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Headlines for Friday, July 11, 2014


UPDATE: Judge Rules for Kobach on Voter Registration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has cleared the way for Secretary of State Kris Kobach to use a dual voting system to enforce the state's proof-of-citizenship for new voters. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis on Friday denied the American Civil Liberties Union's request for a preliminary injunction to stop Kobach from implementing a new policy. Under that policy, Kansans who used a national form to register without providing proof of citizenship will be able to complete full ballots in the August 5 primary — but only their votes in U.S. House and Senate will be counted. Voters who registered using the Kansas state form without providing proof of citizenship will have none of their ballots counted. The national registration form does not require documentation of citizenship.


Kansas Farm Groups Not Backing Huelskamp

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican congressman from the sprawling 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas has lost the support of the state's two major farm groups in the GOP primary. Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association refused Friday to endorse Tim Huelskamp for re-election. Both groups endorsed GOP incumbents in other U.S. House and Senate primaries. But they made no endorsements in the 1st District, where Huelskamp is challenged by Alan LaPolice. Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus says the endorsements represent the feelings of county Farm Bureaus. Baccus criticized Huelskamp's votes against the Farm Bill and his opposition to repairs to locks and dams on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers needed to transport agricultural goods. He also cited Huelskamp's refusal to vote for the appropriations bill for a new bio-security lab in Manhattan.


Kansas Records Death from Rare Infection

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say a person from the Kansas City metro area has died of a rare infection caused by an amoeba that lives in freshwater lakes and rivers. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday it's only the state's second known case of a person contracting primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or "PAM." The agency identified the person who died as a resident of Johnson County but did not give other details. Officials said the person had been exposed to several bodies of fresh water in Kansas. PAM is typically contracted when the amoeba enters the nose of someone diving or swimming underwater and travels to the brain. The infection is not contagious among people and cannot be contracted from a properly maintained swimming pool.


Kansas Senator's Longevity Gives Primary Foe Opening

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — The tea party challenger trying to unseat Senator Pat Roberts in the Republican primary in Kansas rests much of his case on the three-term incumbent's living arrangements. Roberts owns a Washington-area home while his official residence in Dodge City is rented space in a home owned by two supporters. Not so long ago, Roberts joked about having full access to a recliner there. The senator is favored to turn back tea party challenger Milton Wolf and win the August 5 primary. But the so-called residency issue is giving some Republican voters pause even if they believe Roberts has represented the state well during a 47-year career in politics. Roberts is countering Wolf's attacks by describing himself as a known quantity whose seniority will continue to help his native state.


Hays Officials Vote to Ease Water Restrictions

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Although the city remains in a drought, the Hays City Commission has voted to ease water restrictions. Citing significant rainfall in June, the commission voted Thursday to move the city from the more restrictive water warning to a water watch. KAYS-AM reports the motion to change the city's water conservation rules passed on a 3-2 vote. Despite the change, Hays residents still will not be allowed to do any outdoor watering between noon and 7 pm, regardless of the source. Water cannot escape from properties, and the city will continue to use reduced levels of irrigation at municipal facilities.


Douglas County Will Pay For Voters' Birth Records

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas county will pay for copies of birth certificates for some voters needing to document their U.S. citizenship to register if they cannot afford to obtain the records. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew announced the policy Wednesday. Shew said he's addressing what he called an unfairness created by a state law requiring new voters to prove their citizenship. The law says people born in Kansas are eligible for free copies of their birth certificates. Voters born outside the state must pay between $10 and $60. Shew said his office will cover the cost for such voters if they can't afford it. He said his office's current budget can cover the cost. So far, it's identified about five people who'd be helped by the policy.


Report: Kansas Wheat Crop Estimates Downgraded

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers wrapping up this year's wheat harvest probably don't need another government report to tell them this isn't a good year. But the latest forecast released by the Agriculture Department shows the toll from a widespread drought. The National Agricultural Statistics Service on Friday reduced its estimate of the Kansas wheat crop to 235.2 million bushels. That is down 26 percent from last year and would be the smallest crop since 1989. Average yields were 28 bushels an acre. Growers are harvesting 8.4 million acres after abandoning about 900,000 planted acres. Rains that plagued the state's harvest came too late to help most of its drought-stricken wheat. The agency estimated the nation will harvest 1.37 billion bushels of wheat nationwide, down 11 percent from a year ago.


2 Measles Cases Confirmed in Wichita Area

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State health officials say two cases of measles in the Wichita area are linked to a recent outbreak in the bistate Kansas City metropolitan area. The Sedgwick County cases reported Thursday involve an unvaccinated adult and an infant who is too young to be vaccinated. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state has now had five cases of measles this year. Officials did not disclose the relationship between the Wichita-area cases and those in Johnson County, Kansas, and nearby Clay County, Missouri. Four Clay County residents were diagnosed with measles in mid-May, including an unvaccinated infant who had traveled abroad with family members. In early June, an adult and an unvaccinated child in Johnson County contracted measles after having contact with some of the Missouri patients.


Kansas to Pursue Prairie Chicken Breeding Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has directed two state agencies to develop a program for breeding lesser prairie chickens after the federal government listed the bird as a threatened species. Brownback said Thursday that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will draft a plan for a program. The governor announced his action during a news conference in Dodge City amid an agri-business trade show. The governor said the federal government must sign off on a breeding program, and he'll seek its consent. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the program would round up wild prairie chickens, breed them and release them. The federal government listed the bird as threatened in March because of a sharp decline in its population. Brownback has been critical of the action.


Audubon Leader: Proposed Kansas Grouse Plan Won't Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas environmental leader is calling Governor Sam Brownback's plan for a program to breed lesser prairie chickens in captivity "far-fetched." Audubon of Kansas executive director Ron Klataske said Thursday he doubts the federal government would approve the plan. The breeding program would be aimed at increasing the population of lesser prairie chickens after their decline led the federal government in March to list the bird as a threatened species. The listing also affects Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Klataske said wildlife agencies abandoned such an approach decades ago because prairie chickens and other game birds bred in captivity don't have the skills to survive in the wild. Brownback announced Thursday that he's directing the state's agriculture and wildlife departments to develop a program.


Complaint Filed in Kansas 4th District Congressional Primary Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican primary fight for the U.S. House seat from south-central Kansas is heating up with the filing of a citizen complaint to the Federal Election Commission. The complaint alleges unlawful coordination between former congressman Todd Tiahrt's campaign and a "super PAC" founded by a Wichita oilman who is supporting him. Tiahrt is challenging incumbent GOP congressman Mike Pompeo for the 4th Congressional District seat. Tiahrt's campaign manager on Thursday called the allegations "garbage" and a politically motivated attack. The complaint was filed by bank executive Jane Deterding, a longtime Pompeo ally. She said Thursday she asked the Pompeo campaign for details needed to file the complaint. Pompeo's campaign says it's glad the alleged coordination between Tiahrt and the PAC is coming to light.


Lenexa Police Identify 2 Victims in Triple Shooting

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Lenexa police have identified the two men shot to death in a suburban Kansas City home but few other details about the shootings are being released. Police say the men who died were 47-year-old Brian Baskind and 79-year-old Clifford Preston. They were found dead Wednesday night after police were called to the home by a man who said he had been shot. Officers found the caller outside the home with a gunshot wound, and the two men dead inside the house. Police have not released the relationship between the three men. The wounded man's name has not been publicized.


Stegall Among 14 Kansas Supreme Court Applicants

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former aide to Republican Governor Sam Brownback who now serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals is among 14 applicants seeking to fill a state Supreme Court vacancy. Thursday was the application deadline. Judge Caleb Stegall and three other Court of Appeals members, including Chief Judge Thomas Malone, applied, along with seven lawyers and three district court judges. Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz is stepping down July 28 for a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will interview the applicants August 4 and 5 and submit three finalists to Brownback. Stegall was Brownback's chief counsel before the governor named him to the Court of Appeals last year under a new method bypassing the commission but adding Kansas Senate confirmation.


EPA Chief Defends Proposed Clean Water Rules

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency insists efforts to clarify her agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act won't result in tighter farm regulations. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the Kansas City Agribusiness Council on Thursday that misinformation coming out of Washington has caused confusion about the initiative. Agriculture groups and farm-state politicians, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, have claimed the EPA's efforts represent a power grab by a government seeking to assert more control over private property. McCarthy says clarification of the Clean Water Act is necessary because of questions by the U.S. Supreme Court and agricultural stakeholders about what constitutes "waters of the United States." Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says he's glad McCarthy is listening to farmers, but he questions whether she's taking their concerns seriously.

Inmate Convicted in Salina Murder Dies in Prison

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A state prison inmate who was in prison for killing a 15-year-old Salina girl in 1984 has died. Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay says 72-year-old Lonnie McKibben died of natural causes on Saturday at the Lansing Correctional Facility. He was serving 30 years to life in prison for shooting Sheleen McLain in the back and leaving her to die in bitter cold in November 1984. The Salina Journal reports that McKibben was scheduled for his fifth parole hearing in October. A former classmate of McLain's, Kerry Bettes of Abilene, said she was in the process of collecting signatures on petitions to advocate keeping McKibben in prison. She had collected signatures four previous times that McKibben came up for parole.


KC Man Accused of Attempted Hijacking, Carjackings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 28-year-old Kansas City man is facing nearly a dozen felony charges after police say he attempted to carjack several vehicles before trying to hijack a city bus. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office says James Jackson was arrested June 30 after pointing a gun at a bus driver and threatening to kill everyone on the vehicle. In addition to 11 felony counts, Jackson is accused of kicking an EMT in the mouth and spitting on a police officer, both misdemeanors. Prosecutors say Jackson also aimed a handgun at a woman's head and pulled the trigger but it didn't fire. Police say they found a vial of liquid believed to be PCP when they took Jackson into custody. His public defender didn't immediately return a voice message Friday afternoon seeking comment.


Man Charged with Murder Following Truck Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A suspect is charged with first-degree murder after a Wichita man was killed when he tried to retrieve his father's stolen pickup truck. Sedgwick County authorities on Thursday charged 34-year-old Edward Ladish, who also faces an alternate count of second-degree murder. Prosecutors say 25-year-old Shawn Palmer and his brother saw Ladish driving their father's stolen truck on Saturday. Police say when Ladish tried to drive away, the brothers held onto the truck. Shawn Palmer eventually fell off and was run over. His brother was treated and released for his injuries. His bond is set at $250,000. A public defender will be appointed to represent him. KAKE-TV reports state prison records show Ladish was discharged from state custody June 19 after serving time for theft, burglary and drug offenses.


Missouri to Require Meningitis Vaccine for College Students

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Students living in campus housing at Missouri's public universities will be required to get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis beginning next year. Legislation signed by Gov. Jay Nixon requires students to be vaccinated unless they have a signed statement for a medical or religious exemption. Meningococcal disease can cause an inflammation of the brain lining known as meningitis. It can spread among people in crowded places such as dormitories and can strike quickly with sometimes deadly results. Some symptoms can appear similar to the flu, including fever, headaches and neck stiffness. The vaccine requirement takes effect July 1, 2015, and was included in several bills signed Thursday by Nixon.


Salina Woman Reports Dressing Room Peeper

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police say a woman reported that someone photographed her while she was trying on clothes at a store. The 37-year-old woman told police someone took a picture of her by holding a camera over the dressing room partition at a Salvation Army Thrift Store. Capt. Mike Sweeney says after the woman left the dressing room, she noticed a bearded, white male wearing a black T-shirt, jeans and a green baseball cap walking out of the store. The Salina Journal reports the man left in a white pickup truck pulling a trailer.


Trial Set for Olathe Teen Accused of Killing Father

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas teenager accused of killing his father is scheduled to go to trial in November on a first-degree murder charge. The Kansas City Star reports the 15-year-old Shawnee boy is being tried in juvenile court for the shooting death of his father last July. A Johnson County District Court judge on Thursday denied a prosecution request to try the teen as an adult and scheduled the trial for Nov. 3 in the juvenile division. The boy was 14 when he was accused of emptying a magazine of 16 bullets at his father. He testified at a hearing last month that his father physically and sexually abused him. The Associated Press generally doesn't name juveniles accused of crimes unless they are tried in adult court.


Fleeing Driver Pleads Guilty in Fatal Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a woman whose car was hit by his vehicle during a police chase. Christopher Stewart, of Kansas City, Kansas, was initially charged with first-degree murder for the February 17 collision. The Wyandotte County district attorney's office says he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge and to eluding a police officer on Friday. Authorities said Stewart was fleeing from police when he ran a stop sign and collided with a car driven by 62-year-old Graciela Olivas, pushing it into a ditch. The Kansas City, Kansas, woman died later at a hospital. Police had begun chasing Stewart's vehicle after seeing him commit two traffic violations while leaving an area of the city known for drug activity.


Royals' Alex Gordon to Miss All-Star Game with Injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will miss next week's All-Star game after visiting with a hand specialist and receiving an injection Thursday for his sprained right wrist. Shortstop Erick Aybar, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was added to the roster as Gordon's replacement. Gordon said he still plans to attend the game at Target Field in Minneapolis, and that he's looking forward to rooting on fellow All-Stars Greg Holland and Salvador Perez. Holland, the Royals' closer, and Perez, their catcher, are also making their second straight appearances. Royals manager Ned Yost said he's holding off on putting Gordon on the disabled list in hopes that rest during the All-Star break will be enough. It's possible he could be used as a defensive replacement during a four-game series against Detroit starting Thursday night.


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