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Regional Headlines for Friday, August 2, 2013


Kansas Senate Minority Leader Calls for Early Court Nomination

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate's top Democrat is calling on Republican Governor Sam Brownback to name a new state Court of Appeals judge early to give lawmakers more time to vet the nomination. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said Friday that he wants Brownback to nominate the judge by August 9. The deadline set by state law is August 29. Brownback has called a special session for September 3 to rewrite a criminal sentencing law following an adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision. With lawmakers in session, the Senate will be legally required to consider the appointment. Hensley said lawmakers won't have time to properly vet the nominee if the governor waits. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the governor will act as quickly as possible but shouldn't face an artificial deadline.


Judge Dismisses Lawsuit from Close Kansas House Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit arising from a close Kansas House race last year and the losing incumbent's attempt to contact voters whose ballots were set aside. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled Thursday that a change in state election laws this year made the case moot. Former state and Topeka Democrat Rep. Ann Mah wanted to keep the lawsuit alive to review new issues about contacting voters after balloting. Mah lost her bid for re-election last year by 21 votes out of almost 10,800 cast. After the initial vote count, Mah sued successfully to learn the names of voters whose ballots had not been counted, so she might them help correct flaws. Lawmakers rewrote state law to prevent other candidates from making such a move in the future.


Toxic Algae Warnings Issued for Some State Lakes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Public health officials have issued more warnings about toxic blue-green algae in Kansas lakes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday that nine lakes are now under public health warnings. A public health warning indicates water conditions are unsafe and prohibits wading, skiing and swimming. Lakes currently under that status include Colwich Memorial Park Lake in Sedgwick County; Harvey County East Lake and Harvey County West Lake; Hiawatha City Lake in Brown County; and Lake Warnock in Atchison County. Also included are Logan City Lake in Phillips County; Memorial Park Lake in Barton County; Riggs Park Lake in Sedgwick County; and South Park Lake in Johnson County. A less restrictive advisory for Atchison County Park Lake allows boating and fishing there, but strongly discourages direct water contact.


Obama Picks Kansas Supreme Court Justice for Federal Appeals Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Barack Obama has nominated Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The White House announced the Democratic president's nomination Thursday, and it immediately drew support from Republican U.S. Senator Jerry Moran. Moran called Moritz "highly qualified" and said he intends to vote for her confirmation. The 53-year-old Moritz has served on the state's highest court since 2011, having been appointed by outgoing Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson. She previously spent seven years on the Kansas Court of Appeals. The Denver-based 10th Circuit court handles cases from Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. Obama also announced that he's nominating Kansas City-area attorney Daniel D. Crabtree for a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kansas. Moran also endorsed Crabtree's nomination.


3 Arrested in Fatal Hit-and-Run Involving Horse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they have arrested a man and two women in a hit-and-run accident that killed a man on a horse. Police on Thursday arrested a 26-year-old man for leaving the scene of a fatal accident and felony obstruction of justice. Two women, ages 19 and 28, also were arrested on obstruction of justice charges. Police say the man was driving and the 19-year-old woman was a passenger when the car hit a horse carrying 49-year-old Lloyd Ferguson and 6-year-old Eddie Caddell on July 5. Ferguson died and the boy is recovering in a rehabilitation hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ferguson's horse had to be euthanized. Police say a tip to Crime Stoppers this week led them to the vehicle involved in the accident.


Kansas Appeals Court Upholds Lawrence Sidewalk Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld the constitutionality of an ordinance in Lawrence against obstructing sidewalks following a challenge from a homeless man repeatedly arrested under it. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a three-judge appeals panel ruled in the case of 55-year-old Robert Gilmore. The challenged ordinance bans people from blocking others' movement on sidewalks. Gilmore's attorney had argued that it was too vague. The appeals panel disagreed. Gilmore was charged in 2011 with three counts of blocking sidewalk traffic outside a downtown department store. He's often seen downtown, and his family has said he was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a boy. A municipal judge acquitted Gilmore. But the city took the case to state courts to get a ruling that the ordinance is constitutional.


Man Draws 'Hard 50' Sentence in Wichita Woman's Death 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County judge imposed a Hard 50 prison sentence on a man convicted of killing a Wichita woman while he was on parole for another murder in Lawrence. Tyrone Walker was sentenced Thursday for strangling 44-year-old Janis Sanders in June 2011. He had been paroled in February of that year after serving a 12-year sentence for killing 25-year-old Tamara Baker in October 1989. District Judge Joseph Bribiesca imposed the Hard 50 sentence less than a month after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that questioned the constitutionality of such sentences. Bribiesca said the ruling did not apply to Walker's case. Questions about the Hard 50 sentence prompted a special session of the Kansas Legislature, which will convene next month.


Missouri Officials Report Third Cyclospora Case 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri health officials say they have been notified of a third confirmed case of cyclospora infection. The state Department of Health and Senior Services said Friday the latest report of the stomach bug came from a health provider in the Kansas City metro area. The others were reported earlier this week from Jackson County and Taney County. The state health department said the sources of the Missouri cases have not been confirmed, and it's not clear if they're linked to cyclospora infections in more than a dozen other states. Officials in Iowa and Nebraska have said they believe cases those two states are linked to bagged salad mix. Cyclospora infections are mostly found in tropical or subtropical countries. Symptoms include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps or nausea.


Kansas Man Shot During Home Invasion Sentenced

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who was shot when he and a cousin tried to break into a rural Lyon County home has been sentenced to about five years in prison. Thirty-six-year-old Gary D. Yowell Jr. was sentenced Wednesday to concurrent sentences of 55 months in prison and six months in jail for the Jan. 2 home invasion at a home about three miles north of Neosho Rapids. The homeowner, Ron Sleisher, shot Yowell and then held his cousin, 31-year-old Rodney E. Yowell, of Dunlap, at gunpoint after they broke into Sleisher's house. The Emporia Gazette reports that Sleisher was not charged because his use of force was considered justified under state law. Yowell was sentenced to two years of probation.


Rain Helping Replenish Kansas Water Supplies

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — The recent spate of wet weather has caused flash floods and other headaches in much of Kansas, but the rain is also replenishing some lakes that communities rely on for water. In Butler County east of Wichita, Santa Fe Lake and Augusta City Lake both dried up amid severe drought two years ago. KWCH-TV reports that Santa Fe Lake is now overflowing. Workers are pumping water into a nearby retention pond. Augusta city Lake is also filling back up. Both lakes help supply water to the cities of Augusta and Mulvane and two rural water districts. Augusta has had mandatory water restrictions in place, but city officials now plan to review them in the fall.


Wyoming Recognizes Kansas Concealed Carry Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas concealed carry permit holders will now be allowed to carry their weapons in Wyoming. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Friday that Wyoming has become the 32nd state to honor permits issued in Kansas. The decision is a result of legislation passed by Kansas lawmakers this year. The law recognizes all valid out-of-state permits when a non-resident permit holder is traveling in Kansas. The new Kansas law also requires people with concealed carry permits who move to Kansas to obtain a Kansas-issued license to legally continue carrying concealed guns. The changes took effect on July 1. There are nearly 66,000 active Kansas concealed carry permits.


Fort Riley to Host Night Out Events

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley soldiers and families will gather the evening of August 7 for activities tied to the annual National Night Out. The National Night Out brings law enforcement and citizens together every August to promote anti-crime efforts and public safety. It's observed in neighborhoods and on military bases throughout the U.S. The Fort Riley Police Department says the event has been held at the northeast Kansas Army post for more than 18 years. Post officials say the goal is to promote neighborhood spirit and improve relationships among local law enforcement, the military community and the Geary County school district.


Missouri River Terminal Acquired by Mississippi Company

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions of Jackson, Mississippi has bought the assets of the Wolcott Terminal Facility located in Wolcott, Kansas. Terms of the deal announced this week were not disclosed. EA&E says in a news release that it has marketed neat asphalt products from the terminal since it began leasing the facility in 1992. Located on the Missouri River to the northwest of Kansas City, the Wolcott Facility has a capacity of 176,284 barrels. It is equipped to load product by truck and receive product by barge, truck and rail. The Wolcott Facility also offers sulfuric acid transloading services. EA&E will continue to service all existing sulfuric acid transloading contracts. The facility was previously owned by Tanco Kansas City LLC.


Kansas Guide Pleads to Criminal Hunting

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A hunting guide has pleaded no contest to criminal hunting charges, admitting that he took hunters and a television crew onto property he didn't have permission to hunt. Thirty-year-old Adam Gilkey of McPherson, who operates High Caliber Outdoors, was fined $250 on Wednesday for an incident that occurred last December near Hutchinson. The Hutchinson News reports that Gilkey was leading a group of eight hunters, including two men who host the show "American Birdhunter," which airs on the Outdoor Channel. The group was hunting a field when the land owner called state wildlife officials to say he hadn't given them permission to be on his land. Charges against the other seven were dismissed. Prosecutors say they were relying on Gilkey to take them to a legal area to hunt.


Innovative Research Facility Planned in Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Construction is expected to begin next year on a new research facility in Salina dedicated to studying the science of transporting bulk solids. The Salina Journal reports the project was announced this week after four years of planning. It's a collaboration among Kansas State University, the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Salina, private companies and K-Tron Salina. California-based K-Tron is an international material-handling company. K-Tron Salina donated the land for the 17,000-square-foot Salina project. The Salina Bulk Solids Innovation Center is expected to benefit industries that use and make conveyance systems for such material as sugar, starch, minerals, chemicals and plastic pellets. Businesses and Kansas State students and researchers will work at the center.


Man Accused of 'Quick Change' Con

WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) — An Ohio man is in custody in Missouri, accused in a "quick change" con for allegedly bilking cashiers at stores out of hundreds of dollars. The Washington Missourian reports that 59-year-old Jay V. Jackson of Cincinnati is charged with two counts of felony stealing. He is jailed on $30,000 cash-only bond. Jackson is accused of staging the con game July 13 at Wal-Mart stores in Washington and Union. Police say he stole $300 at the Washington store and $100 at Union. He is suspected of similar in other areas of Missouri and Kansas. In a "quick change" con, an offer is made to change an amount of money with someone, while at the same time taking change or bills back and forth to confuse the person making change.


Number of U.S. Oil Rigs Increases

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Incorporated says the number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by six this week to 1,782. The Houston-based company said in its weekly report Friday that 1,388 rigs were exploring for oil and 388 for gas. Six were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,924 active rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, West Virginia gained 11 rigs, Alaska and Louisiana each gained five, Texas gained three and Ohio gained one. Oklahoma lost eight rigs, New Mexico lost three, Colorado, Kansas and Pennsylvania each lost two and North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming each lost one. Arkansas and California were unchanged. The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.


Prosecutors Obtain More Time for al-Qaida Sentencing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has given prosecutors more time to recommend a sentence for a Kansas City man accused of providing financial and material support to al-Qaida. District Judge Howard Sachs on Thursday gave prosecutors until Aug. 7 to file any sentencing recommendations, including whether 34-year-old Khalid Ouazzani should get a reduction based on cooperation. Sachs previously had set a July 31 deadline for the motion. Ouazzani is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a married father of two. He pleaded guilty in May 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to support a terrorist group after admitting he gave money to al-Qaida. He also acknowledged swearing an oath of allegiance to the terrorist network in 2008.


Lawsuit Alleges KC Charter School Owes Millions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new lawsuit accuses former board members of a failed Kansas City charter school of running up more than $10 million in debt and ignoring warnings that the school could close because of the financial problems. The lawsuit was filed this week against Derrick Thomas Academy and its seven former board members by Wells Fargo Bank, which is the trustee for several bondholders. The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit says the Kansas City school owes bondholders $10.6 million, which was used to buy, renovate and equip the school building. The money also was used to pay a $2.5 million debt to EdisonLearning, which managed the school. The charter school closed in June.


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