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Severe weather continues to wreak havoc…and other headlines from the Today in Kansas Report: August 22, 2019

Sacha SanguinettiAugust 22, 2019

Strong storms are to blame for power outages in central Kansas.  Last night’s storms left more than 55-hundred homes and businesses without power in Sedgwick, Reno, McPherson and Marion counties.  Most of the outages were reported in Sedgwick County including Eisenhower National Airport.  The storms produced 70-mile-per-hour winds and heavy rain that led to flash flooding.

The Kansas Corporation Commission is trying to determine the cause of a recent series of earthquakes in the Hutchinson area.  Corporation commission officials are currently collecting information and reviewing injection well activity in Reno County.  Several earthquakes struck Reno County earlier this month including a magnitude four-point-two quake that caused some damage to buildings and other structures.

A researcher at the University of Kansas is indicted for not disclosing connections to China.  Forty-seven-year-old Feng Tao faces one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud.  Federal prosecutors say Tao has worked at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis since 2014, but he allegedly signed a five year contract with a Chinese university last year that required him to be a full-time employee there.  Tao, who was working on government projects at KU, is accused of falsely claiming to have no conflict of interest and taking more than 37-thousand-dollars in salary from government agencies in a fraudulent manner.

Authorities in Northwest Kansas are looking for a man who allegedly made a traffic stop, and took money from a motorist, while impersonating an officer. According to the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Office, on Wednesday a citizen reported being pulled over by a person identifying themselves as a Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Deputy. The suspect then extorted cash from the driver. The suspect was driving a late model unmarked black Dodge pickup with emergency lights in the front grill and the front windshield. The driver was described as a white male in his early to mid 20’s. The agency cautions that if seen, please notify local law enforcement and do not approach the suspect.

Maize police are warning residents about a series of home break-ins.  Authorities say that thieves are entering homes through open garage doors or unlocked side doors.  Police are urging residents to make sure their doors are locked and outside lights are turned on in an effort to prevent burglaries.

A historic building in downtown Wichita is damaged in a fire.  The blaze broke out about 6:00 last night at the Occidental Hotel building at 106 East Second Street.  Crews were able to contain the fire, and the cause of the blaze is under investigation.  The building was constructed in 1873.

The University of Kansas School of Medicine is expanding. Plans are now underway for a $3.4 million expansion of the Salina Health Education Center, which serves as the home for the Salina campuses of both the KU School of Medicine and KU School of Nursing. When plans were originally developed to establish a new Salina medical campus for KU in 2016, the project was intended to house only the medical school. In 2017, the KU School of Nursing announced plans to also establish a program in Salina and both schools were able to share space, which opened in 2018. The expansion of the Salina Health Education Center will utilize 15,871 square feet of vacant office space already connected on the south side of the facility with frontage on Phillips Plaza in downtown Salina. The space was formerly used by the Salina Area United Way, State of Kansas Department of Corrections, Copeland Insurance and a number of other businesses over the years. The new space will offer a seamless interior connection to the rest of the Salina Health Education Center and provide dedicated offices for faculty and additional space for classrooms, testing and study areas, as well as clinical skills labs and conference rooms. Construction is expected to be completed by December 2020. The Salina Regional Health Foundation and KU Endowment are partnering to raise funds for the project.

A Kansas college gets a million dollar donation. McPherson College has announced a gift of $1 million to its auto restoration program from Richard and Melanie Lundquist, noted California philanthropists. The McPherson College Automotive Restoration program began in 1976. It has evolved into a nationally recognized and award-winning leader in restoration education, offering the only four-year bachelor’s degree for restoration technology in the country.

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