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Headlines for Monday, December 28, 2015

Here's a summary of the day's AP news headlines for our area, mostly Kansas.

Budget Shortfalls Ranked the Top Story of 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A budget shortfall that forced lawmakers to approve sales and cigarette taxes has been named the top Kansas story of 2015 by Associated Press reporters and editors.  The Kansas City Royals' first World Series championship since 1985 came in second, followed by Kansas gradually extending rights to gay couples after a series of court rulings.  Coming in fourth was a judge sentencing an avowed anti-Semite to death for the fatal shootings of three people in April 2014 at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City.  Rounding out the top five, the Kansas Supreme Court in December unanimously struck down a law meant to reduce its administrative influence over lower courts. That set up a showdown with lawmakers who threatened to defund the state's entire judiciary system if the law was overturned.


Snow, Ice and Freezing Rain Hit N.E Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A winter storm with freezing rain and snow is affecting highway conditions throughout Kansas. The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings for several sections of the state, including northeastern, east-central and south-central Kansas through Monday night. The weather service said the storm was expected to include a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow. Up to 6 inches of snow is expected from Council Grove to Seneca, with about a quarter inch of ice possible from Emporia to Hiawatha. High winds could also affect visibility, making travel hazardous. Snow accumulations of 2 inches to 5 inches are also expected in central and north-central Kansas. Parts of 11 states in the middle of the country are under a winter storm warning. Forecasters say Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas will see winter weather conditions ranging from heavy snow to ice, accompanied by gusty winds.


8 Injured in Oklahoma Storm, 60K Lose Power 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's emergency managers say eight people have suffered storm-related injuries as a blizzard pounds the state. The state Corporation Commission says 60,000 homes and business have lost electricity. The Emergency Management Department says that as snow and high winds are hammering western Oklahoma and officials are encouraging people to stay off the highways. Roads are slick with ice and plunging temperatures will likely mean even more ice on the roads by Monday night in western Oklahoma. 


Judge Delays Trial in Lottery Jackpot-Fixing Case Until July

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has delayed the trial for a former lottery official accused of fixing jackpots in several states.  Former Multi-State Lottery Association security director Eddie Tipton had been scheduled to stand trial January 6 in Des Moines.  But Tipton waived his right to a speedy trial last week, and his attorney asked for a delay. Judge Jeffrey Farrell last week reset the trial for July 18.  Tipton has pleaded not guilty to charges of ongoing criminal conduct and money laundering.  Prosecutors allege that he used his access to random number generators to fix jackpots in Kansas, Colorado, Wisconsin and Oklahoma - and worked with associates to play winning numbers and collect prizes.  A jury in July convicted Tipton of fraud for fixing a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot in Iowa.


Topeka offers $500,000 Push to Revive Shopping Centers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An effort to improve large, blighted shopping centers in Topeka, Kansas, is getting a $500,000 boost.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Joint Economic Development Organization's board has approved a 2016 budget for the use of revenue from a countywide, half-cent sales tax. Revenue from the tax is used to finance infrastructure improvements and economic development.  That budget includes setting aside $500,000 to finance a new business initiative to enhance the attraction of blighted shopping centers.  Go Topeka is the economic development arm of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. It administers the use of the tax's economic development revenue.  Go Topeka's plans call for the incentive program to provide a 25 percent match in funding for developers who invest in any of the locations.


Kansas Turnpike Authority Approves Bridge Projects

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority has approved contracts for two-year bridge projects in Wichita and between Topeka and Emporia. The Wichita Eagle reports that the $7.19 million project will widen and replace decks on the two Arkansas River bridges at a location in Wichita. The Turnpike Authority says another $4.48 million project in Osage County will reconstruct two bridges and remove two bridges about halfway between Emporia and Topeka.


Man in Wheelchair Dies in Weekend House Fire in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Fire officials in Kansas City, Missouri, are trying to sort out what sparked a house fire that killed a 67-year-old man in a wheelchair.  Authorities say the man died in the blaze Saturday night. His name has not been publicly released.  Funeral services are pending.  A fire department spokesman says another occupant of the house was treated for a minor injury.


Kansas Man Convicted of Killing Topeka Police Officer Dies in Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man serving a life sentence for killing a police officer has died in prison. The Kansas Department of Corrections told The Topeka Capital-Journal that 32-year-old Ross Preston Lane was found unresponsive in his cell at the El Dorado Correctional Facility on December 24. He was pronounced dead later that morning. Lane pleaded guilty to capital murder in the death of police Corporal Jason Harwood, a 15-year veteran of the Topeka Police Department who was fatally shot September 7, 2014, during a traffic stop. Lane had been incarcerated in the El Dorado prison since August 3rd. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was notified of Lane's death and is conducting an investigation.


Probe of 1999 Death Reopened After Convict Freed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Investigators have reopened the case of a 1999 shooting death for which an Oskaloosa man served more than 15 years before his brother confessed in suicide notes that he was the killer. New DNA evidence also implicated Tom Bledsoe and exonerated his brother Floyd Bledsoe. Investigators in Jefferson County say that they are "open to possibilities that the killer may have had assistance" in 14-year-old Camille Arfmann's murder or in hiding her body. Detectives say they have no reason to believe Floyd Bledsoe is involved. He was released from prison on December 8.


Chiefs Hold Off Browns 17-13 for 9th Straight Victory, Play-off Spot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs' quarterback Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes for Kansas City as the Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns 17-13 on Sunday for their franchise record-tying ninth consecutive victory. Smith threw for 125 yards while running for 54, helping Kansas City (10-5) clinch a playoff berth when Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore moments after their own game ended. The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead Sunday, but their offense became listless over the final two quarters, just as the Brown's Johnny Manziel was pumping some life into his team (3-12). The former Heisman Trophy winner led Cleveland to 10 straight points and picked up three first downs but time expired before Cleveland could score again.


Top 9 Teams Hold Spots in Men's AP Basketball Poll, KU Stays at #2

Michigan State, Kansas and Oklahoma are the top three teams for the third straight week in the men's college basketball poll by The Associated Press.  The Spartans have been No. 1 in the poll for four weeks. They were again a runaway choice, receiving all but one first-place vote Monday from the 65-member national media panel.  Kansas drew the other No. 1 vote. Following Oklahoma are Maryland, Virginia, Xavier, North Carolina, Arizona, Butler and Kentucky. The top nine teams remained the same from last week. Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday and replaced Providence, which dropped to 12th.  No. 25 UCLA is the lone newcomer. The Bruins had been ranked for one week earlier this season. They replaced George Washington, which dropped out from No. 20 following a loss to DePaul.



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