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Headlines for Monday, June 9, 2014


Audit: Over 1,080 Kansas Veterans Awaiting VA Visits

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs says 110 Kansas veterans are waiting for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics for 90 days or more. An additional 977 veterans in Kansas who have enrolled in the VA health care system during the past 10 years have never had appointments. The audit released Monday shows 104 patients are on an electronic waiting list at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita. Six are awaiting care through the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, which has facilities in Topeka and Leavenworth. The federal department also says 636 veterans who enrolled for care at the Wichita center in the past decade never had an appointment. Another 341 who enrolled in Topeka or Leavenworth have not had an appointment.


Top 2 Doctors in Eastern Kansas VA System Leaving

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman for the Veterans Affairs health care system for eastern Kansas says its top two doctors are taking other positions within the VA at the end of the month. Spokesman Jim Gleisberg confirmed Monday that medical Chief of Staff Rajeev Trehan and Deputy Chief of Staff Sandeep Chhahir are transferring out of their positions. Gleisberg said he can't say more because their departures are personnel matters. The Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka faced physician shortages that diverted patients to other hospital emergency rooms for months last year. The staffing issues prompted the VA to close the Topeka medical center's emergency room in January. Gleisberg said while staffing for the emergency room has increased, he doesn't know when the VA will reopen it.


Analyst Says Officials Misstated Reasons for Revenue Decline

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The policy analyst whose research was cited by Kansas officials to explain unexpected drops in tax revenue now says those officials misstated her conclusions by failing to provide them in the proper context. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas tax revenues fell $217 million short of projections in May, pushing the gap between tax revenues and what was estimated for the fiscal year to $310 million with only one month left. Analyst Lucy Dadayan says the state Department of Revenue correctly cited her conclusion that many states were having trouble accurately forecasting revenues because of uncertainties with the capital gains tax. But she says that was not much of a factor in Kansas. She says the large income tax cut caused most of the shortfall in Kansas.

Kansas Teachers Union Promising Lawsuit over New Policies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest teachers union in Kansas is promising to file a state court lawsuit challenging the Legislature's decision to add policies backed by conservative Republicans to an education funding bill this year. The Kansas National Education Association announced its plans Monday. General Legal Counsel David Schauner said the lawsuit will be filed by the end of the month in Shawnee County District Court. The new law boosts aid to poor school districts by $129 million during the next school year to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court decision in March. The GOP-dominated Legislature tied the funding to multiple policy provisions, including one that ends guaranteed teacher tenure in public schools. Schauner said the union hasn't yet decided how much of the policy in the law will be challenged.


KC-Bound Jet Collides on Tarmac in Boston

A Southwest Airlines jet bound for Kansas City ran into a staionary JetBlue airplane on the tarmac at Boston's Logan Airport this morning. No injuries were reported. An airport spokesman says the Boeing 737, bound for Kansas City International, was backing away from the gate just after 7:30 this (MON) morning when it clipped the right side of JetBlue AirBus 320. No one was aboard the JetBlue plane. An airport spokesman says there was no impact on airport operations. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.


Black Ministers Campaign Against Voter ID

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A group of black ministers has concluded its annual conference in Wichita vowing to encourage a get-out-the-vote campaign to fight voter ID laws. The ministers are members of the Midwest Conference Fifth Episcopal District, which represents 120 churches in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.The ministers contend voter ID laws weaken civil rights by making it harder for minorities and first-time voters to cast ballots. The Wichita Eagle reports the ministers plan to work with community organizations and colleges to register new voters. The goal is to mobilize at least 80 percent of eligible voters in their churches and communities to vote in this year's primary and general elections.


Brownback Joins Western Governors Meeting in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is joining 9 other Western state governors meeeting this week in Colorado Springs to discuss issues including the drought and the environment. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval are hosting the meeting at The Broadmoor hotel, which starts today (MON). Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy is scheduled to speak to the governors on Tuesday, a week after announcing big cuts in pollution produced by the country's power plants. The other governors attending are Jan Brewer of Arizona, Butch Otter of Idaho, Steve Bullock of Montana, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Gary Herbert of Utah and Matt Mead from Wyoming.


Eudora Names City Manager

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A veteran northeast Kansas administrator has been appointed manager of the Douglas County city of Eudora. The appointment of Gary Ortiz takes effect today (MON). Ortiz has been serving as assistant county administrator for Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. He was previously was the city manager of Leavenworth from 1998 to 2007. Ortiz says that recent development of a transportation center near Gardner and Edgerton will help economic growth along the Kansas 10 corridor connecting Johnson and Douglas counties.


Report: 63 Percent of Kansas Wheat Faring Poorly

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Recent rains across Kansas are greening up the state's parched pastures and helping spring-planted crops. But the improved soil moisture conditions have come too late to help most of the state's drought-stricken winter wheat crop as harvest nears. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 63 percent of the wheat in Kansas is in poor to very poor condition. Twenty-six percent of the crop is rate in fair condition, with 10 percent rated good and 1 percent rated excellent. The agency says about 13 percent of the wheat crop has now matured. Corn condition is rated as 8 percent poor to very poor, 45 percent fair, 42 percent good and 5 percent excellent. Pastures have improved, but 38 percent are still rated as poor or very poor.


Colorado Man Sentenced for Kansas Bank Holdup

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado man who wore pajama pants while robbing a Kansas bank has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney's office says a judge in Topeka sentenced 38-year-old Matthew W. Headley on Monday. Headley, of Canon City, Colorado, pleaded guilty earlier to entering a US Bank branch in Lawrence last September and handing over a note demanding money. Lawrence police found him at a nearby convenience store, still wearing the pajama pants and golf hat, but did not have enough evidence at the time to arrest him. He was arrested the next day driving west on Interstate 70 in northwestern Kansas. Headley formerly lived in Lawrence. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to robbing two Lawrence businesses and was released from federal prison in 2007.


KU Seeks to Offer Human Sexuality Degree

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas is seeking permission to offer a bachelor's degree program in human sexuality. Professor Alesha Doan, chairwoman of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, says it's important for people to understand how human sexuality affects the world. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Kansas Board of Regents will consider the university's request later this month. The major would examine subjects examining how sexual identity and practices affect numerous issues, such as human trafficking, family violence and slavery. Doan says few universities in the country offer human sexuality majors. She says the degree program would fit in well with some programs already offered by the university.


Wichita May Revive Water Rebate Plan

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita officials are considering a rebate plan aimed at helping customers save water. The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to authorize $450,000 for the rebate program. The council approved $1 million a year ago for a similar plan that provided rebates for water-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets, rain barrels and other water-saving measures. While last year's plan was limited to homeowners, this year's plan would apply to anyone who pays a water bill, including renters and businesses. The Wichita Eagle reports the program is estimated to save 250,000 gallons of water a day, which is about 0.44 percent of the city's total water usage.


Colorado Man Accused of Leaving Fatal Kansas Crash

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A 28-year-old Colorado man is accused of leaving the scene of a deadly Hutchinson accident, striking a parked car and running away from the second scene. KWCH-TV reports Homer Beebe was driving west when his SUV collided with a pickup driven by Pedro Perez of Hutchinson at 1:50 am Sunday. Perez died at the scene. Police say Beebe fled the second accident while his passenger, a 28-year-old Palisade, Colorado, woman, remained in the SUV with head injuries. She was taken to a Wichita hospital, where she was in serious condition Sunday. Beebe was arrested at a Hutchinson home later Sunday morning. He was being held on a charge of failure to report and leaving the scene of a fatality accident.


Nature Center in Hutchinson Plans Upgrades

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ The Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson is planning its first major upgrades since its hands-on indoor exhibits were installed 15 years ago. The changes will be installed in August, with the complete project expected to be finished by early September. The nature center is conducting a $300,000 capital campaign to fund the projects. The Hutchinson News reports the project will include new exhibits on soils, plants, insects, mammals and reptiles. The center's leaders are promising the new exhibits will be brighter and more engaging than current exhibits. Tony Finlay,executive director of the Hutchinson Recreation Commission, which manages the nature center, says the goal is to make the exhibits more attractive to schoolchildren and to attract more visitors. About 20,000 schoolchildren visit the center every year.


FBI Documents Show Widespread SW Missouri Vice

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Hundreds of pages of reports from an FBI investigation into illegal gambling in Joplin, Mo. and surrounding areas show a wide-ranging vice operation that involved influential people in southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas. The Joplin Globe obtained more than 600 pages of documents in response to a Freedom of Information request the newspaper filed in 2012 because the investigation had led to the firing of a Joplin police officer. The documents reveal how the gambling investigation grew into a probe of drug trafficking, prostitution and public corruption. Eventually, a Kansas prosecutor pleaded guilty to extortion and a Joplin police officer was fired before the investigation closed in August 2011.


KU Student Government Reacts to Loss of Basketball Seats

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Student government leaders at the University of Kansas say they are disappointed that the university is shifting some prized seats in Allen Fieldhouse from students to donors after the Student Senate eliminated a $25 student fee. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the university's athletics department is moving students from seats behind the bench near the tunnel where Kansas basketball players take the floor and letting donors have them. The $25 student fee for years provided more than $1 million in revenue for the athletics department, but was restored at a lesser amount, $7 per semester, bringing in only about $350,000 annually.


Topeka Store Owner Charged with Prostitution

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The owner of a Topeka massage parlor faces federal charges today accusing him of bringing a woman from China to Kansas for the purpose of prostitution.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Yong Jin Zhang, owner of Life Long Foot Massage, is charged in federal court with knowingly transporting the woman to engage in prostitution. Zhang and Yu Lan Su, manager of the store, also are charged with maintaining a house for prostitution. Court documents show that the two were arrested in May after the Topeka Police Department began investigating several Asian massage parlors in 2013.


Two Killed in Small Plane Crash in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) _ The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of an experimental plane Sunday that killed two men. The plane crashed shortly after taking off yesteray (SUN) morning in a field near the Great Bend Municipal Airport. The Kansas Highway Patrol has identified the victims as 49-year-old Roger Brining of Great Bend and 24-year-old Daniel Bishop of Clearfield, Utah. The The Wichita Eagle reports that the plane was an experimental Schrieber P-70. Brining was a prominent farmer and entrepreneur in Barton County who was past president of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter and was a mentor in an organization that promotes aviation to young people.


KU Grad Student Crowned 2014 Miss Kansas

PRATT, Kan. (AP) - A University of Kansas graduate student has won the 2014 Miss Kansas title and will represent the state in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City later this year. The Wichita Eagle reports that 23-year-old Amanda Sasek is a native of Moberly, Missouri. She won the Miss Kansas crown Saturday night at the pageant held at Pratt Community College. 31 women competed for the title.


FedEx Donates Jet to SW Kansas School

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) _ A retired FedEx jet has found a new home and purpose as a classroom for Liberal students to learn math and science in southwest Kansas. The donated Boeing 727, which was built in 1979 and also had a career as a passenger jet, will be called the Liberal Learning Jet. The High Plains Daily Leader reports that the jet named ``Alina'' arrived Thursday at the Mid America Air Museum, a former World War II training base. The aircraft will be converted to a classroom with space for 30 to 60 students. The focus will be on teaching science, technology, engineering and math skills. The project is collaboration between the city, school district, the Mid America Air Museum and the Seward County Community College and Area Technical School.


Ammonia Leak Forces Evacuation at Wichita Plant

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An ammonia leak at a southwest Wichita Farmland plant injured three people over the weekend. The Wichita Eagle reports the incident happened Saturday afternoon the 100 employees working at the plant to evacuate. Hazmat crews said the leak had been shutoff and they say windy weather conditions helped to spread the gas.


Arkansas City Facing Housing Crunch

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A southern Kansas community is trying to figure out how to house hundreds of new employees as a local beef processor plans to start hiring in the next few months.Arkansas City is in a predicament because housing in the area is scarce and Creekstone Farms is planning to add 300 more workers to its staff of 800. City officials say there are very few houses on the market for new families moving in. A survey conducted by the local economic development group suggested something needs to be done quickly. Area real estate agents are working with developers to buy land and build new housing units for the influx of new workers.


Former School Counselor Convicted of Rape

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas middle school counselor has been convicted of raping a male student who was doing work at her home. The Salina Journal reports that jurors deliberated about three hours Monday before finding 33-year-old Brooke Dinkel guilty on two counts. She was acquitted of eight counts of rape and 10 of aggravated criminal sodomy. Witnesses in the trial testified the boy was 13 when he and Dinkel first had sex in late 2012. The boy, now 14, testified their last sexual contact before Dinkel's arrest took place in March 2013. Dinkel, who worked at Smoky Valley Middle School in Lindsborg, testified the boy forced himself on her the first time they had sex. She said she continued the encounters because the boy was threatening to get her in trouble.


Woman Says Son's Grave Plaque Moved After Decades

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma woman says she is heartbroken after a ground-level plaque for one of her two infant sons buried in a Topeka cemetery has been removed after three decades. Angela Hudson says both of her sons' graves have been marked with plaques since the 1970s, but her sister visited the graves on Memorial Day and found the marker was missing for her youngest son, who died in 1977. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the grave marker for Hudson's older son, who died in 1975, is still there. Both boys died shortly after birth. Mount Hope Cemetery's new operator says temporary markers should have been removed after 30 days, but maintenance in the cemetery wasn't always up-to-date. Hudson says she can't afford to buy a permanent marker for her son.



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