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Headlines for Monday, October 6, 2014

ACLU to Challenge Kansas Gay Marriage Ban

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A decision by the nation's highest court is expected to clear the way for the expansion soon of same-sex marriages to Kansas. The U.S. Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The American Civil Liberties Union says that since the appeals from Oklahoma and Utah originated in the 10th Circuit, the decision in those cases will affect states in that circuit, including Kansas. The ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri says it plans to file a lawsuit soon asking a federal judge to block the Kansas law prohibiting gay marriage. Thomas Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, says marriage equality is coming to Kansas, and that it may not be this morning, but perhaps another morning very soon.


Kansas Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Courthouse is turning away same-sex couples seeking to get a marriage license in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that clears the way for such unions. Kerry Wilks and Donna Ditrani, along with their minister, went to the Wichita courthouse Monday to get a marriage license. After the clerk refused to give them paperwork to get a license, the couple said they would be happy to "join the cause" as plaintiffs in a lawsuit expected to be filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the Kansas ban. Aimee McCarter and Jennifer Kozushko say they're disappointed after being refused a marriage license, although McCarter said they didn't expect anything different. They walked away from the courthouse, holding hands.


MO Attorney General Won't Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Ruling 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says he won't appeal a ruling that Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Koster made the announcement Monday afternoon, several hours after the Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian marriages. The move effectively makes gay marriage legal in 30 states; Missouri isn't among them. Koster noted the high court's order in explaining his decision not to appeal Friday's ruling from a Jackson County judge. Koster says Missouri's future will be "one of inclusion, not exclusion." The Missouri ruling means same-sex couples who wed outside the state will eligible to sign up for a wide range of benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples.


Roberts Plans Campaign Event with US Chamber Leader

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Senator Pat Roberts plans to hold a campaign event with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce leader as his race for re-election in Kansas heats up. The event Monday afternoon is at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce offices in Topeka. U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom is participating. The Roberts campaign said the national business group would make an announcement but was not more specific. The 78-year-old Roberts is seeking his fourth, six-year term but is in a tight race with independent candidate Greg Orman. The 45-year-old Orman is an Olathe businessman and co-founder of a private equity firm. The two candidates have a debate scheduled Wednesday in Overland Park, and Roberts plans to kick off a four-day bus tour Thursday in Wichita with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz Endorsing Pat Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tea party movement icon and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has endorsed the re-election of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and is planning to help his fellow Republican kick off a four-day bus tour. The Roberts campaign announced Cruz's endorsement Monday. It also said that Cruz plans to travel Thursday to Wichita to launch the bus tour, which includes stops in 11 communities. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn also is planning to join Roberts for five bus-tour events Thursday and Friday. Roberts is seeking his fourth term in the Senate and is in a tough race against independent candidate and Olathe businessman Greg Orman. Orman's campaign said campaigning with Cruz shows that Roberts is, in its words, "an enthusiastic participant in a broken system" in Washington.


KU Greeks Form Sexual Assault Awareness Task Force

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas fraternity and sorority members have formed a task force to raise awareness about sexual assault amid recent allegations. The group released a video Thursday challenging fraternities and sororities to have an honest discussion about consent and responsibility. The U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study in 2007 of campus sexual assaults and found that sorority membership is a risk factor because members are more apt to associate with fraternity men. The study says fraternity men are more likely to commit sexual assault or aggression than non-Greek men. Interfraternity Council president Kevin Simpson says it's crucial that members are held accountable. Just last week, the school placed the Kappa Sigma fraternity on interim suspension over a sexual assault report.


Kansas Taps Unused Funds on Program for Hiring the Disabled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas plans to tap unused federal funds to help launch a five-year, $25 million initiative to help disabled residents find good jobs. State officials unveiled what they're calling the "End-Dependence Kansas" initiative during a news conference Monday at a Topeka restaurant. The initiative involves five state agencies. Mike Donnelly, director for the Department for Children and Families Rehabilitation Services, said the new initiative is designed to help 2,000 disabled Kansans find jobs. The program not only will help potential workers with job coaches and workplace technology, it can subsidize their wages as they try out for jobs or after they are hired. Donnelly said the initiative is being launched with $5 million to $6 million in unused federal funds that the state would be forced otherwise to return next year.


New Revenue Department Online Center Goes Live on Tuesday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Customers of the Kansas Department of Revenue are gaining access this week to a new online customer service center where they can access their accounts and make payments. The department says the Kansas Customer Service Center will be accessible starting Tuesday from the Online Services link on the department's website. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says the change means customers will need to remember only one email address and password combination to access their accounts. Because of the conversion all Department of Revenue accounts were offline on Monday so data could be moved to the new site. The accounts will be available again at 7 am on Tuesday.


State Fair Attendance Hits 16-Year High

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Fair manager Denny Stoecklein is crediting good weather and enticing entertainment for a boost in attendance at this year's fair. The Hutchinson News reports that audited numbers announced Monday show 355,329 visitors attended the fair, which ran September 5-14. This year's gate was up by about 15,000 people from 2013 and the highest in 16 years. Stoecklein says it was also the fourth-highest attendance of all time — although that statistic is unofficial, because audited attendance only began in 1978. The fair's highest attendance was 361,647 in 1995. The lowest was about 283,000 in 2011, when the fair took place shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


County Commissioners Reject Birth-Control Pill

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County commissioners have removed a birth-control pill called Portia from a list of items the county health department wants to purchase with a $1,032 grant from the state Department of Health and Environment. Bronson Farmer, director of the Saline County Health Department, plans to ask the commission on Tuesday that the grant be used to purchase birth control pills that have been approved by commissioners as stock becomes low. The Salina Journal reports county health department officials indicated last week they wanted to spend the grant money on Portia brand pills, which are not currently in stock. But Commissioner John Price objected to the brand and said it could be used as a "morning after" pill.


Officials Say 'Tornado Days' Not Likely in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Oklahoma have been talking about whether to institute "tornado days" in which classes would be called off when the threat of tornadoes is unusually high. The Wichita Eagle reports their Kansas counterparts say they haven't even considered such a move, which could create more problems than it solves. Nine schoolchildren were killed in May 2013 when a tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma. A researcher says prior to that, the last tornado death during a school day in Oklahoma came in 1930. Schools in Mississippi and Alabama have tornado day policies in place, but it's not likely the practice will spread to Kansas. Wichita school officials say part of the reason is that they're reluctant to encourage parents to come get their children during tornado warnings.


Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Watch US Ruling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Same-sex marriage advocates hope Missouri will stop fighting the unions after the Supreme Court cleared the way for their expansion. An order issued Monday turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian marriages, effectively making gay marriage legal in 30 states. Although Missouri isn't among those states, it has been moving in that direction. On Friday, a circuit judge ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Two pending Missouri cases focus on the legality of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Tony Rothert says the state should stop defending its same-sex marriage ban after the recent court actions. His organization reached out to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.


Gardner Teenager Dies in Single-Car Wreck

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - Troopers say a northeast Kansas teenager has been killed in a single-vehicle accident. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 18-year-old Jonah Wheeler of Gardner died Sunday after losing control of his car on Interstate 35. Troopers say Wheeler was driving south when his Honda Civic spun into the median and struck a pole. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers say he wasn't wearing a seat belt.


Kansas Drivers Killed in Head-On Crash

ALTON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two motorists have died in a collision in the north-central part of the state. The crash happened just before 8 am Monday near the Osborne County town of Alton when a northbound pickup truck and a southbound car collided head-on. Authorities identified the drivers as 35-year-old Shane Conway and 57-year-old Stephen Arnold. Both men were residents of Alton. The patrol said Arnold was wearing a seat belt, but Conway was not.


Wichita Man Robbed During Craigslist Sale

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police are searching for two men who they say robbed a man at a Pizza Hut who was trying to sell electronics through Craigslist. Sgt. John Ryan says the robbery was reported Saturday night. The victim told police that the men threatened him with a knife when he arrived. The electronics and $200 were reported stolen. Police haven't said what types of items were stolen or how much they're worth. They also haven't released identifying information about the suspects or the victim. Ryan says similar thefts have happened before, but not recently.


Wichita Woman Critically Injured in House Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita authorities say a 40-year-old woman has been critically burned in a mobile home fire. Authorities say a man and a woman were outside of the home Sunday when they responded to the fire. The man was treated at the scene for unknown injuries. The woman was hospitalized in critical condition. Acting Battalion Chief Chad Winton says the home was destroyed and estimates the fire caused $90,000 in damage. He says the fire started in the living room and its cause is unclear. He says the home had working smoke detectors. A witness tells KAKE-TV the woman was cooking when her dress caught on fire.


City of Galena Lays Off 10 Workers

GALENA, Kan. (AP) - The southeast Kansas town of Galena is shedding ten employees and raising taxes to correct a budget shortfall. The Joplin Globe reports that Mayor Dale Oglesby says the city had a $260,000 cash shortfall. After the 2011 Joplin tornado, the city's construction and demolition landfill brought in additional revenue that was used to keep the mill levy from rising. But the landfill revenue has slowed, and the city's new hospital hasn't started showing a return yet. The three part-time and seven full-time employees who were laid off worked for the city's public works and police departments. The mayor says the current mill levy of 43.23 will rise to 60.78. That will equate to an increase of about $100 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.


Water Officials Battle Overpumping Irrigators

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - State records show that fewer irrigators are pumping more than they are allowed but that the issue remains a problem. 114 water right holders received a first-offense warning of civil penalties so far this year for overpumping in 2013. Another 70 irrigators were warned a second or third time for overpumping, and issued a $1,000 fine and temporary cutbacks to their annual water use. A handful of others tried to hide their overpumping and were caught cheating. Last year, state officials hardened the fines, hoping to curb overpumping. Lane Letourneau of the Kansas Department of Agriculture says that while the number of irrigators misusing a water right is down from the past few years, it all adds up.


Even an Ozarks Coroner Gets Surplus Military Guns

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Defense Department giveaway program that equips local police with surplus military weapons also supplies guns to government agencies with limited law-enforcement powers and a questionable need for high-powered firearms. An Arkansas coroner got a rifle, a handgun and a Humvee. Military-grade weapons also have gone to agencies that enforce gaming laws at Kansas tribal casinos, weigh 18-wheelers in Mississippi and investigate livestock thefts in Wyoming. While most of the weapons go to municipal police departments and county sheriffs, an Associated Press review of the Pentagon's 1033 Program shows that a diverse array of other state and local agencies have scooped up guns and other surplus equipment. The program is under a White House-ordered review following a deadly police shooting in Missouri in August.


BTK Serial Killer Says He's Cooperating on Book

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The BTK serial killer says in a letter from prison that he's cooperating with a book about the 10 killings he committed from 1974 to 1991 in the Wichita area. Dennis Rader is serving a life sentence for the killings. The Wichita Eagle reports that Rader explained in the letters that he is barred from profiting from his crimes by a court settlement. He signed over his media rights to the families of his victims after he was sent to the state prison in El Dorado in 2005. The author working with Rader is Katherine Ramsland, who oversees the criminal justice program at DeSales University in Pennsylvania.


Missouri Student Loan Default Rate Drops Slightly

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The percentage of Missourians defaulting on their student loan debt is slightly dropping. The Department of Higher Education has announced that the state's three-year default rate dropped half a percent from 13.1 percent in 2010 to 12.6 percent in 2011. The department uses data tracking students whose first loan payment was due between 2010 and 2011, and who defaulted on their loans before Sept. 30, 2013. Almost 99,000 Missourians were repaying their loans in that time period and more than 12,500 defaulted. Missouri's rate falls in the middle compared to other state


Inmate Gets 25 Years in 2010 Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison in a killing that witnesses say was revenge for the death of his brother. Sedgwick County District Court records show that 32-year-old James Vell Holloman will begin serving time on his second-degree murder conviction after completing a 12-year federal prison term for weapons violations and conspiracy to commit robbery. The Wichita Eagle reports that Holloman pleaded guilty in June to the 2010 killing of 41-year-old Stephen Smallwood outside an auto shop. During testimony, witnesses said Smallwood was shot because Holloman thought the auto shop owner was involved in the killing of Holloman's brother, Sammy Smith, in 2009.


Kansas Company Building Drones for Farmers

NEODESHA, Kan. (AP) — A company in Neodesha is building drones that its owner believes could someday help farmers watch over their fields without spending hours walking or driving through their property. The company, called AgEagle, has shipped 125 unmanned aircraft systems to customers across the world since January 1st. AgEagle was started by Bret Chilcott. He says his firm is a pioneer in an industry that he believes will grow quickly, despite current federal regulations that prohibit commercial use of drones. The Hutchinson News reports the machines could someday allow farmers to map out fields using imagery to detect how a crop is growing. Data collected by the drones would be sent to a laptop for study by the farmer.


Another Google Fiber Delay in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Google Inc. says it might take longer to install gigabit-speed Internet across Kansas City and a handful of suburbs. The Kansas City Star reports that Google initially said the wiring would be completed by year's end. But now it's telling prospective customers that the work may not wrap up until next summer. The delay comes as other Internet providers are speeding up their broadband to match Google Fiber. Akamai Technologies Inc., which helps companies distribute online content, reports that average peak connection speeds in the U.S. nearly tripled since Google started its work in Kansas City. Time Warner Cable dominates the Kansas City market and sells speeds of 50 megabits per second for what it used to charge for just 15 mps.


Monarch Numbers Improve After 3 Years of Decline

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Monarch butterflies are rebounding after three years of significant drops. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas says the number of Monarchs wintering in Mexico could be two to four times more than last year. Monarch Watch organizes tagging to track the migration of the butterflies. The recent favorable weather seems to be the reason for the improved numbers. The butterflies have been thick the past couple of weeks, but a weather front may have lifted them on their way by now. Wichita naturalist Jim Mason says Monarchs look for northerly winds to help them migrate more easily.


Royals Beat Angels 8-3 in ALDS sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 on Sunday night to finish a sweep of their AL Division Series. Back in the playoffs for the first time since 1985, the Royals will face the Orioles in the AL Championship Series beginning Friday night in Baltimore. Kansas City went 4-3 against the O's this year. The Angels are the second team in the divisional era to have the majors' best record and get swept from the playoffs. The Yankees were also swept by the Royals in 1980 ALCS.


Fake Punt Helps 49ers Beat Chiefs, 22-17

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers converted a fake punt to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-17 on Sunday. The 49ers deployed the trick play on fourth-and-1 from their own 29 yard line early in the fourth quarter. The 49ers held off the Chiefs twice in the closing moments. The 49ers' Perrish Cox intercepted Chiefs QB Alex Smith's overthrown pass to end Kansas City's chance for a late rally.


Logano Wins at Kansas Speedway to Advance in Title Race

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Joey Logano grabbed the first berth in the next round of NASCAR's championship race with a victory Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Logano's win advanced him into the third round of the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. It puts the pressure on some of NASCAR's top drivers, many of whom had problems Sunday at Kansas. Six-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson was in an early wreck, then Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne both hit the wall.


US Announces Roster for CONCACAF Championship

Goalkeeper Hope Solo and veterans Christine Rampone and Abby Wambach are among the players on the U.S. national team's roster for the upcoming CONCACAF championship, which serves as qualifying for the World Cup next year in Canada. The championships for soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean region, an eight-team, round-robin tournament that will be played in four U.S. cities, opens Oct. 15 in Kansas City, Kansas. The championship will be played Oct. 26 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada. The roster also includes goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris; defenders Crystal Dunn, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O'Hara, and Becky Sauerbrunn; midfielders Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly and Megan Rapinoe; and forwards Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez.


Sporting KC, Ivy Funds Extend Partnership

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City has announced an extension of its partnership with Ivy Funds, the title sponsor of its jersey, through the 2022 season. Financial terms of the agreement Monday were not disclosed. Sporting Club chief executive Robb Heineman said the local partnership the last two years has benefited both organizations. Along with publicity for the investment management firm, the MLS Cup champions have received support for their youth academy teams and other programs. Ivy Funds will remain the jersey sponsor for Sporting KC, along with retaining the naming rights for the Ivy Funds Executive Level at Sporting Park.


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