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Regional Headlines for Friday, April 13, 2012



High Tornado Risk in Kansas, Oklahoma on Saturday

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Storm Prediction Center says a dangerous tornado outbreak is likely Saturday in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma as intense storms move into the southern Plains. Forecasters at the center in Norman, Oklahoma, say there's a high risk of severe weather from Oklahoma City north to Salina, Kansas. The severe storms are expected to strike Saturday afternoon and evening. They warn that baseball-sized hail could pummel some isolated areas and winds of up to 70 mph are possible. The Storm Prediction Center says Saturday's outbreak could be a "high-end life threatening event." Forecasters say there's a slight risk of severe weather Saturday in the country's midsection, stretching from central Texas northeast to Iowa. The Storm Prediction Center is part of the National Weather Service. For information on how to prepare for severe weather or any emergency, and quick links to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, and various resources listed by Kansas county, visit


UPDATE: New Kansas Fiscal Forecasts More Optimistic

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have raised their forecast of state revenue through the middle of next year by $252 million. Economists and state officials had predicted last November that revenue would total $6.2 billion both in the current budget year, which ends June 30, and in the following fiscal year. On Friday, they raised those projections to slightly less than $6.4 billion this year and more than $6.4 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Steve Anderson, Governor Sam Brownback's budget director, said the new numbers reflect that the economy continues to grow.


Committee Holds Hearing on NBAF, the Federal Bio Lab in Manhattan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Department of Homeland Security officials are telling a panel of researchers that a new animal research lab is still needed, even though federal funds are scarce.  Undersecretary Tara O'Toole said Friday in Washington that the threat of existing and emerging animal health disease remains real. She says construction of the proposed $650 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas should move forward.  A panel of the National Research Council is reviewing plans for the lab, which is to be built near Kansas State University in Manhattan.  The National Research Council is part of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the issues are whether the threat of deadly animal diseases warrants construction of the lab, and whether the planned size and scope are appropriate.


1 Dead, 2 Wounded in Shooting by Wichita Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say one of three men shot by police officers has died.  The shooting occurred early Friday at a home in southwest Wichita. No officers were wounded.  Deputy Police Chief Terri Moses says police are looking for a fourth suspect who got away.  KFDI reports that Moses says a woman called 911 to report men with guns were in the house. When officers arrived, shots were exchanged in the backyard of the house.  It's not known if the wounded men were trying to rob the residents of the home, or if any of the wounded lived there.  The two wounded men were taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. Spokeswoman Maria Loving was unable to provide a condition and referred questions to police.


Kansas Delays Decision in Abortion Referrals Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have postponed deciding whether a doctor should lose her license over allegations of substandard care for young patients she referred to the late Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions.  The State Board of Healing Arts has decided that it would wait until June 22 to take up the case of Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, from Nortonville in northeast Kansas.  In February, an administrative judge ordered the revocation of Neuhaus' license, concluding she had performed inadequate mental health exams in 2003 on 11 patients, aged 10 to 18. The board must decide whether to accept the order.  Neuhaus provided the second medical opinion Tiller needed under Kansas law to perform the late-term abortions at his Wichita clinic. She argues her exams met accepted standards of care.


Amtrak Says Kansas Rail Service Could Move by 2016

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Amtrak officials say if money isn't found by the end of 2014 to fix railroad lines it uses in Kansas, the rail service will likely move one of its routes out of the state by 2016. The track Amtrak uses for its Southwest Chief route is owned by BNSF Railway. The rail line between Hutchinson and Garden City is in such bad shape that Amtrak is forced to slow down its trains in Kansas. The Hutchinson News reports Amtrak officials said Thursday in Garden City that the rail service would need some assurance by 2014 that funds will be found to upgrade the line, or Amtrak will start the process of moving the route. Officials in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico are working to find funding.


Infant Killed in South-Central Kansas Collision 

OXFORD, Kan. (AP) — A collision between a trash truck and a passenger car has left a baby dead and two people hospitalized in south-central Kansas. Sumner County Sheriff Darren Chambers tells KWCH-TV the car was eastbound on a road in Oxford when it collided with a northbound trash truck. The sheriff says there are no stop signs or yield signs at the intersection where the crash occurred around 11:30 am Friday. Authorities say the infant in the car was killed on impact. A man and woman in the car were flown to a Wichita hospital with what were described as critical injuries. The 73-year-old driver of the track was not hurt. Oxford is located about 30 miles south of Wichita.


KU Receives $5 Million Pledge Toward New Energy Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has received a $5 million pledge toward the new Energy and Environment Center that will be built as an addition to Lindley Hall. The university said Friday that the gift from Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation will fund an interactive, high-tech auditorium that will anchor the $28 million center. The 40,000-square-foot Energy and Environment Center will be the setting for a team approach to teaching future geologists, engineers and environmental scientists. Construction will be funded by private gifts raised through the independent KU Endowment. University officials say the endowment has received commitments totaling $17 million in the past six months.


Corps: More Flood Storage Offers Limited Benefit

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says having more space free in the Missouri River's reservoirs would have reduced but not eliminated last year's flooding. The corps says in a new report released Friday that flooding still would have caused widespread damage along the Missouri last year because of the massive volume of water that moved through the river. And any increase in the amount of flood storage space in the reservoirs would reduce the economic benefits the river offers through barge traffic, recreation and hydropower. The corps says increasing flood storage space in reservoirs is only one option to reduce flood risk. It says officials may need to consider increasing the capacity of the Missouri River channel and reducing development in the flood plain.


 Bill Kurtis Selling Part of Ranch Near Sedan

SEDAN, Kan. (AP) — Television documentary producer Bill Kurtis is selling part of his Red Buffalo Ranch near Sedan.  Kurtis has purchased land in Chautauqua County and several buildings in Sedan since the 1990s.  He said yesterday (THUR) that he's selling land on the north end of his ranch because he wants to pay off some debt.  He is not selling the part of the ranch that includes Butcher Falls, considered to be one of the most scenic waterfalls in Kansas. He also plans to keep a buffalo herd on the ranch.  The Wichita Eagle reports the 3,600 acres will be sold in six tracts. The auction will be May 17 at the Sedan Country Club.  The land is part of the Flint Hills, part of the remaining North American tallgrass prairie.


Medical School in Salina Touts New Anatomy Lab

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The first class at the University of Kansas Medical School in Salina has the opportunity to work in a modern, state-of-the-art anatomy lab.  Yesterday (THUR), the students and school officials held a ceremony to thank Russell physician Dr. Earl Merkel and his wife, Kathleen, whose donation made the lab possible.  The Salina Journal reports the school accepted its first eight students last fall and is the smallest four-year medical school in the country.  Merkel has been a longtime advocate of recruiting physicians to practice in western Kansas. One of the Salina school's main objectives is to train more doctors for rural areas.


Truck Driver Sentenced to 3 Years for Police Chase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A trucker who led police on a chase through three northeast Kansas counties last year has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.  Fifty-five-year-old Robert Smith was sentenced Thursday to two years and eight months in prison. He will serve the sentence in Pottawatomie County. He will also be on probation for two years after his release.  KMAN Radio reports Smith entered a no contest plea last month to attempted aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery.  He was originally charged with several other counts, including attempted second-degree homicide.  Police chased Smith's 18-wheeler from Shawnee County to just north of Wamego. Four people were hospitalized after their vehicles were run off the road.


Wichita Holds Annual Walk Against Gang Violence

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Organizers of the annual Wichita Walk Against Gang Violence hope this year's march will draw twice as many participants as there are gang members in the city.  This year's walk begins at 10am tomorrow (SAT) at McAdams Park. The route is different from the first two years because Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams says gang violence doesn't have a district.  The Wichita Eagle reports that there are about 3,000 documented gang members in the city, and organizers hope 6,000 walkers show up for the event. More than 50 groups will be offering information about summer youth activities and resources for addressing gang involvement.  Williams says she would like to see the walk held in a different part of Wichita each year to illustrate the point that gang violence happens everywhere.


Finney County Temporarily Lifts Burn Ban

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Garden City Fire Department has temporarily lifted a burn ban in Finney County that has been in place since last year.  Fire Chief Allen Shelton said in a news release Thursday that enough rain had fallen in recent weeks to allow a temporary lifting of the ban, which began April 5, 2011.  The Garden City Telegram reports that open fires still are prohibited by ordinance in Garden City. But Finney County residents now can burn according to Kansas regulations.  Shelton says state law still requires residents to alert the fire department before a burn. Residents within 1,000 feet of a roadway must contact law enforcement. Other factors, such as time of day, material to be burned and weather conditions also are considered.


KS 2011 Alfalfa Hay Production Lowest Since 1956

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A newly released government report is putting some hard numbers on the dismal hay crop last year in Kansas.  Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday that the state produced 1.95 tons of alfalfa hay last year, the lowest production since 1956 and a 21 percent drop from 2010.  Production of other types of hay totaled 2.45 million tons in 2011. That was 24 percent less than the previous year's production and the lowest since 1983.  


Kansas Officials to Issue New Fiscal Forecast

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials and university economists are meeting to draft new forecasts of state revenue through June 2013.  The team convening today (FRI) includes legislative researchers, members of the governor's budget staff, Revenue Department officials and economists from three universities.  The forecasters expect to issue revised revenue projections later today (FRI) for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and for the 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1.  The most recent forecasts were issued in November and predicted Kansas would collect $6.2 billion in revenues in both fiscal years.  But since last July, revenues are running $108 million ahead of the forecast, a surplus of nearly 3 percent.  Governor Sam Brownback and legislators will use the new forecast to finish a state budget for the next fiscal year.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.  

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