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Weekend Headlines for December 23-24, 2017

Kansas Governor's Nomination in Limbo

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's nomination for an ambassador's post is set to return to the White House. McConnell communications director David Popp said in an email Friday that Brownback's nomination is not on a list of those to be carried into next year. The Senate finished its business for the year Thursday night without voting on Brownback's nomination by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Brownback was nominated in July. Under the Senate's rules, an appointee whose has not received a confirmation vote by the end of the year must be nominated again unless senators agree unanimously to carry the nomination into the following year. Brownback appears not to have received such unanimous consent.


Kansan's Judgeship Nomination Returned to White House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Senate is not carrying over a Kansas City-area attorney's nomination for a federal judgeship in Kansas into next year. Senators didn't vote on Holly Lou Teeter of Lenexa before wrapping up business for the year Thursday. Her nomination then appeared Friday on a list of those not being carried into next year. Senate rules require a nominee who hasn't received a vote by year's end to be nominated again unless senators unanimously agree to carry the nomination forward. The Judiciary Committee endorsed the 38-year-old Teeter's nomination in November on a 19-1 vote. She is an assistant U.S. attorney for western Missouri. An American Bar Association committee rated Teeter as "not qualified" because she fell just short of the 12 years of legal experience it believes judicial nominees need.


Good Samaritan Saves Two in Shawnee Fire

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Two people are safe after escaping an early-morning fire in a Kansas suburb of Kansas City, thanks to the quick actions of a person passing by. The fire broke out early Saturday at a home in Shawnee. Fire officials say a person passing by saw the fire and alerted the residents. Fire crews rescued a cat but were unable to save the family dog. Fire officials believe a wood burning stove in the garage caused the fire.


Appeals Court Overturns Child Endangerment Conviction

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas appeals court has overturned the child-endangerment conviction of a man found guilty of locking his two toddlers in a room for 14 hours with their clothing and bedding soaked in their bodily waste. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday ordered a new trial for Samuel Mich White of Garden City, citing an improper instruction to the jury from the judge. The case began when a Garden City police officer and a probation officer conducted a surprise inspection at White's home. Police say the children, ages two and three, were inside a room chain-locked from the outside. A jury acquitted White of child abuse, but found him guilty of two counts of child endangerment.


Escaped Inmate Captured in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in eastern Kansas say a jail inmate who escaped three weeks ago is back in custody. KSNT-TV reports that 32-year-old Billy Womack of Manhattan did not return to the Riley County jail after a work release on December 5th. Womack was being held on a warrant for failure to appear. Police arrested Womack at a motel in Manhattan Friday night. He is charged with two counts of aggravated escape from custody and a probation violation, and is jailed on $103,000 bond. Womack was also arrested in August on a warrant accusing him of drug distribution.


Former Winfield Railroad Station into Restaurant

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A train-themed restaurant is turning a small southern Kansas town into a dining destination. The Wichita Eagle reports that Shindigs Bar and Grill in Winfield has been nominated this year for a Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association Award in the "Hot New Concept" category. Winfield is a town of 12,300, about 40 miles south of Wichita. Rob Carroll, Janet Carroll and their two daughters opened the restaurant in April. The family turned an old freight train station into a lavishly decorated restaurant. Rob Carroll spent three years crafting much of the industrial decor inside from old cars, bolts, chicken feeders, pulleys and aircraft landing strips. The restaurant can accommodate more than 200 inside the restaurant, with room for another 75 diners on two levels of outdoor space.


Kansas School Ends Painted Parking Spot after Vandalism, Controversy

MARION, Kan. (AP) — A rural Kansas school district has stopped letting high school seniors personalize parking spaces after one student painted his spot with a gay pride rainbow flag that was immediately vandalized. The school board for the 500-student Marion-Florence school district voted 4-3 this month to put an end to the tradition, which had created challenges in the past. Superintendent Aaron Homburg told The Associated Press that last year one student wasn't allowed to paint a Confederate flag and another was stopped from painting a marijuana leaf. Also contributing to the decision to end the tradition is that the principal who started it is retiring at the end of the year. The district plans to look for a new tradition.


Single Bed Bug Leads to Eradication Effort at Topeka VA Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A single bed bug is causing headaches at the Veterans Administration health center in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that staff at Colmery O'Neil VA Health Center on Friday diverted ambulances from the emergency department after the discovery of a single bed bug. Spokesman Joseph Burks says the bug was found Friday in the emergency department and eradication efforts began immediately. For now, incoming ambulances are being sent to other medical facilities. Walk-in patients will still be seen at the VA center because they are treated in unaffected units.


Man Identified in Wichita-area Trench Collapse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The man killed when a trench collapsed in the Kansas town of Bel Aire has been identified. The Wichita Eagle reports that the victim was 29-year-old Jesus Foster. He was identified by family members. The collapse happened Wednesday morning in the Wichita suburb. Authorities say Foster was at the bottom of the trench when between 16 and 20 tons of dirt shifted and fell on top of him. Workers tried for hours to rescue Foster, including digging with heavy equipment and their hands to reach him. A GoFundMe page is seeking to raise $15,000 for funeral and other expenses. Foster leaves behind six children.


Kansas State Hires New Diversity Leader

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has hired a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga administrator to fill a position created over the summer after a noose was found hanging from a tree. Bryan Samuel has been selected as chief diversity and inclusion officer. He's currently the director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at UTC. Kansas State President Richard Myers said in a news release this week that Samuel has the experience to "effectively lead Kansas State University toward greater diversity and inclusion." He'll focus on employee recruitment and retention, as well as working with another official to strengthen student recruitment and retention. The university has been working to combat discrimination after several incidents, including racist flyers and anti-gay vandalism. Last month, the university suspended classes for campus-wide rally against racism.


Kansas State Employee Sues KSU for Co-worker's Alleged Harassment

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas State worker says in a federal lawsuit that the university didn't adequately respond to her complaints of sexual harassment by a co-worker. In a lawsuit filed this week, Paulette Arnold says she was harassed for nearly three years while working in the Information Systems Office. She says the systems coordinator, Kevin Yaussi, sent sexually explicit  e-mails, inappropriately touched her and left her inappropriate gifts. Arnold says she and another worker reported Yaussi's behavior to their supervisor. The Kansas City Star reports the university determined Yaussi had harassed Arnold but only ordered him not to interact with her except for work. He was given a written warning and a recommendation to complete training on sexual harassment and workplace professionalism. A Kansas State University spokesperson said the university doesn't discuss pending litigation.


Man Pleads No Contest to Choking Infant at Kansas Walmart

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A New Jersey man will be sentenced next month for choking a 4-month-old child at a Walmart in Overland Park. 54-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych , of Clifton, New Jersey, pleaded no contest Thursday to aggravated battery and intentional harm and battery. An aggravated kidnapping charge was dropped. Authorities said Zhownirovych walked up to Monquisha Hill in October in a checkout line and started choking her daughter, who was in the shopping cart. He stopped when the mother started screaming. People in the store came to help and held him until police arrived. Hill didn't know the man and a motive for his actions was unclear. The baby wasn't injured. Zhownirovych was the pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in New Jersey but left the position last year.


SkyWest to Add Salina Flights to Chicago, Denver

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Airplane passengers in Salina will soon have a few more flights with larger planes for trips to Denver and Chicago. Salina Airport Authority Tim Rogers says SkyWest Airlines will provide flights from Salina to and from Denver and Chicago beginning in April. Rogers said Friday flight schedules and prices will be announced next month. SkyWest will fly one nonstop route to Chicago and two flights to Denver, with a stop in Hays. SkyWest replaces Great Lakes Airlines, which currently offers two daily flights to Denver. Rogers says SkyWest will use 50-seat regional jets. Great Lakes used 30-seat aircraft. The Department of Transportations selected SkyWest to replace Great Lakes as the Essential Air Service provider for Salina. SkyWest has a two-year  contract starting next April.


Arkansas City Employee Dies in Street Sweeper Accident

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Arkansas City officials say a city employee died from injuries suffered apparently after being struck by a street sweeper. City officials said in a news release that the accident happened Thursday afternoon at the Public Works Department's shop. The employee was flown to a Wichita hospital. City officials said Friday that the person had died. On Thursday, city officials said the accident involved the operator of a street sweeper. The circumstances of the accident are still being investigated. The employee's name has not been released.


KC Paper Sues Olathe for Police Shooting Footage

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City Star is suing the suburb of Olathe for body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of a woman. The lawsuit says police have "refused to discuss" or answer questions about their tactics and decisions leading up to the Aug. 23 shooting of 26-year-old Ciara Howard. The shooting happened after efforts to serve an arrest warrant triggered a standoff. Authorities say that when officers and deputies entered the home several hours later, Howard threatened them with a weapon, and the officers opened fire. No officers or deputies were injured. Prosecutors determined police were justified in using lethal force but left open questions about police tactics. Witnesses who were outside the house questioned those tactics. Olathe officials have said the footage was part of "closed personnel records."


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