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Wichita, KS News Weather and Sports
Updated: 17 min 42 sec ago

False report draws large police presence at Maize South High School

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 11:27

MAIZE, Kan. (KSNW) – A false report to Maize South High prompted a large police presence.

The district said in a Facebook post, despite rumors, there is no threat or active shooter at Maize South High School. All students are safe.

Law enforcement officials are on the scene and investigating a report. Staff members are working to communicate further details.

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Western’s Weather Wrap: Fire Danger Remains

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 11:20

It’s been another cold morning, but still with plenty of sunshine and light winds.

We’ll keep with just a few clouds today, slightly breezy south winds, and milder temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

Then tonight, winds will lighten up with mainly clear skies, but temperatures won’t be quite as cold.

Our weekly drought monitor was also updated today, and unfortunately it continues to show worsening conditions, especially in southern Kansas, where we have now added a small area of Exceptional Drought – the worst category. So, with the continued dry weather, and with winds staying breezy, please note that the fire danger is still very high.

Thankfully we are at least tracking A rain chance for the weekend… But the best chances will be Saturday afternoon and evening for areas along and southeast of the turnpike.

I’ll have more details on your weekend forecast, straight ahead on KSN News at Noon!

~Katie the Weather Lady

Categories: Local KSN News

Kansas Rep. Ron Estes introduces swatting bill

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 10:22

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” 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 KSN News

Neighbor: Police begged to tend to dying Missouri officer

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 08:29

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 KSN News

Cigna to spend about $52 billion for Express Scripts

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 07:36

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 KSN News

Earthquake felt near Hutchinson early Thursday

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 07:18

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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Wanted: Mario Alejandro Gomez

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 04:00

Mario is wanted by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for Probation Violation for Criminal Possession of a Firearm. He was last known to live in the Wichita, Kansas area.

Anyone with information on the location of this person or any other wanted person or about ANY CRIME is urged to contact the Sedgwick County Sheriffs Office at 1.800.874.6449 Wichita-Sedgwick County Crime Stoppers at 316.267.2111 or 911 or by visiting www.wichitasedgwickcountycrimestoppers.com and clicking the “submit a tip” icon. You can also download the app for Apple and Androiddevices.

Name: Mario Alejandro Gomez
Born: 1997
Ht/Wt: 5′ 4″ – 125 lbs.
White Male
Black hair / Brown eyes

To see more felons, or submit an anonymous tip, visit the
Crime Stoppers of Wichita/Sedgwick County website

Categories: Local KSN News

Laura’s Look: Warming Through Week’s End

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 03:10

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



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Wichita program helps hundreds of youth find jobs, better themselves

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 22:31

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.'”

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 22:13

GREENWOOD COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor 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.

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:32

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 KSN News

One person dies in McPherson County crash

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:13

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 KSN News

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 19:52

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 fire were a wake up call 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 2-week span.

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:49

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 & Motar 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 & Motar 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 KSN News

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:07

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

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Tornado shelters still on the way for some schools

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:18

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.”

KSN Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman adds that storm shelters have been a priority for obvious reasons.

“We need to do everything we can to protect our most precious cargo, which is our children,” says Teachman. “Quality storm shelters can make all the difference, so it’s good to see those are a priority.”

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 KSN News

KHP motorist assist employee critically injured in Park City crash

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:14

PARK CITY, 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 at the way to the scene. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

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

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 15:05

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 KSN News

Immigrants say working at Kansas ranch was ‘like slavery’

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 14:13

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 KSN News

‘Bachelor’ star says he’ll take heat for switching fiancees

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 14:10

LOS ANGELES (AP) — ABC’s “The Bachelor” says he’s willing to take the heat for dumping Becca Kufrin to find true love with runner-up Lauren Burnham.

“Would I do it all again and face this scrutiny to be with her? Absolutely,” Arie Luyendyk Jr. said Wednesday during a teleconference with reporters.

His decision to break up with Kufrin during Monday’s season finale after he’d proposed drew headlines including the words “horror,” ”brutal” and “gut-wrenching.”

Luyendyk defended the spectacle of ending their engagement on network TV.

“I wanted everyone to know that the breakup was on me and that I made a mistake,” he said, adding that the relationship started on camera and it was appropriate to end it there.

He speculated his ex might even be thankful for it.

Although she handled it graciously for the show, Kufrin unloaded afterward about having her romantic dreams publicly crushed.

“It was like a slap in the face,” she told People magazine. But she defended Luyendyk, sort of, saying she didn’t think he threw her over for Burnham to “maliciously to break my heart.”

She got a boost from billboards reportedly put up by fans in her native state: “Becca, you’ll always have a rose from Minnesota,” one digital message proclaimed.

Kufrin, whose consolation prize is starring in the next season of “The Bachelorette,” was to have joined in the ABC conference call but dropped out for scheduling reasons, the network said.

That left Burnham to defend her man, who’d proposed to her on Tuesday’s “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” after reaching out to her behind the scenes while engaged to Kufrin.

Burnham called Luyendyk her “soulmate” but admitted some hesitancy in accepting his change of heart.

“It did take some reassurance, but the fact he was willing to take that risk meant a lot to me,” she said. She’s moving from Texas to Arizona to be with Luyendyk as they plan their wedding.

She said she “feels” for Kufrin and is eager to see her as the next “Bachelorette.”

Luyendyk said he stands by the outcome and his happiness.

“I could have done things in a different way, for sure. But ultimately I needed to do what was best for me.”


Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

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