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Headlines for Thursday, December 25, 2014

November Election Ranks as Top Kansas Story for 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Heated challenges to conservative Republic incumbents in Kansas during November's election that left the status quo in place finished as the top two Kansas stories of 2014. Longtime U.S. Senator Pat Roberts narrowly fended off the challenge of independent Greg Orman after a bitter campaign, while Governor Sam Brownback slipped past Democrat Paul Davis to win a second term. Steep budget shortfalls blamed on Brownback's tax cuts finished as the third most-significant Kansas story of the year, while court rulings that opened the door to same-sex marriages in spite of the state's constitutional ban was fourth. The fatal shootings of three people at two Jewish centers by an avowed white supremacist from Missouri rounded out the top five.


Ferguson Unrest Tops List of 2014 Missouri News Stories

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Unrest that erupted in August after a white police officer shot an unarmed black 18-year-old in suburban St. Louis has been named the top Missouri story of 2014 by Associated Press reporters and editors. Violence erupted in late November after a grand jury announced it would not indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting teenager Michael Brown. A judge's decision overturning Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was named the state's second-biggest story of the year, followed by the state's execution of 10 inmates even as questions swirled around the lethal drugs used to end their lives. The Kansas City Royals' improbable run through the playoffs that ended with a Game 7 World Series loss to San Francisco game came in fourth in the survey.


Kansas Lawmakers Floating Variety of Revenue Proposals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican legislators in Kansas are tossing around plenty of proposals for raising new revenues to help close the state's budget shortfalls. They're not confining themselves to rethinking personal income tax cuts that represent GOP Governor Sam Brownback's legacy. But many lawmakers floating the ideas also aren't expressing much enthusiasm for them. Several Republican leaders said the GOP-dominated Legislature also must make significant spending cuts in addressing shortfalls totaling more than $710 million in the current and next budgets. The tax proposals from senators include delaying future promised cuts in personal income tax rates and accelerating the elimination of income tax deductions already being phased out as rates drop. Legislators also have mentioned eliminating exemptions to the state sales tax and increasing gasoline, liquor and tobacco taxes. 


KU Professor Killed in Crash on K-10

LAWRENCE, Kan. _ The Kansas Highway Patrol has released information about Tuesday's fatal accident on the K-10 bypass in southwest Lawrence. The KHP says 63-year-old Lawrence resident Alexander Tsiovkh was killed in the crash. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that Tsiovkh was an associate professor in the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Kansas. Investigators say Tsiovkh was westbound in a 2005 Mazda SUV about 4:00 pm on Tuesday when he crossed the center lane and hit an eastbound semi-truck head-on. The semi driver, 34-year-old Mohamed Igal, of Kansas City, Missouri was injured and was taken to The University of Kansas Medical Center. His condition was unknown Thursday morning. The road was closed for nearly nine hours after the crash.


Kansas Man Dies After Christmas Eve Stabbing 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Kansas man is dead after a 16-year-old boy stabbed him on Christmas Eve. The Wichita Eagle reports ( police Sgt. William Stevens said the boy stabbed the 32-year old man at about 11:30 pm Wednesday. The man later died from his injuries at the hospital. Police took the 16-year-old boy into custody for the man's killing. Stevens says police will give more information during a Friday briefing. He declined to give additional details Thursday.


Kansas Growers Bringing in Bountiful Cotton Harvest

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas growers have been harvesting bumper crops of cotton this season. That is giving a boost in the state to a crop touted for its good profit margin and low water use. The Hutchinson News reports that the uptick in yields is a positive sign for a crop that has been struggling to regain acreage since it spiked at more than 115,000 acres in 2006. Kansas has four cotton gins. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service estimates cotton production in Kansas at 52,000 bales, up 27 percent from a year ago. Cotton acres harvested in 2014 will be up 12 percent, with 29,000 acres cut. The average yield is forecast at a record 861 pounds per acre, or about 104 pounds per acre more than a year ago.


Kansas Tribes Take Cautious Approach to Marijuana 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some northeast Kansas American Indian tribes say they need more information before making a decision on whether to grow and sell marijuana on tribal land after the federal government said it wouldn't interfere with those who do. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kickapoo Tribe spokesman Fred Thomas says he doesn't see how legalizing marijuana on the reservation would benefit his tribe. Alan Kelley of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska says he sees no need for it, either. Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Justice said Indian tribes can grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they follow the same federal conditions laid out for states that have legalized the drug. But tribes have been taking a cautious approach as many questions remain unanswered.


Kansas Prison Updating Alarms After Nurse is Assaulted

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - The Hutchinson Correctional Facility has ordered new alarm pendants for contract nurses to wear in the wake of last summer's alleged sexual assault at its central unit. The Hutchinson News reports that the system has been ordered, but not yet installed. In the interim, the facility has given contract employees prison radios that also have an alarm feature built in. Prison spokesman Dirk Moss says the facility provided all 116 contract workers with the radios about two months ago. Prior to that, only corrections officers had access to the radios. The plan is to only provide the alarm pendants to the nurses so they don't have to carry around radios, Moss said. 


Good Samaritans Settle Strangers' Layaway Balances 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Melody McKenzie headed to the Lawrence Wal-Mart this week planning to remove an item from layaway that she had intended to purchase for her 12-year-old daughter before money got too tight for that to happen. The Lawrence woman thought she stilled owed $87 on the karaoke machine after paying $15 to have it put on layaway, but when she told the clerk to put the toy back on Monday, she was shocked when informed that she owed only one penny. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the clerk told her a good Samaritan had paid off the rest. Wal-Mart Supercenter manager Shawn Jacobson says that since Thanksgiving about 10 people had come in to pay off strangers' layaway balances, amounting to between $2,500 and $3,000 in payments.


Missouri Firm Recalls Caramel Apples Amid Listeria Fears

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Missouri firm is recalling its Happy Apple brand caramel apples because of the potential that they could be contaminated with listeria. The recall comes after at least three deaths and at least 29 illnesses in 10 states have been linked to an outbreak of the deadly bacteria. Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri, said in a statement Wednesday that one of the apple suppliers to its California facility reports that there may be a connection between the listeria outbreak and the apples it had supplied. The recall covers 31 states. The Food and Drug Administration is continuing to advise consumers not to eat prepacked, commercially produced whole caramel apples.


Chiefs Linebacker Houston Setting Sights on Sacks Record

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas City Chiefs' star linebacker Justin Houston has emerged as the NFL's sack leader heading into the final week of the regular season. Houston is just two sacks shy of 20, which would match Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas for the single-season franchise record. "He's a guy that's extremely physically talented,'' Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said, ''but the thing about Justin is how smart he is. He knows situations, sees tendencies, splits, things like that. He has a good understanding of the game.'' Houston is only wrapping up his fourth season, but has already climbed into a tie with Eric Hicks for sixth place in team history at 44 1/2 sacks.  The Chiefs face the San Diego Chargers in the final game of the regular season at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Sunday.


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