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Headlines for Thursday, July 10, 2014


Complaint Filed in Kansas 4th District Congressional Primary Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican primary fight for the U.S. House seat from south-central Kansas is heating up with the filing of a citizen complaint to the Federal Election Commission. The complaint alleges unlawful coordination between former congressman Todd Tiahrt's campaign and a "super PAC" founded by a Wichita oilman who is supporting him. Tiahrt is challenging incumbent GOP congressman Mike Pompeo for the 4th Congressional District seat. Tiahrt's campaign manager on Thursday called the allegations "garbage" and a politically motivated attack. The complaint was filed by bank executive Jane Deterding, a longtime Pompeo ally. She said Thursday she asked the Pompeo campaign for details needed to file the complaint. Pompeo's campaign says it's glad the alleged coordination between Tiahrt and the PAC is coming to light.


Stegall Among 14 Kansas Supreme Court Applicants

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former aide to Republican Governor Sam Brownback who now serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals is among 14 applicants seeking to fill a state Supreme Court vacancy. Thursday was the application deadline. Judge Caleb Stegall and three other Court of Appeals members, including Chief Judge Thomas Malone, applied, along with seven lawyers and three district court judges. Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz is stepping down July 28 for a seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will interview the applicants August 4 and 5 and submit three finalists to Brownback. Stegall was Brownback's chief counsel before the governor named him to the Court of Appeals last year under a new method bypassing the commission but adding Kansas Senate confirmation.


Independent Candidate Begins Airing Ads in US Senate Race in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas businessman running for the U.S. Senate as an independent candidate has launched a statewide radio and television ad campaign even before he's secured his spot on the ballot. Greg Orman, of Olathe, began radio, cable and broadcast television ads Thursday. His campaign also said he's raised about $600,000 in cash contributions in less than two months for his Senate bid. His campaign unveiled three television ads Thursday, one 60-second and two 30-second spots that emphasize Orman's message that Washington has become too partisan. Orman said in an interview that he's launching the ads now because the November 4 general election is less than four months away. To get on the ballot, his supporters must gather the signatures of 5,000 registered voters on petitions by August 4.


Douglas County Will Pay For Voters' Birth Records

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas county will pay for copies of birth certificates for some voters needing to document their U.S. citizenship to register if they cannot afford to obtain the records. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew announced the policy Wednesday. Shew said he's addressing what he called an unfairness created by a state law requiring new voters to prove their citizenship. The law says people born in Kansas are eligible for free copies of their birth certificates. Voters born outside the state must pay between $10 and $60. Shew said his office will cover the cost for such voters if they can't afford it. He said his office's current budget can cover the cost. So far, it's identified about five people who'd be helped by the policy.


2 Dead, 1 Wounded in Kansas City Suburb Shooting

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Police in northeast Kansas are seeking tips from the public about a shooting that left two people dead and a third wounded. A man called Lenexa police shortly after 10 pm Wednesday to say he'd been shot. Officers tracked his cellphone to a home where they found him on the front lawn and two people dead inside. Police identified the two victims Thursday afternoon as adult males whose names will be released after their families are notified. The wounded man remained hospitalized. Investigators said they have not determined the relationship among the three men or the circumstances of the shooting. They asked anyone with information to call the Lenexa Police Department.


2 Measles Cases Confirmed in Wichita Area

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State health officials say two cases of measles in the Wichita area are linked to a recent outbreak in the bistate Kansas City metropolitan area. The Sedgwick County cases reported Thursday involve an unvaccinated adult and an infant who is too young to be vaccinated. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state has now had five cases of measles this year. Officials did not disclose the relationship between the Wichita-area cases and those in Johnson County, Kansas, and nearby Clay County, Missouri. Four Clay County residents were diagnosed with measles in mid-May, including an unvaccinated infant who had traveled abroad with family members. In early June, an adult and an unvaccinated child in Johnson County contracted measles after having contact with some of the Missouri patients.


Washburn President Says Topeka Campus is Safe

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The president of Washburn University says the school is "very safe" and sexual assault is rare on the Topeka campus. President Jerry Farley says a federal investigation into the school's handling of sexual violence stems from an alleged sexual assault involving two students. He says such cases are rare at Washburn. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights recently added Washburn to its list of post-secondary institutions with current Title IX sexual violence investigations. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the victim of the alleged assault filed a complaint against Washburn in April, and the Office for Civil Rights is investigating. The university has a month to provide the federal agency with documents concerning Washburn's procedures and how the university responded to the reported assault.


Group Says Kansas Gun-Rights Law Endangers Safety

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national gun control group argues in a federal lawsuit that a Kansas law challenging federal authority to regulate guns is unconstitutional and endangers public safety. The Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed the lawsuit Wednesday against a 2013 law declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. The law also makes it a felony for any U.S. government employee to attempt to enforce federal regulations for Kansas-only firearms, ammunition or accessories. The lawsuit says gun regulations fall under the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce and the state is improperly trying to nullify federal law. It says the effects of not regulating some guns could be far-reaching. Governor Sam Brownback has promised to defend the law.


Osage County Man Dies in Tractor Accident

OSAGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Osage County Sheriff's Office says a 78-year-old man died when his tractor overturned. The victim of Wednesday's accident was identified as Wilford D. Croucher from rural Osage City. The sheriff's office says it received a call Wednesday afternoon that a tractor had rolled over and the driver was trapped beneath it. Emergency responders found Croucher dead when they arrived. An investigation into the accident is continuing.


KC Yearbook Publisher Ending Operation; 75 Jobs Lost

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lifetouch Incorporated says it plans to end its yearbook publishing operation in Kansas City, effective December 1. Company spokesman Kelvin Miller says the plant shutdown will cost 75 full-time employees their jobs and eliminate about 300 seasonal jobs. The company, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, will consolidate its yearbook publishing at a plant in Loves Park, Illinois. The Kansas City Star reports that the changes were prompted by trends toward digital and self-publishing. Miller says about 25 jobs in sales and marketing will continue in Kansas City for the foreseeable future. Lifetouch is best known for publications for kindergarten through junior high and for publishing church directories. It also provides student pictures at schools, sports activities and dances and operates portrait studios in stores such as Target and J.C. Penney.


KU Hospital Gets Grant to Help Rural Kansans

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Hospital will lead a team working to reduce deaths from heart attacks and strokes in western Kansas. The hospital announced Wednesday that it had received a $12.5 million, three-year federal grant to lead the effort. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the hospital will work with Hays Medical Center and 10 critical access hospitals and primary care providers in western Kansas. The program will use technology, health data exchanges, preventive health screening and care management to help patients in mostly rural areas. Barbara MacArthur, vice president for cardiac services at the Kansas Hospital, said 5,321 Kansans died of heart disease and 1,333 Kansans died of cerebrovascular diseases in 2011, and the highest mortality rates were in rural communities.


EPA Chief Defends Proposed Clean Water Rules

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency insists efforts to clarify her agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act won't result in tighter farm regulations. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the Kansas City Agribusiness Council on Thursday that misinformation coming out of Washington has caused confusion about the initiative. Agriculture groups and farm-state politicians, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, have claimed the EPA's efforts represent a power grab by a government seeking to assert more control over private property. McCarthy says clarification of the Clean Water Act is necessary because of questions by the U.S. Supreme Court and agricultural stakeholders about what constitutes "waters of the United States." Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says he's glad McCarthy is listening to farmers, but he questions whether she's taking their concerns seriously.


OIG Outlines Issues at Kansas VA Outreach Clinics

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Office of Inspector General for the Veterans Affairs Department has released its recommendations for improvements at the six community-based outpatient clinics across Kansas overseen by the Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita. The recommendations are based in part on a site visit to the Parsons clinic in May along with other data gathered for VA outpatient facilities in Hays, Salina, Parsons, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Liberal. Issues cited in the report include no panic alarm system, incomplete diagnostics, inadequate staff training and poor medication management. The report also compares how well the different clinics are able to meet wait-times of under seven days. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran has long criticized the VA for not having a primary care provider at its Liberal clinic for the past three years.


Kansas to Pursue Prairie Chicken Breeding Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has directed two state agencies to develop a program for breeding lesser prairie chickens after the federal government listed the bird as a threatened species. Brownback said Thursday that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will draft a plan for a program. The governor announced his action during a news conference in Dodge City amid an agri-business trade show. The governor said the federal government must sign off on a breeding program, and he'll seek its consent. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the program would round up wild prairie chickens, breed them and release them. The federal government listed the bird as threatened in March because of a sharp decline in its population. Brownback has been critical of the action.


Audubon Leader: Proposed Kansas Grouse Plan Won't Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas environmental leader is calling Governor Sam Brownback's plan for a program to breed lesser prairie chickens in captivity "far-fetched." Audubon of Kansas executive director Ron Klataske said Thursday he doubts the federal government would approve the plan. The breeding program would be aimed at increasing the population of lesser prairie chickens after their decline led the federal government in March to list the bird as a threatened species. The listing also affects Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Klataske said wildlife agencies abandoned such an approach decades ago because prairie chickens and other game birds bred in captivity don't have the skills to survive in the wild. Brownback announced Thursday that he's directing the state's agriculture and wildlife departments to develop a program.


Sedgwick County Inmate Accidentally Released

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities are searching for an inmate who was accidentally released from jail. The sheriff says 33-year-old Chad Alan Engel was booked into the jail July 2 on traffic charges and a warrant from McPherson County for a drug-related conviction. The sheriff's office says in a news release that Engel was released on traffic charges on Tuesday and was waiting to be taken to McPherson County. When a detention official saw Engel, who was wearing street clothes, he assumed Engel was being released and escorted him out of the building. After the error was discovered, several agencies began searching for Engel. He was still on the loose early Thursday. Engel is white, 6-feet tall, and about 180 pounds. He has blue eyes blond or strawberry blond hair.


Wichita Chemical Spill Triggers Fish Kill

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a chemical spill at Wichita's water treatment plant into the Arkansas River killed some fish but poses no risk to public health. The ferric sulfate spilled early Wednesday from a corroded drain pipe at the plant and into the river near downtown Wichita. The chemical is used to settle out particles in untreated water as it flows into the plant. Public works deputy director Joseph Pajor says between 1,700 and 2,000 gallons of the chemical spilled. He says that when a pipe linking two storage tanks broke, a pump continued to spill the chemical onto the floor of a building. The chemical then flowed through a storm drain into the river. A small number of small fish were killed. They were found downstream behind a sandbar in shallow water.


Lawrence Police Investigate Body Found Near K-10 Highway

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say they don't suspect foul play in the death of a man whose body was found along Kansas Highway 10 in Douglas County. A commuter noticed the body about 6 am Wednesday near an industrial area called Venture Park. The man was later identified as 37-year-old Nathan Thurman. Police said Thurman had recently been staying at the nearby Lawrence Community Shelter, which serves the homeless and people at risk of losing their homes. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Westbound traffic on the heavily traveled highway was reduced to one lane Wednesday morning while detectives examined the scene.


2nd Teen Dies After Kansas House Explosion

PLYMELL, Kan. (AP) — A second member of a western Kansas family has died after an explosion at their home last month. Garden City Fire Chief Allen Shelton says 14-year-old Riley Unruh died Tuesday at a Wichita hospital. His 17-year-old brother, Spencer Unruh, died in the explosion June 28 in Plymell, about 10 miles south of Garden City. The boys' mother, Kelly Unruh, remains in critical condition from injuries she suffered that day. Investigators say the explosion was caused by a concentration of natural gas. Chief Shelton says investigators have not determined why the natural gas concentrated at the home.


Judge Gives Wyandotte Nation Deadline for Court Pleading

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered an Oklahoma tribe to show cause why the court shouldn't dismiss the last remaining claim in their lawsuit seeking to build a casino on suburban Wichita land. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday gave the Wyandotte Nation until July 19 to make its pleading. The Interior Department has notified the court that it rejected the tribe's application to take the land into trust so the tribe can build a casino there. Robinson refused last year to order the agency to accept the Park City land into trust, leaving the decision to the Interior Department. But she retained jurisdiction to ensure the agency processed the tribe's application in a timely manner. The government wants the court to dismiss the lawsuit's remaining claim of unreasonable delay.


Wichita Women's Rights Activists Promote Abortion Film

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Women's rights activists in Kansas are praising a romantic comedy about abortion. Julie Burkhart, founder of Trust Women and the South Wind Women's Center, says the groups asked that the movie "Obvious Child" be shown in Wichita so the community could see it. She says it is time Hollywood portrayed abortion in a more authentic way since it is a common experience. The Guttmacher Institute says half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. "Obvious Child" ranked 20th in the latest weekly box office top-20 list compiled by Rentrak. The film has grossed $1.9 million since it was released five weeks ago. It is showing in 202 locations. The movie will be shown July 11-13 at the Warren Theatre in Wichita.


Royals' Alex Gordon to Miss All-Star Game with Injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will miss next week's All-Star game after visiting with a hand specialist and receiving an injection Thursday for his sprained right wrist. Shortstop Erick Aybar, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was added to the roster as Gordon's replacement. Gordon said he still plans to attend the game at Target Field in Minneapolis, and that he's looking forward to rooting on fellow All-Stars Greg Holland and Salvador Perez. Holland, the Royals' closer, and Perez, their catcher, are also making their second straight appearances. Royals manager Ned Yost said he's holding off on putting Gordon on the disabled list in hopes that rest during the All-Star break will be enough. It's possible he could be used as a defensive replacement during a four-game series against Detroit starting Thursday night.




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