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Headlines for Tuesday, October 7, 2014


ACLU to Challenge Kansas Gay Marriage Ban

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A decision by the nation's highest court is expected to clear the way for the expansion of same-sex marriages to Kansas. The U.S. Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The American Civil Liberties Union says that since the appeals from Oklahoma and Utah originated in the 10th Circuit, the decision in those cases will affect other states in that circuit, including Kansas. The ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri says it plans to file a lawsuit soon asking a federal judge to block the Kansas law prohibiting gay marriage. Thomas Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, says marriage equality is coming to Kansas, and that it may not be this morning, but perhaps another morning very soon.


Brownback: Kansas Should Defend Gay Marriage Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas should defend the state constitution's ban on gay marriage in court because the people have spoken on the issue. A spokesman for Brownback's Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, said Tuesday that Davis is focused on issues that unite Kansas residents, including education and the economy. Kansas voters approved the gay marriage ban in 2005. But the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals from five states seeking to retain their gay-marriage bans. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas. Brownback is in a tough race for re-election with Davis. The governor has publicly declared his support for the gay marriage ban. As a Kansas House member, Davis opposed putting the ban on the ballot.


Kansas Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Courthouse is turning away same-sex couples seeking to get a marriage license in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that clears the way for such unions. Kerry Wilks and Donna Ditrani, along with their minister, went to the Wichita courthouse Monday to get a marriage license. After the clerk refused to give them paperwork to get a license, the couple said they would be happy to "join the cause" as plaintiffs in a lawsuit expected to be filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the Kansas ban. Aimee McCarter and Jennifer Kozushko say they're disappointed after being refused a marriage license, although McCarter said they didn't expect anything different. They walked away from the courthouse, holding hands.


MO Attorney General Won't Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says he won't appeal a ruling that Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Koster made the announcement Monday afternoon, several hours after the Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian marriages. The move effectively makes gay marriage legal in 30 states; Missouri isn't among them. Koster noted the high court's order in explaining his decision not to appeal Friday's ruling from a Jackson County judge. Koster says Missouri's future will be "one of inclusion, not exclusion." The Missouri ruling means same-sex couples who wed outside the state will eligible to sign up for a wide range of benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples.


New Poll: Governor's Race Close Too Close to Call

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A new poll says the race in Kansas between Republican incumbent Governor Sam Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis is a toss-up. The poll, released this week by NBC and Marist College, showed Davis as the choice of 44 percent of the 636 likely voters surveyed. Brownback was the choice of 43 percent. Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr polled at 4 percent, and 7 percent were undecided. The poll was conducted from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 and had a 3.9 percent margin of error. Nearly 1,100 registered voters were surveyed about how they viewed Brownback. Fifty-one percent said they disapproved of the job he's doing as governor, while 40 percent approved. The margin of error for the question was 3 percent.


US Chamber of Commerce Endores Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A senior official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Republican Senator Pat Roberts Monday in Robert's bid for reelection. Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, appeared with Roberts at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Topeka. Engstrom said Roberts has a 92 percent rating with the U.S. Chamber. Roberts is in a tight race with independent candidate Greg Orman. A poll released this week by NBC and Marist College shows Orman ahead of Roberts by 10 percentage points. Roberts is trailing with 38 percent to Orman’s 48 percent, according to the poll.


GOP's Pat Roberts Needs Rural Friends More Than Ever

DODGE CITY, Kansas (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is struggling to win re-election, and the wide open spaces of his childhood are both his best chance for saving his political career and the biggest threat to it. The 78-year-old Republican must wring every friendly vote out of the 99 rural Kansas counties to turn back the challenge from a suburban businessman running as an independent. Greg Orman is capitalizing on sentiment that the incumbent is out of touch. But the available votes here are declining along with the population. Rural counties now account for less than 45 percent of the electorate. Some of Roberts' past supporters are skeptical of him since he has been in Washington for four decades. Roberts has ramped up his rural campaign but also has to compete in the booming suburbs.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz to Campaign with Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Tea party movement icon and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has endorsed the re-election of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and is planning to help his fellow Republican kick off a four-day bus tour. The Roberts campaign announced Cruz's endorsement Monday. It also said that Cruz plans to travel Thursday to Wichita to launch the bus tour, which includes stops in 11 communities. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn also is planning to join Roberts for five bus-tour events Thursday and Friday. Roberts is seeking his fourth term in the Senate in a tough race against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman's campaign said campaigning with Cruz shows that Roberts is, in its words, "an enthusiastic participant in a broken system" in Washington.


Candidates to Debate in KS 1st Congressional District Race

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Republican incumbent Representative Tim Huelskamp and Democratic challenger Jim Sherow are preparing for their first debate in the race for the Kansas 1st Congressional District seat. The two will tface off in a candidate forum Tuesday night hosted by the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters at Kansas Wesleyan University. The event begins at 6 pm featuring local races for Saline County Commission and state Legislature. The congressional debate starts at 8 pm. Huelskamp, a tea party favorite, represents a largely rural district in western and central Kansas. He is seeking his third, two-year term. Sherow is a Kansas State University history professor and former Manhattan mayor. He's backed by a group of moderate Republican former state legislators called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense.


False Rumors of Ebola in KC Spread Online

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rumors that a patient at a Kansas City hospital had Ebola were false, but they forced health officials to respond to stories that spread online. The Kansas City Star reports a feverish man, apparently from Nigeria, was taken to Research Medical Center's Brookside Campus on Saturday night, prompting the hospital to take precautions. Police were told hospital was under lockdown because of suspicions about the patient, and officers blocked access to the man's apartment. A Kansas City television station reported the apartment lockdown but didn't mention Ebola. A local blog reported Ebola case had come to Kansas City, and a Wichita, Kansas, station's website followed suit. A spokeswoman for Research Medical Center says the man didn't have Ebola and was released from the hospital on Monday.


Sheriff: More Judges, Court Staffers Needed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) -- A central Kansas sheriff says there wouldn't be so many inmates in his jail if the courts had more judges and staff members to handle their cases. The Salina Journal reports that Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski told county commissioners on Monday that more than half of the inmates at the county jail were awaiting trial. Only 19 of the 269 inmates at the jail on Monday had been sent there by the municipal court judge. Kochanowski says that as of mid-August, more than half were awaiting trial in district court. The jail holds 192 inmates, with the overflow being housed in jails outside the county. The sheriff says adding judges and staff to the 28th Judicial District would reduce the time the inmates spend in the county jail.


Wichita Burglars Steal Dozens of Hunting Bows

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita are searching for burglars who stole $24,000 worth of hunting bows from an archery shop. Authorities said the break-in at Diamond Archery happened around 4 am Tuesday. Surveillance video showed three people prying open the front door and stealing 30 to 35 compound bows. The burglars left in a dark SUV.


Man Pleads Not Guilty in Kansas Couple's Slayings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of four people charged with killing a Kansas couple has pleaded not guilty and will testify against the other three defendants in exchange for his capital murder charge to be reduced. The Wichita Eagle reports that 19-year-old Brandon Smith appeared in Sedgwick County District Court on Monday in shackles and waived his right to a speedy trial. The other defendants are Anthony Bluml, Andrew Ellington and Kisha Schaberg, Anthony Bluml's biological mother. All three are to be arraigned on capital murder charges and could face the death penalty. The four are accused of killing Roger and Melissa Bluml, who were fatally shot as they sat outside their rural Valley Center home on November 15. Melissa Bluml died the next day, while her husband died about five weeks later.


Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant Reopens After Fire

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say an eastern Kansas nuclear power plant has reopened after a fire. A Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation spokesman says the fire broke out Monday in one of two emergency diesel generator rooms. Employees extinguished the flames before the Coffey County Fire Department arrived. The plant was evacuated for about two hours. It's unclear what started the fire or what was damaged. The spokesman says no injuries were reported and no radiation was released. He says federal law requires that the generator is operational within 72 hours or the plant will have to be taken offline.


Police: 8-Year-Old Kansas Boy Killed in Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say an 8-year-old boy riding on the back of a moped has been killed and its driver injured after they collided with a car. Police say Trenton Feliciano was killed Saturday and 34-year-old Marvin Tibbs was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. They say the lightweight motorbike collided with a car driven by a 19-year-old woman who had a 1-year-old baby with her. The woman and the baby were hospitalized with unreported injuries. Police say they are investigating what caused the crash. They haven't said if anyone will be charged.


Ostrich Missing from Eastern Kansas Ranch

MADISON, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas woman is asking the public's help in finding a missing pet, and the animal shouldn't be hard to spot: It's a 9-foot-tall, 350-pound ostrich. KVOE-AM reports that the big bird disappeared last week from Rock Creek Ostrich Ranch, located near the southern Lyon County town of Madison. Owner Nakita Elwood says the ostrich, named Eva, and others escaped from a pen. All of the others have been recovered. Eva was last seen in an area between Madison and Olpe. Elwood advises the public against trying to catch the ostrich. She says Eva isn't especially dangerous but frightens easily, and only responds to her calls. Eva is part of Elwood's breeding trio as well as a pet.


Dole Resuming Kansas Homecoming Tour

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole plans to visit his hometown of Russell and other northwest and north-central towns during the next leg of his homecoming tour of all 105 Kansas counties. The 91-year-old Dole lives in Washington, D.C., and is making the trips to greet longtime friends and supporters. Dole is scheduled to begin the trip Saturday in Hays for the dedication of a lobby at Fort Hays State University in honor of his sisters. He'll also appear in the university's homecoming parade before heading to Stockton and Phillipsburg. Dole will be in Osborne, Smith Center, Mankato and Beloit on Sunday, then visit Russell High School on Monday. The upcoming trip will be Dole's ninth of the year. The 10th and last will take him to southeast Kansas in late October.


Wind Energy Projects Accelerating in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After a slow start to 2014, several wind energy projects in Kansas are under construction and more are planned once utilities have signed contracts to purchase the power they generate. The Wichita Eagle reports the state has nearly 3,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in 25 wind farms, and four wind farms under construction bring an additional 475 megawatts. Six other wind farms under development and approved for construction have a combined capacity for 1,800 more megawatts. Federal wind energy tax credits expired at the end of last year, but by law developers can still qualify for the credits if their wind farms were started in 2013 and are finished by 2016. Developers say some of the projects are on hold until utilities agreed to purchase power from them.


Former Union Chief Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former president of the union representing Jackson County (Missouri) Department of Corrections employees has admitted embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union local. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says 39-year-old Jesse Morgan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of wire fraud and could face up to 20 years in prison. Morgan admitted he engaged in a wire fraud scheme during most of his tenure as president the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1707, from November 2008 through October 2012. The government believes he stole more than $120,000 but less than $200,000, while Morgan admitted the loss exceeds $70,000. Morgan must pay restitution to Local 1707 for the total loss, which will be decided by the court if there is no agreement on the amount.


Kansas Taps Unused Funds on Program for Hiring the Disabled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas plans to tap unused federal funds to help launch a five-year, $25 million initiative to help disabled residents find good jobs. State officials unveiled what they're calling the "End-Dependence Kansas" initiative during a news conference Monday at a Topeka restaurant. The initiative involves five state agencies. Mike Donnelly, director for the Department for Children and Families Rehabilitation Services, said the new initiative is designed to help 2,000 disabled Kansans find jobs. The program not only will help potential workers with job coaches and workplace technology, it can subsidize their wages as they try out for jobs or after they are hired. Donnelly said the initiative is being launched with $5 million to $6 million in unused federal funds that the state would be forced otherwise to return next year.


New Revenue Department Online Center Goes Live

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Customers of the Kansas Department of Revenue are gaining access this week to a new online customer service center where they can access their accounts and make payments. The department says the Kansas Customer Service Center will be accessible starting Tuesday from the Online Services link on the department's website. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says the change means customers will need to remember only one email address and password combination to access their accounts. Because of the conversion all Department of Revenue accounts were offline on Monday so data could be moved to the new site. 


Kansas Man Gets Life in Prison for Murder, Arson

COLBY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison in the killing of his ex-girlfriend who was found stabbed 27 times in her burning home. A Thomas County judge delivered the sentence on Monday to 25-year-old William Shank of Garden City. He pleaded guilty in July to charges including first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated arson. Shank was arrested after 27-year-old Teri Morris was slain in February 2013. A coroner's report says Morris had been stabbed before her Colby home was torched. Authorities previously said the two were contesting custody of their 8-month-old daughter. The baby was with Shank when he later called police from a home in Logan.


State Fair Attendance Hits 16-Year High

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Fair manager Denny Stoecklein is crediting good weather and enticing entertainment for a boost in attendance at this year's fair. The Hutchinson News reports that audited numbers announced Monday show 355,329 visitors attended the fair, which ran September 5-14. This year's gate was up by about 15,000 people from 2013 and the highest in 16 years. Stoecklein says it was also the fourth-highest attendance of all time — although that statistic is unofficial, because audited attendance only began in 1978. The fair's highest attendance was 361,647 in 1995. The lowest was about 283,000 in 2011, when the fair took place shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


County Commissioners Reject Birth-Control Pill

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County commissioners have removed a birth-control pill called Portia from a list of items the county health department wants to purchase with a $1,032 grant from the state Department of Health and Environment. Bronson Farmer, director of the Saline County Health Department, plans to ask the commission on Tuesday that the grant be used to purchase birth control pills that have been approved by commissioners as stock becomes low. The Salina Journal reports county health department officials indicated last week they wanted to spend the grant money on Portia brand pills, which are not currently in stock. But Commissioner John Price objected to the brand and said it could be used as a "morning after" pill.


Hosmer, Moustakas Leading KC Royals into ALCS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The expectations that accompanied Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer were largely unfair, and anybody in the Kansas City Royals front office would probably be willing to admit it. Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 first-year player draft. Hosmer went third overall the following year. Together, the third baseman and first baseman were general manager Dayton Moore's cornerstones in his plan to build a contender. Perhaps now, they are finally living up to those expectations. Moustakas hit the go-ahead home run in the 11th inning in Game 1 of their AL Division Series against the Angels. Hosmer hit a two-run shot in the 11th inning the next night. And in the clincher on Sunday night, both of them went deep in an 8-3 victory.


Chiefs' Hali Lends Support to Liberia as Ebola Epidemic Rages


LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali is lending his support to a humanitarian organization that plans to open a clinic in his native Liberia to help combat the Ebola epidemic. Hali was joined Tuesday by officials from Heart to Heart International, which is based in suburban Kansas City, to announced the construction of a clinic near the capital of Monrovia that will offer 70 beds for patients stricken by the disease. Liberia has been among the hardest-hit of the West African nations at the center of the months-long outbreak, which has killed at least 3,500 people. Hali fled with his father from Liberia at the age of 10, when it was in the midst of a bloody civil war. He still has family there but they have not been infected with Ebola.



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