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Headlines for Saturday, February 7, 2015

Here's a summary of the day's AP news headlines for our area, mostly Kansas.

Smucker Adding Some Kansas Products

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — J.M. Smucker Company says it plans to add some animal food products made at plants in Topeka and Lawrence.  The Smucker Company announced this week that it had purchased Big Heart Pet Brands, which has had operations in eastern Kansas for many years.  The Kansas City Star reports the Lawrence processing plant's 144 employees produce seven varieties of the dog food including Kibbles and Bits. The Topeka factory and distribution center have a combined employment of 326 workers. It produces several brands of animal foods including Meow Mix, 9Lives, Milk-Bone, Gravy Train and Nature's Recipe.  Smucker, which is based in Orrville, Ohio paid $5.8 billion for Big Heart, which was previously known as Del Monte Corporation. The company says it doesn't plan to close any pet food operations.

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US Oil Rig Count Plunges

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Incorporated says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. plunged by 87 this week to 1,456 amid depressed oil prices.  The Houston firm said yesterday (FRI) in its weekly report 1,140 rigs were exploring for oil and 314 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago 1,771 rigs were active.  Among the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas' count plummeted by 41, Colorado fell by eight and Oklahoma by seven. Kansas lost four.  West Texas Intermediate crude futures for March closed at $51.69 a barrel yesterday (FRI)

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Suspect in Kansas Hate Killings to Get New Lawyer

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The lead attorney for a white supremacist from Missouri charged with killing three people at Jewish sites in Kansas has withdrawn from the case.  During a hearing yesterday (FRI), attorney Ron Evans asked to withdraw because of a breakdown in communication with Frazier Glenn Miller Junior. District Judge Kelly Ryan granted the request, saying the communication problems prevented Evans from effectively representing Miller.  The 74-year-old Miller, of Aurora, Missouri is charged with killing two people outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park and a woman at the nearby Village Shalom care center on April 13th, 2014. Miller has said he wanted to kill Jews. None of his victims were Jewish.  The Kansas City Star reports the change in attorneys could delay a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 2nd.

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Cowboys RB Joseph Randle Facing Abuse Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle's ex-girlfriend has filed a request for a protective order, saying he threatened to "blast the vehicle" with their son inside after pointing a gun at her friend. Dalia Jacobs wrote in a request filed Wednesday in district court in Wichita, Kansas, that Randle smashed the windshield of the car with his fist, "causing glass to shatter across my friend and my child."  The incident occurred the same night the 23-year-old Randle was arrested on a marijuana possession charge at a Wichita hotel after a woman called 911. He was not taken into custody, and no charges related to domestic violence have been filed. Police dropped the marijuana charge yesterday (FRI), but spokesman Lieutenant James Espinoza says other charges are possible.

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Feds: Hospice Agrees to $4M Settlement

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal prosecutors say an Oklahoma City-based hospice has agreed to pay $4 million to resolve allegations of false billing claims.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda announced the settlement agreement Friday in a news release.  She says the company, Good Shepherd, was accused of submitting false claims for hospice care for patients who weren't terminally ill. The for-profit company provided hospice services through separate businesses that operated in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  Two former employees of Good Shepherd will split about $680,000 for reporting the alleged fraud under federal whistleblower laws.  Federal court records didn't list the name of Good Shepherd's attorney, and a telephone message left at the company's headquarters after hours yesterday (FRI) wasn't immediately returned.

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