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Weekend Headlines for May 26-27, 2018

Coroner: Body Identified as Boy Missing Since February

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County coroner's office has identified the body of a child as that of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez. Police say the boy's identity was confirmed through an autopsy and dental records. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said at a news conference Friday that Emily Glass, the boy's stepmother, showed private investigator David Marshburn where the remains were hidden, under a bridge on a gravel road in Sedgwick, about 20 miles north of Wichita. Marshburn contacted police. Marshburn tells The Associated Press that they drove around the general area for about four hours trying to find the body. He says it's a huge area, and all the bridges and woods in it seemingly looked the same. The area also looked different in summer than it did in February when the boy was reported missing.

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Whistleblower Lawsuit Settled against City of Leavenworth

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A deal has been reached in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the city of Leavenworth retaliated against an employee who reported the city had defrauded the U.S. government. A trial had been set for next month on a claim of retaliation made by a former employee who says she faced adverse consequences after reporting ongoing maintenance problems and dumping of solid wastes at the city's waste treatment plant. She alleged the city failed to complywith contract terms that required the city to protect the public health and environment in its handling of sewage disposal and wastewater treatment for three federal agencies. Her lawyer says the deal settles retaliation and damage claims, but allows her to appeal on environmental and fraud issues. Leavenworth's lawyer didn't return a call for comment.

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Topeka on Track for Warmest May on Record

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka might be sweltering through its warmest month of May on record. Kris Sanders, a National Weather Service meteorologist, says the city's average temperature for the first 24 days of the month was 73.1 degrees. That's higher than the city's record highest average temperature for the entire month of May, which was 72.7 degrees, recorded in 1962. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports highs are expected to be in the 90s for the rest of May in Topeka. The forecast includes high temperatures near 96 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, which would break records for the dates of May 26th and 27th.

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Fundraising, Geography Key Factors in Kansas Governor Tickets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Major party candidates for Kansas governor are using their running-mate picks to bolster key campaign themes. They're also addressing potential political trouble spots and ensuring that their ticket represents different regions of the state. Seven of the eight major candidates have named their candidates for lieutenant governor. The candidate filing deadline is June 1st. Among Republicans, Governor Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer all have strong ties to Johnson County and have picked running mates from other regions. The same holds for independent candidate Greg Orman. Among Democrats, ex-state Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty built what he sees as a relatively young ticket for the future. State Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka is emphasizing experience. Ex-Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer tapped another ex-mayor, from Johnson County.

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Man Arrested in Death of Wellington Woman

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Police in southern Kansas say a woman has been killed and a man arrested on suspicion of murder. The Wichita Eagle reports that the woman's body was found in Wellington Thursday night. Police have not released the woman's name or details about how she died. An autopsy has been ordered. Police arrested 32-year-old Bradley Dean Aue on suspicion of second-degree murder. He's being held in the Sumner County Jail on $500,000 bond. It was not clear Saturday whether he yet had an attorney.

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Former Kansas Governor Relaxed in Ambassador's Role

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sam Brownback appears relaxed, looser and more convivial as he settles into his ambassador's job and far from where he was during his final, difficult months as Kansas governor. Brownback left the governor's office in January. The two-term conservative Republican left behind low approval ratings, ire from fellow Republicans over the state's fiscal problems and an order from the Kansas Supreme Court to increase spending on public schools. The Kansas City Star reports that five months later, a visibly relaxed Brownback appears back in his element in Washington as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. He was making jokey sports analogies and ribbing former aide and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. He said he is not following Kansas politics. His new job has taken him all over the world.

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New Website Helps Kansans Find High-demand Jobs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new state website can assist Kansas residents to find jobs that are in the greatest demand, show how much they pay, and how much training is necessary. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Career Navigator website has information updated on the 10 most in-demand jobs in the state as well as in each of its more than 100 counties. The website also provides information on current openings, the education or training required for them, and where residents can get such training and how much it'll cost. The site is the product of the state Department of Labor, Commerce and Education, as well as the Kansas Board of Regents. Business and education innovation Executive Director Diane DeBacker says the site can also help high school students considering careers.

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Kansas Senate Leader Retires from Teaching after 43 years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The longest serving legislator in Kansas history has retired from his career outside politics as a public school teacher after 43 years. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley's last day in a classroom was Thursday when schools in his hometown of Topeka let out for the summer. He taught social studies at Highland Park High School for the past seven years but spent most of his career at a school for students with behavior disorders. Hensley joked, "In the Legislature, I was dealing with behavior-disordered adults." The 64-year-old Democrat is serving his 42nd year in the Legislature. He won a House seat in 1976 after returning to Topeka from a year of teaching in El Dorado. He was elected to the Senate in 1992 and has been minority leader since 1997.

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New $6.5 Million Dinosaur Theme Park Opens in Derby

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Dinosaur fans now have a new place to indulge their interest. The new Field Station: Dinosaurs park has opened in Derby. The 14-acre dinosaur theme park features 44 life-size animatronic dinosaurs spread among three distinct areas of the park. Park executive director Guy Gsell says the exhibits roar, breathe and blink. The park also features a lake and quarry and employees providing live shows. The Wichita Eagle reports the park is the first major attraction to open in the Wichita area in the past few years. The $6.5 million cost was funded with private financing and sales tax revenue bonds from the city of Derby. The dinosaurs featured in the park were once found in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Missouri.

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Police: Multi-county Chase Started after Theft of $67 in Gas

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement authorities say a police chase that spanned three counties started over $67 in stolen gas. Barber County undersheriff Dusty Brewer says officers were called to a Casey's General Store in Medicine Lodge Wednesday because of the stolen gas. The Hutchinson News reports the chase began after officers spotted the suspect's truck a short time later. With speeds reaching 100 mph, the truck went into Pratt and Kingman counties. Eventually the truck hit and embankment and the driver, 35-year-old Robert Lee Ehrlich, fled into a field. Kingman County Sheriff Randy Hill says officers searched fields for hours before the search ended. Eventually, Ehrlich was seen on a dirt road and arrested without further incident. Brewer said Ehrlich faces multiple charges and has four warrants from different counties.

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Kansas Medicaid Contractor Faces Fines if June Target Missed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The company processing Kansas Medicaid applications is days away from potentially facing millions in fines for inadequate performance that has frustrated state officials, health providers and patients for years. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas told Maximus in January the contractor must improve by June 1st or pay retroactive penalties potentially exceeding $250,000 a day. Maximus' contract calls for 98 percent accuracy on financial payments, but the contractor was achieving 40 percent. Company officials expect to meet its June 1st performance target. But lawmakers and advocates are skeptical after years of missing or wrongly processed applications that cost providers money and patients time. Kansas Medicaid Director Jon Hamdorf said Thursday that Maximus has "really made a good faith effort" to improve performance but will be fined if it falls short.

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Kansas Drug Task Force Leader Suggests Prescription Tracking

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of a Kansas governor's task force on drug addiction has suggested that the state consider requiring medical professionals to participate in a prescription tracking system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Greg Lakin raised the issue Thursday during a meeting of the task force appointed by Gov. Jeff Colyer to deal with a rise in recent years of  opioid addictions and other substance abuse issues. Lakin is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's chief medical officer. Lakin said voluntarily participation in the state's prescription tracking system improved the state's ability to monitor prescriptions for opioids and other addictive drugs. But he said about a quarter of the potential participants don't use it. Kansas Medical Society Executive Director Jon Rosell said health professionals already are overwhelmed with regulatory requirements.

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Ex-Wichita Teacher Gets Probation for Drug Dealing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita third-grade teacher who dealt cocaine out of her home has been sentenced to probation. The Wichita Eagle reports 49-year-old Heather Jones was granted probation Thursday but will serve a 60-day jail sanction as a condition of her probation. Jones pleaded guilty in March to distributing cocaine and using a phone for drug sales or purchases. Other drug distribution charges were dismissed. Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown granted the request for probation after hearing testimony from several women who said she was a gifted educator and generous friend. Jones had taught in the Wichita school district for nearly 10 years when she was arrested in July 2017. Prosecutors said she sold more than 100 grams of cocaine to an undercover Sedgwick County Sheriff's detective.

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Wichita Police Arrest 15 in Sex Trafficking Sting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say 15 people were arrested during a sex trafficking sting this week. It was the ninth sting of its kind along the South Broadway corridor in Wichita since August 2017. Officer Charley Davidson says Wednesday night's operation targeted people who were in the area to pay for sex. Since August 2017, 16 women and 69 men have been arrested on charges during similar police actions.

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Kansas Water Park Set for Limited Opening

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas water park where a boy died on a waterslide in 2016 says it will open for its season Friday operating six attractions while keeping another 11 rides closed following a state audit. The Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, said in a posting Thursday night on its Facebook page that it is opening rides Friday that were not specifically mentioned in the Kansas Department of Labor audit released earlier this week. The park said it is confident its rides are safe and it has addressed the bulk of the issues raised in the audit, which mostly involved record keeping and safety signs. But it said it is keeping the 11 rides mentioned in the audit closed until state and local officials and others can finish "their process."

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Second Man Admits to Kidnapping, Raping Kansas Sheriff's Deputy

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A second man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a suburban Kansas City sheriff's deputy. 23-year-old Brady Allen Newman-Caddell entered the plea Thursday to aggravated kidnapping, two rape counts and aggravated criminal sodomy. Another man, William Luth, was sentenced previously to more than 41 years in prison for abducting the deputy in October 2016 from the parking lot of a detention center in Olathe, as she arrived at work. She wasn't in her uniform. She was released in the Missouri suburb of Lee's Summit two hours later. Newman-Caddell and Luth are both from suburbs on the Missouri side.

 

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