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Headlines for Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Group of Kansas Republicans Back Davis in Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger and more than 100 other Republicans are endorsing the presumed Democratic nominee for governor. Democratic challenger Paul Davis had a news conference Tuesday to announce the formation of Republicans for Kansas Values. The list of participating Republicans was led by Praeger, who has clashed with Governor Sam Brownback on health care policy. But the list of founding members also includes three former Kansas Senate presidents and three former state House speakers, as well as former Congresswoman Jan Meyers. The Kansas Republican Party immediately responded with a tweet noting that Kansas has more than 700,000 Republicans.


Slip at Rally Prompts Kansas Senator's Quip

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A slip by a Kansas Republican Party official in introducing U.S. Senator Pat Roberts at a political rally prompted the senator to jokingly describe the chamber as an "assisted living home." Roberts participated Monday in a rally for Governor Sam Brownback at a car dealership in Olathe. In introducing Roberts, Johnson County GOP Chairman Ronnie Metsker inadvertently referred to Roberts as the state's "senior citizen." Metsker caught himself and corrected the phrase to "senior senator," but the mistake broke up the crowd and the dignitaries. When Roberts had the podium for his own remarks, he joked, "Well, they don't call the Senate the assisted living home for nothing." The 78-year-old, three-term senator is facing a spirited challenge in the August 5 Republican primary from 43--year-old Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf.


Roberts Outraises Wolf in US Senate Race in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts has maintained his big fundraising advantage over tea party challenger Milton Wolf in their Republican primary race. Roberts's re-election campaign disclosed Tuesday it had raised nearly $797,000 in cash contributions from April through June. Wolf's campaign reported raising almost $341,000. The three-term incumbent began the quarter with nearly $2.25 million in cash on hand, and his campaign spent more than $1.05 million during the period. Wolf spent a little less than $340,000. Summaries of their campaigns' most recent reports for federal regulators show Roberts had more than $2.05 million in cash on hand at the end of June, compared with $280,000 for Wolf. Roberts's re-election campaign has spent more than $2.13 million since the beginning of last year. Wolf has spent $649,000 total.


Tea Party Group Backs Wolf in Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national tea party group is backing challenger Milton Wolf's bid to unseat Kansas Senator Pat Roberts in the state's Republican primary. The Atlanta-based Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund announced Tuesday that it has endorsed Wolf. The group described Wolf as the right conservative candidate to fight Democratic President Barack Obama's agenda in Washington. Spokesman Kevin Broughton said the group is looking for more than a solid vote against Obama's policies. Roberts is seeking his third, six-year term in the Senate. Wolf has made the senator's longevity in politics an issue, and Roberts began working as a congressional aide in 1967. Roberts's executive campaign manager Leroy Towns declined to respond to the group's endorsement of Wolf. Wolf also has the backing of another national group, the Tea Party Express.


Hospital Group Airing Ads in Kansas for Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Hospital Association has disclosed spending $212,000 on television advertisements praising Kansas Senator Pat Roberts as he faces tea party challenger Milton Wolf in the state's August 5 primary. The association disclosed the spending in a report filed last week with federal regulators, with the bulk of the money buying advertising time. An association spokeswoman did not immediately return telephone and email messages. Roberts's re-election campaign said the ads began airing statewide last week. The ads say Roberts is a leader on protecting rural health care. Wolf's campaign said the association is a special-interest group that is part of what it called "an incumbent-protection racket" in Washington. Roberts's campaign said the ads show Wolf doesn't have the backing of medical groups even though he is a Leawood radiologist.


Kansas House Candidate Cited for Open Container Violation

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House of Representatives candidate has been arrested for having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. Burlington Police Chief Doug Jones says Jeff Freeman, a Republican running against incumbent state Representative Peggy Mast of Emporia in the August 5 primary, was booked into the Coffey County jail Sunday on suspicion of having an open container of alcohol in his car. Jones says Freeman was also cited for not having proof of insurance. He says Freeman passed a field sobriety test and posted bond of about $350. Freeman's scheduled for an August 14 court appearance. The Emporia Gazette reports Freeman is on probation in Fairfax County, Virginia, after pleading guilty in 2013 to disorderly conduct. Freeman didn't return calls seeking comment Tuesday. It's unclear if he has a lawyer.


Kansas Lawmakers Worry About Teacher Fingerprinting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee is asking the state's education department to reconsider a plan to fingerprint public school teachers. During a committee meeting Monday, Representative Jim Ward said he was concerned that the proposal would violate the privacy rights of the 33,000 longtime teachers who would be fingerprinted. He also objected to a plan to require the teachers to pay $50 for the fingerprinting. Education department attorney Scott Gordon said the state wants to take advantage of new legal software that would notify the department when the fingerprinting shows a teacher had been arrested. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports some committee members supported the fingerprinting as a way to protect students. The state is not required to follow the committee's recommendation that the fingerprinting be reconsidered.


Political Groups Putting Big Money in Kansas Congressional Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Political groups are playing an outsized role in the congressional race for south-central Kansas. Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show former congressman Todd Tiahrt has raised nearly $125,000 since announcing in late May that he would challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo for the 4th District House seat. As the incumbent, Pompeo had more than $2.1 million in campaign cash at the time. Pompeo has not released his latest finance report. But candidate finance reports only show part of the money spent on the race. On Tuesday, Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity began airing the first of more than $409,000 worth of television and radio ads praising Pompeo. A super PAC calling itself Kansans for Responsible Government has spent more than $162,000 in ads favoring Tiahrt in the 4th District race.


BNSF Contractor Dies in Grain Car Mishap

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, officials say a contractor for BNSF Railway died after he fell into a train car full of grain. Fire department officials say 48-year-old James Breedlove died in the accident Monday at railroad yards in Kansas City, Kansas. Authorities did not release his hometown. Fire department deputy chief Craig Duke says Breedlove fell into the train car while grain was being transferred from the car to a semi-trailer truck. KCTV5 reports that when firefighters arrived, rail crews were trying to remove the grain from the train car. They found Breedlove's body near the bottom of the car. No other injuries were reported.


Former KS Police Chief Enters Alford Pleas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former police chief of a southeast Kansas city has entered Alford pleas to four felonies. Former Independence Police Chief Kenneth Parker entered Alford pleas Tuesday to perjury, official misconduct, misuse of public funds and theft of property valued at more than $25,000. An Alford plea means Parker doesn't admit to the crime but acknowledges prosecutors likely can prove the charge. He entered the pleas in Montgomery County court, but the case was handled by a Shawnee County deputy district attorney after the Montgomery County attorney and his staff recused themselves. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Parker, who resigned as chief in 2011, was accused of stealing ammunition, firearms, cash and other property from the city. Parker was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.


Sedgwick County Reports 2 More Measles Cases

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say two more cases of measles have been reported in Sedgwick County, bringing the total number of measles cases in Kansas this year to 11. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a release Tuesday that one of the new Sedgwick County cases was in an infant too young to be vaccinated and one was an adult. Both cases are linked to other recently reported cases. KDHE says there have been eight cases reported in Sedgwick County and three in Johnson County this year. Measles cases have been rare in the U.S. since indigenous measles were declared eliminated in the country in 2000. KDHE says there has been a resurgence in cases this year, with more than 566 confirmed cases reported in 20 states through July 11.


Mother Dies from Injuries in House Explosion

PLYMELL, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas woman has died from injuries she suffered in a house explosion that also claimed her two sons. KWCH-TV reports Via Christi Hospital in Wichita confirmed Tuesday Kelly Unruh has died. She was injured when her family's home in Plymell, near Garden City, exploded on June 28. Her 17-year-old son, Spencer, died in the blast. And 14-year-old Ryan Unruh died July 9. Garden City Fire Chief Allen Shelton has said the explosion was caused by a concentration of natural gas in the home. The explosion is being investigated as an accident. An Unruh Family Memorial fund has been established at Price and Sons Funeral Home of Garden City.


Feds to States: Clear Medicaid Backlog

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Kansas and five other states states with Medicaid backlogs are facing a federal deadline to create a plan for getting those low-income residents enrolled in health coverage. The request comes months after the first national sign-up drive under President Barack Obama's health reform law. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent letters last month to Alaska, California, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee asking those states to address gaps in their eligibility and enrollment systems that have delayed access to coverage for the poor and disabled people. the letters said the states had until Monday to respond. Officials from California, Alaska and Michigan say they are working on their plans.


Google Appoints Ford Ex-CEO Mulally to Board

NEW YORK (AP) — Google says it has appointed Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor Company, to its board. Mulally, 68, retired from Ford at the end of June. Over the winter, he was rumored to be in the running for the top job at Microsoft Corporation, but it went to an internal candidate. Google said Mulally's appointment was effective July 9. He will serve on the company's audit committee. Mulally, who also worked for Boeing, is the only director with a background in traditional manufacturing on Google's board. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1968.


Accidentally-Released Inmate Back in Custody

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an inmate who was mistakenly released from the Sedgwick County jail has been recaptured. The county sheriff's office says 33-year-old Chad Engel was arrested Friday at Kanopolis Lake. He was arrested by Ellsworth County authorities after a tip to the McPherson County Crime Stoppers. Further details about the arrest were not released. The Sedgwick County sheriff's office said Engel was released from its jail on traffic charges on Tuesday and was waiting to be taken to McPherson County. A detention official who thought Engel was being released escorted him out of the building. The deputy who made the mistake was reprimanded.


Missouri Governor Vetoes Teacher Gun Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation allowing specially trained teachers to carry concealed guns in public schools. The Democratic governor said Monday that the legislation would have jeopardized student safety. But supporters said it would have helped protect students from armed intruders. Missouri's Republican-led Legislature began considering the legislation after the deadly 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The legislation would have allowed public school districts to designate certain teachers or administrators as "school protection officers," who would undergo special training to carry concealed weapons. State lawmakers would need a two-thirds majority in each chamber to override Nixon's veto. The bill met that mark when it originally passed the House. It fell two votes short in the Senate, but three Republican senators were absent.


K-State Sets Record with $211 Million in Donations

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University says it received $212 million in gifts and commitments for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The university said in a news release Monday that the total broke last year's record of $152 million. It also was the first time in the 70-year history of the Kansas State University Foundation that giving surpassed $200 million. The donations include $89 million in endowed funds, which are primarily used for student scholarships, faculty chairs and professorships. University president Kirk Schulz said in the statement the record amount of endowed funds would help the school become a Top 50 public research university by 2025. The statement says 63 percent of the $211 million is available for immediate use, with the rest in pledges and deferred gifts.


Most Kansas Farmers Finished with Wheat Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Most Kansas farmers are now finished with this year's winter wheat harvest. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 90 percent of wheat has been cut. That is behind the 96 percent that would be normal for this late in the season. Some farmers who sprayed herbicides to kill weeds infestations are waiting for the weeds to die before finishing the harvest. The agency's weekly snapshot rated corn condition in the state as 8 percent poor to very poor, 30 percent fair, 49 percent good and 13 percent excellent. Sorghum condition was rated as 5 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 55 percent good and 9 percent excellent. Soybeans are also doing well in Kansas with the latest update showing only 3 percent in poor or very poor condition.


Missouri Governor Approves Cannabis Extract Law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missourians with epilepsy that cannot be effectively treated by conventional means will now be able to use a cannabis extract under legislation signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon. The legislation was sponsored by St. Louis County Republican Eric Schmitt, a state senator whose 9-year-old son has the central nervous system disorder. Patients wanting to use marijuana oil containing the chemical cannabidiol will be required to register with the state health department and also have a neurologist vouch that the patient's epilepsy hasn't responded to at least three other treatments. The extract known as CBD contains little of the related marijuana compounds favored by recreational users. In a separate action, Nixon also signed legislation allowing terminally ill patients to use investigational drugs not yet approved by the federal government.


Kansas Board of Pharmacy to Track Cough Syrup Ingredient

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Pharmacy wants an ingredient used in prescription cough syrup to be tracked by the state because it's being abused. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Debra Billingsley, executive secretary of the board of pharmacy, told lawmakers Monday that promethazine with codeine syrup is being increasingly abused as a recreational drug, particularly by high school students. She says when it's mixed with soda or candy the mixture is often called by several slang names, including purple drank and sizzurp. If it's added to the Kansas Tracking and Reporting of Controlled Substances program, promethazine with codeine would join dozens of substances that pharmacists track and law enforcement can access with a search warrant. Billingsley says officials recommended tracking the substance because of how quickly the mixture is selling.


Hispanic Population Behind Boom in Kansas School Enrollment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says increased enrollment in Kansas schools is being driven by births in the Hispanic population. The report by the Kansas Association of School Boards predicts that within five years, Kansas public school enrollment will reach 500,000 for the first time since 1970. The report's author, Ted Carter, says most of the increase is because of births among Hispanics, not migration into the state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports total student enrollment has been growing steadily since the 2006-2007 school year. But without the growth among Hispanics, total enrollment would have been declining since the late 1990s. Carter estimates that in five years, Hispanics will make up 22 percent of the total student body in Kansas, an increase from less than 5 percent in the early 1990s.


Sheriff: Teen in Fatal Kansas Crash Admitted Taking LSD

BENTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff says a teenager who was driving the wrong way in a collision that killed him and two women had told a deputy hours earlier he had taken the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet tells The Wichita Eagle deputies didn't have grounds to arrest 16-year-old Dominic Stolfi when they responded to a disturbance call at a home near Benton at 2:40 a.m. Sunday and learned Dominic and a 16-year-old friend had taken the drug. That friend was taken to a hospital by ambulance while Dominic's father took him home. Herzet says Dominic later found the keys to the family's Ford Explorer and crashed head-on at 6 a.m. into a car on K-254, killing himself and two Potwin women, Lisa Hardy and Nancy Ross.


2 Dead in Wichita Motorcycle Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two people died when the stolen motorcycle they were riding collided with a vehicle. Police identified the dead on Monday as Matthew K. Tanges and Angela M. Watson, both 26. Wichita police Lt. Todd Ojile said a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy was following the motorcycle late Sunday but was not actively pursuing it. The speeding motorcycle ran a stop sign and a light before hitting the vehicle. Tanges and Watson were thrown off the motorcycle and later died at a Wichita hospital. The driver of the car was not injured. Ojile says the motorcycle was stolen last week. The Wichita Eagle reports Department of Corrections records indicate Tanges was convicted of fleeing/attempting to elude law enforcement three times since 2006.


Former Neosho County Bank Employee Sentenced for Embezzlement

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Neosho County woman has been sentenced to about a year in federal prison for embezzling more than $278,000 from a bank branch and two customers. The office of U.S. Attorney for Kansas said in a release Monday that Sherrie Landell of Erie, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a bank employee and admitted that from September 2007 to May 2013 she embezzled from Exchange State Bank. She worked at the bank's branch in St. Paul, Kansas. Landell's also accused of fraudulently altering the bank's records to conceal the crime. The prosecutor's office says the shortage was discovered during a bank regulatory exam and subsequent audit in 2013.


Salina Assault Suspect Found in Dog Crate

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police responding to a reported assault found the suspect hiding in a dog kennel. olice say a woman called 911 on Sunday to report that a 28-year-old man in the home had assaulted and threatened her and would not let her leave. She said she cut the man with a knife when she was resisting the attack. KSAL reports when officers arrived at the house, they found the man hiding in a dog kennel. Neither the man nor woman needed to be hospitalized. Police Cpt. Mike Sweeney said the man also threatened and fought with officers, and caused minor damage to a patrol car. The suspect is facing charges of aggravated assault, criminal threat, obstruction, criminal restraint and damage of property.


Victim Identified in KCK Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a 53-year-old woman who died in a recent house fire. Police on Monday said Carole Young died at a hospital after firefighters found her Thursday night inside the burning home. The Kansas City Star reports that fire officials haven't said how the fire started. The blaze caused about $35,000 in damage to the house and its contents.



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