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Headlines for Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Officials: 20 Percent Turnout for KS Primary Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say about 20 percent of the state's 1.74 million registered voters took part in this month's primary elections. Secretary of State Kris Kobach chairs the three-member State Board of Canvassers, which certified the results of the August 5 primaries on Wednesday. Nearly 351,000 ballots were cast. Kobach had predicted 22 percent turnout. The 20 percent participation was the lowest for a Kansas primary election since 2006, when it was 18 percent. Turnout in the last primary in a non-presidential election year in 2010 was 25 percent. Logan County in western Kansas had the highest turnout, at 40 percent. The lowest turnout, less than 12 percent, was in Labette County in southeast Kansas.


Kansas Judge Won't Challenge State Panel's Findings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas judge says he won't challenge a state panel's recommendation that he be disciplined for violating judicial conduct rules. The Commission on Judicial Qualifications found in July that Sedgwick County District Judge Timothy Henderson made inappropriate and offensive comments in the presence of female attorneys. The state panel helps the Kansas Supreme Court in judicial disciplinary matters. It is recommending Henderson's punishment be a public reprimand by the state's highest court. The Wichita Eagle reports Henderson's attorney says the judge isn't admitting to the state panel's findings. He says the judge wants to get back to doing his job. Henderson was reassigned from the juvenile court to the civil court department in May.


Schodorf Releases Income Tax Returns

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Democratic challenger to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has released the past three years of personal income tax information and is challenging her opponent to do the same. Jean Schodorf released her return transcripts on Wednesday in a bid to force Kobach to prove his claim that he spends only an average of 4.9 hours per week on his private law practice. Critics contend Kobach spends too much time outside Kansas as the architect of anti-immigration laws across the nation. Kobach says he has already made public how much time he averages in his private law practice and calls Schodorf's move a political stunt. Schodorf's returns listed total annual income ranging from $51,128 to $136,098. Her federal income taxes ranged between $2,374 and $18,234 during those three years.


Panel Sides with Gas Firm in Kansas Condemnation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A court-appointed panel of petroleum engineering experts has sided with Omaha-based Northern Natural Gas over what it should pay for condemning nearly 9,200 acres in southern Kansas. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Wednesday gave the parties until September 16 to file objections to the recommendations in the panel's 85-page report. The panel's findings stem from 19 days of trial on compensation for gas producers and owners of land surrounding the company's underground gas storage facility. That trial was marked by conflicting testimony by experts for the company and experts for affected property owners in Pratt, Kingman and Reno counties. The panel is recommending the company pay $7.3 million for storage rights and for gas underlying the land, far below the more than $100 million property owners wanted.


Small Plane Crash-Lands Near Kansas Airport

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a pilot and his passenger escaped injury when a small, twin-engine plane made a crash landing near an airport. The incident happened shortly before 11 am Wednesday at the El Dorado Airport in Butler County. Authorities say the pilot was doing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings when the plane lost power in one engine. The 1966 Cessna 310K then landed hard in a field near the airport.


Kansas Board OKs 92-Year-Old's Voter Registration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas board has approved the voter registration of a 92-year-old woman after she and her daughter presented copies of census records and a page from a battered family Bible to prove she was born in the U.S. Evelyn Howard of Shawnee went before the State Election Board on Wednesday because she had no birth certificate. Daughter Marilyn Hopkins said she was born in a midwife's home in Minnesota in February 1922. Kansas requires new voters to provide a birth certificate or other proof of their citizenship when registering. Howard moved to Kansas from Missouri in 2013 and sought to register as a Republican voter earlier this month. The three-member board's decision was unanimous. The page from the family Bible recorded the birth of Howard and two siblings.


Report Finds KS Schools Not Misusing Reduced-Price Meal Data

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A report by a Kansas school board association finds the increase in children receiving free or reduced-price meals is tied to poverty rates and isn't a ploy to boost school funding. Over the past 15 years, the number of students eligible for the meals had swelled from 33 to 50 percent. The number of students who qualify for free meals factors into the state's school finance formula. School districts receive more money for students from low-income households. It's based on the idea that schools in impoverished areas have a higher need. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports state lawmakers have raised questions about why there's an increase in students eligible for the meals and whether the growth in applications is linked to schools misusing the formula to get more funding.


Only 1 Federally Registered Voter Cast Ballot in KS Dual System

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One voter. That's the total number of Kansans who registered using the federal voter form without proof of citizenship and actually cast a ballot in the August 5 primaries under a dual election system. Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Tuesday that of the 180 Kansans who used the federal registration form without providing documentation, only one of them voted — in Johnson County. Under the state's dual system, only their votes cast in the federal races would be counted. Kobach's office is still calculating how many of the more than 18,000 people whose state registrations are on hold voted in the primary using provisional ballots, but Kobach says it appears to be only a handful tried voting. All of their provisional votes would have been discarded.


Lawrence Man Sentenced in Child Porn Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years for multiple child pornography crimes. Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson says 46-year-old Michael J. Limburg was sentenced Tuesday for 10 counts of promoting sexual performances and four counts of possessing child pornography. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that investigators found images of child pornography on computer disks belonging to Limburg. A forensic examination of Limburg's computer also turned up numerous searches for terms associated with child pornography.


Autopsy Determines Kansas Man Died in Hit-and-Run

OSAGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Osage County officials say a 20-year-old man whose body was found along a highway during the weekend died in a hit-and-run. Sheriff Laurie Dunn said an autopsy confirmed that Timothy Kemble of Carbondale was hit by a car before his body was found Sunday morning along U.S. 56. Authorities are still searching for the vehicle that hit Kemble and are asking anyone with information to call 1-877-OS-CRIME.


Kansas Community to Begin Rebuilding its Downtown

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas community that lost a downtown block to a fire five years ago is preparing to start rebuilding. The Hutchinson News reports a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled Thursday morning for the $3.5 million redevelopment project in Anthony. Several businesses were destroyed on July 8, 2009, by a gas explosion and massive fire that burned for hours. The fire began when a truck broke through pavement in an alley, severing a gas line that then exploded. Demolition began a year later, and a special sales tax was levied in the downtown area to fund the reconstruction. The project calls for a building a two-story, 41,000-square-foot shell with nearly a dozen storefronts, which will then be up to individual property owners to complete.


Fire Damages Fraternity House in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Members of a fraternity at the University of Kansas are moving back into their chapter house after a minor fire. Lawrence-Douglas County firefighters were called to the Sigma Chi house around 11:30 am Tuesday on a report of smoke coming from the third floor. The fire was under control at 12:30 pm and was contained to an area that houses bedrooms and a bathroom. The university said the 74 residents of the house were able to move back in by Tuesday evening. Four were moving to other rooms in the house. The Sigma Chi house was also damaged in August 2012 in an accidental fire caused by construction.


Suspect Charged in Death of Kansas State Student

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the November 2013 death of a Kansas State University student. Riley County police say 21-year-old Gregory Haug Jr. was arrested Saturday and is charged in the death of 18-year-old freshman Jordan Forbit. Forbit, of Elkhart, was found dead on November 20 inside a vehicle parked in a campus lot outside the Derby residential complex in Manhattan. Forbit was a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Further details about what led to Haug's arrest in the case were not released.


Fatal Fireworks Explosion Ruled Accidental

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ The state fire marshal says an explosion that killed a worker at a southeast Kansas fireworks company has been ruled accidental. The blast happened August 12 at a Pittsburg warehouse owned by Jake's Fireworks. Two employees were unloading a shipping container of fireworks to move them to the company's new headquarters when the explosion occurred. An investigator from the Kansas fire marshal's office told The Joplin Globe on Tuesday the explosion has been traced to debris around a forklift the men were using. Twenty-eight-year-old Kenny Clark died several hours later at a hospital in Joplin, Missouri. The other employee also suffered severe burns.


Town Stops Using Gas Chamber to Euthanize Animals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas now has only three shelters that use gas chambers to euthanize animals after a fourth shut its chamber down earlier this month. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Eureka unplugged its chamber a few days after the newspaper published a story about the ongoing practice in the state. The city's administrator says switching to a different way to euthanize animals had been a goal for quite a while. Nationwide only about 50 shelters and pounds still use gas chambers. Of the three Kansas communities that still operate gas chambers, one hasn't used its chamber since last year, one didn't respond to interview requests and the other is looking into alternatives only because it anticipates state law changes that would make it impractical to continue using its chamber.


Marijuana Plants Seized in Kansas Operation

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities in southeast Kansas say they've broken up a large marijuana-growing operation. Greenwood County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday seized more than 1,700 marijuana plants from a field in the south-central part of the county. Two people were arrested, and the investigation is still going on. Personnel from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Highway Patrol and the state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism took part in the seizure.


Man Escapes with Kansas City Police Cruiser

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified a man suspected of stealing a Kansas City police car and abandoning it along Interstate 35 as a 30-year-old Liberty resident. The patrol and Daviess County sheriff's deputies continued searching Wednesday morning for Joshua Boyd, who is suspected of overpowering a Kansas City police officer around 2:20 am and driving off with his vehicle. Patrol spokesman Sergeant Jake Angle says the vehicle was found a few hours later at the 75-mile marker near Pattonsburg, about an hour north of Kansas City, and a shotgun that had been inside was missing. Angle says Boyd is considered armed and dangerous. Kansas City police spokesman Captain Tye Grant says officers tried to negotiate with Boyd over police radio in the car but were unsuccessful.


Women for Kansas Rally to Open Convention

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A grassroots group called Women for Kansas is planning a public rally to open its "Taking Back Kansas" convention. The group aims to unite women to defeat Governor Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach in November. The rally takes place at 5:30 pm Friday on the west side of Century II in Wichita. Speakers will include a first-time voter, a Lawrence educator and a representative from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The convention runs through Saturday evening, with sessions on Medicaid expansion, taxes and voting rights. Also scheduled are a session dubbed the "Kansas judiciary under attack" and a discussion of the economic contributions of immigrants. Convention speakers will include Democrat gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis and Greg Orman, the independent running for U.S. Senate.


Baby Born After Wichita Crash Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A baby born prematurely after her mother was fatally injured in a Wichita traffic accident has died. Twenty-one-year-old Trevadawn Pauley was seven months pregnant when she was injured last week. Doctors at Wesley Medical Center were able to deliver her baby shortly before Pauley died of her injuries. Police and relatives told KWCH-TV that the infant, named Aniyiah Grace, died Tuesday. She had been in critical condition since her birth. A funeral for the baby will be held Friday in Derby. Pauley was among several people injured August 19 when an SUV struck a car making a turn at an intersection in southwest Wichita.


Explosion Levels Western Missouri Home

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ Investigators are focusing on natural gas as the possible cause of an explosion that leveled a house in western Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that the blast in Independence early Tuesday afternoon was felt two miles away. No injuries were reported. All three members of the family that has occupied the three-bedroom home since 1971 were away at the time. Videos from television news helicopters showed the walls flattened and the roof collapsed, with only the chimney still standing. Neighbors reported smelling natural gas after the explosion, but the homeowner said there had been no odor of gas about 90 minutes before the blast. Two firefighters were taken to a hospital as a precaution to be treated for heat exhaustion.


Royals Manager Implores Fans to Attend Games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost pleaded with fans on Wednesday to show up for their remaining home games, one night after Alex Gordon's walk-off homer gave Kansas City a dramatic win over Minnesota that was seen by just 13,847 at Kauffman Stadium. Yost briefly mentioned the attendance in his postgame remarks, and expanded on his thoughts when he was asked a follow-up question about so many empty seats during a pennant race. "We've been working hard to try to make our fans happy and make our fans proud of us for a lot of years," Yost said, "and we'd like them to enjoy a night like that." The Royals entered Wednesday with a 1½-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.


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