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Headlines for Thursday, June 19, 2014


Kansas Leaders Wrangle in Handling Cash-Flow Fix

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas legislative leaders are shifting $675 million among various state accounts so that the state can pay its bills on time over the next year. But their meeting Thursday turned into a contentious debate over the Republican governor's fiscal policies and the massive personal income tax cuts he championed to help stimulate the economy. Brownback met with eight top lawmakers — including the Legislature's two Democratic leaders — to get their approval for an internal financial move that's become an annual routine. The state credits money from various accounts to its general fund. Last year, the borrowing was $300 million, and Democratic leaders suggested the state's finances have deteriorated. But Brownback said the state has a growing economy because of the tax cuts.


ACA Premiums Average Less than $70 a Month in KS

A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services says the average out-of-pocket cost for individual health insurance through the new federal marketplace in Kansas is $67 a month. The report says the actual premium averages $290 a month, but most people qualify for a federal tax credit that covers three-fourths of that amount. In fact, a little more than three out of every four Kansans buying insurance through the federal exchange qualify for some level of income-based tax credit. The premiums and tax credits vary, depending upon the coverage purchased. The most popular level of coverage is called "silver". It pays 80 per cent of health care expenses, leaving the patient responsible for 20 per cent. Only 14 per cent of Kansans buying so-called "Obamacare" policies are paying more than $150 a month out-of-pocket for their premiums. Half are paying $50 or less.


Kansas to Allow Concealed Guns in Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Visitors will be allowed to bring concealed guns into the Kansas Statehouse beginning in July. Top legislative leaders refused at a meeting Thursday to use authority granted to them by Kansas law to block holders of concealed carry permits from entering the building with their weapons. To block the policy, the leaders had to act this month. The Republican-dominated Legislature enacted a law last year aimed at allowing concealed weapons inside more public buildings. It says local governments and state agencies may continue to ban the weapons through 2017 but must declare publicly that the buildings have adequate security plans. The same law authorized concealed weapons at the Statehouse, absent legislative leaders' intervention. Several said the law had broad bipartisan support. Legislators are already allowed to carry concealed firearms.


Kansas Unemployment Stays at 4.8 Percent in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says the Kansas jobless rate remained unchanged at 4.8 percent in May while the state saw record employment. The state Department of Labor reported Thursday that nearly 1.43 million Kansas residents were employed in May, up from both April of this year and May 2013. The agency also said that last month's unemployment rate was significantly better than the 5.6 percent seen in May 2013. Labor Market information services director Justin McFarland said the figures show rising demand for workers from employers and greater confidence in the state's economy. The department said nearly 1.13 million people held private-sector, nonfarm jobs in May, an increase of 1.3 percent from the same month last year. The most robust over-the-year growth was in construction, which saw payrolls expand nearly 9 percent.


Kansas Regents Raise Universities' Tuition

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is raising tuition and fees at state universities this fall by as much as 5.7 percent for some students. The board approved proposals Wednesday from the six state universities and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. But the regents said increases in the tuition were the smallest since 2001. The increases would provide almost $29 million in additional revenues for the universities. The largest is 5.7 percent increase for in-state undergraduate students at Kansas State University's campus in Salina. In-state undergraduates at Kansas State's main campus in Manhattan will see an increase of 5.2 percent. At the University of Kansas, the most popular option for tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates will rise by 3.4 percent.


Kansas Among States Affected by Velveeta Recall 

NEW YORK (AP) — Kraft is recalling Velveeta cheese from Walmart stores in as many as 12 states, mostly in the Midwest, because the cheese lacks the proper amount of preservatives. Insufficient levels of sorbic acid has led to the recall of 260 cases of Velveeta original pasteurized recipe cheese product because it could cause the cheese to spoil prematurely or cause food-borne illnesses. Kraft Foods Group Inc. says the cheese was sent to three Walmart distribution centers and could have been shipped to as many as 12 states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The company says the code on the package is 021000611614.


Suspect Arrested in Northeast Kansas Homicide

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Kansas say a 51-year-old man had been stabbed to death at least six months before his body was found in his home. KCTV reports Overland Park police disclosed that detail following an arrest in connection with the death of Chidozie "Joe" Ojiaka. Twenty-two-year-old Edward Scott, of Kansas City, Kansas, was arrested Wednesday and charged with premeditated first-degree murder. Scott was being held Thursday on $1 million bond and did not yet have a lawyer. Police went to Ojiaka's home and found the body June 8 after neighbors reported flies massing in the windows and a strong odor coming from the house. Investigators said in court documents that Ojiaka was killed sometime between November 30 and December 9. Ojiaka owned two car lots in the Kansas City metro area.


Lawrence Man Pleads in Tax Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old Lawrence man will be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to charges of lying about federal tax withholdings on his gambling winnings. The U.S. Attorney's office says Bradley Stoneking pleaded guilty Tuesday to making false statements in his income tax return for 2010. Prosecutors accused Stoneking of falsely claiming $330,000 in federal tax withholdings on gambling proceeds, when the actual amount was $300. Stoneking faces up to three years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 at his sentencing September 8.


Quest Diagnostics to Hire 500 in Lenexa

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Quest Diagnostics officials say the company will be hiring up to 500 people for a new customer service center in Lenexa. Quest says a new national service center in Lenexa is expected to be fully operational by 2015 but hiring will begin immediately. The company already has two centers in the Kansas City region. The Kansas City Star reports that the company also is planning a second customer service center in Tampa, Florida. Both centers will use advanced technology to provide faster and better responses for its customers. Quest offers services ranging from genetic testing to routine screenings.


Wichita Man Going to Prison for Meth Sale

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man is going to prison for the $20,000 sale of a pound of methamphetamine to an undercover officer. The U.S. Attorney's office says 39-year-old Patrick C. Hains was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 10 slightly more than 10 years. Hains pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy to distribute meth and using a firearm in a drug crime. He was arrested January 14 after a Wichita police officer working undercover paid him $20,000 in cash for a pound of meth. Investigators also seized a shotgun that Hains kept to protect himself during drug transactions. One co-defendant is awaiting trial, and another will be sentenced August 1.


Trial Date in Businessman's Death Moved to January

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The trial for a 19-year-old Kansas woman accused of killing a 52-year-old Lawrence businessman has been pushed back to early next year. 6NEWSLawrence reports that Sarah Gonzales McLinn appeared Thursday in Douglas County Court, where the trial previously scheduled for August 4 was moved to January 5. McLinn is charged with first-degree murder in the January death of Harold Sasko at the home they shared. McLinn told police she drugged Sasko by putting sleeping pills in his beer and cut his throat with a large hunting knife. Police say she stole Sasko's car after killing him and drove to Texas so she could see the ocean. She was arrested January 25 after a security officer at Everglades National Park in Florida found her asleep in Sasko's car.


Grant to Fund Missouri, Kansas Pollution Cleanup

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $1.2 million in grants to clean up contaminated properties in 15 counties of northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. The EPA said the grants announced Thursday include $200,000 to train about 40 low-income people in environmental remediation and wastewater treatment. Funds will be administered by the St. Joseph-based Mo-Kan Regional Council, a nonprofit planning and economic development organization. Mo-Kan officials said they're already aware of nearly 400 properties that could qualify for cleanup of hazardous waste or petroleum contamination. Kansas counties included in the grant are Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Jackson, Jefferson and Nemaha. The Missouri counties are Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Clinton, DeKalb, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Missouri's National Resources Department will help identify and assess properties for cleanup.


Schodorf: Kansas GOP's Ethics Complaint Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Democratic secretary of state candidate Jean Schodorf says the Kansas Ethics Commission has dismissed a Republican complaint accusing her of illegally soliciting contributions from lobbyists through Facebook. Schodorf's campaign said Wednesday that the commission had informed it of the decision after the panel's regular monthly meeting. The commission made no public announcement and typically doesn't unless it sets a public hearing to consider sanctions. The GOP filed the complaint last month against Schodorf. She is a former state senator from Wichita. The complaint argued that Schodorf violated a law barring candidates from soliciting contributions from lobbyists while the Legislature is in session. The GOP cited a May 1 Facebook posting by Schodorf's campaign seeking help in raising money and said at least one lobbyist had liked the page.


Overall Index Down in Rural Midwest Banker Survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The overall index for a monthly economic survey of bankers in 10 Midwestern and Plains states has fallen from May but remains in positive territory, suggesting slower growth in the near future. The Rural Mainstreet Index fell to 53.6 in June from 55.6 in May. The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says June's results indicate that areas highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing slower growth than a year ago. Almost half of bankers surveyed reported that higher beef and pork prices have increased overall economic activity in their area. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Attorney for Donor Applauds High Court Decision

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The lawyer for a man who donated sperm is applauding a Kansas Supreme Court decision that orders a hearing to determine if genetic testing of the donor is in the best interest of the child he allegedly fathered. The court's recent decision follows a Shawnee County court ruling that ordered the sperm donor, William Marotta, to be tested to determine if he's the father of the now 4-year-old girl born to a lesbian couple after Marotta donated his sperm. The state wants Marotta to be responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided, as well as future child support. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Marotta's lawyer, Ben Swinnen, says he'll work to show at the hearing that the child's happy and the state shouldn't disturb that.


KSU to Name Residence Hall After Wefald

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A new residence hall at Kansas State University is being named to honor Jon Wefald, the university's president from July 1986 to June 2009. The university says Wefald Hall will be the first residence hall built on the school's main campus since Haymaker Hall in 1967. Construction is scheduled to begin in September, with the building to be opened in time for the fall semester in August 2016. A university news release says Wefald Hall will be an eight-floor, 129,000-square-foot residence hall that will house 540 students. It is part of a larger, $76 million project that includes a new dining facility and renovations to two other residence halls in the Kramer Complex. Currently, the Manhattan campus can accommodate about 5,500 students in its residence halls and Jardine Apartments.


Emporia State Leadership Center to be Named for Kochs

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A new center at Emporia State University will be named the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics. The university said in a news release Wednesday that the center will emphasize academic freedom and leadership. It will be housed in the university's School of Business. The center was established by an initial grant of $750,000 from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, Koch Industries, and three Koch employees who are Emporia State graduates: David Robertson, Dale Gibbens, and Kim Penner. The Koch Center's co-directors will be law professor Kevin Johnson, and Steven Lovett, assistant professor of business law and ethics. A visiting scholar will join the center this fall. Johnson says the center's mission is to explore principled entrepreneurship for a free society and to apply market principles to management.


Judge Says Gates BBQ Retaliated Against Workers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An administrative law judge has ruled that Gates & Sons Barbeque unfairly discriminated against employees who were involved in a one-day strike over fast-food workers' wages. The Kansas City Star reports the case was one of several dozen allegations of unlawful discrimination filed against Kansas City-area restaurant operators after the protest last summer seeking higher wages. The workers complained that after the protest, Gates discontinued its long-standing tradition of offering free lunches to employees. Judge Paul Bogas ruled Tuesday that was unlawful discrimination and ordered the restaurant to reinstate the free lunches. An attorney for Gates, Willis L. Toney, said the restaurant would not comment on the decision. The Star reports many other retaliation allegations arising from the strike were settled after intervention by worker advocacy organization

Police Investigate 2 Deaths Near Kansas Cemetery

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police say two bodies were found near a cemetery, and the deaths are being investigated as a double homicide. Police Sgt. Patrick McCallop says officers were called to Memorial Park Cemetery early Thursday after passers-by found the two bodies. KCTV-TV reports the bodies were found 30 to 40 yards away from a road. McCallop says no weapons have been found and no evidence indicates the case is a murder-suicide. The victims have not been identified.


Kansas Woman Pleads No Contest in Son's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina woman will be sentenced September 8 after pleading no contest to first-degree murder in the death of her 3-month-old son. Twenty-one-year-old Desirah N. Overturf is expected to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. KWCH-TV reports that police were called to the couple's home in December because of an unresponsive child. The infant, Jordan Corbin, was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the baby's death has not been released. The child's father, 27-year-old Nicholas J. Corbin, is scheduled for arraignment September 8 on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes in the baby's death.


Kansas Wheat Harvest Accelerates as Fields Dry

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The winter wheat harvest is picking up over a big chunk of Kansas. The industry group Kansas Wheat reports farmers were cutting Wednesday all across southern Kansas and across a central swath extending almost to the Nebraska border. Group spokesman Marsha Boswell says growers in northeast and northwest Kansas have not yet begun harvesting, but farmers elsewhere are trying to get into the fields if they're dry enough. She says the group has had reports of cutting extending as far north as Cloud and Mitchell counties in north-central Kansas. The group reports that some farmers are struggling with height of the wheat because the shorter crop makes it more difficult for combines to keep headers out of the mud.


Kansas Farmers Help Harvest Neighbor's Wheat

DANVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The kindness of Kansas farmers was on display again this week, when some in Harper County delayed harvesting their own crops to help an ailing 85-year-old neighbor. The harvest Wednesday on Jim Wene's farm was necessary after he was found lying on his floor at home a few weeks ago. He was hospitalized for more than a week and is recovering in Seattle, where he lives part of the year. A neighbor, Jeff Bornauf, says Wene drives himself to and from Seattle to plant his crop and harvest it. Bornauf says Wene was a proud man who was like a second dad to him. He says farmers always help each other in such situations. KWCH-TV reports Wene was born on the farm where the harvest took place.


Cosmosphere Sends Liberty Bell 7 to Germany

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Liberty Bell 7 space capsule is on its way from the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson to Germany. The Mercury space capsule used by Gus Grissom in 1961 was moved out of the Cosmosphere Wednesday to the museum's SpaceWorks division. Once it's prepared for movement, the capsule will be taken to a Houston port, and then placed on a ship to Germany, where it will be on loan for an exhibit in Bonn. The Hutchinson News reports that Cosmosphere President and Chief Operating Office Jim Remar says Europeans are interested in the history of space exploration, and the loan will increase the space center's international presence. After the German exhibit ends next February, it will take about a month for it to be returned to Hutchinson.


K-State Upgrades Video, Sound in Bramlage Coliseum

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State is replacing the video boards and sound system inside Bramlage Coliseum as part of nearly $2.4 million in upgrades to the school's basketball arena. The focus of the project is a center-hung video board that will have a display four times larger than the current board. There also will be six LED displays around the arena to provide additional crowd engagement and sponsorship opportunities. New sound equipment includes nearly 100 total loudspeakers and 200,000 watts of amplification. The current video boards and sound system were installed in 2000. Funding for the upgrades will come from general athletic department revenue rather than tax, tuition or university dollars.


Suspect in 2 Amarillo Slayings Caught in Kansas

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — A suspect in the fatal shooting of a Texas Panhandle couple has been captured in Kansas. Amarillo police on Thursday announced 38-year-old Nga Lone Aung has been arrested in Liberal, Kansas. He was sought on two murder warrants in the deaths of a husband and wife who were found shot June 7 at their home in Amarillo. Seward County, Kansas, jail records show Aung was arrested Wednesday night and is held without bond. No attorney was listed for Aung, who's charged in the deaths of 52-year-old Phetkeo Phetkeo and 45-year-old Phonsavahn Phetsavahn. The husband was dead at the scene. His wife died at an Amarillo hospital. Police have not released a possible motive or said if the suspect knew the victims.


Twins Charged in Topeka Robbery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Twin brothers from Topeka have been charged in the armed holdup of a payday loan store in the city earlier this month. The U.S. Attorney's office filed charges Tuesday against 23-year-old Charles Lamar Steele and Lamar Ray Steele. The brothers have initial court appearances on Thursday and do not yet have attorneys. Prosecutors allege that Charles Steele entered a Check Into Cash store on June 4, grabbed the clerk by the wrist and forced her at gunpoint to open a cash drawer. The clerk was hit on the head with the gun and ordered to stay down until the robber left. Lamar Steele is charged with helping plan the robbery, which netted $1,100. Still unidentified is a woman reported by the clerk to have driven Charles Steele away from the scene.


Elderly Man's Body Pulled from NW Missouri Lake

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Clay County, Missouri authorities are investigating the death of a 78-year-old man whose body was found in a lake. Sheriff's Captain Matt Hunter says Joe Holt of Kansas City was fishing Tuesday in the lake at Rocky Hollow Park near Excelsior Springs when he apparently had heart problems, fell into the water and drowned. Authorities say there are no signs of foul play. The Kansas City Star reports that a couple fishing saw what they thought was a tarp in the lake. When they realized it was a body, they call 911. Holt's body was recovered about 3 feet from shore.


Tigers End Royals' 10-Game Winning Streak

DETROIT (AP) — Anibal Sanchez pitched seven sharp innings, and the Detroit Tigers ended Kansas City's 10-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the Royals on Thursday. J.D. Martinez hit a tiebreaking homer in the fourth for the Tigers, who avoided a four-game sweep and pulled within a half-game of the AL Central-leading Royals. Sanchez (4-2) allowed five hits and a walk, keeping the Kansas City offense quiet even though he failed to strike out a batter. Joba Chamberlain pitched the eighth, and struggling closer Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth for his 14th save in 18 chances. Danny Duffy (4-6) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five.


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