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Headlines for Friday, November 27, 2015

News headlines from around the region, focusing on what's happening in and around Kansas.

Icy Roads Blamed in 2 Western Kansas Deaths 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Freezing rain and high winds have hit Kansas, causing several accidents, including two fatalities. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for sections of central and southern Kansas through early Saturday. The weather service says up to a quarter inch of sleet and ice are forecast by Friday night. KAKE-TV reports that several accidents have been reported in the Wichita area early Friday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says two traffic fatalities on Thursday have been attributed to the icy road conditions in western Kansas. The first fatality occurred in Hodgeman County when a car ran off an icy road, hit a ditch and rolled. Another person also died Thursday near Holcomb when he was ejected from a pickup that hit some ice, rolled and hit a car.


Judge, State Differ on Judicial Selection 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for a Kansas judge contend recent legislation changing judicial selection in Kansas is unconstitutional. But the state argues the law is a proper exercise of longstanding legislative authority. District Judge Larry Solomon of Kingman County has been challenging a 2014 law that says judges in the 31 judicial districts in Kansas pick their chief judges, taking that authority from the Kansas Supreme Court. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Solomon's attorneys argue in new court filings that the legislation is unconstitutional as a violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine. Solomon's lawyers also ask the Kansas Supreme Court to invalidate the entire law. The state says in its brief that the law is "a proper exercise of longstanding legislative authority to regulate the selection of 'officers.'"


Kansas Man Charged with Abuse After Human Remains Found 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with child abuse after police responded to an armed disturbance that led them to discover human remains at a barn on his property. Forty-four-year-old Michael A. Jones also was charged Friday with aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. He is being held on $10 million bond. The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office didn't immediately respond to an email asking whether he had an attorney who could comment. The prosecutor's office said in a news release that he is accused of battering a woman and "torturing or cruelly beating" his 7-year-old son. Police said that while responding to the disturbance they were told that the boy had been missing for "an extended period of time." The remains found haven't been identified.


Kansas Man Among Those Killed in Fort Hood Helicopter Crash 

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army has released the identities of four crew members who were killed when their helicopter crashed during a routine training exercise at Fort Hood in Texas. The Black Hawk went down about 6 pm Monday in the northeast portion of the sprawling military post about 60 miles north of Austin. Killed were 40-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, of Hays, Kansas; 40-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, of Cantonment, Florida; 35-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Smith, of Destrehan, Louisiana; and 40-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, of Katy, Texas. The cause of the crash remains undetermined. Fort Hood covers 214,000 acres, making it one of the largest Army posts in the country. More than 135,000 acres are reserved for training purposes.


Menard Proposes 100-Job Facility in Lawrence 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The home improvement retailer Menard Inc. is proposing a $25 million distribution center and manufacturing facility in Lawrence. The Kansas City Star reports that the facility would bring about 100 jobs to the community. Economic Development Corporation of Lawrence and Douglas County said in a statement that Midwest Manufacturing would operate the facility. Midwest Manufacturing is a division of Wisconsin-based Menard and supports the retail stores by handling such things as door manufacturing, steel siding and roofing. The development organization says the company must still complete property and engineering examinations of its 90-acre site. The project also is contingent on receiving necessary permits and approvals. The organization says the projects will receive a local assistance package, but details weren't disclosed. The package requires final approval.


Governor's Christmas Tree Arrives at Cedar Crest 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The governor's Christmas tree arrived at Cedar Crest Wednesday on a horse-drawn coach. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Governor Sam Brownback hopped on the high-wheel hitch wagon for the final leg of the delivery. He shouted "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Thanksgiving" after jumping from the wagon in front of the governor's mansion. Brownback and his wife, Mary, said the tradition stirred memories of past family outings to secure a holiday tree. The wagon loaded with the Scotch pine from the Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree farm west of Lawrence was pulled by a pair of Percherons named Bill and Buck. Their owner, Wellsville farmer Robin Dunn, has performed the delivery duty for more than a dozen years. Dunn says the event "kicks off the Christmas season."


Law Allowing Guns on Campus Sparks Discussion Among Students 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — University students in Kansas are starting to talk about a day in the not-too-distant future when anyone over 21 who legally owns a gun will be allowed to carry it onto campuses across the state. The Wichita Eagle reported that legislation passed in 2012 required concealed-carry permit holders to be allowed to carry their weapons in almost all public buildings. Earlier this year, the Legislature revoked the permit requirement. Now, anyone who can lawfully own a gun is allowed to carry it loaded and hidden without a permit or training. Security measures, such as metal detectors, are now required for public agencies to ban guns in particular buildings. The Legislature allowed universities to keep banning guns until July 1, 2017. Kansas Board of Regents and student leaders are discussing what happens next.


Police Search for Suspects in Mall Carjacking 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -  A person reported an armed carjacking early this (FRI) morning outside Oak Park Mall in Overland Park. Police were called about 3:30 am to a reported armed disturbance in the 11800 block of West 95th Street. Two men reportedly stole a gray 2008 Toyota Corolla. One of the suspects pointed a handgun in the victim's direction. No injuries were reported. The suspects are said to be in their late teens or early 20s.


Pittsburg State Exchanges Land with City 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University and the City of Pittsburg have formalized a deal to exchange about 100 acres of land. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that under the deal formalized this week, the city receives about 72 acres in southeast Pittsburg valued at $283,550, and Pittsburg State receives 25.10 acres in one parcel and about 5 acres of land at another site that are together valued at about $283,992. Pittsburg State President Steve Scott says the land exchange process began nearly two years ago when the city and the university realized they each had land the other could use. The exchange required nearly 18 months of negotiations and the approval of the Kansas Board of Regents, the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas Attorney General.


Federal Funding Aims to Boost Migrating Monarch Butterflies 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Federal officials want landowners in Kansas and nine other states to grow milkweed to boost the population of monarch butterflies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to spend $4 million in 2016 to help farmers and others plant milkweed and other nectar-producing plants. The agency is hoping to re-establish habitats for monarchs and pollinators in general. Milkweed is essential for monarchs since it is the only plant on which the butterfly will lay its eggs. It takes three to four generations for the monarchs to migrate to roosting spots in mountains of central Mexico. The USDA funds also will be spent in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.


Authorities Investigating After Man Robs Wichita Bank 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a bank robbery in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the robbery happened Friday morning at an Intrust Bank branch. Authorities are seeking a man who wore a black hooded sweatshirt and had a black bandanna over his face.


Number of Homeless Without Shelter Rising in Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More homeless people are without a place to sleep in Wichita. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data shows that the number and percentage of homeless in Sedgwick County without shelter has roughly doubled over the past eight years. The Wichita Eagle reports that about 100 homeless people, or 17 percent, lack shelter in the county. New data shows that Sedgwick County is one of the best counties in the nation for providing shelter to homeless family members. But the problem is getting worse when it comes to providing shelter to homeless individuals. The increase in homeless people without shelter is almost entirely single individuals. The study shows that the 150 homeless family members, which make up about a quarter of the homeless in Wichita, all have shelter.


New Minivan Service Debuts in Western Kansas 

CIMARRON, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas county has a new transportation service organized to help residents get to appointments, visit friends or collect their groceries. Gray County Transit is a door-to-door minivan service administered by Dodge City's R-Tran Public Transportation, under the Dodge City Parks and Recreation Department. The project, which got underway recently, is funded through a Federal Rural Transportation Grant and state Rural Transportation money that was matched by Gray County. Organizers hope it will grow into a popular service. There are currently two part-time drivers, who split the day in half. Residents have been working on the program for years. The Hutchinson News reports that the service offers a $15 monthly pass for unlimited rides. The van operates all over Gray County, from Cimarron to Ingalls, Montezuma, Copeland and Ensign.


Kansas City's World War I Museum Breaks Attendance Records 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National World War I Museum and Memorial at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City has broken its attendance record again. The Kansas City Star reports it's the second year in a row that attendance at the site has gone up beyond the previous year's attendance. The memorial says it had 257,830 visitors through the third week in November, breaking last year's record of 235,271. Memorial President Matthew Naylor says people in Kansas City and around the world have embraced the museum. A special exhibit, "Sand to Snow," about the global nature of the war, runs through April 10. Another exhibit about American volunteers in the war opens in April.


Annual Lawrence Santa Event Rescheduled Because of Weather 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An annual Lawrence holiday tradition will be rescheduled because of a winter storm. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that firefighters had been scheduled to rescue Santa Claus on Friday night from a downtown rooftop using a ladder truck. The rescue is part of the town's Christmas lighting celebration. But Downtown Lawrence Inc. director Sally Zogry says that with near-freezing temperatures and precipitation throughout the day, the lights will be switched on with a timer instead. Santa's annual appearance atop Weaver's Department Store will be moved to December 4. Each year, Santa listens to the Christmas wishes of children and poses for pictures once on the ground.


Manhattan Zoo to Display 2 Tiger Brothers

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The zoo in Manhattan has two new striped additions. The Manhattan Mercury reports that they're two Malayan tigers named Malik and Hakim. The 8-year-old brothers come from Cincinnati and arrived at the Sunset Zoo earlier this month. They'll go on display December 12 after the standard quarantine process is complete. Zoo director Scott Shoemaker says the zoo is "thrilled" to reconnect the Manhattan community to the "gorgeous big cats." There also are plans to modernize their home. The zoo's previous tiger, Bob, died in the spring of 2014.


Royals GM Dayton Moore to Help with KC Christmas Tradition 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The general manager of the World Series champion Royals is helping with an annual Christmas tradition in Kansas City. On Friday night, Dayton Moore will join Kansas City Mayor Sly James in lighting a 100-foot tall Douglas fir in front of Crown Center. Called the Mayor's Christmas Tree, it draws public attention to a nonprofit organization that helps the needy during the holidays. The ceremony comes less than a month after an estimated 800,000 people crowded downtown Kansas City for a parade to celebrate the Royals' first World Series championship in 30 years.


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