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Headlines for Thursday, August 14, 2014


About 1,800 Kansans Could Lose Health Insurance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The federal government says about 1,800 Kansans who chose health insurance through could lose their coverage over questions about their citizenship or immigration status. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the 1,800 Kansans had inconsistencies in their citizenship or immigration information when they signed up on the federal health insurance marketplace. The Lawrence Journal-World reports they must send in proof of their legal status by Sept. 5 or they will lose their coverage September 30. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for tax subsidies offered on the marketplace to help pay for insurance. More than 57,000 Kansans signed up for insurance during the marketplace's first open enrollment period, which ended in April.


Police, Fire Unions Back Davis for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Unions representing police officers and firefighters are supporting Democratic challenger Paul Davis in the Kansas governor's race. The Davis campaign announced Wednesday that it had received endorsements from the Kansas Fraternal Order of Police and the Kansas State Firefighters political action committee. Davis is seeking to unseat Republican Governor Sam Brownback in the November 4 general election. Brownback's campaign did not respond immediately to the endorsements for Davis. The groups said they were supporting Davis because he has a strong record on public safety issues. Davis has served in the Kansas House since 2003 and is its minority leader. Davis said he's honored to have the endorsements.


Kobach Defends Embattled Election Official

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Democrat Jean Schodorf says Secretary of State Kris Kobach should fire the Sedgwick County election commissioner for her handling of petitions submitted to her office seeking to decriminalize marijuana in Wichita. Schodorf is challenging Kobach in the race for secretary of state. She said Wednesday that election commissioner Tabitha Lehman should be immediately fired for incompetence and gross misconduct. Kobach told The Wichita Eagle that he has no intention of firing Lehman. He said she did an "extremely careful job" and allowed the public to inspect the decision. Lehman determined after a recount last week that the petition was 47 signatures short of the 2,928 signatures needed to put the marijuana question on the November ballot.


Report: Cancer-Causing Chemicals Used in Fracking

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An environmental group says companies engaged in an oil and gas drilling method known as fracking have used chemicals that can cause cancer in four wells in Kansas. Industry representatives on Wednesday denied the allegations in a report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the group says the chemicals used to extract gas from the four wells included kerosene, diesel and other hydrocarbons during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for a program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says the industry has adequate safeguards to protect public health. She also says permits to use kerosene weren't required when most of the wells were in use.


Feds: No Charges Against Company in Guard Probe

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities say they have no plans to file charges against a company that contracted to provide dental services for the Kansas Army National Guard. The U.S. attorney's office in Wichita confirmed Thursday that the FBI has concluded its investigation of Dentrust, a Pennsylvania company that performs dental screenings and treatment for Guard soldiers. Both state and federal governments prohibit employees from accepting gifts from outside entities. The company's attorney says the investigation stemmed from a coupon that a dental worker gave a Guard member who mentioned he was going skiing. The coupon saved the Guard member $17. Attorney Ernest Baynard says Dentrust had no knowledge of the coupon or the interaction, and that no other interactions of any type were found. The federal reporting limit for gifts is $40.


Judge Won't Open Court Documents in Murder Case

PARSONS, Kan. (AP) — A judge has refused a media request to open some sealed court documents in a quadruple homicide in southeast Kansas. The Parsons Sun had asked a Labette County judge to allow the newspaper to review probable-cause and search warrant affidavits in the case of David Bennett Jr., who is charged with killing a Parsons woman and her three children in November 2013. The newspaper cited a state law that took effect July 1 that established a procedure for state courts to release to the public affidavits used to support arrest warrants and search warrants. After a hearing on Wednesday, District Judge Robert Fleming said he was ordering all records other than probable-cause and search-warrant affidavits transferred to the public record file. But the affidavits in question will remain sealed.


Saline County Voters to Decide on Sales Tax for New Jail

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Saline County will ask voters to approve a sales tax to build a new complex to house its jail, court system and prosecutors' offices. The Salina Journal reports the Saline County Commission voted this week to put the 15-year, half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. The revenue would pay finance up to $46.5 million in bonds for the project. The three-story complex would include a 344-bed jail, something Sheriff Glenn Kochanowski says is badly needed. The sheriff said Saline County had 266 inmates as of Tuesday, but 66 of them were being housed in other counties. The existing City-County Building also houses courtrooms and the county attorney's offices, in what Commissioner John Price describes as "elbow to elbow" working conditions.


Wichita Police Chief Will Resign in September

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams, who has served in the department for nearly 40 years, says he will resign, effective September 5. Williams announced his resignation Thursday in a news release and police briefing. He began his career as a police officer in Wichita in 1975 and moved up to through the department before becoming chief on April 14, 2000. He said he had been considering retirement for about a year but wanted to wait until his command staff was in place. City Manager Robert Layton said information regarding an interim chief or successor will be released at a later date.


Traveling Thieves Suspected in Wallet Heists

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Restaurant patrons throughout the Kansas City metro area are being urged to be careful with their wallets. KMBC-TV reports that police have widened their investigation into a series of wallet thefts from women's purses, apparently by a group of traveling thieves. In many cases the purses were left open and hanging on the backs of restaurant chairs. The thieves quickly run up thousands of dollars in charges on stolen credit cards and bank cards. Investigators said some gift cards bought with the stolen cards have been spent in St. Louis, Chicago and Wisconsin. Police believe the thieves are from outside the Kansas City area and have been traveling across the Midwest. Surveillance pictures released this week show two men and three women thought to be involved.


Benedictine College to Host Historic Documents

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) - Some of the world's most historic documents will be on display for a week in September at Benedictine College in Atchison. The exhibition from the Remnant Trust features a rare printing of the Declaration of Independence from 1776, a page from one of the first Gutenberg Bibles from 1455, a copy of the Magna Carta from 1576 and other items. The St. Joseph News-Press reports the documents will be on display in Benedictine's Ferrell Academic Center from September 11 through September 19. The exhibit will be free and open to the public. It is made possible by a donation from the Haverty FamilyFoundation. Michael Haverty, a former Benedictine board member, had worked earlier with the Remnant Trust.


Murder Charges Dismissed for Kansas Man After 3 Trials

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas man will not go to trial for a fourth time for attempted murder in a case arising from a dispute with his neighbor. Jefferson County Chief District Judge Gary Nafziger on Wednesday dismissed the charge against 69-year-old John Hayworth Jr. of Valley Falls. Hayworth's first trial ended in a mistrial, and the next two ended in hung juries. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Hayworth Jr. was charged with attempted first-degree murder in the December 2011 shooting of William Schoonover of Valley Falls. The shooting happened after a long-simmering property dispute. Jefferson County attorney Jason Belveal said he hasn't decided whether to appeal the dismissal. Schoonover has also filed a civil lawsuit against Hayworth.


Kansas Bicyclist Struck, Killed by Pickup Truck

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A bicyclist who was struck and killed by a pickup truck in northeast Kansas has been identified as a 66-year-old university librarian. The Douglas County sheriff's office says the collision happened Wednesday afternoon south of Clinton Lake, near Lawrence. WIBW-TV reports the bicyclist was identified Thursday as Lawrence resident Cal Melick, who worked as a public services librarian at Washburn University in Topeka. Deputies said Melick was riding eastbound when he was hit by a westbound pickup truck that was trying to pass another vehicle. The 69-year-old pickup driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.


Kansas Judge Receives National Excellence Award

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals judge is this year's recipient of the national William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. The National Center for State Courts announced its selection of Judge Steve Leben on Thursday. Leben will receive the award from U.S. Supreme Court Chief John Roberts in November. The Rehnquist Award is presented to a state court judge who demonstrates excellence in fairness, integrity, ethics, intellectual courage and other qualities. The Center for State Courts noted what it calls Leben's groundbreaking work in procedural fairness, including an influential national paper on the topic. Leben is a former Johnson County district judge. He was serving as president of the American Judges Association when he was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 2007.


None of State's KanCare Providers Hit Benchmarks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say none of the state's KanCare providers met benchmarks for timeliness in claims processing during 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports the state set a goal to have all claims without mistakes processed in 20 days and all claims processed in 60 days. An August report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the state's three KanCare providers — Amerigroup, Sunflower Health and United Healthcare — failed to meet that benchmark in any month last year. KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry says part of the companies' payments for the year were withheld, and the state continues to work with the providers. The companies did meet a goal of resolving 98 percent of all inquiries within two business days in each month of 2013.


Kansas Woman Admits Stealing from Employers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman whose criminal history barred her from jobs involving money has admitted stealing $731,000 from two employers who didn't know about her past. The U.S. Attorney's office says 45-year-old Susan Elise Prophet, of Bucyrus, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and identity theft Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri. Prophet admitted embezzling $543,000 over eight months from Dorfman Plumbing Supply in Kansas City while working as a bookkeeper. After being fired in 2013 she was hired as a bookkeeper by North Point Skilled Nursing in Paola, Kansas, where she stole more than $188,000. Prophet spent the embezzled money on vehicles, travel, and other personal expenses. Prosecutors said Prophet had felony convictions in Tennessee that barred her from holding jobs where she would have access to cash and checks.


One Man Dies, Another Critical After Kansas Explosion

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — One of two men injured in an explosion at a southeast Kansas fireworks manufacturer has died, while the second man remains in critical condition. The Crawford County Sheriff's office says that 28-year-old Kenny L. Clark died at a Joplin hospital hours after the explosion Tuesday afternoon. The Pittsburg Morning-Sun reports a second man, 42-year-old Howard O. Harper, was in critical condition Wednesday at a Springfield hospital. The men were injured by an explosion and fire at the former headquarters of Jake's Fireworks in Pittsburg. They were moving materials that were to be taken to the company's new headquarters in a Pittsburg industrial park. No other employees were injured. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.


Police: Bicyclist Shoots Driver in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say they've taken a bicyclist into custody after a man was shot in the face during a road-rage incident. Authorities say the shooting happened Wednesday night after a verbal altercation between a bicyclist and the 39-year-old car driver. They say both vehicles pulled into a shopping center. They say the bicyclist shot the man as he was getting out of his car. The man's wife and daughter were in the car with him. The driver was taken to an area hospital and is in critical condition. Police Sgt. Steve Yarberry tells KAKE-TV a suspect riding a bicycle was taken into custody in connection to the case. He says an officer used a stun gun to subdue the suspect.


Highway Patrol: 3 Injured in Kansas Collision

SYLVIA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Highway Patrol says three people have been injured in a rear-end collision on a Stafford County highway. The wreck occurred about 4 miles west of Sylvia on Wednesday afternoon. Troopers say a pickup driven by 53-year-old Dale Eisenhour was making a left turn when he was rear-ended by a Pontiac Grand Am. Eisenhour was flown to a Wichita hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown. The 19-year-old car driver and his 16-year-old passenger were both taken to an area hospital. Their conditions are also unknown. Troopers say all three were wearing seatbelts. The patrol continues to investigate the crash.


DNA Leads to Charges in 1991 Kansas City Rape

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man is charged in Missouri with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in a Kansas City park 23 years ago. The Jackson County(Missouuri) prosecutor says DNA testing led to the arrest of 42-year-old Maurice Parnell Webber, of Overland Park, Kansas. Webber was being held Wednesday on $250,000 bond on multiple charges of rape and sodomy, and did not have a lawyer. The victim was 17 years old when she was attacked in September 1991 after pulling her car into a Kansas City parking lot to sleep. She told police she awoke in the back seat of another vehicle occupied by four men who robbed her of jewelry and money. She told police she was then driven to Swope Park and sexually assaulted by three of the men.


Police: Kansas Man Shot During Break-in

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say a man has been hospitalized after being shot in the face during a home invasion. Police Lt. James Espinoza says a 34-year-old man awoke Tuesday night to find a stranger in his bedroom. He says the intruder shot the man once in the face and then fled from the house. Nothing was reported stolen. Espinoza says the injured man grabbed his 9-year-old son from another room and drove to an area hospital. He remains in serious condition. Espinoza says authorities don't have identifying details for the suspect.


US Attorney Opens Wichita Civil Rights Symposium

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The top federal prosecutor in Kansas has told civil rights activists that their complaints are not falling on deaf ears. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom spoke Wednesday in Wichita at a civil rights symposium that drew about 100 law enforcement officials and community advocates. Grissom called the event an opportunity to open a dialogue and talk about things that might otherwise divide people. One participant said the fear of racial profiling is so real among black parents in Kansas that they have taught their sons how to speak respectfully to police during traffic stops. A study of traffic citations has found that blacks make up 11 percent of Wichita's population but are issued nearly 22 percent of traffic tickets.


2 Arrested in Blowgun Attack on Kansas Girls

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) _ Police investigating a blowgun attack on two children in central Kansas have made two arrests. The incident happened in late July as the girls, ages 12 and 14, were swimming in Sand Creek in Newton. The girls said two people who were fishing became annoyed when they swam too close to the fishing lines. The girls said the anglers followed them to a bike path, picked up blowguns and began firing long darts. The 14-year-old needed treatment after being wounded in the foot. KAKE-TV reports Newton police have arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of battery and assault. A 29-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of obstructing an investigation. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday.


Virus Found in 14 Kansas City-Area Newborns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Health authorities in Missouri and Kansas are investigating infections among 14 infants in the Kansas City area with a virus that can cause meningitis and other inflammation. The Kansas City Star reports the first cases of a strain of human parechovirus were discovered in June. Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow says none of the infants has died from HPeV3 but all have been hospitalized. Shawnee Mission Medical Center and Children's Mercy Hospital have reported cases. She says it's unclear if the infections are connected. Nine of the children are from Kansas and the rest are Missouri residents. Rosenow says the department is working with the Missouri Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if there have been other infections.


Pratt County Homeless Man Wounded by Target Shooters

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A homeless man has been shot and wounded near a central Kansas park where a pair of teens were practicing target shooting. The Pratt County sheriff's office says the incident happened around 11:30 am Wednesday. Authorities say two boys, ages 15 and 16, were target shooting at a trash barrel and apparently didn't see the man sleeping behind it. KSNW-TV reports that one of the rounds hit the man in the leg. The boys called for help, and the 42-year-old man was taken to a hospital for treatment. The severity of his injury wasn't immediately known.


Vandals Hit SW Missouri High School 

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) — Officials are adding up the costs of damage done by vandals at a southwest Missouri high school just days before the start of classes. The Neosho Daily News reports the damage was discovered early Monday in the agriculture building and a trailer at Neosho High School. Assistant superintendent Tim Crawley says windows and skylights were broken, computer stations were tipped over, laptop computers were left in pieces and fire extinguishers were sprayed. Crawley says more damage was found Tuesday morning outside the school, where the baseball press box and the football concession stand were burglarized. The district's maintenance crews were scrambling to get the high school cleaned up before classes began Wednesday.


North Dakota Residents Joining Missouri River Flood Lawsuit

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota has become the sixth state to have residents join a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over Missouri River flood damage. Flooding in previous years — particularly 2011 — prompted a March lawsuit by more than 200 landowners in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Plaintiff's attorney Eddie Smith says some people in North Dakota have now joined the lawsuit, and many more are expected after informational meetings in Bismarck this week. Rural Mandan homeowner Judy Masset says the lawsuit isn't just about being compensated for damage but also about getting the corps to make flood control a priority. The federal government has said the corps shouldn't be blamed for major flooding on the river because the management system doesn't guarantee a flood-free zone.



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