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Headlines for Friday, August 8, 2014


New Kansas Revenue Figures Show Shortfalls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New budget projections from the Kansas Legislature's nonpartisan research staff show a state budget shortfall developing by July 2016. The projections released Friday by the Legislative Research Department also show a lower figure for the state's cash reserves on June 30 than Governor Sam Brownback's administration reported last month. The department provided the figures to The Associated Press exclusively after releasing them to legislators. The department first said the state would face a $262 million shortfall by July 2016. A short time later, it revised the figure to $238 million. Kansas has cut income taxes aggressively. The department also said the state's cash reserves on June 30 were $380 million, not the nearly $435 million Brownback's administration reported. The department factored in bills that were still pending on June 30.


Kansas Senator Launching Statewide Tour Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is launching what he calls a statewide listening tour next week with events in three northeast Kansas communities. The Republican senator's office says the first town hall meeting will take place Monday morning at Elizabeth's restaurant in Atchison. He also plans town halls at community centers in Troy and Hiawatha in the afternoon. Roberts has said he plans to have meetings in each of the state's 105 counties. Roberts is seeking his fourth, six-year term in the Senate in the November general election. His Democratic opponent is Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, and Olathe businessman Greg Orman is running as an independent candidate. Wichita manufacturing plant inspector Randall Batson will be on the ballot as a Libertarian candidate.


Mainstream GOP Upbeat After Tea Party Sweep

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mainstream conservatives ran the table in Senate Republican primaries as tea party upstarts lost all six challenges to GOP incumbents. The results left the establishment upbeat about midterm elections, and the insurgent movement beaten but unbowed. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander's narrow win Thursday night and Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts' triumph on Tuesday dashed the tea party's last hopes of knocking out a sitting senator. Earlier this year, incumbents prevailed in Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Mississippi for a party intent on nominating viable candidates and winning Senate control in November's contests. Republicans need to net six seats for the majority. Democrats currently hold a 55-45 advantage. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP has produced the best nominee possible in each state.


Kansas Attorney General to Appeal Overturned Death Sentences

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he will appeal recent state Supreme Court decisions overturning the death sentences of three men convicted of capital murder. Schmidt announced Friday that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the sentences for Sidney Gleason and brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr. The Kansas court overturned the Carr brothers' sentences July 25, concluding that they should have had separate sentencing hearings. The Carrs were sentenced to die for the fatal shootings of three men and a woman in a snow-covered soccer field in Wichita in December 2000. The Kansas court overturned Gleason's death sentence on July 18, saying the judge's instructions to jurors were flawed. He was convicted for the murders of a Great Bend couple in February 2004.


Machinists Union Sues Spirit AeroSystems

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Machinists union has sued Wichita-based aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems over its reported efforts to sell off its fabrication operations. The union filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court, seeking a preliminary order prohibiting Spirit from selling off any off its fabrication assets or laying off workers pending arbitration. The Machinists contend potential outsourcing would violate its labor contract and cost 1,400 jobs. Spirit says believes it is in compliance with its labor agreements. It says evaluation of its strategic vision is ongoing and it has made no decision. The lawsuit contends Machinists gave up the right to strike and accepted pay cuts and smaller wage increases in a 10-year contract negotiated in 2010. It further contends that in exchange, Spirit agreed to maintain major manufacturing operations in Wichita.


GOP Governors' Group Launches Attack Ads in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican Governors Association is running a new TV ad in Kansas attacking Governor Sam Brownback's Democratic challenger in November's election. The 30-second spot portrays Paul Davis as a liberal tied to President Barack Obama. The ad does not mention Brownback, but the message dovetails with one of the Republican incumbent's key campaign themes. Davis spokesman Chris Pumpelly said Thursday that the ad on Topeka and Wichita stations is designed to distract voters from Brownback's record on fiscal issues. The ad notes that Davis was a delegate for Obama at the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2012. Online records of television ad contracts show the RGA is spending $111,000 on time on broadcast stations over seven days. The ads started Wednesday, the day after the state's primary election.


1 Pedestrian Dead, 1 Injured When Hit by Car

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park police say one pedestrian was killed and another was seriously injured when they were hit by a car. Police say in a news release that 52-year-old Kevin Patrick Moroney of Overland Park and Maureen Hogg, of Kansas City, Missouri, were standing next to a car on an Overland Park street Thursday when a car driven by a 17-year-old male hit them and the car. Moroney died at the scene and Hogg was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the car was not injured. An investigation is continuing.


Inmate Suing Jail over Alleged Religious Rights Violations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas inmate is suing the Shawnee County Jail saying his religious rights were violated while he was incarcerated. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Eddie A. Gordon Sr. is a practicing Muslim. Gordon has filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in a 15-page handwritten petition. He acted as his own attorney. Gordon seeks $2 million in the lawsuit. The lawsuit is against the jail, the jail's food service provider and other officials. It says Gordon wasn't fed for 28 hours during Ramadan, a Muslim holy month marked by daily fasting from dawn to sunset. Shawnee County counselor Rick Eckert says the jail is confident Gordon was treated in an appropriate manner. Gordon was sentenced to 23 years in 2011 for second-degree murder.

New Phone Scam Hits Northeast Kansas

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A new kind of telephone scam is hitting northeast Kansas, this one perpetrated by people pretending to be federal agents. Brown County Sheriff John Merchant tells KNZA-FM that a caller with a heavy foreign accent leaves messages on home answering machines claiming the recipient is a suspect in a federal investigation. The caller says the recipient must return the call or face legal consequences. But the sheriff says the return call will result in hefty telephone charges that the scammer will pocket. A second scam involves calls to cellphones saying a federal warrant has been issued for the recipient. The caller says the recipient must make a payment through personal financial information to avoid being arrested at work. Merchant says anyone receiving such calls should notify law enforcement.


Police Seek Help in Lawrence Homicide Case 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence want to hear from anyone who may have given a ride to a suspect in a July homicide. Thirty-eight-year-old Angelica Marie Kulp is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Christine Kaplan. The 56-year-old victim was found July 26 in her Lawrence home, where Kulp may have stayed. Kulp remains in the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka on unrelated theft charges. Authorities say she'll be returned to Lawrence when the other case is resolved. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kulp did not have a vehicle and often asked for rides. Police have now released photographs of a car whose driver is thought to have taken Kulp to a supermarket on July 22. Authorities say the driver is not considered a suspect but may have helpful information.


Scientists Urge Action to Protect Wichita Water

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say chloride contamination of Wichita's water wells is inevitable unless steps are taken to stop it. The agency said Thursday past oil and gas activities near Burrton have created a plume of high-chloride ground northwest of the groundwater wells used by the city. High chloride levels make water less usable for drinking or crop irrigation without additional treatment. The Geological Survey has released a report and animations simulating chlorine movement. It says the move threatens part of the Equus Beds aquifer that supplies water to city and agricultural users. Possible actions include pumping to remove the high-chloride groundwater and increasing the artificial recharge of water into the aquifer to slow movement of the chemical. Low concentrations of chloride are present in nearly all natural water.

Wichita Marijuana Petitions Come up Short on Signatures

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Petitions seeking to decriminalize marijuana possession in Wichita apparently came up 47 signatures short. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman told the city clerk the petitions contained 2,881 qualified signatures, and 2,928 were required to get the issue on the ballot. About 3,600 signatures were determined to be invalid. The Wichita Eagle reports that petition supporters say they will challenge the count in court because they believe some signatures were improperly excluded. They also plan to ask the City Council next week to put the issue on the ballot. The initiative would change simple possession of marijuana and paraphernalia from a criminal offense to a minor civil violation, and would set the maximum penalty at $25, down from the current maximum of $2,500 and a year in jail.


KC Man Convicted of Home Invasion, Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been found guilty of multiple charges in a home invasion last fall in which one person was shot multiple times but survived. The Kansas City Star reports 26-year-old Marlyn Standifer was convicted Thursday of attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, kidnapping and two counts of armed criminal action. He is scheduled to be sentenced September 10. A man who was shot during the attempted robbery testified that Standifer approached him with a gun on September 20, 2013, and ordered him to knock on a neighbor's door. The witness said Standifer and two accomplices made it inside the house but fled after a man who lived there started shooting at them. The witness was hit by four bullets during the exchange of gunfire.


Police: 3 Arrested in Kansas Drug Investigation

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say they've arrested three people in connection to an ongoing investigation into cocaine and methamphetamine distribution. Police say they made the arrests on Tuesday and Wednesday in Manhattan. They seized nearly 54 grams of meth, nearly 5 grams of cocaine and 37 meth hydrochloride pills. About $2,000 in cash and a handgun were also confiscated. Police say the drugs have a street value of approximately $7,000. One man was arrested for drug possession with intent to distribute, illegal use of a firearm and other charges. One woman was arrested for drug possession with intent to distribute. The other was charged with meth and marijuana possession. It wasn't immediately clear if they've been charged.


Lawrence Nature Center Wins Solar Grant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence nature center has won a grant from Westar Energy to install solar panels. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Prairie Park Nature Center was one of 15 projects chosen by Topeka-based Westar for funding. Eileen Horn, the city and county's sustainability coordinator, says Westar will pay for the solar panels and their installation. The panels are expected to produce about 25 percent of the nature center's electricity, resulting in savings of about $1,300 a year. The project will include a kiosk where visitors can see how the solar panels work and how much energy they're producing. Horn says the project should be up and running this fall.

Woman Swept into Kansas City Creek Found Safe

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A homeless woman who was the subject of a long search in a Kansas City river turned up safe many hours later. The woman's boyfriend told authorities the woman fell into the fast-moving Blue River during a storm around 9:30 pm Wednesday. Police and firefighters looked for the woman Wednesday night and for seven hours again Thursday. KMBC-TV reports the woman appeared at a relative's home later Thursday, saying she had grabbed a tree branch in the river and pulled herself out. Family members told the station the woman was doing well.

Plan Proposed for Youth Sports Complex at Kemper Arena

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Members of a Kansas City Council committee say they are impressed with a proposal to turn Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex. Developer Steve Foutch detailed his plans for Kemper Thursday to the council's planning and zoning committee. He says the complex would include a new second floor in the arena, with 12 basketball courts, fitness rooms and the region's largest indoor running track. Foutch says the idea is to draw thousands of kids and their families to the area, while also saving the arena from demolition. The Kansas City Star reports that the Foutch proposal is competing with a plan from the American Royal, which would replace Kemper with a smaller building for equestrian events, and use the building at other times for youth soccer and different sports.

Kansas Personal Spending on Par with Neighboring States

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — New government figures show consumer spending in Kansas grew slightly faster than most of its closest neighbors, but average per-person spending remained lower than all but one. The report marks the government's first state-by-state breakdown of consumer spending. Nationally, the report shows a substantial shift in the economy since the recession. Kansas ranks somewhere in the middle of most categories, including how much residents have spent on housing, utilities and health care. In 2012, the latest year for which data are available, per-person spending averaged $35,498 nationally and $32,523 in Kansas. Spending rose 3.7 percent in Kansas in 2011-2012, compared with 3.6 percent in Missouri, 2.9 percent in Nebraska and 3 percent in Colorado. Of Kansas' neighbors, only Oklahoma had a higher increase at 4.2 percent.

Little Impact in Kansas from Russia Food Sanctions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas trade official says Russia's ban on U.S. food imports will hurt Russia more than it will harm Kansas farmers. The state Agriculture Department says Kansas ships more than $50 million worth of agricultural products to Russia, mostly soybeans and live breeding cattle. The department's international trade director, J.J. Jones, said Thursday that Kansas sold $15 million worth of soybeans to Russia in the first half of 2014. Sales of live breeding cattle to Russia are down because of domestic demand as U.S. ranchers rebuild their own herds. Russia buys $149 million in live cattle each year from the United States, and Kansas is one of its top three suppliers. Kansas hasn't sold beef to Russia in two years because of its ban on growth additives fed to cattle.

4 Shot in Wichita Apartment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita are investigating the shootings of four men inside an apartment early Thursday. KWCH-TV reports all four were shot multiple times. A 25-year-old man suffered what police called life-threatening wounds to his chest and legs. The shootings broke out around 4 am at an apartment complex in the northeastern part of Wichita. Police would not say if they had identified the shooter or a likely motive.

Car Crashes into Northeast Kansas Restaurant

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A driver is unhurt but 78-year-old man suffered a minor injury when a car crashed through the wall of a northeast Kansas restaurant. The accident happened Thursday afternoon at a Golden Corral in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe. Police say a 77-year-old woman was trying to park her car in front of the restaurant but hit the outside wall. The car ended up partially inside the restaurant. The 78-year-old patron sustained what police called a minor injury to his face.

Terminally Ill Man Walks Daughter Down Aisle

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A terminally ill man given only months to live has escorted his daughter down the wedding aisle in Kansas, after his family and friends scrambled to arrange the ceremony. The Hutchinson News reports that Jeff Petty suffers from a cancer called renal cell carcinoma. The disease has spread to his bones and is too advanced for chemotherapy treatment. In June, his doctor gave Petty between two to three months to live. He walked his daughter Janena down the aisle on Tuesday in South Hutchinson Christian Church. The wedding was set for next July, but was pushed up after Petty's family learned of his prognosis. The ceremony was planned in less than two weeks.


Editor and Publisher of Independence Paper Dies

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — Herbert A. "Hub" Meyer III, editor and publisher of the Independence (Kansas) Daily Reporter for over 43 years, has died at the age of 67. The newspaper reported Meyer died Thursday afternoon at his home after suffering from prostate cancer. Meyer became publisher of The Reporter in June of 1971, taking over after his father's death. His grandfather, Herbert A. Meyer Sr., bought the newspaper in 1940. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1969 and worked for the Lawrence Journal-World before returning to Independence. Meyer was a past chairman of the Kansas-Missouri Associated Press Publishers and Editors group. He also was involved with the Kansas Press Association and Independence and Montgomery County economic development efforts. Meyer is survived by his wife, Kristin; three children, a sister and five grandchildren.


Kansas City Chiefs Unsteady, Uneven in Preseason Opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Depending on which part of the Chiefs' preseason opener Andy Reid chose to watch, he could have come away thrilled about the prospects for the upcoming season or deeply depressed. There were two touchdowns by the defense — and many more blown coverages. There were three-and-outs and fumbles by the offense — along with long touchdown passes and dynamic runs. On special teams, there was an electrifying punt return touchdown but several boneheaded decisions. The Chiefs wound up beating Cincinnati 41-39 on Thursday night, but the result was mostly a moot point. Reid said there were positives and negatives from the preseason opener, and plenty of work to do before the Chiefs visit Carolina on August 17.


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