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Headlines for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Jersey Governor Stumps for Brownback

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is lending Sam Brownback support in the Kansas governor's tougher-than-expected race against Democrat Paul Davis. Speaking Wednesday at Oklahoma Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, Kansas, the Republican Governors Association Chairman praised Brownback as a leader. Christie said Brownback took on difficult issues, including reforming the public employee pension system. He said he never expected Kansas to be an easy win for Brownback, noting that the state previously elected Democrat Kathleen Sebelius as governor. Christie called Kansas voters "independent thinkers." Brownback used the campaign stop to talk about job creation and criticize Davis as an "Obama Democrat." Christie also was stopping at a private campaign event in Mission Hills and later in the day in Oklahoma City with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.


Kansas Representative Joe Edwards Dies

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas lawmaker who lost his re-election primary battle earlier this month has died. Representative Joe Edwards of Haysville died late Tuesday of a suspected heart attack. Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell announced Wednesday that a mortuary in Haysville confirmed his death. The 60-year-old Republican legislator served one term before losing the primary election to John Whitmer in the 93rd District. Clay Barker, the executive director for the Kansas Republican Party, said Wednesday that Edwards was well liked by his fellow representatives. Barker said Edwards was on the conservative side, but had a populist streak and was always looking out for the common man. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Beer Bottle Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man who hit an Iraq war veteran on the head with a beer bottle will go to prison for the man's death. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 23-year-old Justin Gonzalez, of Mission, was sentenced Tuesday to two years and eight months behind bars. A Douglas County jury convicted Gonzalez in June of involuntary manslaughter for the death of 27-year-old Nicholas Sardina, of Lawrence. Gonzalez testified he struck Sardina on the head with the bottle after Sardina punched one of his friends at a Lawrence party in February 2012. Prosecutors said Gonzalez used excessive force. Sardina, originally from Clarence, New York, was a sergeant in the Kansas National Guard and had served three tours in Iraq. He had also taken classes at the University of Kansas.


KDHE Announces State's First Report of West Nile Virus for 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State health officials say a man from Republic County has the first reported case of West Nile virus in Kansas this year. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment did not release any more information about the man in a news release Tuesday. West Nile virus can be spread to people by infected mosquitoes but not from person to person. Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain and in rare cases, death. The state had 92 reported cases of West Nile last year. The health department says it is not found a positive mosquito sample in Kansas so far this year.


Pedestrian Hit on Interstate Near Kansas City

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Highway Patrol is investigating after a man was struck and killed on the Interstate 70 in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs. The patrol says the man was hit in the westbound lanes of the highway about 6 am Wednesday. He apparently was trying to cross the highway when he was hit by several vehicles. Investigators said the man was possibly on his way home from work when he was hit. His name has not been released. WDAF-TV reports that one of the drivers who hit the man said he was unable to avoid the impact. Charles Williams stayed on the scene and spoke with police. He says he is extremely distressed to be one of the drivers who hit the man's body.


Missouri Utilities Look to Kansas for Wind Energy

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri utilities are looking to Kansas companies to help meet carbon dioxide emission targets proposed by a federal agency. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal that offered specific emission targets for each state, the first of which would kick in by 2020. The rule is expected to be finalized next year. Empire District Electric Company and Kansas City Power and Light are utility companies that serve customers in Missouri and Kansas. Both utilities say Kansas wind turbines could play a major role in helping Missouri meet its EPA-proposed targets. But one of the utilities says that assumes both states are willing to work together.


Controversy over Closed School in SE Kansas

MCCUNE, Kan. (AP) - A controversy over the future of a closed school in southeast Kansas continues to brew. The Southeast School District is offering to lease a former elementary school in McCune to the city for $1 a year. But some city officials say the building already belongs to taxpayers and they want the city to have unrestricted ownership of the building. The school has been the center of controversy since the district, which is based in Clearwater, voted to close the McCune Attendance Center in May, despite strong opposition from residents. The Joplin Globe reports the district is reluctant to transfer ownership of the building to the city because some McCune residents want to ask another school district to reopen it as an elementary school.


$250,000 Grant to Promote Kansas Exports

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Commerce is joining forces with Kansas Global Trade Services to increase awareness of the importance of exports to the state's economy. Governor Sam Brownback said Tuesday that a $250,000 grant from the Legislature will allow the nonprofit trade advisory firm to work with communities. The aim is to promote exports and identify companies with global market potential that can create jobs. Under the contract, Kansas Global Trade Services will coordinate six regional meetings. The money will also pay for meetings with businesses throughout the state to identify export opportunities. An export service provider directory of Kansas firms is also planned. State Commerce Secretary Pat George says Kansas exports have grown by $2.5 billion during the past three years.


Kansas Man Indicted in Video Fraud Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man has been indicted on charges of creating dozens of false identities so he could buy discounted DVD and Blu-ray movies and then resell them. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday that 45-year-old Harvey C. Self, of Derby, is charged with nine counts of mail fraud, plus money laundering and tax fraud. Self told The Associated Press he has eight children and was raising money to support his kids by buying discs in bulk and selling them individually. He says armed agents came to his house last year and took what they wanted. He says they also cleaned out his bank account and that of his then- 75-year-old mother. The indictment says agents seized 2,833 DVDs and Blu-ray discs from his home.


Former Altoona City Clerk Charged with Bank Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former city clerk of Altoona in southeast Kansas is accused of embezzling public funds. A federal indictment on Wednesday charges 30-year-old Chrystal M. Scherbarth, of Altoona, with three counts of bank fraud. Prosecutors allege she used her access to the to the city's payroll system to raise her own salary, issue unauthorized checks to herself and give herself vacation and sick leave she had not earned. The indictment also accuses Scherbarth of making more than $36,700 worth of unauthorized charges on a city credit card. Court documents do not show an attorney and no home phone number could be found for her. She was employed with the city from June 2011 through November 2013. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in federal prison.


Audit Criticizes Missouri School Reform Deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A state auditor says the Missouri education department used a biased bidding process when it contracted with a consultant to study an overhaul of the Kansas City school district. The review released Tuesday criticized the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's contract with Indianapolis-based Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust. The Kansas City Star reported in December that Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro talked with CEE-Trust consultants long before the $385,000 contract was approved, and the contract cost three times more than a bid from a Massachusetts company. The money came from the Kauffman and the Hall Family Foundations, which support charter schools. The education department said in a statement Tuesday that it would take steps to implement some of the auditor's recommendations in the future.


Cosmosphere Hosting Astronauts in Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Several astronauts will touch down this weekend in Hutchinson, as part of a fundraiser for the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke and Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise and Jim Lovell will be among those attending the annual Fly Around, Dine Around event at the center. The Hutchinson News reports others attending include shuttle astronauts Catherine Coleman, Steven Hawley, Mike Mullane and Charles Walker. The guests will participate in several activities throughout the weekend, including book and model signings, a progressive dinner and a reception. The event comes as the center reports a 5 percent increase in attendance from August through June, when compared with the same time a year ago. The Cosmosphere averages about 105,000 visitors a year.


Man Charged in Double Kansas City Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 18-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with killing two people as they sat inside a stopped vehicle. Ra'mond Taylor was charged Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court with two counts of second-degree murder in the January killings of 21-year-old Rollonn Gordon and 33-year-old Deon Drew. Taylor also faces multiple counts of armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records say the victims were stopped at a light when shots were fired out of a stolen vehicle. Investigators found the stolen vehicle and matched shell casings from it to the scene of the killings. Court records say paperwork from the stolen vehicle later was found in a hotel where Taylor stayed the night of the killings.


Kansas Man Sentenced in Fatal Police Chase

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas City, Kansas, man was sentenced to more than 22 years and five months in prison for second-degree murder and other crimes arising from a fatal accident while he was fleeing from police. Twenty-nine-year-old Christopher Bradley Stewart was sentenced Monday for the February traffic crash. He was fleeing from police when his car hit one driven by 62-year-old Graciela Olivas, who was killed. Stewart pleaded guilty in July to second-degree murder and eluding a police officer. He also pleaded guilty to a previous drug possession case. He was wanted for skipping sentencing in that case at the time he killed Olivas.


Injured Woman Gives Birth Before Dying

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a pregnant woman who was injured in a two-vehicle crash delivered her baby before she died at a hospital. Twenty-one-year-old Trevadawn Pauley was one of six people injured in the crash Tuesday night. Pauley was seven months' pregnant. Police say doctors at Wesley Medical Center delivered the baby girl before Pauley was pronounced dead around 1 am Wednesday. The newborn was reported in critical condition later Wednesday. The crash happened at a southwest Wichita intersection when a southbound SUV hit a northbound car making a left turn. Two other people suffered serious injuries in the crash, while three were treated for minor injuries.


Man Arrested After Pointing Gun at Interstate Traffic

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Platte County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol say they arrested an Idaho man who witnesses said was pointing a gun at traffic along Interstate 29 north of Kansas City. Authorities say they have not received any reports of the man firing shots at traffic. Several witnesses reported seeing the man walking along the interstate with a rifle. KMBC-TV reports the 46-year-old man was arrested Tuesday afternoon near the Tracy-Weston exit close to Platte City. Deputies used a stun gun on William R. Elders to take him into custody.


Brownback Helps Break Ground for New KHP Troop Headquarters

KECHI, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has broken ground for its new headquarters in the south-central part of the state. Governor Sam Brownback joined other dignitaries at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday in Kechi, located outside Wichita. The 22,000-square-foot building will house the patrol's Troop F, which has outgrown its current quarters in Wichita. The building is expected to be ready by July 2015 and will also be used by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Patrol officials say the $3.5 million project is being financed with funds from asset forfeitures. The land is owned by the Kansas Department of Transportation. Troop F patrols 13 counties of south-central Kansas.


Man Killed by Police in Wichita Suburb

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police chief says an officer responding to a domestic disturbance shot and killed a man in Haysville. Police were called to an apartment around 10:45 am Tuesday and found a woman injured amid an ongoing disturbance. Haysville Police Chief Jeff Whitfield says an officer shot the man in a confrontation, but it's not clear if the shooting was in response to the man threatening police or harming the woman. The woman was hospitalized. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is among the agencies looking into the shooting. This was the Wichita area's second fatal shooting by law enforcement in the past week. A Newton police officer answering a domestic violence call Thursday killed a man who authorities said refused to drop a hunting knife.


Overland Park Bans E-Cigs in Public

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - The second-largest city in Kansas is adding electronic cigarettes to its ban on smoking in public places. The expanded ordinance in Overland Park will take effect later this month. City Council members in the Johnson County community approved it Monday night. Overland Park has prohibited smoking in hotel rooms, restaurants, workplaces and other public, indoor spaces for nearly a decade. The new ordinance adds electronic cigarettes to the ban. The measure also makes it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to people under 18. Council members disagreed on whether there's conclusive research that vapor from electronic cigarettes is dangerous to smokers and to those exposed to it second-hand. Proponents of the ban said it was better to err on the side of caution.


Man Guilty of Spying on Leavenworth Family

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas man who was discovered by a child to be hiding under a bed will be sentenced next month for criminal trespass and other charges. The Leavenworth Times reports a jury took about an hour this week to convict 35-year-old Earl Brockington Jr. Authorities said Brockington entered the Leavenworth home of the mother of his children on April 21 and hid under a bed for several hours while spying on the family. The mother testified during the one-day trial that she thought her son was imagining things when he told her someone was under the bed. The two adults struggled before the woman and children got out of the house. Brockington will be sentenced September 24 for charges that also include robbery, domestic battery and witness intimidation.


Man Pleads to Manslaughter Charge in Traffic Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old Wichita man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a car crash that killed a 6-year-old girl. Raudel Sandoval Jr. was initially charged with second-degree reckless murder for the June 2012 death of Feodora Two-Hatchett. Police and witnesses said Sandoval was driving up to 70 mph in a 35 mph zone when his car hit a vehicle driven by Feodora's mother at an intersection. The girl died at the scene. The Sedgwick County prosecutor said Wednesday that Sandoval told police after the crash that he had just left a carwash and was driving fast to dry his car. Sandoval is to be sentenced October 24.


Kansas Historic Landmark Needs Repairs

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — A historic and picturesque landmark in central Kansas is in need of some renovation and repair. The Coronado Heights site near Lindsborg is considered one of the state's most scenic locations. The sandstone formation's natural platform has been used by generations as a scenic overlook and place to picnic. The Wichita Eagle reports the Smoky Valley Historical Association says the landmark is sagging and deteriorating, although it is not considered dangerous. The group, which owns and manages the site, is hosting a capital campaign to raise money for renovating the park. The group received a $90,000 matching grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund. But it needs more than $57,000 for its share of the work, and another $65,000 for roadwork and drainage repair.



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