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Headlines for Thursday, May 8, 2014


Kansas Board Meets Monday to Review Roberts Filing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state board will meet Monday to consider allegations that U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is not truly a Kansas resident and shouldn't be allowed to seek re-election. Secretary of State Kris Kobach scheduled the meeting of the State Objections Board after four citizens filed objections to listing the three-term senator on the August 5 Republican primary ballot. GOP tea party challenger Milton Wolf contends that Roberts lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where the senator owns a home. Roberts and his wife own a duplex unit in Dodge City but rent it out. Roberts says he lives and pays taxes in Kansas. The Objections Board is made up of Kobach, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. All three have endorsed Roberts.


Feds Seek Emergency Stay of Voter Citizenship Ruling

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal election officials are seeking an emergency halt to a judge's order requiring Kansas and Arizona voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote with a national form. At issue is U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren's order requiring the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to immediately change the federal voter registration form to require Kansas and Arizona residents to provide documents proving their citizenship. On Thursday, the commission asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency administrative suspension of Melgren's order while it considers its motion for full stay pending appeal. It also asks the court to consider its appeal on an expedited basis, preferably in a special session this summer. The filing comes a day after Melgren refused to suspend his own order during the appeal.


Kansas Toughening Penalties for Defrauding Elderly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Starting in July, Kansas will punish security fraud more severely if it's committed against the elderly. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill Thursday to increase the penalties for securities fraud if the victim is 60 or older. Legislators approved the measure last week by unanimous votes in both chambers. The new law increases penalties across the board when the victim is elderly. Currently, for a first-time offender convicted of securities fraud causing a loss of less than $25,000, the presumed sentence is two years' probation, but up to 19 months in prison is possible. Under the new law, if the victim is 60 or older, there'll be no presumption that the offender will avoid prison, and the time could be between 31 and 34 months.


Airport Advisory Group Backs Single Terminal for KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A citizens advisory group in Kansas City has recommended replacing the existing three terminals at Kansas City International Airport with a new single terminal. Most of the members of the KCI Terminal Advisory Group voted in favor of the single terminal, subject tomore information on cost. It's the same recommendation made by the city's Aviation Department. Despite this, a number of people who use the airport say they like the existing set-up of three terminals. Opponents of building a new, single terminal say they prefer the convenience of KCI's existing set-up. They say they prefer the current distance between parking and terminal gates.


Former KS Broadcaster, KANU GM, Howard Hill Dies

LAWRENCE, Kan. _A former general manager of Kansas Public Radio has died. Howard Hill, Jr. had a long career in broadcasting. He served as director of KANU Radio -- now known as Kansas Public Radio -- for 20 years, from 1977 to 1997. Hill was also the longtime public address announcer for basketball and football games at the University of Kansas. He spent 21 years as the PA voice at Allen Field House and at KU's Memorial Stadium. Hill was active in the KAB, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In the 1980s, he served on the Lawrence City Commission. He was active in two Kiwanis clubs, was also an accomplished photographer and enjoyed listening to jazz and classical music. Howard Hill died last Friday in Lawrence. He was 80-years-old. Survivors include two daughters and three grandchildren. Services will be held at 7 o'clock tonight (THUR) at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.


Objections Filed Against KS Senator's Reelection Effort

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Four people have filed objections to the candidacy of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. They claim the three-term Republican shouldn't be allowed to run for re-election this year because he's not really a Kansas resident. A state board will review their complaints. The same complaint has been raised by Milton Wolf, who's running against Roberts in the August GOPprimary. Roberts does own a home in Virginia but says he maintains a duplex in Dodge City.

Kansas Chamber Denies Involvement in RPS Postcards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group run by the sister of the chairman of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce sent postcards warning that renewable energy standards caused higher utility bills, but the chamber denies involvement in the postcards. The Kansas House last week rejected legislation meant to end the state's renewable energy standards, which require utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The chamber of commerce pushed for the standards' repeal. The Wichita Eagle reports that postcards from the Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance, run by Virginia Crossland-Macha, went out in multiple House districts before the vote. The cards warned the standards were responsible for rate increases. Crossland-Macha's brother, Ivan Crossland, leads the Chamber of Commerce. A chamber spokeswoman says she and her colleagues didn't know about the postcards.

Kansas to Start 'Blue Alert' Program for Law Enforcement Assistance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the state could soon begin issuing Blue Alerts to help law enforcement officers. Schmidt says the alerts would go out when a law enforcement officer is wounded or killed and the suspect is still at large. Similar to Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts, the notices would provide information to encourage the public to help apprehend the suspect. WIBW-AM reports that lawmakers passed a resolution this year directing the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to set up the program. Schmidt says the Kansas Fraternal Order of Police proposed the idea to him last year. Several other states, including California and Florida, already have the Blue Alert system.


Wichita Sets Third Heat Record in 4 Days

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Record-setting heat that settled on Wichita this week is expected to end Thursday. The National Weather Service says city set three heat records in four days this week. On Wednesday, the high temperature of 96 broke a record set in 1895, when the high was 83. The Wichita Eagle reports Tuesday's 99 and Sunday's 102 also were records for heat in the city. Cooler temperatures were forecast for Thursday, with highs only in the 80s. 

Strong Winds Derail Train, Knock Down Power Poles

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — Strong winds that blew through central Kansas knocked a train off the tracks, downed power lines and damaged roofs. No serious injuries were reported after Wednesday night's storms. KWCH-TV reports McPherson's emergency management director said Thursday about 45 to 60 homes were damaged. The McPherson County Sheriff's office says most of the damage was reported in Canton and Galva, where winds blew 33 cars of a freight train off the tracks. Two people were on board but no one was hurt. Westar Energy reported 12 poles in that area were damaged, knocking out power to about 650 people. All power was restored by noon Thursday. Power lines and trees also were downed in Harper and Dickinson County.


Woman Signs Deal to Move House Near KU Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 91-year old woman says she's reached a deal to move out of a dilapidated house sitting in the middle of a planned new student apartment complex near the University of Kansas. Georgia Bell said Wednesday she has agreed to sell her home of 70 years to Chicago-based development group Here, LLC. If the deal hadn't been reached, the developer had planned to build a five-story building on three sides of Bell's home. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Bell would not release terms of the deal. In March, developers told city officials they had offered Bell $600,000 for a house with a value of about $93,000. Bell refused that deal, saying she wanted to stay in the home where she raised six children.


Haskell Regents Approve Student Fee Increase

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Students at Haskell Indian Nations University will pay more student fees next year as the school seeks increased revenue to boost services on campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Haskell's regents on Wednesday approved a one-time fee increase from the current $265 to $700 in the fall. The increase was requested by members of Haskell's Student Senate. Haskell is a federal university that is managed through the Bureau of Indian Education and governed by a board of regents. University leaders say the additional fees will help operations after federal budget cuts in 2013. President Venida Chenault said several staff positions were left vacant because of the cuts.


Massage Parlor Owner Pleads Guilty in KS Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The owner of Asian massage parlors in Wichita has admitted his role in a sex trafficking case unfolding in Kansas. Gary Kidgell, of Waltham, Massachusetts pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to new charges of obstruction and harboring an immigrant living illegally in the United States. Prosecutors agreed in exchange to drop sex trafficking charges against him at sentencing. Kidgell admitted telling other inmates at a Kansas jail earlier this year that he intended to harm the law enforcement officer involved in his case unless he got the outcome he wanted. He also acknowledged harboring a woman he suspected was in the U.S. illegally. Kidgell and his wife, Wichita resident Yan Zhang, were accused of recruiting women to come to Wichita to work at massage parlors, then coercing them into prostitution.


Robber Pleads Guilty in Victim's Stress Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has pleaded guilty to charges in an armed robbery that led to the elderly victim's death from stress. KAKE-TV reports that 27-year-old David L. White pleaded guilty Thursday in Sedgwick County court to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery. His plea agreement allows prosecutors to request a sentence of more than 29 years in prison. White admitted robbing 73-year-old Byron Shipman at gunpoint of his wallet and two rings in March 2013. Shipman told his wife several hours later he was upset and frightened. He then died of what a medical examiner concluded was an aneurysm caused by the stress of the robbery. White was captured after another person he robbed the same day gave police a partial number of his license plate.


Kansas Man Dies After Rescuing Dog from House Fire

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina authorities have identified a man who died of burns he suffered while trying to rescue two dogs from a house fire. KSAL-AM reports that 49-year-old Darrell Pattillo died at a Wichita hospital where he was taken after the fire late Wednesday morning. Salina Fire Marshal Roger Williams says Pattillo was critically burned when he got one dog out of the burning home. He tried to go back in to the house for a second dog but first responders stopped him. The second dog was found dead under a bed. Williams says the fire started in some wiring behind a freezer in a garage.



Kobach Endorses Osborn in Nebraska US Senate Race

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Kansas secretary of state, who helped draft a contentious immigration ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska and several similar ones around the country has endorsed Shane Osborn for Nebraska's open U.S. Senate seat. Kris Kobach issued the endorsement for Osborn Thursday, saying it's "absolutely essential that we have U.S. senators who will vote against amnesty for illegal aliens." Kobach, who is also an attorney, represented the eastern Nebraska city of Fremont in a lawsuit that unsuccessfully challenged its ordinance that bans renting homes to immigrants living in the country illegally. Others seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate on Tuesday are Midland University President Ben Sasse, Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale and Omaha attorney Bart McLeay. They seek to replace Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, who is not seeking a second term.


USDA Declares 5 KS Counties as Disaster Areas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated five counties of south-central Kansas as disaster areas because of production losses caused by drought. The agency has declared Butler, Kingman, Reno, Sedgwick and Harvey counties as primary disaster areas. The designation lets farmers and ranchers seek federal assistance.


SBA Offers Loans to Storm-Ravaged KS, MO & OK Companies

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) _ The Small Business Administration is offering loan assistance to companies in southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri -- areas all damaged by tornadoes and violent storms on April 27th. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management says Cherokee and adjacent counties have qualified for an SBA disaster declaration.


Man Faces 4th Trial on Attempted Murder Charge

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) _ A 65-year-old northeast Kansas man charged with attempted murder will go on trial for a fourth time. John Hayworth Jr., of Valley Falls, is accused of shooting William Schoonover in December 2011 over a long-simmering property dispute. Hayworth's first trial on a charge of attempted second-degree murder ended in a mistrial, and his next two ended in hung juries. A Jefferson County judge has granted a prosecution request to try Hayworth a fourth time. The trial is scheduled for August 25. Hayworth remains free on a $50,000 bond. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Supreme Court told the newspaper it's highly unusual for a case to be tried four times.


Junction City Gets New Tenant for Call Center

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A Junction City building where a call center shut down after just 18 months of operation is getting a new tenant in the same line of business. The Daily Union reports in operating June 1 and hire 150 employees by the end of the year, with a goal of 650 employees within five years. The vacant, state-of-the-art facility was built for Capgemini in 2007 at a cost of $4.675 million, funded through industrial revenue bonds. Capgemini had 130 employees when it closed the Junction City operation in 2009. Advanced Call Center Technologies currently has 4,800 employees providing contact and back office support functions for financial services, communications and technology firms.


Two More States to Honor Kansas Gun Permits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two more states have now agreed to honor permits issued by Kansas allowing residents to carry concealed weapons. Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office said Wednesday the recognition by Virginia and Washington brings to 36 the number of states that honor Kansas permits. Kansas has slightly more than 80,800 active concealed carry permits. The state began issuing them in 2007. A state law enacted last year recognizes concealed carry permits held by residents of other states who travel in Kansas. The law was required to clear the way for states that requirereciprocal agreements with concealed-carry states to honor Kansas permits.


New Kansas Workers' Comp Rules to Help Law Officers, Firefighters

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is changing its workers' compensation laws to ensure that firefighters and law enforcement officers have their medical expenses covered after a stroke or heart attack on the job. Gov. Sam Brownback had a ceremony Wednesday at the Overland Park Fire Training Center to re-enact his earlier signing of legislation to revise a 1967 law unintentionally keeping firefighters and law enforcement officers from receiving such benefits. Brownback signed the bill in April after lawmakers approved it unanimously. The change takes effect July 1. The 1967 law says workers suffering a stroke or heart attack on the job don't receive benefits unless it was caused by exertion that was more than employee's usual work. Brownback noted that firefighters' and law officers' jobs routinely require great exertion, making them ineligible for benefits.


Senate Democrats Block Keystone Supporters' Tactic

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senate Democrats are refusing to let supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to use an energy efficiency bill as a vehicle to attempt winning congressional approval for the controversial project. Majority Leader Harry Reid used a parliamentary move yesterday (WED) to block a Republican amendment on the pipeline that would pass through Nebraska and Kansas.



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