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Headlines for Wednesday, October 1, 2014

KPR-News-Summary

Court: Democrats Don't Need Kansas Senate Nominee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas court has ruled that Democrats can go without a U.S. Senate candidate after their nominee dropped out of the race against three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The ruling Wednesday is a blow to the GOP in a key race in the national battle over Senate control. A panel of three Shawnee County District Court judges said a state election law does not require Democrats to fill the candidate vacancy. The judges also said the disgruntled voter who filed a lawsuit to force Democrats to act didn't prove his case because he failed to show up for a Monday hearing. Some Democrats pushed their nominee out of the race because they saw independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival for Roberts and didn't want to split the anti-Roberts vote.

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Kansas Tax Collections $21M Short in September

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says its tax collections fell $21 million short of expectations in September. The lower-than-anticipated collections were disclosed Tuesday in the state Department of Revenue's monthly preliminary revenue report. The development could cause a short-term increase in the state's predicted budget shortfall of $238 million by July 2016. The department emphasized that even with overall taxes falling short, the state saw higher-than-expected corporate income tax collections. The state anticipated collecting $542 million in taxes in September and instead took in $521 million, a difference of 4 percent. Since the fiscal year began in July, the state has collected about $1.35 billion in taxes, against expectations of $1.37 billion. The difference there is $23 million, or 1.7 percent. The biggest shortfall is in personal income tax collections.

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Amazon Closing Distribution Plant in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Amazon.com plans to close a distribution center in southeast Kansas in February, but it isn't clear how many employees the move will affect. Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacia Meek said Wednesday that Amazon informed her of the closure in an email Tuesday evening. The Seattle-based online retailer did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment. Meek says Amazon told her the closure is part of a move to have its distribution centers closer to the bulk of its customers. Coffeyville is a rural town about 70 miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Amazon is one of the area's largest employers, though its workforce fluctuates widely. The Parsons Sun first reported the closure plans and noted the company recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary in Coffeyville.

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Kobach: No Correspondence in Kansas Senate Dispute

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office says it had no written or email correspondence with national Republican groups or U.S. Senator Pat Roberts's re-election campaign as a legal dispute over the contest unfolded. Kobach's office responded this week to an open records request from The Associated Press. The request sought copies of written and email correspondence from August 25 through September 19 between Kobach and top aides with two national GOP groups, Roberts and his top campaign aides. The legal dispute stems from Democrat Chad Taylor's withdrawal from the Senate race. A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court ruled today (WED) that Kansas Democrats are not obligated to name a new nominee. Taylor's move is seen as helping independent candidate Greg Orman's chances of defeating Roberts.

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Royals Beat Oakland 9-8 in AL Wild-Card Thriller

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals had waited 29 years to reach the postseason and they weren't going down without a fight. Salvador Perez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning, capping two late comebacks that gave Kansas City a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Royals Hall of Famer George Brett watched as the Royals won their first postseason game since Brett led the team to victory in the 1985 World Series. The game was so riveting that the Kansas City Police Department sent out a Twitter message with a request for people across the city "We really need everyone to not commit crimes and drive safely right now. We'd like to hear the Royals clinch." The Royals now advance to a best-of-five Division Series against the AL West champions, the Los Angeles Angels. That series starts on Thursday in Anaheim.

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KU Fraternity Placed on Interim Suspension

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas fraternity is on interim suspension after the school received reports of sexual assault during a party during the weekend. University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a news release Wednesday that "disturbing and serious" behavior was reported at the Kappa Sigma fraternity. She did not elaborate. The Lawrence Police Department and the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access are investigating the allegations. The suspension comes as the university faces increasing criticism for its handling of previous allegations of rape on the Lawrence campus. Kansas is one of 76 schools nationwide being investigated by the federal government for their handling of sexual abuse cases. In response to the criticism, Gray-Little appointed a task force to review the school's policies and procedures and to recommend improvements.

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High Court Disbars Former KBI Deputy Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas Bureau of Investigation administrator has been disbarred by the state Supreme Court after pleading guilty earlier this year to sexual exploitation of a child. Former KBI deputy director Kyle G. Smith was the third-highest ranking member of the bureau last November when an agency secretary found a photo of a teenage girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct that was traced to Smith's email account. Smith pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced to 32 months in prison, which was suspended and he was placed on probation for three years. He also must register as a sex offender for 25 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Supreme Court issued its disbarment order Friday. Smith had surrendered his Kansas law license September 17.

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Feds, Kansas Bitcoin Company Negotiating

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) - Federal attorneys and a Kansas-based bitcoin company are negotiating over whether the company could resume some of its operations. The Federal Trade Commission has sued Butterfly Labs, based in Leawood, claiming the company defrauded consumers out of between $20 million to $50 million. Butterfly Labs is under temporary control of a federally appointed receiver. The Kansas City Star reports that after a hearing Monday, the temporary order was extended and attorneys began negotiations. The FTC alleges Butterfly Labs did not deliver machines or sent worthless equipment that could not produce bitcoins. Butterfly Labs has denied wrongdoing and called the FTC action "heavy-handed." Bitcoins are virtual currency that is becoming popular as a way to buy and sell some goods and services without using government-issued money.

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Report: Kansas Wheat Production Lowest Since 1989

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report says this year's winter wheat production in Kansas is at the lowest level since 1989. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday winter wheat production is estimated at 246 million bushels, down 23 percent from a year ago. Kansas farmers planted 9.6 million acres for the 2014 wheat crop. That was about 1 percent more wheat acreage than a year earlier, but production was still down in part because farmers actually harvested just 8.8 million acres. Also affecting production were lower yields averaging 28 bushels an acre — 10 bushels an acre below last year. The report also estimates this year's Kansas oat production at 840,000 bushels, about the same as last year. Barley production is estimated at 350,000, down 32 percent from a year ago.

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Kansas Woman Sentenced in Daughter's Death

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) - An Ellsworth woman was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after her 13-month-old daughter ingested morphine. Michele Suppes was sentenced Tuesday after entering an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter in the June 2010 death of Bailiegh Kay Suppes. Prosecutor Amy Hanley said Suppes put the morphine in her daughter's bottle so the child would stay asleep while her boyfriend was at her home. Before her sentencing, Suppes told the court she thought Bailiegh picked up one of her mother's pills that had dropped on the kitchen floor.

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Johnson County Officials Warn of Phone Scam

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas authorities are warning residents to beware of a new scam that's using the names of judges in an attempt to solicit money. The Johnson County Sheriff's Office says a person has been calling people claiming to be a command officer from a fictitious Federal Warrants Division at the Johnson County Courthouse. The caller tells potential victims they have a federal warrant and will be arrested if they don't pay the fine. The sheriff's office says the scammer names an actual judge and claims the judge is angry so they need to pay with a prepaid debit card. The office says the procedure for contacting people with warrants does not include demanding immediate bond payment.

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Police: Kansas Woman Sexually Assaulted in Taxi

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Overland Park police are looking for a taxi driver after a woman told them he sexually assaulted her in his cab. Spokesman Gary Mason tells KCTV-TV the woman in her early 20s took the cab Tuesday after drinking with friends. The woman sat in the front seat and says the driver sexually assaulted her on her way home. Mason says authorities are concerned the driver could have harmed others. Police haven't released information about the suspect.

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Year's 9th Kansas Honor Flight Ready for Takeoff

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The year's ninth Kansas Honor Flight is getting ready to carrying 10 World War II veterans, 16 Korean War veterans and one Vietnam War veteran to Washington to see the nation's war monuments. The flight leaving from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport at 10 am Wednesday also will carry the veterans' guardians to the Washington for a two-night stay before coming home on Friday. The group will visit the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial and several others commemorating the nation's biggest military conflicts. The trip has been organized by Kansas Honor Flight Inc. and is provided at no cost to the veteran. Guardians who accompany each veteran pay their own way.

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Hutchinson Woman Injured in Accident Recovering

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A Hutchinson woman who was critically injured in May while helping another driver at an accident scene near Kansas City is ready to return to her former life. Lacey Deardoff of Hutchinson spent 50 days in hospitals and weeks of rehabilitation in Hutchinson since she was injured on a freeway in Overland Park. She had stopped to at the accident scene when another driver swerved to avoid debris and hit her and the other driver. The Hutchinson News reports that Deardoff, the daughter of Hutchinson's city manager, was unconscious for two weeks before waking up. She returned to Hutchinson in July to continue her rehabilitation. Deardoff says she plans to move back to the Kansas City area Wednesday and return to work in about a month.

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7 Children Suffer Minor Injuries in Bus Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Seven students suffered minor injuries after a school bus accident in west Wichita. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lieutenant Lin Dehning says when a bus from Goddard ran off a road early Wednesday, the driver over-corrected and the bus rolled over. The bus was on its way to Amelia Earhart Elementary School. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 32 children on board ranged from kindergartners to fourth graders. Emergency personnel on the scene waited for parents to arrive to decide whether to take children to the hospital. The accident remains under investigation.

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Judge Refuses to Move Cheatham Murder Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has refused to move the capital murder trial of a man whose two murder convictions were thrown out earlier this year because of incompetent counsel. Shawnee County District Judge Richardson on Tuesday denied a motion for a change of venue for Phillip Cheatham Jr. His attorney had argued that news stories about the case and Cheatham's earlier defense attorney, Dennis Hawver, warranted a move to Wyandotte County. Hawver has faced a lengthy disciplinary action tied to his handling of Cheatham's first trial. Cheatham was found guilty in 2005 of killing two women and severely wounding a third in 2003. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Cheatham's conviction in January after determining that Hawver wasn't prepared to handle a death penalty case.

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2 Small Earthquakes Reported in Southern Kansas 

HARPER, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas county was shaking after a pair of earthquakes were reported within hours of each other but apparently didn't cause any damage. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the first earthquake to hit Harper County was at 7:30 am Tuesday and was measured 3.3 on the Richter scale. The second temblor that hit the county was at 9:55 am and measured 4.1 on the Richter scale. The second earthquake happened about two miles east of the first quake. Wichita media outlets say calls about the second quake came from as far north as Manhattan, Kansas.

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Lawrence Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence woman faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling between $750,000 and $1 million from her employer. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced in a news release Tuesday that 58-year-old Sharon Ann Holladay pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from Westheffer Company, which manufactures and sells agricultural chemical spray equipment. Holladay was office manager and transferred money from the operations account to a petty cash fund she controlled. She also gave herself unauthorized bonuses and commissions and made unauthorized purchases with the company's credit card. Sentencing has not been scheduled.

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Oklahoma Troopers Find Truck Sought in Fatal Crash

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a pickup truck that was sought in connection with a fatal crash in Carter County has been found. The OHP said Tuesday that the Chevrolet single-cab pickup was spotted by a witness who contacted Healdton police and that police found the vehicle, then notified the highway patrol. The patrol has said witnesses reported that the pickup was northbound Sunday afternoon on Interstate 35 near Ardmore when the driver made a U-turn through the median and headed southbound on I-35. A vehicle behind the pickup swerved to avoid the truck and crashed — killing 29-year-old Christopher Partee of Lawrence, Kansas. The OHP says the owner of the truck has been interviewed, but no arrests were announced.

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Kansas Teen Admits Fatally Shooting His Father

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old Kansas boy has pleaded guilty to killing his father last year during a routine custody exchange when he was 14. WDAF-TV reports the Bonner Springs teen entered into a plea deal Tuesday that could prevent him from spending time in an adult prison. The teen admitted shooting his 46-year-old father in July 2013 at a Shawnee auction service where the Kansas City, Kansas, man was picking the boy up. The teen's attorney says the boy was a victim of abuse at the hands of his father. He wasn't tried as an adult as a result. The Associated Press is not naming the father because his son's case was handled in juvenile court. The teen's lawyer will argue for 36 months in juvenile custody during sentencing in October.

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Fire That Killed Woman, Toddler Ruled as Arson

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City fire that killed a woman and young girl say the blaze has been ruled an arson. The Kansas City Star reports that the adult victim of the early Monday morning in Grandview has been identified as 37-year-old Anika M. Hobley of Kansas City. The fire also killed an unidentified 14-month-old girl who lived in the home. Another adult was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. Firefighters responded just after 3 am to the home and found Hobley's body in the basement. Two girls, ages 6 and 10, leaped from a window about 10 feet above the ground to escape the flames and knocked on the door of a neighbor, who called 911. The Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office is helping with the investigation.

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'Home on the Range' Cabin Rededication Set

ATHOL, Kan. (AP) — After three years of fundraising and labor, the cabin in northern Kansas where the lyrics for "Home on the Range" were written will be officially rededicated this weekend. The cabin in Smith County was the home of Brewster Higley in the 1870s. While living there, he wrote a poem called "My Western Home," which became the lyrics for "Home on the Range." That later became the official song of Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the cabin was crumbling three years ago, when Kansas was celebrating its 150th anniversary. A grassroots effort raised $133,000 in donations and the cabin was restored, along with construction of nature walks, footbridges and handicapped accessible efforts. A weekend of activities is planned, with the rededication ceremony on Sunday.

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Report: Kansas Wheat Production Lowest Since 1989

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new government report says this year's winter wheat production in Kansas is at the lowest level since 1989. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday winter wheat production is estimated at 246 million bushels, down 23 percent from a year ago. Kansas farmers planted 9.6 million acres for the 2014 wheat crop. That was about 1 percent more wheat acreage than a year earlier, but production was still down in part because farmers actually harvested just 8.8 million acres. Also affecting production were lower yields averaging 28 bushels an acre. That's 10 bushels an acre below last year. The report also estimates this year's Kansas oat production at 840,000 bushels, about the same as last year. Barley production is estimated at 350,000, down 32 percent from a year ago.

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Kansas State University to Lead Food Project

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas university says it's leading a five-year food project that includes other schools and developing countries in examining ways small farms can increase production. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansas State University recently announced that it received a $50 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Vara Prasad, who will be the project's director, says part of the issue is also reducing the amount of spoiled food. The project will also look at the nutritional needs of people farming the land. The school will coordinate studies in Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The grant will fund one or two projects proposed by colleges and nonprofits in each country.

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Hearing Delayed for Man in 18-Month-Old's Death

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old southern Kansas man will have to wait until next month to learn if there is enough evidence to try him on a first-degree murder charge in the 2012 death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter. The Wichita Eagle reports the preliminary hearing for Justin Edwards of El Dorado was scheduled for Wednesday but was continued to November 12. Edwards is charged with first-degree murder in the March 2012 death of Jayla Haag, whose injuries included a broken jaw, missing teeth that had been forcibly removed, severe head injuries and multiple bruises. She also was suffering from malnourishment and tested positive for methamphetamine. Her mother, Alyssa Haag, pleaded guilty in May 2013 to involuntary manslaughter. Edwards had been in prison since early 2013 on drug convictions.

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A Decade After Welcoming Wind Power, Some States Reconsider

CALUMET, Okla. (AP) — A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace and envisioned a bright future with cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for landowners. But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation's windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well. The industry is gobbling up huge subsidies in many states, drawing frequent complaints and using its powerful lobby to resist reforms. Many of the same political leaders who initially welcomed the wind industry now want to regulate it more tightly, even in especially conservative states like Oklahoma. The change of heart is happening as wind farms creep closer to more heavily populated areas. Opposition is also mounting about the loss of scenic views and environmental impacts.

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Economic Index Falls in Midwest Region but Rises in Kansas

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwestern and Plains dropped in September, suggesting slowing economic growth in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says a drop in grain prices over the past year has led to a pullback in economic activity for the heavily agrarian region. The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers 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. In Kansas, the overall index expanded to a regional high of 69.7, from 63.8 in August. "Growth among nondurable goods producers and value added services firms in the state more than offset weaker numbers from durable goods manufacturers," Goss said. Meanwhile in Missouri, the overall index declined to 57.7 from August's 59.2. "Durable manufacturers, especially vehicle producers, and nondurable goods manufacturers, except for food processors, reported very healthy expansions for the month," Goss said. Goss said the survey indicates wage growth will be healthy for the last quarter of 2014.

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Cable Company to Drop Channels in Pricing Dispute

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri-based cable TV provider that serves 16 states plans to drop nearly two dozen channels owned by Viacom Inc. in a dispute over a proposed fee increase. Suddenlink Communications says it will pull Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon and other channels from its lineup on Wednesday if it can't reach a deal with Viacom. A Viacom spokesman did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment. A company statement provided to Multichannel News, which covers the cable television industry, called the requested increase "fair." Suddenlink serves more than 1 million cable subscribers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Extra Innings Boost Audience for AL Wild-Card Game

ATLANTA (AP) — Extra innings boosted viewership for the American League wild-card game. The Kansas City Royals' comeback 9-8 win in 12 innings over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday averaged more than 5.2 million viewers on TBS. The network said Wednesday that's up 14 percent from the nearly 4.6 million for last year's NL game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to open the postseason, a 6-2 Pirates win. On Tuesday, the Royals trailed 7-3 after seven innings, but they scored three times in the eighth, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, then rallied again from down a run in the 12th. Viewership peaked at 6.5 million from 11:30-11:45 pm EDT during the ninth inning.

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Obama Salutes 2013 MLS Champs, Sporting KC

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has saluted the 2013 Major League Soccer champions Sporting Kansas City. He credits the "dedicated fans" of Kansas City for helping the sport grow in the United States. Obama paid tribute to the team Wednesday for winning the MLS trophy 10 months ago in a freezing penalty kick shootout. Obama singled out Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi, who were on the U.S. Men's National Team for this summer's World Cup in Brazil. The president also noted that Kansas City was enjoying a banner athletic week. The Kansas City Royals won the American League wild card game Tuesday and the NFL Kansas City Chiefs defeated the New England Patriots Monday. Obama said: "Clearly something is going on in Kansas City."

 

 

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