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Headlines for Friday, August 29, 2014


Brownback Names Former Adviser to Kansas Supreme Court 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says Caleb Stegall is "one of the most qualified people" to ever be named to the Kansas Supreme Court. Brownback named his former aide to the high court on Friday and called him "brilliant." He put the 42-year-old on the Court of Appeals last year after he spent three years as the governor's chief counsel. Stegall was one of 13 people who applied for the seat Justice Nancy Moritz gave up to take a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appointment does not require state Senate confirmation. An online magazine Stegall edited in 2005 encouraged "forcible resistance" to state and federal court orders to save the life of a brain-damaged Florida woman, though he later said it only advocated civil disobedience. In a 2008 online newspaper chat, he called the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling legalizing abortion "weak."


Kansas Tax Collections $4M Lower Than Expected in August

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas collected $4 million less in taxes than expected in August. The Department of Revenue said Friday the state took in $421 million in taxes, about 1 percent below the official forecast of $425 million. The department called revenues flat but said there are signs of economic growth in the figures. Corporate income tax collections exceeded expectations for the month. The state saw a slight surplus in tax collections in July. Since the current fiscal year began July 1, the state has collected about $829 million in revenues, against projections of nearly $832 million. The difference is about $2.4 million, or 0.3 percent. The numbers are likely to renew a political debate over massive income tax cuts enacted at Republican Governor Sam Brownback's urging.


Kansas Gets One-Year Waiver of Federal Schools Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas has received a one-year extension of a waiver that gives it more flexibility in meeting some of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. The U.S. Department of Education also granted an extension Thursday to Indiana. Kansas first was granted a waiver in 2012, but was told last August it was at "high risk" of losing it because the state hadn't taken enough steps to use student achievement data as part of teacher evaluations. Interim Kansas Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander said he was "pleased." The Kansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says education evaluation systems will incorporate the student data as a "significant" factor this year. But those student growth measures will not be used to make personnel decisions until the 2017-18 school year.


Thousands Lose Power After Wichita Car Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Most of the thousands of people who lost electricity in south Wichita after a car hit a utility pole have had their power restored. Westar Energy spokeswoman Gina Penzig says 11,600 Wichitans were affected Thursday night after the car overturned and rolled into the power pole. The utility replaced the power pole overnight and says all but a handful of customers had their power back Friday morning. Wichita police say the car driver was taken into custody.

Judge Says Suspect's Statements Can Be Used in Trial

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that statements from the suspect in a quadruple homicide in Kansas can be used at his trial. Franklin County District Court Judge Eric Godderz ruled Friday that statements from 29-year-old Kyle Flack will be admitted during his trial in September 2015. Flack is charged in the deaths of two men, one woman and the woman's 18-month-old daughter in May 2013. The adults' bodies were found outside Ottawa. The child's body was found in nearby Osage County. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Flack made the statements during questioning by investigators. The defense contended the questioning should have ended at least twice because Flack twice mentioned legal representation. Godderz ruled that the statements appeared to be voluntary.


KU Police Using New Body-Mounted Cameras

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas police officers have begun wearing body-mounted cameras this week. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the department spent more than $7,000 to buy eight cameras this spring to outfit all officers on duty at any given time. Officers tested the new technology this summer before introducing it Monday. The department's captain, James Anguiano, says it's now department policy for officers to wear the technology at all times during their shifts. The University of Kansas Police Department is the only law enforcement agency serving Lawrence to use body-mounted cameras. Anguiano says he thinks the cost of the cameras is why some other law enforcement agencies don't use the technology.


Spirit AeroSystems Offers Voluntary Retirements

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems is offering a voluntary retirement program to some management and salaried employees in Wichita and Kinston, North Carolina. Company spokesman Ken Evans said Thursday the employees must be older than 55 and have worked at least 10 years with Spirit to qualify for the program. Employees have until September 12 to express an interest in the buyout, although that doesn't commit them to retiring or guarantee they will be offered the buyout. Executives and stress and design engineers are excluded from the offer. Evans says the company has no specific number of employees it wants to retire. The Wichita Eagle reports ( ) Spirit is making other changes to cut costs, such as bolstering top management, reducing overtime for hourly workers and trying to sell its Tulsa wing plant.


Westar Energy Changes Retirees' Benefits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Westar Energy is notifying its retired employees that they will have to find their own Medicare supplemental plans beginning January 1. Previously, the employees had received group coverage through the company. Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig says the change will affect about 1,700 retirees who are older than 65 and qualify for Medicare. She says the employees will be paid a stipend to buy individual Medicare supplemental plans, known as Part B. Penzig says the company believes at least 96 percent of the employees will end up with better plans than they had under the current Westar benefits. Westar says it currently spends about $3.5 million a year for retiree health benefits.


Sedgwick District Attorney Warns of Mail Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Sedgwick County district attorney says reports of mail theft are increasing in Wichita. Marc Bennett said Thursday that thieves are targeting government checks and credit card applications. He says they typically steal during the day. Wichita police recorded 134 cases of mail theft since January. Sixty of those happened in the past three months. Bennett says thieves use personal information from stolen mail for identity theft. He suggests residents collect their mail when it's delivered, buy a mailbox lock or rent a post office box. Mail theft can be a misdemeanor, felony or federal crime depending on what is taken.


Kansas Woman Convicted in Death of 4-Year-Old

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman has been convicted in last year's beating death of her boyfriend's 4-year-old son. KNZA-FM reports that 30-year-old Janice Summerford entered Alford pleas Friday to second-degree murder, child abuse and interfering with law enforcement. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors can likely prove the charges. Summerford, of Hiawatha, had been facing trial next month for the death of Mekhi Boone in March 2013. She was initially charged with aiding and abetting a death, but Brown County prosecutors upgraded the charge to first-degree murder after learning Summerford was the child's primary caregiver. Mekhi's father, Lee Davis IV, was convicted earlier of second-degree murder and felony child abuse and sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.


KHP Seeks Witness to Pedestrian Death

OVERBROOK, Kan (AP) - Authorities are asking the public for help in finding witnesses to the hit-and-run death of a northeast Kansas pedestrian. Twenty-year-old Timothy Kemble of Carbondale was found dead around 5am Sunday along U.S. Highway 56 in Osage County. The Kansas Highway Patrol said Thursday that investigators hope to talk with anyone who was driving on the highway near Overbrook between 4:30 and 5:30 am Sunday. Investigators are also trying to locate the driver of a tractor-trailer that was in the area at that time. The Highway Patrol says the driver is not a suspect, but could have helpful information.


Osage County Sheriff Investigates Infant Death

YNDON, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas sheriff's office is investigating the death of a baby who stopped breathing at a day care facility. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn said in a news release that the infant died earlier this week while being taken to a hospital. The baby was identified as 4-month-old Brody Johnston, of Scranton. The sheriff says his parents wanted the public to know their donation of their son's organs have saved the lives of two other infants. An autopsy has been performed, but the sheriff said Thursday the cause of death has not been determined. Osage County health officials closed the day care for two days while they investigated.


Newton Council OKs Financing for Chemical Plant

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - The City Council in Newton has approved financing for a company that plans to build a chemical manufacturing plant at the city's airport. The estimate for Wichita-based ABI Group's project is $6.5 million, which would fund a 20,000-squre-foot manufacturing facility, a 5,000-square-foot hangar and a taxiway. The Wichita Eagle reports ABI Chemicals plans to use the space to make aerospace coatings being developed in conjunction with Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research. Newton plans to lease the facilities to ABI Chemicals for 20 years at rates that will cover debt service payments on a loan from Citizens State Bank.


Salina Man Found Guilty in Bicyclist's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A Saline County jury found a 64-year-old Salina man guilty of misdemeanor vehicular homicide in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist. Lewis Grider also was found guilty Thursday of felony leaving the scene of an accident in the May 2013 death of bicyclist Gail Kline. He will remain free on bond until his sentencing October 20. The Salina Journal reports that before the verdict, Grider testified that he felt something hit his delivery van and stopped to survey the damage. Believing he had hit a deer, he continued on his trip. The 49-year-old Kline was hit as she was riding alone west of Salina as part of the Kandango Bicycle Tour. A trucker found her in a ditch and called emergency officials.


Kansas City Man Gets Lower Sentences for 2 Murders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Jackson County jury has recommended new, lower sentences for a man convicted of two murders in Kansas City. Twenty-three-year-old Eria Doss was earlier sentenced to four life sentences plus 200 years for the April 2009 deaths of Andrew Eli and Justin Burdreau during a robbery at Eli's apartment. A Missouri appeals court last year ordered that he be resentenced because the jury in his trial heard improper evidence about his juvenile records. On Wednesday, the jury recommended 30 years each on two convictions of second-degree murder, 10 years for a first-degree robbery conviction and three years on three counts of armed criminal action. He will be sentenced September 26. Prosecutors will recommend the sentences run consecutively. Two co-defendants are already serving prison sentences.


Man Sentenced to 11 Years for Trying to Kill Mother


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for trying to kill his 86-year-old mother. Fifty-three-year-old Glenn Fishburn was sentenced Wednesday for attempted second-degree murder and kidnapping after he attacked his mother with a baseball bat and machete in April. Police say Fishburn became upset with his mother when she confronted him about his drinking. She suffered cuts and broken bones. The Wichita Eagle reports that Fishburn originally was charged with attempted first-degree murder but pleaded guilty in July to the reduced charge.


Principal Helps Save Kansas Man with CPR

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas cardiologist says a school principal who performed CPR on one of his patients helped save the man's life. 70-year-old John Williams was stricken August 18 outside Turner Sixth Grade Academy in Kansas City, Kansas, where he had to gone to pick up a child. A secretary alerted principal Miranda Hoit that a man had collapsed in the parking lot. Hoit found Williams unresponsive and began CPR while others called 911. Williams was in a coma for eight days and awoke Wednesday at Providence Medical Center. Dr. Hector Rodriguez, a cardiologist, said Williams has a damaged heart and is prone to arrhythmia. Without Hoit's actions, the doctor says, Williams "would not be here today." Williams said he's feeling pretty good, but can't believe he missed eight days.


Topeka Jeweler Accused of Buying Stolen Goods

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is accused of knowingly buying stolen jewelry at his Topeka store, then reselling it as scrap gold. The U.S. Attorney's office says 53-year-old John Dasher, of Silver Lake, made a first court appearance Thursday on 32 counts of money laundering and one count of transporting stolen property. Court records did not list an attorney for Dasher. Prosecutors said Dasher bought gold jewelry at his store, The Diamond House, that he knew had been stolen in home invasions in the Topeka area. The indictment alleges he melted the stolen jewelry and sold it as gold scrap to precious metal wholesalers. Authorities allege the wholesalers paid Dasher more than $430,000 from November 2008 to April 2013.


Smoking Materials Caused KU Fraternity Fire

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Investigators say a fire at a University of Kansas fraternity house was caused by improperly disposed of smoking materials. No injuries were reported after the fire Tuesday at the Sigma Chi fraternity house. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire official Shaun Coffey said Thursday the fire caused an estimated $150,000 in damage. Flames were contained to the third floor but lower floors had smoke and water damage. The Lawrence Journal-World reports fraternity members said a bathroom and bedrooms sustained the most damage. The 74 residents of the home were allowed to return to the house Tuesday evening. Coffey said he did not know what type of smoking materials caused the fire.


Kansas State University to Offer Massive Open Online Course

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has announced that a health and wellness course will be its first "massive open online course." The school joins dozens of leading universities that have begun offering free, digital versions of their most popular courses. The so-called MOOCs allow tens of thousands of students to take a class at the same time. But dropout rates often hover around 90 percent. The Kansas State course will teach about the changes that can be made to improve health, physical fitness and overall well-being. The first cycle of the course will be taught October 6 to November 15, with content remaining open to students until December 12. Assistant human nutrition professor Linda Yarrow says the class format encourages instructors to be creative and innovative in their educational offerings.


Effort Underway to Bring Movie Theater to Hiawatha

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A group of residents in Hiawatha are trying to bring a movie theater back to the northeast Kansas town. Hiawatha's Twin Theatre closed about a week ago after voters in April rejected an initiative that would have funded the construction of a new city-owned theater. Now, a nonprofit group called Hiawatha ACES has launched a fundraising drive to buy and renovate the 40-year-old Twin Theatre. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the group estimates it would cost $200,000 to update the theater. For now, small improvements and maintenance will begin, with a goal of reopening the theater by the holiday season. However, a second proposal to fund a city-owned movie theater will be on the ballot in November. If it passes, the plans to renovate the Arrow Twin will stop.


KC Man Accused of Stealing Police Car Disappears

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two days after a homeless Kansas City man is accused of stealing a police squad car and abandoning it in northern Missouri, investigators say they've not seen any signs of the 30-year-old suspect. Joshua Boyd was charged Thursday in Jackson County with second-degree robbery and resisting arrest in connection with the theft early Wednesday of a Kansas City police cruiser from a gas station after an officer confronted him. The car was found on Interstate 35 near Pattonsburg, about an hour north of Kansas City, but a shotgun that had been in the vehicle was missing. Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Jake Angle said Friday his agency has received no tips or reports of suspicious activity, which he says is surprising because Boyd was believed to be on foot.


No. 20 K-State Wary of Opening Against FCS Foes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas State...ranked number 20 in national college football polls...knows well the perils of playing an FCS school the first weekend of the season. The Wildcats were stunned by North Dakota State last year. This time, it's Stephen F. Austin that rolls into town looking for an upset. The Wildcats return a bevy of talent from a team that rebounded from its season-opening loss to win eight times, though. And the Lumberjacks are coming off a three-win season that resulted in the hiring of coach Clint Conque away from Southland Conference rival Central Arkansas. Kansas State will be guarding against looking ahead on Saturday night. Big 12 play begins next week at Iowa State, and a showdown with number 6-ranked Auburn looms after that.


Kansas City Chiefs Turn Attention to Roster, Regular Season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After four preseason clunkers, the Chiefs know things are about to get real. General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid were planning to meet Friday to discuss final roster cuts, which are due Saturday afternoon. Then, a chance to sign waived players on Sunday and the start of preparations for the regular-season opener against Tennessee. Dorsey and Reid have several difficult decisions to make. They are enamored of all four quarterbacks on their roster, though Reid can't recall ever keeping that many when he was in Philadelphia. And with suspensions and injuries at wide receiver, the Chiefs could be keeping some around simply out of necessity.


Sporting KC, Fluminense FC Agree to Partnership

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City and Brazilian power Fluminense FC have agreed to a partnership that will encompass player transfers, academy exchanges and other opportunities. The partnership, which includes international friendlies, goes through the 2016 season. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said Friday the clubs have been discussing a partnership since February, but that they "did not want this to be a marketing ploy. We wanted this to be beneficial for both clubs on the business and technical side." Fluminense has agreed to loan at least one player per MLS season to Sporting KC and another player to the club's USL PRO affiliates. The two clubs will also collaborate on exchanging youth players, academy staff and training over the course of the partnership.




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