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Weekend Headlines for February 17-18, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Woman Killed After Stopping for Funeral Procession near Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 59-year-old woman has been killed in a crash west of Wichita. Police Sgt. Troy Nedbalek tells the Wichita Eagle that the woman was driving a sport utility vehicle and had pulled over to the curb Saturday morning to observe a funeral procession when a van slammed into the back of her SUV. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman's mother, who was a passenger in her vehicle, and the driver of the van were taken to a hospital in fair condition. Investigators say they don't know why the driver of the van didn't see vehicles stopped next to the curb as he traveled north.


STD Cases Spike at the University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — New numbers show that cases of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise at the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that recent numbers from KU's Watkins Health Services show the number of gonorrhea cases diagnosed at KU jumped 39 percent from 2016 to 2017. University health officials say that marked the most dramatic jump on the campus of major sexually transmitted infections. The service's health education resource manager, Jenny McKee, says KU's climbing rates are part of a national surge in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis that hit a record high in 2017. The spike is party attributed to increases in STD testing. Watkins Health Services has "bundled" testing for four major STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV — which McKee says has decreased the cost of testing.


Kansas Regent, KC-area Official Arrested Following Fight

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Board of Regents member and commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has been arrested on suspicion of domestic battery. The Kansas City Star reports that 50-year-old Ann Brandau-Murguia was arrested Friday evening and booked into the Wyandotte County Detention Center. She was released on her own recognizance a short time later. Brandau-Murguia is the wife of Kansas U.S District Judge Carlos Murguia. While the booking report indicates Brandau-Murguia committed bodily harm to a  family member, Brandau-Murguia said in a statement posted on her professional Facebook page that the incident involved a longtime friend, not a family member. Brandau-Murguia said in the statement that she and the friend "were involved in a misunderstanding that resulted in an argument and physical contact." Contacted Saturday through a Facebook message, Brandau-Murguia referred The Associated Press to her written statement.


Delaware Students in Join Race for Kansas Governor

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Two 18-year-old University of Delaware students have joined several other teenagers who are running for Kansas governor. The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, reported Friday that the students filed the necessary paperwork after learning the state has no age or residency requirements to run. One of the students is Nicholas Schrieber of Newark, Delaware. He said the race would give him a chance to express his opinions. His University of Delaware classmate, Conner Shelton of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is also running. He said the experience has warmed him up to the idea of sincerely running for office in the future. If he does campaign for Kansas governor, Shelton said his platform will include increasing staffing in Kansas prisons and expanding the regulation of agricultural fertilizers.


Lawrence Considers Earmarking Food Sales Tax to Help Poor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — City leaders are looking at the possibility of indirectly returning some of the money impoverished Lawrence residents are charged in sales tax on groceries. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Mayor Stuart Boley proposed the program to city commissioners this week. A 2016 report from the Tax Foundation says Kansas is one of only 13 states in the country charging any sales tax on groceries. Lawrence residents pay more than 9 percent sales tax on purchases that include groceries. Boley says he would like at least a portion of the amount charged to low-income families to be spent on a program to fight hunger. Douglas County data show about 17 percent of people living in the county are "food insecure," meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food.


Kansas Gives Medicaid Contractor Deadline to Improve

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The company processing Medicaid applications in Kansas faces fines of up to $250,000 a day and the loss of its state contract because it is out of compliance with its terms. The Wichita Eagle reports that the state sent Maximus a non-compliance letter January 30th that gives the Virginia-based company until June 1st to fix problems that include only 40 percent accuracy on financial payments. The goal is 98 percent accuracy. Medicaid Director Jon Hamdorf disclosed the action during a meeting of a legislative oversight committee Friday. If the company fails to shape up, it could face fines retroactive to the beginning of the year and possibly totaling tens of millions of dollars. Maximus spokeswoman Lisa Miles said the company immediately instituted a compliance plan and is committed to improvement.


Wichita State Plans to Install More Security Cameras

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University plans to install about 30 more security cameras across the campus. Police Captain Corey Herl says the plan is designed to meet the expanding needs of the campus, including the new Innovation Campus. The university already has about 170 security cameras. Hurl says the new cameras will be mounted on blue light emergency boxes already located around the campus. KSN reports the cameras will be able to record 360-degree images and will be recording at all times. He says they won't be monitored constantly and won't be pointed into private places, such as student dorms. The cameras are expected to cost about $100,000.


Report: Number of Kansas Farms Unchanged in 2017

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows the number of Kansas farms and the amount of agricultural land did not change last year in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that Kansas had 59,600 farms in 2017, same as the year earlier. But the report also shows that the state had 200 fewer farms having $100,000 or less in agricultural sales, while the number of operations with more than $100,000 in sales grew by 200 farms. The agency says Kansas had 45.9 million acres in farms and ranches. That is unchanged from the previous year. Also unchanged is the size of the average operation at 770 acres.


Two People Die in Northeast Kansas House Fire

NETAWAKA, Kan. (AP) — Two people were found dead in a house fire in northeast Kansas. Jackson County authorities say the bodies were found after the fire in Netawaka was extinguished Friday. Netawaka is about 42 miles north of Topeka. Sheriff Tim Morse says the home was fully engulfed when crews from a dozen area fire departments responded to the scene. The fire was brought under control in about an hour. The cause of the fire and the identities of the two people inside have not been released.


Man Gets Life Sentence in Murder of Parsons Mother, Three Kids

PARSONS, Kan. (AP) — A former Montgomery County man was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the death of a southeast Kansas woman and her three children. The Kansas Attorney General says 26-year-old David Cornell Bennett Jr., formerly of Cherryvale, was sentenced Friday for capital murder and three counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to killing 29-year-old Cami Umbarger and her three minor children in Parsons in November 2013. The state dropped its intention to seek the death penalty as part of the plea deal. Testimony at a preliminary hearing in October 2014 indicated the victims were strangled. Witnesses testified Bennett repeatedly tried to contact Umbarger after they met at a club in Independence. Family members said the two had dated briefly but Umbarger tried to end the relationship.


Kansas Lawmakers Struggle with Juggling Funding Needs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators see plenty of needs for spending across state government and are starting to complain that a court mandate puts schools first in line. Prison staffing, state mental hospitals and highway projects are among the items lawmakers would like to fund. But an October state Supreme Court ruling that the $4 billion-plus the state spends on schools each year isn't adequate means that most conversations about money at the Statehouse revolve around schools. House Majority Leader Don Hineman says the state can't gut most functions of state government to meet schools' demands. But educators and others say that schools and state agencies are living with the consequences of past state income tax cuts. Lawmakers are awaiting a school funding study due in March before acting on the budget questions.


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