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Headlines for Thursday, April 17, 2014


Kansas Officials Boost Revenue Estimates by $178M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are projecting that the state will collect nearly $178 million more in revenues than previously thought through June 2015. The new revenue projections issued Thursday brighten the state's budget picture and would appear to allow Kansas to avoid a budget shortfall through June 2016. The previous revenue projections, issued in November, estimated that the state would collect about $5.9 billion in taxes and other revenues for the current fiscal year and again during the fiscal year beginning in July. The new projections predict about $6 billion in revenues for each fiscal year. But revenues during the current fiscal year would still run about 6 percent behind revenues during the previous year because of income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback.


Holder: Americans Stand with Kansas City Mourners

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder says all Americans are standing with the mourners of three people killed at Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and several religious leaders also attended the service Thursday at the Jewish Community Center. Holder told the overflow crowd of more than 1,000 that every alleged hate crime, no matter the intended target, is an affront to the nation. Avowed white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross is charged with capital murder and premeditated first-degree murder in the killings Sunday of Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Cross is also accused of killing Terri LaManno at a nearby Jewish retirement complex. Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday.

Small-Town Mayor Supports Kansas Shooting Suspect

MARIONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A small-town Missouri mayor's public support of a Kansas shooting suspect has led to the resignation of one of his elected colleagues. Marionville alderwoman Jessica Wilson tells the Springfield News-Leader she is stepping down in protest of comments made by Mayor Danny Clevenger. The repair shop owner said in an interview with KSPR-TV that he shared some of his friend Frazier Glenn Cross's racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. The 73-year-old white supremacist from the nearby southwest Missouri town of Aurora faces charges of shooting three people to death outside a suburban Kansas City Jewish community center and retirement home. Clevenger has declined subsequent interview requests.


Kansas Regents Sticking with Social Media Policy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Board of Regents leaders say they do not plan to back away from the board's social media policy, which has been criticized for allowing administrators to fire or discipline employees for their social media postings. During the board's meeting Wednesday, chairman Fred Logan says he disagrees that the policy restricts staff and faculty from openly expressing their opinions. The policy was adopted last year following controversial tweets by a University of Kansas journalism faculty member after a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the regents are considering making some changes to explicitly say that the board respects First Amendment rights of staff, without dropping provisions that allow for removal if comments are detrimental to the institution.


First Lady to Speak at Topeka Schools' Graduation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Michelle Obama plans to give the commencement address for the graduation ceremony for Topeka's high schools on May 17. The White House announced the first lady's plans Thursday. The date of the ceremony is the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared school segregation unconstitutional. One of the lawsuits leading to the decision originated in Topeka, and the city is home to a national historic site centered on the ruling. The graduation is scheduled for 1 pm May 17 at the Kansas Expocentre. The Topeka school district normally schedules separate graduation ceremonies for its three high schools, alternative school and charter school but is combining them because of the first lady's address. The district expects 800 seniors to receive their diplomas.


Kansas Unemployment Rate Unchanged in March

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Unemployment held steady in Kansas during March, staying at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.9 percent in March, the same as in February. The Kansas Department of Labor says Thursday that the rate compares with 5.5 percent from March 2013. Labor officials say that Kansas added 2,200 private-sector jobs in March and more than 17,000 in the past 12 months. Secretary Lana Gordon says the state has gained more than 50,000 private-sector jobs since January 2011. Economist Tyler Tenbrink says the increase in the number of hours worked weekly as well as hourly earnings suggested employers are hiring more workers to respond to increased demand for goods and services. The agency also says first-time benefit claims fell in March to 9,669.


Note Leads to Security Increase at 2 Salina Schools

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Security has been beefed up at two Salina high schools after a staff member at one of the schools found a note indicating there would be violence there. The Salina Journal reports the vaguely threatening note was found Tuesday by a staff member at Salina Central High School. The next day a cellphone that appeared to have been shot with a firearm was found in a school office. Security measures include increasing the number of police officers at the school and monitoring access to the building. Salina police spokesman Captain Mike Sweeney says police presence at South High School also has been increased. A spokeswoman for the school district declined to provide any specifics about the threat.


Kansas Patrol Led on 65-Mile Chase on Interstate

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says troopers were led on a 65-mile chase on the interstate before the driver was arrested. The patrol says the chase began early Thursday after troopers tried to stop a van that was speeding on westbound Interstate 70 near Solomon in Dickinson County. The pursuit continued into Russell County, where troopers were able to stop the van about five miles west of the Wilson exit. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the van was believed to be stolen. The driver was arrested after being subdued with a stun gun. No injuries were reported. Additional details were not immediately available.

UPDATE: Missing Elderly Man Found, Silver Alert Cancelled

PRINCETON, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas county has cancelled a Silver Alert for a 75-year-old man who had been missing since Wednesday afternoon. The Franklin County Sheriff's office says Donald Eugene Cook, who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, checked himself into a Kansas City area hospital on Thursday. No further details were immediately available. The county issued the alert earlier Thursday, saying Cook hadn't been seen since he left his home in Princeton Wednesday afternoon. His family was concerned because he did not have his medication.


Motion to Dismiss 1997 Rape Case is Denied

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old man will go on trial for the second time on charges that he raped a University of Kansas student in 1997. On Wednesday, Douglas County Judge Michael Malone denied a motion to dismiss the case against Robert Grey, who was convicted of rape in 2009 and sentenced to 26 years in prison. The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that Grey should get a new trial because the prosecutor in the first trial did not disclose some evidence to the defense. Grey's attorney argued Wednesday that the case should be dismissed because some evidence allegedly had been destroyed and the length of time since the crime. 6News Lawrence reports Malone rejected both arguments. The retrial is set for May 1.

Kansas Wesleyan Plans Environmental Studies Degree

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan University plans to offer a new environmental science major that will combine sciences with the study of social forces involved in environmental issues. The new Environmental Sciences and Community Resilience will be offered on two tracks. One will include more natural sciences electives, while the other will emphasize social sciences such as public relations and marketing. Psychology professor Steve Hoekstra says the school in Salina wanted to offer an environmental sciences degree that differs from most science-heavy courses at other schools. He says graduates will have enough science knowledge to speak intelligently on the subject, along with the skills to be an effective advocate. The Salina Journal reports the program will work with the Land Institute, an agricultural research facility near Salina.


Woman Who Got Out of Moving Vehicle Run Over, Dies

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority says a 52-year-old woman died when she got out of a moving vehicle and was run over. The authority says Deborah Lynn Kloster died Wednesday afternoon when she intentionally got out of pickup truck on an off-ramp from Interstate 635 in Kansas City, Kansas. Officials say Kloster was run over by one of the vehicle's tires. Her hometown was not immediately available. The truck's driver, a 71-year-old man from Kansas City, Kansas, was not injured.


Charge Dropped in KS Street Painting Caper

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas prankster won't be facing any penalties for painting a green line down a local street as part of a St. Patrick's tradition that goes back decades. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a criminal damage charge against Tonganoxie resident Charlie "Tuna" Conrad has been thrown out. Conrad was painting a green line down Fourth Street early March 15 when an officer stopped him and issued the citation. Conrad had been scheduled to appear in municipal court on Wednesday, but City Attorney Mike Kelly said the charge had been dropped at his discretion. Various people have filled the role of "leprechauns" and painted the green line each year since the late John McCaffrey started the parade — and green line tradition — in the late 1980s.


Kansan's Remains from WWII to Return to Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The remains of a 22-year-old Topeka airman who went missing in World War II are being returned to his family for burial. The Department of Defense announced this week that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant Verne L. Gibb will be buried Wednesday in Leavenworth. The Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel Office said Gibb was the pilot on a routine flight from Burma to India in unfavorable weather when the plane disappeared. All six people on board were declared dead. Human remains were turned over to the U.S. in 2002. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a Burmese national gave the remains a local priest, who gave them to an American school teacher in 2002. DNA from Gibb's sister was used to identify the remains.


Overall Index Gains in Rural Midwest Banker Survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The overall index for an economic survey of bankers in 10 Midwestern and Plains states has risen for a second consecutive month, suggesting more growth in the months ahead. The Rural Mainstreet Index hit 53.2 in April, compared with 50.1 in March. The survey indexes range from 0 to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. A score above 50 suggests growth in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the results indicate that areas highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing slower growth than they were a year ago. But he says recent increases in commodity prices should boost the economy in the months ahead. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


City of Shawnee Finalist for Military Award

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Shawnee in northeast Kansas has been named one of 30 finalists for an annual award honoring employers for their support of the National Guard and Reserves. The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that the Johnson County community is a finalist for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. It is the military's highest award presented to employers who demonstrate support for their workers who are members of the National Guard or Reserves. Shawnee was selected from more than 2,800 nominations that were submitted earlier this year by service members. A group of senior defense officials, business leaders and previous award recipients will select up to 15 Freedom Award winners from the 30 finalists. Winners will be honored at a ceremony in September.


Burglary Suspect Breaks Leg While Fleeing Police

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A burglary suspect broke his leg while trying to flee from police after a homeowner found him inside a western Missouri residence. WDAF-TV reports that the man was discovered around 11 am Thursday inside a Freeman home in Cass County. Police located the suspect vehicle with four people inside when they arrived at the scene, prompting a roughly 25-minute chase that ended near Bannister Road and Interstate 435 in Kansas City. Police say the suspect pulled over and broke his leg at some point after jumping out of the still-moving vehicle and climbing a median to escape. His car crashed into a Cass County deputy's vehicle. Neither the suspect's name nor those of the other man and two women in his vehicle have been released.


School Confirms 6th-Grader's Death from Meningitis

LOUISBURG, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sixth-grader has died from complications of bacterial meningitis, but his school district and state health officials insist the disease is not contagious and does not pose a public health risk. The Kansas City Star reports the Louisburg Unified School District on Wednesday confirmed the death of Aaron Willard a day earlier. The district said in a statement it was providing counselors for students and staff members who need them. Kansas state epidemiologist Charlie Hunt says the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has not recommended taking any preventative actions in regard to Aaron's death. Hunt says bacterial infections causing meningitis typically occur in household or dormitory settings where there is close personal contact with someone carrying the bacteria, but not so much in general classroom settings.




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