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Weekend Headlines for June 2-3, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Storms Knock Out Power to Thousands

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Thousands of people in northeast Kansas and the Kansas City area found themselves without power following strong overnight storms that knocked down trees and power lines. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Power & Light reported 80,000 customers without power at 8 a.m. Saturday. By 10 a.m., 50,000 customers were still without power. The utility said it expected some outages to "last all day." Most of outages were reported in Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Liberty and Blue Springs. On the Kansas side of the Missouri River, outages covered Kansas City, Overland Park and Olathe. Strong storms before dawn Saturday brought strong winds that not only knocked down trees and power lines, but some power poles, too, causing traffic delays.

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Ex-Kansas School Official Accused of Sending Explicit Message to Student

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former assistant principal at a northeastern Kansas middle school faces a felony charge after being accused of sending sexually explicit messages to a student. The Kansas City Star reports that 40-year-old Eric Kilgore was booked into the Johnson County jail in Olathe on Thursday and released on $50,000 bond Friday. He is charged with unlawful electronic solicitation of a minor under 14.Kilgore is accused of sending the messages via Snapchat to a student at Piper Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas, earlier this year, when he was assistant principal there. The girl told her parents, who called school officials and police. Piper Superintendent Tim Conrad says Kilgore was immediately placed on leave and fired in March. Kilgore's next court appearance is Wednesday.

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May Kansas Tax Collections $108 Million More than Expected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $108 million more than expected in May to give the state a full year's worth of monthly revenue surpluses. The state Department of Revenue on Friday attributed the surge's size to last-minute income tax payments in mid-April not being processed until early May. But Kansas hasn't seen a 12-month streak of better-than-expected tax collections since at least January 1989. The state collected $555 million in taxes last month when it projected $447 million. The surplus was 24.1 percent. The state collected almost $6.3 billion in taxes from the start of the current fiscal year in July 2017 through May. That is $174 million more than expected, for a surplus of 2.9 percent — even after state officials revised revenue projections upward in April.

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Texas Man Sentenced in Kansas Triple Fatality

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for causing the 2016 crash deaths of a mother and her two children on Interstate 70 in Kansas.The Wichita Eagle reports that 45-year-old Steven Johnson, of Houston, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in March to one count of second-degree murder and two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 14.5 years on the murder count and nearly 3.5 years for each of the involuntary manslaughter counts. Investigators say Johnson was driving a large box truck that crossed the interstate median on Nov. 15, 2016, hitting a car head-on. The crash killed 26-year-old Jessica Michelle Thompson, 6-year-old Jaydon Allan Thompson and 5-year-old Leah Michelle Thompson.

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Kansas Priest Accused of Stealing $42,000 from Parish

GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — A Catholic priest from Kansas is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than $42,000 from his parish after losing a large amount of money gambling.The Kansas City Star reports that 68-year-old Joseph Cramer is charged with felony theft and two counts of felony computer crime. He is free on bond but does not have a listed phone number. Court documents say Cramer lost more than $67,000 at casinos over seven months in 2015 and 2016 while serving as pastor at Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner, Kansas. Authorities say the money was stolen from the parish around the same time. Cramer was placed on administrative leave last year after the thefts were alleged. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas says Cramer has since resigned as pastor.

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Kobach Criticized After Parade Appearance with Gun

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican governor candidate Kris Kobach rode in a parade on a jeep with a large replica gun mounted on it, prompting criticism on social media that the display was inappropriate at a time of school shootings. The sight of Kobach in the red, white and blue-decorated jeep at the Old Shawnee Days parade Saturday morning stunned some onlookers, the Kansas City Star reported. Shawnee Community Christian Church pastor Johnny Lewis says there were audible gasps from some people watching the parade. A spokesman for Kobach, who is Kansas Secretary of State, says the gun was a replica. The city of Shawnee issued a statement apologizing if the gun made anyone feel unsafe and promising not to allow something similar in future.

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Children with Autism Faces Long Waits Amid Kansas Medicaid Woes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Parents in Kansas say long waitlists and shortages of insurance providers are reducing access to therapy for their children with autism. KCUR-FM reports that psychologists often point families who have children with autism to applied behavior analysis, or ABA therapy. The one-on-one therapy is meant to help autistic children develop life skills that may not come easily. But in Kansas, many families are navigating the insurance maze and waitlists that can make seeking care complex and time consuming. Behavior analysts in the state can't keep up with demand for ABA therapy, citing slow reimbursements from the state's privatized Medicaid program, KanCare. KanCare Director Jon Hamdorf says he's talking to lawmakers about the Medicaid reimbursement rates.

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Kansas Child Welfare Agency Rescinds Opposition Ban Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department for Children and Families plans to remove a new rule banning contractors from opposing the agency after questions about whether the change would stifle policy debate and contradict promises of transparency. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the removal comes after the agency announced new child welfare contracts Thursday that raised free-speech concerns. The contracts require prior approval for any public statements identifying the agency. Private contractors also must "conspicuously acknowledge support of DCF" in any announcement about the contract. Christie Appelhanz is the executive director of the Children's Alliance of Kansas, which represents child welfare agencies. She says the contracts emphasize greater collaboration but prohibit people working within the system from testifying before lawmakers. The department says the lobbying restriction was meant to foster good public-private partnerships.

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No Death Penalty in Fatal Shooting of KCK Police Captain

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man charged with fatally shooting a Kansas City, Kansas, police captain will not face the death penalty. Wyandotte County prosecutors announced Friday they will not pursue the death penalty for 22-year-old Jamaal Lewis. He is charged with capital murder in the death of 46-year-old Robert David Melton. The Kansas City Star reports that Lewis on Friday waived his preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty. In return for dropping the death penalty, attorneys agreed not to pursue a defense of mental disease or defect for Lewis. The trial is scheduled for November 5th. Melton was shot in July 2016 while assisting other officers searching for suspects in a drive-by shooting. Melton was hit when the suspect fired several shots through window of his patrol

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Estes vs. Estes in Kansas Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas congressman is crying foul after a candidate who shares his name signed up to run against him in the Republican primary. Representative Ron Estes won a tougher-than-expected special election last year for the Wichita-area seat formerly held by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The other Ron Estes from Wichita on the August primary ballot describes himself online as a father of two and a first-time candidate. Campaign finance records show he and his wife have made multiple contributions to Democrats though both are registered Republicans. The incumbent's campaign sees the filing as an attempt to deceive voters. The challenger didn't immediately return messages Friday seeking comment. The state plans to list the incumbent as Representative Ron Estes and the challenger as Ron M. Estes.

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Salina City Manager Takes Missouri Job

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The longtime city manager in Salina will take over the top administrative job in the city of Springfield, Missouri. The Springfield News-Leader reports that the selection of Jason Gage as city manager was announced Friday. Gage will be paid $220,000 annually to lead Springfield, a city of 167,000 residents. Gage has been city manager in Salina for 13 years. Before that he was city manager in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and De Soto, Missouri. Gage is a graduate of Missouri Southern State College in Joplin. He has a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Springfield City Manager Greg Burris announced in November that he was stepping down after 10 years of working for the city. His last day will be June 30th.

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Republican Olathe Lawmaker Drops Re-election Bid Against 2 Openly Gay Democrats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative House Republican has dropped his re-election bid in a suburban Kansas City district where two openly gay Democratic challengers are running. Representative Randy Powell, of Olathe, withdrew his bid this week before Friday's filing deadline. The 30th district includes parts of Olathe and Lenexa. The Kansas City Star reports Powell was considered one of the most conservative members of the House. He supported a law that allows faith-based adoption agencies to reject gay and lesbian couples. He opposed Medicaid expansion and rolling back 2012 tax cuts. The Democratic candidates, Brandon Woodard of Lenexa and Matthew Calcara of Olathe, have criticized Powell's tenure. They are seeking to become the first openly gay state representative in Kansas. Powell's decision leaves Colleen Webster and Wendy Bingesser vying for the GOP nomination.

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