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Headlines for Thursday, September 25, 2014


Freight Trains Collide in Central KS; No Injuries

GALVA, Kan. (AP) — Two Union Pacific freight trains collided in central Kansas but no injuries or major hazardous waste spills were reported.  The collision occurred early today (THUR) in McPherson County between Galva and Canton.  Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says an eastbound train hit the back of a westbound train that was moving onto a side track to let the other train pass. The trains were flat cars carrying ocean-going containers packed mostly with consumer goods.  A train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago had two locomotives and five rail cars derail, while 15 cars and a locomotive on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles derailed.  Davis said it wasn't clear how much track was damaged or when the line will be reopened. About 20 trains use the line every day.


Kobach Seeks to Intervene in Kansas Senate Dispute

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is trying to intervene in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled Democratic voter to force the party to name a new U.S. Senate nominee. Kobach filed a motion Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court. The case was filed by David Orel of Kansas City, Kansas. He is a longtime registered Democrat but his son works on GOP Governor Sam Brownback's re-election campaign. Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the race against Republican Senator Pat Roberts earlier this month, leaving independent candidate Greg Orman as the only major rival to Roberts. Kobach said in his filing that his office supervises elections and Orel's case must be settled by October 1st.


2 Charged in Topeka Girl's Kidnapping

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A man and woman have been charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl over the weekend in Topeka. 28-year-old Jeremy Lindsey and 23-year-old Michelle Harris were charged with the attack Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court. The two are jailed on $1 million bond. The Shawnee County court website listed Lindsey's attorney as Joseph Huerter, but a woman at his law firm said the case hadn't yet been formally assigned to Huerter. Harris' attorney in the Shawnee County public defender's office didn't immediately return a phone call. The girl was missing for nearly six hours when she was found Saturday afternoon walking along a road about two miles away from her home. About 50 people participated in the search.


Naked, Bloody Man Arrested at Scene of Topeka Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka police have identified a woman whose body was found outside a home where a blood-covered naked man was detained. Police say the woman was 22-year-old Lacie Atchison of Topeka. Police are investigating her death as a homicide but haven't announced how she died. The investigation began Wednesday morning after neighbors called to report that a naked man had been running around outside screaming. Officers used a stun gun to subdue the man and found the woman's body at the top of a wooden wheelchair ramp that leads to a home. Blood could be seen smeared across a large area on the southwest portion of the house, and officers were keeping people well away from what they described as a graphic crime scene.


Lawrence Businessman Admits Embezzling $1 Million

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence man has pleaded guilty to embezzling about $1 million from his company and business partners over a 10-year period. The U.S. Attorney's office says 55-year-old Mark Elzea agreed to pay restitution under terms of the plea he entered Wednesday in federal court. Elzea was the controller and part-owner of a Lawrence janitorial and cleaning equipment business called Pur-O-Zone. He admitted that he began stealing from the company and his three business partners in 2004. The crime was discovered earlier this year when a vendor contacted one of the co-owners about not receiving a check. Prosecutors said the partners then discovered numerous unauthorized checks that Elzea had written to a credit card company. Elzea faces up to 10 years in federal prison. The sentencing is set for December 19.


State of KS Auctions Off Sex Toys, Porn to Get Back Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - An online auction of sex toys that were seized by Kansas authorities in a tax delinquency case could boost the state's revenues. State Revenue Department spokeswoman Jeanine Koranda said Wednesday the agency seized items in July from five adult stores operated by United Outlets LLC under the name Bang. Two were in Topeka and one each in Kansas City, Kansas; Junction City, and Wichita. They were seized for failure to pay sales, income and withholding taxes of $163,986. Koranda said the assets were released back to the owner, so that he could auction the property to raise money to pay off the tax debt. The auction is on The owner of United Outlets is Larry H. Minkoff of Prairie Village. He didn't have a listed phone number.


Grasshoppers Invade Parts of Kansas Again

ST. LEO, Kan. (AP) — Grasshoppers are once again infesting parts of Kansas, causing at least one small farmer in south-central Kansas to go out of business.  Experts say the years of drought left perfect conditions for grasshoppers although there numbers are not expected to be larger than normal in Kansas.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture shows significant grasshopper infestations from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska west this year.
Gary Gantz, who operates DE Bondurant Grain in Ness City, says the insects are everywhere this year and farmers are worried any new growth they plant will be eaten.  The Hutchinson News reports Keven and Mary Ford are giving up their dream of running a small vegetable and livestock farm near St. Leo because, for the second year in a row, grasshoppers have decimated their crops.


Kansas Senator Quits Eisenhower Memorial Project

WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than a decade of planning and millions spent to build a memorial near the National Mall honoring the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a key lawmaker who has helped oversee the project from the start is stepping away. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran has resigned from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission as the panel votes Wednesday on how to move forward after years of controversy over the design. Moran quietly submitted his resignation last week. A spokeswoman says he concluded that including homage to Ike's home state of Kansas has become a stumbling block for architect Frank Gehry's design for the memorial park. Gehry proposed a memorial park with statues of Ike as president and as World War II general. A large metal tapestry would depict the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower's boyhood home. Eisenhower's family has opposed the tapestry concept and called for a simpler design. Critics have mounted a campaign against the design that has delayed the project for years.


Gov Appoints Coffey County Prosecutor to District Judgeship

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback has named Coffey County's prosecutor to an open judge's position on the district court for four east-central Kansas counties. Brownback announced the appointment of Douglas Witteman on Wednesday. Witteman, from LeRoy, is the Coffey County attorney. He will replace Franklin County District Judge Thomas Sachse, who retired in May after 23 years on the bench in the 4th Judicial District, which also includes Anderson and Osage counties. A district nominating committee picked Witteman and Brandon Jones as finalists from among four applicants. Jones serves as county attorney in Anderson and Osage counties. Brownback said in a statement that Witteman's depth of legal knowledge will be an asset to the court. Witteman received his law degree from Washburn University of Topeka in 1991.


McCain Praises Pat Roberts at Campign Rally

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (AP) - Republican Senator John McCain is in Kansas praising three-term Senator Pat Roberts as "a steady hand" and calling Roberts' independent opponent a Democrat in disguise. At a rally Wednesday in Overland Park, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee fired up the crowd of Roberts supporters. Roberts has called Orman, a businessman from Olathe who has run as a Democrat and made contributions to Democratic candidates, a vote for Senate Democrats, should he win. McCain repeated those criticisms, saying, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might be a duck!" Orman's campaign called the critique "desperate." McCain is scheduled to headline a Roberts fundraiser in Olathe on Thursday.


Palin Stumps for Roberts in Kansas

INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) - Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is calling for Republican Party to unify now that the primary is over. Palin was in southeast Kansas Thursday campaigning for U.S. Senator Pat Roberts at a breakfast in Independence. Roberts is locked in a close race with independent challenger Greg Orman. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee told the crowd of more than 250 that the nation is watching the race in Kansas in hopes voters will make what she calls the right decision. Roberts told the crowd the GOP is united because supporters realize control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Clay Barker says it makes sense to have Palin in southeast Kansas because it is a strong area for tea party Republicans.


Perry Campaigns for Brownback in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Texas Governor Rick Perry says Kansas has created a very competitive climate to entice businesses and calls Governor Sam Brownback his competitor for economic development. The Texas governor campaigned Wednesday for Brownback at a rally attended by fewer than 100 people at Republican headquarters in Wichita. Private receptions for donors were also planned. Brownback told his cheering supporters that Kansas now has a business climate that is better than Texas. The Republican governor is locked in a close race with Democratic challenger Paul Davis. Kansas Democratic Party chairwoman Joan Wagnon says Brownback has modeled his administration after Perry's. She says Perry has made deep cuts to public schools and overseen a troubling rise in childhood poverty.


Arguments to Begin in Missouri Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City judge is preparing to hear arguments in a Jackson County lawsuit challenging Missouri's rejection of same-sex marriages that have been performed in other states. Ten same-sex couples who were married in other states are suing Kansas City and state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, for violating their due process and equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs say Missouri recognizes different-sex marriages performed elsewhere and that under a 2013 Supreme Court ruling it is obligated to treat same-sex marriages the same way. They are seeking a permanent injunction requiring the state to recognize all same-sex marriages performed in other states. The lawsuit is one of at least three legal challenges to Missouri's ban on same-sex marriages.


AGCO Plans to Lay Off Over 100 Workers in Kansas

BELOIT, Kan. (AP) - AGCO Corporation officials say the company plans to lay off a total of 111 workers at its plants in Beloit and Hesston. A statement from the corporate office in Georgia says the Hesston plant is in a second phase of job cuts, with 72 layoffs this week. Twenty-four jobs were cut in August. The Beloit plant will lose 39 hourly jobs. The Hesston plant makes hay and harvesting products, while the Beloit plant produces mostly tillage tools. The company said in a statement that the layoffs were the result of the cyclical nature of the agriculture economy.


Missing Children Found in Kansas

PINE CITY, Minn. (AP) - Sheriff's officials say a Pine County man accused of skipping a custody hearing and taking his two minor children without permission has been arrested in Kansas. The 44-year-old father was pulled over in Kansas Wednesday morning for a minor traffic violation. He was arrested after an officer ran his license and discovered he's wanted in Minnesota. The man's 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter were in the vehicle as well as two of his adult children. Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole says the younger children thought they were on vacation and didn't know authorities were looking for them.


Kansas Man Competent for Trial in Girl's Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A judge has ruled that an Atchison man is competent to be tried for murder in the death of a 5-year-old girl during a police chase. District Judge Gunnar Sundby ruled Wednesday that Marcas McGowan is able to stand trial for first-degree murder and several other felony charges in the July 18 death of Candence Harris. Authorities allege McGowan abducted the girl from a home they shared with the girl's mother in Atchison. Cadence was found dead from a gunshot in McGowan's car after a police chase ended when McGowan was shot after he pointed a gun at officers. The Leavenworth Times reports McGowan's preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 20. McGowan is being held in Leavenworth County Jail on $1 million bond.


6 to be Inducted into Cowboy Hall of Fame

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame says it will induct six people into the hall this year. The honorees will be inducted into the Dodge City institution on October 11. The new members announced Wednesday are Dusty Anderson, of Skiddy, a working cowboy; Fredric Young, of Dodge City, a cowboy historian; Barry Ward, of Dodge City, a cowboy entertainer/artist; C.L. "Bud" Sankey, of Rose Hill, a rodeo cowboy; and Bob and Wayne Alexander, of Council Grove, cattlemen/ranchers. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that inductees are honored for making significant contributions to western heritage lifestyle and to the preservation of the cowboy culture in Kansas. They also must personify cowboy ideals of integrity, honesty and self-sufficiency, achieve statewide historic significance and be a Kansas native or resident.


OSHA Investigates Death at Pittsburg Plastic Plant

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of an employee at a Pittsburg plant. Authorities say 51-year-old Harley Burch Jr. of Pittsburg died Tuesday after being injured in an accident at the Vinylplex plant, which makes PVC plastic pipe products. Lt. Tim Tompkins says Burch was working near a manufacturing machine and somehow came into contact with a piece of equipment. OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said Wednesday that investigators will interview witnesses and try to determine what caused the accident. Vinylplex officials declined to comment.


Wichita Officials Warn Pet Owners of Rabid Skunks

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita city officials are warning pet owners that three rabid skunks were found in the eastern part of the city. Officials announced Wednesday that the skunks came into contact with people's pets during separate incidents. They say some dogs have been placed under home quarantines for observation, which is the state protocol for possible exposure to rabid animals. Officials also encourage residents to vaccinate their animals, keep pets on a leash and stay away from wild animals.


Manhattan Discovery Center Gets New Exhibits

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Two temporary exhibits are scheduled to open at a Manhattan heritage and science center. Visitors to the Flint Hills Discovery Center can access the new attractions starting on Friday. An exhibit titled "Flint Hills FORCES II" explores the time period between 1917 and 1963 when the city, Fort Riley and Kansas State University intertwined to become one community. Visitors can learn about World War I trench warfare, the Great Depression and the Roaring '20s. It will run until February. A center manager tells WIBW-TV the showcases provide access to items that have been kept behind closed doors. A children's exhibit titled "Animal Secrets" will be housed until January 14. Viewers can learn where chipmunks sleep or what an eagle feeds its young.


Royals Fall to Indians, 6-4

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Kansas City Royals lost the 3rd game of this week's series Cleveland Wednesday night. The score was 6-to-4. A loss would have eliminated the Indians from the AL wild-card chase, but the win moved them to within 3½ games of Kansas City and Oakland in the wild-card standings. There are four days left in the regular season. The Royals, who haven't made the playoffs since 1985, fell two games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.



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