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Headlines for Thursday, July 24, 2014


Some Kansans to Receive Insurance Reimbursements

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Nearly 60,000 Kansans will share more than $3.6 million in insurance reimbursements under a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a statement Wednesday that the provision requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement. If more than 20 percent of that money goes to profits and administration, the companies have to reimburse their customers. The department says the 59,966 Kansans who bought insurance on the individual or group markets in 2013 will receive the reimbursements. The money will be returned through a mailed check; a reimbursement to the electronic card used to pay the premium; lower future premiums, or by employers reinvesting the money in health coverage.


Kansas Senator Touts Agriculture Policy Expertise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts has the support of major farm groups and is touting his expertise in agriculture policy as he campaigns for re-election in the nation's leading wheat-producing state. But Republican primary challenger Milton Wolf's campaign is accusing the three-term incumbent of waging what it calls "geographical warfare" with a radio ad running in western Kansas. Roberts has endorsements from the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association. He serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and is a former House Agriculture Committee chairman. The tea-party backed Wolf is a Leawood radiologist but grew up on a farm in Rice County. Roberts's ad in western Kansas suggests Wolf doesn't understand agriculture and lives "right next to Missouri." Wolf said Roberts is trying to divide eastern and western Kansas residents.


Bombardier Restructuring Cuts 1,800 Jobs Globally

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Airplane maker Bombardier is cutting 1,800 jobs across facilities worldwide as it restructures operations. Spokeswoman Isabelle Rondeau with the Montreal-based company said Thursday that Bombardier plans to reorganize the company into four business segments before January 1. Bombardier says production-related jobs will not be affected. It plans a 15 percent reduction in what the company calls "indirect functions," such as human resources, finance and communications. Rondeau said it is too early to say what the impact will be on the company's Learjet plant in Wichita or any other of its facilities. The four business segments will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin. In January, Bombardier announced a workforce reduction of about 1,700 employees and contractors at facilities in the United States and Canada, including 550 in Wichita.


Kansas Supreme Court to Rule in Brothers' Capital Murder Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to rule on the death sentences and capital murder convictions of two brothers in connection with the shooting deaths of four people in Wichita. The court said it would release decisions Friday morning on the appeals of Jonathan and Reginald Carr. They are facing lethal injection for the December 2000 slayings of three men and a woman in a snow-covered soccer field. The brothers were convicted of dozens of criminal charges in connection with the spree. They also were convicted of a fifth killing that occurred just days before the soccer-field murders. The Carr brothers are among seven condemned murderers in Kansas, but the Supreme Court has yet to uphold such a death sentence since Kansas re-established capital punishment in 1994.


3 Men Convicted in Kansas/California Drug Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — After a trial that lasted almost a month, a federal grand jury has convicted two Lawrence men and a California man in a conspiracy that brought $17 million in drugs to Kansas. Los Rovell Dahda and Roosevelt Rico Dahda, 32-year-old twins from Lawrence, and Justin Cherif Pickel, of San Lorenzo, California, were found guilty Wednesday of conspiracy, as well as several other drug charges. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the government is seeking a $16.9 million judgment against the three men. The Dahdas and Pickel were among 43 people arrested in Kansas and California and charged in 2012 in a seven-year conspiracy that funneled more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana to Lawrence and the Kansas City area.


Fire Destroys Historic Theater in Abilene

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a fire destroyed a theater housed in a historic church in Abilene. No injuries were reported after the fire Wednesday night at the Great Plains Theatre in downtown Abilene. Dickinson County Emergency Management Director Chancy Smith said the theatre was a total loss. He says no one was inside the building at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The building housing the theater was built in 1881 and served as the First Presbyterian Church for years and was later converted to a live theater. It was the second historic Abilene building to be destroyed by fire in less than two years. The Kirby House, a landmark restaurant, burned to the ground in February of 2013.


United to End Topeka-Chicago Flights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka official says United Airlines will end flights between the Kansas capital and Chicago on September 2. Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority President Eric Johnson made the announcement Wednesday. There have been twice-daily flights since January. Topeka will soon have no regularly scheduled commercial flights. Before the United service started, the last commercial service was to Las Vegas through Allegiant Air in 2007. United reported that Topeka passengers filled 49 percent of the available seats, compared with 86 percent for all of United's flights to Chicago. Also, the Topeka airport authority used all of the $1.95 million in state and federal funds it had received to guarantee United's revenues by the end of May, forcing the airline to cover shortfalls after that.


Denison Mayor Resigns Before Recall Vote

DENISON, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of a small town north of Topeka has resigned rather than face a voter recall. Denison Mayor Audrey Oliverius submitted a letter of resignation on Monday. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports some residents had submitted a recall petition on May 12, alleging that Oliverius violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by calling an executive session on March 10, during which a vote was taken to fill a vacant council seat. Oliverius says in her resignation letter that some council members and several community residents did not want positive change in the town and rejected efforts to manage the city's assets and enforce city ordinances fairly. Council president Bruce Sweany will become the acting mayor.


Kansas Woman Sentenced in Theft from Co-Workers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas woman has been sentenced to two years in federal prison without parole for stealing from her co-workers at a U.S. Department Agriculture office in Kansas City, Missouri. The U.S. Attorney's office announced in a news release that 50-year-old Paula Steen, of Overland Park, Kansas, also was ordered to pay $96,012 in restitution. Steen, a former IT specialist, pleaded guilty in December. She admitted that stole from her co-workers over a four-year period, including charging $57,693 on credit accounts of a co-worker who is legally blind. Steen also did not repay loans of $48,171 from another co-worker and transferred $16,096 from another co-worker's credit union account to her creditors and bank account. She also tried to open a joint credit card account with a co-worker without his authorization.


Man Sentenced for Stealing GPS Devices from Olathe Company

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Garmin International employee has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for stealing GPS devices from the Olathe-based company. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said in a release Wednesday that 32-year-old Terrence M. Heathington was sentenced Tuesday to two years and nine months in federal prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud. Heathington, who worked in Garmin International's Olathe warehouse, also has to pay more than $2 million in restitution. The indictment filed last year accused him of causing about 165 cases of stolen GPS devices valued at more than $1 million to be shipped in 2008 to his home and those of his friends in Atlanta. He and his co-conspirators were accused of selling the devices on eBay and elsewhere.


Sedgwick County Renews Southwest Airlines Subsidy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A divided Sedgwick County commission has renewed a subsidy for Southwest Airlines. The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to renew an agreement that guarantees the airline up to $6.5 million a year to offset any losses from doing business in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Affordable Airfares program is expected to be funded with $5 million from the state and $875,000 each from the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Southwest has been in the Wichita market for about a year. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn voted against continuing the subsidy, saying he hasn't seen any evidence that Southwest is not profitable in Wichita. But Chris Chronis, the county's chief financial officer, said the program has helped increase ridership and reduce airfare rates at other competing airlines in Wichita.


Proxy Adviser Says Sprint CEO Was Paid Too Much

NEW YORK (AP) — Advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services is telling shareholders to protest Sprint Corp. CEO Dan Hesse's $49 million 2013 pay package, saying it's excessive and not tied to performance. Hesse got a special $18.7 million stock award in connection with Softbank Corp. of Japan buying 70 percent of Sprint last year. ISS says that helped put his pay package above three times the median pay for a CEO of a comparable company. Shareholders will vote on approving the executive pay package on August 6. The vote is only advisory, but boards take "no" votes seriously. Sprint, which is based in Overland Park, Kansas, had no immediate comment on the ISS report.

Bridge Worker Who Fell to His Death Identified

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri man has been identified as the Missouri Department of Transportation contract worker who fell to his death from a Kansas City bridge this week. KSHB-TV reports that 53-year-old David Craven of Kearney was working on a MoDOT project on Missouri Highway 24 bridge just before 3 pm Tuesday when he was either shocked or fell for some other reason. The workers were replacing the bridge joints, doing bridge deck work and making other general repairs. Craven was working for Mar-Jim Contracting based in Oak Grove at the time of his death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it can't comment on the investigation but noted falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. Three people have died from falls in Missouri this year.


Road Construction Worker Killed in Reno County

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a construction worker died after being hit by a trash truck in Reno County. The accident Tuesday on Kansas 61 killed 22-year-old Dylan Joseph Snyder of Kansas City, Missouri. Snyder was removing construction cones when he was hit. The patrol says before the truck hit Snyder, it rear-ended one vehicle and sideswiped two others that had stopped for the construction. Snyder and two others were sent to hospitals. The Hutchinson News reports that at the time of the accident, three vehicles, including two road construction vehicles, were stopped in the highway's northbound lane while the traffic cones and signs were being picked up. The driver of the trash truck was not seriously injured.


Brownback Urges Compromise on Kansas Energy Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is urging wind-energy advocates and critics of a renewable-energy requirement for Kansas utilities to work on a compromise for the policy's future. The governor made remarks Wednesday in an impromptu meeting with Statehouse reporters suggesting that he supported phasing out the renewable energy rule. But hours later, spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the governor was referring to federal tax credits for wind production, not the state's mandate for utilities. A 2009 law requires utilities to have wind and other renewable sources account for 15 percent of their peak electricity-generating capacity by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. The mandate has been targeted by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity and the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce. But wind-energy advocates have successfully blocked efforts to repeal the rule.


Senator: Wichita VA Center Begged for Surgical Equipment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran says a veterans medical center in Wichita left its laboratories unstaffed for entire shifts and sometimes resorted to "begging, borrowing and manipulation" just to obtain vital surgical equipment. Moran made the allegations in a letter sent last week to Sloan Gibson, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Kansas Republican senator says the problems at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center put veterans' lives at risk and forced employees to work under conditions of fear and retribution. Moran cited whistleblower complaints and 177 pages of internal documents, including meeting minutes, budgets and equipment request lists. The VA medical center Wichita confirmed it had received the letter a day earlier but was still reviewing it Wednesday.


2 School Districts to Provide Free Lunches to All

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts will offer free lunches to every student, beginning in August. A new federal provision allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to feed all their students. The theory is that the districts will recover the loss in food costs with savings from the expensive paperwork and bureaucracy needed to manage lunch accounts. The Kansas City Star reports that 90 percent of the students in the Kansas City Public Schools qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and 86 percent in Hickman Mills. Other districts in the area are considering using the Community Eligibility Provision. But districts with more students who pay for their lunches say the provision is not financially feasible for them.


$16 Million Grant to Support New KU Earth Science & Energy Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says a $16 million gift will help build a hall in the university's planned Earth, Energy and Environment Center. The university announced the gift Thursday from the family of Donald Slawson, a Wichita resident who died July 7. He graduated from the university in 1955 and founded Slawson Exploration, becoming a leader in the oil and gas exploration industry. The university said in a news release the gift will fund Slawson Hall, which will provide space for collaboration among researchers in several earth science and energy fields. Part of Slawson Hall will be used to provide real-world applications of discoveries made at the university. Slawson was twice appointed to the National Petroleum Council, and also served two terms on the Kansas Board of Regents.


US Pulls Peace Corps Volunteers from Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Peace Corps says it is suspending its operations in Kenya and pulling out more than 50 volunteers because of security concerns. The Peace Corps said Thursday it is closely monitoring the security environment and will determine when the volunteers can return. The decision comes shortly after the State Department reduced the number of people who work in the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, which increased the number of armed guards on site earlier this year. Kenya has seen a spate of bombing and gunfire attacks, often carried out by Somali militants. Nik Schuetz, a Peace Corps volunteer from 2009-2011 now at the University of Kansas, said the Peace Corps was good about providing security updates to volunteers but that some people weren't pleased with the level of security in Kenya.


KC Biz Border War Continues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri has apparently won another round in the continuing border war with Kansas that involves using tax incentives to entice businesses to move across the state line that runs through the Kansas City metropolitan area. Leawood, Kansas-based Cbiz Inc. and Mayer Hoffman McCann PC have announced plans to move their headquarters and 450 employees to Kansas City, Missouri's Country Club Plaza next summer. The Kansas City Star reports the moves come as officials in Missouri and Kansas have been seeking a truce in the border war, in which each state has used tax incentives to lure businesses away from the other. The Missouri Department of Economic Development says the moves will trigger millions of dollars in potential incentives from Missouri if the companies meet job creation and investment criteria.


Atchison Man Charged with Murder of 5-Year-Old After Chase

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man is charged with first-degree murder after an abduction and police chase ended in the death of a 5-year-old girl. Thirty-year-old Marcas McGowan, of Atchison, was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault, two counts of criminal possession of a firearm, aggravated endangering of a child and trying to elude law enforcement officers. Leavenworth County prosecutor Todd Thompson announced at a news conference that McGowan appeared in court early Wednesday and had the charges read to him. Authorities say McGowan abducted Cadence Harris on Friday from a home they shared with the girl's mother in Atchison. Cadence was found dead in McGowan's car after a police chase ended with McGowan being shot when he pointed a gun at officers. Leavenworth police chief Pat Kitchens says he is "satisfied" that the investigation so far indicates his officers did not fire the shot that killed Cadence.


KCMO Leaders Endorse Ban on Openly Carrying Guns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City Council committee has endorsed a measure that would ban people from openly carrying firearms in the city limits The Kansas City Star reports Mayor Sly James has pushed for the ban, noting that the tourist town of Lake Ozark also has voted for a similar prohibition, even by those with concealed carry permits. The council's Public Safety Committee on Wednesday endorsed the ban, which will go before the full City Council on July 31. The future of the measure is uncertain because of a bill approved this year by Missouri's General Assembly that would void any local ordinance prohibiting open carry for anyone with a concealed carry permit. MIssouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, but the Legislature is likely to attempt an override in September.


Kansas Medical Board Investigating U.S. Senate Candidate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas's medical board is investigating U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf's posting of X-ray images of fatal gunshot wounds and other medical injuries on a personal Facebook page. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports it received a letter from a State Board of Healing Arts attorney disclosing the investigation and asking it to share copies of the images and Facebook commentary from Wolf in its possession. The newspaper first reported Wolf's postings in February. Wolf is a Leawood radiologist seeking to unseat three-term U.S. Senator Pat Roberts in the Republican primary. Wolf campaign spokesman Ben Hartman blamed politically motivated allegations for the investigation. Wolf acknowledged posting the images several years ago, along with dark-humor commentary. He has apologized. The letter from board disciplinary counselor Dan Riley was dated July 14.


TX Resident Gets Measles Following KS Softball Tourney

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Texan has been diagnosed with measles after attending a softball tournament in Kansas where health officials later warned of possible exposure to the virus. Tarrant County Public Health officials in Fort Worth on Wednesday announced a resident tested positive for measles after traveling outside Texas. Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Christine Mann says the person attended a July Fourth weekend softball tournament in Wichita, Kansas. Officials from both health agencies declined to release further details on the individual. Health officials on July 17 announced more than 30 people from Texas who traveled to the tournament may have been exposed to the measles virus. At least three recreational softball teams from Texas played in Wichita. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness that spreads through coughing and sneezing.


Shortage of Auditors in KS Cited for Audit Delays

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A legislative committee says internal legislator requests for audits of various state interests are being delayed because of a lack of auditors. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 25 legislator requests for internal audits have been delayed because the auditors don't have the resources to get to them. One factor in the slowdown is a 2013 law that required the Division of Legislative Post Audit to audit three school districts per year for the next three years. The auditing division has less than 25 employees, although it has been authorized to add three more this year. The requested audits that are awaiting action include the proposed sale of state buildings, the cost effectiveness of the death penalty in Kansas and an audit of the Kansas Board of Cosmetology.


Kansas Couple Charged with $1.5 Million Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say an Augusta couple stole more than $1.5 million from a Wichita company that owns assisted living centers in Kansas and Missouri. The U.S. attorney's office in Wichita says 43-year-old Brent Shryock and his 50-year-old ex-wife, Lori Shryock, were indicted Wednesday with four counts of mail fraud. The indictment alleges the crimes were committed while Brent Shryock was employed as information systems director for Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America. He was in charge of purchasing equipment. Prosecutors say the couple created four fictitious companies to submit fraudulent invoices. One was LGR Technology, whose initials prosecutors say stood for "Let's Get Rich." Her defense attorney says Lori Shryock has been divorced for at least two years and she will plead not guilty. It's unclear if Brent Shryock has an attorney.


US Movie Theaters to Show Premier League Games

NEW YORK (AP) — Movie theaters around the U.S. will show live English soccer games on their big screens on Saturday mornings. The simulcasts will start with the opening of the Premier League season August 16. Thirty-three theaters in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington are currently scheduled to take part. The deal was announced Wednesday by Fathom Events and NBC Sports Group, which broadcasts the Premier League in the U.S.


AP: Kansas City Chiefs Reach 2-Year Deal with Jamaal Charles

Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. A person familiar with the contract said the deal will keep Charles in Kansas City through the 2017 season. He spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the team has not disclosed details. The six-year NFL veteran ran for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as the Chiefs reached the playoffs. He also had 70 catches for 693 yards and seven more TDs as Kansas City went 11-5 before losing to Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game.

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