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Headlines for Friday, September 26, 2014

Schmidt Wants to Present State's Argument in Ballot Dispute

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants a chance to argue in court that Kansas Democrats are legally obligated to pick a new nominee for U.S. Senate. Schmidt's office Thursday asked a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court for permission to file friend-of-the-court arguments in a disgruntled voter's lawsuit. A hearing in the case is set for Monday. Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropped out of the race against Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The move was seen as helping independent candidate Greg Orman and hurting Roberts's re-election prospects. David Orel of Kansas City, Kansas, sued last week after the Kansas Supreme Court allowed Taylor's name to be removed from the November 4 ballot. Orel is a longtime registered Democrat, though his son works on Republican Governor Sam Brownback's re-election campaign. County election officials say, if the case is settled by October 1, they will still have time to get the ballots to the printer and mailed out on schedule by October 15th.


Fort Riley Soldiers Deploying to Middle East

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) - The Defense Department says about 200 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley will deploy to Iraq to advise Iraqi forces confronting Islamic State militants. The soldiers are among about 500 members of the division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion being deployed to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations. Thursday's announcement did not specify where the other 300 will be stationed, but a Pentagon spokesman in Washington said there were no immediate plans for them to go into Iraq. President Barack Obama said earlier this month he would send 475 U.S. troops to Iraq to advise and assist the Iraqi military. The U.S. teams are not authorized to go out with Iraqi units for direct ground combat with Islamic State group militants.


Democrats Back Republican Brownback's Re-Election

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A group of Wyandotte County Democrats is supporting Republican Governor Sam Brownback's re-election campaign. Nearly two dozen people attended the announcement Friday at a new public library in Kansas City, Kansas. Brownback is being challenged in his bid for a second term by Democrat Paul Davis, who has been endorsed more than 100 current and former Republican officials. The pro-Brownback Democratic group is co-chaired by Nathan Barnes, a former commissioner of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. Barnes said he's "impressed" with the governor, and he praised Brownback's support of small businesses. Speaking at the event, Brownback said he has plans for urban opportunity zones to help high-poverty areas. He said governing is "not about Democrats and Republicans. It's about making things better for the people."


Candidates for Kansas Insurance Post to Hold Forum

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The candidates for Kansas insurance commissioner are having a forum next month in Wichita. The event is October 17 at the Wichita Marriott hotel and is sponsored by the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents. The forum is part of an annual conference. Republican nominee Ken Selzer and Democratic candidate Dennis Anderson are running to replace retiring three-term GOP incumbent Sandy Praeger. Praeger has been unusual among prominent Republicans for publicly defending the federal health care overhaul championed by Democratic President Barack Obama. She's also broken with her party to endorse Anderson. The Democrat is from Overland Park and operates a family business providing educational services to insurance and financial services firms. Selzer is as a certified public accountant and a global reinsurance company executive. He is from Leawood.


KS Budget Chief Identifies $101 Million in Savings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's top budget adviser says the administration has identified $101 million in savings to help the state reduce a $238 million budget shortfall predicted for July 2016. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said Thursday the savings are in addition to efforts by seven major state agencies to review programs to find efficiencies. Sullivan said the state is standardizing computer systems and lowering prescription drug costs in various programs. It also has lower-than-expected costs in state employees' health plan, is refinancing Statehouse renovation bonds and is working with federal officials to collect debts.

Kansas Guard Unit to Be Sliced by Nearly 30 Percent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — As a result of ongoing federal cuts to defense spending, a Kansas Air National Guard official says a Wichita unit could see almost a third of its full-time positions eliminated. The 184th Intelligence Wing stationed at the McConnell Air Force Base is expected to lose nearly 30 percent of its full-time positions by the end of the next fiscal year. The Wing's commander tells the Wichita Eagle that Kansas is shouldering a heavier load of the Air National Guard cuts than other states. If all of the 184th's cuts are made as expected, the Wing will account for almost half of the total reduction for all Air National Guard units. He says that was driven by the types of missions carried out by some of the 184th's units and not because Kansas was singled out specifically.


Mail Stolen from Lawrence Municipal Court

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Lawrence are investigating the theft of two days' worth of mail addressed to the Municipal Court. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the mail was taken Tuesday and Wednesday from a secure post office box in the downtown post office. Municipal Court administrator Vicki Stanwix urged anyone who had sent mail to the court to call and determine if their mailings were received. People who sent checks for parking tickets, speeding violations and other fines are also encouraged to watch their bank accounts. Lawrence police and the U.S. Postal Service are investigating how the mail was taken from the court's secure box. Stanwix said postal officials are taking additional steps to secure the court's mail.


US Agency Cites Missouri Company in Cell Tower Deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal safety enforcement agency is citing a Missouri-based communications company for "willful" and "serious" safety violations in the death of two workers in the collapse in March of a cell tower they were dismantling in Blaine, Kansas. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, issued the citations against Wireless Horizon, Inc., of Saint Peters, Missouri. Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor who heads OSHA, said in a statement that the nation's growing need for telecommunications should not cost workers' lives. OSHA proposed penalties of $134,400 for the company. Two tower technicians, ages 25 and 38, were killed when a cell tower they were trying to dismantle collapsed on top of them. OSHA says so far this year, 11 workers have died in such mishaps.


BTK's Daughter Breaks Silence to Criticize Movie

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The daughter of the BTK serial killer is criticizing writer Stephen King for making a movie partly inspired by the Wichita case. In the first public comments from a member of the killer's family, Kerri Rawson says King is exploiting Dennis Rader's 10 victims and their families. Rawson told the Wichita Eagle that King had been one of her favorite writers, but says she won't read another of his novels now. Rawson said her father was also a huge King fan, and she fears his books might have influenced some of the things Rader did in his later murders. King has said in media interviews that the upcoming movie, "A Good Marriage," was inspired by Rader and his family.


Stephen King Responds to Movie Criticism

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Writer Stephen King says the daughter of the BTK serial killer does not have to worry about her father being flattered by his portrayal in an upcoming movie inspired by the Wichita case. King said in an emailed statement Friday that the character depicting Dennis Rader in his film "A Good Marriage" is a banal little man. King says the story isn't about the killer husband, but about a brave and determined woman. King was responding to criticism from Kerri Rawson that he was exploiting her father's victims. Rawson says that King's upcoming movie inspired her to break a self-imposed nine-year silence. But the author says the drive to understand is the basis of art, and that is what he strove for in the novella and movie.


Kansas Woman Awarded $1 Million from Radio Station 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $1 million to a suburban Kansas City woman falsely described by a radio station as a porn star. The Kansas City Star reports that Ashley Patton of Olathe sued the owner of 96.5 The Buzz after a DJ identified her on an April 2012 morning show as a porn star. A week-long federal trial ended Friday with jurors awarding Patton $250,000 in actual damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. Her lawyer says the company agreed while the jury was deliberating that the verdict won't be appealed. Patton had been added to a list of names the station posted on its website, which also had a link to the podcast of the show. Both sides agreed that Patton was never involved in the pornography industry.


Emporia Woman Sentenced for Elder Abuse

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An Emporia woman convicted of using her elderly mother-in-law's money to make expensive purchases for herself has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison. The Kansas attorney general's office says 56-year-old Dalene Miller was sentenced Friday in Lyon County District Court. Miller was convicted in July of mistreating and conspiring to mistreat a dependent adult. The state began investigating in 2011 after a complaint to Adult Protective Services. Prosecutors said Miller was a trustee for her 93-year-old mother-in-law but failed to pay her expenses while buying herself a house, a farm, a truck and other items. Miller's husband is also charged in the case and is scheduled for trial in November.


Emporia State's Counseling Department Gets Grant

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The counselor education department at Emporia State University has received a nearly $1 million grant to increase training for human services paraprofessionals. The university said in a news release that the five-year U.S. Department of Education Grant will be used to provide online master's degree curriculum to address a critical shortage of qualified counseling personnel in rural Kansas and Nebraska. Twenty people from rural Kansas and Nebraska can apply for a 48-credit hour rehabilitation counseling course. After completing the program the rehabilitation counselors will be placed across the central U.S. Selected applicants will receive tuition and related support for their studies.


KCK Chemical Company Fined For Improper Waste Storage

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas chemical company has been fined $1.5 million after pleading guilty to storing hazardous waste without a permit required by federal law. Harcros Chemicals, of Kansas City, Kansas, entered the plea Thursday in federal court. Harcros makes industrial chemicals including surfactants and antifoaming agents. The company admitted in its plea that it stored waste chemicals from May 2006 through January 2009 without a permit to store them for more than 90 days. The says the chemicals were kept in cabinets and storage areas for potential future use and were never released into the environment. Harcros also said the chemicals were properly disposed of shortly after a regulatory inspection that took place in 2008.

NTSB: Kansas Tracks Reopened After Train Collision

GALVA, Kan. (AP) — Federal regulators say a Union Pacific line has reopened a day after two trains collided in central Kansas. The line was reopened early Friday after the railroad replaced 400 feet of track on the main line and 300 feet on a side line. The accident occurred in McPherson County between Galva and Canton. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss says the agency has recovered the evidence and video recorders from the locomotives and downloaded information from train signals. Investigators will be onsite for three to five days recovering perishable evidence and interviewing the crew. reports investigators are also looking into whether the accident could have been prevented by technology called positive train control that has the ability to stop a train before a collision.


Ford Adds 1,200 Jobs to KC Auto Plant

CLAYCOMO, Mo. (AP) _ Ford Motor Company is adding 1,200 workers and another shift to a Kansas City area plant because of surging demand for the company’s new Transit van. Ford says Transit van sales have grown every month since it was introduced. Ford officials say the workers have already been hired and are expected to start in November at the plant in Claycomo.


Settlement Deal Reached in Traffic Camera Lawsuits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people who got tickets when their vehicles were photographed running red lights in Missouri could be in line to get some money back. Attorneys for ticketed drivers and camera supplier American Traffic Solutions said Friday they have agreed to a proposed settlement of several class-action lawsuits. They said the deal calls for 20 percent refunds to be paid on up to 800,000 tickets issued in 27 Missouri cities served by ATS cameras. At an average ticket of $100, the settlement could amount to as much as $16 million. The cities include Kansas City, St. Joseph, St. Louis and numerous suburbs of St. Louis. The lawsuits claimed the traffic camera ordinances violated people's due process rights and state law. The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing.


Man Gets 10 Years for Pushing Wife off Maine Cliff

ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) - A man convicted of pushing his then-wife off a cliff in a state park in Maine is going to prison for 10 years. A judge on Thursday handed down the sentence for 71-year-old Charles Black, who was convicted of attempted murder in July. The judge imposed a 25-year sentence but suspended most of it. The retired teacher from Kansas was convicted of hitting then-wife Lisa Zahn on the head with a rock before pushing her off an 800-foot cliff in Camden Hills State Park in 2011. Both ended up tumbling down the mountainside and were hospitalized. Black later moved to Utah. Prosecutors said the couple, who had retired to Maine, had been in a dispute about Black's online affair, and his spending some of Zahn's $4 million inheritance without her permission


Bond Set at $1M for Topeka Homicide Suspect

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Bond has been set at $1 million for a man who police say was running around bloodied, naked and screaming outside the Topeka home where his girlfriend's body was found. The suspect in the death of 22-year-old Lacie Atchison appeared Thursday in Shawnee County Circuit Court. Judge Steve Ebberts told a prosecutor the district attorney's office would have until Monday afternoon to file charges. For now, the suspect is being held on suspicion of premeditated first-degree murder, child endangerment, misdemeanor battery and criminal restraint. After neighbors called Wednesday to report the nude man, police used a stun gun to subdue the suspect and then found Atchison's body. Officers also took an uninjured child from the home and placed her in protective custody.


Kansas Motorcyclist Dies in Perry Wreck

PERRY, Kan. (AP) - A motorcyclist in northeast Kansas has died after a pickup truck pulled in front of him. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 49-year-old Kurt Lucas was killed Thursday near Perry-Lecompton High School. They say the 49-year-old truck driver didn't yield to Lucas while making a turn. Lucas tried to avoid the collision but hit the back of the truck. He wasn't wearing a helmet. The truck driver wasn't injured. No charges have been reported.


Missouri Couple Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A northwest Missouri couple pleaded guilty to a $567,000 bank fraud scheme involving construction projects in a Lee's Summit subdivision. Federal prosecutors say 51-year-old Dennis Key and his 49-year-old wife, Michal Ann Key, of Kingsville pleaded guilty Thursday in separate appearances. Dennis Key owned DM & Associates, a land surveying and engineering consulting business. His wife did clerical work for the business. Prosecutors say Dennis Key and his wife conducted different schemes to hide fees and increase his payments for work at the subdivision. The Keys each face a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings have not been scheduled.


Father, Son Convicted in Synthetic Marijuana Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas father and son have been convicted of manufacturing and selling synthetic marijuana through a worldwide network. The U.S. Attorney's office says a federal jury on Thursday found 55-year-old Clark Sloan and 33-year-old Jonathan Sloan guilty on 20 counts each. They were acquitted on five other counts. Clark Sloan lives in Tonganoxie. His son lives in Lawrence, where he was co-owner of a shop where the synthetic marijuana business began. Prosecutors said the Sloans' operation involved the manufacture of K2, a substance treated with the active ingredient in marijuana and marketed as an all-natural herbal product. The enterprise grew to include suppliers, vendors and others throughout the U.S. and in countries around the world. Investigators said the defendants made at least $3.3 million from selling the drugs.


Salina Driver Arrested After Police Chase

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Salina police arrested a 21-year-old man who they say led police on a chase after they caught him drag racing. Police tell the Salina Journal the man was arrested Wednesday and that he had a 15-year-old girl in the car during the attempted escape in a 2003 Acura. He faces charges including endangering a child, racing on highways and reckless driving. Police say he original eluded police but that a witness later saw him on the highway. They say he abandoned the car and ran before he was caught.


Washburn Receives $1 Million Gift for Recital Hall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Washburn University in Topeka says it will use a $1 million gift to start planning for a new recital hall. University president Jerry Farley says the school will hire an architect for a hall that will be designed to provide a more intimate setting than White Concert Hall. The new hall would seat 250 to 350 people, compared with White Concert Hall's capacity of 1,200. He says the new hall will have a full-size stage and excellent acoustics. Farley said he couldn't disclose the benefactor's name at this time. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the smaller hall would also resolve scheduling conflicts when more than one stage is needed and provide a space for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra's rehearsals.


Newton Police Looking for 5 Missing Girls

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - Kansas authorities are looking for five girls who left a youth care facility in Newton. Newton Police Chief Jim Daily says the girls left the facility late Wednesday and early Thursday. The girls are considered endangered but police refused to give any more details about the escape or why they are endangered. Police say three of the girls are 16, one is 17 and the other is 14. The Wichita/Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit is helping with the search and investigation.


$750,000 in Unclaimed Property Returned at State Fair

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - State Treasurer Ron Estes says the Kansas Cash booth at this year's state fair resulted in more than $750,000 in unclaimed property being returned to its rightful owners. The treasurer says the number of people stopping at the booth and searching for missing money in a computerized database this year was far greater than in recent years. More than 2,400 claims were filed, with the largest being for more than $93,000. Estes says the unclaimed assets come from forgotten bank accounts, stocks, bonds, insurance premium overpayments, refunds and other sources. Those who didn't check for property at the fair can do so online at or by calling 1-800-432-0386.


Brownback, Kobach Launch Kansas Business Website

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach have launched a new online Kansas Business Center to help owners of existing firms and people forming new ones. The two officials had a news conference Friday to publicize the center's new website. They said the project took 18 months and required the cooperation of multiple agencies. The secretary of state's office is where businesses file articles of incorporation and annual reports. They said the site allows business owners a single point of access to state agencies and information about forming businesses and writing business plans. Both officials are conservative Republicans locked in tough re-election races ahead of the November 4 election. Brownback's Democratic challenger is Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, while Kobach faces former state Senator Jean Schodorf.


Flint Hills Family Lends Ranch to University

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Flint Hills family is offering access to its 4,600-acre ranch to Wichita State University for research. A university official tells the Wichita Eagle on Thursday that the gift will help researchers in biology, geology, grassland studies, anthropology and other fields. The land is located about an hour southeast of Wichita. The estate of Earl and Terri Youngmeyer will retain ownership and the land won't be open to the public. The official says much of the undisturbed grassland is only accessible by ATVs or horses. He says the size of the land dwarfs the university's other prairie research sites.


Playoff Berth in Sight as Royals Beat White Sox 6-3

CHICAGO (AP) — The Kansas City Royals put themselves on the verge of a playoff spot with a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night. One more win for Kansas City, or a loss by Seattle, will send the Royals to the postseason for the first time since George Brett led them to a championship in 1985. Kansas City remained two games behind Detroit in the AL Central and moved one up on Oakland in the wild card standings. The Royals will play the final 3 games of the regular season over the weekend in Chicago.


Chiefs' McKnight Ruptures Achilles Tendon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Running back Joe McKnight has ruptured his Achilles tendon, becoming the third Chiefs player to sustain the season-ending injury already this season. McKnight sustained the injury in practice Thursday. Defensive tackle Mike DeVito and linebacker Derrick Johnson sustained the same injury in a Week 1 loss to Tennessee. Kansas City is scheduled to play the New England Patriots on Monday night. McKnight has been plagued by injuries dating to his days at Southern California, and he never could stay healthy with the New York Jets. He spent last season out of the NFL entirely. He seemed to be making the most of a second chance in Kansas City, though. McKnight caught six passes for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 34-15 win last Sunday in Miami.




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