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Headlines for Thursday, July 3, 2014

KanCare Delays "Health Home" Service for the Chronically Ill 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials delayed a new Medicaid service a day before it was scheduled to begin because it did not have enough contractors to cover the entire state. The "health home" service was to provide case management for people with chronic medical conditions and those with severe mental illness. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment notified service providers Monday that the implementation of the part of the program for the chronically ill would be delayed. It was to begin enrolling patients on Tuesday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the service for the mentally ill began on schedule, and will continue. Health department spokeswoman Sara Belfry says federal rules require the state to offer at least two providers before it can participate in the program, and Kansas did not have enough providers to meet that requirement.


Foes in Kansas Senate Race Both Sign ACA Repeal Pledge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and Republican primary opponent Milton Wolf have both signed a pledge to fight for repeal of the federal health care overhaul. But Wolf was getting credit Wednesday from the Washington-based conservative group behind the pledge for signing it first. Independent Women's Voice announced Tuesday that Wolf signed the pledge. It calls for blocking funding to administer the health overhaul and repealing the 2010 law championed by Democratic President Barack Obama. The group announced Wednesday that Roberts also had signed the pledge and congratulated him on following Wolf's action. Both candidates have criticized the health care overhaul repeatedly while campaigning. The primary is August 5. Also seeking the GOP nomination are former mail carrier Alvin Zahnter, of Russell, and homemaker D.J. Smith, of Osawatomie.


KS Documents 2 Cases of Chikungunya Virus

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say two people who recently traveled to the Caribbean have been diagnosed with a painful virus transmitted by mosquitoes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the two adults represent the state's first identified cases of travel-associated chikungunya virus. Both adults are from Sedgwick County and made separate trips to the Caribbean. The virus causes fever and joint pain, along with headaches, rash and muscle pain. It's rarely fatal, but KDHE Secretary Robert Moser says it can be serious and debilitating. Chikungunya virus has been known for decades in Africa and Asia. The first case directly caused by a mosquito in the Western Hemisphere was documented late last year, in French St. Martin.


Judge Rules Confession Can Be Used in Murder Trial

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled that the confession of a suspect in the death of a 52-year-old Lawrence businessman was given voluntarily and can be used in her trial. Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin said Thursday that 19-year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn's statements about the death of Harold Sasko were the "product of a free and independent will." 6News Lawrence reports McLinn's attorney said the defense would not contest that the statement was voluntary. Sasko's body was found on the living room floor of his home, where McLinn also was living, on January 17. His wrists and ankles were bound with zip ties, and his throat had been cut with a large hunting knife. McLinn told investigators she killed Sasko because she wanted to see what it felt like.


Rainfall Comes Too Late to Help SW Kansas Wheat Crop

OFFERLE, Kan. (AP) — Farmers in parched southwest Kansas say the unusually high amount of rain that fell last month came too late to help the dryland wheat crop but just in time to delay harvesting of what little of the crop managed to survive. Garden City experienced the driest January through May on record, but in June it received 10.5 inches of rain — far above the 3 inches it normally receives for the month. The Hutchinson News reports that the wheat harvest usually would be finished by now, but steady rainfall has kept combines out of the fields for several weeks. Garden City Co-op, which has 20 elevator locations across southwest Kansas, says only about 2 million bushels, or half of this year's crop, have been brought in to the cooperative's elevators.


Topeka Zoo Now Home to Bear Orphaned in Oregon

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 5-month-old American black bear cub orphaned in Oregon has found a new home in northeast Kansas. Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley announced Thursday that the zoo acquired the female bear in late May. The bear's name is Independence — or "Indie," for short. Wiley told The Topeka Capital-Journal that an 11-year-old boy found the cub May 22 near the southwest Oregon town of Myrtle Creek. She was malnourished and dehydrated, and after a night at the local police station, wildlife officials contacted the Topeka Zoo. Indie arrived in the Kansas capital May 29. She's been living in an enclosed housing unit in the zoo's black bear habitat since.


Suspect in Missouri Post Office Shooting Dies

HALE, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says a man who shot himself after wounding an employee at a northwest Missouri post office has died. The shootings occurred Wednesday afternoon at the post office in the small town of Hale, about 75 miles northeast of Kansas City. Acting postmaster Michelle Bell sustained at least one wound and was flown to a hospital. The 42-year-old Hale resident was in stable condition Thursday. The Postal Service said the suspect, Billy Bell, was taken to another hospital and died early Thursday. Authorities did not disclose the relationship between the Bells. But Missouri's online court records show that a judge finalized a divorce Tuesday between Michelle Bell, of Hale, and Billy Gene Bell, of nearby Bosworth, where Michelle Bell previously worked as the postmaster.


Governor Selects Final Member of Kansas School Efficiency Group

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has appointed an educator to the last open spot on a new Kansas commission that will examine ways to make public schools more efficient. But a spokesman for the state's biggest teachers' union says earlier appointments by a legislative leader show that the panel will have an anti-public schools agenda. Brownback on Wednesday named Hoisington High School principal Meg Wilson to the Student Performance and Efficiency Commission. But House Speaker Ray Merrick's two earlier appointments have received the most attention. Those appointees are Dave Trabert, president of the conservative Kansas Policy Institute, and Kansas Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike O'Neal. Both have questioned the need for large increases in education funding.


Washburn University Under Investigation over Sexual Assault Reports

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University in Topeka is withholding comment for now about being added to a national list of colleges and universities under federal investigation for their response to complaints about sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights announced additions to the list Wednesday. The colleges are facing inquiries under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination on campus. The agency previously released a list of 55 universities under investigation as part of a broader examination by federal officials. Washburn spokeswoman Amanda Hughes said the university hadn't received notification as of Wednesday about the federal investigation and couldn't comment further about any alleged incidents of sexual assault. Some of the investigations were initiated from complaints made to the Education Department. Others were launched following compliance reviews.


Driver Dies After Crash on KS Turnpike

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority says a 25-year-old driver has died after her vehicle collided with a paint-striping crew truck near Wellington. The crash happened shortly before noon Wednesday on the turnpike about 21 miles north of the Oklahoma line. The victim was later identified as Urmila Sharma, of Kansas City, Kansas. Turnpike Authority spokeswoman Rachel Bell told The Wichita Eagle Sharma was northbound in the inside lane when she passed one of several crew trucks trailing a paint striper. Sharma merged her vehicle back into the inside lane and struck a second truck in the slow-moving caravan. Bell says a team of six trucks follows a vehicle painting stripes on the turnpike, with the paint truck usually going about 4 mph and the six trucks following at quarter-mile intervals.


Storm-Damaged Kansas Marina Reopens

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas marina heavily damaged by a wind storm last year is back open for business in time for the Fourth of July weekend. Shady Creek Marina is located at El Dorado (doh-RAY'-doh) State Park. The storm last August largely spared the park but caused extensive damage to the marina's walkway and floating office. KAKE-TV reports the repairs cost nearly $500,000. Manager Cindy Haled says the work included fixing the docks and stabilizing them with cables to reduce the chance that they'll break away in violent weather. Last year's storm also damaged several boats and caused a fuel spill when lines running from the shore to pumps at the marina broke.



Northeast Kansas Teen Sentenced for Sex Offenses

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) -- A northeast Kansas teenager will spend more than five years in an adult prison for a pair of sex offenses. KAIR Radio reports that 16-year-old Zaheer Cluke, of Atchison, will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after finishing the prison term ordered by a judge this week. Cluke was 15 when he was arrested last August for attacking a 13-year-old girl in an Atchison park. He was certified to stand trial as an adult and pleaded guilty in December to aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The sentence also includes six months for lewd and lascivious conduct. That charge stemmed from a December incident in which Cluke exposed himself to a female jail employee.


Garden City Man Pleads Guilty in Woman's Death

COLBY, Kan. (AP) — A Garden City man has pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder in the stabbing death of a Colby woman. The Kansas attorney general's office announced that 25-year-old William Andrew Shank also pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated arson and aggravated burglary in the February 2013 death of 27-year-old Teri Morris in Colby. He will be sentenced September 10. Firefighters found Morris gravely wounded when they arrived at her home. A coroner said Morris, an emergency medical technician, had been stabbed more than 25 times. Prosecutors say Shank and Morris were contesting custody of their infant daughter. The girl was found safe with Shank when he was arrested in Phillips County.


Former Highland Community College Coach Sentenced in Auto Theft Ring

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State and Highland Community College was sentenced to three years' probation for participating in an auto theft ring. Forty-nine-year-old William Smith was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in St. Louis for five counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy. He was must pay about $160,000 in restitution. Prosecutors say Smith was one of 21 people involved in a scheme to steal luxury motor vehicles from individuals and dealerships in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. The ring staged accidents and filed false theft reports for the insurance money. The St. Joseph News-Press reports Smith pleaded guilty to obtaining fraudulent transfer titles from the Osage Nation for five vehicles in 2011 and 2012, which allowed the vehicles to be resold.


Kansas Teen Recovering from Scorpion Sting

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teenager is recovering at home after spending three days in intensive care recovering from a scorpion sting. Fifteen-year-old Parker Hartley of Haysville was bitten Friday after he played Frisbee Golf at a park in Haysville, while he was barefoot. He put on his shoes after the game and felt a sharp sting and instant pain. KAKE-TV reports Hartley's parents at first thought he had been stung by a bee or wasp. But within 24 hours, his foot had swollen and Hartley said the pain was unbearable. A nurse at Wesley's emergency room recognized the sting and he was hospitalized. Experts say scorpions hide in dark places, so check your shoes if they've been outside, or in sheds.


KC Woman Charged with Nearly $3 Million Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman is charged with embezzling nearly $3 million from a bank and a company that had to close after declaring bankruptcy. A federal grand jury indicted 52-year-old Irene Marie Brooner on Tuesday on several counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday. Prosecutors say Brooner embezzled close to $2 million while working for Galvmet, a sheet metal fabrication and steel service company that closed earlier this year. She also allegedly embezzled $1.1 million from a bank. The fraud allegedly occurred for a decade. Prosecutors say Brooner used the money for personal expenses and lavish living, including remodeling and stocking a basement bar in her home, travel, jewelry and spa visits.


Missouri Court to Hear Challenge to Gun Measure

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court will hear a challenge to an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would enhance the state's constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The court scheduled arguments for July 14 in a case that tests whether it is too late for a judge to order changes to the measure's ballot summary. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem had dismissed the legal challenge as moot, citing a state law that says courts have no authority to order issues to be placed on the ballot less than six weeks before an election. An attorney representing those who challenged the measure contends that law should not apply, because the gun measure already is on the ballot. The lawsuit contends the summary fails to note several substantive parts of the measure.


Man Sentenced in Death of Salina Child

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina man convicted of killing his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 20 years. Twenty-eight-year-old Troy Love was sentenced Wednesday for felony murder and child abuse in the April 2012 death of Bre'Elle Jefferson. He was sentenced to 55 months in prison for the child abuse conviction. The sentences will run consecutively. KSAL reports witnesses at the trial indicated the child suffered various injuries over a period of time. Love was primary caregiver of the girl while her mother, Robin Harrington, was recovering from a back injury. In a statement before the sentencing, Harrington called Love "a monster" and a "coward who bullied a helpless child." Love did not make a statement.


Kansas Tech School Installs Solar Panels

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A technical college in eastern Kansas is taking another step toward energy self-sufficiency with the installation of solar panels. The Emporia Gazette reports the panels are being put in place this week at Flint Hills Technical College. The school's Emporia campus also has a half-dozen geothermal wells, each 200 feet deep, and a turbine to generate wind energy. Flint Hills moved a few years ago into a new building designed by architecture students from Kansas State University to be energy-efficient. The technical college is enrolled in Westar Energy's solar program, which helped fund the solar panels. College officials say that along with saving money on utilities, the school expects to generate enough energy to return some of it to Westar's grid.


Kansas City Man Guilty in Triple Murder

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who was barred from attending his own trial has been found guilty in the shooting deaths of three people, including his estranged girlfriend. The Kansas City Star reports 49-year-old Derek Hubbard was convicted Wednesday of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. The charges stemmed from the November 2011 killings of Hubbard's estranged girlfriend, Stephanie Brown; Brown's cousin, Anthony Carlos Richardson; and Richardson's wife, Mary Richardson. Hubbard was barred from the courtroom after two outbursts last week, including one in which he attacked his public defender. In both outbursts Hubbard yelled that he was the victim of a conspiracy that involved Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte, a childhood friend of Anthony Richardson.


100,000 Rounds of Ammo Stolen from Kansas Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department is investigating the theft of about 100,000 rounds of ammunition from a home in the Wichita area. KFDI-FM reports the ammunition was taken during a burglary sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on June 26. Sheriff's Lt. Dave Mattingly said Wednesday that musical equipment, electronics and other items were also taken. The stolen goods have a total estimated value of more than $46,000.


Highway Patrol Investigates Shooting at NW Missouri Post Office

HALE, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Highway Patrol is helping investigate a shooting at a post office in a small northwestern town. KMBC-TV reports the shooting happened Wednesday afternoon in the Carroll County town of Hale, about 75 miles northeast of Kansas City. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said one person was being treated for a gunshot wound. Another person was taken into custody. No other details were immediately released. The spokeswoman did not have any information on what may have led to the shooting.

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