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Regional Headlines for Friday, August 17, 2012




All Charges Dropped Against Planned Parenthood Clinic

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas prosecutor has dropped the remaining criminal charges against a Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood clinic over allegations that it performed illegal abortions.  Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced Friday that the 32 misdemeanor charges against the clinic had been dismissed. It was the last part of a criminal case filed in 2007 by Howe's predecessor. The clinic originally faced 107 criminal charges, including some felonies. It was thought to be the first criminal case in the U.S. against a Planned Parenthood clinic. But most of the charges were dismissed earlier for various reasons, leaving only charges related to allegations that 16 abortions performed in 2003 violated a state law restricting late-term procedures. Howe said in a statement that he concluded that the clinic had followed accepted medical practices.


Emporia Imposes Mandatory Water Restrictions

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Emporia residents could be fined up to $250 and have their water supply shut off if they do not comply with mandatory water restrictions. The Emporia City Council voted on Wednesday to impose the restrictions, beginning next week. The vote means restrictions that had previously been voluntary will be mandatory. The move was required after the Kansas Water Office issued a water warning for the Neosho and Cottonwood River basin. City Manager Matt Zimmerman says the warning became necessary because of continued drops in the Council Grove Reservoir. The restrictions include no residential car washing and no watering of new sod or newly seeded lawns — although watering of lawns will be permitted on an odd/even schedule. The restrictions also apply to groups that buy water from Emporia.


Missing Former K-State Football Player Sought

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County authorities are looking for a former Kansas State football player from Arkansas who has not been seen since Wednesday. The mother of 20-year-old Sam Harvill reported him missing on Thursday. Harvill, who is originally from Springdale, Arkansas, was a defensive lineman for the Wildcats last season, but is no longer on the team roster. He is believed to be driving a white 2005 Dodge R15 pickup with large tires and black rims.


Challenger Seeks Recount in Close Kansas House Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Election officials in south-central Kansas will recount the votes in a Democratic legislative primary won by the incumbent by only seven votes. Challenger Erich Bishop, of Hutchinson, asked Reno County on Friday to recount the votes in the 102nd House District. Bishop is trying to unseat RepresentativeJan Pauls, also from Hutchinson. Pauls is a conservative Democrat who has served in the Legislature since 1991. The final tally in their August 7 primary showed Pauls beating Bishop 427-420. Gay rights advocates have targeted Pauls for supporting legislation they believe would nullify local ordinances protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. Friday was the deadline for candidates in close legislative races to seek recounts.


Governor Brownback Facing Criticism for Budget Instructions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is facing criticism over his budget director's order directing Kansas state agencies to draft proposals for 10 percent cuts in spending for the next budget year. That  order comes after the Republican governor signed income tax cuts into law. House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, said Thursday the spending cut directives represent failed priorities. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag says the governor is protecting core services and public schools. She said the 10 percent cut won't apply to aid to public schools. The proposals would be for the fiscal year beginning in July 2013. Budget Director Steve Anderson sent the directions to state agency directors in a letter in July. He also told agencies not to include proposals for pay raises.


3 Topeka Men Survive Small Plane Crash

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Three Topeka men survived when a small plane crashed in rural Kansas. Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says the plane landed in a ditch west of Holton Thursday night. He says two of the men were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and a third suffered minor injuries. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the men as 58-year-old David F. Osborne of Berryton, the plane's pilot; 52-year-old Steve L. Stutzman and 47-year-old Stephen M. Graff, both of Topeka. The men were returning to Topeka from a business trip to North Dakota. Morse says Osborne began looking for a place to land after the plane started smoking and descending rapidly. The plane went down along a rural road south of Kansas 16 west of Holton.


Kansas Unemployment Up in July, but Good Trends Emerging

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say they're seeing positive economic trends even though the state's jobless rate moved higher last month. In a report Friday, the Kansas labor department says the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June. Unemployment in July of last year was 6.7 percent. The agency also says Kansas had about 22,000 more private-sector jobs in July than it did a year earlier, an increase of about 2 percent. The state had about 1.1 million private-sector jobs last month. Employment by business and professional services companies had the biggest year-to-year increase at roughly 8 percent. Manufacturing employment also grew, while the number of government jobs declined.


DA Expected to Release Report on Governor's Meetings Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor is taking a few more days to wrap up his investigation of private meetings between Governor Sam Brownback and state legislators at the governor's official residence. An assistant says Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor expects to report his findings next week. Initially, the report was expected by Friday night. Brownback held seven dinner meetings in January at Cedar Crest with members of 13 legislative committees, most of them fellow Republicans. Taylor, a Democrat, has been investigating whether the gatherings violated the state's open meeting laws. Many legislators have described the dinners as social events. Brownback has expressed confidence that no laws were broken. But the governor has acknowledged he set up the meetings to discuss his legislative agenda and took questions from lawmakers.


IED Found in Hays

HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ Hays police say they found an improvised explosive device when they stopped a driver in downtown Hays.  The device was found when police pulled the driver over about 1 am Friday.  Police Chief Don Scheibler says a section of downtown Hays was cordoned off and businesses were asked to evacuate while the device was investigated.  The Hays Daily News reports the item was removed about 9 am and the area was reopened to the public. No injuries were reported.

Cullison Residents Back Home after Chemical Leak

CULLISON, Kan. (AP) _ The American Red Cross says residents are being allowed back home after a chemical leak prompted the evacuation of the small town of Cullison in Pratt County. The town was evacuated Friday as a precaution after a pickup carrying a tank of anhydrous ammonia on Highway 54 collided with a semitrailer. KWCH reports the truck carrying the ammonia flipped and the container ended up the middle of the highway. The highway was closed in both directions and residents were evacuated out of concern the tank might rupture. The truck driver was hospitalized with critical injuries.


Trials Postponed in Hutchinson Homicide

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Both suspects in what authorities have described as a mistaken-identity killing in Hutchinson have now had their trials postponed. Billy Joe Craig and Charles Christopher Logsdon are charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Jennifer Heckel. Investigators have said they believe the men planned to rob someone else and went to the wrong house. The Hutchinson News reports that a Reno County judge granted a continuance this week for Craig, who was scheduled for trial November 13. No new date was immediately set. Logsdon's trial has been rescheduled from September 24 to October 22. Craig's attorney was appointed in late May and says he's going through a "mountain of evidence" from the district attorney's office. Prosecutors have requested to endorse more than 255 witnesses.


Appeals Court Rejects Challenge on Ethanol

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to Environmental Protection Agency decisions allowing an increase in ethanol content in gasoline. In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said trade associations of engine manufacturers, food producers and petroleum producers did not have standing to sue because they failed to show that their members are harmed by the EPA action. In two decisions, the agency approved the introduction of a gasoline blend of up to 15 percent ethanol for use in light-duty vehicles from model-year 2001 and later. The national gasoline supply is largely a blend with 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol producers, who sought the 15 percent option, say the ruling keeps a pathway open that could enable ethanol demand to expand.


Illness Forces Suburban KC Elementary School to Cancel Classes

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas elementary school is closed for a second day because of a widespread illness, and the Johnson County Health Department is investigating. The Shawnee Mission School District canceled classes Thursday and again Friday at Rosehill Elementary because of a gastrointestinal illness that swept through the school. The Kansas City Star reports the health department believes the problem is isolated to Rosehill Elementary. Crews spent Thursday scrubbing the building, and district officials canceled classes Friday to limit the risk of more exposure. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. County health officials have sent specimens to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for further analysis.


Petitions to Repeal Hutchinson Anti-Bias Ordinance Delivered

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Opponents of a new gay rights ordinance in Hutchinson delivered petitions seeking to have the measure repealed or put to a public vote. Awaken Hutchinson and the Kansas Family Policy Council delivered a petition Thursday containing 1,364 signatures of people opposed to the ordinance. They needed 327 valid signatures for the petition to be certified. The Hutchinson City Council approved an ordinance June 5 that prohibits people from being fired or evicted because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. After the signatures are certified, the city council will have 20 days to either repeal the measure or allow the public to vote within another 90 days. The Hutchinson News reports both opponents and proponents expect the council to put the issue on the November ballot.


Hawker Beechcraft Seeks More Time to File Bankruptcy Plan

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft has asked the court for more time to file its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. The Wichita-based plane maker asked the bankruptcy court on Thursday to extend until at least December 29 the exclusivity period to file a Chapter 11 plan. It also wants to extend until February 27 the time to solicit acceptance of the plan from each debtor. After the exclusivity period expires, creditors may file competing plans. Hawker Beechcraft says it needs more time to evaluate and pursue both emerging from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company and emerging through a third-party sale. The company also noted the complexity of its bankruptcy, which involves 18 Hawker Beechcraft entities, 5,400 employees and $2.4 billion in debt. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for August 30.


Oil and Gas Region Welcomes New Dairy Plant

HUGOTON, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas county that has long made its living from the oil and gas industry is welcoming a new dairy processing plant. Governor Sam Brownback joined Stevens County officials Thursday to break ground for Kansas Dairy Ingredients, a cheese and processing plant near Hugoton. The $20 million plant is expected to bring 60 new jobs to the county. The Garden City Telegram reports county officials say the plant is also important because it diversifies the county's economy and adds to the tax base. The governor said he expects more cheese and processing plants to come to southwest Kansas, as the dairy industry expands in the region.


Parents to Be Tried Separately in Bound-Children Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ordered separate trials for a suburban Chicago couple accused of tying up and blindfolding two of their children outside a Walmart in Lawrence. Fifty-two-year-old Adolfo Gomez and his 44-year-old wife, Deborah Gomez, both pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony child abuse and misdemeanor child endangerment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin scheduled trials October 22nd for Deborah Gomez and November 5th for her husband. A Walmart shopper called police June 13 after seeing a child blindfolded and bound near a vehicle in the store parking lot. Police have said Adolfo Gomez told them he believed the children were possessed by demons. The family was driving from Northlake, Illinois to Arizona when their vehicle broke down in Kansas.


Gunman Pleads Guilty in Topeka Clerk's Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old man accused of killing a Topeka liquor store clerk during a Christmas Eve holdup has pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge. Federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of murder and robbery against Matthew Daniel Myers following his plea Thursday. Both sides will request a sentence of 33 years. Authorities said Myers was wearing a stocking cap and pajama pants and carrying a crowbar when he entered Hudson Liquor last December 24th. He demanded money from 41-year-old clerk Matthew Hill, who tried to retrieve a .38-caliber pistol from a drawer. Myers hit Hill with the crowbar, seized the pistol and shot him three times. A surveillance camera captured the shooting. Myers pleaded guilty to one count of firing a gun during a violent crime.


Former Blue Valley Student Alleges Sexual Harassment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former student in Johnson County's Blue Valley School District has refiled a lawsuit alleging students tormented him because they thought he was gay and staff failed to protect him. The plaintiff is seeking $75,000 in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. The case was first filed in 2010 and voluntarily dismissed in February. Blue Valley spokeswoman Kristi McNerlin says the district only learned of the lawsuit Thursday and doesn't comment on pending litigation. The former student says he was harassed while in middle school and high school from 2003 to 2010. He says male students slapped him on the bottom, pulled down his pants and harassed him in the locker room shower. He says students also kicked, punched and hit him.


KC Zoo Announces Giraffe Birth, Sea Lion Death 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A female baby giraffe is now on display at the Kansas City Zoo, which also announced the death of one of its sea lions. The giraffe, born August 4, was on display for the first time Thursday. The 145-pound, 6-foot-tall giraffe is one of the zoo's five Masai giraffes. The giraffe has not been named. Also on Thursday, a 10-year-old male California sea lion died while under anesthesia. Geoff Hall, the zoo's chief operations officer, said the animal's heart stopped while veterinarians were trying to determine why it had not been eating. The Kansas City Star reports that a necropsy on the 420-pound animal, named Vince, found a pulmonary disease. His death leaves the zoo with just two female sea lions.


Andover Schools Local Option Budget Proposal Passes by 2 Votes

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Voters in the Andover school district approved a local option budget increase — but just barely. Canvassing of provisional ballots in Sedgwick County on Thursday found the issue passed by two votes, 1,591 to 1,589. The school district lies in two counties. Sedgwick County canvassed its provisional ballots Thursday and added those results to Butler County's final results. The Wichita Eagle reports the issue will raise the Andover local option budget by 1 percentage point. The increase is expected to generate more than $430,000 for the school district, which will be used faculty, coaching and support staff, among other things. The mill levy will also decrease 2.5 mills. It would have decreased 3 mills if the issue had failed.


Nuisance Species Removed from Kingman State Lake

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — State wildlife officials are hoping their efforts to remove nuisance fish from Kingman State Fishing Lake will lure anglers back to the lake in south-central Kansas. Use of the lake near Cunningham has dropped 70 percent since 1999, mostly because it has become overrun with white perch, gizzard shad and common carp. The white perch and other nuisance fish destroy spawning and eat young fish after they hatch. The Hutchinson News reports workers from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, salvaged what they could of the lake's pike this week before draining the lake. Koch said he hopes the lake fills by the spring fishing season, if the current drought is broken.


Civil Rights Panel Considers Alabama Immigration Law

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A divided U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is hearing testimony in Birmingham on state laws cracking down on illegal immigration in Alabama and other states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach testified Friday that the laws aren't discriminatory and don't result in racial profiling. Kobach helped write the laws in Alabama and Arizona. Protesters interrupted Kobach repeatedly until they were escorted out by police. Commission members then started bickering among themselves before the chairman restored order. Alabama state Representative Chris England told members that police may use "markers" based on peoples' appearance to make traffic stops under the laws, despite prohibitions against profiling. Commissioners will issue a report later this year on their findings. The eight-member panel is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.


Wichita Students Skip Out on $213 IHOP Tab

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An apparent prank by some Wichita high school students has a restaurant owner apologizing for the resulting negative publicity. KWCH-TV reports about 100 Wichita North High School seniors descended on an IHOP around 5 am Tuesday, following a traditional campout at the school. A police report shows that 22 of the students left without paying their bills. Wichita North principal Sherman Padgett calls that a "boneheaded" act and says arrangements are being made for the seniors to pay the $213 tab plus a 20 percent tip. The IHOP's owner, Ali Issa, says he's embarrassed about the situation and never meant to make the school look bad. Issa says he wants to assure everyone, including the students, that they're welcome back at the restaurant.


Missouri Man Sentenced for Deaths of 2 Brothers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for the killings of two brothers whose bodies were discovered in a shopping cart. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old Loyal Hayes was sentenced Friday in Jackson County (MO) Circuit Court. Hayes pleaded guilty earlier to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killings of 21-year-old Joseph Hooker and his 19-year-old brother, John Hooker. The victims' bodies were discovered in a vacant lot in May 2010. They had been wrapped in plastic trash bags and duct tape and placed in a shopping cart. Loyal Hayes's brother, Lonell Hayes, was sentenced earlier to three years' probation for a car belonging to one of the victims.


Workshop on Fencing, Watering Options for Coping with Drought

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farm groups are putting together a workshop on electric fencing and livestock watering options amid the deepening drought. The free, daylong workshop will be held September 11 near Jamestown in Republic County. Kansas livestock producers are facing challenges with dwindling stock water supplies and the need to fence conservation reserve acreage newly opened up for grazing. Agriculture Department conservationist Mark Green will demonstrate the latest electric fence products and discuss installation techniques. Green will also cover livestock watering issues such as water distribution for improved grazing. The workshop is sponsored by the Kansas Rural Center and other farm groups with funding from the Agriculture Department's Risk Management Agency.


Kansas City Considers Outsourcing Airport Bus Operations 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials are considering outsourcing bus operations at the city's airport to a private company. Aviation director Mark VanLoh said Thursday he wants to outsource the airport's bus business to Standard Parking. He noted that bus drivers at Kansas City International Airport have been involved in 50 accidents in the last 2½ years, causing 25 lawsuits that cost the city $200,000. If approved, the change would eliminate jobs for 58 drivers, eight management employees and 18 currently vacant positions. Seven bus drivers and a union representative asked the city's transportation committee on Thursday to reject the idea and preserve their jobs. The Kansas City Star reports that VanLoh estimates the airport can save $7 million over five years by outsourcing the bus operation to Standard Parking.


Shuttered KC School Can't Meet Final Payroll

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An organization that ran an African-centered campus under contract with the Kansas City school district can't make its final payroll. The Kansas City Star reports that Afrikan Centered Education Taskforce Inc. chairman Ajamu Webster blames the organization's bank. He wrote in a letter to staff that the bank removed $111,000 from a payroll account to offset an outstanding loan balance even though the task force was staying current on its payments. Liberty Bank and Trust Regional President Sidney King says the letter contains numerous inaccuracies. Webster wrote that the task force intends to file for bankruptcy Friday and still hopes to pay staff. The district ended the contract at the end of the last academic year and took over the program. The campus opened Monday with about 1,200 students.


Chiefs Wide Receiver Bowe Signs Franchise Tender Offer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has signed his franchise tender after skipping Kansas City's entire offseason program and the beginning of training camp. The team announced Friday that Bowe had signed. He will make about $9.5 million this season after the two sides failed to reach a long-term deal by the July 16 deadline. It was unknown whether Bowe would join the Chiefs for their preseason game against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. Even if he did, there is virtually no chance he would play. Bowe is coming off another strong season in which he caught 81 passes for 1,159 yards and five touchdowns, despite an injury to quarterback Matt Cassel that left him with the likes of Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton throwing him the ball.

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