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Headlines for Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Only 1 Federally Registered Voter Cast Ballot in KS Dual System

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One voter. That's the total number of Kansans who registered using the federal voter form without proof of citizenship and actually cast a ballot in the August 5 primaries under a dual election system. Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Tuesday that of the 180 Kansans who used the federal registration form without providing documentation, only one of them voted — in Johnson County. Under the state's dual system, only their votes cast in the federal races would be counted. Kobach's office is still calculating how many of the more than 18,000 people whose state registrations are on hold voted in the primary using provisional ballots, but Kobach says it appears to be only a handful tried voting. All of their provisional votes would have been discarded.


Appeals Court Questions Proof-of-Citizenship Rules

DENVER (AP) -- A federal appeals panel in Denver has suggested that a partisan stalemate in Congress may mean that Republicans in Kansas and Arizona will be unable to force federal election officials to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on voter registration forms. Those two states sued the Elections Assistance Commission after the agency refused to adjust the federal voting registration forms to reflect those states' requirements that voters prove they are citizens. A lower court found the commission needed to include the more stringent state language. But a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted Monday that Congress has not approved a single commissioner to sit on the commission in three years. The judges were skeptical the agency could decide whether to change the federal form, one way or the other, without any commissioners. That would leave Kansas and Arizona without a formal decision to challenge in court.


Brownback Blasts Davis on Education Funding Vote

MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) _ Incumbent Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says his Democratic challenger's opposition to a school funding bill this year shows that Paul Davis isn't the right person to lead the state. Davis responded on Monday that he voted against the education bill, which included an additional $129 million in school funding, because it also tied the new money to a measure eliminating some job protection rights for teachers. The Kansas City Star reports Brownback's comments came after an event in Merriam where he announced new educational goals for his second term. Davis pointed out that many moderate Republican lawmakers also opposed the bill because of the job protection issue. Brownback says local school districts are free to implement their own appeals process for teachers to replace the one the state eliminated.

Fire Damages Fraternity House in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Members of a fraternity at the University of Kansas are moving back into their chapter house after a minor fire. 6NewsLawrence reports Lawrence-Douglas County firefighters were called to the Sigma Chi house around 11:30 am Tuesday on a report of smoke coming from the third floor. The fire was under control at 12:30 pm and was contained to an area that houses bedrooms and a bathroom. The university said the 74 residents of the house were able to move back in by Tuesday evening. Four were moving to other rooms in the house. The Sigma Chi house was also damaged in August 2012 in an accidental fire caused by construction.


Suspect Charged in Death of Kansas State Student

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the November 2013 death of a Kansas State University student. Riley County police say 21-year-old Gregory Haug Jr. was arrested Saturday and is charged in the death of 18-year-old freshman Jordan Forbit. KMAN reports that Forbit, of Elkhart, was found dead on November 20 inside a vehicle parked in a campus lot outside the Derby residential complex in Manhattan. Forbit was a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Further details about what led to Haug's arrest in the case were not released.


Report Finds Schools Not Misusing Reduced-Price Meal Data

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A report by a Kansas school board association finds the increase in children receiving free or reduced-price meals is tied to poverty rates and isn't a ploy to boost school funding. Over the past 15 years, the number of students eligible for the meals had swelled from 33 to 50 percent. The number of students who qualify for free meals factors into the state's school finance formula. School districts receive more money for students from low-income households. It's based on the idea that schools in impoverished areas have a higher need. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports state lawmakers have raised questions about why there's an increase in students eligible for the meals and whether the growth in applications is linked to schools misusing the formula to get more funding.


Town Stops Using Gas Chamber to Euthanize Animals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas now has only three shelters that use gas chambers to euthanize animals after a fourth shut its chamber down earlier this month. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Eureka unplugged its chamber a few days after the newspaper published a story about the ongoing practice in the state. The city's administrator says switching to a different way to euthanize animals had been a goal for quite a while. Nationwide only about 50 shelters and pounds still use gas chambers. Of the three Kansas communities that still operate gas chambers, one hasn't used its chamber since last year, one didn't respond to interview requests and the other is looking into alternatives only because it anticipates state law changes that would make it impractical to continue using its chamber.


Fatal Fireworks Explosion Ruled Accidental

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The state fire marshal says an explosion that killed a worker at a southeast Kansas fireworks company has been ruled accidental. The blast happened August 12 at a Pittsburg warehouse owned by Jake's Fireworks. Two employees were unloading a shipping container of fireworks to move them to the company's new headquarters when the explosion occurred. An investigator from the Kansas fire marshal's office told The Joplin Globe on Tuesday the explosion has been traced to debris around a forklift the men were using. Twenty-eight-year-old Kenny Clark died several hours later at a hospital in Joplin, Missouri. The other employee also suffered severe burns.


Former City Technology Chief Faces Federal Charges

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former suburban Kansas City technology director has been charged in federal court with selling nearly $100,000 in city-purchased electronic devices on an internet auction site. The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City, Kansas, says 44-year-old Andrew Davey of Overland Park appeared in court Monday on five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft. Prosecutors say Davey was Lenexa's technology director when he used city funds to purchase electronics and then sell them on eBay for a total of roughly $98,000. Davey could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each wire fraud count and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the theft charge. His attorneys weren't available Tuesday afternoon for comment.


New Sentencing Hearing in KC Firefighters' Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a man serving a life sentence for his role in a 1988 explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan on Monday set aside Bryan Sheppard's life sentence. The judge told attorneys to submit new sentencing memos to him by September 26. Sheppard, who was 17 at the time of the explosion, was one of five people convicted in the firefighters' deaths. They all have maintained their innocence. The Kansas City Star reports Sheppard argued he deserved a new sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life without parole sentences for people under 18 at the time of their crimes were unconstitutional.


Father of Slain Ottawa Man Describes Police Shooting

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) - The foster father of an 18-year-old man killed by Kansas officers says his son was approaching authorities when he was fatally shot. William Bruton tells KAKE-TV that Joseph Jennings was shot in his chest and legs Saturday night. Witness Houston Harris says officers had their weapons drawn and told Jennings to "get down." Ottawa police say officers and deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of someone with a gun in a hardware store parking lot. It's unclear if Jennings was armed. Jennings's aunt previously said he suffered from depression and likely antagonized police in an effort to get them to shoot him. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting. The officers have been placed on administrative leave.


KC Man Charged with Aiming Laser at Helicopter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 24-year-old Kansas City man is facing a federal charge accusing him of aiming a laser pointer at a Kansas City Police Department helicopter last fall. The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City says Jordan Clarence Rogers was charged in a federal grand jury indictment on Tuesday. Prosecutors say he aimed the beam of a laser pointer at the helicopter on October 8. It was unclear Tuesday afternoon whether Rogers had obtained an attorney.


Wichita Man Dies at Santa Fe Lake

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — A 47-year-old Wichita man who was pulled from a Kansas lake after going under while swimming has died. The Wichita Eagle reports Tinajera Campos was swimming with friends at Santa Fe Lake near Augusta Sunday night when he started to gag. Campos was being taken to the shore of the lake's swimming area when authorities arrived and began lifesaving efforts. He was taken to Kansas Medical Center in Andover, where he was later pronounced dead. Witnesses reported Campos was underwater for about four minutes. Augusta Police Chief Tyler Brewer says an autopsy was conducted Monday to confirm the cause of death, which has not been released.


Explosion Levels Western Missouri Home

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Investigators are focusing on natural gas as the possible cause of an explosion that leveled a house in western Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that the blast in Independence early Tuesday afternoon was felt two miles away. No injuries were reported. All three members of the family that has occupied the three-bedroom home since 1971 were away at the time. Videos from television news helicopters showed the walls flattened and the roof collapsed, with only the chimney still standing. Neighbors reported smelling natural gas after the explosion, but the homeowner said there had been no odor of gas about 90 minutes before the blast. Two firefighters were taken to a hospital as a precaution to be treated for heat exhaustion.


Topeka Bike Ride to Honor Cyclist

TOPEKA, Kan. - Bicycle enthusiasts are organizing a ride to honor the late Cal Melick who was sturck by a pickup truck and killed August 13 while riding his bicycle near Clinton Lake west of Lawrence. Friends remember him as an accomplished lifelong cycling enthusiast and a dedicated librarian at Washburn University. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kaw Valley Bicycle Club is sponsoring a 10-mile memorial ride beginning Saturday morning near the Washburn campus in Topeka. Friends will hold a brief memorial ceremony before the ride. Melick was 66.


Marijuana Plants Seized in Kansas Operation 

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) -- Authorities in southeast Kansas say they've broken up a large marijuana-growing operation. On Tuesday, Greenwood County sheriff's deputies seized more than 1700 marijuana plants from a field in the south-central part of the county. Two people were arrested, and the investigation is still going on. Personnel from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Highway Patrol and the state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism took part in the seizure. 


Kansas Wheat Farmers Prepare for Fall Seeding

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government agricultural snapshot notes that Kansas farmers have been busy preparing wheat fields for fall seeding. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that while northern tier counties got the most rain last week, spotty rains in the southern half have left some farms dry. Pastures and crops missed by recent rains are stressed amid warmer-than-normal temperatures across the state. About 13 percent of the corn crops in Kansas have now matured. The agency rates corn conditions as 16 percent poor to very poor, 30 percent fair, 42 percent good and 12 percent excellent. Thirteen percent of both the sorghum and soybean crops in Kansas are rated in poor to very poor condition. Twenty-five percent of pastures and ranges are also in poor to very poor shape.


Police: Kansas Woman Steals Van After Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say a woman involved in a car crash that injured three people stole the van of a Good Samaritan who stopped to help. Sgt. Bob Gulliver says a truck hit a car and caused it to roll over. Two people were pinned in the wreckage. He says the truck driver stole the van and left the scene. She was arrested after crashing the van. A 7-year-old boy and a 32-year-old woman were hospitalized. Their conditions are unclear. Police say a third person suffered minor injuries. They say they're investigating why the woman stole the van.


Small Kansas College Faces Student Housing Shortage

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) - A small south-central Kansas college is housing some students in a hotel to deal with a big increase in student enrollment. Bethany College, a private college in Lindsborg, currently has 730 students, up 10 percent over last year. That follows a 9 percent increase in enrollment last year. The college booked all the rooms in a local motel, the Coronado, to house students. President Ed Leonard says the college plans to replace a closed two-story dormitory with a new three-story 225-bed residence hall, and other dorms will be remodeled. He says those projects should meet housing demand when the work is done. Most of the students at the motel are upperclassmen and athletes. Construction on the new dormitory is expected to begin soon.


Pet Food Company Plans Expansion in St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A St. Joseph company that supplies ingredients to pet food companies is planning a new plant. Protein LLC is investing $11.6 million in the project on 9.5 acres in an industrial area. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce said in a news release Monday that site preparation work has begun for the project. The Kansas City Star reports the land was provided to the company by the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority and Buchanan County. Protein LLC also will receive at least a 50 percent real property tax abatement on improvements it makes and additional incentives are possible. Protein LLC currently employs 50 people and plans to add 20 full-time jobs when the plant opens.


Golf Tourney Renamed for Wichita Investigator

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita Crime Commission is renaming its golf tournament for a Wichita homicide investigator best known for breaking the BTK serial killer case. The group said Monday it would rename its tournament after the late police Lieutenant Ken Landwehr, who loved golf. Landwehr retired in 2012 after a 35-year career with the Wichita Police Department. He died in January. Crime Commission Director Gordon Bassham says in a news release that the tournament will now be known as the Ken Landwehr Make Good Choices Golf Tournament. Bassham says Landwehr was a big believer in the commission's youth-focused crime prevention projects. The program arranges field trips for high school students to prisons where inmates talk to them about how their incarceration began with making bad life decisions.


Robbers Shoot at Wichita Victim in Chase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police have arrested four men who they say robbed a home and shot at the homeowner who pursued them in a car chase. Lieutenant Todd Ojile says two robbers held the 30-year-old man at gunpoint while they ransacked his bedroom. They took items including a coin collection and fled in an SUV with two others. Ojile says the homeowner got into his car and chased the SUV for several miles. He says the robbers used a handgun and shotgun to shoot at the victim's vehicle. Police joined the chase and eventually apprehended the men and recovered the goods. They were jailed on charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping. Their names haven't been released.


New State Park Opens Near Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - After a decade of planning, a new state park northeast of Hutchinson opened its campground this week. Sand Hills State Park offers camping, pens or corrals for horses, and picnic areas. The Hutchinson News reports the reservation system for the park is not yet ready but is expected to be operating by Thursday. Ryan Stucky, regional superintendent for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, encouraged those wanting to camp at the park to wait until after the reservation system is ready at . Sand Hills State Park campers will need the regular state park vehicle permit. An official ribbon-cutting is scheduled for September 11.


Recall Effort Fails at Cowley College

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The coordinator of a petition drive seeking to recall two Cowley College Board of Trustees members says supporters were not able to gather enough signatures to put the issue to a vote. Matt Nies told Cowley County Clerk Karen Madison that only 650 people had signed the petition as of last week, and it appeared that the drive would fall short. The deadline to submit petitions is Wednesday. The group needed 938 signatures to recall trustee Ron Godsey and 1,105 for board chairman Dennis Shurtz. The Arkansas City Traveler reports recall organizers accused the board of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act while discussing elimination of the men's and women's soccer programs. The sports were dropped but later revived after a public outcry prompted the college's president to resign.


Kansas Man Killed by Falling Tree Branch

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man has died after being hit by a tree branch while putting out a small fire caused by lightning. Radio station KVOE reports that the accident happened in rural Emporia around 9:30 am Monday. Lyon County Sheriff Jeff Cope says 49-year-old Gary Fuller and 86-year-old Kenny Fuller were both hit by a large branch that fell from about 30 feet up. Gary Fuller suffered critical injuries and was pronounced dead at Newman Regional Hospital. The sheriff says lightning had set fire to grass around the tree. The men were pouring water on the grass when a gust of wind sent the branch crashing down.


Tests Requested on Trailer Involved in Fatal Crash

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Great Bend want to know why a trailer that killed a Hutchinson couple on a motorcycle came loose from the truck that was pulling it. The Wichita Eagle reports that the ball and hitch being used in pulling the trailer will be sent to a lab for special testing. Reno County jail deputy Shawn Schellenger and his wife, Danielle, died August 16 when the 6-by-12-foot trailer detached from the pickup truck and hit their motorcycle just outside Great Bend. The trailer was hauling a lawn mower. Great Bend police Lieutenant Bill Browne told The Eagle investigators want to see the wear and tear on the ball and hitch. Browne says the Barton County prosecutor requested more follow-up in a meeting last week.


Chiefs' Smith Remains Unconcerned About Contract

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said Tuesday that he has not given any thought to breaking off negotiations on a long-term contract, though that remains a distinct possibility with the start of the regular season just a week away. Smith said earlier in training camp that he wanted to end discussions of a new deal by the time the games count. That happens Sept. 7, when Kansas City opens its season against Tennessee. Smith is in the final year of the three-year contract he signed with San Francisco, and is due to make $8 million this season. His agent has been speaking to the Chiefs for several months, but the two sides have not been close to an agreement.


Jayhawks' Reagan Hired by Weis to Replace...Weis

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — John Reagan has what could be the most uncomfortable job in major college football: He's the offensive coordinator at the University of Kansas, hired by coach Charlie Weis to replace — Charlie Weis. Weis had a chance to see what Reagan could do firsthand the past couple of seasons, when his Rice offenses helped engineer two wins over the Jayhawks. So when Weis decided after last season that he wanted to hire an offensive coordinator and spend more time overseeing the entire program, he reached out to the up-and-coming coach with the Kansas ties. Reagan was an assistant for the Jayhawks under Mark Mangino from 2005-09. Whether the change pays off remains to be seen. KU opens its season September 6 against Southeast Missouri State.


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