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Headlines for Friday, September 5, 2014


Taylor Will Fight to Quit Kansas US Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Kansas says he'll challenge a decision to keep his name on the November ballot even though he wants to withdraw from the race against incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that Democrat Chad Taylor did not comply with state law. He said Taylor didn't formally declare that he would be unable to serve if elected. Taylor withdrew from the race Wednesday without explanation, potentially giving independent candidate Greg Orman a better shot at defeating three-term conservative Roberts. Chad Taylor said in a statement Thursday that he was assured by a top Kobach aide that a letter he sent to the secretary of state's office was sufficient for withdrawing. Taylor says he will fight to have his name removed from the ballot but Kobach said Taylor's only recourse would be to file a lawsuit.


Roberts Re-Election Team Overhauled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts's re-election campaign in Kansas is being overhauled as his race becomes an unexpected battleground in the fight for control of the Senate. Roberts confirmed Friday that longtime aide Leroy Towns stepped down as his executive campaign manager but said he will remain a consultant to the campaign. Towns was Roberts's chief of staff for more than 20 years and remained a political adviser after leaving Roberts's congressional office in 2002. Roberts also said the National Republican Senatorial Committee is sending in a seasoned consultant. The consultant is Chris LaCivita. Kansas was seen as a safe GOP state, but the three-term incumbent looked vulnerable after a tough primary fight. Before an event in Wichita, Roberts said his campaign is preparing to become more aggressive.


Moran: Kansas Can't Fail GOP in Senate Majority Bid

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee says as hard as the GOP is working to win Republican control of the U.S. Senate, Kansas can't be the place that fails the party. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas told business leaders Friday in Wichita that as hard as Republicans are working to win seats across the country, it would be a "terrible mistake" for Kansas to fail to keep Pat Roberts in the Senate. Moran also urged his audience to imagine the circumstance where the GOP puts in so much effort and Republican Governor Sam Brownback is not re-elected. Both Brownback and Roberts are facing tough re-election battles.


Johnson County Community College Reopened Following Lockdown

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Police lifted a lockdown at a northeast Kansas community college after checking a report of a suspicious woman carrying a long gun. Johnson County Community College police and officers from the city of Overland Park began a room-to-room search of several buildings after the report around 4 pm Thursday. Campus police Officer Dan Robles said students were released from buildings as the searches ended. Robles said police had not found anyone fitting the description of suspicious, pony-tailed woman carrying a camouflage-print bag and a long gun, possibly a shotgun. The college tweeted shortly after 7 pm that there was no longer a "viable threat" and said classes would resume Friday.


DA Reviews KU Campus Rape Allegation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are taking another look at a woman's claims she was raped at a University of Kansas residence hall last year. District Attorney Charles Branson said Wednesday that he received new information last week about another encounter between the accuser and the same man. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Branson says he will consider that information and determine whether it would make a difference in a charging decision. He declined to publicly discuss details of the alleged incident — and how those would affect the strengths and weaknesses of the case — because the alleged victim's family asked him not to. Branson's comments came the same day the university's Student Rights Committee passed a resolution condemning the school's handling of student complaints of sexual assault.


Elderly Kansas Woman Killed in Collision

HILLSBORO, Kan. (AP) - Kansas troopers say an 82-year-old woman has died in a head-on collision with a semitrailer. The Kansas Highway Patrol says Joyce Smith was driving on a highway near Hillsboro when the accident occurred Thursday. An 85-year-old passenger was flown to Wesley Medical Center in critical condition. Troopers say Smith failed to yield when turning into oncoming traffic and was hit by the semitrailer. The 29-year-old truck driver wasn't injured.


Sedgwick County Approves Money for WSU Project

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The proposed Innovation Campus at Wichita State University has jumped a major financial hurdle. The Sedgwick County Commission on Wednesday approved a funding mechanism to allow the university to start construction on a $43 million building. The "experiential engineering" building would provide labs, offices and high-tech equipment for entrepreneurs, students and researchers. It would be followed by a new business school and innovation building. The Wichita Eagle reports the commission gave the university permission to use some money from property taxes to obtain bonds to erect buildings. A 1.5 mill levy raises about $6.2 million annually from property taxes, which has been used for scholarships. Wichita State needed the county's permission to use some of that money to construct the new building.


Kansas State Professor Gets $2.52M NIH Grant

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas State University researcher is receiving a $2.52 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to compare typical Army physical training with a newer type of workout. Assistant kinesiology professor Katie Heinrich says so-called "high-intensity functional training" is promising. As its name suggests, the workout method involves using high intensity and constantly varied exercises. The training approach has gained popularity among military populations because of its potential for improving performance with substantially lower training volumes. Heinrich says the technique also has the potential to promote fat loss. Heinrich and her team will work closely with the Command and General Staff College and Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth.


9,800 Marijuana Plants Found on Corps Property

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Kansas say a drug raid led to the seizure of 9,800 marijuana plants from Corps of Engineers property. KAIR Radio reports that the FBI and a Missouri National Guard helicopter took part in Thursday's raid at a rural Jefferson County home east of the Corps-operated Perry Lake. The Jefferson County sheriff's office says the marijuana plants were being grown on Corps land and were being watered from the residential property. Authorities also seized several items of drug paraphernalia from the home. One man was arrested at the scene on five drug-related counts. He was booked into the Jefferson County jail but posted a $10,000 cash surety bond a short time later.


Wichita Man Sentenced for Deadly Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to life in prison for a deadly crash that occurred while he was speeding away from police. KAKE-TV reports that 23-year-old Javier Rizo Jr. will be eligible for parole after 20 years under the sentence he received Friday in Sedgwick County District Court. A judge convicted Rizo earlier this year of seven counts including unintentional but reckless murder for the crash that killed 34-year-old Maria Martinez in October 2013. Rizo was fleeing from police in a van when he ran a stop sign and collided with a car driven by Martinez. Her husband was injured in the crash. A police supervisor had called off the chase two minutes before the fatal crash. 


Man Accused in Triple Homicide Appears in Court

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 34-year-old man accused of killing three people and critically injuring two others in a quiet south Kansas City neighborhood appears in court to hear a judge read the dozen felony counts against him. Brandon Howell stood before Associate Judge Mary Weir on Thursday wearing a blue jail outfit and handcuffed to another inmate as she read the three first-degree murder charges and several other counts related to the shootings. Prosecutors say Howell used a shotgun to kill 88-year-old Alice Hurst, her son, 63-year-old Darrel Hurst, and 69-year-old Susan Choucroun shortly before 1 pm Tuesday in a middle-class cul-de-sac occupied primarily by older residents. Howell was captured later that night as he walked along Interstate 29 on the city's north side after someone called police to report a suspicious person.


Missouri Trooper Faults Training in Drowning Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A trooper who was at the helm of a Missouri State Highway Patrol boat when a handcuffed Iowa man fell overboard and drowned says he lacked training to handle the situation. The Kansas City Star reports that Trooper Anthony Piercy cried Thursday during a Morgan County coroner's inquest as he recalled what happened. Witnesses have said previously that Piercy placed Brandon Ellingson in a poorly fitting Type III, ski vest style of life jacket while transporting him from the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. When Eillingson went into the water, the life jacket came off. Piercy says he thinks about what happened all the time. Ellingson grew up around West Des Moines, Iowa, and had just finished his sophomore year at Arizona State University.


Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Scheme

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Georgia man has pleaded guilty in Missouri to receiving more than $2.3 million in tax refunds from several states by using identities he stole from dead people. The U.S. Attorney's office says 40-year-old Sirhon Rivers pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud, identity theft and conspiracy. Rivers admitted receiving $547,000 in Missouri refunds using fraudulent tax returns. He used the same scheme to collect refunds from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia. Rivers obtained personal information of people who had died, then used it on state tax returns to which he added false information about employment and wages earned. Rivers faces up to 60 years in prison. His hometown in Georgia was not clear.


Weapon Sales by Ex-Officers Being Investigated

BEL AIRE, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials say former officers in the Bel Aire police department are being investigated for possible illegal weapons sales. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter confirmed a joint local-federal investigation has been ongoing since December but he declined to offer further details. Bel Aire Police Chief Darrell Atteberry said the U.S. Attorney's Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are leading the investigation. Atteberry, who became chief in May, stressed that no current officers are being investigated. Sheriff Easter says his office is also part of the investigation. The Wichita Eagle reports ( ) police agencies can buy discounted firearms from manufacturers. The guns are supposed to be used only as service weapons and are not be resold.


Corps Increasing Releases into Missouri River

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The amount of water released into the Missouri River is increasing after August runoff was the third highest in more than a century. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says boosting releases from four lower dams will prepare the reservoir system for next year's anticipated runoff and reduce flood risks. Water management chief Jody Farhat says that while the releases are higher than normal for this time of year, the water is expected to remain in the channel unless there is significant additional rain. The corps says the excess water will allow the corps to extend the navigation season by 10 days, ending December 10. The higher releases also will benefit winter hydropower generation and reduce the risks to water intakes when ice forms.


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