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Headlines for Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kansas Governor Won't Be Present for Budget Announcement 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback doesn't plan to be present when his administration outlines $50 million in spending cuts to help Kansas avert a budget deficit. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley confirmed Tuesday that the governor won't be in his office. Budget director Shawn Sullivan will outline the cuts during a news conference planned for Friday. Hawley declined to discuss the governor's planned whereabouts. Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka called Brownback's not being present "a cowardly way out." GOP legislators counted on Brownback's administration making the cuts under a plan to balance the state's $15.4 billion budget that also increased sales and cigarette taxes this month. The state's budget problems arose after lawmakers cut income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy.


Top Democrat in Kansas House Apologizes to Caucus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top Democrat in the Kansas House has apologized to fellow Democrats and asked how he can improve next session. The Wichita Eagle reports House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, of Kansas City, wrote his 28-member caucus after the longest session in the state's history. Burroughs was in his first year as minority leader last session. Burroughs sometimes irked elements of the Kansas Democratic Party who wanted him to take a stronger stance against Governor Sam Brownback and majority Republicans. In the letter, which was obtained by The Eagle, Burroughs says he apologizes if he "fell short of your expectations." He says he's committed to continued improvement and welcomes feedback. He also promises to meet with House Democrats in the coming months to set policy goals for the next session.


Kansas Reviewing Foster Care Policies; Advocates Uneasy 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are reviewing its foster care policies, sparking concerns among some advocates that the state will stop placing abused and neglected children with gays, lesbians and straight, single individuals. But spokeswoman Theresa Freed said Tuesday that the state Department for Children and Families review will be broad and cover more than who should serve as foster parents. She says the agency isn't presuming policies need to be changed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Douglas County District Judge Peggy Carr Kittel sent a letter last week to a regional DCF official. She asked whether the agency intends to allow only married couples to serve as foster parents. The gay-rights group Equality Kansas also has concerns. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback strongly supported the state's past gay-marriage ban.


Kansas GOP, Democrats Plan Early March Presidential Caucuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Both Republicans and Democrats in Kansas hope that holding caucuses on March 5 will lure serious contenders for their parties' 2016 presidential nominations to campaign the state. Each party's executive director said Monday that it picked a Saturday for its contest to lessen the chances that prospective voters would have to miss work to participate. The date also is four days after Super Tuesday, when a dozen states are expected to have caucuses or primaries. Each state party plans to use the caucus results to allocate delegates to its national nominating convention among its presidential candidates. Kansas has 40 delegates to the Republican convention and 37 to the Democratic convention. 


Kansan Stepping Down as Chief of Federal Appeals Panel 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence resident has announced plans to step down as chief judge of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mary Beck Briscoe announced Monday she'll leave her position as chief judge of the federal appeals court effective September 30. An official with the 10th Circuit said, although Briscoe is stepping down as chief judge, she'll remain an active judge on the circuit. Timothy M. Tymkovich, of Denver, will succeed her as chief judge. President Bill Clinton appointed Briscoe to the court in 1995. She became chief judge of the 10th Circuit in 2010. The 10th Circuit, which sits in Denver, has jurisdiction over federal district courts in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.


Panel Faults Kansas Mental Health System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A special state task force says treatment options for the mentally ill in Kansas are lacking because the state's two acute care psychiatric hospitals don't have enough space and smaller mental health facilities are underfunded. The Adult Continuum of Care Committee says in a new report that the state's psychiatric hospitals in Larned and Osawatomie don't have enough bed space to treat people who need their services and smaller mental health facilities are underfunded and overworked. The Kansas City Star reports that the committee says the result is an "inadequate safety net" that jeopardizes the well-being of the mentally ill and "puts communities at risk."  The committee comprised largely of mental health professionals, law enforcement and the judiciary, was commissioned by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.


Reno County Whooping Cough Outbreak Persists 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Reno County health officials are taking steps to help stall the spread of a whooping cough outbreak before school starts. The county has more than 70 suspected whooping cough cases. The Hutchinson News reports that as of Friday, Reno County had 41 confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough, which accounts for 20 percent of all cases in the state. That was up from 18 on June 29. Reno County Health Department Director Nick Baldetti says the continued outbreak has health officials concerned about the possibility of a potential "micro-outbreak" once school starts. He says the county health department is working with school districts to prepare and hopes to have vaccination clinics set up for the Buhler, Haven and Nickerson districts.


University of Kansas Appoints New State Government Liaison

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas has hired a Wichita State University official to serve as its chief liaison to the state legislature and other state government offices. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kelly Reynolds will become the new director of state relations for the university in August. She is a 2005 graduate of the University of Kansas and currently is Wichita State's assistant director of government relations. Reynolds also worked on Arizona Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. KU's last director of state relations was Lindsey Douglas, who took a private-sector job this spring.


Body Found in Topeka Grocery Parking Lot 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating after a body was found in a car in a grocery store parking lot. Police say officers were called to the store on a report of a suspicious vehicle Monday and found the man's body inside. Police have not released the victim's identity or cause of death and say the investigation is ongoing. Corporal Derek Frisby told The Topeka Capital-Journal the vehicle has Riley County tags, and the body had been in the parking lot anywhere from a few days to possibly a week.


3 Injured After Jet Ski Collides with Boat in Kansas Lake

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) — Three people have been injured after a boat and Jet Ski collided near Hobie Beach at Cheney Reservoir. Dennis Zehr with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says a group of people were partying at the lake around 8:30 pm Sunday when a Jet Ski collided with the back of the boat. Zehr said the Jet Ski went over the top of the boat and across the passenger side. Authorities say two adults and a juvenile were transported to the hospital for treatment.


Wichita Man Killed in Turnpike Semi Collision

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two semis collided on the Kansas Turnpike, killing one of the drivers. KAKE-TV reports that the accident occurred early Tuesday outside Emporia when the first semi slowed down because of a pedestrian in the roadway and the second semi struck the back of the first. The second semi became engulfed in flames, killing its driver, who was identified as 39-year-old Michael Lyden of Wichita. The driver of the first semi was not injured. The pedestrian also was uninjured.


Kansas Schools Try to Limit Student Debt

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Higher education schools in Salina have been working with students to improve their financial knowledge and manage their student debt. The Salina Journal reports Kansas State University Salina is also launching a new program this fall, called "uBelong," which is intended to prepare incoming students for college, including financial literacy and student loans.Len Melvin, marketing director for Hays Academy of Hair Design, which has operations in Hays and Salina, says the school helps students select the type of loan they need, define their repayment schedule and work to set up a budget. Susan Eberwein, vice president of student services and financial aid at Salina Area Technical College, says that school seeks to work with students to only borrow what they need.


2 Injection Wells Shut Down, 1 Curbing Activity After Quakes 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Corporation Commission says two oil and gas wastewater injection wells are shutting down and one is reducing operations in the Crescent area following several earthquakes. The commission said Tuesday that Stephens Production and Devon Energy are each voluntarily closing one well. Also, Stephens is reducing operations at another well by 50 percent. Earthquakes in the area recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey on Monday and Tuesday include two of magnitude 4.5 and one of magnitude 4.1. The commission recently announced plans to place more than 200 disposal wells under scrutiny as it investigates whether they are triggering earthquakes in the state. An Oklahoma Geological Survey report in April says it's "very likely" most of the state's recent earthquakes were triggered by the injection of wastewater from the wells.


Kansas Fish Farms Benefit from Wet Weather

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ After years of drought, all the recent wet weather in Kansas has been a boon to the state's fish farmers. Brent Culver of Culver's Fish Farm in McPherson says his business has been busy because people want their fish ponds restocked. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism estimates Kansas has more than 150,000 fish-stocked private ponds, thousands of which went dry during four years of drought and are now refilled. Bill Hartley, of Hartley Fish Farms near Kingman, told The Wichita Eagle that customers seem to be more confident the drought is over and want their ponds restocked.


Man Suspected in Shooting Also Believed to Have Abused Cat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 28-year-old Wichita man accused of trying to kill his girlfriend also is being investigated for possible animal abuse after video surfaced of the woman's kitten being thrown against a wall. The Wichita Eagle reports the man, whose case will be presented to prosecutors today (TUE), was jailed Friday on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. He is accused of shooting a man that his 23-year-old girlfriend brought home to protect her after she and the suspect got into a fight late Thursday at a local night club. A Snapchat video shows the girlfriend's kitten being thrown against a wall. The 16-week-old kitten was taken to a veterinarian for treatment but was later euthanized because of its injuries.


Kansas Man Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Child Pornography

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A 48-year-old Wellington man was sentenced Monday to eight years and four months in federal prison for distributing child pornography. According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, Steven J. Meisel was also sentenced to 10 years of supervised release once his prison sentence is completed. Meisel was convicted of one count each of distributing and  possessing child pornography. Prosecutors say a Wichita detective downloaded child pornography files that were traced to Meisel's computer in Wellington. 


Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Secretly Recording Young Girls 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 26-year-old suburban Kansas City man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for secretly recording videos of unsuspecting victims in restrooms and changing rooms at several businesses. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City says Nicholas Braile of Independence was sentenced Tuesday. He pleaded guilty in February to two counts of attempting to produce child pornography. Prosecutors say Braile was arrested in May 2014 at a Walmart store in Independence after a security guard caught him taking an up-skirt photo of a female customer with his cell phone. Authorities obtained warrants for his cell phone and home, where they seized two computers. The forensic examination of Braile's computers and phone found 468 photographs he had taken of prepubescent girls, in addition to many other images of adults.


Lawrence Man Accused of Raping 2 Children 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A 39-year-old man has been charged with two counts of raping a child under 14 years old while they were in day care. The Lawrence Journal-World reports William Ellis Jr. of Lawrence was charged Monday in Douglas County District Court. Prosecutors allege that Ellis had sex with two victims under the age of 10. Ellis is being held on $500,000 bond. If convicted he faces a minimum of 40 years in prison for each count. Court records indicate he has a prior conviction of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child from 1996.  


Missouri River Canoe Race Begins in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — About 600 paddlers are headed east down the Missouri River to St. Charles for the start of the Missouri 340 race. The Kansas City Star reports the race started early this morning (TUE) in Kansas City, Kansas. The race is intended to attract attention to the issue of water preservation. The racers have 88 hours to finish the 340 miles from Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas, to St. Charles, Missouri, near St. Louis. Organizers say they expect only about two-thirds of the paddlers to finish. They'll be battling high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s.


Royals Roll over Indians 9-4 to Start Road Trip

CLEVELAND (AP) — Eric Hosmer drove in four runs, Kendrys Morales added three RBIs and the Kansas City Royals opened a 10-game road trip with a 9-4 win over the Cleveland Indians Monday night. Hosmer connected for a three-run homer in the first inning off rookie Cody Anderson (2-2) as the Royals rolled to their AL-leading 60th win and improved to 15-5 in their last 20 games. Edinson Volquez (10-5) pitched into the seventh inning for Kansas City, which will welcome newly acquired pitching ace Johnny Cueto to the roster today (TUE). Cleveland rookie Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer and Carlos Santana had a solo shot for the Indians, who have lost their last five games. 


KU, Indiana, UCLA Head Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — The University of Kansas Jayhawks will open the 2015 Maui Invitational against Chaminade, the Division II host school known for some of college basketball's biggest upsets. The other game on that side of the bracket, which was released Tuesday, has two big-name programs, UCLA and UNLV. Indiana faces Wake Forest on the other side along with St. John's meeting Vanderbilt. The tournament starts November 23 at the Lahaina Civic Center with the championship game on November 25. All the games will be televised on one of the ESPN networks. Half the field has left Maui with the Wayne Duke Championship Trophy: Vanderbilt, 1986; Kansas, 1996; Indiana, 2002; and UCLA, 2006. St. John's and Wake Forest are making their first appearance in the tournament, which is sponsored by Maui Jim. Along with the games played on Maui, four regional teams will participate in the tournament at campus sites from November 13-16: Northern Colorado, Cal Poly, Austin Peay and UMBC. The four mainland teams will participate in regional games at Northern Colorado November 21-22. Arizona beat San Diego State in last year's title game.


Chiefs Pro Bowl DT Dontari Poe Out After Back Surgery 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe will miss all of training camp and could miss part of the season after the Pro Bowl run-stuffer had surgery last week on his ailing back. Poe first hurt his back during offseason workouts, but coach Andy Reid said Tuesday that he aggravated the injury training at home. Poe was diagnosed with a herniated disc and had surgery July 15, and trainer Rick Burkholder said he will be out indefinitely. Poe is coming off his second straight Pro Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 346-pound tackle had a career-best six sacks last season while anchoring the middle of the Chiefs defensive line. Reid said that Jaye Howard will take over his position in training camp, though Mike DeVito and sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches could also compete for time.


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