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Headlines for Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Kansas Won't Release Data from Reading, Math Tests

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas won't be issuing any report cards this year on how well its public school students performed on standardized reading and math tests after cyberattacks and other problems this spring. The State Board of Education decided Tuesday not to release any scores. The board's decision means there won't be a report on how students scored overall statewide or how students in each school district or individual schools scored. The University of Kansas center that designed the tests told the board last month that it should not release data for individual schools and districts because of cyberattacks and other problems from March 10 to April 10. The state Department of Education typically releases data from testing each fall.


Kansas Bank Coping with Computer Disruption

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Topeka-based CoreFirst Bank say thousands of customers have been affected by a disruption in its computer-based applications. KSNT-TV reports that a cut in an AT&T fiber-optic line late Tuesday morning affected ATM services, credit and debit card transactions, mobile applications and the bank's website. CoreFirst president Kurt Kuta said the disruption left the bank working off account balances as of Monday's close of business. Deposits and other transactions made after the cut occurred were being recorded in one part of the bank's computer server, but did not show up for customers. The disruption affected all CoreFirst branches in the Topeka area and in Manhattan, Johnson County and Emporia, as well as in Denver, Colorado. Kuta says no customers have lost any money. It's uncertain when the line will be repaired.


Wind Storm Whips Through NE Kansas 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Strong winds that blew through central and northeast Kansas left trees down and created power outages but no serious injuries have been reported. Winds reaching more than 60 mph, accompanied by rain and hail hit the state late Monday and early Tuesday. Westar reported up to 25,000 customers without power after the storm but that number had been reduced to about 6,000 early Tuesday. Power outages were reported in Shawnee, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Douglas, Riley and Geary counties. The Kansas Department of Transportation closed a section of U.S. 24 in Riley County Monday night because of downed power lines. 


Winds Leave Damage, Power Outages in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A storm that swept through Missouri left thousands without power across the state early Tuesday. No major injuries have been reported. The National Weather Service received reports of wind gusts between 60 and 75 mph. Early Tuesday, Kansas City Power & Light reported about 23,000 people without power in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The National Weather Service said two power poles caught fire when winds whipped the lines in Sedalia.


Quiet Year for Tornadoes in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — It's been a quiet year for tornadoes in Kansas and weather experts are expecting that trend to continue. The National Weather Service says the state recorded 33 tornadoes by the end of June, the lowest number since 30 were recorded in 1994. Meteorologist Chance Hayes in Wichita says most of the Great Plains has seen fewer tornadoes this year, generally because jet stream patterns have stopped moist air from the Gulf of Mexico from colliding with cold air from the north. The Wichita Eagle reports tornado numbers are down nationwide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says preliminary numbers through July 6 showed 783 tornadoes around the country, a more than 20 percent drop from the average total of 1,046 during the past 10 years.


World's Tallest Water Slide Set to Open Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — After three delays, the world's tallest water slide is scheduled to open this week. Officials at Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas said Tuesday that the public will be able to ride the Verrückt slide on Thursday. The ride was originally scheduled to open on May 23 when the water park's season began. The next scheduled opening on June 5 was postponed, and a June 29 date also was delayed. Park officials have said the delays were needed to allow for more testing. Guinness World Records in April certified the 17-story, 168-foot-tall attraction as the tallest water slide in the world. Riders on the Verruckt, which means "insane" in German, plummet at 60 mph to 70 mph on four-person rafts.


Wichita Chief Defends Officers in Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams says a police officer fatally shot a man as he lunged at the officer with a knife. Chief Williams said Monday that the officer tried to use a stun gun on Icarus Randolph during the confrontation Friday but it had no effect and Randolph was shot when he got within 6 feet of the officer. Williams says Randolph, a 26-year-old military veteran, was carrying a hunting or combat knife with a blade 4 to 5 inches long when he came out of his home toward the officers. The two officers who responded to the scene are on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a fatal shooting. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting.


Leawood to Allow Little Free Library

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — After a plea from a 9-year-old boy, a Kansas City suburb will temporarily allow residents to have small, free lending libraries in their yards. The Leawood City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a temporary moratorium that allows "Little Free Library" structures in residents' yards. The moratorium, effective Tuesday, will last until October 20. The action came after the city received national attention when it required 9-year-old Spencer Collins to remove his library. The small box on stilts was full of books, which residents could read and replace for free. The Kansas City Star reports the city must wait 60 to 90 days and hold public hearings before it can permanently change its ordinances. It plans to survey Leawood homeowners associations to gauge public opinions on the libraries.


Topeka Air Service Increasing with United Flights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Six months after United Airlines began flying to Chicago out of Topeka Regional Airport, ridership is increasing but airport officials say it needs to continue climbing. Airport authority president Eric Johnson says the twice-daily flights to Chicago were about 64 percent full in June. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the numbers increased from 25 percent full in January to 65 percent in May. Government funds provided about $2 million in revenue guarantees if ticket sales fell short of a revenue goal. Johnson said most of the guarantee funds probably were used in the slow first quarter and the revenue shortfall for the second quarter hasn't been calculated. He says airport officials want the service to be profitable to ensure that United wants to continue to provide service from Topeka.


Scottsdale Approves $290K for Defense in Pedicab Case

PHOENIX (AP) — Scottsdale, Arizona has approved up to $290,000 to defend the city in lawsuits over a pedicab accident that injured two Kansas men. Michael Tysver and Cody Clark were severely injured in the January 2013 crash. The two 22-year-old Great Bend residents were in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl game. They were headed back to their hotel when the pedicab collided with a car. Their suits claim Scottsdale was negligent by allowing pedicabs to operate without restrictions on public roads. Clark's suit seeks $40 million for a head injury and Tysver $5 million for a spine injury. Clark's parents are seeking $3 million apiece for trauma caused to their family. Scottsdale denies any liability in the case. The Arizona Republic reports that a Chandler law firm is defending Scottsdale in the suits.


Murder-Suicide in NW Missouri Involved Neighbors

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Excelsior Springs police say two men who died in a murder-suicide were neighbors. Police on Tuesday announced that 53-year-old Timothy Todd Logan shot and killed 49-year-old Cletis Southwick Friday outside an Excelsior Spring home. Southwick then ran to a neighbor for help.The Kansas City Star reports ( ) officers saw Logan, armed with a rifle, running away and set up a perimeter. Officers heard a single gunshot and found Logan dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.Southwick died Sunday at Liberty Hospital. A motive for the shooting has not been made public.


Fuselage Recovery Completed at Montana Derailment Site

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Crews have removed all three commercial airplane fuselages from a river embankment in western Montana after they tumbled off a train in a derailment. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost tells the Missoulian that the last of the newly manufactured Boeing 737 fuselages was hoisted up Tuesday. A fuselage is the main body of an aircraft. Nineteen train cars derailed Thursday, spilling three fuselages into the Clark Fork River near Alberton and three more near the tracks. Frost says the fuselages and their flatbed cars weigh a combined 70 tons each. The fuselages and other airplane parts were being transported from a manufacturing plant in Wichita to Boeing facilities in Washington state. Railway officials are investigating the cause of the derailment.


National Group Plans to Challenge Kansas Gun Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national gun-control group says it is planning to challenge a Kansas law declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in the state. The Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced Monday that it would file a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state law. The Kansas law was enacted in 2013 and makes it a felony for any U.S. government employee to attempt to enforce a federal regulation or treaty when it comes to Kansas-only firearms, ammunition or accessories. A similar law enacted in 2009 in Montana was struck down by the federal courts. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback promised a vigorous defense of the state's law.


Kansas Wheat Harvest Makes Progress

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government crop update shows the Kansas wheat harvest is making slow progress. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 70 percent of the wheat has now been harvested, compared with an early-July average of 88 percent. The agency says that some cutting was delayed by the application of herbicides to control weeds. The condition of Kansas wheat still in the field was rated as 61 percent poor to very poor, 27 percent fair, 11 percent good and 1 percent excellent. Cooler temperatures and rain in the past week are helping spring-planted crops. Corn condition is rated as 8 percent poor to very poor. About 34 percent of the corn is rated fair, 47 percent good and 11 percent excellent.


Emporia Enjoying Connection with Hostess

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Snack cakes have been a sweet deal for Emporia. The northeast Kansas town has seen jobs return and millions of dollars in investments since its Hostess Brands plant reopened last year and expanded this year. The Kansas City Star reports the company that makes Twinkies, Donettes and other cake products added $30 million in improvements to the plant. A ribbon cutting is planned Friday to celebrate a new warehouse, and a Twinkie festival is scheduled Saturday. The plant was closed and 500 jobs were lost during a labor dispute in 2012. The Emporia plant was one of four Hostess bakeries reopened last year when a partnership group bought the company's assets. About 330 non-union workers are currently employed by the plant and another 50 jobs are likely to be added.


High Water Postpones Missouri River Boat Race

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An annual paddle boat race on the Missouri River will be postponed until August because of high water on the river. The MR340 race on the Missouri River between Kansas City, Kansas, and St. Charles, Missouri was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Organizers announced Monday that the race will be held Aug. 12-15. More than 600 people had signed up to be paddle canoes and kayaks across the state, with the race expected to end Wednesday or Thursday. The Kansas City Star reports several areas of the river are expected to be above flood stage this week, which makes the river run faster and submerges sandbars and other obstacles.


NE Kansas Escapee Captured

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A minimum-security inmate at a northeast Kansas prison is back in custody after reportedly walking away from a work detail. The Leavenworth Times reports 52-year-old Ronald J. Emons was apprehended without incident late Monday afternoon at or near Fort Leavenworth. Emons is serving time at the nearby Lansing Correctional Facility for violating his probation for a conviction of attempted indecent liberties with a child. KAIR Radio reported that Emons went with a work crew around 6 a.m. Monday to a reservoir outside the prison compound's fenced area. Staff noticed him missing around 10:40 a.m. A judge sentenced Emons in July 2011 to probation for attempted indecent liberties with a 14- to 16-year-old child. He has been sent to Lansing twice for violating the terms of his probation.


Amtrak CEO to Make Kansas Whistle-Stop Tour

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Top executives of Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will make a whistle-stop trip on the passenger railroad's Southwest Chief in Kansas. Friday's event takes place amid efforts to preserve the Southwest Chief's current route between Newton, Kansas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The service is in jeopardy because BNSF, which owns the track, needs to upgrade it for its freight trains. Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King will be aboard the train with Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman and BNSF executive Matt Rose. They plan to talk with local officials at each stop about the funding needed to keep the Southwest Chief's current route after Amtrak's current agreement with BNSF expires in 2016. The train is scheduled to leave Topeka at 9 am and stop in Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City.


New Media Relations Chief For KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has a new director of news and media relations, and she previously held a similar job at archrival Kansas State University. KU announced Monday that Erinn Barcomb-Peterson had started the director's job on the Lawrence campus after nine years at KansasState. Barcomb-Peterson holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas. She worked as a reporter for The Eudora News and design editor for The Ottawa Herald before going to work for Kansas State's news and editorial services in 2005. She became director there in 2011. The KU job became open when Jill Jess Phythyon took a similar position in March at Ohio State University's College of Nursing. KU School of Medicine Communications Director David Martin replaced her temporarily.


Kansas GOP 4th District Congressional Candidates Appear at Forum

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The two Republicans vying for the south-central Kansas congressional seat traded barbs at their first face-to-face forum. Congressman Mike Pompeo told the Wichita Crime Commission on Monday he's on a mission in Washington to shrink the size and scope of government. He says he believes deeply in the private sector. Former congressman Todd Tiahrt said he's challenging Pompeo in the August primary to reclaim his old seat because he cannot sit by and watch all the hard work he did in Washington deteriorate. He cited what he called the "train wreck" in Washington caused by lawmakers who can't get along with each other. Tiahrt represented the 4th Congressional District for 16 years before giving it up in 2010 for an unsuccessful campaign for Senate.


Couple Pleads Guilty to Hiring Illegal Workers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The owners of two Overland Park hotels pleaded guilty to hiring workers who were in the country illegally and then paying them less than other workers. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced in a news release Monday that 53-year-old Munir Ahmad Chaudary and his 41-year-old wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers for personal gain. The couple admitted they hired the workers for Clarion hotels they own in Overland Park and Kansas City, Missouri. Grissom says the illegal workers were not given Social Security, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. A sentencing date hasn't been set. They face five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000. Prosecutors also are seeking the forfeiture of assets gained through the couple's activities.


Kidney Transplant Clinic to Open in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri hospital will open a clinic in Wichita next month to serve kidney patients who need transplants. Saint Luke's Hospital, of Kansas City, announced plans Tuesday to open the clinic near Wichita's Via Christi hospital. Doctors at the clinic will evaluate potential transplant recipients. They will also provide pre- and post-surgery care for patients who receive new kidneys at Saint Luke's in Kansas City. KWCH-TV reports that more than 1,000 dialysis patients in Wichita are being evaluated for transplants. Wichita was left with a void when Via Christi announced in May it would not reopen its own program, which was halted in 2012 for the investigation of the deaths of four transplant patients in less than a month.


Firefighters Find Pot Plants in Northern Kansas Mobile Home

WAKEFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A northern Kansas man's troubles may go beyond a burned-out mobile home after firefighters reported finding an apparent marijuana-growing operation inside the structure. KMAN-AM reports the fire broke out around 1 a.m. Saturday in the Clay County town of Wakefield. Clay County Sheriff Chuck Dunn says firefighters doused the flames and notified his office after coming across what appeared to be a marijuana operation. Dunn says officers found more than 50 marijuana plants, along with grow lights, an automatic watering system and a ventilation system. A 54-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of growing and possessing marijuana and other offenses. The sheriff said the fire rekindled Saturday night and destroyed the rest of the mobile home. The cause both times has not been determined.


Parents Work to Keep Missing Children in Spotlight

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Missouri parents whose children have been missing for years say they struggle to keep their children's cases in the public eye while dealing with the frustration of not knowing what happened. One such parent is Tammy Mack, whose 15-year-old daughter Ashley disappeared from St. Joseph 10 years ago. She says she hasn't given hope of finding out what happened to Ashley but she no longer spends hours every day online and on the phone searching for clues. She and family and friends held a candlelight vigil at the pool Sunday night. She also planted a tree near the pool in her daughter's memory. The Kansas City Star reports that a convicted felon who lived in Ashley's neighborhood is a strong suspect in her disappearance but no one has been arrested.


Flooding Forces Evacuation of 100 Boy Scouts

WALSENBURG, Colo. (AP) — About 100 Boy Scouts -- many from Kansas -- are back at their southern Colorado camp after being evacuated because of flooding. The scouts left the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch on school buses and sheriff's vehicles around 4 am Tuesday after rain caused a creek running through the property near Walsenburg, Colorado to rise. They went to a Red Cross shelter set up in Walsenburg's community center and authorities cleared the scouts to return around midday. Scout executive Michael Stewart says the scouts, most of them from southwestern Kansas, were camping in tents above Bear Creek and weren't in immediate danger. Scouts there were also forced to evacuate last year by a wildfire, which has made the land more prone to flooding. The scouts have been getting a real-life lesson in conservation by planting trees and grass to prevent erosion and flooding.





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