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Officer who adopted drug-addicted baby honored with award

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:12

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque Police Department officer received a first-of-its kind award for adopting a drug-addicted baby.

The story of Officer Ryan Holets caught national attention. He met a pregnant woman addicted to heroin and decided to adopt her baby.

“Hope” is now eight weeks old. She spent her first few days of life suffering from heroin withdrawals.

Monday, Officer Holets accepted the “Outstanding Service to the Community” award, but said the real hero is his wife, Rebecca.

“She didn’t hesitate, because you know, she had to take a few seconds to understand what I just said, but she immediately said, let’s do this, this is a wonderful thing,” Officer Holets said.

The mayor says he hopes to give this award quarterly.


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No charges in deadly officer-involved shooting

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 13:22

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – The McPherson County Attorney said that no charges will be filed in the officer-involved shooting death of William Holmes. It happened back on August 28 on I-135 in McPherson County following a pursuit by the Newton Police Department.

A McPherson County sheriff’s deputy shot Holmes after he burglarized a car in Newton, led officers on a chase, struggled with a deputy, and at one point attempted to grab the deputy’s gun.

Back in August, the family of Holmes told KSN he suffered from mental health issues and may have been off of his medication. However, they believe there could have been another way to subdue him. A family member tells KSN they do not agree with the decision of the attorney.

To read the full report click the link below or the document.

RELATED LINK | Report of McPherson County Attorney on officer-involved shooting death of William Holmes

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Free 2-day dental clinic planned for February in Hutchinson

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:24

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) – A free dental clinic is coming to the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson next year and is expected to draw massive crowds.

The Hutchinson News reports that the Kansas Mission of Mercy clinic is planned for Feb 9 and 10.

The outgoing president of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund in Hutchinson is Kim Moore. He recalls that people lined up at 4 a.m. at a 2003 Mission of Mercy clinic in Garden City, despite a snowstorm. Moore says the demand illustrates the problem with access to dental care.

Some employers do not offer dental insurance, and insurance coverage can be limited. Medicare does not have a dental care benefit, and Medicaid recipients may or may not have dental coverage.

Nearly 30,000 have attended past clinics.

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3 killed in Kansas City, Kansas, crash identified

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:14

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Authorities have identified three people killed last week when a van went off the side of a Kansas City, Kansas, road and landed upside down on a stretch of railroad tracks.

Police said Monday that the victims were 45-year-old Steven Gelhart, 29-year-old Joe Bosquez and 31-year-old Destiny Gregory.

Gelhart and Bosquez were pronounced dead at the scene of the Thursday night crash, while Gregory died at a hospital. A fourth person injured in the crash has been upgraded from critical to stable condition.

Police say the van wasn’t struck by a train. The crash remains under investigation.

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Woman found dead after fire in Kansas apartment building

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:12

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) – Fire crews have found a woman dead while putting out a fire in a suburban Kansas City apartment building that mainly houses elderly and low income residents.

The Overland Park Fire Department said in a news release that the fire started Monday in Overland Towers Apartments, an eight-story building in Overland Park. The blaze was contained to the unit where the woman died.

The woman’s name wasn’t immediately released, pending notification of relatives. Two residents from other units were taken to hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire and the woman’s death are under investigation.

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Officials want infrastructure improvements in southern Sedgwick County

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:02

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — An effort to improve the southern part of Sedgwick County is underway.

Later today, county officials will present the results from a transportation study that looked at the needs and future growth along the 95th Street corridor to the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO). This includes the recommendation to build a bridge over the Arkansas River, K-15 and BNSF railway.

The bridge would run on 95th Street South, from Hillside to Woodlawn, as seen in blue. (Courtesy: Sedgwick County engineering)

The bridge would run on 95th Street South, from Hillside to Woodlawn.

The Sedgwick County engineering manager said they looked at different types of infrastructure, but felt the bridge over road and railway would work best.

“One of the things KDOT really likes about that plan is no longer will there be any conflicting turn movements onto K-15,” said Lynn Packer. “All the left turns are taken out with that plan. Everything would be a right-turn movement only.”

Packer said the bridge could cost up to $50 million dollars, and it’d be a 20-to-40 year project.

After presenting this information to planning officials, it would move to Sedgwick County commissioners to approve or not.

“Currently this project sits in WAMPO’s Move 2040 plan as an outlier,” Packer said. “They would need to formally make a request so that’d it be moved into the Transportation Improvement Program, and that we consider looking into future funding for it.”

The proposed 95th Street bridge is just one of three phases to improve the southern part of Sedgwick County.

Phase 2:

  • Broadway and 95th Street turn lanes
  • Hydraulic and 95th Street turn lanes
  • Hillside and 95th Street turn lanes
  • Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) and 95th Street interchange
  • Broadway to KTA interchange 95th Street widening
  • KTA interchange to Hillside 95th Street widening

Phase 3:

  • 95th Street, Hydraulic to Hillside, three lane widening

Future Phases:

  • 95th Street, Greenwich to Woodlawn
  • 95th St Meridian to Broadway

The ARC95 (Arkansas River Crossing – 95th Street South) Study showed a three-phased implementation plan would spur economic and residential growth in the area.

According to the ARC95 Study website, the estimated construction cost is between $90 and $100 million. Funding could come from federal, state or local levels.

The ARC95 Study expands off of a 2008 study called the South Area Transportation Study by WAMPO. It focused on the area from Kellogg and Greenwich, to 95th Street, over to 119th Street and back up to Kellogg. According to officials, it showed that there’s room to improve access and mobility, as this corridor could see more development in the future.

County officials will present the study results, costs and timeline to WAMPO at 3 p.m.

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Trump says accusations of sexual misconduct ‘fabricated’

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 08:47

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, pushing back against women accusing him of sexual misconduct, insisted Tuesday he’s the target of “false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met.”

Trump lashed out on Twitter a day after three women who previously accused him of sexual harassment shared their stories on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today.”

Trump says Democrats “have been unable to show any collusion with Russia” and now are “moving on” to these allegations. He adds: “FAKE NEWS!”

He also attacked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who on Monday said Trump should resign over the allegations.

Trump said Gillibrand is a “total flunky for Chuck Schumer,” the Senate Democratic leader. He said Gillibrand, “who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump.”

Messages seeking comment were left with Gillibrand’s office.

On Monday, the women — Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks — urged Congress to investigate Trump’s behavior.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders pledged to provide a list of eyewitnesses whose accounts exonerated the president. She did not provide the list by late Monday.

The allegations surfaced during last year’s presidential campaign, but the women raised the issue anew on the Kelly show Monday and at a news conference.

“It was heartbreaking last year,” Holvey said. “We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and how he views women, and for them to say, ‘Eh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”

The former beauty queen claimed that Trump ogled her and other Miss USA pageant contestants in their dressing room in 2006. Crooks is a former receptionist at Trump Tower and Leeds says she met Trump on a flight.

Sixteen women have come forward with a range of accusations against Trump, many after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape last October in which Trump was caught on an open microphone bragging about groping women. One woman, Summer Zevos, a contestant on Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice,” sued, contending that Trump’s denials of her accusations amount to false and defamatory statements.

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Decision day in Alabama after long, bitter Senate campaign

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 08:47

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Voters finally lined up and voted across Alabama Tuesday after a scandal-stained Senate election campaign that tested the limits of party loyalty in the age of President Donald Trump and — win or lose — promised significant political consequences for Republicans everywhere.

At the center of the special election was fiery Christian conservative Roy Moore — “Judge Moore” to his supporters. The 70-year-old Republican was twice ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice after flouting federal law. This year he attempted a political resurrection against party officials horrified by accusations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

In Moore’s path stood Democrat Doug Jones, 63, a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four black girls in Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing. He was trying to become the first Democrat in a quarter century to win an Alabama Senate seat.

The stakes are high for Alabama and perhaps higher for the national Republican Party, which faces two painful outcomes: The GOP could lose a Senate seat in a deep-red state that would energize Democrats everywhere; or the party could win Tuesday’s election and welcome a man accused of sordid conduct to the U.S. Senate just as Republicans prepare to defend their congressional majorities in 2018.

The election has also renewed lingering tension between Trump, who backed Moore in the campaign’s final days, and the Republicans who control Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chief among them, who called for Moore to abandon the campaign promise an ethics investigation if he’s elected.

On the ground in Alabama on Tuesday, those who stood in line to cast their ballots were far more focused on the candidates than the broader political fallout.

“He’s not a truthful man,” 69-year-old Mary Multrie said of Moore. Multrie, who works in a children’s hospital, was not influenced by accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore, she said, because she already did not like him. “He talks about God, but you don’t see God in his actions.”

She was among more than two dozen people queued up in the chilly morning air at Legion Field, a predominantly black precinct in Birmingham, to cast their ballots.

Al Bright, 63, who does refrigeration repair, said he voted for Moore.

“Regardless of the allegations against him, I believe he is an honorable man,” Bright said.

Teresa Brown, a 53-year-old administrative assistant, said she preferred Jones, in part, because he would be better positioned to work across party lines.

“We don’t need a pedophile in there,” Brown added.

Tuesday’s winner will take over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions through 2020.

One seat alone will not change the balance of power in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-48 majority, but a loss would make it harder for Trump to push legislation through a bitterly divided Congress. A GOP loss would also give Democrats a clearer path to a Senate majority in 2018 — albeit a narrow one — in an election cycle where Democrats are far more optimistic about seizing control of the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, Tuesday’s contest came down to which side better motivated its supporters to vote. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said turnout likely would not exceed 25 percent of registered voters.

Jones fought to cobble together an unlikely coalition of African-Americans, liberal whites and moderate Republicans.

“This is an important time in Alabama’s history, and we feel very confident where we are and how this is going to turn out,” the Democrat said after casting his ballot Tuesday.

Moore, who largely avoided public events in the final weeks of the race and spent far less money on advertising than his opponent, was counting on the state’s traditional Republican leanings and the strength of his passionate evangelical Christian supporters.

Moore sidestepped questions about sexual misconduct as he arrived at his polling place on horseback.

Democrats were not supposed to have a chance in Alabama, one of the most Republican-leaning states in the nation.

Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton here by nearly 28 points just 13 months ago. Yet Moore had political baggage that repelled some moderate Republicans even before allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

Virtually the entire Republican establishment, Trump included, supported Moore’s primary opponent, Sen. Luther Strange in September. Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was one of the only early high-profile Moore backers.

Moore was removed from his position as state Supreme Court chief justice the first time after he refused to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument at the state court building. The second time, he was permanently suspended for urging state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In his final pitch before polls opened across the state, Jones called the choice a “crossroads” and asked that “decency” prevail.

“We’ve had this history in the past, going down the road that … has not been productive,” Jones said. “We’ve lagged behind in industry. We’ve lagged behind in education. We’ve lagged behind in health care. It’s time we take the road that’s going to get us on the path to progress.”


Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bill Barrow and Emily Wagster Pettus in Birmingham contributed to this report.

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Leon’s Breakfast Blog: Less Wind Still Nice!

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 07:09

The first thing you will notice this morning is the wind… Or lack thereof!! Finally that wind died down last night, and while we are still bone dry with no change in store for that, we at least don’t have the extreme fire dangers like we had yesterday. This weather pattern that we’ve been under for the past week isn’t changing much… A dominant ridge of high pressure keeps the western half of the nation warm and dry.

This pattern basically works like a big atmospheric wall, blocking cold air from the arctic from moving it into the plains. Instead this cold air is forced up and over the ridge and pushed into the NE US keeping that part of the nation well below normal temps and we stay warmer than normal.

This pattern is not expected to change in for the rest of the week and into the weekend.

Today will be a good 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, but we are still running well above average…

I know this forecast is becoming quite repetitive, believe me, we could use a change here and I’d love to see some rain or snow, but I just don’t see any chance of that happening in the near future…


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Fire crews do life saving training at old Judge Riddel Boys Ranch

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:32

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After being closed years ago and torn down, the old Judge Riddel Boys Ranch is now where first responders are undergoing life saving training. The departments, known as Task Force 5, don’t often get to work in environments like this – until it’s a true emergency.

Members also say it’s an opportunity to get to know other rescuers on their team.

It’s only training, but, it looks very realistic. First responders jumping into action, to better learn how to save lives.

Kansas Task Force Five Coordinator Carl Cox says his team hammered their way through the drill.

“To actually be able to break concrete, knock walls down, tunnel in to an actual collapsed structure is a very rare opportunity in a training environment,” said Carl Cox, Kansas Task Force 5 Coordinator.

Cox says the team made up of Wichita, Derby, Great Bend, and other area firefighters worked through different scenarios — including one where an earthquake brought down this building.
they used search cameras and listening devices.

To help them locate and rescue trapped victims. something they say, is important to practice.

“When we show up, you expect us to know what we’re doing and be good at our jobs,” said Breck Heller, Hutchinson Fire Department.

And also – know how to protect their team.

“It’s a live building, so any mistakes that happen could be detrimental,” said Heller.

This building at the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch was knocked down last week to prepare for the three-day training. Cox says they want to give all crews the chance to work in these conditions.

“Kansas is not immune to those so any of those situations could cause an event like we trained on today,” said Cox.

Cox says each day, they will do the same exercises and they’re mixing the departments because in emergency situations, there’s a good chance they will be working with different people.

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Wichita sports stores cash in on WSU basketball success

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:19

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The winning Wichita State University (WSU) men’s basketball team is having a positive impact on local sports stores.

“Shock, shock and awe!” said WSU student Aaron Evans.

It seems Wichita State hoops is no longer an underdog and it’s likely the team won’t be dubbed a Cinderella story this year, either.

“I think we are one of the best teams in the nation this year. I like the respect we are getting this year. We are real contenders,” said WSU student Taylor Cook.

“The team is for real. They are gritty team,” said Tad’s Locker Room Owner Tad Snarenberger. “All the talk has been done and now they’re showing up and really showing how they can play.”

On Monday, the Associated Press released its newest college basketball poll. Wichita State (8-1) moved from the No. 6 spot to the No. 3 position. The ranking is a season-high and marks the first time since March 2014 that the Shockers have cracked the top-5 in the national rankings.

The Shockers winning season has already had a major impact on Wichita sports stores.

“It’s pretty cool. I have seen our merchandise grow as far as different things in the past 5 years that we never would have seen had they not taken the steps they had done and grown like they had,” Snarenberger said.

Tad’s Locker Room offers just about anything with the Wichita State logo a fan could dream of. There’s WSU garden gnomes, license plates, basketballs, socks, even bird houses. It’s a similar situation across town at the University Bookstore.

“We have Christmas ornaments that are custom to Wichita State. We have some unique lines as far as bottle openers and unique gifts. We have Shocker pub-table sets,” said University Bookstore Director Andi Stipp.

The University Bookstore also offers WSU skateboards and sunglasses. Officials told KSN when the basketball team wins the stores often win too.

“We ride on the coat tails of athletics. If they are doing well, we are doing well and we are excited to be right alongside them along the way,” Stipp said.

Store officials add if fans are looking to buy WSU merchandise for the holidays it’s best to purchase the items as soon as they become available.

“Shop early because a lot of the merchandise will come in and it will go,” said Snarenberger.

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Colorado man thanks Ashland for their hospitality

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:15

ASHLAND, Kan. (KSNW) — A Facebook post is going viral about a man who got lost in Ashland on his way to Colorado and received a warm welcome from the community.

“I read it and I just thought it was so cool that he thought this was a nice place,” said Ashland resident Brenda Mead.

In the Facebook post, Kevin Stevenson said he was heading to Colorado Springs from Oklahoma, meaning to drive through Texas and New Mexico, when he somehow ended up in Ashland.

Jesse Solorio was there to help.

“He said ‘all my electronic equipment shut down. My phone, my GPS, my Pandora,’ he says, ‘I don’t have any service out here, and I don’t know where I am,’” said Solorio.

In the post, Stevenson says he thought the safest bet was to ask the local Kansas Department of Transportation office for help, but he was worried how he’d be received in a small town with few minorities.

“We kind of jumped up and was going to help him,” said Solorio, a KDOT employee, “and he kind of, like [Stevenson] said [on Facebook], took a couple of steps back, and we were like, we’re all right.”

They gave him a map, offered him coffee, and helped him home. Stevenson’s post also described people on the street waving at him like they knew him as he drove by, which is pretty typical in Ashland.

“Everybody knows everybody,” said Mead, “and if they don’t know everybody, they’re more than happy to wave at them as they go by.”

His Facebook post has been shared almost 900 times, and Ashland residents love what he had to say.

“I just think it would be cool if he’d come back to town so we could all meet him,” said Mead, “because I’m glad he thought that we had a nice little town.”

KSN reached out to Kevin Stevenson to ask about his experience, but he didn’t respond yet.

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‘Why do they bully?’ viral bullying video hits close to home

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:09

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A bullying video has gone viral after a young boy captivated the internet with one simple question

“Why do they bully?” 

The video out of Tennessee quickly gained the attention of parents around the globe, even celebrities responded; offering encouragement to kids who fall victim to bullying. Over the weekend KSN met Leah,  a young girl with a big heart, who wanted to donate her birthday to helping stray animals. After learning about her efforts, she opened up that her passion for helping animals derived from the constant bullying at school.

“She was just jumped last week,” said Leah’s mom, Danielle Hayworth. “She’s been called ugly, dumb and she’s been attacked and now she feels like she doesn’t even want to live anymore.”

The culture around bullying is not new but the technology that can instantly put this issue in front of us, is new. Monday KSN also spoke with a licensed child counselor about the long term effects of bullying. We also spoke with the director of safety with Wichita public schools to ask how they handle bullying accusations on campus.

The most important things I would want kids to understand is they deserve to be treated well,” said clinical counselor, Matthew Gallagher. ” They don’t have to put up with bad behavior; we’re teaching kids that they don’t have to be an easy target so they can report whatever happens. If someone is coming after me and making my life miserable, I have a choice of whether I put up with that.”

Gallagher emphasized that the kids that are doing the bullying usually aren’t being raised in an environment that promotes a safe place where they feel accepted.

“Kids who are happy and adjusted and have positive relationships don’t generally pick on other people,” he explained. “We all grow up being told sticks and stones and words will never hurt me but what’s ironic is that most of us remember mean things that somebody said to us even decades ago and I hear about those things in session frequently.”

The most common place for bullying is right at school, so KSN spoke with Wichita Public Schools Director of Public safety to ask how they handle these cases.

“We take social emotional development very serious 3 secs and bullying is a part of that social emotional development.” said Terri Moses. “It’s going to make it break you when you grow up. You’re going to have to learn how to problem solve, work through situations, work as a team in order to survive in a work environment- so we start very young.”

Moses adds that a mission throughout Wichita’s public school system, is to guide students towards better ways to express themselves as well as problem solve.

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Wichita megachurch has plans to build its own ‘village’

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:00

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Acres of vacant land surrounding Central Community Church in Wichita may not go unused for much longer.

“What do we have to do to get the community to come over our curb? And so, we began to think a lot about the village,” said Bob Beckler, senior pastor at the church.

The village will be called “Central Landing.”

One of the major additions will be a senior adult living center.

“Through that we want to create a community where people can be a part of it, where there’s things that they can be involved in, where they can be involved in the Children’s Ministry here,” said Beckler.

Along with housing, the church wants to give people entertainment options as well.

“We’ve got a new chapel, that we’re building,” said Beckler. “Alongside of the chapel we’re going to have an outdoor wedding venue. We’re looking at a brand new youth and fitness center that we hope that the community will come together and be a part of this.”

Church leaders say they are also looking to build a barn that will be used as an events center.

Next to that, they are planning for a kindergarten through eighth grade school right off Maple Street.

“Initially, I’m very pleased because anytime we can develop within the central area of previously undeveloped land within the city limits, it’s a benefit because the infrastructure is already there,” said Bryan Frye, a Wichita council member.

Those behind the project say, it will benefit the entire community.

“We’ve had this land, and it has been kind of dormant for quite a while,and now it is exciting to see the potential,” said Beckler.

Church officials say they would like to start building the chapel around April 2018.

They would like to start building the senior housing in Fall 2018.

At this point, they’re not sure how many units that will include.

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Ads starting to appear in Kansas governors race

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:00

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSN CAPITOL BUREAU) – With eight months until the primaries for the governor’s race, already some ads supporting candidates have started to air.

Asking the questions “Who is Kansas’ next Governor” the ad by State Government Leadership Foundation highlights Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer’s work as a doctor as he prepares to take on the role as governor.

“We are appreciative that the State Government Leadership Foundation has undertaken this effort to introduce people to the real Dr. Colyer. Lt. Governor Colyer has dedicated his life to the service of others and it is great to have those stories shared with Kansans,” said Colyer’s communication director Kendall Marr in a statement.

“The group that is running the ad has been linked to the political arms of Koch,” said Political Analyst Bob Beatty.

Beatty said being linked to the political activism of Charles and David Koch could bode well for Colyer in the 2018 Governor’s race, especially when it comes to money.

“In the past, they’ve shown a willingness to spend millions of dollars in campaigns,” explained Beatty.

Beatty said this is the earliest ad he’s even seen for the governor’s race, adding many people in the state may not know who the Lt. Governor is.

“Lt. Governors, nobody knows who they are,” he said. “Your average Kansans have no idea who Jeff Colyer is, so this ad is trying to start this conversation of at least awareness of hey who is Jeff Colyer.”

Beatty added with high profiled Republicans in the race, like Kris Kobach, and Colyer, the Republican candidates may have more money to spend on campaign ads, something Beatty says could be a challenge for Democratic candidates.

“The Democrats are going to be competitive, but they have to have money to be competitive, so we’ll just have to wait and see in the spring if they can actually raise that money.”

The Democratic Party of Kansas released this statement following the release of the ad.

“The fact that dark money, Koch Brothers-backed groups feel the need to run ads for Lt. Gov. Colyer this early in the race demonstrates just how desperate Colyer and his special interest supporters are to make Kansans forget that Lt. Gov. Colyer has been Sam Brownback’s biggest cheerleader for all seven years of his failed governorship. From his support of the disastrous tax experiment to the mess he has made of KanCare, Kansans know that Colyer would continue down the same ruinous path as Brownback.

The ad doesn’t impact our Party or our gubernatorial candidates. We know that Kansans want to move past the failures of the Brownback-era, and our candidates are out there every day talking to Kansans about their positive vision for getting the state back on track.”

Beatty said people will probably start seeing more political ads this spring.

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Fire Danger remains with dry, windy conditions

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:45

Wichita, Kan. (KSNW) – As much of Kansas remains dry and windy, large parts of the state continue to be in a “red flag” warning for fire danger.

“Obviously in the spring and the summer we worry about it,” said Stuart Bevis, Wichita’s fire Department Marshal. “But we have those conditions right now… So we want people to be well aware of that because a very little bit of spark or a little bit of fire in these kind of tinderbox conditions can get out of hand pretty quick.”

County fire crews fairly made quick work of a fire off 127th east and 31st south Monday afternoon. And, while many people still have valid burn permits in the county, burning is not allowed if the wind stays above 15 miles an hour.

“No open burning today, in fact no burning at all,” said Division Chief, Dan Wegner with Sedgwick County Fire. “If the winds are over 15 miles an hour like today, there is no burning. Even if you have a burn permit.”

Wegner points out the fines for burning on a no burn day start at $500. And, some fines can go well above $1,500.

“Depends on how many violations you get,” says Wegner.

Wichita fire crews have been busy lately. And some say getting the word out on dry conditions is crucial.

“With even… a very slight ignition point, whether it’s a discarded cigarette or an unfortunate electrical arc from a transformer, any of those things can lead to a very significant fire,” says Bevis. “So be very careful with ignition sources. Discarding of cigarettes (out the window) is always a bad thing to do.”

Bevis says fire crews remain on alert and they continue to evaluate wind conditions every morning.

“Any time there is wind, it’s just dangerous,” says Bevis.


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Journalists consider response to errors after Trump attacks

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:25

NEW YORK (AP) — Some stinging mistakes in stories involving President Donald Trump have given him fresh ammunition in his battle against the media while raising questions about whether news organizations need to peel back the curtain on how they operate.

The president tweeted six attacks on what he calls “fake news” over the weekend, saying the “out of control” media puts out purposely false and defamatory stories. That led to a contentious exchange at Monday’s White House press briefing between press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“Journalists make honest mistakes,” Acosta said. “That doesn’t make them fake news.”

When Sanders responded that reporters should own up to their mistakes, one said, “we do.”

“Sometimes, but a lot of times you don’t,” she said. “There’s a very big difference between honest mistakes and purposely misleading the American people.”

Trump has his own issues: the Washington Post’s fact-checking blog counted 1,628 false or misleading claims made by the president in his first 298 days in office.

Still, it was an undeniably bad week for news organizations reporting on investigations into the Trump campaigns dealings with Russia. ABC News suspended Brian Ross for incorrectly reporting the timing of a Trump directive to Michael Flynn. Several news outlets wrongly reported that Trump and his family’s bank records were the subject of the special prosecutor’s subpoena. And CNN corrected a story on the timing of a tip to the Trump campaign about damaging information on Democrats.

With the hyper-speed of the modern news environment, the stories spread swiftly beyond their original source.

News organizations corrected themselves but fell short in their explanations, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor and the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

“When a mistake is made, the public really needs to understand why it was made and what corrections have been put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

In announcing Ross’ four-week suspension, ABC News issued a two-paragraph statement saying the story “had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.” Executives were not made available to explain to the public what exactly that meant.

Ironically, the only time ABC News President James Goldston’s reaction to the error was heard came from a leaked tape of him talking to staff members obtained by CNN’s media reporting team.

Sanders specifically cited Ross’ story when asked for an example of one that was purposely misleading.

When CNN made its mistake a week later, its own executives did not talk publicly about it — even when the topic was discussed on the network’s weekend show about the media, “Reliable Sources.”

Network representatives, speaking without allowing a name to be attached, blamed the error on sources that provided information to reporters Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb. That still left questions: New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen wondered, for example, how it was possible that different sources made the same error about a date.

CNN earlier this year fired journalists involved in a discredited story about former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci. CNN said — again, without allowing a name to be attached— Raju and Herb followed the network’s procedures for sensitive stories. In the Scaramucci case, the reporters didn’t. Again, it was up to consumers to decipher precisely what that meant.

CNN’s communications staff, responding Monday to Trump’s tweet that he once called anchor Don Lemon “the dumbest man on television,” said “in a world where bullies torment kids on social media to devastating effect on a regular basis with insults and name calling, it is sad to see our president engaging in the very same behavior himself. Leaders should lead by example.”

With politicians targeting journalists, it is more important than ever to be clear, Jamieson said. People need to know that there are consequences when reporters make mistakes, and what those consequences are, she said.

She pointed to The Washington Post, which last Friday began what it said will be an occasional series of videos about its operations. The first, titled “How to Be a Reporter,” featured interviews with two journalists who worked on the newspaper’s story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore dating young girls. The reporters explained how they were tipped to the story and went about reporting it.

“As corny as it sounds, the agenda is to find out what the reality is, what the truth is of the story,” said reporter Stephanie McCrummen. “That’s it.”

Over the weekend, Trump demanded an apology from the Post for a photo that he said was deceptive about the number of people who attended his Florida rally, since it had been taken while people were waiting outside. Post reporter Dave Weigel apologized; Trump later said he should be fired.

On Monday, Trump said a Times story exaggerated the amount of time he watched television each day, and that he seldom watched CNN or MSNBC. The Times said its story was based on interviews with 60 people, “including many who interact with President Trump every day.”


Associated Press reporter Kenneth Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

Categories: Local KSN News

Some glitches seen in deadline week for ‘Obamacare’ sign-ups

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:23

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer advocates reported some glitches Monday in the final days for “Obamacare” sign-ups, although the Trump administration largely seemed to be keeping its promise of a smooth enrollment experience.

In Illinois, some consumers who successfully completed an application for financial assistance through HealthCare.gov got a message saying they would likely be eligible to buy a health plan, “but none are available to you in your area.”

That information was incorrect because every county in the nation currently has at least one health insurer offering plans under the Affordable Care Act for next year.

Friday is the last day to enroll for subsidized private coverage in 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website. Consumer interest has remained brisk, even as the Trump administration cut the sign-up season in half, reducing it from roughly from 90 days to 45 days.

Former President Barack Obama offered encouragement Monday for the closing push, posting on social media and joining a conference call with enrollment counselors.

On the call, Obama accused “Republicans in Washington” of trying to “sabotage” progress made reducing the number of uninsured. The American people “don’t want a health care system that’s sent into chaos just for partisan reasons,” Obama said, according to a transcript provided by his office.

President Donald Trump came into office looking to dismantle his predecessor’s health law, but it survived. Although the administration slashed the ad budget for sign-up season and scaled back grants for enrollment counselors, officials promised the HealthCare.gov website would work seamlessly this year. That promise will be tested in this week’s crush.

Stephani Becker of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago said the glitch in which consumers were told there were no plans was reported by counselors starting late last week, and again Monday. It also surfaced in other states besides Illinois, she said.

Trained counselors know enough about the program to question the accuracy of the message, but “the average consumer might just walk away,” Becker said.

An administration official said the issue has been resolved, and HealthCare.gov is reaching out to the consumers affected to encourage them to complete their applications. However, Becker said advocates had gotten a similar response from the administration last week, and the problem continued.

For millions of consumers eligible to enroll time runs out on Dec. 15. Thursday and Friday are expected to be the heaviest days.

That could slow the HealthCare.gov website, and lead to long hold times at the federal call center. For most people, this is the last opportunity to secure coverage for 2018, or switch from an existing plan.

One exception: People living in hurricane-affected areas can get an extension to sign up by Dec. 31 by contacting the HealthCare.gov call center. That could make a difference in states such Florida, Texas, and Georgia.

Enrollment fluctuates in the course of the year, but it’s estimated that 9 million to 10 million people currently have coverage through the ACA’s marketplaces. The markets cater to people who don’t have access to a job-based plan, and participation is expected to dip somewhat next year.

In a twist, many people eligible for financial help may actually be able to pay lower premiums in 2018. Although list price premiums for the most popular plans went up sharply, so did taxpayer-provided subsidies that limit how much individuals actually have to pay. In many communities, bare-bones “bronze” plans are available for no monthly premium to those eligible for subsidies.

Deadline hour for enrollment will remain the same this year — midnight Pacific time. That means consumers on the East Coast will have until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning to enroll.

Although the Trump administration slashed the advertising budget, HealthCare.gov has been sending out targeted emails to people potentially eligible. Example:

— “FINAL DEADLINE: Enroll in a 2018 health plan before December 15 or risk going without Marketplace coverage.”

During the Obama years, officials allowed a grace period for consumers who started an application, but were unable to finish by the deadline. It’s unclear if the Trump administration will allow such extensions, or whether it will strictly enforce the deadline hour. Previous extensions allowed hundreds of thousands of consumers to enroll.

Failure to provide extensions this year would be a mistake, said Andy Slavitt, who oversaw HealthCare.gov under Obama.

“It really would not be fair to people, particularly if there are technology challenges with the last minute surge as there have been every year,” Slavitt said.

While Dec. 15 is the deadline for states served by HealthCare.gov, that’s not the case everywhere. Most states that run their own health insurance websites are providing an extended period for consumers to enroll. In California and New York, for instance, the deadline remains the same as last year — Jan. 31. Other states have deadlines spanning from late December to mid-January.

Categories: Local KSN News

Laura’s Look: Moderating temperatures; staying day

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:19

Fierce winds were felt across the state this afternoon. Wind gusts in excess of 50 MPH in parts of western Kansas. With the dry conditions and high winds, Red Flag Warnings are in effect through the evening. Please be mindful of these warnings.

The wind will relax through the nighttime hours. Tuesday will start off cold in the 20s and 30s.

Kansas Tonight

Noticeably cooler tomorrow afternoon in central Kansas with highs in the 50s. This is still above normal for this time of year. You’ll also notice the wind, it won’t be as strong.

Kansas Tomorrow

The colder changes won’t last long, we warm up again heading into Wednesday. This though will be followed by another cool down which will impact your wardrobe choices for the second half of the week.

This Week’s Setup

Make sure to check in with us on KSN News at 5, 6, and 10, I’ll help you prepare for the burst of cold air that are in store this week. We’ll also look ahead to another glorious weekend! – Laura Bannon



Categories: Local KSN News

Homeless man critically injured in fire he apparently set

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:46

SALINA, Kan. (AP) – Saline County authorities say a homeless man who was found badly burned in a field near Salina apparently started a fire to stay warm.

Sheriff Roger Soldan says 49-year-old Brett Hageman, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was found unconscious Saturday by firefighters who responded to a fire just north of Salina.

Authorities found a lighter nearby and believe Hageman started the fire and then fell asleep.

The Salina Journal report s Hageman was in critical condition Monday at a Wichita hospital.

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Categories: Local KSN News