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Tech Giants Apple, Google Oppose Kansas Adoption Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tech giants Google and Apple oppose adoption legislation in Kansas that many in the LGBTQ community consider discriminatory. An organization of more than 80 companies called TechNet sent legislators a letter Friday calling the measure a "license to discriminate." The organization includes Google and Apple. The bill would prevent the state from denying grants and contracts to faith-based agencies for refusing to place children into homes that don't align with their religious beliefs. Supporters contend the bill isn't designed to discriminate, but to keep faith-based agencies free to uphold their religious beliefs without fear from lawsuits. Backers include the state's Catholic bishops. But TechNet's letter said enacting the legislation would have "dire" economic consequences for Kansas and companies nationwide would avoid a state perceived as unwelcoming toward LGBTQ people.

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Kansas House Advances Spending Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill adding new spending to $16 billion-plus state budgets approved last year for the state's current fiscal year and the next one beginning in July. House members advanced the measure on a voice vote and expect to take another, final vote Saturday. Passage then would send the bill to the Senate. The bill includes nearly $8 million to provide pay raises for employees in the state's court system, including a 2.5 percent increase for judges. It also restores $12 million in past cuts in the state's higher education system. The Senate expects to debate its own budget legislation next week and the final version will be drafted by negotiators for the two chambers.

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Kansas Man Sues over his Arrest During KCMO Library Event

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man alleges in a lawsuit that his free speech rights were violated when he was arrested while asking challenging questions about Israel during a public forum at a Kansas City, Missouri, library. The Kansas City Star reports that 39-year-old Jeremy Rothe-Kushel filed the suit Thursday in federal court in Kansas City. He was arrested in May 2016 during the question-and-answer segment of a talk by Middle East expert and diplomat Dennis Ross. A librarian also was arrested while trying to intervene and acquitted last year of several municipal charges. Defendants include police employees and the event's co-sponsors. A police spokeswoman says the department won't comment on ongoing litigation. Rothe-Kushel's attorney, Arthur Benson, said in in an e-mail that his client has always been a peaceful critic of Israel.

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Lawmakers Move to Loosen Kansas Rules on Amusement Rides

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is moving to loosen its rules for amusement rides for events such as county fairs a year after lawmakers strengthened regulations in the wake of a boy's death on a waterslide. The Senate voted 37-1 on Thursday approve a bill addressing complaints from rural lawmakers and local officials that last year's law was too broad. The House approved the measure 114-6 earlier this month, and it goes next to Gov. Jeff Colyer for his possible signature. Legislators acted last year in response to the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab on a giant waterslide at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas. The changes will set lower requirements for rides at short-term, one-location events run by nonprofit groups and exempt attractions such as hay-rack rides and low-speed barrel trains.

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Former Olathe School Choir Director Admits to Sex with Student

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former teacher of the year for a northeast Kansas school district has admitted to having sex with a student. 45-year-old Todd Burd pleaded guilty Friday to amended charges of unlawful sexual relations. The Kansas City Star reports he initially was charged with aggravated criminal sodomy after a 16-year-old boy reported being assaulted while sitting in Burd's pickup truck. Court documents say the victim told police that Burd sent photographs and messages that were "sexual in nature" to the boy. The victim said Burd was pressuring him to meet after school hours. Burd taught music and was the choir director at Gardner Edgerton High School in late 2016, when the incident happened. Burd received the Gardner-Edgerton district's Teacher of the Year honor in 2015. His sentencing is set for June 29th.

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Kansas Virtual Reality Company Sues Hacker

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas-based virtual reality company is suing a hacker after trying to hire the anonymous user to identify and fix security issues in its gaming software. The Kansas City Star reports that Orbus Online LLC has filed a copyright lawsuit against an unidentified hacker who goes by "Simian Dong." The lawsuit lists the defendant as John Doe. The company alleges discovering in January a user had developed superpowers in their virtual reality game, OrbusVR. The powers gave the user advantages over other players. Orbus owner Riley Dutton contacted the hacker, offering to pay him to help protect the company's software. The lawsuit says the hacker declined the offer, later posting instructions online for others to repeat the hack. The lawsuit also alleges the hacker publicly distributed the company's game code.

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Stepmom of Missing Wichita Boy Loses Custody of Daughter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The stepmother of a missing 5-year-old Wichita boy has lost custody of her 1-year-old daughter. The Wichita Eagle reports that a judge's ruling Friday puts Emily Glass' daughter in state custody. Child welfare officials will decide where she'll live. Glass is charged with child endangerment stemming from her care of the girl, who previously was placed in police protective custody. The charge was filed after Glass reported her stepson, Lucas Hernandez, missing in February. Glass cared for her daughter and Lucas while the children's father worked out of state for weeks at a time. Lucas' biological mother didn't live in the Wichita area when he disappeared. Search crews have repeatedly combed Wichita parks and found no sign of Lucas. Police say they don't think he was abducted or walked away.

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Pittsburg State University to Cut 19 Positions

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A university in southeast Kansas is planning to cut 19 full-time positions because of stagnant state funding, increasing costs and enrollment pressures. The Joplin Globe reports that Pittsburg State University officials announced the plan Thursday. Officials say employees affected by the layoff have been notified and will continue to be paid through mid-June. Employees will also receive job placement assistance through the university's Office of Career Services, and have preferred status for university job openings over the next 12 months. The positions will remain in place through the end of the fiscal year ending June 16th. University officials say instructors weren't included in the cuts. They say the layoffs are part the university's a long- term cost reduction. The cuts come as the university faces declining enrollment, especially with international students.

 

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