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Headlines for Thursday, August 6, 2015

Westar Reaches Agreement on New Rate Deal  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric company in Kansas has reached an agreement with a consumer advocacy agency and other parties to scale back a proposed increase in the utility's annual rates to $78 million. Westar Energy announced Thursday that it had a settlement with the Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board, the staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission and all other parties in its rate case. Westar had sought a $152 million rate increase. The KCC sets utility rates and must sign off on the deal. Westar had said it needed a rate increase primarily to cover costs already incurred for power plant improvements mandated by federal air pollution standards. The company said that under the agreement households will see their electric bills rise between $5 and $7 a month.


No Kansas Reports on Fetal Tissue in 15 Years 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas state health department has not received a single report on the handling of fetal tissue in the 15 years that it's been legally required whenever such tissue is transferred. The Department of Health and Environment's disclosure — in response to an Associated Press open records request — comes amid a national debate about fetal tissue. It was spurred by anti-abortion activists' release of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials outside Kansas discussing their handling of fetal tissue. A 2000 Kansas law banning the sale of fetal tissue requires anyone legally donating it to someone else to file a report providing details. The state's abortion providers say they don't have such donation programs. Abortion opponents said Thursday another possible explanation is that the requirement is being ignored.


Kobach to Start Voter Fraud Prosecutions in September  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he'll start prosecuting voter fraud cases in September and will focus on cases of double voting from the 2010 election. KWCH reports that Kobach's office is aiming for mid-September to begin filing charges. Double voting refers to when a person casts a ballot in more than one jurisdiction in the same election. Kobach said his office has been working with other states to get documents to support the claims of double voting. Kobach won the authority to prosecute election crimes during this past legislative session. That authority to prosecute, which he sought, went into effect July 1. Many Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern that Kobach will pursue unnecessary prosecutions.


US Penitentiary Guard in Leavenworth Charged with Bribery 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal prison guard at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth has been indicted on charges accusing him of accepting bribes from inmates in exchange for tobacco. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said Thursday that Michael Harston, of Kansas City, Missouri, was indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of accepting bribes. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Harston's accused of taking bribes from inmates from October 2013 to August 2014 in exchange for tobacco, which is contraband at the a medium-security prison. Online court records don't list a lawyer for Harston.


Kansas Cattle Inventory Showing Increases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The number of cattle on Kansas feedlots is up this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service says the number of cattle on Kansas feedlots has risen 2 percent in the past year to about 1.94 million. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports USDA statistics also show that overall cattle inventories across the state have grown. Drought conditions had dried up ponds and pushed up prices for feed, which prompted Kansas farmers to sell off cattle or send them to packing plants. But as of January 1 this year, total cattle inventories in Kansas, which includes all cattle and calves, not just those on feedlots, hit 6 million, an increase of 200,000 from a year earlier and a sign of recovery after three years of decreases.


US Officials Questioned Kansas Rule on ATMs, Cash Assistance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Records released by the state show Kansas faced pointed questions from U.S. officials about its plan for a $25-a-day limit on ATM withdrawals with cash assistance cards. The state Department for Children and Families on Wednesday released an email from a regional U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official. The state agency eliminated the cap on ATM withdrawals Tuesday, a day after receiving the email. The statement from the HHS official said the limit appeared to violate federal law. The Legislature approved the $25 limit in April as part of broader efforts to ensure that poor families use cash assistance only for necessities. But lawmakers, worried about losing federal funding, later authorized the DCF to increase or eliminate the cap. 


Judge Denies Venue Change in Jewish Site Shootings 

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has denied a request to move the trial of a 74-year-old Missouri man charged in the deaths of three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., of Aurora, Missouri, is charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of three people last year at two Jewish sites in Overland Park, Kansas.  A Johnson County District Court judge on Wednesday denied Miller's motion for the change of venue. The judge says without any evidence or testimony to back the request, he had no legal basis to consider the motion. Miller is representing himself at the trial, which is set to begin August 17. Miller, an avowed anti-Semite, has admitted carrying out the shootings. 


Assisted Living Center at Topeka's VA Campus to Open in Fall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Veterans Administration plans to open an assisted living center on its Topeka campus for veterans with mild dementia. The building on the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center campus is expected to open this fall. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the building will offer 12 private rooms with their own bathrooms. It also will offer such amenities as a social area, kitchen, dining area and outdoor courtyard. Veterans Administration officials say the building will cost about $8.8 million to design and build. Nurse manager Colleen Grinage says the center is designed for veterans with cognitive impairment or mild dementia. She says residents will be encouraged to do as much as possible for themselves, with supervision to ensure they are safe.


Kansas-Based Mower Manufacturer to Expand to Edgerton 

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas-based mowing equipment manufacturer plans to open a new plant in Edgerton and create 200 jobs. Excel Industries, based in Hesston, says in a news release Thursday that it will open the new plant in Logistics Park Kansas City in Johnson County. The company says the plant will initially be used for warehousing and distribution and eventually manufacture an existing product. The company's mowing products, which include golf course equipment, are sold through the Hustler Turf Equipment and BigDog Mower Company brands. The Kansas City Star reports that Excel also said it expects to hire more employees at its Hesston headquarters during the next several years as it adds products.


Kansas Ends Summer Statehouse Lunches with Veterans' Tribute

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is ending a series of weekly outdoor lunches outside the Statehouse with a tribute to veterans that also marks two significant U.S. military anniversaries. The event at 11 am Friday at the south steps of the Capitol is sponsored by several state agencies, including the Department of Administration and the Commission on Veterans Affairs. It will feature big-band and swing music from the 1940s and food vendors. The Department of Administration says visitors are welcome to bring their own lunches. The event also will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the allies' victory over Japan in World War II and the 50th anniversary of the U.S. introducing conventional forces into the Vietnam War. The series of weekly lunches began in June.


Shooting Suspect Caught in Kansas, Nebraska Patrol Says 

FALLS CITY, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska State Patrol says a 34-year-old man suspected in a Falls City shooting has been captured in Kansas. The patrol says Desiderio Hernandez was taken into custody after a nearly seven-hour standoff with officers at a residence in Horton, Kansas. He was being held in Brown County Jail to await his return to Richardson County in Nebraska, where he's charged with attempted murder. Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted to comment on Hernandez's behalf. The patrol says Hernandez is suspected of shooting 31-year-old Joseph Debella Jr. early Wednesday morning. A warrant affidavit says Hernandez told his sister and brother that he'd shot Debella, who's been hospitalized in Lincoln.


Dad of Batboy, 9, Who Died, Supports Batboy Tradition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The father of a 9-year-old batboy who died after being accidentally struck by a follow-through swing in Wichita says the batboy tradition should continue. Kaiser Carlile was struck Saturday by a warm-up swing by a Liberal Bee Jays player near the on-deck circle during a National Baseball Congress World Series game. Kaiser died Sunday. The National Baseball Congress suspended using batboys and girls during its World Series games in Kansas after Kaiser's death. Kaiser's father, Chad Carlile, said on NBC'S Today show Thursday that while there "might be a better way of doing things," he thinks the batboy tradition should continue because it's "tremendous for kids." Carlile also said the family donated organs from Kaiser to two children, and that he's proud Kaiser has touched so many lives.


Topeka Council to Again Attempt Ban on Public Nudity 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka City Council is expected to make another attempt at banning public nudity. City Councilman Jeff Coen presented his proposed ban on nudity in public places this week. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that some residents have complained about a local man who reportedly walks nude along an area trail. Mayor Larry Wolgast said there appeared to be a consensus that the council should consider the nudity ban at a future meeting. Last year, the council sent a proposal to its public health and safety committee that would make public nudity a misdemeanor. But committee members tabled the proposal with no recommendation. The council also considered banning public nudity in 2005, but the proposal died.


KCC Pays $29K to Settle Discrimination Allegation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has provided nearly $30,000 to its former general counsel over allegations of disabilities discrimination. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the KCC, which regulates public utilities in the state, settled with its former attorney Dana Bradbury for $29,458. The newspaper received a copy of the settlement in response to an open records request. The settlement contains no admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of the KCC. Documents showed the settlement was over allegations of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agreement doesn't provide any additional information regarding the alleged discrimination but says Bradbury also filed a charge of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February.


Police: Hutchinson Man Shot After Pointing Gun at Officers 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man has been shot by police after authorities say he fired at officers with a shotgun during a standoff. According to Hutchinson police Captain Troy Hoover, officers were dispatched to a house early Wednesday. A man reported to police that his 23-year-old son was threatening him. Hoover said police searched the home and when the man opened the garage door for them to enter, his son was standing there with a shotgun pointed at officers. Officers retreated and standoff began, lasting almost four hours. Police said the suspect shot at them through a hole in the garage door. An officer returned fire, striking the man in the hand. The man surrendered and he was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that are not life-threatening. No police officers were injured. An investigation is ongoing.


Man Arrested for Beating Woman, 10-Year-Old Girl in Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested after Wichita police say he tried to fight officers after assaulting a woman and her 10-year-old daughter. The Wichita Eagle reports a 27-year-old man was arrested Tuesday evening. Wichita police Lieutenant James Espinoza said Wednesday that officers were flagged down Tuesday by a 42-year-old woman who reported the suspect violated a protection from abuse order. Espinoza said the woman told police the man pulled a knife and beat her and her daughter. Shortly after, police spotted the suspect, who ran from officers. According to Espinoza, the suspect tried to fight officers and was stunned with a Taser multiple times. The man faces several charges, including domestic violence and violation of a protection order. The mother and daughter suffered minor injuries.


Legendary University of Kansas Track Coach Bob Timmons Dies

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A former University of Kansas track coach who led his teams to 13 Big Eight indoor titles and 14 outdoor championships has died. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Bob Timmons died Tuesday in Lawrence at the age of 91. Timmons led Kansas to the NCAA indoor championship in 1966, 1969 and 1970. Timmons was famous for coaching track star Jim Ryun, who in 1964 became the first high school athlete to run the mile in less than 4 minutes. News of Timmons death brought an outpouring of condolences, including from Ryun, who says Timmons helped him achieve things he never thought possible.


Tigers Defeat Royals, 2-1, in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Matt Boyd pitched seven strong innings in his Tigers debut as Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Wednesday night. Boyd only allowed one run on seven hits and didn't walk a batter in a career-long seven innings. He received a standing ovation when he exited after the seventh inning. The Royals' Johnny Cueto (7-7) couldn't pick up his first win for Kansas City despite only allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings. Cueto walked two and struck out two. The Tigers broke a scoreless tie in the third with Anthony Gose's triple over the head of Lorenzo Cain brought home Tyler Collins. Kansas City got its own RBI triple in the fourth off the bat of Kendrys Morales. It was Morales' first triple since 2012 and just the fifth of his nine-year career. Yet another triple, from Ian Kinsler, let the Tigers regain the lead in their half of the fourth and they held on to beat the Royals in game 2 of the 3-game series. 


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