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Headlines for Thursday, October 30, 2014


Death Toll Climbs to 4 in Wichita Airport Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say at least four people are dead after a small plane lost power and crashed into a building at a Kansas airport. The twin-engine Beechcraft airplane lost power shortly after takeoff from Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport Thursday. Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp says at least four people inside the building were killed and five others injured. Four people remained missing early Thursday afternoon, but a search was halted at midday after a portion of the building collapsed and was too dangerous for crews.


Most Suspended Kansas Voters Claim No Party

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A majority of the 22,394 voters who will be unable to cast a legal ballot this election in Kansas because of the state's proof-of-citizenship law claim no political affiliation. The Secretary of State's office said Wednesday that unaffiliated voters account for 57 percent, or 12,822 people, whose registrations were put on hold. Another 5,069 registrations still in limbo come from Republican voters, comprising 22 percent of voters on the list. The registrations of 4,070 Democrats are also on hold, accounting for 18 percent of suspended voters. Voter registrations from 383 Libertarians also are in limbo. The law that took effect in January requires new voter registrants to provide a birth certificate, passport or other document proving their U.S. citizenship. Any provisional ballots cast by suspended voters would not be counted.


Kobach Predicts 50 Percent Turnout in Midterm Vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach predicts turnout for Tuesday's elections will be about 50 percent, even without more than 20,000 people on a suspended voters list because they haven't provided proof of citizenship. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kobach on Thursday predicted about 872,000 people will vote out of about 1.74 million registered voters. The prediction is based in part on the pace of advance voting and high interest in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. Kobach's Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf says the prediction probably is accurate, but notes it's lower than in previous midterm elections. Turnout in 2006 was 52 percent, and in 2002 it was 53 percent. Kobach's numbers indicate a little less than 9 percent of all registered voters already have cast ballots through advance voting.


Kansas Governor Facing New Questions on Medicaid Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback is facing new questions about his administration's overhaul of the Medicaid program in Kansas as his close race for re-election nears its end. Brownback said Wednesday that the overhauled program known as KanCare is working well for the needy and disabled Kansas residents who receive health coverage under it. Democratic challenger Paul Davis said KanCare is operating under a cloud. A new University of Kansas study suggested that a significant number of disabled Kansans have experienced some problems with their services since management of Medicaid was turned over to three private health insurance companies in 2013. And a former executive with one of the companies filed a federal lawsuit this week alleging she was wrongly terminated for protesting potentially improper cost-saving measures.


Roberts Raises Fears About Terrorists in Kansas

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is raising concerns that President Barack Obama may try to place terrorist suspects at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. And Roberts is vowing to stop it, if re-elected. Roberts received hearty applause Thursday in Leavenworth while pledging to keep terrorists out of the Kansas prison. Obama has not recently mentioned Leavenworth as a destination for prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The senator denies he's fear-mongering in an attempt to gain an advantage in a tight election against independent challenger Greg Orman. But he also alleges that Orman can't be trusted to stand up to Obama. Anti-abortion and pro-gun groups also have been coming to Roberts's defense by raising fears about Orman. Orman has said the criticism indicates Roberts is part of the problem in Washington.


Roberts Endorsed by GOP Primary Foe


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is getting a somewhat reluctant endorsement from his former Republican primary challenger, Milton Wolf. In a message posted Thursday on his campaign Facebook page, Wolf urges his supporters to set aside their differences with Roberts and vote for the Republican incumbent in next Tuesday's election. Roberts is in a close race with independent candidate Greg Orman. Wolf criticized Roberts as out-of-touch during the primary. But his Facebook message says Roberts's election could be the deciding factor on whether Republicans take control of the Senate, which he says could put other "solid constitutional conservatives" in positions of power. If Roberts is re-elected, Wolf writes that he will "hold his feet to the fire" and continue to "see to it that Kansans have alternatives to failed leadership."



GOP Plans Network of Lawyers to Watch Polling Places

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Republican Party plans to have a network of lawyers ready to watch voting on Election Day for potential legal problems. The GOP plans to have lawyers on standby, as they watch for what state GOP party director Clayton Barber calls "dubious actions" by Democrats. The Topeka Capital Journal says the plans were detailed in an email from Barber. The email says poll watchers will be watching for any improper procedures, illegal electioneering near polling places and improper contact with voters. Jason Perkey, director of the Kansas Democratic Party, said Democrats will defend everyone's right to vote. He also objected to Barker's accusation that Democrats engage in "dubious tactics." Barker says he was not referring to Democrats specifically but to any possibility of voter fraud.


Feds to Monitor Election Complaints in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says a federal prosecutor will be on duty election day to respond promptly to complaints of possible election fraud and voting rights violations in Kansas. Grissom says in a news release that anyone who has evidence of possible electoral corruption or voting rights abuses on Tuesday should call his office. Prosecutors across the nation monitor elections as part of the U.S. Justice Department's election-day program. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon Patton will be available to the public at 913-551-6730. The FBI's Kansas City field office will also receive allegations of election fraud, intimidation and suppression. The FBI's toll-free hotline is 1-855-527-2847, or by email at


Death Penalty Sought in Jewish Center Shootings

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Defense attorneys for a Missouri man accused of killing three people outside of two Jewish centers in Kansas say prosecutors are planning to seek the death penalty against him. Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit attorney Ron Evans says in a motion for a continuance filed Tuesday that Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe recently told him of his decision to seek the death penalty against 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. The Kansas City Star reports that Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, is believed to be the oldest person ever charged with capital murder in Kansas. Miller, of Aurora, Missouri, is accused of killing 53-year-old Terri LaManno, 69-year-old William Lewis Corporon and his grandson, 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood on April 13.


4 Kansas Education Commissioner Candidates Named

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas State Board of Education has identified four candidates for state education commissioner. The Kansas State Department of Education announced Wednesday that the candidates include Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge. Also on the list is associate Shawnee Mission school district superintendent Gillian Chapman, interim Kansas education commissioner Bradley Neuenswander and McPherson school district superintendent Randall Watson. The candidates will be interviewed November 5 and 6. The education department says the board expects to make an announcement at its board meeting the following week. The state is seeking a replacement for Diane DeBacker, who left her position in May to become an adviser to the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates.


Brownback Uses EPA Rule to Link Opponent to Obama

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A protest by Kansas regulators against federal efforts to limit carbon emissions is giving Republican Governor Sam Brownback an opportunity in his close re-election race to tie his Democratic rival to President Barack Obama. The utility-regulating Kansas Corporation Commission said Wednesday that it is asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a proposed emissions rule for power plants. Its staff is filing a 40-page report suggesting the rule would force increases in electric rates. Brownback appointed the commission's three members, and the conservative governor argues that Democratic challenger Paul Davis wouldn't fight the rule if he's elected. Davis' spokesman said the Democrat sees the EPA as heavy-handed and Brownback is offering only rhetoric.


Kansas House Candidate Criticized for Racist Facebook Post

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas House candidate is facing criticism for a Facebook post that joked about black fathers. Republican Cordell Fischer told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he removed the post when he became aware of it. He says his wife tagged him in the post and that it wasn't supposed to be public. The post featured a Darth Vader photo with the caption, "FIRST BLACK GUY TO ADMIT HE IS THE FATHER," a reference to the "Star Wars" villain telling Luke Skywalker he was his father. Fischer is running against Democratic Representative Harold Lane, whose district covers eastern Topeka. Lane says he "found it appalling that anyone would post something so inappropriate." Both candidates are white. Fischer, a church pastor, says he apologizes for "whatever it looked like to the public."


Bill Snyder Endorses Roberts in Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Beloved Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder has endorsed Senator Pat Roberts for re-election and is appearing in a new television ad for the three-term Republican incumbent. Roberts's campaign launched the statewide spot Thursday, just five days before the election and with Roberts locked in a tight race with independent candidate and wealthy Olathe businessman Greg Orman. Snyder is highly respected and has largely remained aloof from politics. His 6-1 Wildcats are the only unbeaten team in the Big 12 and are generating buzz because they're ranked ninth for a national football playoff spot. Snyder describes Roberts in the ad as a good friend and "as good as it gets for the state." Orman has argued that Roberts is part of the gridlock in Washington.


Kansas Man Rescued Near Maui Beach Dies at Hospital

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A 57-year-old Kansas man found unresponsive in the ocean off Maui had died at a hospital. Maui police say Michael R. Higgins of Lenexa was spotted at about noon Wednesday in water off Keawekapu Beach Park in Kihei. Maui emergency responders administered CPR on the beach. Higgins was taken in critical condition to Maui Memorial Medical Center. Life-saving measures attempted at the hospital were unsuccessful and he died. An autopsy was scheduled.


Railcar Refurbishing Company Going to Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A railcar refurbishing company plans to establish a plant in Hutchison, creating about 150 jobs in the next three years. Mervis Railcar, a division of Mervis Industries, announced Thursday that it will invest about $35 million in Hutchinson. Company CEO Adam Mervis says Hutchinson was chosen for the plant because of its location and railroad connections, a strong work force and an education system able to train workers for skills needed at the plant. The company will refurbish railcars for oil, fuel, agricultural and other industries. The Hutchinson plant will be the only one in the country able to refurbish trains of 100 or more cars. Most of the 150 workers will be welders. The plant will include four buildings and more than 20,000 feet of railroad track.


Washburn Pledges to Stop Sexual Violence on Campus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Washburn University faculty, staff and students are pledging to help stop sexual violence on campus. The university in Topeka is one of several across the nation under federal investigation for the handling of sexual violence complaints. On Wednesday, Washburn president Jerry Farley signed a pledge to help stop sexual crimes on campus. Supporters of the "It's On Us" campaign set up two computers to allow students, faculty and staff to sign the pledge. Pledge signers agree to recognize that nonconsensual sex is sexual assault, intervene when consent hasn't or can't be given, and create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable. Farley said the school does not have a rampant sexual violence problem but it is important to ensure that students are safe.


Second Developer Interested in SE Kansas Casino

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Odds are better for a casino in southeast Kansas after a second developer expressed interest in the project. The Joplin Globe reports that Southeast Kansas Casino Group said this week it was interested in developing a casino, hotel and restaurant on 200 acres of privately owned land southeast of Pittsburg. On Tuesday night, the Pittsburg City Commission approved a petition from the landowners and a resolution of intent for the development. However, the group has not yet submitted an application to the state gaming commission. Developer Phil Ruffin and the Quapaw Tribe's Downstream Casino in nearby Oklahoma announced earlier this year that they want to build a casino, restaurant and event center in the former Camptown Greyhound Park near Frontenac. The application deadline for the casino is December 19.


2 Arrested in Overland Park Bank Robbery

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Authorities in Overland Park have arrested two men who they say robbed a Bank of America. Overland Park police say a pair of gunman demanded cash and other valuables at the bank on Wednesday before escaping. Both fled on foot and were arrested near the bank. Their identities haven't been released. It's unclear how much money was stolen. Two people inside the bank suffered unspecified minor injuries and were taken to the hospital. No charges have been reported.


Orman Seeks Votes in Incumbent's Rural Kansas Base

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Independent challenger Greg Orman is attempting to make inroads into rural Kansas while asserting that Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts no longer effectively represents the agricultural interests that have long formed his political base. Orman traveled Wednesday to a farm in rural south-central Kansas in an attempt to highlight his commitment to supporting federal crop insurance programs and rural economic development. Roberts says he expects to become the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman if Republicans take control of the chamber after next Tuesday's elections. But Orman believes he may have a shot at attracting rural support, partly because Roberts voted against legislation this year reauthorizing federal farm programs. Roberts said he believes the new farm bill moves people toward government dependence.


Jury Rejects Claim of Civil Rights Violation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A federal jury in Wichita has rejected a man's claims that his civil rights were violated by the use of a restraining chair when he was held in Sedgwick County's juvenile detention center. Jurors returned a verdict Wednesday that discounted all the claims in a lawsuit filed by Brandon Blackman. He sued as an adult in 2005 over treatment he received at the facility as an 11-year-old while awaiting trial on criminal charges that were later dismissed. Blackmon contended in the lawsuit that jail employees violated his rights by allegedly shackling him for hours in a chair designed to restrain prisoners. Jurors found that the employees did not use excessive force, and that the workers did not show deliberate indifference to the boy's mental health needs.


Police: Kansas Men Impersonated Officers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police have arrested two men who they say impersonated officers. Lt. James Espinoza says the men were driving a white Ford Taurus when they stopped a couple who was walking. He says the men identified themselves as officers but weren't wearing uniforms and didn't have badges. Espinoza says the men had walkie-talkies and handcuffed the male victim. The man was freed a few minutes later and ran away to call 911. The female victim got into the car with the men. Police located the car a few blocks away and arrested the men. The woman wasn't injured. Both men were charged with impersonating an officer. One of them was charged with unlawful restraint. Their identities haven't been released.


2 Dead, 2 Injured in Kansas Crash

SEVERY, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Highway Patrol says two people have died and two others have been hospitalized after a car crash. Troopers say an SUV and a truck collided Wednesday on a highway in Greenwood County near Severy. The 31-year-old SUV driver and a 38-year-old passenger were pronounced dead at the scene. A 24-year-old SUV passenger was flown to a Wichita hospital. The 52-year-old truck driver was taken to an area hospital. It's unclear what caused the crash. Troopers say everyone involved had their seat belts on.


Man Wanted in Kansas Arrested in North Dakota

JAMESTOWN, N.D. (AP) - Deputies in Barnes County have arrested a man out on parole for murder who's wanted in Kansas on a felony warrant. KOVC-AM reports 56-year-old Robert Synoracki was driving a stolen vehicle from Kansas with seven guns when he was arrested Tuesday. Authorities say the man was also arrested for driving under the influence. The station reports the original call in connection with the arrest reported drive-off from a gas station in Casselton. Synoracki is at the Barnes County Correctional Center pending extradition back to Kansas


Carbon Monoxide Closes KS School

DEXTER, Kan. (AP) — Officials in south-central Kansas say an elementary school was quickly evacuated after students began having headaches from what turned out to be carbon monoxide. The incident happened Wednesday morning at the elementary school in the Cowley County town of Dexter. The Winfield Daily Courier reports that the fumes were traced to a faulty heat exchange on a heating and air conditioning vent. The school's 55 pupils were taken outside to be checked for possible carbon monoxide exposure. Winfield Fire Department Lieutenant Patrick Ramirez says four children who felt nauseated were taken to hospitals to be checked further and were expected to recover. Dexter Superintendent Ron Ledford says the responders included a school librarian who is also an emergency medical technician. The school was closed for the day and will reopen Thursday.


Woman Pleads Guilty to $450,000 Tax Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An former Kansas City woman pleaded guilty to a scheme to receive more than $454,000 in illegal income tax refunds. Thirty-three-year-old Chiquita Tyler, also known as Chiquita Robinson, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making a false claim to a federal agency and identity theft. Tyler lives in Wylie, Texas. Tyler admitted she prepared income tax returns using false or stolen identity information between February 2010 and February 2011 for about 70 people. The refunds were deposited on a prepaid debit card mailed to Tyler at her home and other locations in Kansas City. Tyler faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. Her sentencing has not been scheduled.


KC Company Withdraws Plans to Develop Kemper Arena

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City development company says circumstances beyond its control have forced it to drop its plan to turn Kemper Arena into a regional youth sports facility. The Kansas City Star reports that City Councilman Ed Ford announced Wednesday that the Foutch Brothers company told him it was no longer pursuing an overhaul of the arena. That leaves a proposal by the American Royal, in partnership with Sporting Kansas City's investor group, to demolish the arena and replace it with a custom-designed $50 million multipurpose building. Kemper Arena has lost nearly all of its events to the downtown Sprint Center in recent years and is currently idle. Supporters of the American Royal plan had suggested that approval of the Foutch proposal could prompt the Royal to go somewhere else.


Fort Hays State VP Named President at North Dakota School

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An administrator from a university in Kansas is the new president at Valley City State University. The North Dakota Board of Higher Education on Thursday named Tisa Mason to take over the job. She has spent the last six years as vice president of student affairs at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Mason succeeds Steven Shirley, who left to become president of Minot State University. Mason has previously served as dean of student life at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, executive director of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and Foundation, adjunct professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and director of student life and assistant professor at Christopher Newport University. The board interviewed Mason behind closed doors Thursday morning in Valley City. The other finalist for the position withdrew from consideration.


Ohio Police Seek Suspect in Former KSU Football Star's Death

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland police are searching for a man accused of killing a former Kansas State University football player outside a nightclub on October 11. A Cleveland police spokeswoman could not say Thursday whether 26-year-old David Garrett was a bystander or was targeted when he was shot. An aggravated murder warrant was issued earlier this month for 30-year-old Barry Blevins of East Cleveland for the killing. Police say Blevins fired into a crowd outside the nightclub after a fight started inside and Garrett was shot in the chest. Garrett earned all-Big 12 honorable mention honors as a defensive back in 2010 and 2011. He graduated from Thomas W. Harvey High School in Painesville, east of Cleveland. He played for an arena football team in Kansas City in 2013.


Giants Beat Royals 3-2 to Win World Series

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Madison Bumgarner pitched five innings of near-perfect relief as the San Francisco Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 7 of the World Series for their third championship in five seasons. The Giants ended a Series streak that had seen home teams win the last nine Game 7s. San Francisco also earned World Series titles in 2012 and 2010. Pitching on two days' rest after his shutout in Game 5, Bumgarner entered in the fifth with a 3-2 lead. After giving up a leadoff single to Omar Infante, he shut down the Royals and earned a save to go with his second win in the Series.


Magical Playoff Ride Comes to End for Royals Fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City baseball fans were mostly taking in stride the end of a month-long playoff run capped with a Game 7 World Series loss to the San Francisco Giants. There wasn't much Royals attire on display Thursday morning at local convenience stores and diners as life moved on for a city that had been gripped in playoff fever for the first time in three decades. Retired Kansas City police officer Eric Weir talked over coffee at a Hy-Vee cafeteria about how the Royals would be better next year if they get another starting pitcher and a power hitter. Quik Trip clerk Katie Snelling said there seemed to be fewer people passing through the doors Thursday, and many customers seemed sad about the loss.



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