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Headlines for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kobach Foe Criticizes 'Dual' Kansas Voting System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach's opponent in the Republican primary predicts that a "dual" voting system for helping Kansas enforce a proof-of-citizenship rule will confuse voters and suppress turnout. Challenger Scott Morgan's criticism of the Kobach-designed system Tuesday came a day after the secretary of state's office began mailing notices to dozens of voters about it. The voters registered using a national form without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship to election officials. Kobach advised counties last month to set aside such voters' ballots and count only their votes in congressional races in the Aug. 5 election. Morgan called the policy baffling. But Kobach dismissed the criticism, saying maybe Morgan is confused. Most Kansas residents use a state registration form requiring them to produce citizenship papers for election officials.


Ex-US Representative Meyers Endorses GOP Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican Congresswoman Jan Meyers has formally endorsed Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's re-election, six days after being listed among GOP moderates endorsing his Democratic challenger. Brownback's campaign released a statement Monday from Meyers saying that she's pleased with Brownback's efforts to reduce the state's personal income taxes. She also said it's important for Republicans to rally around the governor. Last week, the campaign of Democratic challenger Paul Davis announced the formation of a new group called Republicans for Kansas Values and listed more than 100 names of mostly former GOP office holders who had endorsed Davis. The list included Meyers, who represented the Kansas City-area 3rd Congressional District from 1985 to 1997. But Meyers said the next day that she would never publicly endorse a Democrat.


State Receives 14,205 Concealed Carry Applications

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Attorney General's Office says the state received the second highest number of concealed carry applications in the last fiscal year. The attorney general announced in a news release Monday that more than 14,205 applications were received between July 1, 2013, and June 30 this year. The highest number of applications in one fiscal year came in last year, when 25,316 applications were received. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says more than 83,000 Kansans currently have active concealed carry permits. The state has received 90,000 applications since 2006. Thirty-six other states recognize Kansas' concealed carry permits.


Kansas Considers New Rules for No-Gun Signs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt plans to have a public hearing in September on new regulations for signs that businesses and groups must post if they want to ban guns from their premises. The hearing is set for September 17 in the building near the Kansas Statehouse that houses the attorney general's office. A state law that took effect this month makes the open carrying of guns legal across the state. But businesses and groups still can ban both concealed and unconcealed guns from their premises if they post signs. The new rules create signs for barring both concealed and unconcealed guns, allowing both, or allowing one and not the other. Schmidt's office said the hearing isn't until September to provide 60 days for public comments.


Salina Bans Open Carry in Public Buildings

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Open carry of weapons will not be allowed in city-owned buildings in Salina. The city commission voted Monday to impose the ban in public buildings currently exempt from the state's concealed carry law. The state allows concealed carry in public buildings but Salina was granted a four-year exemption from that law last year. City Manager Justin Gage said that to prohibit open carry in city-owned buildings, commissioners needed to pass a resolution directing staff to post signs on the buildings. He says the ordinance will not cost the city much money. The Salina Journal reports the City-County Building is operated by the City County Building Authority and is not subject to the resolution.


Roeland Park Defeats Sexual Orientation Ordinance

ROELAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Council members in a Kansas City suburb have voted down an effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance. The Roeland Park Council voted 4-3 Monday to reject the ordinance. KSHB-TV reports nearly 200 people packed the council's meeting and several testified before the vote. Council members have debated the language of the ordinance since February. The ordinance would have excluded churches, school districts and non-profit groups. Currently, Lawrence is the only city in Kansas that has included sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination ordinance. Kansas City, Missouri, has a similar ordinance.


Lawrence Planners Reject New Shopping Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — One of the largest shopping centers ever proposed in Lawrence has hit a roadblock. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission voted early Tuesday to recommend rejection of the project, which would add more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space in southern Lawrence near the new South Lawrence Trafficway. The commissioners' vote does not mean the proposal is dead. Developers could ask to have the Lawrence City Commission vote on it. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the North Carolina-based developers have not determined how they will respond to the commission's vote. Commissioners said before the vote that the location near two major highways was not right for the project. They would prefer it be built in northwest Lawrence near the new Rock Chalk Park sports complex.


KPR General Mgr Announces Retirement

The general manager of Kansas Public Radio and director of the Kansas Audio-Reader Network announced today (TUE) that she will retire from those positions on September 2nd. Janet Campbell began working at Audio-Reader in 1979 as a secretary; she became director of the network in 1988. She was named general manager of KANU-FM in 1998. KANU was renamed Kansas Public Radio in 2002. KPR's director of engineering, Steve Kincaid, will serve as interim director of both entities while a national search is conducted for a replacement.


Man Claims Innocence in KC Area Highway Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with 10 shootings on Kansas City-area highways says he can prove he's innocent. The Kansas City Star reports Mohammed Whitaker is basing the claim largely on one piece of evidence that tracked which cellphone towers handled calls from his phone on April 2, the day of the sixth shooting. He says if the time on the report — 5:30 pm — is correct, he could not be responsible for a shooting that day near Grandview. The records place his phone about nine miles from the shooting site just six minutes before it happened. He says he could not have covered that distance during rush hour on his way home from Overland Park, Kansas. Police and prosecutors declined to discuss the April 2 incident or Whitaker's claims.


Lawyers Quarrel over Disclosures in Wichita Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is encouraging government lawyers to review what he calls "substantial" blacked-out material given to defense attorneys for a man accused of plotting a suicide bombing at Wichita's airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot told attorneys Monday he wants to move along as rapidly as possible the case of Terry Loewen, an avionics technician jailed on terrorism-related charges. Belot gave prosecutors 30 days to respond to a defense letter outlining evidence it contends should be disclosed. Loewen was arrested December 13 after allegedly trying to bring inert explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, where he worked. He has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.


Humane Society Euthanized 4,000 Animals in 2013

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Humane Society euthanized about 4,000 animals last year but an official says the number of animals saved continues to improve. Spokeswoman Melissa Houston says the society provided services for 17,000 animals last year, with about 13,000 homeless. Of those, more than 9,000 were adopted but the other 4,000 had to be euthanized. Houston says decisions on which animals to put down are usually based on health and behavior, but some are based on space at the shelter. She says the good news is that 73 percent of the animals are being adopted, up from only 23 percent in 2003. KWCH-TV reports the organization generally has not released euthanization numbers but Houston says she hopes doing so will make the public more aware of pet overpopulation.


Sentencing Scheduled for Teen Who Killed Stepbrother

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teenager who shot and killed his 9-year-old stepbrother during an argument over doing chores will be sentenced in August. Ryan Velez, who is now 18, has spent about three years at Larned State Hospital after pleading guilty in 2011 to murdering his stepbrother, Kaden Harper. During a hearing Monday, Velez's sentencing was scheduled for August 6. The Salina Journal reports that Velez was sent to Larned for treatment after pleading guilty last September to unintentional but reckless second-degree murder. Because he was released before his sentence was complete, he was referred back to district court for sentencing. Prosecutors said Velez shot his stepbrother on June 1, 2010 at their rural Assaria home when the boys were home alone.


Body Found in Fountain at Kansas City Airport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating how a woman's body ended up in a pond connected to a fountain near the Kansas City International Airport. Kansas City police on Tuesday identified the woman as 21-year-old Husenet Yassin. Her body was found Monday afternoon during a routine check by airport security. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office determined Yassin had died not long before her body was found. A cause of death has not been determined. KCTV-TV reports that police are listing the death as suspicious because of where the body was found.


State of Missouri Delays Vote on KC Schools Accreditation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City schools will remain unaccredited for a while longer as students prepare for a new school year. The school district had offered to drop a lawsuit challenging its unaccredited status if Missouri education officials would grant it temporary provisional accreditation for the school year starting August 11. The State Board of Education took no action Tuesday, but a spokeswoman said the board would meet again on August 6, when it expects to have more data available to determine whether the district has earned provisional accreditation. The label matters because districts that are unaccredited must pay the costs of students who choose to transfer to other nearby schools. Kansas City school officials say just 24 of their nearly 16,000 students applied to transfer during the upcoming school year.


Former Kansas Teacher Convicted of Pushing Wife Off Cliff

ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) — Prosecutors and a defense attorney for a man convicted of bashing his wife's head with a rock and pushing her off a cliff say the man's sentencing will likely take place next month. A Maine jury convicted 71-year-old Charles Black of six felonies on Monday. The top charge of attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Defense attorney Walter McKee says he expects sentencing sometime in late August. Prosecutors say Black hit his then-wife Lisa Zahn on the head with a rock before pushing her off 800-foot Maiden Cliff in April 2011. Investigators say the couple had been arguing about Black spending some of Zahn's inheritance money and an affair he had. Both tumbled down the mountainside and were hospitalized for more than a week


Murder Trial Delayed in Central Kansas

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The first-degree murder trial of a central Kansas man has been delayed until the suspect undergoes a mental health evaluation. No new date has been set for the trial of Jeffery Wade Chapman after a hearing Monday on the defense motion seeking the evaluation. Chapman's attorney said in a court motion that Chapman was experiencing hallucinations while jailed in Barton County. Chapman is charged with killing 25-year-old Damon Galyardt, whose body was discovered southwest of Great Bend in November 2011. A new trial date will be set after Chapman undergoes the evaluation at Larned State Hospital's forensic unit.


Western Kansas Adjusts to Shrinking Aquifer

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — For more than seven decades, farmers and other industries have depended on the Ogallala Aquifer to provide the lifeblood of the western Kansas economy. There has been concern that irrigation and other uses have depleted the aquifer faster than it can be recharged. It's been declining each year since irrigation began in the 1940s and 1950s. The Hutchinson News reports that Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter says some areas in western Kansas already can no longer use the aquifer. Garden City farmer Rodger Funk says he attended meetings decades ago where state officials were already discussing the water problems, but few people believed them. Now, he and his son have switched to dryland farming, and he wonders what the region will look like in 50 years.


Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Almost Finished

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The 2014 Kansas wheat harvest is finally almost over. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 95 percent of the wheat is now in the bin. Usually by this late in the year, all the wheat has been cut. All the recent rains have helped the spring-planted crops in Kansas. Corn is rated as 15 percent excellent, 49 percent good and 29 percent fair. Just 7 percent got a poor or very poor rating. For sorghum, the agency reports 10 percent in excellent, 55 percent in good and 31 percent in fair condition. Just 4 percent got a poor rating. Soybeans in Kansas are doing even better with 10 percent in excellent, 57 percent in good 31 percent in fair condition. Only 2 percent got a poor mark.


Judge Dismisses Tribal Lawsuit over Wichita Casino

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought by an Oklahoma tribe seeking to build a casino on suburban Wichita land. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson dismissed the lawsuit Monday after the Interior Department earlier had notified the court that it rejected the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma application to take the Park City land into trust so the tribe can build a casino there. Robinson ruled last year the decision was up to the Interior Department, but had retained jurisdiction to ensure the federal agency processed the application in a timely manner. The tribe said Friday that the Interior Department decision gave the tribe the option to submit a new application addressing accounting issues that formed the basis for the denial.


Kansas City Woman in Hit-Man Case Dies Behind Bars

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 62-year-old Kansas City woman serving five years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband has died behind bars of apparent natural causes. Chillicothe Correctional Center announced Tuesday that inmate Dorothy Cascone died Monday night at St. Mary's Medical Center in Jefferson City. Cascone pleaded guilty in March 2011 to second-degree assault in the unsuccessful attempt to do away with George Cascone. Prosecutors said she bought life insurance on her ex-husband even though they had been divorced about 11 years. Court records indicate she asked a man to shoot her ex-husband while he was sleeping late July 4 or early July 5, 2010, because fireworks and other guns would be going off. The plan fell apart when the man contacted federal investigators.


Missouri Man Sentenced for Social Security Fraud

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City area man will spend five years in federal prison with no chance of parole for collecting his mother's Social Security payments for five years after she died. Forty-year-old Old Jeffery Schwed was sentenced Monday. He was also ordered to pay $84,137 in restitution. Federal prosecutors said Schwed had a joint bank account with his mother. He did not notify the Social Security Administration when she died and cashed some of the checks Schwed pleaded guilty in February to theft of government money.


2 Suspects Sought in Missouri Shooting

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone are investigating the shooting death of a 19-year-old man. Police say the man was found injured in the back seat of a car Monday night at the Bluffs Apartment after residents reported hearing gunshots. The man, whose name has not been released, died later at an area hospital. Gladstone police say they are searching for two suspects who were seen running from the scene. The search involves helicopter, a police dog and officers from nearby cities.


Conservative Super PAC Opposes Huelskamp in KS 1st District Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Republican super PAC seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp is spending more than $108,500 in the Republican primary race for the sprawling 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas. A filing with the Federal Elections Commission Monday shows the Now or Never PAC out of Kansas City, Missouri, is putting money into mailers and other advertising against him. Huelskamp is a tea party favorite known for his criticism of the GOP leadership in Washington. He is seeking a third two-year term. He is challenged in the GOP primary by Alan LaPolice, a Clyde farmer and educator The PAC money is the latest blow to Huelskamp's re-election bid to this agricultural district. The Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association have also refused to endorse him.


Group Joins Crowded Ad Field in Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Washington-area group backing tea party challenger Milton Wolf's bid to unseat Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is spending more than $423,000 on radio and television ads ahead of the Republican primary. The ads from a political action committee tied to the Senate Conservatives Fund also are mixing with the candidates' own statewide spots. Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli said Monday that Wolf remains the underdog against three-term incumbent Roberts but the fund believes Wolf can win. Wolf is broadcasting his own television ad, noting that the senator's official residence in Dodge City is rental space in a home owned by supporters. The conservative group's ad hits similar themes. Roberts's campaign began a television ad last week blasting Wolf for repeatedly not voting in local elections and state primaries.


Vandal Spills 188 Barrels of Oil in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Central Kansas authorities are looking for whoever opened the valves on an oil lease stock tank over the weekend and caused 188 barrels of oil to spill to the ground. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir says the spill, which occurred between 1 pm Friday and 8:25 am Saturday, resulted in a loss of more than $12,000. The sheriff called the vandalism in rural Barton County a senseless act and urges anyone with information about the case to contact Crime Stoppers.


Wichita Chiropractor Admits Medicare Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita chiropractor has admitted he defrauded health care programs out of $1.3 million. Thirty-three-year-old Jeffrey Fenn pleaded guilty Monday to one count of health care fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of tax evasion. A grand jury had indicted Fenn on 22 counts in October. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Fenn submitted false claims to Medicare, two insurance companies and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program through his businesses, Wichita Health and Wellness, Fenn Chiropractic and Wichita Pain Associates. Sentencing was scheduled for October 20. Attorneys for both sides have agreed to recommend a sentence of five years and restitution of more than $1.8 million.


Big 12 Assigns 1st Female Football Official

DALLAS (AP) — The Big 12 Conference has assigned a female official to work one of its games for the first time in league history. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday that Catherine "Cat" Conti will be on the crew for the University of Kansas Jayhawks' season opener at home September 6 against Southeast Missouri State. While calling this a good opportunity for Conti and the league, Bowlsby says Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson assigned Conti "because she is just a darned good official." Bowlsby says Conti, a Southland Conference official, has paid her dues. KU coach Charlie Weis jokingly said he'll try not to use as many curse words as usual during the game.


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