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Headlines for Tuesday,October 27, 2015

Feds Say Cost of Some Health Plans to Rise in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The federal government says rates will increase by 16.1 percent for Kansas residents who buy the mid-level ``silver'' health coverage plans through the federal online marketplace. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report Monday showing that the increase in Kansas is higher than the average for the 38 states in which consumers rely on the federal exchange. The average change in those states is a 7.5 percent increase.  Silver plans pay 70 percent of costs on average. HHS says about 96,000 Kansas residents enrolled in coverage for this year through the exchange set up by the 2010 federal health care law. Enrollment for next year begins November 1.  The agency says many Kansas residents seeking coverage through the exchange are eligible for tax credits to offset the cost. 


Soldiers Return to Fort Riley from Afghanistan

FORT RILEY, Kan. – About 120 Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, will return this week following a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. While deployed, the Fort Riley soldiers operated an unmanned aircraft system, providing reconnaissance and air power to support ground forces. A statement from the Army says the company conducted more than 1,000 combat missions during the deployment resulting in more than 8,000 flight hours. A ceremony to welcome the soldiers home will be held at Fort Riley later this week. 


Barton Solvents to Pay $1M Settlement on Waste Pollution Charges

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa-based company that mixes and transports chemicals for customers in the printing, coating, and cleaning industries has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle federal environmental violations and ensure safety at six plants in Iowa, Kansas and Wisconsin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that Barton Solvents agreed to changes to correct hazardous-waste storage and spill-prevention regulation violations. Barton President Dave Casten says the company doesn't agree with all the EPA's allegations but has made several improvements and is cooperating with the agency. The EPA says Clean Air Act violations caused explosions and fires at Barton plants in Valley Center, Kansas, and Des Moines, Iowa, in 2007. 


Suit Filed by Former Kansas Attorney General Moved to Oklahoma

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge in Oklahoma will handle the lawsuit filed by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline over the indefinite suspension of his law license related to his investigation of abortion clinics. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ordered on Monday the transfer of the case from federal court in Kansas, where it was filed. The case was moved to the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Oklahoma. The move comes with the approval of Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Kline sued the Kansas Supreme Court justices and others connected with the 2013 license suspension. He claims his punishment was unfairly severe because of his "fervid beliefs" against abortion. Kline contends the court selectively applied rules governing attorney conduct.


Justice Department Sues KCK Housing Authority Over Harassment Claims

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Justice Department has sued the Kansas City, Kansas, Housing Authority and a former hearing officer over sexual harassment claims. The suit, filed Monday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas alleges that Victor L. Hernandez sexually harassed a female public housing applicant and a female public housing tenant in 2013 while he was a hearing officer. Hernandez is accused of exposing himself to the women, asking them sexual questions and showing them pornographic pictures and videos. Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, spokesman Edwin Birch said the city had no jurisdiction over the housing authority and referred questions to the agency. 


KCK Man Sentenced for Selling Methamphetamine

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas, man has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for drug trafficking. Federal prosecutors say Jesus Octavio Valdez-Aguirre was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Prosecutors say Valdez-Aguirre was part of drug trafficking organization that distributed methamphetamine in the metro Kansas City area in 2014. The prosecutor's office says that the meth was manufactured in Mexico, smuggled to California and then to Kansas.


Used Needles a Concern at Shawnee County Recycling Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Shawnee County officials are working to protect recycling crews from discarded hypodermic needles and syringes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports needles and syringes are making their way into county recycling and posing a danger to recycling employees. Shawnee County, says the sharp objects can stab employees or break open up and contaminate recycling. The organization is planning to give out biohazard boxes for residents to use when they discard the sharp objects. The boxes come with the help of a $5,000 grant. The program allows Shawnee County residents to pick up a container for sharp items such as syringes or medical needles while supplies last, and return it to the recycling area.


Lawrence Women Form 'Granny' Basketball Team 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A group of women 50 years and older have visited Lawrence to help the community start a "Granny Basketball" team. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Granny Basketball league began in 2005 and brings women 50 years and older together to shoot hoops. Kansas is the eighth state to have a Granny Basketball team. The league bases its game rules and uniforms on standards from the 1920s. Each team has six players on the court at a time and no running, jumping or physical contact is allowed. If a player's bloomers ride up, a "flesh foul" may be called since no skin can be shown from neck to toes. The league played two games at the Holcom Park Recreation Center Saturday.


Trial Delayed for Topeka Man Accused of Punching Lawyer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities have postponed the trial of a Topeka man accused of punching his lawyer during a jury trial.  Lance Franklin is charged with aggravated battery for allegedly punching his lawyer, David McDonald, in the head while McDonald was representing Franklin during Franklin's 2014 jury trial for rape and other charges. McDonald was knocked unconscious and loaded onto a gurney as jurors watched. McDonald said he suffered two cuts that required stitches, a broken nose, a concussion and chipped teeth.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Franklin's trial for battery had been scheduled to start in November in Shawnee County court. But lawyers on Monday agreed to continue the trial to March 14, 2016. A mistrial was declared in the rape case, which is scheduled for retrial beginning February 22, 2016.


Report: Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Nearly Finished

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new report shows most of the 2016 winter wheat crop is now planted in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 91 percent of the wheat has been seeded. About 67 percent of the crop has already emerged. The agency also gave an early condition report for the fledgling crop rating 41 percent of it in good to excellent condition. About 44 percent is in fair shape with 15 percent in poor to very poor condition. Fall harvest of other crops is also moving along with 91 percent of the corn in Kansas now cut. The agency reported that 70 percent of the soybeans and 66 percent of the sorghum also has been harvested in the state. 


Volquez to Start World Series Opener for Royals

The Kansas City Royals face the New York Mets in the 111th World Series starting tonight at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. It's the Royals' second consecutive appearance in the Fall Classic. Royals' manager Ned Yost announced Monday that Edinson Volquez will be the starting pitcher for Game One, followed by Johnny Cueto in Game 2. Yordano Ventura will start Game 3 at Citi Field in New York on Friday, followed by Chris Young in Game 4. The Mets will start with Matt Harvey on the mound for tonight's opener.  Volquez was 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA during the regular season and 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA during three starts in the playoffs.


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