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Headlines for Monday, September 26, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Governors' Economic Council Abandons Quarterly Report 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's economic advisory council has discontinued a quarterly report that had been developed to ensure a timely analysis of the administration's economic policies. The Council of Economic Advisors, which is chaired by Brownback, will no longer compile and distribute a review of economic markers picked by the administration and championed as an accountability test of the administration's economic vision. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the group instead intends to focus on a U.S. Federal Reserve report that includes data on state, regional and national economic statistics that impact Kansas.


Army Fires Fort Riley Commander as Investigation Continues 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Army says it has fired the commander of Fort Riley and is continuing an investigation opened last week at the Kansas base. No details have been provided. Army spokesman Colonel Patrick R. Seiber says that Major General Wayne Grigsby was relieved of command of the 1st Infantry Division due to loss of confidence in his ability to lead. Grigsby was initially suspended on Friday. Army officials have declined to disclose the nature of the investigation. Seiber says a replacement will be named in the coming days. About 17,000 troops are stationed at Fort Riley. Grigsby assumed command of the base in August 2015, after 31 years of military service that included a stint as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force in East Africa.


Judge Orders Kansas Official to Appear for Contempt Hearing 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to show why he shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to comply with an injunction requiring him to put on voter rolls people who registered at motor vehicle offices without providing citizenship documents. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Monday ordered Kobach to appear in her courtroom Friday and to file a written response by Thursday. Kobach says the state "is in full compliance with the district court's order." The American Civil Liberties Union contends Kobach has not registered these voters in the official poll books as Robinson ordered in May. The ACLU argues Kobach also issued a misleading voter notice. These voters aren't given a regular ballot and must use a provisional one, which raises secrecy concerns.


Search for New KU Chancellor May Be Closed to Public

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents hasn't decided how the process to replace University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will proceed, but the search may be closed to the public. Gray-Little announced last week she's stepping down next summer. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Regents are also conducting a closed search for a new president of Kansas State University. A closed process means the public doesn't learn about the candidates vying to become the university's next leader. Part of the reasoning for the closed process is that candidates likely hold leadership positions at other universities, and word they're looking elsewhere could negatively affect them professionally. But some say the process should be more open because the chancellor will lead a large public institution.


Larned Hospital Unaware of Federal Probe When Hiring CFO 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A state agency says Larned State Hospital officials weren't aware the man hired as the hospital's chief financial officer in 2015 was the focus of an internal federal investigation. David Fender joined the hospital in 2015, shortly after serving a year as chief financial officer for the Government National Mortgage Association. Kansas announced Fender's departure in August when it launched a hospital audit. A federal inspector general's report provided to The Wichita Eagle shows an investigation found Fender potentially committed criminal violations by using his public office for private gain and making false statements to the government. He wasn't charged. A state agency spokeswoman says Larned didn't know about the federal investigation when Fender was hired. Fender didn't return calls from the Eagle or The Associated Press.


Firms' Shareholders Approve Westar's Sale to Great Plains 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Stockholders have approved the $12.2 billion sale of Topeka-based electric company Westar Energy to Missouri-based Great Plains Energy. Both companies reported Monday that participating shareholders overwhelmingly approved the deal. Westar had a special meeting in Topeka and Great Plains had one in Kansas City, Missouri, to finish the voting. Each firm said the holders of more than 60 percent of their shares participated, and the owners of 95 percent or more of that stock approved the sale. Federal and state regulators also must sign off. The companies hope to complete the sale next spring. The companies have said combining the two would create efficiencies and keep consumers' rates in check. Westar stockholders would receive $51 in cash and $9 in Great Plains stock for each share.


Topeka Baby Killed in Dog Attack 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a 2-year-old girl has been found dead from an apparent animal attack, and that two dogs have been seized. Topeka police say officers responded to a report of a missing child Saturday night. When they arrived at the residence, officers found the child dead in the yard of the home. Police said the child had been the "victim of an animal attack" and that officers also seized two dogs from the fenced yard. Officers interviewed people involved and have sent the case to the Shawnee County district attorney's office for review.  Police identified the girl Monday in a news release as Piper Dunbar.


Proposal Bans Restrictions on Federal Family Planning Dollars in Kansas, Other States

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -  The federal government is proposing new rules to prohibit states that receive federal family planning grants from placing their own eligibility restrictions on that money. 13 states have taken steps to prevent federal family planning funds from going to the group Planned Parenthood. The US Department of Health and Human Services says funding from the Title X (ten) program provides services such as pregnancy tests and cancer screenings at little or no cost to 1.5 million low income patients across the country.  It does not pay for abortions. Kansas established a system that directs the funding to county health departments rather than clinics such as Planned Parenthood. Women's health advocates in Kansas say the state's system has made it more difficult for poor families to access medical services, particularly in rural western parts of the state. A spokeswoman for anti-abortion group "Kansans for Life" says the proposed rule change undermines the state's authority to decide how to distribute the funds. If states don't scrap their restrictions, they stand to lose all their Title X funding. Kansas received $2.52 million in Title X funding last year.


Report: Kansas Growers Planting Wheat, Harvesting Corn 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas growers made some progress this past week planting winter wheat and harvesting corn. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that wheat planting is 20 percent done in Kansas, the same as last year at this time. About 3 percent has emerged. Farmers in the state have also harvested about 29 percent of their corn and 10 percent of their sorghum crops. Just 2 percent of the soybeans have been cut.


Kansas Researchers Join Study on Campus Sexual Assault 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas researchers will join a project that aims to help colleges in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri adopt campus sexual assault policies and prevention strategies. The three-year $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow three University of Kansas researchers to study sexual assault policies at eight selected campuses. The Kansas City Star reports that the goal of the Heartland Sexual Assault Policies & Prevention on Campuses Project is to develop model plans for how campuses can address sexual violence. The project will work with schools in the three states, including the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.


Topeka Pedestrian Struck and Killed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A pedestrian died after being struck by two vehicles in Topeka. The Shawnee County Sheriff's Office says 29-year-old Amanda L. Nicholas was struck by two vehicles Saturday night during heavy rainfall. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that none of the occupants of the vehicles were injured. The Sheriff's Office says police are investigating why Nicholas was in the roadway, but there does not appear to be any suspicious or criminal circumstances.


Public's Help Sought in Missing Kansas Woman Investigation

MERIDEN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities investigating the year-old disappearance of a 70-year-old northeast Kansas woman are seeking the public's help. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Joan Rebar was last on September 26, 2015, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Meriden. About 3.5 hours after Rebar was last seen, her phone transmitted its last ping, indicating it was south of Meriden. Her banking activity also ceased. Jackson County (Kansas) Sheriff Tim Morse describes the case as "disturbing" and "eerie." He says that because Rebar's disappearance was under "very questionable circumstances," it is being investigated as a homicide. A multi-jurisdictional task force has been involved in the search. The task force interviewed more than 100 people and searches were carried out on foot, horseback and ATV. Sonar and drone technology also was used.


Haskell Conference Explores Climate Change

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Experts gathered at Haskell Indian Nations University to discuss the effects of climate change on Native Americans. The conference, "Climate Changed: Reflections on Our Past, Present and Future Situation," ran Thursday through Friday at the university in Lawrence. The conference was organized by the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group, which was established 10 years ago at Haskell. Dan Wildcat, who teaches American Indian studies at Haskell, says indigenous people are among the populations most vulnerable to climate change. The Lawrence Journal-World reports speakers also included graduate students whose work includes using geographical information systems and helping tribal communities test metal-contaminated water on tribal lands. 


Kansas Company to Expand Factory in Mississippi, Hiring 30 

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Polo Custom Products is expanding its Winston County, Mississippi factory, investing $150,000 with plans to hire 30 people. The Topeka, Kansas-based company makes things like harnesses and bags for medical, firefighting, military and industrial uses. Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Jeff Rent said Monday the state will give Polo $68,000 to help pay for a new heating and air conditioning system. Louisville and Winston County own the building. The city of Louisville is also providing assistance, but Rent couldn't immediately say what that is. Rent says the company expects to hire the additional 30 people within three months. He was unable to provide an average pay for workers. Polo now has 160 workers in Louisville, Mississippi. It expanded by 10 workers in 2011 when the company invested $525,000.


Royals Beat Tigers 12-9, in Detroit 

DETROIT (AP) — Salvador Perez homered to cap a cycle by Kansas City's first four batters of the game. The Royals went deep three more times to beat Detroit 12-9 Sunday and drop the Tigers in the AL wild-card race. The defending World Series champions avoided elimination from this year's postseason race by chasing Detroit starter Matt Boyd (6-5) before he retired a hitter. Kansas City started the game with a single, a triple and a double before Perez's two-run homer made it 4-0. The Tigers fell 1½ games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot. 


Chiefs Sail to 24-3 Win over New York Jets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs returned two turnovers for touchdowns, intercepted three passes in the end zone and forced eight turnovers total in a 24-3 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. Marcus Peters had two of the picks for the Chiefs (2-1), including the first of four off the Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter. Daniel Sorenson had another, Derrick Johnson returned his 55 yards for a touchdown, and D.J. White snagged his in the end zone with 1:54 left in the game.  The Chiefs'' Alex Smith was 25 of 33 for 237 yards and a touchdown for Kansas City, while Spencer Ware added 75 yards rushing. But it was the performance of the defense that helped the Chiefs bounce back from their first regular-season defeat in 12 games, last week. Eric Berry picked off a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter, and a fumbled kick return by the Jets' Jalin Marshall was returned 27 yards by Demetrius Harris for another score. 

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