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Headlines from the Today in Kansas Report: March 7, 2019

Sacha SanguinettiMarch 7, 2019

More than one-thousand people have signed a petition against a decision by a Kansas catholic school to exclude a student based on their parents’ sexual orientation.  St. Ann Catholic Church pastor Father Craig Maxim wrote that he consulted with the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, after a same sex couple recently tried to enroll their child at Prairie Village Catholic school. Maxim says the decision not to permit the student to enroll was based on the archdiocese’s belief that the parents cannot model attitudes and behaviors based on Catholic teachings.  Members of St. Ann and more than 20 other Catholic parishes in the Kansas City area have signed the online petition disagreeing with the decision to deny admission to the child.

Three people are dead following a crash northeast of Bel Aire.  A box truck and a car collided yesterday afternoon on K-254 near Greenwich Road, and both vehicles went into a ditch and caught fire.  Forty-one-year-old Terry Wehry, 44-year-old Renata Wehry, and 68-year-old Lonnie Jesser were in the car and died at the scene.  The truck driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

No injuries are reported following two explosions at an El Dorado oil refinery.  Officials at the Holly Frontier oil refinery say two explosions took place at the facility yesterday morning because of a fire in a pipe rack.  Non-essential personnel were evacuated as a precaution and the fire was safely contained.  Refinery officials say they don’t expect smoke from the fires to impact the surrounding area.

A former Sedgwick County commissioner and Wichita city councilman is arrested for assault on a law enforcement officer and obstruction.  James Skelton was arrested at the QuikTrip at Douglas and Washington on Tuesday morning after a witness told police they saw a man yell and swear at store clerks and demand a ride.  The 50-year-old Skelton tells KAKE he was wrongfully arrested after getting separated from his family following a concert and he had no money, jacket or a working phone.  Police say alcohol is suspected in the incident.

Wichita State University students are turning down a proposed tuition increase to fund academic facility improvements.  The “Shock the Future” referendum would have increased the cost of each credit hour by six dollars.  The money generated through the increased tuition would have funded campus improvements.  Fifty-one-point-five-percent of Wichita State students who voted in this week’s election turned down the measure.

A suspicious package is to blame for the evacuation of the Goddard post office.  Postal workers found an unattended suitcase in the post office lobby about 7:30 yesterday morning and called police.  The building was evacuated, and the Wichita police bomb squad later determined the suitcase was empty.  Streets surrounding the post office were closed as a precaution during the incident.

A Russian-born woman has been found guilty of unlawfully taking her child out of the United States and keeping the child away from the child’s father in Kansas. In April of 2014 she took a child of hers to Russia despite the fact the biological father, Brian Mobley, had been awarded joint custody in Sedgwick County District Court. At the time, the two had a pending divorce case before the court. The defendant did not obtain the permission of the court or Brian Mobley before going to Russia with the child. The child still has not returned to the United States. Between April 2014 and November 2016, the defendant only permitted the father to communicate with the child via cell phones and Skype applications. She told him he needed to send her money in order to see the child.

Two Kansas companies were indicted on federal charges of safety violations that caused a greenish-yellow toxic chlorine gas cloud to form over the city of Atchinson in October 2016.  The indictment alleges more than 140 people sought medical attention after 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite to form a toxic cloud that covered the city for 45 minutes until emergency personnel arrived to turn off the flow. Midwest Grain Products, Inc., of Atchison, Kan., and Harcros Chemicals, Inc., of Kansas City, Kan., are charged with Clean Air Act violations that put the public in danger.

Federal prosecutors are planning to dismiss the remaining charges against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell.  A jury on Monday found O’Donnell not guilty on 21 counts of wire fraud, but failed to reach a verdict on five other charges.  Yesterday’s motion by federal prosecutors was filed without prejudice, which means the government could refile charges against O’Donnell in the future.  O’Donnell was accused of taking more than 10-thousand-dollars in campaign funds for personal use in 2015 and 2016.

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