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Headlines for Monday, September 29, 2014

Kansas Senate Race Lawsuit May Cause Ballot Delay

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A legal dispute over the lack of a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas could upend a key contest in the fight for control of the Senate. The national spotlight is on three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts and independent challenger Greg Orman. But a case being heard Monday by a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court centers on whether state law requires Democrats to pick a new candidate after Chad Taylor withdrew earlier this month. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked the court to render a decision by October 1st. But regardless of the court's decision, the losing side is expected to appeal the case. University of Kansas Law Lecturer Mark Johnson says that would further delay the printing of ballots for the November election. "We're going to end up with a lot of ballots that are defective and will have to be excluded and that may well be a violation of federal law." Johnson says a federal violation would likely trigger a Justice Department lawsuit against the state.


Jeb Bush in Kansas to Campaign for Roberts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is bringing in another Republican heavy-hitter to help bolster his troubled campaign for re-election. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be in Wichita on Monday for a fundraising event for the incumbent Kansas senator. His visit on the campaign trial comes just days after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin campaigned with Roberts in southeast Kansas. Two former presidential nominees, U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona and former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, joined Roberts on the campaign trail last week. Another potential 2016 White House candidate, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, is also expected to help with Roberts' campaign. 


1998 Strip-Club Raid at Issue in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Governor Sam Brownback's Democratic challenger is on the defensive over disclosures that he was inside a southeast Kansas strip club during a 1998 drug raid and was found in a back room with a nearly naked woman. The GOP says the incident raises questions about Davis' character, while Davis supporters say Republicans are desperate over a potential Brownback loss. Democrat Paul Davis was 26, single and a young attorney in a firm representing the owner of the club near Coffeyville. The owner spent six years in federal prison, but Davis was not arrested. Davis is now 42, and says he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time." He released a statement from a participant in the raid saying Davis was not involved in any wrongdoing.


More KU Students Report Sexual Assaults

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is receiving more sexual assault reports from students after the school's handling of an alleged on-campus rape set off protests. The recent complaints include two reports of stalking, seven of sexual harassment, one of sexual assault, one of date violence, one of domestic violence and seven the office had not yet categorized. The reports began rolling in after a student who said she was raped in 2013 complained of her attacker's lenient punishment. The university has declined to comment on the case. Other women have come forward to say the school didn't take sexual violence seriously. The university is among 76 schools being investigated by the federal government for their handling of sexual assault cases.


Kansas Schools Report Rise in Teacher Retirements

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas school districts report a higher pace of teachers retiring while the number of newly licensed teachers remains flat. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports more than 2,000 teachers retired last school year. The state's education department says that's double the number of teachers that retired five years earlier. Scott Myers is the department's director of teacher education and licensure. He says the teacher retirement figures are subject to error because it's self-reported data from school districtThe Education Department says about 2,500 new teachers received licenses last year, which is almost the same number of those who earned licenses five years earlier. Meanwhile, the state saw an increase of 13,400 students over the same period of time.


Wolf Creek Seeks More Time to Fix Faulty Sensor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wolf Creek nuclear power plant is asking federal regulators for more time to replace a faulty sensor unit that provides an early warning of reactor coolant leaks. Normally the plant would have 30 days to make the fix. But because the repair involves shutting down the plant, operators want to wait until a scheduled shutdown at the end of February. An unscheduled two- to three-day shutdown would cost customers more than $1 million. Problems began on August 31 when the sensor unit began to fail, providing false indications of a leak. Records show the sensor quit altogether on September 3 after operators reset it five times in three days.


Enrollment Drops at Kansas' Community Colleges

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Newly released numbers show enrollment has dipped at Kansas' community colleges while it increased at technical schools and public universities. According to preliminary figures released by the Kansas Board of Regents, 184,403 students are enrolled in state universities, community colleges and technical schools this year. That is a less than 1 percent decrease from the fall of 2013. The slight drop came as community colleges saw a 4.3 percent decrease in enrollment. Meanwhile, enrollment was up 1.5 percent at the six regents' universities and 6.3 percent at technical schools. Kansas Board of Regents president and chief executive officer Andy Tompkins says people are apparently heading back to work instead of seeking additional education and training at the state's community colleges.


Ogallala Continues to be Tapped Despite Forecasts

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Little use is being made of a law that allows farmers to form groups that can require deep reductions in irrigation. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the hope was that if enough western Kansas farmers pared their water use, the aquifer's lifespan could be extended. But two years later, only one group of 110 farmers, who own 99 square miles in Sheridan and Thomas counties near Colby, has formed. Kansas Water Office director Tracy Streeter says there were expectations of the program "catching on like wildfire." But Haskell County farmer Jay Garetson says farmers were never going to cut their use of water without mandates because it could harm them economically in the short term. Garetson has sued an oil and gas company for not conserving water.


University of Kansas Seeking More Defense Dollars

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is hoping to attract more federal research funding from the U.S. Department of Defense. The university has received national security clearances to pursue classified contracts with all federal agencies. In fiscal year 2013, the university received $6.5 million in research funding from Defense Department agencies. That's about 2.5 percent of the school's research dollars. Spokesman Kevin Boatright says research dollars from defense could increase substantially in the future. He says researchers are already working on 60 projects for defense agencies. To publicize the research opportunities available, the Kansas Office of Research is planning a workshop on October 7.


KBI Forensic Center Takes Shape at Washburn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation's new forensic center is taking shape on the Washburn University campus in Topeka. Exterior construction on the $55 million project is expected to be completed by December. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the science center is expected to open in October 2015. The KBI currently uses a lab in the basement of an 86-year-old former junior high school, which has insufficient heating and air conditioning and doesn't meet standards for a modern forensic laboratory. Washburn will lease the land and finance the construction with bonds, and then allow the KBI to repay the bonds through rent payments over 20 or 30 years.


Topeka Man Dies in Oklahoma Crash

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports a Kansas man has died and two others in the vehicle have been hospitalized in a wreck on Interstate 35 south of Oklahoma City. Troopers say 29-year-old Christopher Partee was ejected from the vehicle and died on Sunday afternoon. The driver and another passenger from Topeka were hospitalized. Troopers say their vehicle was northbound on I-35 when another vehicle attempted a U-turn in front of them. They say the driver tried to avoid the turning vehicle and lost control of the car, which rolled over. The other vehicle left the scene. Authorities are investigating the crash.


Statements Admissible in Lawrence Murder Trial

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors will be able to use incriminating statements made by a Lawrence man charged in a deadly apartment shooting. Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin ruled Friday that the statements are admissible in court. Thirty-year-old Dustin D. Walker is charged with first-degree murder in the March killing of 39-year-old Patrick Roberts. The probable cause statement says the shooting happened while Walker was attempting to commit aggravated burglary. Walker is being held in Douglas County Jail on a $1 million bond. He will next appear in court on October 27, when a date for his jury trial will be set.


2 Dead in Kansas City-Area House Fire

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) - Fire officials say an adult and an infant died in a fire in a Kansas City suburb. The fire was reported early Monday at a home in Grandview. Grandview Fire Chief Chuck Thacker says an adult's body was found in the home's basement. The infant was taken to a hospital and later died. Another person was taken to the hospital with critical injuries. Thacker said two children escaped through a bedroom window and ran to a neighbor's home to alert emergency workers.


Wichita Zoo Officials Detail Planned Elephant Exhibit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Sedgwick County Zoo officials say they will house the third largest elephant exhibit in the country once a recently funded renovation is completed. Construction on the 5-acre exhibit will begin next month and be complete in May 2016. Officials say it's a necessary move to comply with upcoming regulations by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They plan to eventually house five African elephants in the exhibit, which will be the first in the country to offer boat rides through the elephant habitat. The county commission voted to spend $5.3 million for an elephant barn at the zoo. Officials say there will be an underwater fence so that the elephants and boats don't come too close in the canal.


Dog Rescued from Arkansas City Drainage Canal

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have rescued a dog that was trapped for at least 30 hours in a southern Kansas canal. KAKE-TV reports police and firefighters lassoed the dog on Sunday after reports from concerned Arkansas City residents. Witnesses say the black Labrador retriever was first reported to be stuck in the drainage system on Saturday morning. The water is about 4 feet deep in some parts of the 12-feet-tall canal. Witnesses say they unsuccessfully tried to coax the dog out with treats and that one man waded through the water to try to reach the animal. The dog was taken to the Cowley County Humane Society. Staff members say the dog was wearing a collar but the ID tags are missing.


Royals Rally for 6-4 Victory over White Sox

CHICAGO (AP) — Kansas City's chance for the AL Central title was erased by Detroit's victory on Sunday, but the Royals went on to a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. Coming into the final day of the regular season, Kansas City was hoping for a one-game playoff on Monday in Detroit for the division crown. But the Tigers clinched the Central with a 3-0 victory over the Twins, sending the Royals to a wild-card game against Oakland in Kansas City on Tuesday night. It's their first playoff appearance since 1985.


KU Fires Weis 4 Games into Season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has been fired four games into his third season as coach, with the downtrodden program languishing at the bottom of the Big 12. KU's athletic director met with Weis on Sunday, one day after a 23-0 loss to Texas on homecoming left Weis with a 6-22 record. Weis, who earned a reputation as an offensive mastermind with the New England Patriots, was also fired by Notre Dame in 2009 after five seasons at his alma mater. Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen will serve as interim coach of the Jayhawks, who are 2-2 this season. They play at West Virginia on Saturday.



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