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Regional Headlines for Friday, December 13, 2013


Kansas Man gets Life in Prison for Soldier's Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Manhattan man was sentenced to life in prison for killing a Fort Riley soldier and injuring four others outside an apartment complex. Forty-three-year-old Matthew Wilson was sentenced Thursday to life plus a consecutive sentence of nearly 26 years in prison. He pleaded no contest in October to first-degree murder and other charges in the April shooting that killed 23-year-old Michael Lowery and injured four others as they were leaving a party. Prosecutors say Wilson lived in the apartment complex and told a witness he was tired of the partying at the complex. The Manhattan Mercury reports Wilson tearfully apologized to the victims and their families before he was sentenced. He said he suffered from mental illness and alcoholism and didn't know why he shot the victims


House Budget Deal Includes KS NBAF Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Funding for the next phase of construction of a national research lab at Kansas State University is closer to reality after the U.S. House passed a bipartisan budget agreement. If the Senate goes along with the deal in the coming days, $404 million will be appropriated to continue construction of the $1.25 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in near Manhattan. The lab will replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y., and conduct research on deadly animal pathogens. Construction has started on a central utility plant that will provide services to the lab. Kansas Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder voted in favor of the budget proposal, while Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo voted against it. All four are Republicans.


Most Shawnee County Buildings will Allow Guns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Concealed guns will likely be allowed in nearly all public buildings in Shawnee County, beginning Jan. 1. The Shawnee County Commission on Monday will consider asking Attorney General Derek Schmidt to exempt only the county courthouse and three health agency buildings from allowing concealed guns. More than 80 other county-owned buildings will allow the weapons. County counselor Rich Eckert says it is too expensive to provide adequate security at the other buildings, and citizens have a right to carry concealed weapons. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the exemption letters are on the commission's consent agenda, which usually is passed without discussion. A state law that allows concealed weapons in public buildings took effect July 1. Local governments were able to seek exemptions for some buildings, if they had adequate security


Hearing Set in Arkansas for Scientist Carged by Feds

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A detention hearing is set in Little Rock for a Chinese scientist accused of trying to steal seed samples from a company's research facility in Kansas. Wengui Yan, who lives in Stuttgart, has a hearing scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday. On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Kansas charged Yan and Weiqiang Zhang, of Manhattan, Kan., with conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The federal complaint says Yan worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a rice geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Arkansas. Zhang worked as an agricultural seed breeder for an unidentified company. They each face up to 10 years in prison and fines. Zhang has a detention hearing set for Tuesday in Kansas City, Kan.


Some KS Lawmakers to Fight Wind Power Incentives

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some conservative leaders in the Kansas Legislature say they will try again during the next session to stop the state from requiring utilities to buy more wind power. Supporters of wind power say that action would hurt an industry that has potential for big growth in Kansas. A 2009 law requires the state's major utilities to get 15 percent of their power from wind or other renewable sources by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. An opponent of the law Rep. Dennis Hedke, a Republican from Wichita, says he wants all energy sources to be on the same level and to ensure the lowest cost for ratepayers. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas wind energy capacity has grown from about 1,000 megawatts in 2009 to 2,700 megawatts this year.


Fort Hays State Starts $8 million Scholarship Drive

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Fort Hays State University is launching an effort to raise $8 million for scholarships for students. University officials announced the one-year Power of One Scholarship Campaign effort Wednesday. President Edward Hammond has made providing aid for students a top priority during his 27 years at the university. He plans to retire next summer. The Hays Daily News reports Fort Hays' student enrollment has increased from 5,538 in 1987 to 13,441 this year. The fundraising campaign represents a 400 percent increase over normal fundraising in a year's time for the Fort Hays State University Foundation


KS Wesleyan to Build Athletic Complex in Phases

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan officials say a new athletic complex will be built in phases over several years. Demolition of the university's current Glenn Martin Stadium is set to begin Jan. 9. The first phase of construction will include building football and soccer fields, a running track, lights for the fields and resurfacing tennis courts. Temporary seating and other amenities will be built for the 2014 football season. The Salina Journal reports the second phase, construction of a new stadium, is expected to start in November 2014. The third phase will be construction of a new fieldhouse. Wesleyan president Matthew Thompson said Wednesday that funds raised so far will cover more than half of the estimated $7.5 million project, including all of the first phase.


KS Governor Touts Sporting KC Victory

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Wearing a light blue Sporting Kansas City scarf, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said he's proud of the state's first team to win a major professional sports championship. Brownback said Thursday that winning the Major League Soccer title put the Kansas City region firmly in the center of the United States soccer map. Sporting KC defeated Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks to claim its second MLS title. The governor says there could be more soccer on the way with Sporting KC's owners working with U.S. Soccer to bring a national training and coaching development center to the area. Brownback says he is also still waiting for his honey and taffy that was promised in a friendly wager with Utah's Governor Gary Herbert on the outcome of the MLS championship game.


Federal Judge to Hear KS Proof of Citizenship Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona seeking to force modifications in a national voter registration form so the states can fully enforce proof-of-citizenship requirements. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren will take up the request for a preliminary injunction Friday in Wichita. The states want an order requiring the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to change the national voter registration form before next year's midterm elections. The states want the federal form to include instructions requiring Kansas and Arizona residents to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. The Justice Department says such a change places an additional obstacle for eligible voters and would affect nationwide policy by setting a precedent.


KS Educators Planning to Fingerprint Teachers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education is drafting a plan that would require all teachers in the state to submit fingerprints and undergo extensive background checks, but some school districts are concerned about requiring more costs from their educators. Education Board attorney Scott Gordon says some districts already require fingerprint checks as a condition of employment, but those can't legally be transferred to the state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports state-required checks would mean new fingerprints would have to be completed — often at the expense of the teachers. The state board in September called for new rules as part of an effort to strengthen enforcement of state laws and regulations prohibiting anyone who has committed certain crimes from receiving or renewing a teaching license.


Kansas Land Purchases Delayed by Council

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Purchases of two large parcels of land in northeast and southeast Kansas have been placed on hold over concerns about the timing of the sales and lack of legislative input. The state finance council delayed its decision Thursday after several legislators on the council said some of their colleagues questioned the purchases for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. One of the parcels is located near Tuttle Creek Reservoir in Pottawatomie County and is adjacent to land already owned by the state. The second is located in Cherokee County near the Oklahoma border, also near land already owned by the state. Legislators say they will take up the land purchases soon after the 2014 session begins in January to get more answers.


Chinese Scientists Charged in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two scientists from China have been charged with trying to steal seed samples from a company's research facility in Kansas. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said Thursday that 47-year-old Weiqiang Zhang of Manhattan, and 63-year-old Wengui Yan of Stuttgart, Arkansas are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The company they're accused of trying to steal the seed samples from wasn't identified in court records. The federal complaint says Zhang worked as an agricultural seed breeder for the company since 2008. Yan worked or the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a rice geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Arkansas. They each face up to 10 years in prison and fines. Online court records don't list lawyers for either defendant.


Topeka Man Sentenced in Child Exploitation Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County jury has found a 39-year-old Topeka man guilty on dozens of counts of sexually exploiting children. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Jason Hachmeister was convicted Thursday on 105 counts of sexual exploitation of children. He was found not guilty on three counts of the same charge. Hachmeister's trial began Monday. Prosecutors said Hachmeister possessed 108 illegal photographs of children in sexually explicit conduct. Defense attorney Jim Chappas said Shawnee County prosecutors failed to prove Hachmeister had committed the crimes. Hachmeister also is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the 2011 strangulation death of his mother, Sheila Hachmeister, at the home the two shared. His trial in that case is scheduled to begin January 21st.

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