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Headlines for Thursday, October 2, 2014


Foes Put Kansas Governor's Former Aide in Spotlight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas legislator says he was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year about state government under Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Ex-Republican state Senator Dick Kelsey confirmed Thursday that he had multiple conversations with the FBI, ending in July. During a news conference, he and Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley called on Brownback to cut any ties with former chief of staff David Kensinger. Kensinger left as Brownback's chief of staff in April 2012 to form a lobbying firm. He remains an unpaid adviser to Brownback's re-election campaign. Kelsey said the FBI identified Kensinger as a subject of its inquiry. Kensinger did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. Brownback's campaign was preparing a response. Federal authorities would not confirm or deny an investigation.


Court: Democrats Don't Need Kansas Senate Nominee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas court has ruled that Democrats can go without a U.S. Senate candidate after their nominee dropped out of the race against three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The ruling Wednesday is a blow to the GOP in a key race in the national battle over Senate control. A panel of three Shawnee County District Court judges said a state election law does not require Democrats to fill the candidate vacancy. The judges also said the disgruntled who filed a lawsuit to force Democrats to act didn't prove his case because he failed to show up for a Monday hearing. Some Democrats pushed their nominee out of the race because they saw independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival for Roberts and didn't want to split the anti-Roberts vote.


Poll: Kansas Senate, Governor's Races Close

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A new poll says the U.S. Senate and governor's races in Kansas remain close. The survey of 500 likely Kansas voters released Wednesday said independent Senate candidate Greg Orman was favored by 46 percent. Three-term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts was backed by 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided. The poll was conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University in Boston from September 27 through September 30 and had a 4.4 percent margin of error. The poll said in the governor's race, Democrat Paul Davis was favored by 46 percent and Republican incumbent Sam Brownback by 42 percent. Six percent were undecided. In the hotly contested secretary of state's race, Republican incumbent Kris Kobach was favored by 45 percent and Democrat Jean Schodorf by 40 percent, with 14 percent undecided.


KU Fraternity Placed on Interim Suspension

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas fraternity is on interim suspension after the school received reports of sexual assault during a party during the weekend. University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a news release Wednesday that "disturbing and serious" behavior was reported at the Kappa Sigma fraternity. She did not elaborate. The Lawrence Police Department and the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access are investigating the allegations. The suspension comes as the university faces increasing criticism for its handling of previous allegations of rape on the Lawrence campus. Kansas is one of 76 schools nationwide being investigated by the federal government for their handling of sexual abuse cases. In response to the criticism, Gray-Little appointed a task force to review the school's policies and procedures and to recommend improvements.

Reported Sexual Assaults at KU Increased in 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new report says sexual offenses reported last year on the Kansas University campus increased by 10 from the previous year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that there were 13 reported sex offenses in 2013. In 2012, there were three, and in 2011, there were two. The numbers come from incidents reported to the college's Public Safety Office, student affairs office and the Department of Student Housing. The federal Clery Act requires colleges to report their crime statistics and submit them to the U.S. Department of Education. On Wednesday, the school placed the Kappa Sigma fraternity on interim suspension, after receiving reports of a sexual assault during a fraternity party over the weekend. The national organization's executive director says they're investigating the matter and have also suspended the local chapter for the time being.


Longtime Kansas Radio Personality Dies in Crash

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — A longtime central Kansas radio personality has died after crashing his car into a ditch on his way to broadcast his morning show. The Salina Journal reports that 79-year-old Gary Houser of Abilene was driving his pickup truck at 4:30 am Wednesday on Old U.S. Highway 40 when the vehicle went off the road and rolled. Dickinson County Undersheriff James Swisher says Houser was not wearing a seatbelt. Houser was on his way to KABI radio station, where he was well-known for playing songs of the 1940s, '50s and '60s. He was behind the microphone at KABI when it went on the air in April 1963 and was in the radio business more than 50 years. A memorial graveside service is scheduled for 11 am Saturday at the Abilene cemetery.


At Least 8 Quakes Shake Kansas So Far This Week

HARPER, Kan. (AP) — At least eight earthquakes have shaken southern Kansas this week, with the largest cracking walls. The earthquakes occurred the same week that a panel commissioned by Governor Sam Brownback announced there isn't enough evidence to link recent quakes to oil and gas exploration in the region. The group recommended more monitoring. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that this week's largest earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.4 when it struck just after 1 pm Thursday about seven miles southeast of Harper. Another quake that struck nearby about 30 minutes later had a preliminary magnitude of 3.4. Interim Kansas Geological Survey director Rex Buchanan says four other earthquakes rocked the state Tuesday and that at least two were recorded Wednesday. All but one of them occurred in Harper County.


High Court Disbars Former KBI Deputy Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A former Kansas Bureau of Investigation administrator has been disbarred by the state Supreme Court after pleading guilty earlier this year to sexual exploitation of a child. Former KBI deputy director Kyle G. Smith was third in line at the bureau last November when an agency secretary found a photo of a teenage girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct that was traced to Smith's email account. Smith pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced to 32 months in prison, which was suspended and he was placed on probation for three years. He also must register as a sex offender for 25 years. The Supreme Court issued its disbarment order Friday. Smith had surrendered his Kansas law license September 17.


Ex-Cowley College Leader to Receive More Than $200,000

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Former Cowley College President Clark Williams, who resigned under pressure in April, could receive more than $200,000 under his separation agreement. The Arkansas City Traveler reports the agreement prohibits Williams from suing the college or competing against it. The newspaper received the separation agreement this week after filing an open records request. Williams resigned after only nine months on the job amid criticism of his decisions, including ending the men's and women's soccer programs and firing men's basketball coach Tommy DeSalme. Both decisions were reversed after he resigned. The agreement will pay Williams through July 2015. He will receive $224,640 for the 16 months governed by the contract. The agreement also prohibited college officials and Williams from discussing the settlement terms.


Amazon Closing Distribution Plant in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — plans to close a distribution center in southeast Kansas in February, but it isn't clear how many employees the move will affect. Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacia Meek said Wednesday that Amazon informed her of the closure in an email Tuesday evening. The Seattle-based online retailer did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment. Meek says Amazon told her the closure is part of a move to have its distribution centers closer to the bulk of its customers. Coffeyville is a rural town about 70 miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Amazon is one of the area's largest employers, though its workforce fluctuates widely. The Parsons Sun first reported the closure plans and noted the company recently celebrated its 15th year anniversary in Coffeyville.


Fort Riley Soldier Accused of Killing Child

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A Fort Riley soldier is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in a death that occurred in February. Twenty-two-year-old Alexander McConnell, of Manhattan, made his first court appearance Wednesday via video from the Riley County Jail. Riley County officials have not released any information about the child who was killed. A criminal complaint says the child died from abuse. McConnell was arrested Monday at Fort Riley, where he is a specialist. McConnell's next court appearance was scheduled for October 14. A judge denied McConnell's request for a public defender.


Kansas Man Who Hid Under Bed Sentenced to 5 Years

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man who hid under a bed at his children's home to spy on them has been sentenced to five years in prison. Thirty-five-year-old Earl Brockington Jr., of Kansas City, Kansas, was sentenced Wednesday for five crimes, including robbery and domestic battery. Prosecutors say Brockington entered the Leavenworth home of the mother of his children on April 21 and hid under a bed for several hours while spying on the family. The mother testified during a trial in August that she thought her son was imagining things when he told her someone was under the bed. The Leavenworth Times reports that after he was discovered, Brockington and the woman struggled over telephones before she was able to get the children out of the house.


Judge Sets Deadlines in Kansas Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is aiming for trial early next summer for the man charged with plotting a suicide bombing at a Wichita airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Thursday set deadlines for motions in the case against Terry Loewen, an avionics technician facing terrorism-related charges, but he stopped short of setting a firm trial date. Loewen has been in jail since his December arrest for allegedly trying to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Mid-Continent Airport. The judge told Loewen during a brief hearing that he recognizes where he is, and is sure he doesn't like it. Loewen replied, "Not a lot, sir." He has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and other charges.


7 Children Suffer Minor Injuries in Bus Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Seven students suffered minor injuries after a school bus accident in west Wichita. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lieutenant Lin Dehning says when a bus from Goddard ran off a road early Wednesday, the driver over-corrected and the bus rolled over. The bus was on its way to Amelia Earhart Elementary School. The Wichita Eagle reports the 32 children on board ranged from kindergarteners to fourth graders. Emergency personnel on the scene waited for parents to arrive to decide whether to take children to the hospital. The accident remains under investigation.


Kansas Man Gets Probation for Impersonating Deputy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Derby man who impersonated a sheriff's deputy has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty. Joseph Reed will spend two years under supervision. He pleaded guilty in August to false impersonation, aggravated assault, fleeing from officers and refusing a drug test. Deputies arrested Reed after he attached a siren and lights to his truck and pulled over a security guard. They started chasing Reed's vehicle after the guard became suspicious and drove off. Reed was captured after he called 911 and claimed his vehicle was stolen and he was lost in a field. The judge also ordered Reed to complete 200 hours of community service and write an apology letter to the security guard.


Hearing Delayed for Man in 18-Month-Old's Death

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) _ A 31-year-old southern Kansas man will have to wait until next month to learn if there is enough evidence to try him on a first-degree murder charge in the 2012 death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter. The preliminary hearing for Justin Edwards of El Dorado was scheduled for Wednesday but was continued to November 12. Edwards is charged with first-degree murder in the March 2012 death of Jayla Haag, whose injuries included a broken jaw, missing teeth that had been forcibly removed, severe head injuries and multiple bruises. She also was suffering from malnourishment and tested positive for methamphetamine. Her mother, Alyssa Haag, pleaded guilty in May 2013 to involuntary manslaughter. Edwards had been in prison since early 2013 on drug convictions.


Eisenhower Memorial Wins Key Design Approval in DC

WASHINGTON (AP) — The long-delayed effort to build a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower near the National Mall has won a key approval, despite ongoing objections to architect Frank Gehry's design. A federal agency that oversees national capital planning approved the preliminary building plans Thursday. The National Capital Planning Commission debated the design and voted 9-1 to approve the concept. Gehry revised his design in September for a memorial park. He removed two large, steel tapestries on the sides of the park and left one as a backdrop depicting the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower's Midwestern roots. Sculptures would depict Eisenhower as president and general. In April, the planning commission rejected the previous design, citing the size and placement of columns holding the tapestries. Winning approval is a significant step for the project.


Kansas State University to Lead Food Project

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas university says it's leading a five-year food project that includes other schools and developing countries in examining ways small farms can increase production. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansas State University recently announced that it received a $50 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Vara Prasad, who will be the project's director, says part of the issue is also reducing the amount of spoiled food. The project will also look at the nutritional needs of people farming the land. The school will coordinate studies in Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The grant will fund one or two projects proposed by colleges and nonprofits in each country.


A Decade After Welcoming Wind Power, Some States Reconsider

CALUMET, Okla. (AP) _ A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace and envisioned a bright future with cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for landowners. But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation's windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well. The industry is gobbling up huge subsidies in many states, drawing frequent complaints and using its powerful lobby to resist reforms. Many of the same political leaders who initially welcomed the wind industry now want to regulate it more tightly, even in especially conservative states like Oklahoma. The change of heart is happening as wind farms creep closer to more heavily populated areas. Opposition is also mounting about the loss of scenic views and environmental impacts.


SW Missouri Mayor Resigns Amid Investigation

DUQUESNE, Mo. (AP) - Duquesne, Missouri Mayor Denny White has resigned amid an investigation of his working relationship with the council and allegations of improper use of city equipment. White said in his letter of resignation that he was leaving because he bought a home outside the city and out of concern for his health. The Duquesne Board of Aldermen accepted White's resignation Tuesday but delayed a decision on his replacement. The Joplin Globe reports that the board voted in September to seek White's resignation. Some board members accused White of not attending board meetings, using city equipment on private property and a slow reaction to replacing police vehicles after a pursuit in June left the department with only one functioning vehicle. White denied all the allegations.


Obama Salutes 2013 MLS Champs, Sporting KC

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has saluted the 2013 Major League Soccer champions Sporting Kansas City. He credits the "dedicated fans" of Kansas City for helping the sport grow in the United States. Obama paid tribute to the team Wednesday for winning the MLS trophy 10 months ago in a freezing penalty kick shootout. Obama singled out Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi, who were on the U.S. Men's National Team for this summer's World Cup in Brazil. The president also noted that Kansas City was enjoying a banner athletic week. The Kansas City Royals won the American League wild card game Tuesday and the NFL Kansas City Chiefs defeated the New England Patriots Monday. Obama said: "Clearly something is going on in Kansas City."


Extra Innings Boost Audience for AL Wild-Card Game

ATLANTA (AP) — Extra innings boosted viewership for the American League wild-card game. The Kansas City Royals' comeback 9-8 win in 12 innings over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday averaged more than 5.2 million viewers on TBS. The network said Wednesday that's up 14 percent from the nearly 4.6 million for last year's NL game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to open the postseason, a 6-2 Pirates win. On Tuesday, the Royals trailed 7-3 after seven innings, but they scored three times in the eighth, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, then rallied again from down a run in the 12th. Viewership peaked at 6.5 million from 11:30-11:45 pm EDT during the ninth inning.



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