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Headlines for Thursday, June 26, 2014


Both KS Senators Under Attack in GOP Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tea party candidate Milton Wolf is attacking both Republican U.S. senators from Kansas as he tries to unseat three-term incumbent Pat Roberts in the state's GOP primary. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran declined Thursday to respond to Wolf's criticism of him over his chairmanship of the Republican National Senatorial Committee. Wolf contends the committee betrayed the Republican Party and its conservative base by supporting Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran in his hotly contested primary race against a tea party challenger. Cochran narrowly won a runoff earlier this week. Wolf said in an interview that he holds Moran responsible for what he called the national committee's war on conservative Republicans. Roberts spokesman Leroy Towns said Wolf is attacking Moran to generate support nationally that he hasn't been able to build in Kansas.


Reward Increased in Disappearance of KS Boy

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The reward is up to $100,000 for solving the 1999 disappearance of an 11-year-old southeast Kansas boy whose adoptive parents never reported him missing. An anonymous donor who wanted to see closure for the family of Adam Herrman put up a $50,000 cash reward in December. KWCH-TV reports Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet announced Thursday that an additional $50,000 is now offered. Herzet told reporters he personally does not believe Adam is still alive. Adam disappeared from the adoptive family's Towanda home in 1999 but wasn't reported missing until 2008, when his older sister contacted authorities. He remains the subject of a missing person investigation. His adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, were convicted in 2011 of continuing to receive state adoption subsidies after Adam disappeared.


KC Won't Host Convention

BOSTON (AP) _ The 2016 Republican National Convention won't be in Kansas City. GOP officials have named Dallas and Cleveland as the finalists for the convention and will choose the winning site later in the summer. The committe also eliminated Denver from the running. Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James says a shortage of downtown hotel rooms may have contributed to the city's loss in the competition to host the convention. James said he received a phone call earlier in the day from the head of the Republicans' site selection committee. James said he was told that it was an "extremely tough decision." The mayor said he asked what Kansas City could have done better. He said he was told that there were "a few concerns about the proximity of hotels" to the convention center.


Kansas Board Starts Commissioner Search

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education has begun the search for a successor to state Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker. Board members held a work session Wednesday with consultants from McPherson & Jacobson, a firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, that specializes in conducting national searches for boards of education. The board members discussed input they received from meetings with focus groups in their districts. DeBacker resigned in early May to become director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates.


KS Board of Ed Approves Teacher License Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education has approved regulations allowing people with relevant experience but no education degree to obtain teaching licenses. Wednesday's 9-1 vote during a brief special meeting was necessary for implementing a new law that takes effect July 1. Legislators approved the measure as a way to increase the available pool of teachers in science, math, engineering and technology in secondary schools. The regulations would allow applicants without education degrees to receive Kansas teaching licenses if they have at least a bachelor's degree and at least five years of related work experience in the designated subjects. Applicants could also qualify with an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession and five years of related work experience.


Kansas Warns: No Campaign Signs on Highways

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation is warning political candidates that the agency's crews will remove campaign signs found alongside the state's highways. The department notes that Kansas law prohibits campaign signs and billboards on a highway right-of-way. The law allows only guide, warning or regulatory signs in those spaces. The reminder of the rule comes as campaigning ramps up before the state's Aug. 5 primary. KDOT says that when its crews find political or business advertising on state right of way, the signs will be removed immediately and taken to the closest KDOT office. Owners can pick them up but must agree that they won't be placed on state right of way again. The agency will dispose of any uncollected campaign signs after the election.

Kansas Meth Investigation Yields More Arrests

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The number of arrests in a central Kansas drug investigation is up to five in slightly more than a week. KWCH-TV reports sheriff's deputies arrested three people June 17 in Great Bend and rural Barton County. Authorities reported seizing motor vehicles, drug paraphernalia and 9 ounces of methamphetamine with a street value of more than $20,000. Several children were taken into protective custody as a result of those arrests. The Barton County sheriff says two more people were arrested Tuesday in Great Bend on meth-related charges, possession of stolen property and, in one case, three counts of child endangerment. The sheriff's office says the investigation continues and more arrests are possible.

Kobach Settles Permit Issue with Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he has the proper permits for construction of a barn in rural Douglas County, though he isn't sure what all the fuss is about. Kobach told the Lawrence Journal-World he received the necessary residential permit on Wednesday for a farm building constructed on 160 acres between Topeka and Lawrence. He was advised initially that an agricultural use permit would suffice because he didn't intend to live in the barn, although other rooms were framed inside. County officials say that Kobach's permit would have been sufficient in most areas of Kansas but that Douglas County has stricter building codes that limit construction. Kobach says news of the permit issue was overblown. He says he resolved it once he learned of the county's requirements.


Case Against Kansas Abortion Rights PAC Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has dismissed an anti-abortion group's complaint alleging that an abortion rights political action committee helped finance the operations of a new clinic in Wichita. The political action committee, Trust Women, announced Thursday it received a notice from the FEC this week dismissing the complaint filed last year by Operation Rescue. The Trust Women Foundation opened a clinic last year in the late Dr. George Tiller's former medical building. Tiller was among a few U.S. physicians known to perform late-term abortions and was murdered in 2009. The separate Trust Women PAC disbanded in May. Operation Rescue alleged that the PAC was improperly funding the clinic's operations. The PAC acknowledged small loans to the clinic. The FEC said loans from the PAC to the clinic would not be illegal.


KC, Other MO Cities Not Following St. Louis Marriage Challenge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Kansas City's mayor says he would take actions similar to that of his St. Louis counterpart on same-sex marriage — if the city's charter allowed it. Four same-sex couples were married Thursday in St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office to challenge Missouri's constitutional prohibition against gay marriage. A federal appeals court in Denver ruled on Wednesday that states cannot prevent gay couples from marrying. Joni Wickham, spokeswoman for Kansas City Mayor Sly James, says the city's council-manager form of government prevents James from making unilateral decisions on gay marriage. Slay heads a strong mayor form of government and has the authority to take actions like those Thursday. Officials in Springfield and Columbia say they have seen no signs of similar decisions by their municipal leaders.


Wichita Medical School Prepares for Expansion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita is assessing its facilities as it develops plans for a future expansion. The university hired an architecture and design firm from Kansas City to do the assessment. School officials will use that report to estimate costs of the expansion before asking the Kansas Legislature for additional funding. Dean Garold Minns says he hopes to have the information ready by the September. The Wichita Eagle reports the expansion plans are part of goal to eventually have all 80 students spend all four years of their education on the Wichita campus Currently, some of the students complete the first half of their medical training in Kansas City.


Former KS Bank Worker Pleads Guilty to Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former southeast Kansas bank supervisor has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $2.6 million from her employer over a 10-year span. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 55-year-old Cynthia Bright of Girard pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to one count of bank fraud. She admitted stealing the money while working as operations supervisor at Girard National Bank. Bright used several different methods to steal the funds, including writing checks on her own accounts and altering electronic bank records to show the checks had cleared, even though money would not be taken from her account. Grissom says Bright and the government have agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence and a restitution order for the full amount of the thefts. Sentencing is scheduled for September 15.


Pressure Increases for Expanded Salina Courthouse

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County officials are being told that a new state law has increased the need for an expanded or renovated county courthouse. The new law, which takes effect July 1, allows district judges to conduct jury trials on municipal court appeals. Currently, such appeals are heard only by judges. Court administrator Todd Heitschmidt told the commissioners Tuesday that some offices could be rearranged, or a storage room could be used for a courtroom. He had no cost estimate on the possible renovations. The Salina Journal reports the commissioners said the county doesn't have any money for courthouse expansion. But Heitschmidt says the changes have been needed for some time and that state law requires county commissioners to adequately fund court services.


Topeka Police Say Bomb Scare a Hoax

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka police say a man was taken into custody after he went to a Dollar General store and claimed to have a bomb. Lt. Jack Mackey says in a news release that officers were called to the store Wednesday evening when the man told employees he had a bomb and they should call police. The employees were allowed to leave the store. Officers took the man into custody without incident. Mackey says the city's bomb unit determined the package the man had was clothing and miscellaneous items. The investigation is continuing.


Pompeo, Tiahrt to Participate in Wichita Forum

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo and his challenger in the August 5 Republican primary will participate next month in a political forum hosted by the Wichita Crime Commission. Pompeo is running for a third term in Kansas' 4th Congressional District. He's being challenged for the GOP nomination by Todd Tiahrt, who held the seat for 16 years before giving it up in 2010 for an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate. The forum takes place July 7 at the Scotch and Sirloin Restaurant in Wichita and is open to Crime Commission members and their guests. The format allows candidates to make opening and closing statements and take questions submitted by commission members to the moderator.


Kemper Foundation Gives K-State $1 Million

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has received a $1 million donation from the William T. Kemper Foundation in Kansas City. The university says the gift will go toward renovating and expanding the Seaton Complex at the College of Architecture, Planning & Design. Kansas State said in a news release that the $75 million project will include consolidated fabrication capabilities, design labs, collaborative spaces and a 300-seat auditorium. Kemper was University of Missouri graduate. He was a civic leader in Kansas City and achieved top positions in banking in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The Kemper Foundation supports education, health and human services, the arts and civic improvements.

Glitch Delays Opening of Water Slide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) —Two days of media previews of the world's tallest water slide have been canceled and the attraction's scheduled opening Sunday is in question because of problems with its conveyor system. The 17-story, 168-foot-tall water slide is called Verruckt — German for "insane." Schlitterbahn Waterpark spokeswoman Winter Prosapio says the conveyor carries 100-pound, four-person rafts to the top of the slide in Kansas City, Kansas. Verruckt was to open May 23rd, but that was moved to June 5th so more testing could be done and then pushed again to June 29th. Guinness World Records certified it as the world's tallest water slide in April. Another highly anticipated attraction, SteelHawk at Kansas City, Missouri's Worlds of Fun, also hasn't opened. It was to be ready May 24th.


Algae Causes Fish Kill at Sterling Lake

STERLING, Kan. (AP) — State and city officials say excessive a massive fish kill at Sterling Lake in central Kansas was caused by excessive green algae. The fish began floating to the surface of the lake Tuesday. City manager Taggart Wall says the lake is not dangerous for humans. The Hutchinson News reports the naturally-occurring algae creates oxygen in a lake during the day but uses it at night or when the sun isn't shining, robbing fish of their oxygen. Hundreds of bass, flat heads, perch, carp and shad were killed by the algae bloom. Residents saved some of the fish and took them to a nearby river. On Wednesday, the city was using compressors and air diffusers to move oxygen from the bottom of the lake to the surface.


Indictment: Escort Service Front for Prostitution

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have used a federal racketeering law to indict a Wichita woman on charges of running an escort service as a front for prostitution. An indictment unsealed Thursday charges 60-year-old Saundra J. Lacy with 27 counts of racketeering in promotion of prostitution. The U.S. Attorney's office says prosecutors do not know if Lacy has a lawyer yet. She is in custody and is expected to make a court appearance Friday. The phone at her business, Jessie's Primetime Entertainment, has been disconnected. Prosecutors allege Lacy required escorts to carry condoms and engage in sex at the customer's request. Escorts typically charged $160 for a half hour and $185 for an hour. The business allegedly had as many as 20 escorts who accepted credit cards and offered customers discount coupons.


Honorary UNH Law Degree Awarded to Bob Dole

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, has been presented with an honorary degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Dean John Broderick and New Hampshire's two senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, presented the degree to Dole on Thursday in Washington to recognize his work as an advocate for veterans and disability rights. Dole has worked with UNH Law to establish the Robert J. Dole Veteran Fellowship at the school's Law's Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy to fund the legal education of veterans committed to public service. Dole and Rudman were colleagues in the U.S. Senate for more than a decade. Dole was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1996. He was the vice presidential nominee in 1976.


Hall Foundation Gives Kansas City Zoo $1 Million

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Orangutans at the Kansas City Zoo will soon enjoy grass and trees, thanks partly to a $1 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation. Zoo officials announced Wednesday most of the gift will go toward creating a more natural exhibit for the zoo's six orangutans. Other funds will be used to buy a tram and maintain current trams. The Kansas City Star reports that the donation brings the zoo close to its goal of raising nearly $6 million for the orangutan exhibit. Construction is scheduled to begin next month and the opening is planned for next summer. The animals currently live in a holding building and outdoor metal cage. The cage will be replaced with a grassy area and canopy of trees, surrounded by a moat.


Wichita Mother Gets Probation in Child's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman will serve three years of probation in the death of her 6-year-old daughter in a fire last year. Prosecutors say Ruthie Lee Bell was sentenced Wednesday for three counts of aggravated endangering a child and two counts of aggravated interference with parental custody. Prosecutors say Bell's 4-, 6- and 7-year-old girls were left alone last July. The 6-year-old found a lighter and started her clothes on fire, which spread to the room. The other two girls were treated for smoke inhalation. KAKE-TV reports Bell believed a friend, Adrian Johnson, was going to watch the girls. Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty last month to three counts of aggravated endangering of a child and two counts of possession of a controlled


Kansas City Woman Charged in Death of Unborn Child

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of another woman's unborn child in a traffic accident. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors said Wednesday that 24-year-old Chelsea Summer was under the influence of alcohol and speeding north in the southbound lanes of a Kansas City bridge when her truck hit another truck driven by a 21-year-old pregnant woman. The Jackson County medical examiner determined the pregnant woman's injuries led to her unborn baby's death. Summer also is charged with second-degree assault and driving with a revoked license. Her bond was set at $150,000. Online court records do not indicate that Summer has an attorney.


Domestic Violence Shelter Director Pleads Guilty

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The director of a domestic violence shelter in Marshall has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and making false statements on grant requests. Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that 50-year-old Deborah Wallace admitted she embezzled money from the Lighthouse Shelter, including money from federal grants between 2008 and 2013. Prosecutors say Wallace used Lighthouse credit cards and bank account to pay personal expenses. She also admitted she submitted fraudulent monthly invoices in support of grant applications and spending. The government and Wallace do not agree on the amount of the loss from the scheme. If they don't agree by the time of Wallace is sentenced, a judge will determine the amount and Wallace would pay that amount of restitution. Her sentencing date has not been scheduled.


Alabama Man Indicted in Cold Case Sex Assaults

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says a man has been indicted in cold case sex crimes involving three young girls. Strange said in a statement Wednesday that 45-year-old Billy Wayne Cooper, formerly of Calhoun County, Alabama, was served with the indictments at the detention barracks of a military base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Cooper is being held there for sex crimes that happened at U.S. Army posts in Washington state and Germany. Authorities say the alleged cold case sex crimes happened between 1999 and 2004 throughout Calhoun County. Prosecutors haven't disclosed additional details. Cooper is facing several charges including rape, sodomy and sexual abuse. The charges indicate that Cooper's victims were between 13 and 15 years old. It's unclear if Cooper has an attorney.


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