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Headlines for Thursday, August 28, 2014


Officials: 20 Percent Turnout for KS Primary Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say about 20 percent of the state's 1.74 million registered voters took part in this month's primary elections. Secretary of State Kris Kobach chairs the three-member State Board of Canvassers, which certified the results of the August 5 primaries on Wednesday. Nearly 351,000 ballots were cast. Kobach had predicted 22 percent turnout. The 20 percent participation was the lowest for a Kansas primary election since 2006, when it was 18 percent. Turnout in the last primary in a non-presidential election year in 2010 was 25 percent. Logan County in western Kansas had the highest turnout, at 40 percent. The lowest turnout, less than 12 percent, was in Labette County in southeast Kansas.


Kansas Board OKs 92-Year-Old's Voter Registration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas board has approved the voter registration of a 92-year-old woman after she and her daughter presented copies of census records and a page from a battered family Bible to prove she was born in the U.S. Evelyn Howard of Shawnee went before the State Election Board on Wednesday because she had no birth certificate. Daughter Marilyn Hopkins said she was born in a midwife's home in Minnesota in February 1922. Kansas requires new voters to provide a birth certificate or other proof of their citizenship when registering. Howard moved to Kansas from Missouri in 2013 and sought to register as a Republican voter earlier this month. The three-member board's decision was unanimous. The page from the family Bible recorded the birth of Howard and two siblings.


Schodorf Releases Income Tax Returns

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Democratic challenger to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has released the past three years of personal income tax information and is challenging her opponent to do the same. Jean Schodorf released her return transcripts on Wednesday in a bid to force Kobach to prove his claim that he spends only an average of 4.9 hours per week on his private law practice. Critics contend Kobach spends too much time outside Kansas as the architect of anti-immigration laws across the nation. Kobach says he has already made public how much time he averages in his private law practice and calls Schodorf's move a political stunt. Schodorf's returns listed total annual income ranging from $51,128 to $136,098. Her federal income taxes ranged between $2,374 and $18,234 during those three years.


Agco Announces Employee Layoffs in Hesston

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — Agco, an agriculture machinery manufacturer, is laying off 24 hourly workers at its plant in Hesston and more cuts are expected. The plant's human resources manager, Tom Nutting, says the layoffs will involve the plant's machining, fabrication and laser operations. The plant also is dropping from three shifts to two. The first layoffs will be effective Tuesday, with more layoffs next month. The Wichita Eagle reports Danny Hawkins, treasurer for United Steelworkers 11228, said Wednesday the union had been told about 80 production workers and 6 percent of the plant's management and administrative staff will eventually be laid off. He says employees also are being asked to work fewer hours. The company blamed the layoffs on a reduced demand for agricultural machinery, caused by lower farm incomes.


Topeka Jeweler Accused of Buying Stolen Goods

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is accused of knowingly buying stolen jewelry at his Topeka store, then reselling it as scrap gold. The U.S. Attorney's office says 53-year-old John Dasher, of Silver Lake, made a first court appearance Thursday on 32 counts of money laundering and one count of transporting stolen property. Court records did not list an attorney for Dasher. Prosecutors said Dasher bought gold jewelry at his store, The Diamond House, that he knew had been stolen in home invasions in the Topeka area. The indictment alleges he melted the stolen jewelry and sold it as gold scrap to precious metal wholesalers. Authorities allege the wholesalers paid Dasher more than $430,000 from November 2008 to April 2013.


Kansas Gets One-Year Waiver of Federal Schools Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas has received a one-year extension of a waiver that gives it more flexibility in meeting some of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. The U.S. Department of Education also granted an extension Thursday to Indiana. Kansas first was granted a waiver in 2012, but was told last August it was at "high risk" of losing it because the state hadn't taken enough steps to use student achievement data as part of teacher evaluations. Interim Kansas Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander said he was "pleased." The Kansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says education evaluation systems will incorporate the student data as a "significant" factor this year. But those student growth measures will not be used to make personnel decisions until the 2017-18 school year.


3 KS Districts Recommended for 'Innovative' Status

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Three Kansas school districts have received initial approval to become special innovative districts, which would make them exempt from many state education regulations. The Coalition of Innovative School Districts on Wednesday recommended that Kansas City, Hugoton and Blue Valley districts be designated as innovative. A fourth request, from the Santa Fe Trail District, was not approved. The Kansas State Board of Education must approve the coalition's recommendations. A 2013 law allows districts to be exempt from certain state regulations involving public education if they present plans to improve student achievement. Up to 10 percent of the state's school districts can be members. The Concordia and McPherson districts were the first two member districts selected as part of the coalition.


KHP Seeks Witness to Pedestrian Death 

OVERBROOK, Kan (AP) - Authorities are asking the public for help in finding witnesses to the hit-and-run death of a northeast Kansas pedestrian. Twenty-year-old Timothy Kemble of Carbondale was found dead around 5am Sunday along U.S. Highway 56 in Osage County. The Kansas Highway Patrol said Thursday that investigators hope to talk with anyone who was driving on the highway near Overbrook between 4:30 and 5:30 am Sunday. Investigators are also trying to locate the driver of a tractor-trailer that was in the area at that time. The Highway Patrol says the driver is not a suspect, but could have helpful information. 


Cessna's Independence Plant Delivers 10,000th Plane

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cessna Aircraft's Independence plant has delivered the 10,000th single-engine airplane built at the plant since the first delivery in June 1996. The company says the milestone plane, a Cessna Skyhawk, was delivered recently to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, along with two other Cessna Skyhawks. The Wichita Eagle reports that the airplane has a custom paint job noting the milestone. Cessna builds most of its single-engine piston products in Independence, including the Skyhawk, Turbo Skylane JT-A, Stationair and TTx. It also produces the Citation Mustang and Citation M2 jets. The company's Garmin avionics training center is also at the plant.


Famous KC Barbecue Restaurant Dropping "Oklahoma" Name

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The well-known Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Que restaurant is changing its name to reflect that it has no current ties to the state of Oklahoma. The restaurant, which has three locations in the Kansas City area, will be known as Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que by the end of the year. The restaurant has made several national lists of best barbeque stops. It has attracted celebrity diners and recently served about $1,400 worth of food to Air Force One when President Barack Obama was in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports the business started in Oklahoma but hasn't had a restaurant in that state for 17 years. Co-owner Jeff Stehney says the company is proud of its roots but the name change reflects where it has been based for nearly two decades.


Missing 3-Year-Old Missouri Girl Found

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Police say they have located a missing 3-year-old girl safe with her biological mother. The Kansas City Star reports that Excelsior Springs Police Captain Clint Reno says an Amber Alert had been issued earlier for Ramy Demboski, who was taken earlier in the day from her father's home. Police said an adult was watching Ramy when a woman came to the door saying her car had broken down and she needed help. After the stranger left, the adult noticed Ramy was missing. Police say the girl has been the subject of a custody dispute.


Fort Leavenworth to Break Ground on New Center

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - Fort Leavenworth is planning a groundbreaking ceremony next week for a $15.6 million battleground simulation training center. Fort officials announced that the ceremony Wednesday will begin construction of a Regional Simulation Center, which will house the hardware, software and technology that simulate battlefield activity. The new center will provide training for the staffs and commanders of large units  and a corps to help improve communication, coordination and planning skills. The Army says it will save money by consolidating the training technology, which currently is scattered at each corps and division headquarters. The Leavenworth Times reports construction of the 36,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by January 2016.

Smoking Materials Caused KU Fraternity Fire

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Investigators say a fire at a University of Kansas fraternity house was caused by improperly disposed of smoking materials. No injuries were reported after the fire Tuesday at the Sigma Chi fraternity house. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire official Shaun Coffey said Thursday the fire caused an estimated $150,000 in damage. Flames were contained to the third floor but lower floors had smoke and water damage. The Lawrence Journal-World reports fraternity members said a bathroom and bedrooms sustained the most damage. The 74 residents of the home were allowed to return to the house Tuesday evening. Coffey said he did not know what type of smoking materials caused the fire.


Kansas State University to Offer Massive Open Online Course

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has announced that a health and wellness course will be its first "massive open online course." The school joins dozens of leading universities that have begun offering free, digital versions of their most popular courses. The so-called MOOCs allow tens of thousands of students to take a class at the same time. But dropout rates often hover around 90 percent. The Kansas State course will teach about the changes that can be made to improve health, physical fitness and overall well-being. The first cycle of the course will be taught October 6 to November 15, with content remaining open to students until December 12. Assistant human nutrition professor Linda Yarrow says the class format encourages instructors to be creative and innovative in their educational offerings.


Hutchinson Urged to End Housing Program

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - The Hutchinson Housing Commission is recommending that the city council allow a two-year-old housing incentive program to expire. The Hutchinson News reports the New Construction Housing Incentive Program was created amid a deep housing slump. The program offers a rebate on the city portion of property taxes for any new home bought between January 21, 2013, and December 31 of this year. Housing Program Manager Irene Hart said last month that it was rarely used and did not spur new housing in the city. She says only six new homeowners received rebate checks when they were delivered in July. The incentive expires in December, and the commission unanimously voted Wednesday to advise the city council not to renew it.


Kobach Reappoints Johnson County Election Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has appointed the top elections official in the state's most populous county to another four-year term. Kobach had a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday for Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby. Newby has held the job since being appointed to fill a vacancy in January 2005. His current term expires Sunday. The secretary of state appoints election commissioners in the state's four most populous counties - Johnson, Sedgwick, Wyandotte and Shawnee. Elected clerks supervise elections in the state's 101 other counties. Johnson County has almost 378,000 registered voters, or nearly 22 percent of the 1.74 million statewide. Newby is a former Sprint Corp. executive and Shawnee city council member. As election commissioner, he's been honored by national groups for counties and election officials.

Effort Underway to Bring Movie Theater to Hiawatha

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A group of residents in Hiawatha are trying to bring a movie theater back to the northeast Kansas town. Hiawatha's Twin Theatre closed about a week ago after voters in April rejected an initiative that would have funded the construction of a new city-owned theater. Now, a nonprofit group called Hiawatha ACES has launched a fundraising drive to buy and renovate the 40-year-old Twin Theatre. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the group estimates it would cost $200,000 to update the theater. For now, small improvements and maintenance will begin, with a goal of reopening the theater by the holiday season. However, a second proposal to fund a city-owned movie theater will be on the ballot in November. If it passes, the plans to renovate the Arrow Twin will stop.


Panel Sides with Gas Firm in Kansas Land Rights Dispute

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A court-appointed panel of petroleum engineering experts has sided with Omaha-based Northern Natural Gas over what it should pay for condemning nearly 9,200 acres in southern Kansas. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Wednesday gave the parties until September 16 to file objections to the recommendations in the panel's 85-page report. The panel's findings stem from 19 days of trial on compensation for gas producers and owners of land surrounding the company's underground gas storage facility. That trial was marked by conflicting testimony by experts for the company and experts for affected property owners in Pratt, Kingman and Reno counties. The panel is recommending the company pay $7.3 million for storage rights and for gas underlying the land, far below the more than $100 million property owners wanted.


Small Plane Crash-Lands Near Kansas Airport

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a pilot and his passenger escaped injury when a small, twin-engine plane made a crash landing near an airport. The incident happened shortly before 11 am Wednesday at the El Dorado Airport in Butler County. Authorities say the pilot was doing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings when the plane lost power in one engine. The 1966 Cessna 310K then landed hard in a field near the airport.


Pakistani Educators to Speak on Terrorism at JCCC

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A panel of college leaders from Pakistan will speak at Johnson County Community College about the role of education in fighting terrorism in their country. The educators from the Sukkur Institute of Business Administration are scheduled to speak the evening of September 18 at the Overland Park campus. The U.S. Embassy has provided the college a grant to work with the Pakistani school. The event is open to the public and starts at 7 pm in the college's Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. A public reception will begin at 6 pm in the Nerman Atrium.


Conference Examines Future of Water in Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - The Governor's Water Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas will highlight policy and research developments on water issues in the state. The Kansas Water Office announced Wednesday the conference will be held November 12-13 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan. Among the conference topics are working with available resources, developing additional supply sources and management practices for water use in Kansas.


Report: Student Loan Education Lacking

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A new report finds that most universities aren't offering students enough help in understanding the financial burden posed by student loans. Two Kansas State University professors helped write the white paper, called "Financial Literacy in Higher Education: The Most Successful Models and Methods for Gaining Traction." The report outlines different ways to educate students, ranging from classroom-based programs to individual counseling. The paper also identified a need for financial education at universities, noting that many universities do not have a program. Associate professor Sonya Britt says financial issues are one of the top reasons that students drop out of college. She also stressed that most incoming college students haven't benefited from financial literacy courses in high school and lack basic money management skills.


Lawyer Says Wichita Lawn Mower Accident Not a Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The attorney for a home day care owner who ran over a toddler with a lawn mower says the accident was not a crime. David Moses say last week's incident is not aggravated endangerment of a child. He says his 39-year-old client didn't act recklessly. Moses says she feels terrible about what happened to the 18-month-old child. The woman has not been charged. She was arrested last week on suspicion of aggravated endangerment and later released. The girl was critically injured by the push mower on August 21. Police continue to investigate the cause. The state has issued an emergency suspension of the day care's license. Neither the identity of the child nor an update on her condition has been released.


Kansas City to Expand Bike Sharing Project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A program that allows people to rent bicycles is expanding in Kansas City. Bike Walk KC has received funding to expand the cycle sharing program into the Westport, Country Club Plaza, Brookside, Waldo and 18th Street and Vine neighborhoods. The 13 new stands will join 12 stands that have been available in downtown Kansas City since 2012. The programs allow riders to rent bikes for a day or the year. The bikes are fitted with GPS devices and kept on bike racks throughout the city. Bike Walk KC Executive Director Eric Rogers says about 5,000 riders used the bikes in both 2012 and 2013 and a 10 to 20 percent increase is expected this year. The long-term goal is to have 200-300 stands throughout the metro area.


Wichita Official Warns of Illegal Dumping

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita official says an increased number of illegal dumping cases are putting a strain on city workers. Director Tom Stolz tells KAKE-TV that the city has recorded nearly 4,000 cases of discarded trash on public and private land so far this year. That's about total amount recorded in a typical year. Stolz says some people dump items such as mattresses to avoid trash fees. Wichita employs 15 inspectors who deal with the dumping as well as residential and zoning complaints. Stolz says the increase in waste work takes time away from other jobs. He also says the trash is unsightly.

US Says Oklahoma Schools Not Meeting Standards

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal education officials say Oklahoma's public school standards aren't sufficiently preparing students for college or careers and will pull a waiver that lets the state bypass some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the state Thursday saying that while Oklahoma had benefited from the flexibility, it couldn't justify an extension. Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle said Oklahoma had promised to carry out plans to improve education for all students. This year, however, Oklahoma overturned its Common Core standards and adopted those in place in 2010. Delisle told Oklahoma offiicials they "can no longer demonstrate that the state's standards are college- and career-ready standards." Educators in Indiana and Kansas were granted one-year waivers Thursday, allowing them to continue state-developed programs.


No Injuries in Chiefs' Bus Accident in Wisconsin

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say a tour bus bringing the Kansas City Chiefs to their Wisconsin hotel before Thursday night's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers was involved in an accident. The Outagamie County sheriff's office says it was escorting the Chiefs' buses from the airport to the hotel Wednesday afternoon when a vehicle entered the intersection and collided with one of the five buses. Two adults and three children were in the vehicle that struck the bus. One of the children had a minor cut to the head and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. No one on the Chiefs' bus was hurt. Police are investigating.


Royals Lead Division But Attendence Still Meager

UNDATED (AP) — The Kansas City Royals continue to lead their division, even while local fans stay away from Kauffman Stadium. Fewer than 18,000 fans showed up on Wednesday to watch the Royals erupt for six runs in the eighth inning of a 6-1 comeback victory against Minnesota. The win puts the Royals 2 ½ games ahead of second-place Detroit in the AL Central. Meanwhile, Royals manager Ned Yost is imploring fans to show up for their remaining home games. Kansas City entered the game with the fifth-worst average attendance in the league.


Michigan's Beilein Receives NCAA's Frederick Sportsmanship Award

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — University of Michigan basketball coach John Beilein has been named the 2013-14 recipient of the NCAA's Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award. The Frederick Award, first presented in 2009 to honor the late University of Kansas and Illinois State athletic director, is given to "an NCAA member institution coach or administrator who exhibits a lifelong commitment to sportsmanship and ethical conduct, leading by example and promoting positive fan involvement in and out of competition." Beilein says he's certain there were other coaches who deserved the award, but he's honored to be chosen. Beilein led the Wolverines to a 28-9 record last season, and Michigan won the Big Ten title.


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