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Headlines for Friday, October 31, 2014



NTSB: Kansas Plane Drifted Left Before Crashing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says six eyewitness have reported that a small plane drifted to the left side of the runway after taking off from a Kansas airport, then made a steep left bank before crashing into a flight training facility. NTSB investigator Josh Lindberg said Friday that the plane had undergone two maintenance test flights without problems. A cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder were on the aircraft, but investigators have not been able to access the crash site yet to recover them. Lindberg says investigators have not yet been able to get into the 30-foot hazard zone near the building where most of the wreckage is located due to safety concerns.


Kansas Tax Collections Fall $23M Short in October 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says its tax collections in October fell $23 million short of expectations. The state Department of Revenue reported Friday that the state had collected $417 million in taxes, or 5.2 percent less than the $440 million anticipated. Since the start of the current fiscal year in July, tax collections have been nearly $47 million less than anticipated, a 2.6 percent shortfall. The state expected to collect more than $1.81 billion in taxes and took in $1.77 billion. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan called the yearlong shortfall "manageable" and said Gov. Sam Brownback's administration is looking for budget savings. The department said part of the shortfall in October was caused by higher-than-expected refunds to taxpayers who overpaid on 2013 taxes on investment income.


Kansas Urges Judge Not to Rule on Gay Marriage 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office has argued that a federal court should not weigh in on the state's gay marriage ban until the Kansas Supreme Court has reviewed it. Assistant Attorney General Steve Fabert on Friday urged U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree not to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Kansas from enforcing its ban. Crabtree was hearing arguments after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of two lesbian couples. The couples were denied marriage licenses in Douglas and Sedgwick counties after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five other states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans. The Kansas Supreme Court has a separate petition from the attorney general's office after a judge allowed gay marriages in Johnson County. Crabtree did not rule Friday.


Kobach Predicts 50 Percent Turnout in Midterm Vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach predicts turnout for Tuesday's elections will be about 50 percent, even without more than 20,000 people on a suspended voters list because they haven't provided proof of citizenship. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kobach on Thursday predicted about 872,000 people will vote out of about 1.74 million registered voters. The prediction is based in part on the pace of advance voting and high interest in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. Kobach's Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf says the prediction probably is accurate, but notes it's lower than in previous midterm elections. Turnout in 2006 was 52 percent, and in 2002 it was 53 percent. Kobach's numbers indicate a little less than 9 percent of all registered voters already have cast ballots through advance voting.


Majority of Early Voters in Kansas are Republicans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - More registered Republicans have cast early votes in Kansas than voters affiliated with other parties in the state. GOP officials are trumpeting the data as a signal that Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts will be re-elected Tuesday. Democrats and independent Senate candidate Greg Orman's campaign say many Republicans are breaking with the party's top nominees. Recent polling has suggested close races between Roberts' and Orman, and between Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis. Nearly 153,000 people had voted as of Thursday. Of those, 54.2 percent were registered Republicans, 30.6 percent were Democrats and 14.9 percent were unaffiliated. Among the state's 1.74 million registered voters, 44.6 percent are Republicans, 24.5 percent are Democrats and 30.2 percent are unaffiliated. Libertarians comprise less than 1 percent of either group.


Judge Holds Hearing in Kansas Gay Marriage Suit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge is set to hear a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging Kansas' ban on same-sex marriage. The hearing Friday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in Kansas City, Kansas, is on the ACLU's request for an order to force Kansas to allow gay marriages. The ACLU filed the lawsuit for two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in Douglas and Sedgwick counties after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five other states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans. The ACLU is seeking a temporary injunction to bring Kansas into line with 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals precedents in other cases. Kansas voters in 2005 overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage.


Police: Hutchinson Man Killed in Accident

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say a worker at a recycling company has died after being struck by a piece of machinery. Officers say Thursday's death of 29-year-old Joshua Tacy of Hutchinson is being treated as an industrial accident. The employee of MidWest Iron & Metal was taken by an ambulance to a Hutchinson hospital with trauma injuries from which he later died. Police say Tacy was struck by machinery used to load metal into train cars.


Two Charged in Holdup at Northeast Kansas Bank

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Two Missouri men with long criminal histories are charged with robbing a northeast Kansas bank where authorities say one employee was dragged by the hair and others suffered minor head injuries. A federal criminal complaint filed Friday charges 53-year-old Clifton Cloyd and 54-year-old Steven A. Watts, both of Kansas City, Missouri, with one count each of bank robbery and using a firearm in a robbery. Both are in custody and do not have lawyers. The holdup occurred Wednesday at a Bank of America branch in Overland Park, Kansas. Both suspects were quickly apprehended. The Kansas City Star reports both men were paroled from Missouri prisons in 2012. Watts' record includes a previous conviction for second-degree murder, and Cloyd has served numerous sentences on drug, assault and firearm charges.


Squirrel Blamed for Knocking out Power in Emporia 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A squirrel is being blamed for an hour-long power outage in Emporiathat left Emporia State University and thousands of customers temporarily in the dark. The Emporia Gazette reports a little more than 3,000 customers of Westar Energy and Lyon-Coffey Electric lost power when a squirrel came in contact with electrical equipment on a transmission line around 9:50 a.m. Thursday. Westar spokesman Shane Batchelder says most of the affected customers had service back by 11 a.m. The outage happened while Ken Carter, a former basketball coach upon whom the movie "Coach Carter" is based, was giving a lecture to students. The Bonner and Bonner Diversity Lecture Series speaker paused for only a few seconds before continuing his lecture.


Roberts Raises Fears About Terrorists in Kansas

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) _ Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is raising concerns that President Barack Obama may try to place terrorist suspects at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. And Roberts is vowing to stop it, if re-elected. Roberts received hearty applause Thursday in Leavenworth while pledging to keep terrorists out of the Kansas prison. Obama has not recently mentioned Leavenworth as a destination for prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The senator denies he's fear-mongering in an attempt to gain an advantage in a tight election against independent challenger Greg Orman. But he also alleges that Orman can't be trusted to stand up to Obama. Anti-abortion and pro-gun groups also have been coming to Roberts's defense by raising fears about Orman. Orman has said the criticism indicates Roberts is part of the problem in Washington.


Primary Opponent Urges Kansans to Support Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is getting a somewhat reluctant endorsement from his former Republican primary challenger, Milton Wolf. In a message posted Thursday on his campaign Facebook page, Wolf urges his supporters to set aside their differences with Roberts and vote for the Republican incumbent in next Tuesday's election. Roberts is in a close race with independent candidate Greg Orman. Wolf criticized Roberts as out-of-touch during the primary. But his Facebook message says Roberts' election could be the deciding factor on whether Republicans take control of the Senate, which he says could put other "solid constitutional conservatives" in positions of power. If Roberts is re-elected, Wolf writes that he will "hold his feet to the fire" and continue to "see to it that Kansans have alternatives to failed leadership."


Bill Snyder Endorses Roberts in Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder has endorsed Senator Pat Roberts for re-election and is appearing in a new television ad for the three-term Republican incumbent. Roberts's campaign launched the statewide spot Thursday, just five days before the election and with Roberts locked in a tight race with independent candidate and wealthy Olathe businessman Greg Orman. Snyder is highly respected and has largely remained aloof from politics. His 6-1 Wildcats are the only unbeaten team in the Big 12 and are generating buzz because they're ranked ninth for a national football playoff spot. Snyder describes Roberts in the ad as a good friend and "as good as it gets for the state." Orman has argued that Roberts is part of the gridlock in Washington.


KCP&L Seeks Nearly 16% Rate Increase

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Power & Light Co. is seeking a 15.8 percent increase for about half of its Missouri customers. The utility said Thursday that it needs the increased revenue to pay for environmental upgrades at its coal-fired plant in La Cygne, Kansas. KCP&L officials say the $121 million annual rate increase would cost the average residential customer about $14 more a month. The company said the federally required installation of scrubbers at the La Cygne plant cost $1.21 billion. The Kansas City Star reports if the current request is approved, the affected KCP&L customers will be paying more than 50 percent more for power than they did a few years ago. The rate increase for La Cygne would probably not go into effect until September 2015.


Inauguration for Baker President Postponed

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) - The inauguration of Baker University's new president has been postponed so the school can deal with the death of a student. President Lynne Murray was supposed to celebrate her inauguration at 11 a.m. Thursday, but that and related events were canceled after she learned of the death of sophomore Sione Maumau. Murray gave brief remarks at an all-university prayer service Thursday morning, stressing that classmates and teammates didn't have to deal with their grief alone. Maumau came to Baker from Boulder, Colorado, to play football. He was a member of the university's speech choir and a resident assistant in the school's dorm system. Baker spokesman Steve Rottinghaus says no decision has been made about when or if Murray's inauguration would be rescheduled.


Pittsburg Tech Education Center Moves Ahead

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Plans for a regional technical education center for southeast Kansas are progressing. The Pittsburg Education Foundation on Thursday announced it bought a building to house the education center. The building currently houses Fort Scott Community College carpentry, masonry and woodworking courses. The Joplin Globe reports the foundation paid $890,000 for the building. Several schools in southeast Kansas will use the Southeast Kansas Career Technical Education Center of Crawford County for training in such areas as careers as welding, construction, culinary arts, nursing and auto technician training. A committee will now start working on plans for the building expansion and begin the bid process. Plans for the center began about two years ago when industries and businesses complained about a lack of well-trained employees in the area.


Wichita Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has pleaded guilty in a drunken-driving car crash that killed his passenger. 56-year-old Melvin Day pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Thursday in connection to the March death of 54-year-old Kevin Donn Sr. Donn died after the car slammed into a tree. Witnesses tell police the vehicle was speeding when the driver swerved to avoid crashing into a mail truck. A Sedgwick County District Attorney spokesman says Day's blood alcohol content level was nearly 3.5 times higher than the legal limit of 0.08 at the time of the crash. Day is scheduled to be sentenced in December.


Hutchinson Worker Killed in Accident

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Hutchinson police say a worker at a recycling company has died after being struck by a piece of machinery. Officers say the death of 29-year-old Joshua Tracy of Hutchinson is being treated as an industrial accident. The employee of MidWest Iron & Metal was taken by an ambulance to a Hutchinson hospital with trauma injuries from which he later died. Police say Tracy was struck by machinery used to load metal into train cars.


Sheriff: Kansas Man Wanted for Meth Manufacturing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities in northeast Kansas are searching for a man who they say has possessed and manufactured drugs. The 38-year-old from Mayetta has eluded arrest by Jackson County authorities since a warrant was issued for his arrest in August. He faces charges of possessing methamphetamine and conspiring to manufacture a controlled substance. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says five people wanted on related drug charges were captured in September. Deputies believe the man is staying on the Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation near Mayetta or in the Topeka area.


2 More Plead Guilty NW Missouri Bank Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two more Iowa men pleaded guilty to robbing a small northwest Missouri bank after which the money was left in a tree. The St. Joseph News-Press reports 28-year-old Travis Davis, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, pleaded guilty Thursday to bank robbery for his role in the March 21 theft at Citizens Bank & Trust in Burlington Junction. Court records show 27-year-old Donald Kestner Jr., also of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, pleaded guilty Tuesday to bank robbery and using a firearm during a crime. In October, 27-year-old Torrence O'Neill, also of Mount Pleasant, pleaded guilty to bank robbery. A witness saw the men leave the bank and followed them until authorities arrested them. A few days later, more than $12,000 taken from the bank was found in a tree in southern Iowa.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Fatal Wreck

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man has been sentenced to two years in prison for causing a car crash that killed a 6-year-old girl. Twenty-year-old Raudel Sandoval Jr. was sentenced Thursday. He pleaded guilty in August to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the June 2012 crash that killed Feodora Two-Hatchett. She was riding in the back seat of her mother's car when Sandoval's car hit the vehicle. He was driving 70 mph in a 35-mph zone. Sandoval told police he was speeding to dry his vehicle after leaving a car wash.


Railcar Refurbishing Company Going to Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A railcar refurbishing company plans to establish a plant in Hutchison, creating about 150 jobs in the next three years. Mervis Railcar, a division of Mervis Industries, announced Thursday that it will invest about $35 million in Hutchinson. Company CEO Adam Mervis says Hutchinson was chosen for the plant because of its location and railroad connections, a strong work force and an education system able to train workers for skills needed at the plant. The company will refurbish railcars for oil, fuel, agricultural and other industries. The Hutchinson plant will be the only one in the country able to refurbish trains of 100 or more cars. Most of the 150 workers will be welders. The plant will include four buildings and more than 20,000 feet of railroad track.


Fort Hays State VP Named President at North Dakota School

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An administrator from a university in Kansas is the new president at Valley City State University. The North Dakota Board of Higher Education on Thursday named Tisa Mason to take over the job. She has spent the last six years as vice president of student affairs at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Mason succeeds Steven Shirley, who left to become president of Minot State University. Mason has previously served as dean of student life at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and adjunct professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. 


Ohio Police Seek Suspect in Former KSU Football Star's Death

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland police are searching for a man accused of killing a former Kansas State University football player outside a nightclub on October 11. A Cleveland police spokeswoman could not say Thursday whether 26-year-old David Garrett was a bystander or was targeted when he was shot. An aggravated murder warrant was issued earlier this month for 30-year-old Barry Blevins of East Cleveland for the killing. Police say Blevins fired into a crowd outside the nightclub after a fight started inside and Garrett was shot in the chest. Garrett earned all-Big 12 honorable mention honors as a defensive back in 2010 and 2011. He graduated from Thomas W. Harvey High School in Painesville, east of Cleveland. He played for an arena football team in Kansas City in 2013.


Kansas Man Rescued Near Maui Beach Dies at Hospital

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A 57-year-old Kansas man found unresponsive in the ocean off Maui had died at a hospital. Maui police say Michael R. Higgins of Lenexa was spotted at about noon Wednesday in water off Keawekapu (kay-ah-way-KAH'-poo) Beach Park in Kihei (ki-HAY'-eye). Maui emergency responders administered CPR on the beach. Higgins was taken in critical condition to Maui Memorial Medical Center. Life-saving measures attempted at the hospital were unsuccessful and he died. An autopsy was scheduled.


Magical Playoff Ride Comes to End for Royals Fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City baseball fans were mostly taking in stride the end of a month-long playoff run capped with a Game 7 World Series loss to the San Francisco Giants. There wasn't much Royals attire on display Thursday morning at local convenience stores and diners as life moved on for a city that had been gripped in playoff fever for the first time in three decades. Retired Kansas City police officer Eric Weir talked over coffee at a Hy-Vee cafeteria about how the Royals would be better next year if they get another starting pitcher and a power hitter. Quik Trip clerk Katie Snelling said there seemed to be fewer people passing through the doors Thursday, and many customers seemed sad about the loss.


Chiefs Prepare for Jets Despite Injuries

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are preparing for their game at home Sunday versus the New York Jets even as Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and star running back Jamaal Charles are both dealing with injuries. Smith injured his shoulder in last week's victory against the St. Louis Rams but head coach Andy Reid says Smith is expected to be ready to play on Sunday. Charles was added to Wednesday's weekly injury report with a back injury but the team says he will also likely be ready to play in the Jets game. Meanwhile, Jets coach Rex Ryan joked after practice Thursday that he might go with "that Bumgarner guy" as his quarterback this week. Ryan was referring to San Francisco Giants star left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a record 52 2-3 innings during the postseason in leading the Giants to the World Series title over the Kansas City Royals. But it's more likely that Ryan will be sticking with his own lefty, Michael Vick, to start Sunday against the Chiefs.



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