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Headlines for Monday, September 1, 2014


Democrat Taps into Doubts About Kansas Governor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic legislator still unknown to some Kansas voters is giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback a tough re-election race. State Representative Paul Davis is tapping into doubts about tax-cutting that cemented Brownback's reputation in conservative circles. Davis has lived much of his life within walking distance of the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. He's a 42-year-old lawyer and a two-time Democratic National Convention delegate for President Barack Obama. But Davis is wooing disaffected GOP moderates and promising a bipartisan administration if elected. Making headway in the political middle is crucial for him because only 24 percent of the state's 1.74 million registered voters are Democrats. The race so far is a tossup, but Brownback and his allies believe wavering Republicans and unaffiliated voters will move back to support the incumbent governor. 


71-Year-Old Killed in Shootout with Officers

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A 71-year-old central Kansas man has been identified as the person killed in a shootout with Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and Barton County deputies over the weekend. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir on Monday identified the man as George Carson of rural Barton County. He was wounded during an exchange of gunfire with officers who had responded at 6:39 pm Saturday to a domestic battery call in which shots were fired. Bellendir says Carson was taken to a hospital in Hoisington, where he died of his wounds. No law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.

Police: Identifying Decomposed Body Will Take Time

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say it could take a while to identify the badly decomposed body of a man who was found in a city park. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a couple from out of town reported seeing a body lying face-down in shallow water west of Vermont Street bridge on Sunday. Police Sergeant Craig Shanks says because of the condition of the body, it likely will be some time before a positive ID and cause of death are determined. Suzanne Conley says she and her boyfriend discovered the body during a holiday weekend visit to Lawrence, where she attended the University of Kansas in the late 1980s. Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy by the Douglas County Coroner's Office.


Plans Call for Smaller Great Bend Health Facility

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) - Officials have announced an $11 million plan to demolish a mostly unused Great Bend hospital building and remodel nearby buildings. The Hutchinson News reports that the changes are coming more than three years after the Central Kansas Medical Center converted into an outpatient care center, called the St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center. The project will reduce the campus from 240,000 square feet to a little more than 30,000 square feet. The plan is to remodel a medical office building and move into it any medical operations still in the hospital building. Besides tearing down the five-story main hospital building, a neighboring Allied Services Building will be torn down. St. Rose official Mark Mingenback says the conversion also will mean staff cuts. The facility currently employs 137 people.


Drug Abuse Top Reason for Removing Kids from Home 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Reports from the Kansas Department for Children and Families show that more children in the state are removed from their homes and placed in foster care because of concerns about parents' drug and alcohol abuse than for any other primary reason — including physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. The agency says mental illness often plays a parallel role in those cases as people with mood or anxiety disorders are more likely to self-medicate. The Wichita Eagle reports that nearly 750 Kansas children were removed from their homes because of concerns about their parents' substance abuse in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30. Of those, 93 were from Sedgwick County.


GOP Newsletter Features Article About 'KNEA Trolls'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Republican Party has sent out a newsletter that offers advice on dealing with "trolls" from the Kansas National Education Association. The Wichita Eagle reports that the newsletter sent Friday talks about clashes with "KNEA Trolls" in a section titled "How to Deal with Trolls Who Challenge the Education Reform Bill." The Legislature passed a school finance bill in April that coupled increased funding with several reforms, including the elimination of state-mandated hearings before a public school teacher can be fired. The KNEA opposed the bill and has dogged conservative candidates throughout the summer. Kansas GOP executive director Clay Barker says the intent was to show members how to combat falsehoods. KNEA spokesman Marcus Baltzell stressed in an email that the organization represents thousands of eligible voters.


Bomb Threat Forces Terminal Evacuation at KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person's comment about a pickup truck that might be carrying a bomb prompted the evacuation of a main terminal at Kansas City International Airport. The Kansas City Star reports flights scheduled to be arriving at Terminal B were rerouted to Terminal C while the Kansas City bomb squad searched the truck. Airport spokesman Joe McBride says the person who mentioned a bomb to an airport employee at 6:30 pm Sunday was taken into custody by airport security. Passengers were allowed to return to the terminal around 8:30 pm. McBride says it was not immediately known if explosives were found.


Online Ride-Sharing Service Comes to Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A smartphone-based ride-sharing service has arrived in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita is one of 22 U.S. cities where San Francisco-based Uber took to the streets Thursday. The service is now offered in more than 100 cities. Through the smartphone app, Uber connects prospective passengers with drivers who offer rides in their own vehicles. The app handles the billing through the riders' credit cards on file with Uber, so there's no need to carry cash and no tipping. The driver and Uber split the money, with about 80 percent going to the driver and 20 percent to Uber. In some cities, traditional cab companies have strenuously opposed Uber and its competitors. But so far, that hasn't happened in Wichita.


KC-Area Manufacturers See Skilled Worker Shortage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Manufacturing companies in Kansas and Missouri say there are plenty of high-paying jobs available for people qualified to run sophisticated factory equipment, but there doesn't seem to be enough local talent to fill them. Industry leaders in both states say many job applicants lack even basic reading, writing and math skills necessary to perform required tasks. The Kansas City Star reports that larger manufacturers are able to afford up to $10,000 per worker for training, but that's more of a challenge for smaller companies. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said in its August manufacturing survey that regional manufacturing companies have been expanding production for eight straight months. Several manufacturers with openings in the Kansas City area say their vacant positions would pay between $14 and $25 an hour.


KC Police Identify Man Killed by Officers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have released the identity of a man killed by police officers after they say he fired several rounds at them before being fatally wounded. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Eugene Turner was killed just before 5 am Sunday after officers responded to a call about a suspicious person with a gun. Police issued a statement on Sunday saying Turner was walking the streets carrying a gun for unknown reasons. Ambulance workers declared Turner dead, and police recovered a handgun nearby. The two officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave.


Seminar Examines Santa Fe Trail's Cultural Impact

LARNED, Kan. (AP) - An upcoming event will focus on the Santa Fe Trail's effect on Hispanics and its influence on other cultures. The Hutchinson News reports that the 18th biennial history seminar is planned for September 18-20 in Larned. Eleven speakers from New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas will give presentations. The Rendezvous began in 1980 and is largely funded by the Kansas Humanities Council. It's organized by the Santa Fe Trail Center, Fort Larned National Historical Site and Santa Fe Trail Association.


Police: Device Found at Wichita Motel Was Harmless

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita motel employee who was cleaning rooms found a device with wires and a pair of tubes that were made to look like sticks of dynamite, but it turned out to be a novelty item. The Wichita Eagle reports that 30 people were evacuated from the Mark 8 Inn shortly after the employee reported the item at 11:30 am Monday. Police Sergeant Ed Brower says the occupant of the room told police it was a novelty, but investigators had to verify that claim for themselves. The bomb squad took X-rays of the device and determined it was harmless.


Crews Demolish Partially Collapsed KC Church

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Crews are demolishing a northeast Kansas City church that partially collapsed with children inside. The Kansas City Star reports that demolition began Thursday on the Rios De Agua Viva Church. Work continued through Saturday. Walls at the church collapsed August 7th with more than 60 people inside, including children attending a vacation Bible school. No one was injured. The city determined the rest of the three-story building must be demolished because structural engineers found that it was unsafe. The building was insured and the church said previously that it was planning to move to Kansas City, Kansas.


Man Convicted of Pottawatomie County Killing

WESTMORELAND, Kan. (AP) - A St. Marys man has been convicted of unintentional second-degree murder in the New Year's Day shooting death of a friend. Twenty-two-year-old Pablo Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced September 25th for the killing of 24-year-old Levi Bishop of Rossville. Pottawatomie County jurors returned the guilty verdict Thursday. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Bishop was shot while riding around St. Marys with Gonzalez and two others looking for another party to ring in the New Year. They all had been drinking heavily. The defense described what happened as an accident. Gonzalez testified that he had put the gun to his own head, thinking it was unloaded. He said Bishop told him not to, but he turned the gun on Bishop, saying it wasn't loaded and pulled the trigger.


New Plan Emerges for Southeast Kansas Casino

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Efforts to develop a state-owned casino in southeast Kansas are getting off the ground with a plan that includes a partnership with a nearby casino in Oklahoma. The state owns casinos in Dodge City, Mulvane and Kansas City, Kansas. But developers have lost interest in the southeast region, partly because of the proximity of the Downstream Casino Resort run by Oklahoma's Quapaw Tribe. This year, Kansas lowered the required investment from prospective developers and reopened the application process for a contract to build a casino in Crawford or Cherokee county. The Joplin Globe reports executives of the Quapaw casino and the Ruffin Companies are working together to win the contract. The casino would be built near Frontenac the defunct Camptown Greyhound Park, which Ruffin owns.


Breaks Sought for Proposed Biotech Office Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Backers of a proposed biotech office park in south Kansas City are preparing to seek tax breaks for the 350-acre project. Called Oxford on the Blue, the office park would be bigger than Sprint's headquarters or Corporate Woods in Overland Park, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the city's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee is set to consider a property tax abatement for the project on September 10. If approved, the changes would face a final vote by the Kansas City Council the next day. Oxford on the Blue advocates say the tax break is needed to bring research firms, clinical trial facilities and similar biotech operations to the site. Others, including school district officials, question whether it would extend tax incentives too far. 


K-State Researchers Find Food Safety Habits Vary By Country

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State University researchers have found widespread variations in the food safety practices used in different countries. The researchers worked with 100 consumers from India, Korea, Thailand, Russia, Estonia, Italy, Spain and two U.S. cities. From country to county, there were differences in how poultry and eggs are consumed, stored, handled and prepared. For instance, most of the consumers in Argentina and Colombia stored meat on higher shelves, putting them at a higher risk for contamination. That's because juices from the meat can leak onto ingredients on lower shelves. Differences also were found among countries in how eggs are stored and cutting boards are cleaned. The findings were published in the journal Foods. The study is part of a larger project to develop science-based messages about food safety.


KS Research Could Make Solar Energy More Attractive

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - University researchers and utilities are conducting solar panel research that could make the energy source more attractive for Kansas users. A lab at the University of Kansas is working on producing flexible panels that will be more cost-effective than current silicon models. The technology they're using would print a "solar ink" on a panel and use that to generate electricity. Meanwhile, Westar Energy recently made $1 million in grants to 15 schools and nonprofits around Kansas. The money will be used to install solar setups that have capacities ranging from 10 to 30 kilowatts. The data will be available to residents and business owners who are considering installing solar panels and want to know what kind of results they can expect.


Royals' 2014 1st-Round Pick Will Get Call-up

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pitcher Brandon Finnegan, who was the Kansas City Royals' first-round pick in the June draft out of TCU, will be among the September call-ups, the club said Sunday. The previous two Royals players to make their major league debut the same year they were drafted were Bo Jackson in 1986 and Jeff Granger in 1993. No player drafted this June has played in the majors so far this season. Finnegan has a 1.33 ERA, allowing four earned runs in 27 innings in 13 appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Class A Wilmington. He has struck out 26 and walked four. 


Armed with New Deal, Chiefs' Smith Looks Forward

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Smith didn't have much choice when he was traded from San Francisco to Kansas City last year. He had the final say when it came to staying with the Chiefs, though. One day after signing a four-year extension that should solidify his future through the 2018 season, Smith expressed relief at being able to focus solely on football — rather than negotiations that had been going on for months, and that were threatening to bleed into the regular season. Smith said he made it clear to his agent, Tom Condon, he wanted an agreement done before the start of the season. Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said that was also his goal. The Chiefs open the regular season against Tennessee on Sunday.


Royals Activate Hosmer Amid Series of Moves

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — First baseman Eric Hosmer was activated from the disabled list and first-round draft pick Brandon Finnegan was promoted from Double-A Northwest Arkansas in a flurry of roster moves by the Royals on Monday. Hosmer, who had been out with a fractured right hand, was 3 for 10 in two rehab games for Triple-A Omaha. Designated hitter Billy Butler had started in his place. Finnegan had a 1.33 ERA in three minor league appearances. The Royals also purchased the contract of outfielder Carlos Peguero from Omaha and recalled left-hander Casey Coleman, infielder Johnny Giavotella, outfielder Lane Adams and catcher Francisco Pena from minor league affiliates. In corresponding moves, left-hander Chris Dwyer and right-hander Blake Wood were designated for assignment.The Royals open a series against Texas on Monday night.



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