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Headlines for Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Kansas GOP Pursues Ethics Claim Against Candidate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Republican Party is accusing the presumed Democratic nominee for secretary of state of illegally soliciting contributions from lobbyists through a campaign Facebook page. The state ethics commission said last month that it would consider the complaint in a closed session at its meeting this week. The state GOP contends Schodorf violated a law prohibiting candidates for statewide office from soliciting contributions from lobbyists while the Legislature is in session...the alleged violation was a May 1st Facebook posting that sought help in raising money. Democratic candidate and former state senator Jean Schodorf calls the complaint mudslinging.


Kobach's Side Work Attacked in Kansas Primary Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach's challenger in the Kansas Republican primary is demanding that Kobach fully disclose his earnings from outside work by releasing his income tax records for the past three years. GOP candidate Scott Morgan said Tuesday that voters deserve to know the extent of Kobach's private financial dealings with other parties. Kobach and his campaign spokeswoman did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment. Kobach is a former law professor who became nationally known for advising officials in other states on cracking down on illegal immigration. Financial disclosures Kobach filed with the state show he's had five private clients since taking office in 2011 and that he maintains an outside law firm. But Morgan notes that the information in the state forms is limited.


Kansas Lawmaker Claims Koch Industries Retaliation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Kansas House member is accusing Koch Industries of trying to punish him politically for questioning the company's lobbying efforts against the state's renewable energy standards for utilities. Olathe Republican Scott Schwab contends the Kansas Chamber of Commerce isn't endorsing him in the August 5 Republican primary because of a confrontation he had with Koch lobbyists last year. The chamber and Koch Industries oppose a law requiring utilities to have renewable energy sources account for 20 percent of their total generating capacity by 2020. Schwab says he told Koch lobbyists to testify publicly against the law rather than remain behind the scenes. He's since voted to preserve the law. Koch Industries declined comment but the Kansas Chamber of Commerce says Schwab's allegation is without merit.

Kansas Wheat Harvest Starts Slow

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The winter wheat harvest is getting off to a soggy start in Kansas.The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that about 2 percent of the crop has been cut. That is better than last year, but well behind the 19 percent average for mid-June. Statewide, about 28 percent the wheat is mature. Seventy-one percent is ripe in south-central Kansas, where growers have begun cutting between rainfall. Steve Inslee, manager at OK Co-op Grain elevator in Kiowa, says there is so little wheat that nobody is excited about getting it out of the fields. Inslee says yields have been ranging from 8 to 20 bushels an acre, with averages of about 12 bushels. Early test weights of 58 pounds a bushel have been falling with each rainfall.


Kansas Couple Challenges 'Pill Mill' Convictions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas couple imprisoned for a moneymaking conspiracy at a Haysville clinic linked to 68 overdose deaths are challenging their convictions. Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda Schneider, argued in a court filing Tuesday their lawyers were ineffective at their trial. The Schneiders were convicted in 2010 of conspiracy, unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering at what prosecutors called a "pill mill." Stephen Schneider was sentenced to 30 years and his wife to 33 years. The 50-page document written by the doctor from federal prison outlines the defense he believes his lawyers should have presented. He contends they failed to use exculpatory evidence and witnesses. Schneider argues his attorneys failed to show that prescriptions were for legitimate medical reasons and the conduct was within the bounds of professional practice.


Sarah Bruce Ends Lawsuit Against State

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The wife of Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce has withdrawn her lawsuit against the state over a drunken driving arrest. Sarah Bruce, of Nickerson, sued the Kansas Department of Revenue in March to have her driving privileges restored after an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Bruce was arrested in December 2013 in Hutchinson when her vehicle hit another vehicle. No one was injured. Court records indicated her blood alcohol level was .159. In April, she was granted diversion and fined for a driving under the influence. If she completes the six-month diversion, the DUI charge will be dismissed. The Hutchinson News reports Bruce's attorney notified Reno County District Court in May that she was dropping the complaint.


Ex-Manager Admits Embezzling from Credit Union

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former manager of Jayhawk Federal Credit Union has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $93,500 from the Lawrence institution. The U.S. Attorney's office says 42-year-old Topeka resident Karolyn Stattelman entered the plea Tuesday, less than five weeks after she was charged. Federal prosecutors alleged in a criminal information that from late 2005 to early 2013, Stattelman obtained money orders from the credit union without paying for them, then altered its ledgers to hide the thefts. Stattelman also admitted allowing a teller, 38-year-old Christi Marie Hout, to embezzle more than $81,000 from the credit union. Hout, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty last week to one count of theft. Both women face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million. Sentencing dates will be later.


Stolen Property Recovered in Eastern Kansas

CARBONDALE, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas sheriff says deputies have recovered a large amount of property reported stolen from several cities and counties. The Osage County Sheriff's Department says in a news release the items were found Monday at a Carbondale property where authorities investigating marijuana cultivation executed a search warrant. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that deputies recovered four enclosed trailers and four flatbed trailers along with other stolen items. The stolen goods were connected to burglaries and thefts reported to the Shawnee and Pottawatomie sheriff's departments and to police in Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas. Deputies also seized an undisclosed amount of controlled substances.


Auburn City Clerk Released

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The 61-year-old former city clerk of a northeast Kansas community has been released without bond, but ordered to refrain from gambling. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that former Auburn city clerk Alice Riley on Tuesday was granted a pre-trial release without bond with a few conditions, including that she cannot gamble. She had been city clerk for 31 years. Riley has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of interstate transportation of stolen funds. She's accused of embezzling at least $186,000 from Auburn between 2009 and 2014. Auburn is a rural community of about 1,200 people in southwest Shawnee County. Prosecutors say she used the stolen money for gambling. Riley resigned on February 13, amid questions from the city council and audits into the city's finances.


Report: Sidewalk Repairs for Lawrence Will Be Costly

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Lawrence faces millions of dollars in potential costs for repairing existing sidewalks and building new ones in the city that's home to the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that city officials have completed an inventory of the community's sidewalks. It shows that fixing all of the city's existing sidewalks would cost about $6.1 million. Lawrence's city codes require new housing developments to have sidewalks on both sides of the street, but for decades the codes allowed sidewalks on one side or no sidewalks. The report says ensuring that all residential streets have a sidewalk on at least one side would cost $7.5 million. Ensuring that every street has sidewalks on both sides would cost $42 million.

Shawnee County OKs Sales Tax Ballot Question

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County Commission has moved toward scheduling a countywide ballot question on extending a half-cent sales tax for 15 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the commission voted Monday to approve the proposed November 4 ballot question. The tax would raise an estimated $240 million to finance economic development, specific infrastructure projects and improvements at the Kansas Expocentre and Topeka Zoo. Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed ballot question and an interlocal agreement with the city of Topeka that would extend the tax after its current expiration date of December 31, 2016. The proposals now go to the Topeka City Council. If the council approves the proposals, the measures would go back to the commission for final approval.

Trial Delayed for Topeka Man in Mother's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The trial of a Topeka man charged with killing his mother has been delayed again, and is now scheduled to start next January. Jason Hachmeister is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the September 2011 death of his 58-year-old mother, Sheila Hachmeister. She was killed at a home she shared with her son. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the trial was postponed on Monday because his attorney, Mark Bennett, is involved in a complex drug case in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. Hachmeister's trial was originally scheduled to start in January of this year. A coroner has testified that Sheila Hachmeister was stabbed several times but died from strangulation.

Air Service Returns to Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Air service has returned to Great Bend Municipal Airport, with daily flights to Wichita and Kansas City. SeaPort Airlines began flying out of the city Monday. It will offer two round trips each weekday to Wichita and one to Kansas City. A reduced scheduled will be offered on weekends. The Great Bend Tribune reports that SeaPort was awarded a two-year Essential Air Service contract. The Portland, Oregon-based company replaces Great Lakes Aviation, which offered service from Great Bend to Denver, with a stop in Hays. The Seaport flights will use nine-passenger Cessna Caravans. The Wichita flights will have an average price of $41.30. The Kansas City flight, which stops in Salina, will have an average price of $62.

Park Restoration Group Disbands in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A group that has worked for three years to restore the Joyland amusement park in Wichita is calling it quits. Kira Johnson, who led the three-year effort, says a lack of time and money led the group to disband. The nearly $10,500 raised by the group will be reimbursed and then donated to other groups. Joyland operated for more than six decades before closing in 2006. Johnson said group members have become too busy to continue the renovation effort, which would need millions of dollars. The Wichita Eagle reports that the owner of the park, Margaret Nelson Spear, began donating items from the park last month. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County took some of the items, with plans to restore them.


3 Conservation Groups Sue Feds over Lesser Prairie ChIcken Classification

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Three conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's designation of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species rather than an endangered one. A release from the groups Tuesday says the grassland grouse known for its colorful neck plume and stout build is in threat of extinction and deserves a federal endangered listing. The wildlife service in March listed it as threatened. Spokeswoman Claire Cassel says the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The threatened listing came after landowners, the oil and gas industry and others established conservation agreements intended to safeguard the bird's habitat across five states. More than 80 percent of the bird's range has been lost. The groups suing are Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.


Kansas Governor Decries Prairie Chicken Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says a federal lawsuit by environmental groups over the lesser prairie chicken is an attempt to shut down agriculture and energy production in western Kansas. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington argues the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not doing enough to protect the bird. The agency in March listed the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. But the three environmental groups contend the bird should be listed instead as "endangered," which would prompt stronger conservation measures. Brownback and other Kansas officials object to the species even being listed as threatened, arguing the designation will mean restrictions and expensive conservation fees for farmers, ranchers and energy producers. The governor said the lawsuit could lead to economic devastation.


Wichita Leaders Host Public Meetings on Tax Proposal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita leaders are holding six open-house meetings this month as part of the "Building a Better Future" initiative. The City Council scheduled the events to get public opinion on a proposed sales tax. The revenue would be targeted to four priorities: water supply, a jobs initiative, public transit and pavement maintenance. Residents will get an overview of the tax proposal and can visit information stations to discuss specific plans for each priority. The meetings begin Tuesday evening and are scattered throughout the rest of the month at several locations.

Escaped Kansas Inmate Arrested in Garden City

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City authorities say a Kansas inmate who was mistakenly released in Missouri has been recaptured in Garden City. Police say 36-year-old Sean McKenzie was arrested Thursday when officers responded to a report of a child in need of care. McKenzie allegedly was living at a home under several aliases. He was booked into Finney County jail and could face new charges related to the abuse of his girlfriend's daughter. KWCH-TV reports that a 32-year-old woman at the home was arrested on possible charges of aggravated child endangerment and obstructing apprehension. Authorities have been searching for McKenzie since March, when he was mistakenly released in Vernon County, Missouri, after theft charges there were dropped. McKeinzie also escaped in Sedgwick County in 2012, and was recaptured a week later.

Man Accused in Andover Abuse is Released

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old man accused of mistreating an adult an Andover nursing home has been released on bond but ordered to stay in Kansas while the case continues. Geofrey Nyangweso is charged with mistreating the adult at the Victoria Falls Skilled Nursing Home. Nyangweso was ordered Monday to surrender his passport and stay in Kansas. He was released then on $50,000 bond. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said last month it had cited Victoria Falls for failing to meet certain regulations and failing to investigate some abuse complaints. A department inspection showed at least two of the 63 residents suffered verbal and physical abuse, including one targeted by at least four staff members and another who had been abused by another resident.

Kansas Woman Sentenced for Role in 2013 Homicide

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman has been sentenced to 20 months behind bars for her role in last year's killing of a 68-year-old Manhattan man she described as a longtime friend. KMAN Radio reports 49-year-old Christina Love will also spend 18 months on probation under the sentence she received in Riley County District Court. Love, her son and a third man were charged in the fatal shooting and stabbing of John Burroughs in September 2013. Love pleaded no contest to four charges including obstruction of justice. In court Monday, Love apologized to the victim's family and said she would not have gone to his home had she known what was going to happen. Love's 33-year-old son, James McKenith, pleaded guilty earlier to murder and will serve at least 20 years.

"Pink Slime" Makers Say Sales Rebounding

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Cargill and Beef Products Inc. say sales of the beef product nicknamed ``pink slime'' are rebounding, but sales are still falling short of a few years ago. Beef Products Inc. is suing ABC News over stories that it says misled consumers into thinking that “lean finely-textured beef” isn't safe to eat. The company closed a plant in Kansas and several others when sales dropped after the news reports were broadcast.

2 Brothers Found Dead at SE Kansas Home

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) _ Police continue to investigate the deaths of two brothers in southeast Kansas. The Butler County Times Gazette reports the two were identified Monday as 53-year-old Jeffrey Neal Jones and 50-year-old Brett Alan Jones. The brothers shared a home in Augusta, where police responded to a call Friday afternoon and found the two dead. The Augusta police chief says the deaths were not considered suspicious.


New Yorker Cartoonist Barsotti Dies in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Charles Barsotti, whose simple, sophisticated New Yorker cartoons plumbed the human condition featuring characters such as the psychiatrist dog, has died. He was 80. Barsotti's daughter, Kerry Scott, said Tuesday that Barsotti was diagnosed in 2013 with brain cancer and died late Monday at home in Kansas City. Barsotti graduated from Texas State University in 1954 and worked for Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards before moving to New York to become cartoon editor for The Saturday Evening Post. He became a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker about 1970, while remaining in Kansas City. The New Yorker has published nearly 1,400 Barsotti cartoons. Robert Mankoff, cartoon editor of the magazine, says Barsotti was the "philosopher king of cartoonists," asking big questions about life with spare, black-and-white words and drawings.


Missouri Frogging Season to Start

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's frogging season is starting soon. From sunset on June 30 until October 31, Missourians will be allowed to capture bullfrogs and green frogs. Conservation officials say the taste and texture is similar to fish. Either a fishing or a hunting permit can be used, and frogs can be taken by a variety of methods including hand, net, bow and pole and line. With a hunting permit, Missourians can bag hoppers by using a rifle or pistol, pellet or bow A frog that has been speared must be kept. Artificial light can be used while frogging, and the daily limit is eight frogs. The possession limit is 16.

Hutchinson Will Become Smallville for 2 Days

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Hutchinson is going to stake its claim to being the home of Superman this week. The city will kick off its Smallville Festival Thursday and will officially change its name to Smallville for the weekend. The celebration grew from the induction of Superman into the Kansas Hall of Fame last year. The promotion is based on a quote in a Superman movie, in which Clark Kent says he grew up in Kansas. Hutchinson is now claiming to be the town was where Superman was raised.

Camp for Kids with Cancer Continues Work Despite Fire

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Despite a fire that damaged its longtime home and the loss of a major sponsor, a central Kansas camp is still providing hope for children with cancer. The aptly-named Camp Hope is offering its services again this week on the Barton Community College campus in Great Bend. The camp was forced to move from Camp Aldrich in Barton County after it was destroyed by fire in April. The camp also found new sponsors after the American Cancer Society chose last year to use its funds elsewhere. The Hutchinson News reports the Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation sponsored the camp this year. Kwik Shop raised more than $46,000, Barton Community College donated resources, and other organizations helped put the camp back together.

Mercy Eliminates 220 Jobs in 7 States

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A suburban St. Louis hospital chain plans to cut 125 jobs in the region and another 95 positions elsewhere in the Catholic health care system. Mercy Health announced the layoffs on Tuesday as part of what it called "a response to economic and environmental changes in health care." The company says the eliminated jobs represent less than one percent of the company's 40,000 employees and don't involve workers who treat patients. Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and operates 32 hospitals in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.


KU Jayhawks Tapped to Become Team USA for World University Games

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Everyone figures to become a fan of KU basketball next summer...even the folks who follow bitter rival Missouri. The University of Kansas Jayhawks have been chosen to represent the U.S. at the World University Games in Gwangju, Korea. The event in July 2015 will match the Jayhawks — ahem, Team USA — against nations from around the world, most of which will be putting together all-star teams for the tournament. That was the practice of the U.S. in the past. But after a disappointing showing last year and with some unique scheduling issues for next year's event, the U.S. International University Sports Federation decided it would choose a single program to represent the country. KU was chosen over a list of undisclosed candidates.







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