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Headlines for Thursday, September 4, 2014


Lockdown Ordered at Johnson County Community College

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas community college has been placed on lockdown after security received a report of a suspicious woman carrying a long gun. Johnson County Community College police and officers from the city of Overland Park began a room-to-room search of several buildings after the report around 4 pm Thursday. Campus police Officer Dan Robles said students were being released from buildings as the searches ended. Robles said police had not found anyone fitting the description of suspicious, pony-tailed woman carrying a camouflage-print bag and a long gun, possibly a shotgun. He also said the credibility of the report had not been determined. Entrances to the campus were closed, and classes were canceled for the rest of the day. Robles said officers were also checking surveillance video.


UPDATE: Taylor Will Fight to Quit Kansas US Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Kansas says he'll challenge a decision to keep his name on the November ballot even though he wants to withdraw against incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday Democrat Chad Taylor did not comply with state law. He said Taylor didn't formally declare that he would be unable to serve if elected. Kobach said Taylor's only recourse is filing a lawsuit. Taylor withdrew from the race Wednesday without explanation, potentially giving independent candidate Greg Orman a better shot at defeating three-term conservative Roberts. Taylor said in a statement that he was assured by a top Kobach aide that a letter he sent to the secretary of state's office was sufficient for withdrawing. Kobach said that's not the case.


GOP Attacks Taylor's Withdrawal from Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party is questioning the legality of a Democratic nominee's withdrawal from the race against three-term GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. Democrat Chad Taylor sent a letter to the Kansas secretary of state Wednesday saying he was withdrawing. He issued a separate statement saying he had terminated his campaign, without an explanation. State GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold issued a statement Thursday questioning whether Taylor complied with a state law allowing nominees to withdraw. The law says candidates may withdraw if they declare they are incapable of fulfilling the duties of the office. The secretary of state's office still listed Taylor as a candidate on its website Thursday. Roberts's campaign called Taylor's withdrawal a "corrupt bargain" between Democratic leaders and a viable independent candidate, Olathe businessman Greg Orman.


AP: Taylor Quit Kansas Race After McCaskill Talk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri spoke to Chad Taylor in recent days about abandoning his bid to unseat Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts, according to Democratic officials. The officials said Thursday that McCaskill spoke with the Kansas Democrat in an attempt to unify support behind Greg Orman's candidacy and help the independent in his bid to knock out Roberts, who is seeking a fourth term. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they couldn't publicly discuss the private maneuvering. Taylor announced Wednesday he was exiting the race but offered no explanation. Taylor is a northeast Kansas prosecutor who had been vying for support from some of the same moderate Republican and unaffiliated voters as Orman. MSNBC first reported McCaskill's outreach.


DA Reviews KU Campus Rape Allegation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are taking another look at a woman's claims she was raped at a University of Kansas residence hall last year. District Attorney Charles Branson said Wednesday that he received new information last week about another encounter between the accuser and the same man. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Branson says he will consider that information and determine whether it would make a difference in a charging decision. He declined to publicly discuss details of the alleged incident — and how those would affect the strengths and weaknesses of the case — because the alleged victim's family asked him not to. Branson's comments came the same day the university's Student Rights Committee passed a resolution condemning the school's handling of student complaints of sexual assault.


Pottawatomie County Battles Whooping Cough

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Pottawatomie County is seeing an outbreak of whooping cough cases. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that all schools within the Wamego School District have had free vaccination clinics for staff members. A clinic for students was held Wednesday at West Elementary, the hardest hit school in the district. The state has 172 confirmed cases so far this year, compared to 405 cases in all of 2013. In Pottawatomie County 17 confirmed cases have been reported. Last year, the northeast Kansas county had one case. The disease, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. It can be prevented by vaccine.


Davis Removes TV Ad in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democratic challenger Paul Davis has pulled his first television ad of the Kansas governor's race after the state Republican Party questioned the background of an actor in the spot. The ad featured Davis responding to criticism from Republican Governor Sam Brownback's campaign and other groups. Topeka actor Jeff Montague (mon-TAYG) was in it. City of Topeka spokeswoman Suzie Gilbert confirmed that Montague was arrested in October 2007 for soliciting sodomy and entered into a diversion agreement but could provide no further details. Such agreements allow people to avoid prosecution. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker questioned Davis' judgment for using Montague. Davis said he pulled the ad immediately and apologized for what he called a mistake. Montague did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday evening seeking comment.


Brownback: Davis Not Credible on Water Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback unveiled another part of his campaign platform yesterday (WED) at two appearances. The governor said, if re-elected for a second term, he will finish work on a 50-year water conservation plan for Kansas. Brownback also said Democratic challenger Paul Davis has no credibility on water issues because he showed no interest in the subject as a legislator. Brownback held a news conference Wednesday on a boat ramp on the Kansas River to discuss water policy and protecting the state's natural resources. The governor says his administration already plans to issue $20 million in bonds for reservoir dredging. Davis's campaign immediately responded disputing Brownback's charges. Davis spokesman Chris Pumpelly said the Democrat has met privately with farmers, water-rights attorneys and others to discuss water issues. Pumpelly also said funding for water conservation efforts is jeopardized by aggressive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging in 2012 and 2013.


Brownback Open to Phasing Out Kansas Energy Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he's open to proposals for phasing out a renewable energy requirement for Kansas utilities because policies aimed at nurturing the wind industry shouldn't remain in place forever. The Republican governor said Wednesday that he's not developing a proposal of his own and wants wind energy companies, critics of the requirement and other interested parties to negotiate a new policy. Brownback said he has supported the policy because it helped develop the wind industry in Kansas but said the industry is now strong. A 2009 state law requires utilities to have wind and other renewable sources account for 15 percent of their peak capacity for generating electricity by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. Brownback said such policies shouldn't remain in place forever.


AFL-CIO Campaign Takes on Koch Brothers

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's largest labor federation is taking aim at the conservative Koch brothers in ads designed to highlight the billionaires' political clout and to energize liberal voters. The AFL-CIO's campaign started Thursday. It features Joyce and Karen Koch - who aren't related to Charles and David Koch. The women criticize the Koch brothers and their network of conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity. The 30-second ad calls the brothers "right-wing billionaires." The union has more ads ready to go in the next few weeks. A spokesman for Wichita-based Koch Industries had no immediate comment on the ads.


Sentencing Delayed for Man Who Stole Dying Woman's Ring

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of three men suspected of stealing a wedding ring from a dying woman at a Wichita restaurant will be sentenced in October. Twenty-year-old Quanique Thomas-Hameen was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for one count of obstructing prosecution and one count of misdemeanor theft. The Wichita Eagle reports court records show the sentencing was rescheduled for October 9. Thomas-Hameen reached a plea agreement in the case in July. His two co-defendants are facing trial on stronger charges. The men are accused of removing the ring and other belongings from 43-year-old Danielle Zimmerman as she was dying from a brain aneurysm in the Taco Bell drive-through in December. The theft sparked outrage in Wichita and a reward was offered but the ring has not been recovered.


Man Accused in Triple Homicide Appears in Court

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 34-year-old man accused of killing three people and critically injuring two others in a quiet south Kansas City neighborhood appears in court to hear a judge read the dozen felony counts against him. Brandon Howell stood before Associate Judge Mary Weir on Thursday wearing a blue jail outfit and handcuffed to another inmate as she read the three first-degree murder charges and several other counts related to the shootings. Prosecutors say Howell used a shotgun to kill 88-year-old Alice Hurst, her son, 63-year-old Darrel Hurst, and 69-year-old Susan Choucroun shortly before 1 pm Tuesday in a middle-class cul-de-sac occupied primarily by older residents. Howell was captured later that night as he walked along Interstate 29 on the city's north side after someone called police to report a suspicious person.


Plans for Manhattan Apartment Complex Advance

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Plans for a 722-unit apartment complex in the city of Manhattan are moving forward. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the City Commission this week approved the annexation and rezoning of 38 acres for the proposed Trails at Manhattan project. Developers plan to build the 48-building complex in two phases. The first would include 28 buildings, each with 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with a clubhouse, recreation area and parking. The remaining buildings would be constructed when the first phase was fully occupied.


Junction City Limits Drivers' Cellphone Use

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Junction City are putting drivers on notice: They'll soon be enforcing a new ordinance that limits use of cellphones by motorists. The city commission approved the law in early June. It bans motorists from talking or listening on a cellphone unless it's a hands-free device. Police Chief Tim Brown said Thursday his department has held off on enforcing the ban until the city put up signs notifying drivers of the law. The signs are now up, and Brown said police will begin enforcing the law Sept. 15. Officers will issue warnings for the first four weeks, but violators will receive tickets beginning in mid-October. Drivers will still be allowed to hold cellphones to their ears in limited circumstances, such as talking to law enforcement in emergency situations.


Sedgwick County Receives No Bids on Closed Boys Ranch

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County officials are considering their options after none of the 10 potential buyers made a bid for the closed Judge Riddel Boys Ranch. The county closed the ranch in July after unsuccessfully trying to persuade the Kansas Legislature to increase funding to the county to run it. The county last month sent out requests for groups interested in leasing the property for 10 years. The Wichita Eagle reports three groups toured the ranch last month but the county said Wednesday no one made a proposal. Assistant County Manager Ron Holt says he and other county officials will meet soon to consider what options are available for the property. The county estimated last year that the ranch needed a minimum of $2.6 million to make repairs.


Good Crops, Low Prices Mark Kansas Corn Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are now cutting bountiful fields of corn thanks to timely rains that saved their fall crops. The five round, steel grain bins at Randy Small's farm in southeast Kansas are nearly full and the local grain elevator in nearby Neodesha already has about a half million bushels of corn dumped on the ground because it is running out of storage room. And corn harvest has barely begun in Kansas. Small said Thursday he is probably going to have the best crop he has had in 10 years. A government report released this week estimated 7 percent of the corn statewide had been cut as of the end of August, with most of the harvest activity in southeast Kansas.


Missouri Trooper Faults Training in Drowning Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A trooper who was at the helm of a Missouri State Highway Patrol boat when a handcuffed Iowa man fell overboard and drowned says he lacked training to handle the situation. The Kansas City Star reports that Trooper Anthony Piercy cried Thursday during a Morgan County coroner's inquest as he recalled what happened. Witnesses have said previously that Piercy placed Brandon Ellingson in a poorly fitting Type III, ski vest style of life jacket while transporting him from the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. When Eillingson went into the water, the life jacket came off. Piercy says he thinks about what happened all the time. Ellingson grew up around West Des Moines, Iowa, and had just finished his sophomore year at Arizona State University.


Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Scheme

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Georgia man has pleaded guilty in Missouri to receiving more than $2.3 million in tax refunds from several states by using identities he stole from dead people. The U.S. Attorney's office says 40-year-old Sirhon Rivers pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud, identity theft and conspiracy. Rivers admitted receiving $547,000 in Missouri refunds using fraudulent tax returns. He used the same scheme to collect refunds from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia. Rivers obtained personal information of people who had died, then used it on state tax returns to which he added false information about employment and wages earned. Rivers faces up to 60 years in prison. His hometown in Georgia was not clear.


Lawsuit Settled in Boy's Death at Alabama Airport

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Relatives of a Kansas boy killed by a falling sign inside Birmingham's airport are settling a wrongful death lawsuit filed over the accident. The parents and four siblings of 10-year-old Luke Bresette each will receive an undisclosed amount of money from companies that were involved in designing, making and installing the sign under an agreement approved Wednesday in Jefferson County (Alabama) Circuit Court. The boy from Overland Park, Kansas, was crushed by a flight information sign that fell inside a renovated section of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in March 2013. His family was returning home from a trip to Florida. Mother Heather Bresette was seriously injured. Two younger brothers were hurt. The free-standing flight information board toppled over as the family walked by. The family sued contractors that worked on a renovation at Birmingham's airport.

Gehry Revises Design for Eisenhower Memorial in DC

WASHINGTON (AP) — Architect Frank Gehry is revising the design for a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower near the National Mall after objections have delayed the project. On Thursday, Gehry's team will propose eliminating metal tapestries on the sides of the memorial square, along with some columns. The designers are trying to win approval from the National Capital Planning Commission. The federal panel voted to reject a previous design in April. Stainless steel tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike's boyhood home are a unique piece of Gehry's design. One long tapestry would remain as a backdrop for a memorial park. The site also includes statues of Eisenhower as president and World War II general. Eisenhower Memorial Commission spokeswoman Chris Kelley Cimko says the group hopes the changes move the project forward.


Kansas Woman Dies After Being Hit by Train

LA CYGNE, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a 64-year-old woman has been fatally struck by a train. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports Linda Durk of Pleasanton was killed on Tuesday. Troopers say she was walking along a La Cygne road when the train hit her. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities are investigating the death.


Unabomber Investigator Featured at Wichita Crime Conference

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An investigator on an elite task force that captured the man known as the Unabomber will be the keynote speaker at the Wichita Crime Commission's annual awards banquet. Retired FBI agent Candace Delong was a psychiatric nurse prior to joining the agency and its behavior sciences unit. In 1995 she was one of three agents picked to hunt for the "Unabomber." Ted Kacszynki sent 16 bombs over a 17-year period, killing six people. The commission's annual awards banquet honors law enforcement, criminal justice officials and citizens whose work made the community safer. The event will be held October 23 in Wichita.


Kansas Doctor Convicted of Medicaid Fraud

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A Leavenworth physician has been convicted of defrauding the Medicaid program by billing for services he didn't perform and altering patients' records. The attorney general's office said 71-year-old Adnan Ashkar pleaded no contest Wednesday to six felony counts in Leavenworth County District Court. He will be sentenced October 22. Ashkar was ordered as part of his plea agreement to immediately pay $12,000 in restitution to Kansas Medicaid program. He will also be barred from future participation in the program. Prosecutors said the fraud went on from January 2009 to December 2013.


Feds Investigating Kansas Chemical Company

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newly unsealed search warrants show federal regulators are investigating allegations that a Kansas chemical manufacturer illegally dumped fluids in a well in violation of safe drinking water laws. But the president of Sterling, Kansas-based Jacam Chemical Company says it was treating a customer's well and is cooperating with the investigation. Search warrants made public Wednesday in federal court show the Environmental Protection Agency has been conducting surveillance on Jacam and its subsidiary Jacam Manufacturing 2013 in Lyons since December 2012. The agency is investigating whether the companies discharged liquid into an underground injection well located in rural Rice County. Investigators in May seized environmental samples along with other evidence. No charges have been filed. The company makes chemicals used in the oil and gas industry.


Salina to Lease Hangar for Bombardier Test Center

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Salina Airport Authority will lease part of an oversized hangar at its airport and make improvements that will allow the Bombardier Flight Test Center of Wichita to consolidate its operation. The board voted Tuesday to offer a two-year lease to Bombardier and make $622,703 in repairs to the hangar, a taxiway and apron. Bombardier will lease about 27,000 square feet of the 130,000-square foot hangar known as "Big Bertha" in Salina. It can house aircraft with wing spans over 200 feet and tail heights up to 58 feet. The flight test center will consolidate its operations into one building. It currently leases 10 buildings in the Salina airport industrial center. The Salina Journal reports Bombardier will pay $188,100 a year for the lease, which begins October 1.

September Call-Ups Have Purpose for KC Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — For years, the Kansas City Royals have called up players in September to get a good look at what they hoped would be their future. This year, they're calling up players for help in winning a pennant. Guys such as speedster Terrance Gore, power hitter Carlos Peguero and left-hander Brandon Finnegan are giving Royals manager Ned Yost the pieces he hopes will be able to help Kansas City to an AL Central title and its first postseason appearance since 1985. The Royals were off Thursday. They have a 1 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central as they prepare for a crucial trip through the wild card-contending Yankees and a three-game set against the Tigers.


Royals Sweep Rangers, Extend League Lead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer, Jason Vargas pitched into the seventh inning and the Kansas City Royals beat the Texas Rangers 4-1 on Wednesday night to finish off a three-game sweep. The victory along with Detroit's 7-0 loss to Cleveland allowed the Royals to extend their lead to 1 1/2 games over the Tigers in the AL Central. They are off Thursday before a road trip that takes them to New York for a three-game series versus the Yankees followed by a three-game set in Detroit.


Cozart Ready to Start for Jayhawks at Quarterback

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Charlie Weis described sophomore KU quarterback Montell Cozart this week as "confident bordering on cocky," making it clear that such a phrase was meant as a compliment. Cozart and his peers describe his attitude a little differently. He calls it swag. The quarterback will carry swag right into Saturday night's season opener against Southeast Missouri State. He won the starting job with a strong spring, and hasn't done anything to jeopardize it throughout a fall camp in which his leadership has only grown.


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