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Headlines for Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Judge Approves Voter Registration Rules in Kansas, Georgia & Alabama 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge says residents of Kansas, Georgia and Alabama will have to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote for federal elections using a national form. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon sided Wednesday with a U.S. elections official who changed the proof-of-citizenship requirements on the form at the request of the three states without public notice. Residents of other states need only to swear that they are citizens, not show proof. The judge refused to issue the temporary injunction sought by a coalition of voting rights groups to overturn the unilateral move by Brian Newby, the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The groups argue the requirements hurt their ability to conduct voter registration drives and deprive eligible voters of the right to vote in federal elections.


Kansas Supreme Court Accepts Latest School Funding Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court has signed off on a new education funding law that boosts state aid to poor school districts. The justices issued a brief order Tuesday saying that the Legislature ``has currently satisfied'' the court's previous orders on education funding by approving the measure last week. The decision ends a threat that the state's public schools would be shut down after Thursday. The court issued its three-page order a day after Governor Sam Brownback signed the school finance measure into law. Lawyers for the state and attorneys for four school districts suing the state submitted a joint statement saying that the measure complied with the court's dictates. The justices ruled last month that the state's school funding system was unfair to poor school districts. 


Brownback Describes Medicaid Backlog as 'Frustrating' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he's disappointed the state's backlog in unprocessed Medicaid applications is four times as large as previously thought. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback discussed the situation in an interview as the state battles with a contractor over who bears blame for the mistake. The number of unprocessed Medicaid applications stood at about 3,500 people until the state acknowledged earlier this month the actual figure was more than 15,000. Brownback described the situation as "frustrating." Brownback is reiterating the steps the state is taking to whittle down the backlog, such as retaining temporary staff. Brownback also defended the overall performance the state's privatized Medicaid program, known as KanCare. It grew out of Brownback administration efforts during the governor's first term.


Kansas AG Asks Court to Reconsider Rulings on Sobriety Tests 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the state's highest court to reconsider rulings earlier this year that motorists suspected of drunken driving cannot be punished for refusing to take sobriety tests. Schmidt cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Minnesota and North Dakota cases in filing his request Monday with the Kansas Supreme Court. Kansas law has punished a motorist's refusal to take a breath, blood or urine test with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,250. But the state Supreme Court ruled in February in four cases that the law was invalid because of protections in the U.S. Constitution against warrantless searches. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that motorists could face criminal penalties for refusing to take breath tests.


Kansas Transportation Secretary Stepping Down in July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King is resigning effective July 15 and says he plans to return to private business. Republican Governor Sam Brownback's office announced King's departure Wednesday and said former state Representative Richard Carlson of St. Marys will serve as interim secretary until a permanent replacement is named. King had worked in the construction industry for more than three decades and was owner of a McPherson company when Brownback named him transportation secretary in March 2012. King has run a department with about 2,500 employees and an annual budget of well over $1 billion. Since 2013, he's also overseen daily operations for the 236-mile Kansas Turnpike. But also during his tenure, the state has repeatedly diverted highway funds to other parts of state government to balance its budget.


Kansas Picks New Leader for Larned State Mental Hospital 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Department on Aging and Disability Services has picked a new leader for a state mental hospital that has been beset with staffing problems. KDADS officials announced Tuesday that Bill Rein has been named to the superintendent's job at the Larned facility in western Kansas. Rein previously served as the agency's chief counsel and most recently has been its commissioner of behavioral health services, a position which includes oversight of hospital operations. Interim KDADS Secretary Timothy Keck said in a news release that the state would be "hard-pressed to find anyone more qualified to take the reins on a permanent basis." The Larned hospital's last permanent superintendent, Tom Kinlen, resigned in March. Since then, Rein and subsequently an Oklahoma City-area hospital management consultant have filled in as interim hospital leaders.


Westar Kansas Customers to Save About $18 Million 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have reduced the amount Westar Energy can earn on transmission costs, which will save customers about $18 million over the next 12 months. The Kansas Corporation Commission made the decision Tuesday. The commission said in a news release that the savings stem from a complaint it filed last year with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, alleging that Westar had over-earned on its transmission costs. In March, FERC approved a settlement agreement between the KCC and Westar Energy. The reduction in transmission costs should save average households about $1.50 a month.


University of Kansas, Student Newspaper Resolve Lawsuit 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit alleging that administrators at the University of Kansas allowed the Student Senate to illegally slash the student newspaper's funding has been dismissed after the reductions were reversed. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that both parties stated the case had been resolved to "their satisfaction" in a document filed Monday in federal court. The suit alleged that the cut was based on dissatisfaction with the newspaper's Senate coverage. But the school argued in court filings it was because the paper was printing less frequently. University spokesman Andy Hyland says the administration is "pleased that we've been able to bring these two student organizations together to agree to terms that both groups find acceptable." Patrick Doran, the attorney representing the Kansan, declined to discuss the suit with The Associated Press.


Suit: Deaf Woman Wrongly Arrested, Denied Accessible Phone 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal lawsuit claims that Shawnee County sheriff's deputies arrested a deaf woman after having trouble communicating with her and the jail didn't provide an accessible phone. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Carolyn Hans claims Shawnee County and the sheriff's office failed to provide her services required under federal law during her encounter with law enforcement. The suit also contends that the sheriff's office refused to allow her to file a police report using an accessibility service, instead telling her she needed to hire an interpreter. The lawsuit indicates Hans likely seeks upwards of $75,000. County counselor Rich Eckert says the county is aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment on it. The sheriff's office general counsel, Matthew Boddington, said he hadn't heard of the suit.


Saline County Looking for Source of High Lead Levels 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County officials say they are looking for the source of lead contamination after high lead levels were found in the blood of 32 children in the past year. The Salina Journal reports that Saline County Health Department Director Jason Tiller told county commissioners Tuesday that every possible source of contamination is being examined. He said that water testing will be conducted over the next week. According to Tiller, maps pinpointing homes exhibiting high lead levels do not give a clear indication of where the lead is coming from. Tammy Streit, whose 2-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with high lead levels a year ago, is concerned about why nothing was done to prevent lead contamination. Tiller says the state does not have enough funding for lead poisoning prevention.


Wichita Parents Collect Donations to Send Boxer to Olympics

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita community has raised nearly $11,000 to send the parents of an Olympic boxer to Rio de Janeiro to watch their son compete in August. The Wichita Eagle reports that that the community has raised $10,900 for Nico Hernandez's parents, Lewis and Chello Hernandez. The original goal to help with the couple's travel expenses was $8,000. The community raised $4,500 from by selling T-shirts and signed mini boxing gloves, $2,250 from a GoFundMe page, $2,900 in private donations and $1,250 from an auction by the North High Alumni Association. Nico Hernandez is currently training in Texas with father, who has been his boxing trainer since he began the sport at age 9. Nico Hernandez will fight in the light flyweight division and will travel to Rio on July 19.


Traffic Accident in Western Kansas Kills 5, Injures Others 

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a two-vehicle collision in western Kansas killed five people and left others injured. The accident occurred early Wednesday on Interstate 70 in Sherman County about 11 miles east of Goodland. The patrol says a semi-trailer truck hit an SUV from behind, causing the vehicle to go into a ditch and overturn. Five people in the SUV were killed. An exact number of those injured was not immediately available. The driver of the SUV, 42-year-old Calvin Florez of Guatemala, was taken to a Wichita hospital. The names of the other victims have not been released. The driver of the truck was not seriously injured.


Kingman County Signs Agreement for Commercial Wind Farm

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — Kingman County officials have agreed to build a 200-megawatt commercial wind farm in the county this year. The Wichita Eagle reports the $26.4 million agreements with Kingman Wind Energy 1 LLC were signed this week at the county's weekly commission meeting. Kingman Wind Energy is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Capital Holdings. It has a 20-year contract to sell the power to Westar Energy. In return for typical state exemption from property taxes, Kingman Wind Energy 1 agreed to a one-time payment of $2.2 million to the county to cover various permits and other expenses. It will also pay $800,000 a year for the first 20 years and $700,000 annually after that as long as the wind farm is operating. Those amounts would increase if the farm expands.


Nixon Backs Missouri Power Line for Wind Energy 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is backing a proposed power line that's part of a multistate wind energy project. Nixon on Wednesday announced that Clean Line Energy Partners has promised to adopt what he described as landowner protections. The project would transmit electricity from Kansas, across northern Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. Electricity would be available for Missouri utilities. It's been criticized by some landowners concerned about the line hurting farming and property values. The Democratic governor says Clean Line agreed to avoid damaging farmland and to pay the higher amount for reassessed land that dropped in value. A regulatory panel will decide whether to approve the Grain Belt Express if it reapplies. The Missouri Public Service Commission last year denied it. Missouri is the only state involved with the project that hasn't approved it.


Kansas Man Charged with Trying to Steal Jet 

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man is charged with stealing a shuttle van at an airport and then trying to take off in a jet to fly to Miami. The Kansas City Star reports that 21-year-old Adam Scott, of Overland Park, was charged Friday in Clay County, Missouri, with two counts of first-degree tampering. He also faces a tampering charge in Platte County. Investigators say Scott took the van from Kansas City International Airport after he couldn't afford to buy tickets. He allegedly drove to Wheeler Downtown Airport, where he again tried to buy tickets but couldn't. Scott eventually got into the cockpit of an Embraer Phenom 300 that was preparing for takeoff. He tried to manipulate the controls but was arrested within minutes.


2 Discrimination Lawsuits Against Emporia State Proceed 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawsuits alleging that Emporia State University discriminated against two minority assistant professors are continuing in federal court. A federal judge on June 15 refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Melvin Hale, although some of the original defendants and claims were dismissed. The university and seven officials are now defendants. Hale, who is black, alleges the school retaliated against him and his wife after they reported finding a racial slur in the School of Library and Information Management in 2015. Rajesh Singh, who is Asian and previously taught in the same department, also claims he was retaliated against after asking for pay equal to two other staff members. Depositions are being taken in that lawsuit. The Kansas Attorney General's office and the university declined to comment on the pending litigation.


Football Feasibility Study for Wichita State Released 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has released a feasibility study for reviving the school's football program, detailing startup costs of more than 40 million and annual football budgets that start around $6 million. Interim athletic director Darron Boatright is expected to discuss the report, which was released Tuesday. According to the study, expenses for the first season of FCS football would be $5.8 million and would rise to $6.5 million for the second season. Salaries for coaches would account for $1 million of that $6.5 million total. The report projects revenue of $1.2 million by the fifth year. The study also cited a report done by GLMV Architecture that estimates costs of $21 million to $28 million for improvements at Cessna Stadium and $21 million for a practice facility. Wichita State University dropped its football program in 1986.


Authorities Searching for Kansas Man in Missouri

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in southeast Missouri have been searching for a Kansas man who hasn't been seen since Sunday. Police in Sikeston, Missouri, told The Pittsburg Morning Sun that 66-year-old Larry Weaver, of Pittsburg, checked into a Sikeston motel and failed to check out Monday. Police Captain Jim McMillin says hotel staff contacted police Tuesday after realizing Weaver and his 2013 Harley Davidson motorcycle were gone, but personal items such as a wallet, credit cards, keys and clothing were left in the room. He says police haven't ruled out foul play. Weaver was last seen on a surveillance camera getting gas near the hotel Sunday evening. McMillin says crews used a helicopter Tuesday to search for Weaver, whose family says had no medical problems.


Grant Allows Fort Hays State to Expand Paleontology Studies 

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A federal grant will allow Fort Hays State University to expand its paleontology studies research. The university's Sternberg Museum of Natural History recently received the three-year $116,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Laura Wilson, curator of paleontology, says the grant will allow the museum to buy imaging equipment and to hire university students to work in the paleontology collection. Wilson says specimen data, images, and geographical and temporal information eventually will be published online in research databases. They also will be used to develop Web- and classroom-based educational materials. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the project will focus on fossils from an ocean that covered the middle of North America, including Kansas, 100 to 66 million years ago.


Man Sentenced for Failed Firebomb at Congressman Cleaver's KC Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City man who tried unsuccessfully to firebomb an office of U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison with no chance of parole. Eric King was sentenced Tuesday in federal court for the Sept. 11, 2014, vandalism at Cleaver's congressional office in downtown Kansas City. No one was in the building at the time and two Molotov cocktails did not ignite. King pleaded guilty in March to using explosive materials to commit arson. Investigators say King broke an office window with a hammer. One of the firebombs went through the window and another bounced off the side of the building. Kansas City police had investigated King in connection with several anti-government incidents near the congressional office during the Labor Day weekend in 2014.  

Brothers Sentenced for Kansas City Slaying

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two brothers have each been sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting a 21-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, man last year. The Kansas City Star reports that 19-year-old Shyreif Carter and 21-year-old Teandre Carter pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder, attempted robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. Teandre Carter also pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property. Shawndray Key was found inside a vehicle fatally shot on April 9, 2015. Court records say Shyreif Carter later told police he and his brother were going to steal drugs and a gun from Key.


Judge Orders 2 to Trial in Killing of Nebraska Man in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A judge has found sufficient evidence for two people to stand trial in the killing of a Nebraska man in a Salina motel parking lot. The Salina Journal reports that 21-year-old DiAntre Lemmie and 24-year-old Amber Craig were bound over for trial Tuesday. They are charged in the fatal April shooting of 32-year-old Adonis Loudermilk, of Lincoln, Nebraska. Among the preliminary hearing witnesses was James Faircloth, who tattooed Lemmie at the motel. Faircloth said he heard Craig tell Lemmie that Loudermilk had a "wad" of cash, and that Lemmie vowed to "get that." Later, Lemmie left the room, and Faircloth said he heard Lemmie say, "I know you got it," followed by gunshots. Fairchild testified Craig then said that she didn't think Lemmie would "take it that far." 


KCMO Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Craigslist Robberies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to participating in a series of Craigslist robberies that ended with two people shot and wounded. The U.S. attorney's office says 23-year-old Troy Wright, of Grandview, admitted through Tuesday's plea to participating in six armed robberies. The two people who were shot had agreed to look at a car that was listed for sale on Craigslist. One of the victims made a purchase offer after taking a test drive. Soon afterward, Wright and another conspirator appeared, pointed firearms at the victims and demanded money. The victims tried to return to their car, but were shot and robbed. Prosecutors said some of the offer thefts involved advertisements for Xbox gaming systems. A 25-year-old Kansas City man pleaded guilty earlier in the case.


Man Found Dead Near Independence Avenue in KCMO 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an officer found a man dead in a vehicle while responding to
reports of gunfire. The Kansas City Star reports that the man died from apparent gunshot wounds. Police said a female passenger was taken to a hospital with similar wounds. The police said they believe occupants of two vehicles were shooting at the other, but they do not have suspects at this time. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.


Cardinals Even Series with 8-4 Win Over Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Michael Wacha held off the Kansas City Royals 8-4 on Tuesday night to even their four-game, two-city series. Wacha (4-7) allowed four runs over six innings but, considering he served up nine hits and three walks, it could have been worse. It was his second straight win after dropping seven consecutive games. The Cards' bullpen nearly gave the game away in the last inning. Reliever Seung Hwan Oh loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before getting pinch-hitter Alex Gordon to pop out and inducing Eric Hosmer into a routine fielder's choice. Royals' starter Yordano Ventura (6-5) allowed seven runs on seven hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 1/3 innings for the Royals.

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