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Headlines for Monday, January 12, 2015

Brownback: Solutions to State's Woes Are Cultural, Moral 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says challenges facing Kansas can be resolved only by strengthening families and changing the culture from one that focuses too much on personal satisfaction rather than obligation and sacrifice. Brownback's inaugural speech on Monday came hours before the Legislature was scheduled to convene for its 2015 session, where lawmakers face massive budget deficits widely blamed on tax cuts endorsed by the Republican governor. He says too many people have not progressed in recent years because of a slowly growing economy or overly paternalistic big government. Brownback says solutions to problems facing the state are "principally cultural and moral," not as dictated by government but "emitting from our hearts alive with a loving God."

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Kansas Lawmakers Open Session Amid Budget Shortfalls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka today (MON) begin the 2015 session, with a massive state budget shortfall looming over most other issues. The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature is expected to spend much of the session debating how to address a projected shortfall of more than $710 million in the current budget and for the fiscal year beginning in July. The shortfalls resulted from personal income tax cuts enacted last session at the urging of Governor Sam Brownback. The governor is scheduled to offer a spending plan to address the budget shortfall Friday. Today's (MON) inauguration ceremonies have been moved inside because the forecast includes dangerous wind chills.

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Kansas Will Have No Women in Statewide Offices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - For the first time since 1966, Kansas will have no females in statewide offices, at least until the next election. The Kansas City Star reports that since April 28, 1966 women have held at least one statewide office in Kansas. That ends Monday, when all eight statewide elected officials will be men, after Sandy Praeger leaves the insurance commissioner's office. While some women's advocates bemoan the situation, leaders from both parties, including Governor Sam Brownback, downplay the milestone. They note three women were on the statewide ballot in November and likely lost because they were Democrats facing GOP incumbents, not because of their gender. They also note U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins is in office and Susan Wagle will be the first female Kansas Senate president.

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Report: Winter Wheat Acreages Down in US, Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Growers in Kansas and across the nation have seeded far fewer acres of winter wheat for harvest this year. A report released Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows a 5 percent drop in U.S. winter wheat acres compared to a year ago, with 40.5 million acres seeded. Most of that acreage is hard red winter wheat, the class most commonly seeded in Kansas. Nationwide hard red acres total 29.5 million acres. Kansas remains the nation's biggest wheat producer with 9.4 million acres planted for harvest in 2015. That is a 2 percent decrease from a year ago. Texas growers put in 5.9 million acres of wheat, followed by Oklahoma with 5.1 million acres. Winter wheat is seeded in the fall and harvested in late spring or early summer.

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1 of 4 Suspects in Deadly Gun Shop Robbery Appears in Court 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — One of the four men charged with first-degree murder in a botched robbery at a Kansas gun shop has made a first court appearance. The Kansas City Star reported that 18-year-old Hakeem Willie Malik, of Kansas City, Missouri, appeared via closed-circuit television Monday in Johnson County District Court and requested a court-appointed attorney. He is jailed on a $500,000 bond on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Jon Bieker. The 44-year-old was killed Friday at his Shawnee store, called She's a Pistol. The Johnson County Public Defender's Office didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press. Also charged in the killing are Nicquan Midgyett, Londro Patterson and De'Anthony Wiley. The three 19-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, men were wounded and remained hospitalized Monday.

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Ex-Insurance Agent Sentenced for Stealing from Clients, Firm 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former insurance agent has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for stealing from his clients. The U.S. attorney's office said Monday that 43-year-old Jason Matthew Pennington of Wichita pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of attempted bank fraud. In his plea, Pennington admitted committing fraud while working as an agent for State Farm Insurance. Prosecutors allege he forged a client's signature to obtain a $105,000 loan from a Phoenix Life Insurance Company policy. In another wire fraud count, Pennington changed the address of a retired teacher's insurance policy to his business address. Then he made a withdrawal of $278,250 on the policy without her knowledge. Another count dealt with false statements on a bank loan application.

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Kansas Inmate Who Killed Baby Nephew in 1998 Now Awaits Parole Hearing 

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A parole hearing is planned next month for a Kansas inmate who fatally injured her 5-month-old nephew nearly 17 years ago. The Great Bend Tribune reports that Crystal J. Jasper, now 36, was convicted of first-degree murder in the March 1998 abuse death of Lance Jasper. She was caring for Lance and a niece when the boy was hurt at a Great Bend home. The boy died two days later at a hospital. Under her sentence, she became eligible for parole after 15 years. Jasper is incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility under minimum security. Public comment sessions will be held this month in advance of the Prisoner Review board holding a parole hearing in February. If approved for parole, she could be released in March.

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Upheaval at Kingman Police Department Continues

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — Upheaval continues in a small Kansas police department that has been investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Police Chief Clint Thompson resigned Friday after seven months on the job. Another officer resigned Friday for personal reasons. The Hutchinson News reports city attorney Greg Graffman confirmed Thompson's resignation but would not discuss it. Thompson was hired in August to replace interim chief Captain David Lux, who took over when Marc Holloway resigned last January after the KBI investigation. Former city manager Frank Soukup was fired in January. The reason for the investigation was not made public and no charges were filed. Holloway replaced chief John Braden, who pleaded guilty in May 2008 to domestic violence and served three days in jail and six months on probation.

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Kansas Game Wardens Using Body Cameras

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ Game wardens with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism used body cameras for the first time this fall hunting season. About half of the department's 68 game wardens now wear the cameras. Department law enforcement director Kevin Jones says the agency would like all the wardens to wear the cameras but needs the Legislature to approve more money before more equipment can be purchased. So far, the department has spent $10,000 on the body cameras distributed across the state. Jones says the department began discussing the idea in early 2014 because officers often cover more than one county and are alone in the field or in a boat. The department is working on policies for how the cameras should be used.

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Grocery Store Coalition Wants to Sell Liquor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A coalition of supermarket and convenience store chains want Kansas lawmakers to let them sell stronger booze.  Retired Kroger Co. chairman and chief executive David Dillon is leading the latest effort. Kroger is the parent company of Dillons stores. Past legislation has faltered, largely because of its potential to drive existing licensed liquor stores out of business. But the coalition, called Uncork Kansas, has a new proposal that hasn't been introduced yet. Dillon says it will include a provision to cap the number of liquor licenses. The provision is designed to allow owners of small liquor stores recoup their investment in the business by selling their license to a supermarket or convenience store. The Legislature returns to Topeka for its annual session beginning Monday

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Woman Found Dead in Burning Independence Home 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a body was found in a burning home in the Kansas City suburb of Independence. The Kansas City Star reports that firefighters responded Monday afternoon after a passer-by reported smoking coming from the home. Battalion Chief Mike Ditamore said "moderate to heavy" smoke was coming from the roof when crews arrived. Assistant Fire Chief Mark Carrick said firefighters found a woman inside the kitchen. She died at the scene. No other information was immediately released, including the name or age of the victim.

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Winter Trout Fishing Popular in Kansas

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Think of trout fishing and you aren't likely to consider Kansas as a destination. But the state offers trout fishing during the winter at several of its waterways. From November 1 through April 15, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stocks rainbow trout, which are cold-water fish that can't survive the state's summers. Jeff Koch, a fisheries biologist with the wildlife agency, says the trout program is one of the most popular the department offers. The Hutchinson News reports the Dillon Nature Center is a hot spot for trout anglers near Hutchinson. Other stocking areas include the Webster Stilling Basin, the Cedar Bluff Stilling Basin, Lakewood Lake in Salina, Scott State Fishing Lake, Pratt Centennial Pond and Sedgwick County's Vic's Lake.

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Man Gets 80 Years in Salina Shooting

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A man has been sentenced to more than 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to shooting at three Salina police officers in May. 46-year-old Jose Carrillo was sentenced to prison after he decided not to withdraw his guilty plea. Carrillo was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Carrillo was armed with a .22-caliber rifle and shot at three officers who were attempting to protect a woman he'd been living with. According to an affidavit by a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, Carrillo and the woman had argued previously over him coming home drunk.  Authorities say Carrillo shot multiple times toward the officers, one of whom returned fire and hit Carrillo. An internal investigation determined the officer followed proper procedures. 

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New York Man Biking Across US Rolls into Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A New York man traveling across the nation on a bicycle has stopped in Lawrence, Kansas, to volunteer his time and services. Courtney Bibb started the trip that's expected to last six months in October, and has planned to stop at 20 cities to volunteer at different charities and organizations He recently rolled into Lawrence, which was his 11th stop, to help out at Theatre Lawrence. Bibb says he has several goals for his journey, among them raising awareness about the importance of volunteering and spotlighting lesser-known nonprofits. Bibb estimates his tour of the nation will cost him around $14,000. He tells the Lawrence Journal-World that he had some extra money that could have gone toward a new apartment but instead decided to pursue his cross-country adventure.

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Kansas Rivers, Lakes Attract Eagles in Winter

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Bus tours and educational programs are among the activities that are planned in Kansas to celebrate National Bald Eagle Month. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that two events are planned for Jan. 24. At Kaw Valley Eagles Day at Free State High School in Lawrence, participants can dissect owl pellets and go on eagle-viewing field trips. At Raptors Day at Schlagle Library in Kansas City, Kansas, volunteers will have live birds of prey on exhibit, including owls, hawks and falcons. The activities get underway as bald eagles start appearing at Kansas reservoirs and rivers to search for fish. State wildlife officials say that good spots to view eagles include Perry State Park Lake, Clinton Lake and the Riverfront Plaza below the Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River in Lawrence. 
 
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1 Dead in Kansas Retirement Home Crash 

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) _ An 82-year-old woman has died after a car crashed into a room at a Newton retirement home. Newton police say the accident occurred Saturday evening at Asbury Park Assisted Living Center.Police say the car crashed into one of the center's rooms and a woman inside was injured. She died later at a Wichita hospital. Her name was not released. Police say the driver remains in the hospital. Further details were not available. The crash is still under investigation.  
 
 

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