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Regional Headlines for Friday, August 23, 2013



Kansas National Guard Maintenance Jobs Victim of DOD Cost-Cutting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of the Kansas National Guard says officials will work closely with employees being laid off at maintenance facilities to help them find benefits and new jobs. Major General Lee Tafanelli said Friday the facilities in Salina and at Fort Riley are among five nationwide where the Defense Department has decided to cut spending. The sites rebuild and refurbish military equipment for the Defense Department. Tafanelli says the Salina site is expected to close in January, eliminating 45 jobs. The facility at Fort Riley will remain open but lose 58 of its 137 jobs. Tafanelli met with employees Friday to brief them on the reductions.


Fort Leavenworth Could House Convicted Fort Hood Shooter

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Fort Leavenworth could be the destination for another high-profile military defendant -- this time, the man convicted of the 2009 rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Jurors convicted Major Nidal Hasan of murder Friday for killing 13 people. He faces a possible death sentence or life in prison. It's unclear whether he would serve his sentence at the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, the military's only maximum-security prison and home to its current five inmates given death sentences for their crimes. Hasan's medical status may complicate where he serves his punishment. He was wounded in the 2009 incident and is paralyzed from the waist down. The Army says the Leavenworth barracks can handle inmates with medical needs. Earlier this week, military documents leaker Bradley Manning was convicted and taken to Leavenworth.


Health Warnings Issued for 7 Kansas Lakes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Public health warnings have been issued for seven Kansas lakes because of dangerous levels of toxic blue-green algae. Less restrictive advisories have also been issued for two additional lakes. The warnings from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment prohibit swimming, wading, skiing or other direct contact with the water. Lakes now under warnings include Colwich Memorial Park Lake in Sedgwick County, Hiawatha City Lake in Brown County, Lake Warnock in Atchison County, and Logan City Lake in Phillips County. Also listed are Memorial Park Lake in Barton County, Riggs Park Lake in Sedgwick County and Rose's Lake in Johnson County. The agencies posted advisories for Atchison County Park Lake in Atchison County, and South Park Lake in Johnson County. The advisories allow boating and fishing but strongly discourage direct water contact.


Koch Brothers Drop Pursuit of Tribune Papers

The Koch brothers are dropping their pursuit of newspapers owned by the Tribune Company of Chicago. Koch Industries, run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David, said Friday that it is still interested in the media and is exploring a broad range of opportunities. Tribune publications include the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel and The Sun, in Baltimore. Reports first surfaced four months ago of the Koch's interest in Tribune after the company in December announced plans to sell its papers.


Man Convicted of Trying to Kill Kansas Trooper

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man has been convicted of trying to kill a Highway Patrol trooper in a shootout last October. The Salina Journal reports that 31-year-old Jason Gleason, of Lyons, was found guilty Friday of attempted first-degree murder and five other charges. Gleason was a passenger in an SUV driven by his girlfriend when Trooper Ryan Wolting noticed that it matched one used in a Rice County bank robbery earlier in the day. Wolting chased the SUV for about 11 miles before it broke down in Saline County. Witnesses testified that Gleason got out and began shooting, shattering the windshield of Wolting's car as the trooper returned fire. One of Gleason's shots traveled through the mouth of his girlfriend's young son and hit the girlfriend as well. Both recovered.


Manning Arrives at Fort Leavenworth Prison

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Fort Leavenworth say Bradley Manning has arrived at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks to begin serving a 35-year prison term. A brief statement from the northeast Kansas post Thursday afternoon gave no other details about Manning's arrival or status. Manning previously spent nearly two years at an adjacent prison while awaiting court-martial. The soldier was sentenced Wednesday for sending classified government material to WikiLeaks. Manning announced Thursday he intends to live as a woman and go by the name Chelsea Manning. The Crescent, Oklahoma native is asking the Army to let him begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. Army spokesman George Marcec says Manning will have access to mental health professionals but the prison system doesn't provide hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for inmates.

Ex-Soldier Convicted of Killing Kansas Guard Member

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Fort Riley soldier has been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a Kansas National Guard member outside a Manhattan motorcycle club. KAYS-AM reports a jury in Riley County District Court deliberated less than an hour Thursday before returning the verdict against 27-year-old Daniel Parker of Junction City. Parker was accused of opening fire on the "Assassin Street Rydaz" clubhouse as the victim, 21-year-old Frederick Beverly, manned the gate for a party early on New Year's Day, 2012. Prosecutors said Parker had argued earlier with a club member. Parker testified Thursday that he didn't know Beverly and didn't notice anyone outside the building. Jurors also heard Thursday from Parker's mother, who said her son had been "very withdrawn" after his second deployment to Iraq.

Fire Damages Military Goods Store in Junction City

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are looking for the cause of a fire that gutted a military goods retailer in Junction City. The blaze was reported around 11:30 pm Wednesday in a building that houses the Military Outlet as well as a Masonic lodge on its two upper floors. Fire officials estimate the damage at $300,000. KJCK-AM reports the Masonic lodge had significant smoke damage and lost part of its dining room floor to the flames. Two nearby businesses had minor smoke damage. State Fire Marshal's investigator Larry Shoemaker says the fire began near the rear of the building. Crews from nearby Fort Riley helped fight the blaze.

KDHE: Kansas Infant Mortality Rate Increases Slightly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say the state's infant mortality rate has edged higher. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the number of infant deaths rose from 247 in 2011 to 254 in 2012. That works out to an infant mortality rate of 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births last year, up from 6.2 in 2011. But KDHE also notes that the 2011 rate was the lowest in Kansas since the state began keeping records in 1912. Leading causes of infant deaths in Kansas are prematurity, low birth weight, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome, suffocation in bed and pregnancy complications in the mother. The agency cited a research brief published by its Bureau of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics.


Wichita Reopens Arkansas River for Recreation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say recreation is again permitted on the Arkansas River through downtown Wichita. Recreation was prohibited for the last two weeks because the water was too high. The city's recreation director, Doug Kupper, said Friday the water level had dropped enough to allow canoes and kayaks back on the river. But he warns the water flow rate is still 2,000 cubic feet per minute — far above the ususal 300 feet per minute - and warned the public to be careful on the water. Kupper says recreational users should stay away from the river between Kellogg and 21st Street because crews have not repaired damage on the Lincoln Street dam, where there are dangerous currents.


League of Women Voters Seeks Records of Governor's Schedule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The League of Women Voters of Kansas has filed an open records request for the schedules of three state officials, including Gov. Sam Brownback and his nominee to serve on the Kansas Court of Appeals. Brownback on Tuesday nominated his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, to serve on the court. Under a new law, the governor did not release the names of others applicants for the position. The League of Women Voters says its open records request is for the schedules of Brownback, Stegall and the governor's Appointments Director Kim Borchers between July 15 and August 16. League state president Dolores Furtado told The Lawrence Journal-World that the group wants to check Brownback's claim that Stegall was the most qualified choice of the 13 people who applied for the court opening.

Wichita Man Charged with Cruelty in Puppy's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been charged with felony cruelty to animals in the beating death of a pit bull puppy. The Wichita Eagle reports 28-year-old Brian Jackson appeared in Sedgwick County District Court via a video hookup from jail Thursday afternoon to hear a formal reading of the charge. His bond was set at $25,000. Wichita police discovered the body of what neighbors described as a small, friendly dog late Monday while investigating a possible burglary at a duplex. The person who called 911 also said her neighbor might have killed a puppy with a baseball bat. Jackson, who was living in the adjoining unit, was arrested. Jackson has requested a court-appointed lawyer. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 5th.

Westar Energy Seeks Renewable Energy Bids

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy is seeking to expand its renewable energy portfolio. Kansas' largest electric utility said Thursday it's accepting proposals through September 13 from developers to add at least 80 megawatts of wind energy production. The company wants to enter into long-term contracts to help it meet state renewable energy requirements for 2016. The standard requires utilities to obtain 15 percent of their peak power through renewable sources. Westar has almost 700 megawatts of renewable energy resources in Kansas in addition to its coal and natural gas power plants. The company says it will offer a portion of its wind energy development rights in Ford and Hodgeman counties.


MIssouri AG's Office to Help Prosecute Case of Missing Girl

GOLDEN CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri attorney general's office will help prosecute a man accused of kidnapping a 12-year-old girl whose body was found Wednesday in southwest Missouri. Barton County Prosecutor Steven Kaderly said at a news conference Friday that Attorney General Chris Koster's office will assist in prosecuting 34-year-old Bobby D. Bourne Jr., of Lockwood, Missouri. Bourne is being held on $1 million bond on a charge of kidnapping. It's unclear if he has a lawyer. Adriaunna Horton was reported missing Monday, shortly after she was last seen getting into a vehicle in Golden City, where she lived with her father. The girl's mother lives in Overland Park. Bourne was arrested about two hours later. Kaderly says he'll file more charges against Bourne, but it's unclear when. Authorities haven't said how the child died, but said an autopsy was performed Thursday in Springfield.


K-State Stadium Expansion Finishes Ahead of Football Season Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Whirlwind work on a $75 million renovation to Bill Snyder Family Stadium that began following last season has been completed ahead of Kansas State's season opener on Aug. 30. Project supervisor AECOM announced Thursday that the project to renovate the west side of the 45-year-old stadium finished on schedule. The construction had to be finished in just eight months in order to be ready for the Wildcats' opener against North Dakota State The renovation resulted in new premium seating, improved media and broadcast facilities, the addition of the K-State Athletics Hall of Honor and other amenities. It also doubled the amount of field lighting to meet NCAA national standards for high-definition TV broadcasts. The project was funded entirely through private donations.


Missouri Lawsuit Accuses KCP&L of Negligence

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri man has filed a lawsuit accusing Kansas City Power & Light and others of negligence involving the utility's solar-panel rebate program. The lawsuit was filed in Buchanan County Circuit Court by Richard Sharp of St. Joseph against KCP&L, St. Joseph-based U.S. Solar and its owner Trevor Dryden. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Sharp took part in KCP&L's solar rebate program and chose U.S. Solar to install the solar panels. The complaint accuses U.S. Solar of installing inoperable systems that couldn't be connected to KCP&L's electric system. KCP&L spokesman Chuck Caisley says the utility denies the allegations. He says Sharp's transaction with U.S. Solar had little to do with KCP&L, which has 800,000 customers in northwestern Missouri and eastern Kansas. Calls to U.S. Solar weren't answered Friday.


KC Mayor Praises School District's Performance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Sly James says the school district's recent academic performance gives the community reasons to be "both optimistic and reflective." Missouri education officials released a report Friday on how districts are faring under a new evaluation system that's based on test scores, attendance and several other factors. The report shows the Kansas City district scoring in the provisionally accredited range. The district plans to ask the state to shed its unaccredited label. Missouri education officials announced earlier this week that they've hired a private education reform group to help devise a turn-around plan for unaccredited schools. The mayor's spokeswoman says James is "very interested" in working with the group and state education officials "to make sure every child in Kansas City has access to a high-quality education."


Inventor Gives $2M to University of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas graduate who invented a synthetic gel called "Superflab" for use in radiology clinics has donated $2 million to the university for a professorship and two scholarships. Gene Feaster, of Leawood, received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1940 and a doctorate in physics in 1953. The university said Thursday the gift includes $1 million to establish the Ida Johnson Feaster Professorship at the KU School of Nursing, named for Feaster's late wife. The other $1 million created two endowed scholarship funds, one in nursing and the other in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Feaster twice was named "Inventor of the Year" while working at Westinghouse and holds 10 U.S. patents. He taught radiation therapy at KU Medical Center from 1977 until his retirement in 1992.

Wichita Bus System Could Be Out of Money by 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials say the city's bus system could be out of money by 2015, and taxpayers will be asked to help keep the buses running. Transit director Steve Spade is conducting an internal review of the system, including quality of service, accuracy of schedules and vehicle maintenance. The Wichita Eagle reports that city officials are finishing work on a position statement about the transit system's future. After that's done, Layton says Wichita residents will be asked to help decide the bus system's future. About 2 million riders have used the buses in each of the last two years. The city has committed about $1.8 million to the transit system through early 2015. But state and federal grants to help fund the system are being reduced.

Garden City Christmas Tradition Canceled for 2013

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Christmas won't be the same in Garden City this year. Renovation work forced the city to cancel its 2013 Santa's Christmas Carnival. But city officials say the event, which draws an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people every year, will return in 2014. The Garden City Recreation Commission announced the cancellation Thursday, saying it could not find another venue to hold the event while the Exhibition Building at the Finney County Fairgrounds is renovated. The Garden City Telegram reports that the event includes a carnival along with a stage where children can visit with Santa. The exhibition building will be closed for renovations between October 28 and the end of the year.


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