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Weekend Headlines for July 28-29, 2018

DNA Evidence Discovered in Missing Kansas Woman's Case

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after a 30-year-old Kansas woman disappeared police say it's likely she drowned in a flooded creek. Maize police Detective Jeff Piper said Friday two new pieces of evidence support a theory that Kendra Nystrom drowned in a flooded Cowskin Creek near her parents' home when she went missing on May 4th, 2017. The Wichita Eagle reports the Kansas chapter of Texas EquuSearch found a pair of pants and another small item that had Nystrom's DNA on it entangled in trees earlier this month. They were found near the creek. Piper said the new discoveries, along with other circumstances, led police to believe it's probable that she went into the creek and drowned on May 4th. However, he says the case will remain open.

Man Arrested after 40 Animals Seized from Barton County Home

ELLINWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in central Kansas say a 63-year-old man has been arrested after 40 animals were seized from his property. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said his office assisted the Golden Belt Humane Society and the county health department Thursday at a home north of Ellinwood, 240 miles (390 kilometers) of Kansas City, Kansas. Officials removed 20 cats, four dogs and two chickens from inside the home. Another 10 cats, two dogs, a horse and a donkey were found outside. A decaying horse carcass that had been there for months was found in a barn. Bellendir says Cletus Wolford was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals, maintaining a public nuisance and obstruction of officers. All the animals were taken to the Golden Belt Humane Society.


'Koch Brothers' Seek Rebranding, Still a Conservative Force

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Democrats have long portrayed the billionaire conservative Koch brothers as political supervillains. Now the Kochs have quietly launched a rebranding effort that may vanquish the moniker "Koch brothers" from American politics.The catalyst came earlier this year when the ailing David Koch stepped away from the family business, leaving older brother Charles as the undisputed leader of their web of expanding political and policy organizations.  There are few, if any, clearly identifiable links between the Kochs and spinoff organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners. Now company officials are pushing journalists to change references in their coverage from "Koch brothers" to "Koch network" or one of their less-recognizable entities. An estimated 500 Koch donors are gathering in Colorado this weekend for meetings to discuss Koch-backed initiatives.


Kansas Inmate Gets Additional Time for 2013 Escape

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A man who fled from a Kansas prison and through Missouri has been given an additional 10-plus years in prison by a Kansas court. The Kansas City Star reports that Allen Hurst is already serving 20 years in Missouri for the 2013 escape, as well as a term for burglary and theft in Kansas. His new sentence of 130 months in Leavenworth County will run consecutive to his other sentences. Hurst and two other men escaped from the Lansing prison on May 10, 2013. Hurst and one of the other escapees, Scott Gilbert, stole a pickup truck and led officers on a 100 mph chase on Interstate 29 and along rural highways. During the chase, Gilbert fired at officers with a shotgun. No one was injured. Gilbert was sentenced to 128 years for the shooting and 10 years for escape.


KCK Superintendent Abruptly Resigns after Less than a Month on Job

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The interim superintendent for the Kansas City, Kansas, school district has resigned after less than a month leading the district. Julie Ford resigned Friday, effective immediately. She did not explain her decision, which comes just days before incoming superintendent Charles Foust begins his tenure. The Kansas City Star reports school board members appointed Assistant Superintendent Jayson Strickland to be acting superintendent until Foust arrives. A district spokeswoman said Foust, the former chief school performance officer for Union County Public Schools in North Carolina, is expected to start in early August. Foust was chosen over Strickland in June to succeed former Superintendent Cindy Lane, who retired this year. The decision was controversial because some thought Strickland, who has spent his 30-year career in Kansas City, Kansas, was better suited to lead the district.


Kansas Teen Charged with Arson in Flare Gun Attacks

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A second Overland Park teenager has been charged with firing a flare gun into several occupied apartments earlier this year. The Kansas City Star reports 18-year-old Luis Fernando Samano was charged Friday with four counts of felony aggravated arson and one misdemeanor theft charge. His bond was set at $500,000. Police say flares were fired into four apartments Overland Park in April. All four apartments were occupied at the time, but no one was injured. One fire ignited but it was quickly put out by firefighters. A 17-year-old was charged in June with four aggravated arson counts in the court's juvenile division. Samano's first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.


Remains Found Last Year near Melvern Lake Identified

MELVERN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say remains found last year near Melvern Lake in east-central Kansas were those of a 40-year-old Topeka woman. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Osage County Sheriff's Office announced Friday the victim was Anna Marie Baldwin, whose remains were found on August 25th, 2017. Her death is being investigated as a homicide. Authorities have not said how she died. A park ranger found the remains during a routine check on the north side of Melvern Lake in Osage County. The KBI said in a statement that investigators believe Baldwin was killed sometime between April and July of 2017. It asks that anyone who knew Baldwin in late 2016 or in 2017, or who has information related to the crime, contact 1-800-KS-CRIME.


ACLU Attacks May Help Kobach Win GOP Nomination for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attacks on Kris Kobach by the American Civil Liberties Union in the Kansas governor's race are giving the in-your-face conservative a message to hammer home in the Republican primary. Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state and has made the ACLU a political foil for years in championing some of the toughest state voter identification policies in the nation. And in response to a $200,000 campaign against him ahead of the state's August 7th primary, Kobach portrays the ACLU as having endorsed Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer. The group has become more visible in election campaigns nationally but has said it's not endorsing a candidate. Colyer's campaign sees desperation in Kobach's tactics. But Kobach's campaign is using the ACLU's attacks to rouse its supporters.


Kansas Health Officials Warn of Dangerous Blue-Green Algae

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are warning the public about toxic levels of blue-green algae in more than a dozen lakes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that direct water contact through activities such as swimming is strongly discouraged for people and animals in 13 lakes. The lakes currently under a warning are Atchison County Park Lake, Hodgeman County State Fishing Lake, the Slough Creek arm of Perry Lake, the Marais Des Cygnes Wildlife Area Lake, the Carbondale West Lake, the Melvern Outlet Pond and Swim Pond, Webster Lake, Frazier Lake, Rooks County State Fishing Lake, South Park Lake, Lake Wabaunsee and Lake Afton. A less serious watch also was issued for Overbrook City Lake, Shawnee County's Rock Garden Pond and Central Park Lake and Douglas County's Mary's Lake.


Kansas Woman Requests Missing Evidence for Retrial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who's representing herself in a double-homicide case says she's missing thousands of pages and more than 100 CDs of evidence. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a status conference was held Thursday to determine scheduling the retrial of Dana Chandler. Chandler faces charges of first-degree murder in the 2002 slayings of her ex-husband, Michael Sisco, and his fiancee, Karen Harkness. Chandler says she wants the missing evidence from the prosecution before moving forward. The Kansas Supreme Court vacated Chandler's 2012 conviction in April on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct by former Shawnee County Deputy District Attorney Jacqie Spradling. District Attorney Mike Kagay inherited the case, and decided in May that he would retry Chandler on the charges. A tentative trial date has been scheduled for October 1st.


KU Starts New Sexual Violence Prevention Training

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has developed a new mandatory training program for student-athletes designed to help prevent sexual violence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university's Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center has worked with KU Athletics to launch the Gender Based Violence Prevention Seminar this fall. SAPEC Director Jen Brockman says many institutions just train student-athletes in sexual violence prevention for 10 or 20 minutes. The university's training will provide evidence-based instruction over four years, giving student-athletes 45 hours of direct education on gender-based violence prevention through their time at the school. The program will focus on four areas over the course of its installments: individual, relationships, community and societal. The seminar is based on the four-level model for understanding violence and the potential effects of violence prevention methods.


Lawrence Group to Review Ban on Plastic Bags, Straws

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A local advisory board in Lawrence will look at whether the city can participate in reducing the amount of disposable plastics it uses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city's Sustainability Advisory Board voted this month to prioritize the issue of single-use plastics. The board is forming a community work group to study single-use plastics like plastic bags, straw and food containers, and methods to reduce their use. Plastic bags have been scrutinized in some communities because of their difficulty to recycle. Lawrence's curbside recycling program doesn't accept plastic grocery bags. Plastic straws have more recently come under the spotlight, with Seattle banning them starting this month. The work group will include community members who'll bring a recommendation to the board after conducting research. The board will provide a recommendation to the City Commission.


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