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Headlines for Friday, June 27, 2014


ACLU Seeks to Block KS Voter-Citizenship Move 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a Kansas judge to bar Secretary of State Kris Kobach from starting what the group calls a dual voting system to help enforce a proof-of-citizenship requirement. The ACLU filed a request Friday with Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis for a temporary injunction to keep Kobach from imposing a new election policy for the state's August 5 primary. Kobach has said the relative handful of Kansas residents who register to vote using a national form will be allowed to complete full ballots at the polls, but only their votes in congressional races will be counted. The national registration form does not require voters to submit documentation of their U.S. citizenship. The state's registration form does.


Budget Cuts Could Affect Army Installations in KS 

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army says budget cuts could mean the loss of thousands of soldiers and employees at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth. However, fort officials say the report released Thursday is a worst-case scenario and the reductions aren't likely to be as severe as predicted. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the report said Fort Riley could lose 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees, with another 3,600 jobs related to the base also eliminated. The fort currently has about 20,000 soldiers and civilian employees The Army says Fort Leavenworth could lose 2,500 of its 5,004 employees. Fort Riley spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan says the numbers in such reports are speculation, and he does not expect the fort's population to ever drop that low because its troops are needed too often.


KS Poll Shows Leads for Democrat Davis and Republican Roberts

A new statewide poll in Kansas shows likely Democratic nominee for governor Paul Davis 6 percentage points ahead of incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The SurveyUSA poll has Davis with 47 percent of the vote to the governor's 41 percent. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a key factor in the governor's race appears to be a movement by registered Republicans away from Brownback. One in four Republicans told pollsters they would likely cross party lines and vote for Davis. The poll also shows Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts comfortably ahead of his primary challenger. Roberts is ahead of tea party backed challenger Milton Wolf 56 percent to 23 percent. The SurveyUSA poll was commissioned by KSN-TV in Wichita.The poll surveyed 2,200 voters in Kansas last week. The margin of error is set at 3.1 percent in the governor's race and 4.4 percent in the Senate race.

Kansas Agency Says Coal-Fired Plant Would Meet Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman says the agency believes a new coal-fired power plant in the southwest part of the state would comply with all federal and state air-quality laws. KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry made the statement Friday after the Sierra Club filed a new lawsuit with the state Court of Appeals over the $2.8 billion project proposed by Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corporation. KDHE Secretary Robert Moser last month approved changes in a 2010 permit to allow construction of the 895-megawatt plant outside Holcomb. The changes were necessary because of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling last year in an earlier Sierra Club lawsuit. The Sierra Club contends that even with the changes, the plant wouldn't comply with federal clean-air rules.


Wolf to Air TV Ads in US Senate Race in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tea party challenger Milton Wolf says he's reserved $250,000 in television advertising time for his U.S. Senate race, but Republican incumbent Pat Roberts's camp says it has spent twice that in recent weeks. Wolf announced Friday that he's reserved time on cable and broadcast stations throughout Kansas starting Wednesday and running through the August 5 GOP primary. Spokesman Ben Hartman said Wolf will start next week with an ad his campaign first aired on cable in April. It touts Wolf's work as a Leawood radiologist and notes Roberts's long tenure in Washington. But Roberts executive campaign manager Leroy Towns said that since late May, the senator's campaign has spent more than $500,000 on radio and TV ads. Towns said the Roberts camp will continue to make substantial ad buys.


KS Supreme Court Rules KU Hospital Responsible for Unpaid Bill

TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the University of Kansas Hospital Authority must cover the cost of treating an injured man who had been awaiting detention on immigration violations. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Alberto Contreras Gonzalez broke his hip in 2006 after jumping out a window at the Wabaunsee County jail facility. He was not under arrest and had not been taken into custody at that time. Contreras reportedly received about $140,000 worth of treatment for his injuries at KU Hospital. Today's (FRI) ruling established that under Kansas law, a county is responsible only for medical bills of prison inmates or people being held in county custody who cannot pay the cost of their treatment. The hospital argued that it provided a service to Wabaunsee County by treating Contreras, and the county therefore should pay for that service. But the court said that because Contreras was not legally in the county's custody at the time of the incident, the county had no obligation to pay.


Reward Increased in Disappearance of KS Boy

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The reward is up to $100,000 for solving the 1999 disappearance of an 11-year-old southeast Kansas boy whose adoptive parents never reported him missing. An anonymous donor who wanted to see closure for the family of Adam Herrman put up a $50,000 cash reward in December. KWCH-TV reports Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet announced Thursday that an additional $50,000 is now offered. Herzet told reporters he personally does not believe Adam is still alive. Adam disappeared from the adoptive family's Towanda home in 1999 but wasn't reported missing until 2008, when his older sister contacted authorities. He remains the subject of a missing person investigation. His adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, were convicted in 2011 of continuing to receive state adoption subsidies after Adam disappeared.


Manhattan Man Killed in Bike-Pickup Crash

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 49-year-old Manhattan man has died after the bicycle he was on was struck from behind by a pickup truck. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports Mark M. Jilka died as he was riding the bike on the shoulder of a highway outside Manhattan on Thursday night. The patrol says the pickup truck hit Jilka's bike from behind. Jilka was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The patrol says the pickup driver wasn't injured.


Opening of World's Tallest Water Slide Delayed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The debut of the world's tallest water slide has been delayed for a third time and there's no word on when the Kansas City, Kansas, attraction will be ready for riders. Schlitterbahn Waterpark says Verruckt will not open as scheduled on Sunday. The park's news release, sent Thursday night, offers no explanation for the delay. Problems with the conveyor system that hauls four-person rafts to the top of the 17-story slide forced park officials to cancel two media sneak preview days this week. Guinness World Records certified Verruckt as the world's tallest water slide in April. The ride's official opening date was moved from May 23 to June 5 for more testing, then was pushed back again to June 29.

Postal Service Officially Changes St. John Name

ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service has conceded to the small central Kansas town of St. John. After complaints from residents, the postal service says the town's name will be changed in its database from Saint John to St John. However, it won't have the period behind the "S-T" because the service's database does not include any periods. That's mostly OK with the residents who started an online petition last week to have the name changed from the spelled-out Saint John to the abbreviated version. They said the incorrect spelling sometimes causes incorrect information or confusion when someone searches for the town on the Internet. The Wichita Eagle reports Senator Jerry Moran's office said Thursday that the name had been officially changed in the postal service's database.


Woman Unhurt as Bullet Travels Through Mattress

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Salina woman is lucky to have escaped injury when a bullet fired into her home struck her bed and traveled through the mattress. The Salina Journal reports that the shot was one of two fired into the woman's home as she slept around 11:30 pm Thursday. A house across the street was also hit by a bullet that was found in a closet. Investigators continued looking Friday for whoever was firing multiple shots with a high-powered rifle. Police Captain Mike Sweeney says two rounds entered the rear of the sleeping woman's home. One came through a bedroom wall, struck the headboard and traveled through the mattress and a front wall. That bullet was found on the porch. Officers did not immediately find the second bullet.


58 Chickens, 2 Turkeys Removed from Wichita Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say charges are possible after 60 birds and four guinea pigs were removed from a home. Animal control officers who went to the home in west Wichita Thursday found the animals in the basement and called police and firefighters for help. Police Lieutenant Dan East said firefighters had to use breathing apparatus while removing the animals because the smell of waste was so strong. All the chickens and turkeys had to be euthanized but the guinea pigs were taken to an animal shelter. KAKE-TV reports that two adults and five children live in the home. The couple told police they had so many chickens because they like fresh eggs. East says the animals had been living at the home for at least two weeks.


Man Sentenced in Wichita Fire, Child's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who was left his girlfriend's young children alone before a fire broke out at their home was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. Twenty-four-year-old Adrian Johnson was sentenced Thursday for three counts of child endangerment and three felony drug counts. Prosecutors say Ruthie Bell left her three children with Johnson on July 11 while she went to work. Johnson left the children alone, and Bell's 6-year-old daughter, Ja'Kara Dickson, found a lighter and started her clothes on fire, which spread to the house. She died two days later. Her sisters weren't seriously injured. Bell was sentenced Wednesday to probation. The state has custody of Bell's five children but she is trying to regain custody.


Lecompton Celebrating Historic Roots

LECOMPTON, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas town is celebrating its place in state history this weekend with the annual Lecompton Territorial Days, including a display of maps dating to the mid-1800s. Events begin Friday evening in Lecompton, located on the Kansas River between Topeka and Lawrence. The town was the site of the territorial capital before statehood and focus of debate whether Kansas would be a free or slave state when admitted to the Union. In 1858, a brawl broke out in the U.S. House over the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution, which was narrowly rejected. A collection of 30 maps of the territory and United States have been digitized. Several of the maps belonged to the Lecompton Historical Society. Other events include a Saturday parade, demonstrations of pioneer life, games, music and food.


Orman Opens Campaign Office in Shawnee

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) _ A northeast Kansas businessman running as an independent for U.S. Senate has opened his headquarters and named a campaign manager. Greg Orman announced yesterday that his new headquarters is in the city of Shawnee. He also announced that the leader of his campaign team is veteran political consultant Jim Jonas.


Bids Come in High for KU Basketball Rules Home 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Construction of a center to house the original rules for basketball on the University of Kansas campus will be delayed because bids for the project came in higher than expected. The building will hold James Naismith's rules of basketball, which were purchased by David and Suzanne Booth for $4.3 million in 2010 and donated to the university. Dale Seuferling, president of the Kansas University Endowment Association, says the high construction bids for the $18 million project might require some changes to the building. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the bids were all more than the contract, although no bid was more than 10 percent higher. Seuferling said he expected the final bid to be awarded next month and construction to start in August.


Kansas State Trooper Charged with Assault, Threats

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper faces multiple felony charges stemming from a domestic dispute with his wife. A complaint filed Friday charges 37-year-old Darrin Duane Hirsh of Great Bend with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of criminal threat, domestic battery, two counts of witness intimidation and two counts of violation of a restraining order. Hirsh was released on a $50,000 bond after his arrest Thursday night. A first court appearance is scheduled for July 21. It wasn't immediately clear Friday whether Hirsh has an attorney. A phone number listed at his address rang unanswered. The aggravated assault charge stems from a 2013 incident during which he allegedly threatened his wife with a handgun. The patrol says Hirsh is on leave without pay pending an internal investigation. 


Ex-Insurance Agent Heads to Theft Trial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney for a former Kansas insurance agent accused of stealing nearly $2 million from policyholders says the case is expected to go to trial. Kari Schmidt said Thursday that her client, Jason Matthew Pennington, has not reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He is charged with 47 counts that include wire and mail fraud and money laundering. Schmidt says she believes his case will be going to trial in August. Pennington's father, James L. Pennington, is also charged. A court notation Thursday listed a change-of-plea hearing for the father July 14. The elder Pennington is charged with four counts of filing a false tax return. His attorney declined comment.


Two of NBA's Top Three Draft Picks Are Jayhawks

For the first time since 1988, a member of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team was the overall number-1 pick in the NBA draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins last night (THUR) with that top pick. Teammate Joel Embiid went third overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Also, Cleanthony Early of Wichita State was taken in the second round by the New York Knicks.

New Mexico County in Prairie Chicken Lawsuit

LOVINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Commissioners in a southeastern New Mexico county have voted to officially join a lawsuit to fight the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The Hobbs (New Mexico) News-Sun reports that Lea County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to add the county's name to a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Earlier this month, Lea County was listed in a joint complaint, filed in a federal court in Texas, that includes the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four other New Mexico counties. Ranchers and oil companies believe the listing will have a negative effect on the ranching, oil and gas industries in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. That's where the chicken's habitat is known. In March, the Obama administration listed the prairie chicken as threatened.


Former KS Bank Worker Pleads Guilty to Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former southeast Kansas bank supervisor has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $2.6 million from her employer over a 10-year span. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 55-year-old Cynthia Bright of Girard pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to one count of bank fraud. She admitted stealing the money while working as operations supervisor at Girard National Bank. Bright used several different methods to steal the funds, including writing checks on her own accounts and altering electronic bank records to show the checks had cleared, even though money would not be taken from her account. Grissom says Bright and the government have agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence and a restitution order for the full amount of the thefts. Sentencing is scheduled for September 15.


Sedgwick County Deputy Sentenced to Probation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Sedgwick County Jail deputy accused of trying to have sex with inmates has been sentenced to two years of probation. The Wichita Eagle reports that David Kendall was sentenced Friday. He pleaded no contest in May to six counts of attempted unlawful sexual relations with inmates and one count of making a false information. The crimes under Kendall's plea agreement carry the presumption of probation. The judge said Kendall would have to register as a sex offender and undergo a sex-offender evaluation, and that if it showed he needed treatment, he would have to get treatment. The crimes under the plea agreement involved attempted consensual sex with six different inmates in April and June of 2012. Kendall resigned after the allegations were made against him.


Indictment: Wichita Escort Service Front for Prostitution

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have used a federal racketeering law to indict a Wichita woman on charges of running an escort service as a front for prostitution. An indictment unsealed Thursday charges 60-year-old Saundra J. Lacy with 27 counts of racketeering in promotion of prostitution. The U.S. Attorney's office says prosecutors do not know if Lacy has a lawyer yet. She is in custody and is expected to make a court appearance Friday. The phone at her business, Jessie's Primetime Entertainment, has been disconnected. Prosecutors allege Lacy required escorts to carry condoms and engage in sex at the customer's request. Escorts typically charged $160 for a half hour and $185 for an hour. The business allegedly had as many as 20 escorts who accepted credit cards and offered customers discount coupons.


Case Against Kansas Abortion Rights PAC Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has dismissed an anti-abortion group's complaint alleging that an abortion rights political action committee helped finance the operations of a new clinic in Wichita. The political action committee, Trust Women, announced Thursday it received a notice from the FEC this week dismissing the complaint filed last year by Operation Rescue. The Trust Women Foundation opened a clinic last year in the late Dr. George Tiller's former medical building. Tiller was among a few U.S. physicians known to perform late-term abortions and was murdered in 2009. The separate Trust Women PAC disbanded in May. Operation Rescue alleged that the PAC was improperly funding the clinic's operations. The PAC acknowledged small loans to the clinic. The FEC said loans from the PAC to the clinic would not be illegal.


KC, Other MO Cities Not Following St. Louis Marriage Challenge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Kansas City's mayor says he would take actions similar to that of his St. Louis counterpart on same-sex marriage — if the city's charter allowed it. Four same-sex couples were married Thursday in St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office to challenge Missouri's constitutional prohibition against gay marriage. A federal appeals court in Denver ruled on Wednesday that states cannot prevent gay couples from marrying. Joni Wickham, spokeswoman for Kansas City Mayor Sly James, says the city's council-manager form of government prevents James from making unilateral decisions on gay marriage. Slay heads a strong mayor form of government and has the authority to take actions like those Thursday. Officials in Springfield and Columbia say they have seen no signs of similar decisions by their municipal leaders.


Wichita Medical School Prepares for Expansion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita is assessing its facilities as it develops plans for a future expansion. The university hired an architecture and design firm from Kansas City to do the assessment. School officials will use that report to estimate costs of the expansion before asking the Kansas Legislature for additional funding. Dean Garold Minns says he hopes to have the information ready by the September. The Wichita Eagle reports the expansion plans are part of goal to eventually have all 80 students spend all four years of their education on the Wichita campus Currently, some of the students complete the first half of their medical training in Kansas City.


Joplin to Help Nebraska Tornado Victims

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Residents of a southwest Missouri city devastated by a 2011 tornado are reaching out to the northeast Nebraska town of Pilger, which was torn apart by a tornado last week. Joplin residents on Thursday announced a "Joplin Loves Pilger" campaign to help victims of the June 16 tornado in Pilger. The Joplin Globe reports  the campaign includes a Facebook page to offer encouragement and an account at Pinnacle Bank in Joplin, with all proceeds to go to the Pilger Community Development Fund. The May 2011 tornado damaged hundreds of homes and businesses and killed 161 people in Joplin. Joplin resident Doug Hunt, who was working Saturday in Pilger, says the campaign is part of his efforts to thank you to people who helped him and his city.


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