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Headlines for Monday May 19, 2014


Boating Accident Claims Man's Life at Tuttle Creek Lake

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is dead after a boat carrying him and two other people capsized on Tuttle Creek Lake near Manhattan. KMAN-AM reports two men and a woman were in the 14-foot fishing boat when it capsized just after 3 pm Sunday afternoon near the mouth of Tuttle Cove. A nearby fisherman pulled a man and the woman out of the water, but couldn't get to the third. The body of 25-year-old Junction City resident Matthew Mann was recovered from the lake at 10:25 pm after he was located with the help of sonar. The other two were treated at an area hospital and released. None of the people on the boat was wearing a life jacket.


State of Kansas Working Through Teacher Licensing Changes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Changes are in store for the Kansas teacher licensure process under a new state law aimed at making it easier for people without education degrees to get into classrooms. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that legislators passed the measure as education officials sought to increase the available pool of teachers in science, math, engineering and technology. The law takes effect July 1. It will allow people with bachelor's degrees and significant work experience in the designated fields to teach in secondary schools. The Kansas Department of Education was already in the midst of retooling the licensure process when the law was passed. The State Board of Education will review proposed rules and regulations in the coming month to implement the new state law.


KDHE Says Lead Levels High in Cherryvale

CHERRYVALE, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas health officials say recent lead levels among children tested in a southeast Kansas town were significantly higher than statewide levels. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says tests conducted from 2005 to 2012 showed children tested in Cherryvale had higher levels of lead in their blood. The analysis doesn't address the source of the elevated levels. The National Zinc Company mine in Cherryvale has been closed for years and has been the subject of a cleanup.


KS School Board Seeks Input on Commissioner

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State Board of Education members plan to have meetings across the state to ask their constituents what experience and skills they see as essential for a new education commissioner. The board is describing the meetings as focus groups. One is scheduled for Thursday eveing (6:30) at Bonner Springs High School. It will be hosted by the local state board member, Democrat Janet Waugh. The board says several more focus groups are planned. The board is searching for a new commissioner because Diane DeBacker stepped down from the job last week to become an adviser to the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates. During the search, Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander will serve as acting commissioner.


FCC Fines Sprint $7.5M in Do Not Call Case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission says Sprint will pay $7.5 million in the largest Do Not Call settlement to date for making unwanted telemarketing calls and sending texts to consumers. The FCC said Monday that Sprint will also put a two-year plan in place to make sure it complies with commission requirements designed to prevent people from receiving unwanted marketing calls. The settlement follows an earlier one in 2011 in which Sprint paid $400,000 due to similar complaints. Sprint Corporation says the issues with Do Not Call were due to "technical and inadvertent human errors," which the company reported to the FCC. The company based in Overland Park, Kansas, also says that it has made "significant" capital investments to improve its Do Not Call/text oversight and compliance.


Salina Police Investigate Fatal Truck Explosion

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Salina are investigating an explosion in the cab of a pickup truck that left a man with fatal injuries. The Salina Journal reports that the blast occurred around 12:30 pm Monday while the truck was parked near a sand volleyball court at a city park. Witnesses called police, who found the man on the badly injured man on the ground beside the vehicle. The man was pronounced dead at a hospital about two hours later. Police Captain Mike Sweeney says authorities are trying to determine what caused the explosion. Sweeney says investigators don't suspect a mechanical failure in the truck but think the blast could have been accidental. The victim's name was being withheld while relatives were notified.


KS ROTC Graduating Woman Combat Officer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The ROTC program at the University of Kansas has graduated its first female combat arms officer since the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Madeline Wilcox enrolled in the Army ROTC program at KU four years ago when women weren't allowed to be combat officers. Today (MON), the 21-year-old Wilcox ecomes the first female combat arms officer to be commissioned by University of Kansas ROTC under the military's new rules.


Renewable Energy Mandates Drawing Criticism in Kansas, Across US

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State government mandates requiring utilities to buy a portion of their power from renewable resources are coming under fire across the country, including in Kansas, which observers say came as close as any to repealing its rules this year. Kansas lawmakers have refused to eliminate the mandate for the past three years, but the Kansas City Star reports opponents are inching closer to repeal. Twenty-nine states have renewable energy mandates, and bills weakening or repealing them came up in at least nine states this year — including Kansas and Missouri. Conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance are battling for repeal because they say the mandates amount to government intrusion and are nothing more than tax increases.


Westar Explores Offering Prepaid Electric Service

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas utility is starting a pilot project that will let customers who have advanced digital meters pay for their electricity in advance. Westar Energy is awaiting permission later this month from the Kansas Corporation Commission to offer as many as 1,000 customers prepaid service. The Wichita Eagle reports approval is highly likely because all of the parties that would be involved have agreed to do it. The new meters allow the state's largest electric utility to turn customers' power on and off from a central location without sending out a crew. The company says the prepaid option would allow customers to get service without paying a deposit, and could prove useful to college students who often need service for only a limited time.


Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Highway Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man arrested after a rash of highway shootings in the two-state Kansas City area has pleaded not guilty to 20 felony counts. WDAF-TV reports that 27-year-old Mohammed Whitaker, of Grandview, entered the pleas Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City, Missouri. Prosecutors allege Whitaker opened fire on 10 vehicles from behind the wheel of his car in March and April in Kansas City, Blue Springs and Lee's Summit. Three people were injured. Investigators also suspected the same shooter in an incident in Leawood, Kansas, but Whitaker is charged only in Missouri incidents. The 20 counts include 10 each of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. Whitaker remains held on $1 million bond.


Authorities Investigating $10 Million Embezzlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The investigation into $10 million in missing deposits from the former Parsons-Pittsburg Credit Union has focused on a fired employee believed to have gambled with the credit union's money. Documents filed last week in federal court reveal the magnitude of losses that led the Kansas Department of Credit Unions in January to place the credit union into conservatorship. Golden Plains Credit Union of Garden City assumed its operations in March. An FBI affidavit says the majority of the missing deposits were diverted from credit union accounts to accounts controlled by the suspect. According to the affidavit, records showed the suspect spent more than $190,000 at casinos in Oklahoma and Missouri between mid-January and early March. The Associated Press is not identifying the ex-worker because no criminal charges have been filed.


Church Hopes to Open Free Store for Teachers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita church plans to open a free store for teachers in which individuals or companies can donate supplies for use in classrooms so the instructors don't have to pay for them out of their own pockets. The Wichita Eagle reports the average teacher spends between $600 and $1,500 a year of his or her own money on classroom supplies. GracePoint Church executive pastor Terry Johnson says giving teachers the tools they need can help them better educate students. The church recently established a nonprofit organization called Project Teacher, which hopes to open a volunteer-run free store in time for next school year. The idea was inspired by Schoolhouse Supplies in Portland, Oregon, which distributed more than $430,000 worth of supplies during the 2010-2011 school year.


Kansas Baby Struggles with Rare Disorder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas baby with a rare digestive disorder is struggling to find something she can eat besides a bland-tasting medical food that's mixed with water. Maehlee Her has a disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis that causes her to get sick if she eats any kind of food. Her mother, Marci Flory, told The Topeka Capital-Journal white blood cells in her throat think food is a foreign invader and try to fight it off. The only thing Maehlee has found that she can eat is squash. Otherwise the Eudora girl is forced to drink Elecare, an amino acid-based medical food that costs her family $600 to $900 a month because insurance won't pay for it. Flory says she has found only 40 people in Kansas with the disorder.


Lottery: $2M Powerball Ticket Sold in NE Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State lottery officials say a $2 million winning ticket was sold to a player in northeast Kansas during the weekend Powerball drawing. Officials declined to say Monday exactly where the ticket was drawn. The lottery's northeast Kansas zone covers 21 counties. The winning ticket matched the first five numbers drawn Saturday, which were 23-32-39-47-49. The Powerball was 22. The player also purchased a Power Play option which doubled the prize from $1 million to $2 million. No ticket sold matched all the numbers in drawing. The jackpot for Wednesday's drawing will be an estimated $114 million.


Holyrood Woman's Estate Donates to K-State

HOLYROOD, Kan. (AP) _ The estate of central Kansas woman has donated $1.67 million to Kansas State University. The money from the estate of Elnita Jezek will establish a scholarship for business students at Kansas State University. The Salina Journal reports Jezek graduated from Kansas State in 1939 with a bachelor's degree from the College of Business Administration. She also served as a trustee of the Kansas State Foundation for 12 years.


Glass Labyrinth to Open in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A large glass labyrinth opens to the public this week at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The museum is holding a public event Thursday for the opening of the "Glass Labyrinth,'' which is essentially a glass triangle with a maze of interior glass walls. The labyrinth is the work of artist Robert Morris. The Kansas City native attended Paseo Academy and the Kansas City Art Institute. The sculpture, which weighs more than 400 tons, was commissioned with funding from the Hall Family Foundation.


KC Girl Recovering from Lawnmower Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Missouri family says the courage of a 6-year-old girl whose left leg was mangled by a lawn mower is helping them get through the ordeal. Isabella Smith wandered too close to her grandfather's mower on May 1st and was run over when he didn't see her and backed the machine up. John Williams tells the Kansas City Star he might have lost his composure if not for his granddaughter's strength as he held her waiting for an ambulance.


Army College to Graduate Military Officers

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) _ Military officers from the U.S. and eight other countries will receive their degrees in advanced military studies this week from an Army college at Fort Leavenworth. The 132 graduates include 12 international officers. They'll complete their education with a ceremony Thursday at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. The program is a 10-month course in graduate-level education aimed at increasing the leadership skills of officers from all branches of the military. Graduates receive a master's degree in military arts and sciences. The students have the rank is either lieutenant colonel, colonel or an equivalent civilian status.


Spencer Museum Gets Turrell Piece

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has received a donation of a work by artist James Turrell. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that University of Kansas alumnus Mark Booth and his wife, Lauren, have donated the work "Gard Blue'' to the museum. The piece has been the centerpiece of the Spencer's nine-month exhibition "James Turrell: Gard Blue.''  The piece, created by Turrell in 1968, is a projection of blue light in a large, box-like room constructed for the display. Mark Booth called "Gard Blue'' an early important work in the career of an artist who's widely considered one of the great artists of the last 50 years.'' Museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy says she was deeply honored by the gift.


Wichita May Turn to Rejected Water Plan

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita officials grappling with how to secure the city's long-term water supply are reconsidering a groundwater project that was discarded earlier. City Manager Robert Layton and public works officials on Tuesday presented four water supply options. The Wichita Eagle reports three options involve buying treated water from the city of El Dorado and El Dorado Reservoir. A fourth option includes expanding the city's Aquifer Storage and Recovery Program northwest of Wichita. That plan involves drawing water from the Little Arkansas River to recharge the Equus Beds Aquifer. Earlier this year, however, several council members said they were doubtful the program would be a viable single long-term water source for the city. Another water option, converting sewer water to drinking water, was discarded as too expensive.


KU Celebrates 142nd Commencement

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas has held its 142nd annual commencement ceremony. More than 4,000 students were candidates for graduation this spring, and 12,000 were invited to the commencement ceremony on Sunday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the crowd at Memorial Stadium to "strive to be something bigger than your selfie.'' Gray-Little then turned her back to the crowd and snapped a selfie of her own. In the background behind her thousands of Kansas graduates cheered. Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Fred Logan told the graduates he hoped they would use their education ``to help others succeed, help everyone else along.'' The university also awarded two honorary doctorates, to vocalist Joyce Ann DiDonato and economist Vernon Smith.


New KU Building Named Capitol Federal Hall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A new building for the business school at the University of Kansas will bear the name Capitol Federal Hall in recognition of two alumni who donated to the construction project. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the name of the $65.7 million building was approved Wednesday by the Kansas Board of Regents. A gift of $20 million from the Capitol Federal Foundation was made to assist with the construction. It is the charitable arm of Topeka-based Capitol Federal Savings, which is led by John B. Dicus, a 1983 graduate of the business school. University officials say it has been the practice to name buildings in honor of donors regardless of whether they were individuals or foundations. Dicus's father, John C. Dicus, earned his degree from the business school in 1955.


KS Town Changes Shelter Protocol

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) _ A southeast Kansas school district is changing its protocol for storm shelters after a school hadn't been unlocked when a recent tornado hit. Two elementary schools were unlocked before the tornado struck Baxter Springs April 27th. But a shelter at Baxter Springs Middle School wasn't unlocked in time, leaving those who drove there to seek shelter elsewhere. The incident prompted the school board to change its protocol for opening the shelters during a meeting last week. Superintendent Dennis Burke told The Joplin Globe that shelter wasn't open in time because of the warning came so close to the storm. He says the district is adding more signs at shelters directing people to the unlocked doors. They're also buying radio communications systems in case cellphones can't be used.


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