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Headlines for Saturday, October 25, 2014


Judge Nixes Couples' Attempt to Join Suit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has spurned an effort by a heterosexual couple to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Kansas ban on gay marriage.  U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled Friday that Phillip and Sandra Unruh, of Harper, have no legal right to join the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.  The Unruhs claimed in a Wednesday filing that they have a property right in their traditional marital status. They argued an adverse decision on the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban could diminish their marital status and harm their property right.  Crabtree concluded the Unruhs' interests are already represented by the Kansas attorney general's office, which is defending the ban.  But the judge also invited the couple to file a friend-of-the-court brief stating their arguments.


Roberts Touts Backing in Johnson County

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Several dozen leaders in Johnson County are supporting U.S. Senator Pat Roberts' re-election and are talking him up as a likely Agriculture Committee chairman if Republicans recapture a Senate majority.  The Roberts campaign released a letter yesterday (FRI) from legislators, mayors and other prominent county residents. Johnson County is the state's most populous county and home to affluent Kansas City suburbs.  The letter praising the three-term Republican incumbent included endorsements from 29 GOP state legislators and four mayors.  They wrote that a potential Agriculture Committee chairmanship would be vital to Kansas. Roberts serves on the committee.  Roberts is in a tight race with independent candidate and Olathe businessman Greg Orman. 


Orman Outlines Aid to Veterans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman has outlined proposals for helping veterans as he campaigns against Republican Senator Pat Roberts in Kansas.  Orman had a Statehouse news conference with several veterans yesterday (FRI) to tout his initiatives. They include a loan program to help tide over veterans who are waiting to receive disability payments.  The independent candidate also said the federal government needs to act to protect veterans from predatory loans for higher education. He said steps include forgiving some loans and greater resources to investigate abuses.  Orman also proposed expanded federal funding for special courts aimed at providing treatment rather than prison for veterans with legal problems and expanded efforts to combat homelessness among veterans.  Roberts is a former Marine who has touted his past work on national security issues and military projects.


Crowd-sourcing Website Kanstarter Goes Live

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A crowd-sourcing website aimed at helping Kansas communities has gone live with its first four projects.  Kanstarter is powered by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. The site, which went live Thursday, allows people to donate time, talent or money to the projects.  The Hutchinson News reports the four projects on Kanstarter all have a common theme of improving Kansas rural life. One project is aimed at helping Burdett update its public miniature golf course. Another wants to help Plains purchase land to build a grocery store.  The foundation's director described the website launch as soft, since the projects are new and everyone involved is still in the learning process.  The foundation received $200,000 in community service tax credits from the state's commerce department to build the website.


Woman Pleads Guilty in Highway Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence woman has pleaded guilty to arranging the shooting of her ex-boyfriend on a highway south of Lawrence.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 22-year-old Brittany Nicole Smith pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The victim, 24-year-old Skylar Workman, survived after being shot May 26th on Highway 59.  Testimony at a preliminary hearing in July indicated that Smith persuaded 25-year-old Edward Joseph Parker to shoot Workman.  Sentencing was scheduled for January 9th. Parker pleaded not guilty in July to attempted first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for December 1st.


Former Bondsman Sentenced on Sex Charges

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas bail bondsman convicted of forcing women to have sex has been sentenced to 21 years in state prison.  KWBW-AM reports that 66-year-old Dwight Jurgens told the judge at his sentencing yesterday (FRI) that the women who testified against him had lied.  A Reno County jury convicted Jurgens last month of rape, aggravated human trafficking and attempted human trafficking.  Prosecutors said Jurgens told four women he would revoke their bonds if they didn't have sex with him. The crimes occurred while Jurgens was a bonding agent for TNT Bonding.  In at least one case, a woman was given drugs by Jurgens and passed out, only to discover him on top of her.


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