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Weekend Headlines for June 16-17, 2018

Vigil Planned for Two Slain KCK Deputies

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A candlelight vigil will be held for two Wyandotte County deputies killed while transporting an inmate. 35-year-old Patrick Rohrer and 44-year-old Theresa "TK" King were transporting an inmate from a court appearance back to jail when they were overpowered and shot, possibly by one of their own weapons.  The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, was also shot and wounded in Friday's confrontation. Major Kelli Bailiff of the Wyandotte County Sheriff's department said at a news conference Saturday that 44-year-old sheriff's Deputy King left behind three children and Deputy Rohrer had two.  KCK Police Chief Terry Zeigler said he couldn't release the name of the inmate suspected of shooting them Friday because he hasn't been charged. Zeigler also said the deputies were taking the inmate from the courthouse back to jail, not the other way around, as police initially reported. King had 13 years of service, and Rohrer had been with the department for seven year. A candlelight vigil will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday in front of City Hall.

Kansas Farmers Harvesting Smaller Winter Wheat Crop

MAYFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are harvesting a smaller winter wheat crop amid an ongoing drought, but the size of the crop is offset some by higher-quality wheat and rising prices.Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says the state's harvest is probably close to the halfway mark. The hot, dry weather this past week has created ideal harvest conditions. Yields are down but test weights are mostly good. Growers are also seeing higher protein levels in many loads, which leads to higher prices. Kansas is the nation's leading wheat producer with a forecast of 270 million bushels, down 19 percent compared to a year ago. Kansas is expected to harvest 7.3 million acres of wheat.


Budget Cuts Lead to Kansas State Research Center Closing

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University says it will close its 120-acre horticultural research center in Haysville. A news release from the university on Thursday said the school also will close its 80-acre stand of  pecan trees in Chetopa. The university is cutting $3.5 million from the College of Agriculture and its research and extension budget this year because of lower state funding for education and declining enrollment. The John C. Pair Horticulture Center has five full-time employees and several student summer workers. Some of the full-time staff will be given the chance to relocate. Opened in 1970, the center specialized in research of woody ornamental production and their uses, as well as research on several other plants, crops and flowers. No specific date for the closing has been decided.


Kansas Court Upholds Law Ending Teachers' Tenure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a state law stripping public school teachers of guaranteed tenure does not violate the state or federal constitution. The court issued a unanimous ruling Friday against two veteran teachers who sued their Butler County school district after it did not renew their contracts in 2015. The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the law ending guaranteed tenure in 2014 through a measure that also boosted spending on public schools. Before the change, teachers with three or more years in the classroom had a right to have the non-renewal of their contracts reviewed by an independent hearing officer. Local school boards now set each district's policy. The Supreme Court rejected the teachers' argument that tenure represented a property right that lawmakers could not modify or take away.


Kansas Supreme Court Avoids Ruling on Execution

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has postponed a decision on whether the state can execute a man convicted of kidnapping, raping and strangling a 19-year-old college student. The high court on Friday upheld the capital murder conviction of Justin Eugene Thurber but returned his case to a lower court for another review of whether he's developmentally disabled. The U.S. Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to execute defendants with even mild developmental disabilities. Thurber was sentenced to lethal injection for the January 2007 killing of Jodi Sanderholm. She was a pre-pharmacy student and dance team member at Cowley College. The trial judge rejected the defense's request for a hearing on whether Thurber is developmentally disabled, ruling that the defense hadn't presented enough evidence to warrant it.


Kansas County Commissioner Seeks Dismissal of Indictment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County commissioner accused of misspending more than $10,000 in campaign funds and trying to cover it up has asked a judge to dismiss his indictment. A defense filing Friday in the case against Michael O'Donnell contends the U.S. government has needlessly interjected itself in matters traditionally reserved for state authorities. O'Donnell has pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment alleging wire fraud and money laundering. The motion says "over zealous prosecution" sometimes occur when prosecutors throw a wide net on criminal corruption. It contends O'Donnell came to law enforcement's attention during an investigation of other higher profile people. It argues investigators uncovered the alleged campaign finance violations, and charged him instead of referring the matter to state officials. The U.S. attorney's office said it will review the motion and respond to the court.


Man Sought by Kansas Police Shot, Wounded by Oklahoma Officer

TONKAWA, Okla. (AP) — A 70-year-old man wanted by authorities in Kansas has been shot and wounded by a police officer following a traffic stop in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Saturday that Ronald Dean Minix was stopped by an officer in Tonkawa, along Interstate 35 in the northern portion of the state. Authorities say Minix put a gun to his head during the stop late Friday and the officer fired his own weapon, striking Minix in the hand. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. It wasn't clear what prompted the officer to fire on the man. The officer has not been identified. Minix was stopped after Kansas authorities notified police that he may be in Tonkawa. He's wanted in Kansas on a warrant for stalking.


Mom Says Overland Park Wants $132,000 for Toppled Sculpture

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas mother says an insurance company wants her family to pay $132,000 after her 5-year-old son accidentally knocked over a sculpture at a city community center. Sarah Goodman tells the Kansas City Star the incident happened last month at Overland Park's Tomahawk Ridge Community Center while her family was attending a wedding reception. Goodman says she didn't see the artwork hit the ground but her son suffered minor injuries when it fell. She says the sculpture was unprotected at the crowded center. City spokesman Sean Reilly says the work was on loan to the city and that it was obligated to file a claim with its insurance company for the damage. Goodman says her children were well-supervised and she wasn't negligent. She hopes her insurance company can resolve the issue.


Topeka Elephant Undergoes Successful Dental Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Even 60-year-old elephants can have trouble with their molars. It took more than a week of planning at the Topeka Zoo to help Cora deal with two molars that hadn't chipped off naturally, which was causing sores in Cora's mouth. A 30-minute procedure on Friday by veterinary dentist Douglas Winter, the zoo's chief veterinarian Shirley Llizo and a team of specialists helped solve the problem. The Topeka Capital-Journal  reports the zoo's staff feared the sores in Cora's mouth could lead to other health risks. The zoo gave her an anesthetic that lightly sedated her but allowed her to stand during the procedure. Cora arrived at the Topeka Zoo in 2016 from a private owner. Cora once co-starred with Burt Reynolds in the movie "Smokey and the Bandit 2."

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