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Headlines for Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Davis Predicts Kansas School Funding Cuts If Brownback Wins

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic challenger Paul Davis predicts that funding for Kansas public schools will be cut if Republican Governor Sam Brownback wins re-election, but Davis is not outlining a specific education plan. Davis had a news conference Tuesday at Lowman Hill Elementary School in Topeka to criticize Brownback on education funding issues. Davis said Brownback has made cutting the state's personal income taxes his top priority, to the detriment of public schools. The Democrat said that if Brownback wins a second four-year term, Kansas will have to reduce aid to schools because of budget problems created by the tax cuts. The Legislature's nonpartisan research staff is projecting a budget shortfall of $238 million by July 2016. Brownback spokesman John Milburn said Davis is distorting the governor's record while offering no specifics.


Storms Slam Southern Kansas, Western Missouri

TOPEKA,Kan (AP) —Severe thunderstorms slammed parts of southern Kansas and western Missouri early Monday evening. At least one of the storms produced a tornado near Cedar Vale, Kansas just after 8:00 pm. The National Weather Service also confirms reports of hail the size of pingpong balls there. Cedar Vale is near the Oklahoma border, about 65 miles southeast of Wichita. There were numerous reports of downed trees and power lines but no reports of injuries or serious damage. A line of severe thunderstorms also struck southwestern Missouri Monday evening but no significant damage was reported.


Survey: KHP Workers Loyal, but Frustrated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A survey of Kansas Highway Patrol employees found a high degree of loyalty to the organization but strong frustration with management. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the $20,000 study was done by University of Kansas researchers and was prompted by complaints of weak morale in the organization. About 83 percent of those surveyed said they cared about the fate of the organization and nearly 70 percent said they felt loyalty to the agency. But more than two-thirds said they didn't believe the highway patrol's management consistently enforced disciplinary procedures for all workers. The highway patrol's superintendent says two-thirds of civilian and uniform personnel volunteered for the survey. He says he'd received complaints in the past three years and wanted the review to identify whether the concerns were perceived or real.


Advocates Seek Kansans with Voting Problems

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - League of Women Voters chapters are trying to contact about 20,000 Kansans whose voter registrations are stalled because of problems proving their citizenship. The president of the Lawrence-Douglas County chapter says the work is slow because many of the potential voters do not answer telephone messages or emails from the organization. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach contends it is easy for residents to prove their citizenship before voting. He says the law is necessary to prevent illegal immigrants from voting. Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said the chapters are using various methods to help local election commissioners reach people whose registrations aren't complete.


Kansas Attorney General Names New Deputy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has a new top assistant. Schmidt announced last week that Jeff Chanay (CHAY'-nee) is the new deputy chief attorney general. Chanay previously led the office's civil litigation division. Chanay joined the attorney general's staff when Schmidt took office in January 2011. He'd previously had a private law practice in Topeka for 24 years. As chief deputy, he'll replace John Campbell, who'd also been with Schmidt from the beginning of his tenure but stepped down for health reasons. Campbell began working in the attorney general's office in 1981, rising to chief deputy in 1995, under Republican Carla Stovall. He worked as the Insurance Department's chief counsel for eight years, starting in 2003, before returning to the attorney general's office in 2011.


Respiratory Illness Hits Hundreds of KC-Area Kids

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City pediatric hospital has treated hundreds of young children for a respiratory illness that has symptoms similar to a common cold that more typically is seen during winter months. Children's Mercy Hospital spokesman Jake Jacobson says the facility has been seeing about 30 new patients a day who have been sickened by human enterovirus 68, with a total of about 450 cases as of Tuesday. While the virus hits children with underlying conditions such as asthma harder than others and has resulted in about 15 percent of the cases being placed in intensive care, most patients are simply urged to stay hydrated and sent home. The Missouri Department of Health issued a health alert saying St. Louis hospitals also have seen an increase in pediatric respiratory illnesses.


3 Fatally Shot, 2 Wounded in Kansas City Homes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say three adults have been shot to death and two others critically wounded in a residential neighborhood in the southern part of the city. The shootings occurred shortly before 1 pm Tuesday. Officers found one person dead and two wounded at a home, then discovered two others dead at a nearby residence. No one was in custody three hours later. Police Sergeant Kari Thompson would not describe the victims or the suspected shooter. She also would not comment on whether the deaths were being investigated as a homicide-suicide. Police went door-to-door talking to neighbors but said there was no indication of danger to the public. Officers are looking for a beige 2002 Toyota Highlander, with Missouri license plate KC5-A4X, that was missing from one of the homes.


Kansas Trooper Kills Runaway Elk

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas authorities have fatally shot an escaped elk inside Wichita city limits after it eluded officers for hours. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper killed the female elk on Monday afternoon after it and two others escaped from a farm that morning. Authorities tried but failed to hit the animal with a tranquilizer dart. They say they shot it to keep it from running into a busy intersection. The animal traveled about 5 miles through city streets and residents' backyards before it was shot. Its owner says he planned to butcher the elk at the end of the year. He says they likely broke through the fence after being spooked by dove hunters. Authorities are searching for the other elk.


Topeka City Council to Consider Public Nudity Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Topeka City Council is set to consider a ban on nudity in public places after a nude man strolled down city streets last week. Councilwoman Michelle De La Isla requested the proposal be placed on the September 9 agenda. The Topeka Police Department and the Shawnee County Sheriff's Department say state law only prohibits public nudity "in the context of sexual arousal." De La Isla says she received calls from worried constituents. She says no one wants their kids "exposed to naked people." The council last considered a public nudity ban in 2005. That proposal wasn't seconded and died without a vote.


Police: Man Critically Injured in Wichita Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say a man was critically injured in a shooting following a car chase. Sgt. John Ryan says the man was shot in his car Monday afternoon. He says a man in a silver SUV with up to four passengers fired into the man's Ford Mustang. The man was hit multiple times and taken to the Wesley Medical Center. A passenger in the Mustang was not injured and called police. The passenger says the men know each other and have been feuding. Police say the vehicles chased each other through a residential neighborhood before the shooting. Police are searching for the men from the SUV.


Kansas State Fair Will Showcase New Museum

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - When the Kansas State Fair opens Friday, it will include a new museum honoring a longtime painter and fair fixture who died last year. The fair's new Lair White House is located on the site of the former home of J.B. Holdren, long known as Bardo the Clown. He was a clown and show painter at the fair for decades before his death in 2013. The half-million-dollar, two-story Lair White House includes a museum on its ground floor. It was paid for with private funds. The first exhibit will be "Year of the Clown," which will showcase Holdren's private collection of carnival artifacts including antique posters, restored carousel horses and Bardo's clown suit from the 1930s. The fair runs from Friday through September 14.


Kansas Gets $350K to Push Healthier School Meals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is receiving nearly $350,000 in federal grants to help schools serve healthier meals and snacks. The Kansas Department of Education says it will use the money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide training. The state also will take steps to increase participation in the school breakfast program and use gardening as a way to entice students to eat different fruits and vegetables. Schools also will be able to apply for money to offer staff wellness programs and cooking and tasting activities in the classroom.

KU Logs Record-Setting Year for Donations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says it received a record $253.2 million in donations in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The university said in a news release Tuesday that the donations compared with $174.2 million donated the previous fiscal year. The contributions to the university and the University of Kansas Hospital included $193.1 million in outright gifts and pledges, $59.1 million in deferred gifts and $1 million in contributions directly to the university. The donations allowed the university to create seven new professorship and fund 91 new scholarships and fellowships. The statement says the money also will be used to expand or build several buildings, including Capitol Federal Hall, the DeBruce Center and the Earth, Energy and Environment Center.

Report: Midwest Economic Index Inched Up in August

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwestern and Plains states rose slightly in August, suggesting growth is ahead. A survey report issued Tuesday says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index inched up to 57.2 last month from 57.0 in July. The index had reached a three-year high of 60.6 in June. Looking six months ahead, the business confidence portion of the overall index climbed to 60.4 from 60.0 in July. It had hit 63.6 in June. The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers at Creighton University say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Woman to Change Plea in Kansas Adoption Scam Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman accused of pretending to be pregnant to scam prospective adoptive parents in Kansas and elsewhere has notified the court she intends to change her plea. A court notation Tuesday shows 34-year-old Chrystal Marie Rippey, of Marshall, Texas, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing September 17 before a federal magistrate judge in Kansas City, Kansas. Rippey was indicted in February on federal charges of mail and wire fraud. Defense attorney Thomas Bartee did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Prosecutors allege Rippey contacted adoption agencies and individuals, pretending she was pregnant and seeking to give up her unborn child for adoption. The indictment contends prospective parents bought her meals and gifts, believing she was willing to let them adopt her baby after birth.


Electric Bills Increasing for KCP&L Customers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Customers of Kansas City Power & Light Company will be paying a little more each month for their electricity. The Missouri Public Service Commission says bills will be going up starting in September to account for higher fuel costs for the Kansas City-based utility. It says typical residential customers in the Kansas City service area will pay an additional $2.44 a month while customers in the St. Joseph service area will pay an additional $1.20 a month. KCP&L's Greater Missouri Operations Company serves about 313,000 electric customers in the state.


KC Chamber Updates 'Big 5' Ideas for Growth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce says it's making strides toward meeting its top goals for the region. The goals, dubbed the Big 5, were identified nearly three years ago. They include moving the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to a new downtown location. In its latest Big 5 update, the chamber noted that a site adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has been selected, and fundraising continues. Another goal is revitalizing urban neighborhoods. The chamber says a group called the Urban Neighborhood Initiative is working with the Kansas City school district to develop a new, high-achieving charter elementary school to be surrounded by new, mixed-use housing. Chamber President & CEO Jim Heeter says he's pleased with the results.


Kansas State Study Link Gender to Type of Traffic Crash

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - A new Kansas State University study finds gender affects the likelihood of young drivers being involved in different types of crashes. For the study, a civil engineering professor and doctoral student looked at five years of Kansas accidents involving 16- to 24-year-old drivers. Their findings include that young female drivers had more crashes at intersections and collisions with pedestrians. They also found that young male drivers had more off-road crashes and accidents at sunset. The researchers said they hoped the study would be used to help develop more targeted educational materials. The findings were published in the Journal of Safety Research. The research is part of a larger Kansas Department of Transportation study about improving highway safety of young drivers.


Breaks Sought for Proposed Biotech Office Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Backers of a proposed biotech office park in south Kansas City are preparing to seek tax breaks for the 350-acre project. Called Oxford on the Blue, the office park would be bigger than Sprint's headquarters or Corporate Woods in Overland Park, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the city's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee is set to consider a property tax abatement for the project on September 10. If approved, the changes would face a final vote by the Kansas City Council the next day. Oxford on the Blue advocates say the tax break is needed to bring research firms, clinical trial facilities and similar biotech operations to the site. Others, including school district officials, question whether it would extend tax incentives too far.


Bomb Threat Forces Terminal Evacuation at KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person's comment about a pickup truck that might be carrying a bomb prompted the evacuation of a main terminal at Kansas City International Airport Sunday night. Flights scheduled to be arriving at Terminal B were rerouted to Terminal C while the Kansas City bomb squad searched the truck. An airport spokesman says the person who mentioned a bomb to an airport employee at about 6:30 Sunday night was taken into custody by airport security. Passengers were allowed to return to the terminal around 8:30 pm. The spokesman says it was not immediately known if explosives were found.


Police: Identification of Decomposed Body Will Take Time

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Lawrence police say it could take a while to identify the badly decomposed body of a man who was found in a city park. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a couple from out of town reported seeing a body lying face-down in shallow water west of Vermont Street bridge on Sunday. Police Sergeant Craig Shanks says because of the condition of the body, it likely will be some time before a positive ID and cause of death are determined. Suzanne Conley says she and her boyfriend discovered the body during a holiday weekend visit to Lawrence, where she attended the University of Kansas in the late 1980s. Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy by the Douglas County Coroner's Office.


Police Identify 71-Year-Old Killed in Shootout with Officers

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) _ A 71-year-old central Kansas man has been identified as the person killed in a shootout with Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and Barton County deputies over the weekend. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir on Monday identified the man as George Carson of rural Barton County. He was wounded during an exchange of gunfire with officers who had responded at 6:39 pm Saturday to a domestic battery call in which shots were fired. Bellendir says Carson was taken to a hospital in Hoisington, where he died of his wounds. No law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.


Device Found at Wichita Motel Was Harmless

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita motel employee who was cleaning rooms found a device with wires and a pair of tubes that were made to look like sticks of dynamite, but it turned out to be a novelty item. The Wichita Eagle reports that 30 people were evacuated from the Mark 8 Inn shortly after the employee reported the item at 11:30 am Monday. Police Sgt. Ed Brower says the occupant of the room told police it was a novelty, but investigators had to verify that claim for themselves. The bomb squad took X-rays of the device and determined it was harmless.


KC-Area Manufacturers See Skilled Worker Shortage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Manufacturing companies in Kansas and Missouri say there are plenty of high-paying jobs available for people qualified to run sophisticated factory equipment, but there doesn't seem to be enough local talent to fill them. Industry leaders in both states say many job applicants lack even basic reading, writing and math skills necessary to perform required tasks. The Kansas City Star reports larger manufacturers are able to afford up to $10,000 per worker for training, but that's more of a challenge for smaller companies. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said in its August manufacturing survey that regional manufacturing companies have been expanding production for eight straight months. Several manufacturers with openings in the Kansas City area say their vacant positions would pay between $14 and $25 an hour.


Drug Abuse Top Reason for Removing Kids from Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Reports from the Kansas Department for Children and Families show that more children in the state are removed from their homes and placed in foster care because of concerns about parents' drug and alcohol abuse than for any other primary reason _ including physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. The agency says mental illness often plays a parallel role in those cases as people with mood or anxiety disorders are more likely to self-medicate. The Wichita Eagle reports that nearly 750 Kansas children were removed from their homes because of concerns about their parents' substance abuse in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30. Of those, 93 were from Sedgwick County.


Royals Recall 4 to Help Depth in Stretch Run

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have recalled infielder Christian Colon, outfielder Terrance Gore and pitchers Aaron Crow and Liam Hendriks from Double-A Northwest Arkansas for their playoff push. Colon was in the starting lineup at third base for Tuesday night's game against Texas. Gore gives the Royals a speedy threat on the base paths. He opened the season at Class-A Wilmington and climbed to Triple-A Omaha before spending time in Arkansas prior to his arrival. Colon can play several infield positions, while Crow is a former All-Star reliever. Hendriks was impressive in a spot start last week, but will be used out of the bullpen down the stretch.



KU Cornerback Short Withdraws from School

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Junior cornerback Kevin Short has withdrawn from the University of Kansas due to personal reasons, though coach Charlie Weis left open the door Tuesday to his possible return next season. Weis refused to discuss the reasons for Short's departure. The two met Monday and the backup cornerback decided then to withdraw from school and return home to Florissant, Missouri. Short said in a statement that his departure was not due to academics or behavior. Weis said that he knew Short could be unavailable, and that's part of the reason he had been running with the second team in practice. Seniors Dexter McDonald and Cassius Sendish are listed as the starters for Saturday's season opener against Southeast Missouri State.


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