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Headlines for Monday, June 16, 2014



Kansas, Arizona Voting Case Has National Impact

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top lawmakers are urging a federal appeals court to overturn a decision by a judge in Kansas that they say would limit the authority of Congress to regulate federal elections. The lawmakers contend the ruling could limit Congress' ability to pass legislation protecting the right to vote. Their recent friend-of-the-court filing last week at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals comes in the lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona. The states want to force federal election officials to help them impose their proof-of-citizenship requirements on federal voter registration forms. Both states argue the requirements prevent voter fraud by thwarting voting by noncitizens. Critics of such laws view them as suppressing voter turnout.


'Pink Slime' Makers Say Sales Rebounding

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two makers say sales have been rebounding for a ground beef product that critics have dubbed "pink slime." The Lincoln Journal Star reports that spokesmen for Cargill and Beef Products Inc. say sales have risen, but Cargill says they fall short of the volume before the controversy erupted in 2012. BPI has sued ABC, saying the network's March 2012 coverage damaged BPI by misleading consumers into believing the lean finely textured beef product is unhealthy and unsafe. BPI says the sales drop forced it to close plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas, leaving open only a Nebraska plant. Cargill spokesman Mike Martin says his company sells the product to about 400 customers, which is more than before March 2012, but the sales volume remains down about 40 percent.


Brothers Found Dead at KS Home

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) Police have identified two brothers found dead at their southeast Kansas home, but it's still not known how they died. The Butler County Times Gazette reports the two were identified Monday as 53-year-old Jeffrey Neal Jones and 50-year-old Brett Alan Jones. The brothers shared a home in Augusta, where police responded to a call Friday afternoon about a man who collapsed outside the house. Police Chief Tyler Brewer says officers realized that man was deceased, then went inside and found the other man dead. Brewer says the deaths were not suspicious. The bodies were taken to the Wichita Forensics Center to determine the cause of death. The investigation continued Monday. A joint graveside service is scheduled Thursday afternoon at Augusta's Elmwood Cemetery.


Sedgwick County Finds Man Not Seen Since Friday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities say a man who hadn't been seen since Friday has been found safe. The sheriff says in a news release that 30-year-old Adam C. Fahrenbruch was found Monday morning in Wichita. He was reported missing Sunday after he had not contacted family since leaving his job in Lawrence Friday afternoon. The sheriff says Fahrenbruch was driving his vehicle when he was spotted and his disappearance was a case of miscommunication.


More Kansans Buckling Up

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More Kansas drivers have been buckling up, but scores of citations are still being issued to drivers in the state who aren't wearing their seat belts. Dave Corp, law enforcement liaison for the Kansas Department of Transportation, says seat belt usage has steadily climbed over recent years in Kansas and is now at 81 percent statewide. In Sedgwick County, nearly 91 percent of adults and about 87.5 percent of children were using seat belts in 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports adults in Cowley, Harvey and Sumner counties also topped the 2013 statewide average, while Butler and Reno counties fell a few percentage points below the state average. More than 1,000 people, however, were cited in Sedgwick County last month for not wearing their seat belts

Kansas Farmland Prices Stable

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Stable farm income and a relatively small number of farms on the market left farmland prices in Kansas largely unchanged, contrary to concerns that an agriculture bubble could be deflated. Land auctioneer Farmers National Company says irrigated farm land sold at auction this month cost about the same as comparable land a year ago. With rainfall easing drought conditions in much of the state, company officials say they don't see land values tapering off anytime soon. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports irrigated Kansas farmland sold at auction for up to $6,000 an acre in June, while non-irrigated land went for $2,000 to $4,000. January farmland prices dropped 10 percent compared with January 2013, but it isn't clear if that decline was just a blip reflecting a small number of farms.


Kansas Man Dies During Police Chase

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man is dead after crashing his car into a power pole while fleeing from Emporia police. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 20-year-old Javier Escobedo of Emporia tried to elude officers who attempted to pull him over around 2:30 a.m. Sunday for failing to stop at a stop sign. Police say Escobedo wasn't wearing a seat belt when his 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier slammed into the pole. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office is investigating.


93-year-old Kansas Woman Killed in Crash

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 93-year-old Kansas woman is dead after the pickup truck she was driving crossed the center line and struck a trailer being pulled by a second pickup. The Journal reports Beloit resident Lola Hillman was westbound on U.S. 24 northwest of Salina at 12:55 p.m. Friday when her car struck the trailer being pulled by a 47-year-old Kensington man. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports Hillman was taken to Salina Regional Health Center, where she died. The driver of the second pickup was not injured.


Topeka University Plans New Residence Hall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University plans to build a 350-bed residence hall on the east side of its Topeka campus to end waiting lists for housing and ease congestion in its student union dining hall. The university's Board of Regents approved the hiring of an architectural firm last week. Officials say construction is expected to begin next March, with the hall expected to be ready in August 2016. The new hall will have its own dining space and cost about $30 million to build. Washburn Vice President Rick Anderson said some prospective students are bypassing the university because of housing issues. Washburn has had waiting lists for housing for four years. The additional dining hall will also relieve lunchtime congestion in the Memorial Union.


Restored World War II Bomber to Fly over Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A World War II bomber restored to resemble the famed Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" will offer flights this weekend over Wichita. The plane is owned by the nonprofit Liberty Foundation and is one of 13 B-17's that still fly. The group will be at Wichita's Jabara Airport on Saturday and Sunday, selling public flights for $450 each to help pay for the plane's upkeep. The original "Memphis Belle" was the first heavy bomber of World War II to successfully complete 25 missions, dropping bombs over Germany, France and Belgium. It brought all of its crew members back safely. The restored plane visiting Wichita never saw combat, but it's painted in the colors of the "Memphis Belle" and was used in the 1990 film of that name.


Drone Fans Want FAA to Update Policies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Interest in flying remote-controlled drones is growing in Kansas, where enthusiasts say it's time for the Federal Aviation Administration to update its policies to accommodate what they believe is a revolutionary and profitable technology. The Wichita Eagle reports personal drones mounted with cameras for recording aerial video footage can cost as little as $1,000, and their use is rising exponentially. FAA guidelines limit use of unmanned aircraft systems such as drones for hobby or recreational purposes, while the rules for commercial operations are much more complicated. FAA spokesman Les Dorr says the primary concern about drones is that they could potentially interfere with an already-crowded airspace if not regulated properly.


KS High School's Home-Building Program Draws Interest

CHAPMAN, Kan. (AP) — The work of some northeast Kansas high school students has gotten the attention of a developer and at least one family that wants to buy houses built by their school's construction tech class. Chapman High School teacher Josh Schlesener says it's a compliment that homes built by his students are in high demand, and it would be great to have the materials for the projects paid for up front. But none of that changes the fact that his students can build only one house a year. The Chapman School Board is considering requests to pre-purchase the homes, including from a local developer that wants to buy up to 12 of them. The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle reports last year's house was auctioned off for just over $60,000.


Kansas College Weighs Sale of Farm

IOLA, Kan. (AP) _ Officials of Allen Community College are considering selling the school's 240-acre farm, citing low enrollment in agriculture courses. The Iola Register reports the farm's fate has drawn high interest among the eight students who live on the property, located five miles from the main campus in southeast Kansas. The college purchased the farm and built a classroom and animal building there in the early 1980s. In 1999, Richard Zahn established a scholarship program in honor of his late father, a former agriculture instructor. Zahn also donated funds to build a farmhouse for the scholarship recipients. One recipient, Dakota Ferguson, told the board of trustees at a recent meeting he was drawn to the college because of the farm. The trustees have requested more information before taking any action.


Topeka Police Say Burglary Not Related to Killings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say two men who were arrested while burglarizing a house tied to an unsolved quadruple homicide didn't have anything to do with the slayings. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police found a woman and two men shot to death inside a Topeka home on Dec. 1, and found a fourth victim behind a business hours later. Police received a call around 4 a.m. Dec. 4 indicating someone was inside the home where the killings had occurred four hours after it had been released as a crime scene. Officers found two men in the backyard with items from inside the house. Both pleaded guilty to burglary and were sentenced earlier this year. Police say the burglary was not related to the homicides in the same home.


Same-Sex Divorce Allowed Only in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Same-sex couples who marry in other states won't find many places in Kansas to divorce if the relationship fails. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Douglas County is currently the only county in Kansas that has issued divorces for same-sex couples. Gay rights advocates say many same-sex couples in Kansas get married in Iowa, where the marriages are legal. Iowa requires same-sex couples to live in the state for at least a year before they can divorce. Attorney David Brown says he knows of only three same-sex divorces that have been granted in Kansas, and those all occurred in Douglas County. Brown says at least two other counties, Shawnee and Johnson, will grant an annulment to end the marriages. Other counties find the marriage is invalid and dismiss the divorce petitions.


Hutchinson Will Change Name to Smallville for 2 Days

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson is going to stake its claim to being the home of Superman this week. The city will kick off its Smallville Festival this Thursday and officially change its name to Smallville Saturday and Sunday. The celebration grew from the June 21, 2013, induction of Superman into the Kansas Hall of Fame. The promotion is based on a quote in a Superman movie, in which Clark Kent says he grew up in Kansas. Three Hutchinson men argue their town was where Superman was raised. The Hutchinson News reports the city council voted to proclaim "Smallville - The Home of Clark Kent" in Hutchinson this weekend. It's in conjunction with the Smallville Festival, followed by the Smallville ComicCon this weekend.


Topeka Police Say No Arrest Made in Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police reversed course on whether a suspect in a homicide late last week has been taken into custody. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Sunday that a watch commander had confirmed an arrest had been made in connection with a homicide that happened Friday. But a news release sent out Sunday evening said the arrest in Independence, Missouri, was only on a narcotics warrant. Police spokesman Brian Desch says there has been no arrest in the killing and the case continues to be investigated. A man was shot and killed at a Topeka home Friday afternoon following a verbal exchange with another man driving a silver Dodge Magnum station wagon. Witnesses told police the car's driver fired eight to 10 shots in rapid fashion at the victim before driving away.


Union Says Guards at Lansing Prison in Danger

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A state employees union says attacks are increasing on guards at the Lansing Correctional Facility. The Kansas Organization of State Employees says it has received reports that 10 guards were injured in five separate attacks between June 5 -9. The union blames the increased violence on a lack of staff at the prison. Jeremy Barclay, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections, says inmates did attack guards on three consecutive days. But he says the incidents are unrelated and none of the guards were seriously hurt. The Hutchinson News reports the union disputes that contention. It says it received reports guards suffered broken teeth, a torn rotator cuff and fingers bitten down to the bone.


KC Court's Community Garden Doubles in Size

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A community garden run by the Kansas City Municipal Court has become so popular that it has doubled in size. The garden is used by participants in the city's drug, mental health and veterans' treatment courts. It started last year and was expanded this year to a 40-by-50-foot plot. Judge Joseph Locascio, presiding judge of the municipal court, works along with the participants in the garden. He says it offers participants a therapeutic, healthy activity. Sometimes, working in the garden is a light sanction for people who miss curfew or a meeting. But most of the gardeners ask to be there while going through their court programs. The Kansas City Star reports similar community gardens have taken root across the state in juvenile courts and domestic violence shelters.


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