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Headlines for Monday, August 3, 2015

Federal Health Care Funds, Lower Teacher Pensions Help Kansas Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's latest efforts to prevent a state budget deficit were assisted by a well-timed decision on health care funding from federal officials and better-than-expected news about teacher pensions. The governor's administration outlined $63 million in budget adjustments last week. The changes capture savings from lower-than-anticipated spending and favorable revisions in cost estimates. The governor's plan shifts dollars from the Kansas Department of Transportation into the state's main bank account and taps additional federal dollars. Brownback says he sought to bolster the budget in ways that Kansas residents wouldn't notice a decline in state services. However, he's facing some skepticism from advocates of children's programs and supporters of highway projects. 


Kansas Governor Says Final Power Plant Rule 'Twice as Bad' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says the final version of a federal rule for cutting carbon emissions from power plants is "twice as bad" for the state as the original version outlined a year ago. The Republican governor said Monday that changes announced by Democratic President Barack Obama will force Kansas to reconsider how it responds. A law enacted earlier this year authorizes the state's health and environment secretary to draft a plan to comply with the federal rule. It can include voluntary agreements with utilities to cut emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate change but a legislative committee must sign off on it. The final federal rule requires more aggressive emission reductions for Kansas by 2030. The rule drew praise from the environmental group Kansas Interfaith Power & Light.


Ex-Senate Candidate: Board Has Ended Probe of Facebook Posts 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas radiologist who lost a hard-fought primary battle to Republican Senator Pat Roberts says the state's medical board has dropped an investigation into whether he violated patient privacy by posting X-ray images of severe medical injuries. Milton Wolf says the medical board has determined he committed no wrongdoing by posting the images on Facebook. Wolf, one of his attorneys and a former campaign staffer issued email statements Monday saying that the Board of Healing Arts had closed an investigation started last year. Wolf is a Leawood radiologist who had tea party backing in challenging Roberts in last year's Republican primary. Roberts won the four-candidate race with 48 percent of the vote. Wolf received nearly 41 percent. The board's executive director did not immediately return telephone and email messages.


Former University of Kansas Chancellor Hemenway Dies 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A memorial service is planned Sunday to honor former University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway. Family and university officials said Hemenway died Friday at a Lenexa nursing home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 73. The service will be held at 2 pm Sunday at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics on the university's campus, following a private burial. Hemenway was KU's 16th chancellor, serving from 1995 until he retired in 2009. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Hemenway oversaw an increase in enrollment and research at Kansas and a resurgence in the athletics department. He also was instrumental in structural changes at the university's Medical Center and an ultimately successful drive to gain a National Cancer Institute designation. Survivors include his wife, Leah, eight children and 12 grandchildren.


Thousands of Kansans Receive Incorrect Letters Cancelling Medicaid Coverage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state mistakenly notified thousands of Kansans this week that their Medicaid coverage had been cancelled. The Kansas Department of Children and Families said a computer glitch caused the incorrect letters to be sent out. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed says the error happened as the department switches to a new computer system that manages Medicaid eligibility applications. She says the new system replaces a computer system in use since the early 1980s. The Lawrence Journal-World reports everyone who received the incorrect letter will be sent a new, accurate letter within a week.


Kansas Teens Less Likely to be Vaccinated for HPV

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Teenagers in Kansas are among the least likely to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, according to the Immunize Kansas Coalition. Only 21 percent of teens in Kansas have received all three doses of the vaccine to protect against HPV, which was one of the lowest rates in the country. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas teens rank in the bottom quarter for meningococcal meningitis vaccination rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that boys and girls be vaccinated at age 11 or 12, before sexual activity begins. According to the CDC, most people who are sexually active at some point in their lives contract at least one form of HPV. 


July Economic Survey Predicts Slowdown for Midwest and Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A July survey suggests there will be slow economic growth over the next three to six months in nine Midwest and Plains states. A survey report issued today (MON) says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index slumped to 50.6 in July from 53.0 in June. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says businesses tied to agriculture and energy continue to report pullbacks in economic activity which is spilling over into the broader regional economy. The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. 


7 Minnesota Basketball Players Accused of Wichita Assault Spree 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Seven young basketball players in Wichita for a weekend tournament are arrested after police say they went on an assault spree over the weekend. The Wichita Eagle reports the boys were from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and ranged in age from 12 to 18 years old. Police say they were in town for the Mid America Youth Basketball tournament. Police spokesman Lieutenant James Espinoza says officers responded around 11 pm Sunday to a home where a 48-year-old man reported the group of teens approached him as he stood on his front porch. Espinoza says the youths yelled at him and threw rocks, bottles, bricks and concrete chunks. Espinoza says the group beat a 28-year-old man who fled the house, and a later 32-year-old man who was riding his bicycle.


Order on Hold for Kansas DCF to Release Report on Boy's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Department for Children and Families will be allowed to delay the release of results of its internal investigation into the death of a 4-year-old northeast Kansas boy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a federal judge's order for the DCF to release an investigative report regarding the 2013 death is on hold. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale stayed his earlier order following objections by the agency. The boy's mother, Naomi Boone had sued the department following the death of 4-year-old Mekhi Boone. The child died in 2013 at the hands of his father, Lee Davis, who's serving nearly 20 years for second-degree murder. Boone contends the child should not have been placed with his father. The agency says the order to require the documents' release wasn't supported by case law. 


Use of Batboys Suspended After 9-Year-Old's Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Baseball Congress is suspending the use of batboys and batgirls during its World Series in Kansas following the death of a 9-year-old boy who was hit by a bat. Kaiser Carlile died Sunday after he was hit in the head with a follow-through swing near the on-deck circle during the Liberal Bee Jays' game a day earlier. He was wearing a helmet. The Wichita Eagle reports that the general manager of the National Baseball Congress later decided to suspend the use of bat boys and girls. The organization is planning to honor Kaiser at games Monday and Tuesday. The city of Wichita owns the facility and is deciding whether to investigate the death. A city official says it's too early to decide.


Sedgwick County DA Will Not Charge Officer in Fatal Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Wichita police officer who fatally shot a man last year will not face charges. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Friday the officer who shot 40-year-old Chad Leichhardt at a Haysville apartment was lawfully defending a woman being threatened by Leichhardt. Investigators say Leichhardt was holding his girlfriend with a knife to her throat and threatening to kill her when the officer shot him last August. Bennett says the woman was afraid for her life and other officers at the scene thought Leichhardt might kill her. He says the knife was at the woman's throat until the officer fired a single shot, killing Leichhardt. The officer's name has not been released. He's an 18-year police veteran and was the senior officer at the scene.


Taco Bell Fires Employee for Insult on Officer's Food 

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A Taco Bell in Newton has fired an employee who wrote an insult on the wrappers of tacos ordered by a police officer and his fiancee. Police and Taco Bell officials say the employee wrote "PIG" on the to-go orders for the couple Saturday in Newton. The officer complained to the restaurant and pictures of the taco wrappers circulated on social media. Jeff Graves, senior director of operations for Taco Bell, said Monday the worker was fired. He told KAKE-TV that Taco Bell strongly supports law enforcement and the company apologizes to the officer, his fiancee and all Newton police officers. Graves says the restaurant and Newton police are already working together to plan an event to show support for officers and the community.


University of Kansas Gets $2M Grant to Recruit Migrant Students

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas has announced a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help recruit and support migrant students. The Lawrence Journal World reports the five-year grant is to be used to establish the Heartland College Assistance Migrant Program at the school. The program aims to recruit and retain students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers, or children of such workers, who are enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies. According to program director Stacy Mendez, the program pays for about half of students' tuition for their freshman year. Students also receive a small stipend to defray living costs and personal coaching from university staff. Mendez said only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for the program.


Earthquake Shakes Northern Oklahoma and Southern Kansas 

MEDFORD, Okla. (AP) — An earthquake struck northern Oklahoma near the Kansas border Saturday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.6 magnitude earthquake was recorded about 11 miles south-southwest of Medford in Grant County. Medford is located 17 miles south of the Kansas border. Geologists say the quake occurred at a depth of about three miles. No injuries or damage was immediately reported. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has said it is likely that many recent earthquakes in the state are being triggered by the injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas drilling operations.


Record Rains Damage Some Midwest Farmers' Crops 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A summer of heavy rainfall is expected to lead to big corn and soybean crop losses for farmers in several Midwestern states. Missouri and Kansas were among the states affected by heavy downpours and flooding that began in late May and continued into July. Those deluges drowned crops and left many surviving plants stunted or unhealthy. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt predicts $500 million in corn and soybean losses in Indiana, which is seeking a federal disaster declaration for 53 of its 92 counties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's first assessment of Midwest crop losses comes August 12th.


Kansas Competing for $40M Federal Grant for Wildcat Creek

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has reached the final phase of a competition for a large federal grant that would be used to ease flooding in the Manhattan area. The state Agriculture Department says the state's grant application to remodel the Wildcat Creek Watershed to address flooding reached the final phase of a Department of Housing and Urban Development competition. The grant could bring up to $40 million of emergency and long-range improvement money into the Manhattan area. The Manhattan Mercury reports the money comes from a $1 billion surplus from the federal government's efforts to rebuild portions of the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Manhattan and Riley County qualified because of the Wildcat Creek flood in 2011. HUD's expected to announce the awards in January.


Police: Man Stabbed, Pelvic Bone Broken in Argument

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man is in stable condition after Wichita police say his girlfriend stabbed him and broke his pelvic bone. The Wichita Eagle reports officers responded to a house around 11:50 pm Friday where police say a man told them his 24-year-old girlfriend stabbed him in the buttocks during an argument. Sergeant Brian Sigman said the man was stabbed with such force that his pelvic bone was broken. The man was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The suspect was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery.


Blue Jays Beat Royals 5-2 in Testy Game

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 Sunday, taking three of four games in the weekend series. Both benches and bullpens emptied after Toronto reliever Aaron Sanchez was ejected for throwing at Kansas City's Alcides Escobar in the eighth. It was the climax of a game-long spat that began when Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit Josh Donaldson on the left arm in the first inning. Donaldson and Volquez traded stares and words as the Blue Jays slugger took a slow walk to first base. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf warned both dugouts.  The AL leading Royals travel today, then start a 3-game series in Detroit on Tuesday. 


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