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Weekend Headlines for June 23-24, 2018

Kansas Lawmaker: Legal Team to Assist Immigrant Children

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative leader says a former federal prosecutor has assembled a team of attorneys to provide legal services to immigrant children separated from their parents and detained in group homes in Topeka. Wichita Democrat and Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward announced Saturday that Barry Grissom, former U.S. attorney for Kansas, assembled the team to serve immigrant children housed by The Villages on a 400-acre site with five group homes. The state Department for Children and Families did an inspection of the homes Friday. DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel declined Saturday to discuss how many of the children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal U.S-Mexico border crossings. Ward said now that the children are receiving services, the focus is helping them reunite with their families.

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Kansas Congressman to Visit Tent Shelters for Young Immigrants

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kansas Representative Roger Marshall plans to travel Saturday to Texas to visit a center with tent-like shelters for hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant boys. Marshall said Friday that he is heading to the El Paso area to assess the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he plans to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and visit the center near the Tornillo port of entry. The federal government began housing teenage boys who entered the U.S. illegally at the Tornillo shelter last week to open space elsewhere for younger immigrant children separated from their parents in a crackdown on illegal border crossings. The port is located about 40 miles southeast of El Paso in an area that's mostly desert. The shelter's tent-like structures have air conditioning.

UPDATE: Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall is returning from a visit to the Texas border saying that several hundred immigrant children detained in a center there are getting good care. Marshall traveled Saturday to the El Paso area as part of a bipartisan congressional group to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and to tour a center holding 400 young immigrants near the Tornillo port of entry. The immigrants are mostly teenage boys and housed in tent-like structures. The Kansas Republican spent 90 minutes at the center and described it as a camp providing good food and medical care. He said he played soccer with some of the children. He said 26 children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal border crossings.

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Kansas National Guard to Haul Bottled Water to Norton

NORTON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas National Guard has been called upon to haul 26 pallets of bottled water to a northwestern Kansas town where toxic algae has compromised the water supply. The bottled water was donated by Harvesters, a community food network, in Topeka and Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer declared a state of disaster emergency on Friday for the City of Norton due to harmful algae blooms in Sebelius Lake. The toxic algae is affecting the surface water intakes for the city's public water supply. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a boil water advisory for the Norton public water supply on June 19th. Leo Henning with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the agency is working with others to monitor and test water supplies.

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Kansas Agency: Group Homes Meet Immigrant Kids' Needs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' child welfare agency has concluded after an inspection that immigrant children housed in Topeka group homes are "having their needs met." Spokeswoman Taylor Forrest issued an e-mail statement Friday evening after the state Department for Children and Families completed an inspection of The Villages homes on a 400-acre site outside Topeka. The statement was not specific about the inspector's findings. Republican Governor Jeff Colyer ordered the inspection after four Democratic legislators accused him of not being aggressive enough in seeking information about the immigrant children at The Villages homes. The nonprofit group has a contract with the federal government to house up to 50 unaccompanied immigrant children. It's not clear how many were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown at the U.S-Mexico border.

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Man Charged with Capital Murder in Wyandotte County Deputies' Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suspect has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of two Kansas sheriff's deputies who were shot while transporting him last week.Wyandotte County Mark Dupree announced Friday that 30-year-old Antoine Fielder was charged with two counts of capital murder over the deaths of deputies Theresa King and Patrick Rohrer. The deputies were killed June 15th when police say they were apparently overpowered by Fielder in a gated area behind the courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, possibly with one of their own guns. The deputies were transporting Fielder between the county jail and the courthouse. Fielder also was shot but survived. In Kansas, the premeditated killing of a single law enforcement officer is grounds for the death penalty. A joint funeral service was held Thursday for the deputies.

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Groups Prepare for Kansas Good Samaritan Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law goes into effect on July 1st that legally protects Good Samaritans who break into vehicles to save overheating children, animals and vulnerable adults. Several groups are planning to get together at 11 a.m. Monday in Spring Hill to talk about the law and show Kansans how to exercise that right. The event highlights the dangers of hot cars with planned demonstrations showing temperature rise in a car and how to break a car's window safety and easily. The bill signed into law earlier this year states it would provide immunity from civil liability when a vehicle is damaged by a person trying to aid a "vulnerable person or domestic animal" in situations where there is "imminent danger of harm" and law enforcement has been notified.

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Kansas Company Seeks Tulsa to Oklahoma City Rail Service

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Kansas-based company is seeking proposals from private rail carriers to provide passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The request for proposals by WATCO Companies of Pittsburg, Kansas, would create passenger rail service from downtown Tulsa through the cities of Sapulpa, Bristow, Stroud, Chandler and Midwest City into downtown Oklahoma City. Legislation adopted in 2011 created a task force to study ways to link northeastern Oklahoma with the existing Heartland Flyer passenger service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. The state sold an existing rail line to Watco, which currently operates freight service over the line and plans upgrades to accommodate passenger cars. Proposals are due on July 27th. Oklahoma State Representative Monroe Nichols of Tulsa says bringing passenger rail service to Tulsa is a "fantastic economic development opportunity."

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Kansas Chooses 3 Companies to Manage Medicaid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has awarded new contracts to three insurance companies to manage the state's privatized Medicaid program. Two of the new contracts announced Friday are renewals for companies currently in the program, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc. and United Healthcare Midwest Inc. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that the third contract went to a company new to the program, Aetna Better Health of Kansas Inc. The companies were selected from six candidates. Current contractor Amerigroup was not selected for renewal. Under the program, called KanCare, the companies are paid a per-person rate for managing patient care. About 400,000 low-income families, seniors and disabled individuals are in the program.

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Ex-Dallas Cowboy Strikes Plea Deals in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say they have reached plea deals with former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle that allow him to be released on probation as long as he stays out of trouble. The Sedgwick  County district attorney's office said in a news release Friday the agreements cover four cases against Randle, including ones involving a jail fight and interfering with a law enforcement officer. He has already been in jail more than two years. Taken together, the pleas call for a controlling sentence of 80 months that allows him to be free on probation for 60 months. If he violates probation, prosecutors can seek to have him put in prison. Randle was sentenced Friday for aggravated battery, aggravated burglary, criminal threat and marijuana possession. He will be sentenced August 17th on the jail fight and interference cases as well as ones related to his breaking a jail television and threatening a guard.

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Sedgwick County Juvenile Offenders Make "Comfort Kits" for Kids in Hardship

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Children at a Kansas juvenile detention facility are learning the value of volunteer work by making stuffed animals and comfort kits for youth experiencing hardship. The Wichita Eagle reports that children in the Sedgwick County Juvenile Delinquent Facility began creating comfort kits Wednesday with Sheriff Deputy Aaron Miller and volunteers from IMA Financial Group. All the facility's children ages 10 through 17 will get an opportunity to make a kit this week. Each kit contains a children's book, crisis information, a stuffed animal and a birth certificate for the toy. Local law enforcement can give the kits to children in difficult situations, such as house fires, car accidents or at court during divorce cases. Miller says making the kits gives the facility's children a sense of purpose.

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Boat Capsized in Kansas Tornado May Float Again

PERRY, Kan. (AP) — The new owners of a Kansas cruise boat are hoping it can float again 40 years after a tornado sank the boat and killed more than a dozen people. A tornado capsized the Whippoorwill paddle boat in 1978 on Pomona Lake, killing 16 of the 58 people on board. The Kansas City Star reports that Josh and Matt Abramovitz bought the boat for $4,000 to restore the 45-ton craft. Josh Abramovitz says the boat's close to seaworthy again after decades of repairs by his family and three previous owners. The brothers hope to get the boat out on Perry Lake near Topeka by July 4 and eventually carry paying passengers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the brothers must complete many requirements before using the boat commercially.

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KC Airport Project Completion Delayed until 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The developer for the new single-terminal Kansas City International Airport is now projecting an opening date of October 2022, nearly a year later than originally anticipated. The Kansas City Star reports that officials with Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate told the Kansas City Council of its new plans Thursday. Edgemoor was chosen for the project that Kansas City voters approved in 2017. The project is expected to cost up to $1.4 billion. The original project cost was estimated at $964 million in 2014. Inflation is responsible for part of the increase, but the new plan also accounts for 39 gates instead of the original plan's 35 gates. Airlines, not taxpayers, are responsible for funding the construction project.

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