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Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley  

The current gallery at the Manhattan Arts Center features the works of the Columbian Artist Group, an artist group from Wamego. The gallery will close on Saturday.

Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley 

Shelley Manges looks at the Columbian Artist Group gallery Tuesday in the Manhattan Arts Center.

RCPD, KSUPD agreement spreads out patrolling by university police

Residents may see more of the university police force patrolling in new areas in town since an updated policing agreement between the Riley County and K-State police departments went into effect in January.

Prior to the memorandum of understanding being signed, K-State police officers were limited to patrolling and policing on university-owned, operated and occupied property.

The new agreement allows them to exercise their full policing authority granted under state law in some areas and neighborhoods adjacent to the university, as well as on off-campus student group and Greek property.

“The agreement expanded their patrol area to locations off campus where there is a significant population of students,” said RCPD Patrol Capt. Rich Fink, who mainly worked with K-State police on updating the agreement.

In those locations, K-State police can investigate, cite and/or arrest someone if necessary.

It also allows K-State police to respond first to incidents in Manhattan and Riley County if they see them while on the way to other K-State property, such as the Konza Prairie.

“They may see something happening, a crime in progress or an active traffic accident or something where they need to do something as a police officer,” Fink said at a previous law board meeting. “We (RCPD) of course would respond, but this gives them the ability to take immediate action. They’re not going to be proactively looking for things while crossing through those territories, but if they see something that needs immediate attention they can address those things.”

K-State would then generally hand over the rest of the investigation to RCPD.

In places where K-State does not have primary jurisdiction, the agreement says efforts by K-State police outside of university property “shall occur only after making a reasonable attempt to provide appropriate notification of and coordination with RCPD, as applicable under the circumstances.”

Though K-State police can now respond to those incidents, RCPD still has first priority in investigating incidents that take place on student group property and areas where large numbers of students congregate, such as Aggieville.

Fink said having K-State police in Aggieville is not new as RCPD has asked for their help there in the past.

“Aggieville is not part of the agreement (of their expanded patrol area), however, we have been requesting their assistance on Friday and Saturday nights in Aggieville,” Fink said.

Fink added that RCPD also would still have primary responsibility for investigating incidents at Greek housing, and the agreement encourages K-State police to be more involved in investigations with students.

“If they ask to conduct an investigation for whatever reason we feel that that’s more appropriate for them to do that, we go ahead and let them take primary (responsibility) over it,” Fink said. “Any major cases, felonies, person felonies or anything like that, we’re going to be investigating.”

With additional officers policing in town, Fink said the agreement helps both agencies spread out their workload more evenly.

With impeachment over, critics see Trump 'retribution tour'

WASHINGTON— In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Since then, Trump and his aides have moved with haste to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats and outside analysts are raising red flags that Trump is exhibiting a post-impeachment thirst for vengeance that’s gone beyond bending norms and could potentially cause lasting damage to institutions.

Some Republican senators, including Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, said they found Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy inappropriate. But they also expressed hope following his acquittal that Trump had learned a lesson from the episode.

Murkowski acknowledged Wednesday that “there haven’t been very strong indicators this week that he has.”

After Trump vented on Twitter this week about federal prosecutors recommending up to nine years in federal prison for his confidant Roger Stone, the Justice Department abruptly announced that it would reevaluate the recommended sentence. Justice officials insisted the timing was coincidental; they’d already been planning to pull the recommendation.

Stone was convicted in November of tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. The Justice Department move to back away from the sentencing recommendation prompted the four attorneys who prosecuted Stone to quit the case. One left the Justice Department altogether.

In recent days, the White House has yanked a senior Treasury Department nomination away from a former Justice Department official who supervised the prosecutions of several of Trump advisers. The administration also fired an EPA official who claims he was ousted because he was deemed too friendly with Democrats.

Trump even suggested this week that the Pentagon investigate and potentially discipline former White House aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who provided damaging testimony about the president in the impeachment inquiry.

That came after White House officials last week told Vindman and his twin brother, also an Army officer who had been detailed to the White House National Security Council, that their services were no longer needed and that they would be reassigned to new duties by the Pentagon. Security then escorted the brothers off White House grounds.

“We are witnessing a crisis in the rule of law in America — unlike one we have ever seen before,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday. Schumer called for the Justice Department’s independent inspector general to probe the department’s action in the Stone case. Later, House lawmakers announced Attorney General William Barr would come before them next month to answer questions.

Former Justice Department officials struggled to recall a precedent, describing it as norm-shattering turmoil that raises troubling questions about the apparent politicization of an agency meant to function independent of White House sway.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michael Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department inspector general who has been representing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in a criminal investigation before the same U.S. attorney’s office.

Trump turned testy during an Oval Office appearance when reporters asked him about interfering in the Stone case and whether he learned anything from his impeachment ordeal.

He slammed the four prosecutors who recommended the stiff sentence for Stone and asserted they “ought to apologize for a lot of the people whose lives they’ve ruined.”

He described the lesson he gleaned from being just the third president to endure an impeachment trial: “Democrats are crooked. ... They’re vicious, they shouldn’t have brought impeachment and that my poll numbers are 10 points higher because of fake news.”

Trump said he did not order Justice Department officials to change Stone’s recommended sentence, though he claimed he would have had the “absolute right to do it” if he had wanted to. He used Twitter early Wednesday to congratulate Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not even been brought.”

As Democrats called for an investigation, several Republican lawmakers strained to defend Trump’s actions.

“Certainly the president is entitled his opinion, and there would have been nothing wrong with the president picking up the phone, as I understand it, and talking to Justice,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “But I think this is a situation where the tweet was very problematic.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump confidant, said he agreed the sentencing recommendation was excessive, but didn’t think the president should have tweeted about an ongoing case.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has shown he doesn’t like to wait for anything, let alone the end of a criminal case. But at moments, he has been willing to show restraint.

Early in his presidency, aides say, it took Trump an extraordinary measure of restraint to hold back on firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the months after he recused himself from the Russia investigation. The president reluctantly heeded the advice of his advisers and Republican allies not to dismiss the former Alabama senator until after the 2018 midterm elections.

But on the night of the election, as Republicans held onto the Senate but lost the House, Trump turned to those at a campaign party and said, simply, “I’m doing it now.” Sessions was asked to resign the next day.

Similarly, Trump knew that the likely outcome of his impeachment trial would be acquittal at the hands of the GOP-controlled Senate. Reluctantly, he acquiesced to the advice of his aides and agreed to wait to retaliate for the probe, which he deemed a conspiracy conjured up by Democrats and the so-called Deep State, until the official verdict was reached.

Now, though, Trump is once again unleashed.

Some of his targets are far out of the public eye. Trump this week withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu, a former U.S. attorney who oversaw federal prosecutions in the District of Columbia, for a senior Treasury Department post.

Liu had supervised the prosecution of several cases inherited from Mueller’s probe into Russian interference into the 2016 election. Among those prosecuted under Liu’s watch were Stone, 2016 deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Last week, a spokeswoman for former national security adviser John Bolton charged that the White House was “suppressing” the publication of Bolton’s memoir about his time in the Trump administration with invalid claims that the manuscript includes classified material.

Bolton, according to excerpts of the manuscript leaked to the media during the Senate impeachment trial, says Trump told him he was conditioning the release of military aid to Ukraine on whether its government would help investigate Joe Biden and his son.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, accused Trump of being on a “retribution tour” and suggested that Senate Republicans — with the exception of Utah’s Mitt Romney, who voted with Democrats to convict Trump on the abuse of power count — encouraged the president by turning a blind eye to his conduct.

“It’s pretty clear the president of the United States did learn a lesson: the lesson he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, he can abuse his office, he’ll never ever be held accountable by this Senate,” Brown said.

Riley County remains 'low risk' for coronavirus

There have been no cases of the coronavirus in Kansas and the risk remains low, but Riley County Health Department officials are planning ahead in case of a future outbreak.

Health department officials provided information and tips Thursday about the illness to the Riley County Commission.

“We are still low risk,” said Julie Gibbs, health department director.

Andrew Adams, public health emergency preparedness coordinator at the health department, reviewed the county’s isolation and quarantine response guidelines.

“The processes and protocols that we’ve been discussing with different partners are already established,” Adams said.

If someone is infected, Adams said the department would coordinate efforts with Ascension Via Christi Hospital to determine how to handle a quarantine.

He said the department wants to do a “less restrictive approach,” meaning that a person would be quarantined at home unless he or she needed to be hospitalized.

Gibbs said it is best to wash hands frequently.

In addition, the health department is still offering the flu shot to the public.

“It’s never too late to get the flu shot,” Gibbs said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 15 people in the United States who tested positive for the coronavirus so far this year.

Earlier this month, a man quarantined in Lawrence Memorial Hospital tested negative for coronavirus.

As of Thursday, around 45,000 people have been affected around the world and more than 1,100 people have died.

Most of the cases have been found in China.

Chinese officials believe the virus originated in the central city of Wuhan in December.

The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing, typically appear within two to 14 days after exposure.

Officials hope to finish emergency radio system project by July

Emergency management director Pat Collins hopes to have all five county radio towers up and running by July.

“That’s our goal right now,” he said.

However, Collins said the project could take longer.

The Riley County Commission discussed the radio towers Thursday and approved using $15,826.04 from the county’s capital improvements fund to pay for the installation of one of the radio towers, which is about a mile north of the Geary County line, near McDowell Creek Road, Collins said.

The towers are also a part of the overall overhaul of the county’s emergency communications system, which also includes new radios.

The system allows emergency officials to communicate with each other.

Four out of the five towers are standing, Collins said. The radio tower that is going near McDowell Creek Road was delivered today, Collins said.

The four other towers are standing in points throughout the county. One is near Deep Creek Road, another is near Riley, one is northwest of Keats and another is west of Randolph.

The total cost for the five radio towers is $5.2 million, Collins said.

“We haven’t spent that yet,” he said.

The project has cost just over $3 million so far, Collins said.

County commissioners hope to visit the towers to see the progress made in March some time.

The commission first approved moving forward with plans for radio towers in 2018.