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Kansas Rep. Ron Estes introduces swatting bill

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 10:22am

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The effort to fight swatting has now gone to the national level. Rep. Ron Estes from Wichita introduced the bill known as the Andrew T. Finch Memorial Act to address the issue.

Andrew Finch

It comes after the fatal officer-involved shooting that left Andrew Finch dead. Officials arrested Tyler Barriss, and he’s been charged with involuntary manslaughter, interfering with police and making a false alarm.

“The swatting incident here in Wichita and others across the country highlight the need for a federal law that addresses these crimes,” said Rep. Estes. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation to increase the severity of punishment for these criminals and deter others from participating in this dangerous activity.”

If passed the bill would impose strict penalties for swatting, including up to 20 years in prison if someone is seriously hurt because of a swatting attack.

SWATTING FACTS

• “Swatting” is a call to a police department with a false story of a crime in progress in an attempt to draw a large number of police officers to a particular address.
• The false reports often involve very dangerous scenarios for a community and police officers such as hostages have been taken or an active shooter is in progress.
• Typically, swatting calls originate from online gaming disagreements.
• Swatting presents jurisdictional problems. If a call or email is placed from one state but the victim lives in another, it may not be clear who should investigate or prosecute the case. If the swatter lives outside the United States, the case becomes even more complicated.
• Often the phone numbers from swatting calls are spoofed, making them very difficult to trace and hard to prosecute the individuals.
• The FBI estimated there were 400 swatting attacks in 2013.
• FBI reports the average cost is $10,000-$25,000 per emergency response.
• In 2013, one individual, Mir Islam was found guilty of false report swatting calls for more than 50 public figures. He was sentenced to only two years in prison.

Download the Preventing Swatting and Protecting Our Communities Act fact sheet.

Categories: Local News

Neighbor: Police begged to tend to dying Missouri officer

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 8:29am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting one Missouri officer and wounding two others refused to let officers tend to the dying officer for hours.

The Kansas City Star reports that a dispatcher can be heard talking to Clinton Officer Christopher Ryan Morton soon after he was wounded Tuesday night. Morton says on the radio traffic that he’d been hit “multiple times” and that he doesn’t think he can make it out of a window. The dispatcher begs Morton to “stay with us.”

The Star reports that the suspect, James Waters, barricaded himself inside the home and exchanged gunfire with the dozens of officers who eventually arrived. Neighbor Sheryl Long says officers begged Waters during the standoff to let them tend to the fallen officer.

By the time officers got to Morton hours later, he was dead, along with Waters. Waters had been in and out of prison multiple times for mostly drug-related convictions.

Categories: Local News

Cigna to spend about $52 billion for Express Scripts

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 7:36am

The insurer Cigna will spend about $52 billion to acquire the nation’s biggest pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts, the latest in a string of proposed tie-ups as health care’s bill payers attempt to get a grip on rising costs.

Including $15 billion in debt, the proposed $67 billion acquisition follows a deal announced late last year in which the drugstore chain CVS Corp. said it will spend around $69 billion on the insurer Aetna Inc.

Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers — which run drug plans for insurers and employer-based plans — have struggled to corral spiraling costs and the industry that was jolted by the Affordable Care Act, which reshaped the individual insurance market and expanded the state- and federally funded Medicaid program.

In that environment the ultimate disruptor, Amazon.com, said this year that it wanted to get involved in health care as well in a collaboration with billionaire Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase. No one knows what that means yet, but it sent a shudder through the sector.

Insurers and others say they want to get more involved in patient care, to supplement what a regular doctor provides and keep people healthy and on their medications. They are especially focused on those with chronic conditions, like diabetes patients who need regular blood sugar monitoring. They say they want to change a system that generally waits until people get sick before treating them.

Aetna and CVS have said they hope to create “front doors” to health care through 9,800 stores run by CVS. That deal could turn many of the chain’s stores into one-stop-shop locations for an array of health care needs like blood work and eye or hearing care, in addition to their traditional role of filling prescriptions.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., which runs the nation’s largest insurer, is spending almost $5 billion to buy nearly 300 primary and specialty care clinics and some urgent care and surgery centers. That push will help the company steer patients away from expensive hospital care.

Another insurer, Humana Inc., is making a separate deal to better manage the care of its Medicare Advantage patients.

Cigna CEO David Cordani said Thursday that the combined company will make health care more simple for customers.

The deal announced Thursday consists of $48.75 in cash and a portion of stock in the combined company for each share of St. Louis-based Express Scripts Holding Co. Cordani will lead the combined company, with his Express Scripts counterpart, Tim Wentworth, staying on as a president.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close at the end of this year.

Cigna, based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, was the target of an acquisition bid by the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem Inc. But Anthem ended that $48 billion offer last spring, accusing Cigna of sabotaging that deal. Cigna, in turn, said Anthem “willfully breached” its obligation to get regulatory approval.

A federal judge and an appeals court had rejected the combination after antitrust regulators sued to stop it.

Categories: Local News

Earthquake felt near Hutchinson early Thursday

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 7:18am

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – If you felt some rumbling in and around Hutchinson Thursday morning you are not wrong.

A magnitude 3.4 earthquake struck just south of Hutchinson around 4:50. So far, there are no reports of damage. To learn more about this particular earthquake, click here.

Last Thursday, an earthquake record near Hutchinson had a magnitude 3.1.

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Categories: Local News

Laura’s Look: Warming Through Week’s End

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 3:10am

Gradually warming back toward spring with a skiff of rain to come on Saturday.

A crisp winter morning with crystal clear skies and light winds. The kids will want to dress in layers this morning.

The winds crank up a notch today. This leads to a concern for fire danger once again.

Temperatures stay in the refrigerator tonight. Above freezing for most.

Then finally, we’re back in the 70s on Friday. Stronger winds this weekend will aid in high fire danger again. Turning cooler and windy by Sunday.

Saturday’s rain chance still looks pitiful. Most of the moisture stays locked up along and east of the Kansas Turnpike.

Still no major storm systems on the horizon to bring relief to the drought.

Join me on Kansas Today from 4:30-7 a.m. — I’ll time out the slim rain chance and help you make your weekend plans! – Laura Bannon

 

 

Categories: Local News

Wichita program helps hundreds of youth find jobs, better themselves

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 10:31pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) Training the future Kansas workforce.

That’s what an area program is doing but some say this is much more than just providing jobs.

“Wanting to feel more responsible,” says Aidan Alldaff. “Feeling, like, because I am 16 I want to feel more like an adult you know.”

Aldaff is a junior in high school. He needed some money to pay for his car last summer.

“I was nervous for sure,” he says.

“Aidan came in to take the workshop and didn’t quite know what to expect,” says Workforce Alliance Communications Director Angie Duntz.

What Aidan got was more than cash for a car payment.

“They had the learning class on ways that you can improve your interview skills,” he says.

“Soft skills financial management, and customer service,” adds Duntz.

Aidan’s decision to come to Workforce Alliance paid off.

“They said there was an opening for an internship with the Wichita business journal and I ended up getting the job,” he explains.

All youth 14 to 21 qualify for the program.

Last year Workforce Alliance helped more than 400 youth find summer jobs.

The goal this year is 1000.

“It is a major impact on our city and our state when we have kids that are working in the summertime,” says Youth Mentor William Polite.

Polite spends his time working with youth for Wichita Public Schools and after school at the Urban League.

For some youth Polite says these summer gigs are game changers.

“An idle mind is sometimes a dangerous mind,” he explains.

He says working a job can keep youth out of trouble and programs like these lower those risks.

“It helps me feel like ‘hey I am important. I am somebody. I don’t have to get involved in those things.'”

Categories: Local News

Gov. Colyer tours areas affected by wildfires in Greenwood Co.

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 10:13pm

GREENWOOD COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Gov. Jeff Colyer toured areas in Greenwood County that were hit by fires this week.

Gov. Colyer credits the residents in and around Hamilton with dropping everything to save their town from going up in flames.

Colyer says while today wasn’t a huge day for active wildfires, there’s plenty more ahead.

“We’re in the beginning of fire season. We have a lot more risk. But already in the last few days we’ve had over fifty fires across the state of Kansas,” said Gov. Colyer. “More than 40 square miles have been burned and it’s been all the way from Colorado to Missouri from Oklahoma to Nebraska.

Governor Colyer says the damage assessment is just beginning.

Categories: Local News

The look and feel of St. Jude is unlike any other hospital

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 8:32pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Many of the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital spend months or even years in treatment so the staff want it to be a friendly, inviting place for families.

Staff members organize games and activities for the patients and their siblings.

Bella Bush of Wichita, who’s fighting brain cancer, actually looks forward to her visits at St. Jude. One of her favorite things?

“The puppies,” said Bella with a smile. “They have dogs I get to play with.”

She also likes the stairs that make music as she walks down them to radiation. It’s a treat before treatment!

Other children also think of St. Jude as a fun place.

“Azalea gets excited to come here,” said the 4-year-old girl’s mother, Simone. “We as mothers describe this as the Disneyland of hospitals.”

But it’s not just the activities that help kids forget their sickness for awhile. It’s what they don’t see.

“There is a thing called ‘white coat syndrome’ that children get afraid of doctors who have on the coats so a lot of our doctors just don’t wear coats,” said Kathy Cox, Guest Services Liaison.

Plus, there’s no antiseptic smell at St. Jude, even though everything is sanitized to fight germs.

“We have such expensive and wonderful filtration systems and air conditioning systems that filter all of that smell out,” said Cox.

St. Jude also doesn’t look like a typical hospital. Every wall of every building is painted with a bright mural.

The colorful environment helps keep the kids’ spirits up and gives parents peace of mind.

Katy Mortimer of Junction City said her son, Brady, was still playing the same day he died five years ago.

“As sick as he was, he was able to still be a child, a kid,” said Mortimer. “And never once did they make him feel like a patient.”

For other patients, St. Jude hopes that happiness translates into healing, both physically and emotionally.

“It is treating the mind, body and soul,” said Cox.

Categories: Local News

One person dies in McPherson County crash

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 8:13pm

MCPHERSON, Kan. (KSNW) – One person was killed in a one-vehicle crash in McPherson County Wednesday afternoon.  The crash occurred at about 2 p.m. on I-135 about 12 miles north of McPherson.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said a 2006 Freightliner semi tractor-trailer was northbound on I-135 when the driver apparently suffered a medical condition. KHP said the vehicle hit the guard rail on the east side of the roadway, continued into the ditch and ran through a K-DOT fence before coming to rest in a wheat field.

Troopers say 63-year-old Roger Bloyd of Salina was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bloyd was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.

Categories: Local News

Propane tanks, flames and real firefighters teach students how to react

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 7:52pm

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s that time of year, the grass is dry, winds are heavy and firefighters are on high alert. Fire crews know that they can be called out to the front lines of situations where grass fires can do a lot of destruction in a very little amount of time.

Hutchinson firefighters say knowing what to do in those times can be the difference between life and death, which is why Hutchinson Community College puts a lot of resources into their fire academy.

“We take firefighters who’ve just been hired on smaller fire departments, we take students who want to be firefighters and we have volunteer firefighters as well,” explained instructor, Jason Holland.

It’s the skills that firefighters know and rely on to put out fires and get people to safety. Those skills are what the students at the academy are getting a taste of this week.

“We just had a fire yesterday and thankfully it didn’t get out of hand but we know it could have and we want everyone to be prepared for that,” said Holland. “They’re doing forcible entry so we’re teaching these students how to enter buildings on fire. We also are going to learn how to put up ladders.”

Holland says yesterday’s grass fires were a wake up call and a reminder that last year’s catastrophic wildfires can happen again.

“This training is important for a number of reasons,” explained Holland. “We have 53 acres of land to train on but we also will show them how to fight a car fire, then end the night with a propane tank which a lot of rural homes in Kansas and surrounding communities have.”

Holland says that students travel from around the Midwest for the training adding that this course helps to-be firefighters get their certification.

“They are really knowledgeable when it comes to fire behavior and how to react,” said student, Collier Sanders. “I’m currently in the National Guard as well, working as a pilot and this is just a nice job with social service and it kind of goes in line with what I do on the other side. So, it just kind of fits with what I look for in a career.”

The course is offered five times a year for a two-week span.

Categories: Local News

Just one week away, arena and venues prepare for NCAA Tournament

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 6:49pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) –  In just seven days, thousands of people from near and far will descend on Wichita for the NCAA Tournament.

Preparations inside the arena and venues hosting big events throughout the week continue.

Wednesday morning, crews outside of Intrust Bank Arena could be seen working to hang a big “Welcome to Wichita” sign in front of the arena.

While signs, both big and small, have been placed outside of the arena, inside is a different story.

With a Wichita Thunder hockey game Wednesday night, the ice still remained in the bowl of the arena.

“Over the weekend we will begin the official transformation into NCAA,” said A.J. Boleski, SMG Management.

Boleski says the ice will be removed in order to set up for a concert on Friday.

Following the concert, he says both full-time and part-time staff will work to convert the arena into a basketball facility.

“We are pretty fortunate because we do not have events on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, so we will be probably able to get some sleep on those nights, and our staff converting the building those days, but we will put in some long days Sunday and Monday as well,” said Boleski.

Just across the street at Brick & Mortar Event Venue, around the clock preparations are being made to host all the fans that will flock to Wichita for the tourney.

“Full production going on, we’ve got A/V sound getting ready to go in today, we’ve got a our glass structured tent on our entertainment pad, which is 9,000 square feet of entertainment area,” said Brandy Zogleman, Co-Owner of Brick & Mortar Event Venue.

Zogleman says they’ve had between 20 and 30 people at any given time making sure both the outside and inside are ready to go for all the festivities next week.

“We’re running on adrenaline, so we are, it is full force and we are ready for it,” said Zogleman.

While preps for the arena won’t kick into full gear until the weekend, Boleski says that won’t stop them from being ready for the tournament by Tuesday.

“We want to roll out the red carpet and create a real championship experience for the guests that are in town next week,” said Boleski.

This will be the first time Wichita has hosted the NCAA Tournament since 1994.

The last time the tournament came to town, it was held at the Kansas Coliseum in Valley Center.

 

Categories: Local News

Teachman’s Take: Temps on the Rise, Fire Threat Still High

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 6:07pm

While the winds were weaker today, our fire threat remains high.  We have seen a few grass fires throughout the state.  I’m not expecting this pattern to change anytime soon.  Overnight, the winds will calm down and with clear skies, temps will bottom out in the upper teens and lower 20s.

Tomorrow, temps will start to rise into the upper 50s and 60s.  Winds will also increase just a hair, which isn’t good news because it will only add fuel to our ongoing fire concerns.

This weekend, there is a slight chance for some showers.  Some of the latest information into the Storm Tracker 3 weather center keeps the majority of the moisture to our south across Oklahoma and Arkansas.

If you live southeast of the Turnpike, you have a brief window this Saturday for a shower or two.  Don’t get too excited or your hopes up because this rain opportunity isn’t a drought buster for us by any means.

Join me tonight on KSN News as I track this rain for the weekend and how it will impact temperatures heading into next week. – Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman

Categories: Local News

Tornado shelters still on the way for some schools

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 4:18pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As kids quietly and orderly walk down the hall, teachers monitor the time it takes to get everyone into the storm shelter at Jefferson Elementary this week.

“Good job everybody,” Jefferson Elementary Principal Kamiel Evans told all the kids. “It was under three minutes for all of us to get in here and close the doors.”

Jefferson has a modern shelter, which is a relief to teachers who remember the 1999 tornado that wiped away four “portable” classrooms.

“It jumped over the Hilltop community which is right south of us. And it came here (Jefferson Elementary) and obliterated our portables,” says teacher, Karen Wedel. “But it basically jumped over the Hilltop community where a lot of our kids live. It just happened to hit the places where there were no people or no children, which is just a miracle.”

In Goddard, they don’t yet have storm shelters for all of the kids. At Oak Street School, about a third of the kids go into the interior bathrooms. The other kids go into lower hallways and cover their heads, up against the wall.

“We are just so fortunate that we have that support here in Goddard. A bond issue passed with voters, and that is bringing us a storm shelter,” says Principal Ashley Miller.

Miller says the Oak Street School was built in the 1950’s. And, she explains, that’s why kids shelter in the interior hallways, with steel doors closed on either side of the hallway.

“So hopefully very soon we will begin our progress on our safe areas,” says Miller. “So it’s an older building and it’s a little nerve-racking when rough weather comes in and we have the hallway and two-thirds of our students go down in the hallways and cover their heads. And we are down there reassuring them they are safe.”

Meanwhile, back at Jefferson in Wichita, teachers say the shelter gives them peace of mind for the kids in their care.

“I just get a sense of peace being here in this shelter,” says Wedel.

All Wichita schools have shelters, after a bond issue was passed to pay for the structures. Goddard officials say most kids have shelters, but more are on the way.

“Our students, they are very good during the drill,” says Miller. “I think they see the importance of practicing them. And we do review them with students fairly often like we do with the fire drills.”

KSN will continue to bring you #SevereWeatherAwarenessWeek stories with a look at what the city and county have planned in case of a tornado event.

 

Categories: Local News

One person in critical condition after crash in Park City

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 4:14pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Authorities are on the scene of a traffic accident in Park City.

According to authorities one person is in critical condition.

The crash happened around 4:00 p.m. in the southbound lanes of I-135 at 61st. St. Traffic is being diverted. Drivers should avoid the area.

A truck carrying welding supplies crashed into a highway patrol truck that assists broken-down vehicles.

KSN has a crew on the way to the scene. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Categories: Local News

Oklahoma police issue Amber Alert for missing, endangered 7-month-old boy

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 3:05pm

NORMAN, Okla. – The Norman Police Department has issued an Amber Alert for a missing and endangered infant.

On Tuesday, police announced they were searching for 7-month-old Jody Minjarez, who they believe is endangered.

However, authorities have now said the case qualifies as an Amber Alert.

Jody Minjarez

On February 19, Norman police responded to a report of a domestic assault in the 1500 block of Lakecrest Drive.

Officers determined that 31-year-old Victor Manuel Minjarez violently attacked the mother of his child and then fled the residence with their son, Jody Minjarez.

On February 23, the victim, the child’s mother, obtained an emergency Victim Protective Order (VPO) that ordered Jody to be returned to her.

Victor Minjarez has since sent a text message to a friend telling her to tell the victim that she would never see her son again.

Because of this, police believe Jody Minjarez is in imminent danger of bodily harm or death.

Victor Minjarez fled the scene of the incident with the child driving a rented U-Haul pick-up truck with an unknown license plate.

Victor Minjarez

Police believe he is now driving a light blue BMW four-door sedan or a white 2008 Cadillac Escalade, with the Oklahoma license plate 128KNQ.

He is homeless, and it is unknown where he is currently staying. However, investigators believe he is likely in the Oklahoma City metro, possibly staying at a motel or with a friend.

He is described as a 31-year-old Hispanic male with black hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of 7-month-old Jody Minjarez or 31-year-old Victor Minjarez are asked to immediately call 911 or the Norman Police Department at 405-321-1444.

Categories: Local News

Immigrants say working at Kansas ranch was ‘like slavery’

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 2:13pm

SYRACUSE, Kan. (AP) — Immigrants working on a remote Kansas ranch toil long days in a type of servitude to work off loans from the company for the cost of smuggling them into the country, according to five people who worked there.

There are no holidays, health insurance benefits or overtime pay at Fullmer Cattle Co., which raises calves for dairies in four states. The immigrants must buy their own safety gear such as goggles.

One worker spent eight months cleaning out calf pens, laying down cement and doing other construction work. Esteban Cornejo, a Mexican citizen who is in the U.S. illegally, left Kansas in November after paying off debt, which he figures was nearly $7,000.

The pay stub Cornejo shared with The Associated Press shows he worked 182.5 hours at $10 an hour over two weeks — an average of 15 hours a day with Sundays off. His pay was $1,828.34 before taxes. Also deducted was a $1,300 “cash advance repayment” that he said was a company loan for bringing him into the country.

His take-home pay was $207.46, the pay stub shows, or just over $1 an hour working at Fullmer Auto Co. Texas LLC, which does business as Fullmer Cattle.

“It is like slavery what they do to those poor people,” said Rachel Tovar, another former worker who spoke to The Associated Press.

Tovar said she was interviewed recently by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, who asked about the company’s Kansas employment practices, but ICE declined to say if it is investigating.

Dean Ryan, the company’s attorney, said in an email that the allegations “are simply not true.”

“There was no smuggler’s fee and has never been,” Ryan wrote, adding that there are “plenty of people willing to work in western Kansas without having to ‘import’ them.”

Ryan said company policy is to give pay advances to workers who have no credit. He said those loans are made so employees can purchase a vehicle or put a down payment on a home.

President Donald Trump’s administration has cracked down on immigrants living in the country illegally. But it has said less about the companies that employ them, let alone a company accused of using smugglers to bring workers to the United States.

The plight of the Kansas workers also highlights the exploitation that immigrants face when a company forces them to pay off debt with work, a practice called “debt peonage.”

Under federal law, employers do not have to pay overtime to agricultural workers. Erik Nicholson, national vice president for the United Farm Workers union, said it is not unusual for employers to recruit immigrant farmworkers. Some employers use kickback schemes, although deducting from paychecks is “pretty brazen.”

Arturo Tovar is Rachel’s husband and a Mexican citizen who lived illegally in the U.S. and was a Fullmer manager for 11 years. He said the smuggling process worked like this: When the company needed workers, Arturo asked employees if they knew someone who wanted to work in the United States. The company gave him the phone number of the “coyote,” or smuggler, in Piedras Niegras, Mexico, to make the arrangements.

The company would give Arturo Tovar a check, which he would cash. A partial payment was made to the smuggler upfront and the rest when the immigrant reached San Antonio or Houston, where the immigrant would be picked up. If law enforcement asked questions about the cash, the employee was instructed to say it was for used cars the company bought at Texas auctions.

Rachel Tovar, a U.S.-born citizen, said that once the loan to bring an immigrant into the country was almost paid, the company often sold used vehicles to employees in what she believes was an effort to keep them in debt.

Arturo Tovar voluntarily left the country in lieu of deportation after pleading guilty last year to misdemeanor theft stemming from what the couple says was a false company accusation after he was hurt on the job. The company contends the Tovars have an agenda and lack credibility.

But another former employee told AP that Fullmer also loaned him money for the coyote to smuggle someone. AP is not naming the ex-worker out of concern for that person’s safety.

A fifth ex-worker confirmed the general accounts of those who allowed their names to be used but asked for anonymity because that person also has safety concerns.

Fullmer Cattle’s calf-feeding operation is outside of Syracuse, a farming community of 1,800 about 16 miles from the Colorado border. Former workers say some employees live in company-owned trailers at the ranch or a nearby property, for which the company deducts rent.

The company says it raises tens of thousands of Holstein calves for 18 dairies from Texas, Kansas, Colorado and South Dakota. Newborn calves are taken away from milk cows and sent to Fullmer to be bottle-raised and weaned. The heifers are sent back as milk cow replacements, while the bulls are sent to feedlots to be fattened for slaughter. Among the benefits Fullmer Cattle touts to customers on its website is “lower labor costs.”

The Kansas ranch offered owner Que Fullmer a fresh start following a 1998 immigration raid at his Chino, California, ranch where authorities found workers in what a California labor official described as “economic slavery.” The Kansas ranch also offered Fullmer a chance to rebuild after bankruptcies cost him the bulk of his operations in Muleshoe, Texas.

Fullmer pleaded guilty in 1999 in California federal court to a felony count of harboring and concealing immigrants in the country illegally. He was sentenced to six months of home detention, a $10,000 fine and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service, court records show.

In December, he was charged with illegally casting election ballots in both Colorado and Kansas in 2016. The registered Republican is accused of voting more than once and other violations. The case is pending in Kansas.

As a result of Fullmer’s past immigration-related conviction, the lawyer for the company said in an email that it takes “extra care” not to hire workers who are in the country illegally.

___

Associated Press researchers Jennifer Farrar and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Categories: Local News

Army National Guard sends helicopters to Greenwood County to battle fire

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 1:20pm

GREENWOOD COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Two Kansas Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopters and eight soldiers headed to Greenwood County in southeast Kansas to fight a fire near the town of Hamilton.

The Eureka Herald reports that units from Eureka, Hamilton, Madison, Burkett and Virgil are battling the blaze and the fire is under control. Greenwood County Emergency Management said crews are on scene cleaning up hotspots and conducting back burning operations.The soldiers will use 660-gallon Bambi buckets to drop water on fires in areas inaccessible to ground crews working on the blaze.

The Greenwood County Sheriff’s Department is advising people not to drive into the area of the fires around Hamilton. They said traffic is interfering with firefighting operations and endangering personnel. The sheriff said if you drive past a roadblock and it interferes with firefighting operations you can be arrested.

Categories: Local News

Cruz formally charged with 17 counts of murder in school shooting

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 1:02pm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has been formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he’s convicted.

A grand jury in Fort Lauderdale returned the indictment Wednesday against the 19-year-old Cruz for the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and 16 were wounded.

The indictment also charges Cruz with 17 counts of attempted murder.

Cruz’s public defender has said he’ll plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence. The Broward County state attorney hasn’t announced a decision on the death penalty.

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12:45 p.m.

The head of Florida’s law-enforcement agency says subpoenas are being prepared in an investigation into the police response to a mass shooting at a high school.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said Wednesday that the agency will eventually turn over its findings to the Broward County prosecutor.

He said his investigators have begun to prepare subpoenas and will start reviewing documents before interviewing the law enforcement agencies that responded to the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Swearingen said the investigation won’t be rushed.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott last month ordered FDLE to investigate the response to the shooting amid an outcry from some Republican legislators who wanted the governor to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

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12:45 p.m.

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat made a surprise appearance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday morning, meeting with students and teachers and posing for photos.

Wade told the students that they were inspiring to him. He punctuated his remarks with “MSD Strong all the way” — which was met with a loud roar.

Wade has worn the name of shooting victim Joaquin Oliver on his game sneakers for the past several Heat contests. Oliver was buried in a Wade jersey, and Wade met privately with the boy’s parents last weekend to thank them and ask how he can help going forward.

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11:25 a.m.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she’s interested in hearing suggestions to improve school safety from students at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting.

DeVos visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday.

She said some students told her their healing process after the Feb. 14 shooting was a “day-to-day situation.” She said their faces lit up when they talked about therapy dogs that have been brought to campus to help them.

After meeting with students, DeVos told reporters that arming some teachers should be considered an option but not a requirement.

As a model, she cited a program in Florida’s Polk County where teachers or other employees at two private universities have trained with the sheriff’s office so they can carry concealed weapons on campus.

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10:30 a.m.

Jail records show the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school is being held in solitary confinement.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office has released a report of officers’ observations of Nikolas Cruz to local news stations.

The observations start Feb. 17 and end Feb. 24. Officers described Cruz as being cooperative but avoiding eye contact. They said he “often sits with a blank stare.”

The report said Cruz appeared to laugh and exhibited “awkward” behavior during and after a visit with an attorney. He also has had one “family visit.”

The report said Cruz also requested a Bible to read in his single-person cell in the infirmary.

Cruz has been jailed since he was arrested shortly after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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10:30 a.m.

A student-athlete at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people has committed to play football for a Massachusetts college because of the bond he formed with the college’s coaches during the shooting.

Tyler Goodman is a quarterback at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He confirmed to WFXT-TV that he has committed to Nichols College, an NCAA Division III school in Dudley, Massachusetts.

Goodman says Nichols wasn’t one of his top choices. But during the Feb. 14 shooting, he hid in a room with Nichols’ Dean of Admissions Paul Brower and Assistant Football Coach St. Clair Ryan.

Goodman says they “went into father mode and protected us,” and “we kind of formed a bond.”

He hopes to wear No. 17 in college, a tribute to the 17 victims.

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10:10 a.m.

The couple who provided a home to the Florida school shooting suspect before the Valentine’s Day massacre has testified before a grand jury considering formal charges in the case.

James and Kimberly Snead each spent about half an hour in closed-door testimony Wednesday before the panel. Their attorney Jim Lewis says they answered all questions and were fully cooperative.

Lewis says the couple was shocked by what happened and did not foresee 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz doing something like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people and wounded 16.

The Sneads took in Cruz after he briefly lived with a family friend following the death of his mother in November.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and could face the death penalty.

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7:40 a.m.

A grand jury considering charges against the 19-year-old suspected of killing 17 people at a Florida high school is expected to hear from the family he’d been living with after his mother died late last year.

Nikolas Cruz told investigators he took an AR-15 rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day and started shooting into classrooms. Grand jurors are hearing testimony from witnesses before returning a formal indictment against Cruz.

The family he was living with is expected to testify Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a second student injured in the shooting, has filed a letter of intent to sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the school system and others.

In Tallahassee, the Florida House is expected to vote on gun legislation stemming from the school shooting.

Categories: Local News

Bob Lutz: Shockers are capable of big things as postseason approaches

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 1:00pm

Wichita State’s history in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament was, at best, sketchy. Putting it bluntly, the Shockers didn’t have a whole lot of success in St. Louis.

Those days are behind them.

No more St. Louis. Hello, Orlando.

Wichita State gets a postseason chance now in the American Athletic Conference tournament starting Friday, when the Shocks will face the winner of Thursday’s Tulane-Temple game.

This tournament could be a meat grinder for WSU. Temple handed the Shockers one of their four AAC regular-season defeats. Houston, a potential foe in the semifinals, beat Wichita State handily, 73-59, in Houston on Jan. 20. And Cincinnati, with a possible – some would say probable – opportunity to reach the championship game Sunday, beat the Shockers last Saturday, 62-61, at Koch Arena.

Of course, Wichita State has wins over its three potential conference tournament foes, too. So, anything could happen.

But what needs to happen for the Shockers to win this thing?

First, we must get ourselves out of the habit of thinking that Wichita State needs to win its conference tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament? That was often the case in the Valley, regardless of how well the regular season went.

It’s not the case in the AAC. The Shockers are going to the Big Dance and not even a loss in their first tournament game in Orlando will change that.

Wichita State is playing for seeding, and how much that could swing is anybody’s guess.

Most of the bracketologists have WSU as a No. 4 seed. In fact, ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi and CBSsports.com’s Jerry Palm are in agreement, for now four days before the official bracket is announced, that the Shockers are a No. 4 and will play in Boise, Idaho.

What would a first-round defeat in Orlando potentially do to that seeding? Would WSU fall to a six-seed? Maybe a seven? That seems reasonable, but it’s also plausible that the Shockers would not fall that far.

But what would winning the tournament do for Wichita State? It would, we know, add some high-RPI wins over some really good teams. And I could see the Shockers rising to a two-seed in such a scenario, depending on what happens in other conference tournaments.

Cincinnati, FYI, is currently a two-seed in the Lunardi and Palm projections. Houston is a seven (Lunardi) and a six (Palm).

So there is definitely something for Wichita State to play for in Orlando, even if the Shockers’ NCAA Tournament fate is not in doubt.

I think Wichita State and Cincinnati are legitimate Final Four threats and Houston isn’t that far away. There are 15 or so legitimate contenders in what has been an extraordinarily balanced season of college basketball.

Fourteen teams in the AP Top 25 have six or fewer losses and that doesn’t include Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona or Ohio State.

What could potentially set the Shockers apart?

Seniors, for one thing. Wichita State has plenty of them and 6-foot-8 center Shaq Morris is playing at a level higher than anyone could have imagined when he was going in and out of Coach Gregg Marshall’s doghouse during his first four seasons with the Shockers.

Wichita State’s players aren’t new to this March stuff and are always a tough out. Just ask Kentucky, which has twice barely survived an NCAA test with the Shockers in the previous four tournaments.

Wichita State is 10-5 in the NCAA Tournament since 2013, when the Shockers made a run to the national semifinals before losing to Louisville, 72-68, in a game they had under control for a long stretch.

Morris is certainly a key to another deep NCAA run. In his past 13 games, Morris is averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and is shooting 62 percent from the field. And he’s blocking shots like crazy and defending like no one every thought Shaq could defend.

Even in a better, more athletic and highly-skilled conference, Morris has been a difference maker. He’s become the center of the team’s universe.

Which says something considering redshirt sophomore guard Landry Shamet is also on this team.

Shamet and Morris give the Shockers one of the country’s best one-two, outside-inside punches in the country.

But what does everyone else do going forward?

Sophomore Austin Reaves has been in a shooting slump. Senior Conner Frankamp hasn’t quite found his comfort zone in a while.

Rashard Kelly and Zach Brown are tough, scrappy, fierce defenders, but they aren’t reliable scorers. And while junior Markis McDuffie has had some highlight moments recently, he’s not there consistently.

What happens with the Shockers the rest of this season boils down to who can give the most help to Morris and Shamet. Wichita State has been at its best with a balanced, productive statistical box score. And that’s what happens most of the time. This team’s depth and Marshall’s ability to move the pieces is WSU’s biggest advantage.

The postseason is upon us and it starts with a fascinating AAC tournament that will test the Shockers for, they hope, three consecutive days.

After that, the NCAA Tournament awaits. Hopes are, as they should be, high. Now it’s a matter of seeing where the Shockers are pegged and how they handle some tough foes this weekend.

Anything is possible.

Categories: Local News

Western’s Weather Wrap: Lighter & Quieter Winds

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:33pm

Our maximum wind gusts yesterday were outrageous, reaching up to 65 mph across Kansas!

But, thankfully our winds have calmed down significantly today. Just keep in mind that with a slight breeze and continued dry conditions, the fire danger hasn’t completely gone away…

So, for the rest of the day, just expect sunny skies, cool temperatures, and breezy winds.

Then winds calm down overnight with clear skies, allowing temperatures to drop into the teens and 20s.

But, our temperatures will be warming up nicely as we head into the end of the week!

I’ll let you know when we could see our next chance for rain, coming up on KSN News at Noon, or you can watch my latest forecast right here: http://ksn.com/2017/03/08/weather-forecast-discussion/

~Katie the Weather Lady

Categories: Local News