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Headlines for Wednesday, October 15, 2014


UPDATE: CDC Confirms Kansas Patient Does Not Have Ebola

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A second lab has confirmed that a Kansas City, Kansas, man who came to University of Kansas Hospital this week with Ebola-like symptoms does not have the deadly disease. The hospital announced Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta had confirmed negative results from a Nebraska lab, and that the patient had been moved to lower-level isolation. Dr. Lee Norman said Monday the man was a medic on a commercial ship off Africa's west coast and had treated patients for all kinds of illnesses, including typhoid fever. The man became ill while on the ship and flew back to Kansas last week. He was placed in tight isolation at the Kansas City hospital because he had been working in an area where the Ebola virus had broken out.


U.S. Senate Candidates in Kansas Meet for Final Debate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts could face questions about missed agriculture committee meetings as the Kansas Republican and independent challenger Greg Orman square off in Wichita for their third and final debate. The candidates have debated twice before since Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from a race, leaving Roberts vulnerable in what had been a reliably red state. The contest has catapulted Kansas into the national spotlight amid a tight race with national implications for control of the Senate. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week that Roberts has attended barely one-third of all Senate Agriculture Committee meetings during the last 15 years. A Roberts campaign spokesman calls the senator a "tireless warrior for Kansas agriculture," pointing to endorsements from the Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kanas Agribusiness Retailers Association.


Kansas Democrats Suspend Staffer for Online Insult

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Democratic Party has suspended its communications director over an online posting deriding three towns in the state's southeast corner in crude language. State Democratic Chairman Joan Wagnon said Wednesday that party spokesman Dakota Loomis was suspended without pay until Monday, when she will re-evaluate his status. Republican state Senators Jeff King of Independence and Jake LaTurner of Pittsburg said Loomis should be fired over his posting about Cherryvale, Columbus and Galena. The since-deleted comment called them leading contenders for "most craphole small towns in Kansas." The Pittsburg Morning Sun reported that Loomis posted the comment on a site dedicated to University of Kansas basketball. Loomis did not immediately return a cell phone message seeking comment. Wagnon and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis called the comment inappropriate. 


Kotich Says He Will Defend Gay Marriage Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A week after the first same-sex marriage in Kansas, some candidates for statewide office are insisting that they will defend Kansas's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic candidate for attorney general, A.J. Kotich, told a forum organized by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Monday night that he will defend the state's prohibition against same-sex marriage if elected. Last week, Kotich discussed the issue in an interview with Kansas Information Network and said that, while it's part of the attorney general's job to defend the state constitution, he believes that the gay marriage ban is ultimately, a losing proposition. "There's two things you defend," Kotich said, " the Kansas Constitution and the United States Constitution and I believe in equal protection under the law. But, at the end of the day, if we defend that statute, we have a good possibility of losing." The current attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt, has already been actively fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage in Kansas. Last week Johnson County issued a same-sex marriage license, but the Kansas Supreme Court halted any more licenses from being issued after Schmidt asked the high court to intervene. A hearing has been set for November 6.


Kansas to Spend $10M on Rural Bridges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Transportation says more than $10 million in state funds will be spent on 77 rural bridges listed as deficient. The Wichita Eagle reports the bridges, rated deficient because they aren't able to handle legal load limits, are in 75 counties. State funds will be used to fix or replace the passages. According to the Transportation Department, some of the reasons why a bridge wouldn't be able to handle legal loads is because of their outdated design or deterioration. Transportation officials say of the nearly 25,000 bridges in Kansas, less than 10 percent, or 2,390, are considered structurally deficient. Not all were eligible for state funding. To get funding, a bridge had to have a daily vehicle count of less than 100 and have a length between 20 and 50 feet.


Vote on Snake's Status Could Change Kansas Policy

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Conservationists are concerned that a Kansas commission's vote on the status of a snake species could be the first time in 40 years that the future of a threatened species is determined by politics rather than science. The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission will decide Thursday whether the redbelly snake should continue to be listed as a threatened species in the state. A task force has recommended that the species retain its listing. Some Kansas lawmakers wanted it removed from the list because it has stalled some developments in northeast Kansas. Wildlife and Parks secretary Robin Jennison acknowledges the snakes' population is dwindling. But he wants the snake to lose its protection so the Legislature won't take more drastic action on threatened or endangered species.


Death Penalty Sought in Adoptive Parents Killing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have announced plans to seek the death penalty against a man charged with killing his adoptive parents with the help of his biological mother and two friends. KSNW-TV reports that the Sedgwick County district attorney made the announcement Wednesday after Anthony Bluml pleaded not guilty. He is charged with capital murder in the November 15 shootings of Roger and Melissa Bluml outside the couple's rural Valley Center home. Melissa Bluml died the next day, while her husband died about five weeks later. The defense lawyer requested a separate sentencing from Bluml's co-defendants. One co-defendant agreed earlier this month to testify against Bluml, his biological mother and a friend of Bluml in exchange for facing a reduced charge. The trial date is set for November 17.


Woman Admits Embezzling from Air Force Base

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman who worked as a civilian at McConnell Air Force Base has admitted embezzling more than $54,000 in public funds. The U.S. Attorney's office says 44-year-old Deidra Sanders pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of theft of government money. Sanders worked at the Wichita installation as a deputy dispersing officer for the Air Force. She admitted stealing from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Fund between March 2013 and April of this year. Sanders faces up to five years in federal prison at her sentencing, scheduled for January 6.


Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Endorses Brownback, Roberts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard is urging Republicans to support the re-election of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts, saying now is not the time for a protest vote. Carly Fiorina spoke to about 450 people Tuesday in Wichita at an event hosted by Women for Brownback and the Republican House Campaign Committee. She said Americans are losing a sense of limitless possibilities. Brownback touted his own economic tax policies aimed at helping small businesses grow. The governor said the best way to help something grow is to not tax it. Fiorina stepped down from Hewlett-Packard in 2005 amid upheaval about the company's performance following her decision to buy computer maker Compaq Computer.


Textron and Machinists to Resume Negotiations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials with Textron and the Machinists Union are resuming contract negotiations. The talks ended Sunday when Textron officials refused to put in writing that it would keep jobs in Wichita. But officials with both sides put out a news release Tuesday saying they will return to negotiations Wednesday. The Wichita Eagle reports if negotiators agree on a proposal, union members could vote on it Friday. Negotiators are trying to combine two separate local unions of Beechcraft Corp. and Cessna Aircraft under a single labor agreement. Textron, Cessna's parent company, bought Beechcraft in March and formed Textron Aviation. Beechcraft's current contract ends in 2016, while Cessna's agreement expires in 2017.


Arrest Made in Fatal Fight at Packing Plant

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Police in southwest Kansas have arrested a packing plant employee for the death of a co-worker after a fight last week. Emergency crews found 25-year-old Abdukadir Mohamed Dahir unconscious Friday morning at the National Beef plant in Liberal. Dahir died Saturday at a Wichita hospital of what a preliminary autopsy showed was blunt force injury to his head. A 31-year-old co-worker was arrested Tuesday by Liberal police on suspicion of second-degree murder. The case has been forwarded to the Seward County attorney.


Anti-Immigration Group Starts Ads in 10 States

WASHINGTON (AP) — An anti-immigration group is running more than $1 million in ads criticizing lawmakers for not stopping the flow of new workers into the United States. NumbersUSA on Wednesday began a 10-state ad buy that pointedly asks viewers whether Americans or immigrants should get new jobs. The 30-second ad says immigrants are the ones finding work, while longtime residents are struggling to win jobs. The ads will air in states with competitive Senate races: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina. NumbersUSA bills itself as a non-partisan grassroots group that wants to reduce the number of immigrants in order to help American workers. The group operates under part of the tax code that allows it to keep its donors' identities secret.


Deal Brings to Close 30 Lawsuits Against Diocese

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 11-day civil trial against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has ended with a nearly $10 million settlement covering a lawsuit filed by a former altar boy and 29 other cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests. The Kansas City Star reports that the deal announced Tuesday evening brings the amount the diocese has paid to plaintiffs in civil cases to $17 million in the past 15 months. The settlement came as attorneys prepared to give their closing arguments on Wednesday. The 30 lawsuits were filed from September 2010 through February 2014, involving 13 current and former priests and alleged sexual abuse from 1963 to 1987. Twelve of those lawsuits contained allegations against Monsignor Thomas O'Brien, who died last year.


Kansas Teen to Be Tried as Adult in Fatal Fire

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Hutchinson teenager will be tried as an adult in a fatal fire that killed his mother and sister. Reno County Judge Patti Macke-Dick made the ruling Tuesday in the case of 15-year-old Sam Vonachen, who was 14 when the fire occurred at the family home in September 2013. Prosecutors allege Vonachen set the fire by pouring gasoline throughout the house. His 47-year-old mother, Karla Jo Vonachen, and his 7-year-old sister, Audrey, died. The boy's father escaped the fire. Vonachen faced two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in juvenile court. The judge's ruling means the juvenile case is dismissed and new charges will be filed in adult court.


Opponents Seek to Overturn Missouri 'Right to Farm' Amendment

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Opponents of a new Missouri constitutional amendment shielding farmers from federal consumer safety and environmental regulations have asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the election results. The legal challenge filed Tuesday contends the ballot summary presented to voters on the August ballot was misleading and inaccurate. Constitutional Amendment 1 passed by a margin of just over 2,000 votes out of nearly 1 million cast in the election. It makes Missouri the second state besides North Dakota to place farming rights in its constitution. The ballot said the measure ensures "the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices." The legal challenge says that was misleading because the protections could apply to foreign-owned corporations.


Kansas Names 3 New Innovative School Districts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas State Board of Education has added three school districts to a program that allows them to operate with less regulation in hopes of boosting student performance. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the board approved innovative-district applications from the Hugoton, Blue Valley and Kansas City, Kansas, districts. The board previously approved applications from the McPherson and Concordia districts under a 2013 law aimed at allowing districts to pursue creative strategies for improving student achievement. For example, the Blue Valley district in Johnson County sought an exemption from some teacher licensing requirements. But it's still not clear how free of regulation the five districts will be, because the state board and the districts have adopted bylaws for the innovative schools program.


Winter Wheat Planting, Fall Harvest Progressing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Rain across most of Kansas in the past week slowed the harvest of fall crops, but farmers still made progress. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that Kansas farmers were still busy harvesting row crops, seeding wheat and marketing livestock. Winter wheat planting in the state is now 67 percent complete. About 42 percent of the crop has emerged. Corn harvest in the state is 56 percent finished. Sorghum harvest is 15 percent done, while the soybean harvest is at the 18 percent mark. About 7 percent of the sunflower crop has also been cut.


Wichita Man Sentenced to Prison in Meth Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been sentenced to seven years and eight months in federal prison for selling methamphetamine. A federal prosecutor says 46-year-old Michael Ortega-Alvarez pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth. Ortega-Alvarez admitted to selling an ounce of the drug to an undercover Wichita police officer in April. Police stopped his truck in May and found a pound of meth in a cooler.


Wichita Police Arrest Suspect in Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police say they've arrested a 54-year-old man in connection to a fatal shooting last week. The man was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. He hasn't been charged. Police say 36-year-old Nathaniel Jackson was found shot multiple times at a north-central Wichita home on Thursday. He was taken to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The suspect is being held on $500,000 bond. Police are expected to present their case to prosecutors on Wednesday to determine whether charges will be filed.


Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty in Kansas Heroin Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An Oklahoma man who Wichita police caught with more than a pound of heroin has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge. A federal prosecutor says Nestor Duenas-Vazquez of Glenpool, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession with intent to distribute. A Wichita police officer on June 26 found 496 grams of heroin hidden in a detergent bucket in the trunk of a car during a traffic stop. Duenas-Vazquez was a passenger in the car and was traveling to Oklahoma from Denver. Duenas-Vazquez faces up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in January. Another defendant convicted in the case is scheduled for sentencing in December.


Kansas Woman, Child Killed in Car Accident

WAVERLY, Kan. (AP) — A woman and small boy were killed when the vehicle they were in rolled over on Interstate 35. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the accident happened Tuesday evening four miles north of Waverly in Coffey County. The patrol says a vehicle driven by 26-year-old Krystal Smith of New Strawn went onto a median in the interstate and Smith overcorrected, causing the SUV to roll several times. Smith and Cory Sheppard, also of New Strawn, died in the accident. The patrol said Cory was about 4 but his exact age was not immediately known. A 9-year-old and 6-year-old in the vehicle were injured. It was not immediately clear how the people were related.


Police: Century-Old Urn Stolen in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka police are searching for whoever stole a century-old bronze urn from an area cemetery. Police say the 3-foot tall and 3-foot wide urn was taken Sunday night or Monday morning. It was placed at the cemetery between 1912 and 1917 to mark the grave of Bell Hurley. The urn stood on top of a hill next to a 40-foot obelisk honoring her husband, James Hurley. A historian tells the Topeka Capital-Journal the urn and obelisk have been major sights at the cemetery and were meant to memorialize the couple that contributed to the Santa Fe Railroad. James Hurley was a general manager of the railroad and employees raised money for two years to help purchase the obelisk and urn. Police are investigating and have asked for the public's assistance.


Apparent Deal in Works in Spirit AeroSystems Suit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A lawsuit filed by the Machinists union against Wichita aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems appears headed for an out-of-court resolution. A filing Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, indicates the parties have reached a conditional resolution. It notes the union has agreed to withdraw its motion for an injunction to block Spirit from selling off its fabrication operations or laying off workers pending arbitration. The filing indicates the union plans to dismiss its lawsuit. The lawsuit contends the Machinists gave up the right to strike and accepted pay cuts and smaller wage increases in a 10-year contract negotiated in 2010. In exchange, Spirit agreed to maintain major manufacturing operations in Wichita. It is unclear from the filing what the conditional agreement entails. A hearing was held last week.


Fatal Police Shooting of Kansas Teen Ruled Justified

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) - A county attorney says police and sheriff's deputies were justified in the fatal shooting of an unarmed eastern Kansas teenager. KSHB-TV reports that Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting issued his ruling Tuesday in the death of 18-year-old Ottawa resident Joseph Jennings on August 25. The shooting took place in a parking lot after police received a 911 call about a man waving a handgun and putting the weapon in his waistband. The caller turned out to be Jennings. The responding officers told him to raise his hands. Instead, the county attorney's report says, Jennings pulled a dark item from his waistband and pointed it toward some officers, who opened fire. The item turned out to be sunglasses. Relatives have said Jennings was depressed and may have wanted to goad police into killing him.


Court Hears Water Dispute Between Kansas, Nebraska

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is considering how to resolve a long-running legal fight between Kansas and Nebraska over the use of water from the Republican River. The justices on Tuesday appeared to agree with recommendations of a special master who found Nebraska should pay $3.7 million in damages to Kansas for using more than its legal share of the river's water in 2005 and 2006. But they were more doubtful about making Nebraska pay a $1.8 million penalty that exceeds Kansas' actual damages. The justices also seemed skeptical about Nebraska's push to change the formula for measuring water consumption. Nebraska says the formula is unfair. The dispute centers on a 1943 compact that allocates 49 percent of the river's water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado.


Royals Edge Orioles 2-1 to Take 3-0 Lead in ALCS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are one win away from a trip to the World Series after a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night. Kansas City now has a commanding 3-0 lead in the AL Championship Series. Third baseman Mike Moustakas made two marvelous plays as the Royals won their 10th straight postseason game, including all seven this year. Kansas City will send Jason Vargas to the mound for Game 4 this (WED) afternoon needing just one more win to reach their first World Series since 1985. Baltimore Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will try to help the Orioles stave off elimination.


Royals' Guthrie Apologizes for Post-Game T-Shirt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie apologized on Twitter to the Orioles for wearing a T-shirt to his post-game news conference Tuesday night that read, "These O's Ain't Royal." Guthrie wore the shirt, a twist on the Chris Brown song "Loyal," after Kansas City beat his former team 2-1 to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven AL Championship Series. The shirt touched off an avalanche of criticism toward Guthrie. Along with offending many Orioles fans, the shirt also ignited controversy across social media platforms because of the vulgar and derogatory nature of the song's original lyrics. Guthrie, a prolific user of social media, said in his apology early Wednesday that he did not consider the reaction the shirt might generate and did not intend to offend.


K-State Wildcats Hope to Repeat Winning Trip to Norman

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Oklahoma has been nearly unbeatable at home under Bob Stoops. The program has rarely lost a Big 12 game in the frenzied, friendly confines of Memorial Stadium. In fact, only once have the Sooners lost to a ranked conference team at home. That was Kansas State. That was two years ago. Now, the No. 14 Wildcats are preparing to head back to Norman, Oklahoma, to face the 11th-ranked Sooners on Saturday. And while the faces on the team have largely changed, the players on the Kansas State roster firmly believe they can repeat the feat.



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