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Headlines for Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Health Department Issues Air Quality Advisory 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued an air quality advisory due to annual controlled burning in the Flint Hills. The agency is advising residents to take precautions because heavy smoke could spread across the state. The agency says the weather is good for range burning, but it could put higher levels of pollutants in the air. Smoke from controlled burns can cause burning eyes, running nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. The agency recommends that people should avoid strenuous outdoor exercise, keep doors and windows closed, and drink lots of water. It recommends that people with heart or breathing-related illnesses remain indoors. The air quality advisory is effective through Thursday.


Judge Considers ACLU Challenge to Voting Documentation Rule 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is considering whether to temporarily block Kansas from enforcing its proof of citizenship requirement for people who register to vote at state motor vehicle offices. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Thursday took the case under advisement after hearing four hours of arguments in Kansas City, Kansas. The American Civil Liberties Union says the state's proof-of-citizenship law violates the National Voter Registration Act. The federal law, also known as the "motor-voter law," is aimed at increasing voter participation by requiring states to allow voters to register when they get a driver's license. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued Thursday that the NVRA applies only to federal elections, and a temporary injunction would force the state to create a separate voting tier for those registering at the DMV.


Ex-Joint Chiefs Chairman Named Interim Kansas State University President 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state Board of Regents has named former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers as interim president at Kansas State University. The regents announced the appointment Thursday. Myers served as the joint chiefs chairman in 2001-05, making him the chief military adviser to President George W. Bush and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He is a 1965 graduate of Kansas State, and since his retirement from the military, he's had a part-time position there as a professor of military history and leadership. The military science building on campus is named for him. Myers will replace former President Kirk Schulz, who stepped down in March to become president of Washington State University. The regents anticipate naming a permanent replacement for Schulz by the end of this year.


Topeka Officer Shoots Driver After Traffic-Stop Altercation 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say an officer who was assaulted by a driver during a traffic stop shot and wounded the motorist after that person tried to flee. Authorities say the shooting happened shortly after 1 pm Thursday. The driver fled the scene but was later arrested. Police Lieutenant Chris Heaven tells the Topeka Capital-Journal that the female officer may have been dragged as the driver attempted to flee. Police Lieutenant Colleen Stuart says the officer fired once, wounding the driver. The officer sustained injuries to a hand and arm. The officer and the driver were taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries police said were not life-threatening.


State Mental Hospital in Larned Gets Interim Leader

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has hired a consultant who specializes in temporary hospital management assignments to serve as the interim superintendent of the state mental hospital in Larned. The Department on Aging and Disability Services has announced that Chris Mattingly has taken over the job on a temporary basis.  Mattingly is an Oklahoma City management consultant who's served as a temporary CEO, chief financial officer or chief operating officer at numerous hospitals. He most recently worked in El Dorado. The department's interim Secretary Timothy Keck cited Mattingly's lengthy experience in hospital management. The Larned hospital in western Kansas has faced staffing and budget problems. Superintendent Tom Kinlen resigned in March. Mattingly started Monday and is expected to remain interim superintendent for about six months.


Kansas Agency Has No Full-Time Large-Scale Feedlot Engineers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has no full-time professional environmental engineers left working in the regulatory agency entrusted with overseeing more than 1,750 large-scale livestock feedlots. State environmental regulators say four engineering vacancies have put the brakes on licensing for new facilities or for expansions because there is a backlog of between 20 and 30 permits and delays of an additional three months to review livestock wastewater permit applications. The livestock-feeding industry says the lack of engineers at the state regulatory agency is not a pressing issue. But environmentalists say the public should care because the biggest risks are groundwater and surface water contamination, and avoiding that requires sufficient engineering judgment to ensure feedlots are disposing of wastewater correctly.


Seaboard Delays Expansion of Greeley County Hog Farm 

TRIBUNE, Kan. (AP) — Seaboard Foods says it is holding off for now on construction plans for the expansion of its hog operations in Greeley County. Its spokesman, David Eaheart, said Thursday in an email that the delay is based on the company's short-term projected needs for barn space to finish fattening its pigs. Seaboard still has long-term plans to build more barns in in the county. He says the company plans to re-evaluate its projected space needs later this year to determine a start date for construction. The company already has 180 hog finishing barns operating at its hog farm in Greeley County, and has gotten a permit to build an additional 120 barns nine miles away from that site.


Death Row Inmate Convicted in Wichita Murder Dies in Prison 

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — A man who was sentenced to Kansas death row for the decapitation murder of a Wichita woman has died in prison. The Kansas Department of Corrections says 54-year-old Doug Belt died Wednesday afternoon at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel says the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has been notified, which is routine when an inmate dies. No other information on the death was released. Belt was sentenced to death in the 2002 killing of Lucille Gallegos, who was sexually assaulted and decapitated at a Wichita apartment complex where she worked as a housekeeper. He was convicted of intentional and premeditated killing in the commission of, or subsequent to rape.


Kansas Attorney Charged with Sexual Battery 

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas attorney has been charged with sexual battery against a client. The misdemeanor charge was filed this week in Ford County against Daniel Arkell-Roca. The Dodge City attorney said in an email to The Associated Press that he is "innocent" and that his wife and 10 children are "confident" that he will be vindicated. He blamed politics and said the alleged victim is a former client who was charged in a drive by gang-related shooting. The Ford County attorney's office said in a Facebook post that Arkell-Roca would appear in court on the charge later this month. A secretary in the prosecutor's office said there would be no further comment. The charge carries a possible penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.


2 Hurt in Downtown Wichita Apartment Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two people have been injured in a fire in a downtown Wichita apartment building. A Sedgwick County emergency dispatcher says the fire started late Wednesday at the Shirkmere Apartments. The Wichita Eagle reports that two people were taken to a hospital burn unit. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Kansas Standoff Ends with Suspect Stunned

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas standoff has ended with an officer using a stun gun on a suspect. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the 53-year-old female suspect is accused of threatening a relative with a gun before calling police around noon Wednesday. Pittsburg Police Department Major Brent Narges says she told police responding to the disturbance that she was armed. Narges said the woman was alone in the home when officers arrived and surrounded the area. She was persuaded to exit the home around 3 p.m. The woman put her hands up to show she was unarmed and then sat on the front porch. Within a couple minutes, an officer shot the woman with the stun gun. She was taken to a hospital for a pre-existing medical condition.


Kansas Family's Plane Crash in Tennessee Caused by Loss of Engine, Airspeed 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A small plane crash that killed four members of a Kansas family while narrowly missing a Nashville, Tennessee, YMCA during peak afternoon hours was caused by the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed after an engine lost power. An investigation of the February 3, 2014, crash by the National Transportation Safety Board says ice accumulation on the airframe also contributed to the accident. Killed in the crash were Glenn and Elaine Mull, their daughter Amy Harter, and their granddaughter Samantha Harter. Glenn Mull, the pilot, was the owner of Mull Farms and Feeding in Pawnee Rock. The family was traveling from the Great Bend Municipal Airport to attend the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Trade Show. Their Gulfstream 690C was too damaged for investigators to determine why one of the engines lost power.


Stafford High School Students Train Then Donate Therapy Dogs 

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — A group of high school students in Stafford has been training service and therapy dogs to donate to a person who could use the animals' help. The Hutchinson News reports that Stafford High School teacher Mike Cargill started the "Training to Lead" program four years ago to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries or mobility issues. Each student in the program fosters and trains a dog. Senior Brooke McNickle says that letting go of her dog, Ellie, will be hard, but that she's comforted knowing she'll go to a good cause. The program gives the dogs free of charge to the recipients, who get training on how to handle their new companion. The program is funded by donations and fundraisers. It spends about $1,000 on each dog.


Hackers Hit 1,300 Rockhurst University Employees 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rockhurst University officials say hackers stole personal information from the IRS W-2 forms of 1,300 employees. The private university in Kansas City said Wednesday that the thefts were discovered April 6. The stolen information included Social Security numbers but school officials said no employees had reported any losses from the thefts. The theft affected all employees who worked at Rockhurst during 2015. The Kansas City Star reports Rockhurst officials say the thefts occurred when someone impersonating a university administrator requested W-2 information and provided a bogus email address. University President Thomas Curran says employees will be trained to recognize such fraud schemes. It also will arrange identity theft and credit monitoring protection at no cost for two years to the employees.


DH Pace to Expand Headquarters, Add 150 Jobs in Kansas

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ A door sales and service company plans to expand and renovate its headquarters in Kansas and add 150 new jobs. The Kansas Commerce Commission has announced that DH Pace Company will spend about $3 million to expand its corporate headquarters in Olathe to accommodate the new employees. In 2013, DH Pace relocated from four locations in Kansas City, Missouri, into one plant in Olathe. The construction is expected to be completed about June 30. DH Pace Company operates facilities in over 25 markets throughout the U.S. It has more than 1,500 employees with annual sales exceeding $300 million.  


Oklahoma Grand Jury Indicts 4 in Narcotics Distribution Case 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma grand jury has indicted four people on allegations they illegally distributed narcotics to patients at an eastern Oklahoma clinic, including one who died. Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury handed down the indictment Thursday against Bernard Tougas of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Dr. Ronald Myers of Belzoni, Mississippi, Dr. John Friedl of Jenks, Oklahoma, and Dr. George Howell of Wichita, Kansas. The indictment charges all four men with racketeering in connection with the operation of the Wellness Clinic of Roland in Sequoyah County. In addition, Howell is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2012 death of a patient from drug toxicity. Myers and Friedl are charged with two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, and Tougas is charged with maintaining a building where drugs are sold.


Nebraska, South Dakota Officials Warn of Unhealthy Smoke Levels 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials say air conditions that prompted a health advisory from the Lancaster County, Nebraska Health Department could continue through today (THUR). The advisory says the unhealthy smoke levels are caused by agricultural burns in the Flint Hills area of Kansas and areas of southeastern Nebraska.  Meanwhile, South Dakota environmental officials say smoke traveling north from agricultural fires in Kansas is affecting air quality in the eastern part of that state. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources says air quality conditions will vary throughout the week. Monitoring site readings Wednesday morning indicated "unhealthy" air in Union County, Sioux Falls and Brookings. The advisories say older adults and children and people with asthma, lung disease or other respiratory conditions or heart disease should stay indoors and avoid strenuous activity.


Salina Police Say Woman and 2 Children Found Safe

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police say a mother and her two children who were reported missing March 31st have been found safe. Rebecka Lorentsen and her two children, ages 15 and 7, had not been seen since leaving their Salina home to attend a school event. Police Captain Mike Sweeney said Wednesday that all three have been located. He says they are safe and living in another town. Sweeney says nothing illegal occurred and police are no longer involved in the case.


Man Ordered to Serve Life Plus Nearly 22 Years for Homicide
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who shot and killed one person and injured four others at an after-hours warehouse party in Wichita was sentenced to life plus 21½ years in prison. Marquel Dean was sentenced Thursday in Sedgwick County for first-degree premeditated murder and five other counts for the shooting that killed James Gray in July 2013. Police say the shooting occurred after a long-running gang feud. The Wichita Eagle reports that Dean cannot begin serving the 21½ year sentence until he is paroled on the life sentence. He'll serve at least 46½ years in prison. A co-defendant in the case, Shane Landrum, is awaiting trial for first-degree premeditated murder and eight other crimes. He is being held in Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.


Kansas City Man Sentenced in 2014 Killing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison in the 2014 killing of a woman. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office says Paul Simmons was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to killing Brenda Anderson. Court records say she had been beaten and was found in a motel shower. Simmons's business card was found and a surveillance video captured a person who appeared to be him. Fingerprints in the room where the victim was found also matched Simmons's.


Kansas Man Found Dead in Water Well; Cause Unclear 

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The owner of an electric company was found dead in a water well near Arkansas City. The Arkansas City Traveler reports 46-year-old Jim Graham's body was found in the well south of Arkansas City early Wednesday. He has been reporting missing Tuesday after he didn't return home from work. Cowley County Undersheriff Jeff Moore says the man has been working on an electrical system on pumps for a well belonging to Cowley County Rural District #1. Moore says it's unclear if he died from health issues or was electrocuted. Foul play is not suspected. Moore says the electrical systems on the well were operational and the pump was functional when it was turned back on.


Woman Charged with Injuring Child at Missouri Bus Stop 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City woman has been charged with pulling around a stopped school bus, hitting a child and then fleeing. Twenty-one-year-old Aminah Ali, of Raytown, was charged Wednesday with second-degree assault, failing to stop for a school bus and leaving the scene of an accident. No attorney is listed for her in online court records. Court records say she was driving a car that was stopped in December in a line of vehicles behind a school bus that had its stop bar and flashing lights activated. She is accused of jumping the line and hitting a student. The child's collarbone was broken. A witness recorded the car's license plate. The boy's father was waiting at the bus stop and identified Ali as the driver.


Wal-Mart Expands Free Curbside Grocery Pickup Service 

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is expanding its service that allows customers to order groceries online and then pick them up outside their local store. The nation's largest food retailer said Wednesday that Kansas City will be among the eight new markets this month to offer free curbside grocery pickup. In addition to Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina were also offer the curbside pickup. About 150 Wal-Mart stores are now offering the service. By the end of April, the company says it will expand the service to roughly 200 more stores. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is aiming to capitalize on its power to combine its brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping as it faces stiff competition in same-day grocery delivery from and others.


Legal Fight over Sedgwick County Zoo's New Elephants Ends 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A legal fight has ended over the Sedgwick County Zoo's new African elephants. The Wichita Eagle reports  that animal-rights group Friends of Animals dropped its lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the transport of 17 elephants from Swaziland to zoos in Wichita, Dallas and Omaha. Friends of Animals' lawyer Jennifer Best says dropping the suit was a tough decision that came down to how to best use the group's time and resources. The advocacy group filed the suit in February after the agency approved the transfer. The group argued that the agency didn't consider the mental and physical toll on the elephants. The zoos joined the government's side and went ahead with the transfer about a month ago as a judge denied the group's last-ditch effort to stop it.


Kansas City Police Warn of Speeding Ticket Scam 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are warning people to ignore emails that claim the motorists were ticketed after being caught speeding by a red light camera. Police say it's likely the emails are part of a scam targeting motorists whose GPS information has been leaked. The department no longer issues tickets from red light cameras. The city suspended its red light camera program in November 2013 after several court cases against them were filed. The department also notes the city's Municipal Court doesn't send emails about citations or court dates. The court responds to emails only if they are initiated by citizens. The Missouri Supreme Court issued new guidelines to re-establish the red-light camera programs but Kansas City has not yet done so.


Kansas City Schools Cancel Games with Lone Jack District over Slurs 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City School District has canceled all remaining sporting events in 2016 with a nearby school district after students from one of the district's schools reported being taunted with racial slurs. The school district announced Thursday that Lincoln College Preparatory Academy reported fans from Lone Jack yelled inappropriate and racial slurs during a girls soccer game last week. Lone Jack officials said an investigation that included interviewing coaches, students, fans and game supervisors found no evidence of anyone using racial slurs at the game. The district, about 25 miles southeast of Kansas City, said it was saddened that someone felt uncomfortable at an event it hosted. In response, Kansas City decided to cancel all sporting events with Lone Jack through this calendar year.


Royals Beat Astros 4-2 to Win 2 of 3 Games in Series

HOUSTON (AP) — Kansas City Royals' catcher Salvador Perez slugged a two-run homer off Houston reliever Ken Giles to break a tie in the eighth inning Wednesday night lifting the Royals over the Houston Astros 4-2. The World Series champion Royals have taken two of the three from the team they beat in the decisive Game 5 of the AL Division Series last October. This four-game set wraps up tonight (THUR). Giles (0-1) retired the first two batters in the eighth before walking Alex Gordon on a full count. Perez followed with a home run drive to left field. Giles has given up three home runs in four games. He was acquired from Philadelphia in the offseason after giving up a total of three homers in 113 games over the past two years. Jose Altuve had three hits for Houston, including a solo home run. The Royals' Luke Hochevar (1-0) got the win and Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his first save.


Colorado Rapids Enjoy 2-1 Win over Sporting KC

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Shkelzen Gashi scored his first MLS goal in the 82nd minute and the Colorado Rapids beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Wednesday night. Gashi followed as Dillon Serna's 35-yard knuckler crashed off the crossbar and finished the rebound with a left-footed kick. The Rapids (3-2-1) acquired Gashi as a designated player prior to the season. Luis Solignac gave Colorado the early lead, slotting one past KC goalkeeper Tim Melia in the 41st minute.  Sporting KC (4-2-0) tied the match in the 77th minute when Dom Dwyer slipped away from Colorado defender Bobby Burling for an open header. It was Dwyer's fourth goal of the season.

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