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Headlines for Thursday, June 30, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Judge Approves Voter Registration Rules in Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge says residents of Kansas, Georgia and Alabama will have to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote for federal elections using a national form. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon sided Wednesday with a U.S. elections official who changed the proof-of-citizenship requirements on the form at the request of the three states without public notice. Residents of other states need to swear that they are citizens but not show proof. The judge refused to issue the temporary injunction sought by a coalition of voting rights groups to overturn the unilateral move by Brian Newby, the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The groups argue the requirements hurt their ability to conduct voter registration drives and deprive eligible voters of the right to vote in federal elections. 


Kansas AG Asks Court to Reconsider Rulings on Sobriety Tests 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the state's highest court to reconsider rulings earlier this year that motorists suspected of drunken driving cannot be punished for refusing to take sobriety tests. Schmidt cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Minnesota and North Dakota cases in filing his request with the Kansas Supreme Court. Kansas law has punished a motorist's refusal to take a breath, blood or urine test with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,250. But the state Supreme Court ruled in February in four cases that the law was invalid because of protections in the U.S. Constitution against warrantless searches. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that motorists could face criminal penalties for refusing to take breath tests.


Concealed Carry for Kansas Public Workers Begins Friday 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State and municipal employees will be able to conceal and carry on the job starting Friday. The Wichita Eagle reports that the measure is one of many newly passed laws that take effect July 1. Other measures include a shortening of the time someone can receive welfare and a ban on use of tanning beds by people under 18. Under the concealed weapon law, public employees won't need gun safety training to carry on the job. Supporters say this will allow public employees to protect themselves on the job. Opponents say it violates the personal property rights of homeowners and creates potential safety risks. Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says it remains to be seen how many city employees will even take advantage of the right to carry.


Official: Medicaid Non-Expansion Had Role in Topeka Hospital Sale 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The president of a central Topeka hospital says the lack of Medicaid expansion in Kansas played a large role in the decision to sell St. Francis Health. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that SCL Health put the hospital up for sale in May. Hospital president David Setchel says that the facility forgoes up to $10 million in revenue each year because the state refused to expand KanCare, the state's privatized Medicaid program. SCL Health owns hospitals in multiple states, but Setchel said at a KanCare forum that its Topeka hospital is the only facility to operate in a state that hasn't expanded Medicaid. The governor's office has argued expansion would prioritize those who choose not to work before people who are intellectually or physically disabled, as well as people who are frail, elderly or mentally ill.


Kansas Transportation Secretary Stepping Down Next Month

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King is resigning effective July 15 and says he plans to return to private business. Governor Sam Brownback's office announced King's departure Wednesday and said former state Representative Richard Carlson of St. Marys will serve as interim secretary until a permanent replacement is named. King had worked in the construction industry for more than three decades and was owner of a McPherson company when Brownback named him transportation secretary in March 2012. King has run a department with about 2,500 employees and an annual budget of well over $1 billion. Since 2013, he's also overseen daily operations for the 236-mile Kansas Turnpike. But also during his tenure, the state has repeatedly diverted highway funds to other parts of state government to balance its budget. 


Report: Kansas Farmers Planted More Corn, Soybeans 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas growers planted this spring more of their fields into corn and soybeans, and put in fewer acres of sorghum. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday that Kansas farmers planted 4.8 million acres in corn, an increase of 16 percent compared to a year ago. About 95 percent were biotechnology varieties. Also up in the state are soybean acres. The agency said Kansas had 4.15 million acres seeded in soybeans, an increase of 6 percent compared to last year. Plantings this spring of sorghum are down 7 percent to 3.15 million acres. Sunflower plantings plummeted 35 percent, down to 55,000 acres. Kansas farmers are now harvesting the 8.5 million acres of winter wheat seeded last fall.


KBI Helping to Investigate Death of Woman in Central Kansas
ASSARIA - Authorities investigating the death of a central Kansas woman are asking the public for help locating two vehicles.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says one of the vehicles that might be linked to the death of 57-year-old Lori Heimer is a maroon flatbed pickup with a white front bumper. The other vehicle is a small pickup truck that is dark blue on top and bottom with light blue in the middle. The smaller truck may have two animal cages in the back. Both vehicles were described as older and beat up.  The investigation into Heimer's death began after a relative found her body Saturday evening near Assaria. Authorities also are requesting information from anyone who had an appointment with her about her dog business this month.


2 Die in Industrial Accident in South Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two men have died at an industrial accident in south Wichita. The accident was reported Thursday morning at Occidental Chemical Corporation. They were contract workers at the plant. The men were pronounced dead at the scene. Their names have not been released. Sedgwick County Sheriff Lieutenant Lin Dehning says a preliminary investigation indicates some of the men's mechanical equipment failed. Dehning says no chemicals were released from the plant and the public was never in danger.


Kansas City Man Indicted in $3.3 Million Fraud Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has been indicted in a nearly $3.3 million investment fraud scheme. The U.S. attorney's office announced Wednesday that 65-year-old John Clifford Williams was charged in a 14-count federal indictment. Prosecutors said Williams formed about 20 companies and raised more than $8.6 million from an investor. But the indictment alleges that he fraudulently spent or diverted about 38 percent of that money from 2005 to 2014. Prosecutors say some of the money went toward paying for household expenses, travel and his daughter's wedding. The businesses Williams formed included one established to offer revenues derived from certain mineral rights concessions for gold and manganese mines in Central America. Another business was founded to develop and commercialize an energy-efficient technology.


Man Trapped Under Running Lawn Mower in Wichita Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 63-year-old man has died in Wichita after being trapped under a running lawn mower.  Lt. Chris McAuliffe of the Wichita Police Department tells The Wichita Eagle that family members found the man in the backyard of his home around 6:45 Wednesday evening.  Responding firefighters had to turn off the running mower when they arrived. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.  McAuliffe says the man owned a lawn care business and was repairing the mower when it somehow fell on top of him. Police are calling the incident an accident.  No other details have been released.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Role in Meth Ring

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole for participating in a four-state methamphetamine trafficking operation. Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Anselmo Salazar, of Kansas City, Kansas, was sentenced Wednesday after being found guilty in December in a drug and money laundering conspiracy. The ring, which was based in St. Joseph, distributed more than 15 kilograms of meth from 2009 to 2013 in northwest Missouri, northeast Kansas, southern Iowa and Nebraska. Salazar was one of 24 people charged in the conspiracy. Prosecutors say he and two other men, Carlos Alberto Yanez, of Lee's Summit, and Marvin Carl Rogers, of Gladstone, were the primary suppliers of methamphetamine. The other two men have already been sentenced to prison. Salazar also had to forfeit $680,800.


Kansas Priest May Receive Diversion in Bank Fraud Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal court records show that a Catholic priest charged with stealing nearly $151,000 from two small parishes to fund his gambling has negotiated a diversion agreement.  The agreement filed Wednesday would delay Thomas Leland's prosecution for 18 months and result in the dismissal of the case if it's approved and he adheres to its terms. The Wichita Eagle reports that Leland is accused of taking unauthorized reimbursements, salary advances and overpayments and too much money for conducting church services while he was the parish priest at St. Francis in St. Paul and at St. Ambrose in Erie.  Diocesan spokeswoman Amy Pavlacka has said Leland was removed from his position after coming forward in March 2014. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.


Shooter's Girlfriend in Kansas Factory Killings Plans Battered Woman Defense 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman accused of giving her former boyfriend guns used in a shooting at a southwest Kansas lawn equipment factory plans to use a battered woman's syndrome defense at her August trial. The attorney for Sarah Jo Hopkins filed notice Wednesday saying he plans to introduce expert evidence related to her mental state. The defense is also seeking to suppress her statements to police. The 28-year-old Newton woman has pleaded not guilty to transferring weapons to a prohibited person. Prosecutors say she gave Cedric Ford an AK-47-type semi-automatic rifle and a .40-caliber handgun that he used in the February 25 attack at Excel Industries in Hesston. Four people, including Ford, were killed and 14 others were injured. Hopkins has told investigators that she gave him the guns because he had threatened her.


Suit: Deaf Woman Wrongly Arrested, Denied Accessible Phone 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit claims that Shawnee County sheriff's deputies arrested a deaf woman after having trouble communicating with her and the jail didn't provide an accessible phone. Carolyn Hans claims Shawnee County and the sheriff's office failed to provide her services required under federal law during her encounter with law enforcement. The suit also contends that the sheriff's office refused to allow her to file a police report using an accessibility service, instead telling her she needed to hire an interpreter. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the lawsuit indicates Hans is seeking more than $75,000. County counselor Rich Eckert says the county is aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment on it. 


Grant Allows Fort Hays State to Expand Paleontology Studies 

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A federal grant will allow Fort Hays State University to expand its paleontology studies research. The university's Sternberg Museum of Natural History recently received the three-year $116,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Laura Wilson, curator of paleontology, says the grant will allow the museum to buy imaging equipment and to hire university students to work in the paleontology collection. Wilson says specimen data, images, and geographical and temporal information eventually will be published online in research databases. They also will be used to develop internet and classroom-based educational materials. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the project will focus on fossils from an ocean that covered the middle of North America, including Kansas, 100 to 66 million years ago.


Authorities Searching for Kansas Man in Missouri

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities in southeast Missouri have been searching for a Kansas man who hasn't been seen since Sunday. Police in Sikeston, Missouri, told The Pittsburg Morning Sun that 66-year-old Larry Weaver, of Pittsburg, checked into a Sikeston motel and failed to check out Monday. Police Captain Jim McMillin says hotel staff contacted police Tuesday after realizing Weaver and his 2013 Harley Davidson motorcycle were gone, but personal items such as a wallet, credit cards, keys and clothing were left in the room.  Police haven't ruled out foul play. Weaver was last seen on a surveillance camera getting gas near the hotel Sunday evening. McMillin says crews are using a helicopter  to search for Weaver, whose family says had no medical problems.


Company Tries Again to Build Power Line in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A company is trying again to build a power line in Missouri for a multistate wind energy project. Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners on Thursday reapplied to build the Grain Belt Express despite earlier rejection from state regulators. The power line would transmit energy from Kansas, across northern Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. Missouri utilities would have access to electricity. Governor Jay Nixon said Wednesday he supports the project. A group representing Missouri municipal utilities in June signed up for space on the transmission line. But some landowners have said it could hurt farming and property values. The Missouri Public Service Commission last year denied Grain Belt Express' application, citing landowner concerns and questioning the need for the project. Missouri is the only state that hasn't approved it.


Traffic Accident in Western Kansas Kills 5, Injures Others

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Highway Patrol says a two-vehicle collision in western Kansas killed five people and left others injured. The accident occurred early Wednesday on Interstate 70 in Sherman County about 11 miles east of Goodland. The patrol says a semi-trailer truck hit an SUV from behind, causing the vehicle to go into a ditch and overturn. Five people in the SUV were killed. An exact number of those injured was not immediately available. The driver of the SUV, 42-year-old Calvin Florez of Guatemala, was taken to a Wichita hospital. The names of the other victims have not been released. The driver of the truck was not seriously injured.


Missouri Man Charged with Embezzling from Churches

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A suburban Kansas City man has been charged with embezzling more than $86,000 from two churches. The U.S. attorney's office says the 14-count indictment against 59-year-old David Townley, of Raytown, was returned Tuesday and made public Wednesday upon his arrest and initial court appearance. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney. Townley is accused of skimming money from tuition payments and writing unauthorized checks to himself while working as the business manager for the Nativity of Mary church and school in Independence. Prosecutors also allege that Townley stole from the Sacred Heart of Guadalupe church in Kansas City while volunteering to pay the church's bills, make financial committee reports and file the church's tax returns.


Royals Outlast Cardinals to Win, 3-2, in 12 Innings

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Alcides Escobar hit a go-ahead RBI double just inside the right-field line in the 12th inning and the Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Wednesday night. Escobar drove in the first run of the game with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the eighth inning off the Cardinals' Seth Maness (0-2). Kansas City's Chien-Ming Wang (5-0) worked two scoreless innings, which survived blown saves by Wade Davis and Joakim Soria, stranded 19 runners and used all of its bench players.  Whit Merrifield put Kansas City ahead in the 10th when a potential double-play grounder was booted by second baseman Matt Carpenter and Merrifield got an RBI. He also doubled with one out in the 12th.


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