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Headlines for Monday, March 10, 2014


Kansas Considers Moving Dates of Local Elections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee plans to review a proposal this week to change the dates of local elections so they occur on the same schedule as legislative and statewide contests. The bill on the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee's agenda Wednesday is a modified version of a proposal from the Kansas Republican Party. The GOP argues the bill would boost turnout. Kansas holds city and school board elections in the spring of odd-numbered years, and turnout is typically low. The bill would move the elections to even-numbered years, with primaries in August and general elections in November. GOP officials also pushed to make the elections partisan, but the committee rejected that idea. Many local officials oppose the change, arguing their races would get lost on a longer ballot.


Kansas Lawmakers Reviewing School Funding Decision

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are starting work on school funding issues after a state Supreme Court ruling, and Attorney General Derek Schmidt is telling them they have many options. Schmidt was briefing House Republicans on Monday. He said the high court left legislators with some discretion in addressing constitutional flaws in the state's school funding system. The court ruled Friday that the state must boost aid to poor school districts and gave legislators until July 1 to address the problems. It also ordered more lower-court hearings on whether the state is spending enough money overall. The state Department of Education said boosting aid to poor districts could cost $129 million a year. House Speaker Ray Merrick said the chamber's budget-writing Appropriations Committee will handle school funding legislation.


Attorney Calls Kansas Death Penalty Discriminatory

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney for a Kansas man convicted of killing two women and trying to kill a third says the case should be thrown out because the state's death penalty discriminates against blacks. John Val Wachtel is representing Phillip Cheatham Junior, who was convicted in 2005 of killing Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones and trying to kill Annetta Thomas in 2003. Last year the Kansas Supreme Court overturned his convictions and death sentence because he had received ineffective counsel during his first trial. He awaits a retrial on capital murder and attempted first-degree murder charges. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Wachtel argued Friday at a motions hearing that 37.5 percent of the men on Kansas' death row are black, while black men comprise only 5.5 percent of the state's population.


Judge Sides with KS Doctor in Abortion Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has overturned a Kansas board's revocation of a doctor's license over referrals of young patients for late-term abortions. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis said the State Board of Healing Arts failed to show that mental health exams provided by Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus in 2003 were inadequate. In an order that was made public Monday, Theis ordered the board to reconsider its sanctions. The board revoked Neuhaus's license to provide charity care in 2012 over her exams of 11 patients, ages 10 to 18. Neuhaus provided second opinions that the late Dr. George Tiller needed under Kansas law to legally terminate the pregnancies. The board concluded Neuhaus failed to meet accepted standards of care because her records didn't document adequate exams.


Police ID Man Found Dead Near Kansas River

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence have identified a man found dead near the Kansas River, but the cause and circumstances of the death are still unknown. A volunteer with a river cleanup crew found the body just before 9 am Saturday. Police issued a statement Monday identifying the man as 44-year-old Lawrence resident Troy A. Straub. A preliminary examination found no signs of foul play. A report from the coroner's office is pending. The body was discovered near an area where homeless camps have been found and unattended deaths have been reported several times since at least 2008. Police said Saturday they did not know if the man was between homes at the time of his death.


Advocates Urge Oxygen Tests for Kansas Newborns

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas chapter of the American Heart Association says state health officials aren't acting quickly enough to require a screening test that could save newborn babies' lives. The screening, called a pulse oximetry test, measures a baby's oxygen level and can help identify congenital heart defects. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment started an improvement project last November in many mostly rural hospitals and birthing centers that don't routinely do the test. A health department official says all babies will be screened by the end of the year. But the heart association says the state should make the test mandatory immediately, the Kansas City Star reports. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added critical heart defects to its list of recommended routine screenings in 2011.

Topeka Family Finally Returns to U.S. From Ukraine

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas couple and their four newly adopted children have made it home after a grueling trip to Ukraine, where civil unrest delayed their return for weeks. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Don and Lisa Jenkins arrived in Ukraine on February 2th and had hoped to finalize the adoptions of their four children by Valentine's Day. Those plans came to a halt when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the Viktor Yanukovich-led government. Much of the street fighting in Kiev happened just a mile from the apartment where the Jenkinses were staying. After the fighting died down, the family faced numerous delays in getting paperwork from the Ukrainian government. They left Kiev at 6:30 am Saturday and landed in Kansas City, Missouri around 9 pm that night.

Ford County Removes Its No-Weapons Signs

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Ford County in southwest Kansas has removed its signage barring concealed weapons in government buildings. The Dodge City Globe reports a 2013 state law removes exemptions to government buildings and requires local governments to open their buildings for concealed weapons or secure their buildings against all weapons. Ford County Administrator Ed Elam says the cost to secure buildings with locking doors or staffed checkpoints with metal detectors would have ranged in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for just equipment. Ford County schools remain exempt from allowing legally carried weapons, but the library, City Hall and courts are not exempt. Ford County, like most local governments in Kansas, took a six-month extension to make a decision. The extension expired January 1.

Meteorologist: Myths No Protection from Tornadoes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Weather experts in Kansas say people should not trust in myths to keep them safe during severe weather. A legend about the so-called "Tonganoxie Split," for example, purports that hills near that area divert severe weather away from the Kansas City metropolitan area, Lawrence and Tonganoxie. But in fact, a tornado hit Tonganoxie in 2000, causing $2.1 million in damage to more than 200 homes and nine businesses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports other area weather myths officials say shouldn't be believed are that tornadoes can't jump Burnett's Mound, a high point in the southwest part of Topeka, and that tornadoes can't cross rivers or form at high altitudes. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Barjenbruch warns against having a false sense of security based on myths, and says residents should always have safety plans.


Police: Man Used 7-Year-Old Son in Burglary

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man is accused of enlisting an unusual accomplice in a home burglary: his 7-year-old son. KSAL-AM reports that the break-in happened Friday afternoon at a home in Salina. Police responding to a report of a burglary in progress arrested the 32-year-old father as he emerged from the house with an electronic cable in his hand and his son by his side. Investigators allege the father helped the little boy enter the home through a basement window so the child could unlock a door and let him in. The boy was released to his mother. Charges against the father were pending Monday.


Kansas City Woman Charged in Wrong-Way Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors charged a Kansas City woman with involuntary manslaughter after a fatal wrong-way accident on Interstate 70. Thirty-two-year-old Lanelle D. Griffin was also charged Monday with driving with a revoked license in the February crash that killed 35-year-old Karl Silvey. Police say Silvey was a passenger in Griffin's car when she drove west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Kansas City and collided head-on with a semi-trailer truck. Court records indicate Griffin's blood contained high levels of cocaine and her blood-alcohol reading was .206 at the time of the crash. Griffin remained in jail Monday in lieu of a $100,000 bond. Online records do not indicate that she has a lawyer.


Woman Shot to Death Outside Wichita Bikers' Club

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say they're getting little help from witnesses to a fatal shooting outside an after-hours club over the weekend. KAKE-TV reports that police on Monday identified the victim as 23-year-old Kelsey Shaw. Investigators don't believe she was a target of the shooting just after 3 a.m. Sunday. Police said Shaw and two other people were in line outside the private club run by a biker group when a disturbance broke out nearby. Several shots were fired from the street toward the building, one of them hitting Shaw in the back of the head. Two people had been kicked out of the club earlier, but it's unclear if there's any connection to the shooting. Investigators are hoping to hear from anyone with information about the case.


KU Students to Vote on Eliminating Athletics Fee

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Student Senate will vote this week on whether to eliminate a fee students have paid to the athletics department for more than 30 years. Students pay $25 each in the fall and spring and $10 in the summer, with the revenue going to women's and non-revenue sports. The fee raised $1.1 million for Kansas Athletics Inc. last year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the fee began being charged in the late 1970s to help the university comply with a federal law requiring universities to support women's sports. An advisory board suggested in February that the fee be eliminated or reduced, citing the athletic department's increasing revenues and budget. The Student Senate will vote on Wednesday as part of its regular review of all student fees.


Company Plans Gas Processing Plant in KS

HAVEN, Kan. (AP) — A Texas company plans to build a new multimillion-dollar natural gas processing plant in south-central Kansas. Houston-based Next Generation Processing expects to start building the Tenawa Gas Processing plant near Haven this month. It is expected to employ 12 to 15 people. The Hutchinson News reports that the new plant uses a process that cools the natural gas flowing through an interstate pipeline and extracts the resulting liquids. Those liquids are processed into different components and sold to various industries. Company officials say the plant will process 1.3 billion cubic feet of gas a day. The plant's location near Haven is a junction of three different pipelines that bring gas from the Oklahoma Panhandle, northern Oklahoma and Texas.


1-Year-Old Child Falls From Moving Car on Highway

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating how a 1-year-old child fell out of a moving car on a Missouri highway. The child suffered only minor injuries after falling out of the car Sunday night in Lee's Summit. A passing driver stopped immediately and helped the child until emergency crews arrived. Police say the driver told officers that the child fell out of a rear passenger door when the car turned onto an entrance ramp for U.S. 50 in the Kansas City suburb. Officers are trying to determine if the child was sitting in a child's car seat that was in the vehicle.

Few Kansas City School Families Seeking Transfers Due to Accreditation Loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City school district officials say only 12 families have asked to transfer out of the district next year to nearby accredited districts. Officials with the district, and surrounding suburban districts, had raised concerns that a flood of students would seek to transfer out of Kansas City, which is one of three unaccredited districts in the state. In two unaccredited St. Louis-area districts, more than 2,000 students left. A state law requires unaccredited districts to pay tuition and transportation for students to transfer to a nearby accredited school. Several of the districts in suburban Kansas City had tried unsuccessfully to have the state courts declare the transfer law unconstitutional. The Kansas City Star reports that the 12 families seeking to transfer have a total of 23 students in the district.


Woman Must Pay $25,000 Fine for Selling Fake Goods

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge spared a Wichita businesswoman from prison, but imposed a $25,000 fine for selling fake luxury goods. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Monday sentenced Glenda Sue Morgan to five years of probation and ordered her to make payments of not less than $500 a month toward the fine. She pleaded guilty in October on one count of trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit designer labels such as Prada and Chanel at her shop, called The Fabulous Store. Morgan tearfully apologized to the court before sentencing. The judge said he was deeply troubled by the fact Morgan apparently didn't learn from a prior encounter with law enforcement in which no criminal charges were filed. Investigators seized 400 replica items with a retail value of $14,000 from Morgan's shop.


Kansas Family to Accept Honor for WWII Hero

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — Nearly 70 years after Nebraska-born soldier Donald Schwab knocked out a German machine gun position on a French battlefield, his descendants are heading to the White House this month to accept the Medal of Honor on his behalf. The delegation representing the late Army lieutenant will include his son Terry Schwab, a physician in Fort Scott, Kansas, and Terry Schwab's daughter, Missouri Southern State University student Savannah Schwab. The Joplin Globe reports the March 18th visit will supplement a project Savannah Schwab already had begun for her government class at the Joplin school — a blog called "Letters to My Grandfather." She and her father remember Donald Schwab as a humble man who spoke little of his World War II experiences with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.


KU Expects C Joel Embiid to Play in NCAA Tournament

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self says he expects center Joel Embiid to play in the NCAA tournament. Embiid is in Los Angeles to get a second opinion from a back specialist about his ailing lower back, a trip Self said was planned. Self says he hopes to know late Monday whether Embiid will play in this week's Big 12 Tournament. Embiid is averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for 10th-ranked Kansas, which will open the tournament Thursday.



K-State Women's Hoops Coach Patterson Fired

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, athletic director John Currie said Sunday. The Wildcats' season ended with an 87-84 overtime loss to Kansas in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Friday. Kansas State was 11-19 this season, going 5-13 in the conference. Patterson was 350-226 in 18 seasons at the school. She helped guide the team to nine NCAA tournaments and Big 12 titles in 2004 and 2008. Associate head coach Kamie Ethridge will oversee the program until a new head coach is hired.


Salina Facing Competition for Women's Tournament

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Lubbock, Texas, is challenging Salina for the right to host the national junior college women's basketball tournament, which has been held in the Kansas city for more than 15 years. The NJCAA Women's Basketball Championship is under a contract for two more years to hold its weeklong tournament in Salina. The event brings in about $600,000 to Salina. Dennis Lauver, president of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, says Salina will increase its financial package in order to counter competition from Lubbock. He declined to say what the financial offering will be. The Salina Journal reports the NJCAA is expected to make a decision sometime in April. This year's tournament runs from March 16 through 22 at the Salina Bicentennial Center.


Iowa State's Melvin Ejim AP Big 12 Player of Year

UNDATED (AP) — Iowa State senior forward Melvin Ejim is The Associated Press Big 12 Player of the Year. The AP awards were announced Monday, when Ejim and Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins were unanimous picks on the All-Big 12 first team. Wiggins is the league's Freshman of the Year. Ejim was second in the Big 12 with both his 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. No other league player ranked in the top 10 in both of those categories. Ejim and Wiggins are joined on the first team by league scoring leader Juwan Staten from West Virginia, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Iowa State's DeAndre Kane, the Marshall transfer who was the unanimous choice as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Oklahoma's Lon Kruger was selected as the AP's Big 12 Coach of the Year.



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