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Regional Headlines for Friday, December 27, 2013


Kansas Says Last Part of Medicaid Overhaul Delayed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is postponing the last part of an overhaul of its Medicaid program amid questions from federal officials about in-home services for the developmentally disabled. State officials announced Friday that they won't be bringing long-term care services for the developmentally disabled under the administration of three private health insurance companies on January 1 as planned. Kansas needed the approval of federal officials to complete the overhaul of the Medicaid program, now known as KanCare. State officials said they're still in discussions with federal officials and hope to have an agreement by February 1. Medicaid covers health care for the needy and disabled, and the state turned over administration of almost the entire program to the private companies at the start of 2013. But advocates for the developmentally disabled were wary.


KS to Start Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas is set to begin a drug testing program next year for some welfare recipients similar to a Missouri program that cost about $500,000 and turned up fewer than two dozen people who tested positive. After eight months, and 636 drug test requests, Missouri's program this year cost nearly $500,000 and found 20 people who tested positive. About 200 others refused to comply. The Kansas City Star reports that like Missouri, Kansas will test welfare recipients who are suspected of drug use, sometimes flagged by tests or a questionnaire. Kansas state Senator Jeff King, who authored the state's testing plan, says some people will not apply for benefits if they think they will test positive. He says that should be considered in evaluating any drug testing plan.

Kobach Seeks Stay in Lawsuit over KS Voter Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a federal judge to stay a lawsuit over the state's voter proof-of-citizenship law while another case he initiated is being heard. Kobach filed a request Thursday in federal court in a lawsuit filed against him in November in state court by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU wants to prevent Kobach from setting up different registration systems for voters based on whether they use state or federal forms. The federal form doesn't require proof of U.S. citizenship. Kobach is pursuing his own federal lawsuit to force a change in the national form. He's also moved to pull the ACLU case into federal court. ACLU Chief Counsel Doug Bonney said the federal court has no jurisdiction to intervene in its case.


Kansas Voter Citizenship Law Facing New Scrutiny

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proof-of-citizenship requirement for Kansas voters is likely to come under attack once the Legislature opens its annual session in January. But the debate over the policy championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach also will play in out in federal court. The law took effect at the start of 2013. More than 19,000 Kansas residents have their registrations on hold because they haven't provided election officials with papers documenting their U.S. citizenship. Several Democratic lawmakers have proposed rewriting or repealing the proof-of-citizenship law. Even some of Kobach's fellow Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature want to look for ways to shrink the list of affected voters. Kansas and Arizona also have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to compel a federal agency to help their states carry out proof-of-citizenship requirements.


KS Lawmakers to Reopen Debate on Public Pensions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Moves to close the Kansas public retirement system's long-term funding gap haven't eliminated interest among legislators in creating a 401(k)-style plan for new teachers and government employees. The Legislature also can't avoid discussing public pensions during the 2014 session because the state's contributions to teachers' retirement benefits have ballooned. The increases are coloring a debate over education funding. The effects of the Great Recession continue to hamper the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Even with major pension system changes in in 2011 and 2012, the gap between anticipated revenues and commitments to employees through 2033 approaches $10.3 billion. Republican state Representative John Rubin of Shawnee says he'll propose creating a 401(k)-style plan for public employees hired after June 2015. The 2014 session begins January 13th.

KS Officials Seek Comment on Transportation Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation is soliciting comments on proposed changes in projects it already has scheduled through June 2017. The department released a list of more than 100 proposed changes earlier this month. In most cases, the department is revising cost estimates, adjusting its schedule for accepting bids from contractors or changing how projects will be financed. KDOT says it will take comments through Jan. 8. People interested in commenting should contact the agency's Bureau of Program and Project Management in Topeka. The list of changes in transportation programs posted on the department's website.


School Board Member to Run for KS House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka business owner says he will challenge a Topeka representative for his seat in the Kansas House. Fred Patton, a Topeka-based lawyer who owns three businesses, announced his plans Thursday to face Representative Josh Powell in the August 2014 Republican primary. The district includes parts of north, northwest and west Shawnee County. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Powell didn't immediately return messages left at two phone numbers listed as his home numbers.


Illnesses Traced to Garden City Restaurant

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among patrons of a Garden City restaurant. The state and Finney County health departments said more than 110 cases of the illness were reported as of Friday among people who ate food from a Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches restaurant. Authorities are asking anyone who ate food from the Garden City Jimmy John's between December 10 and December 24 to complete a survey, even if they did not get sick. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says officials believe the outbreak was caused by norovirus. The symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and muscle aches. The restaurant is working with health officials on the investigation. The Finney County Health Department has said there were no violations of food-handling rules.


Lawrence Woman Charged in Fatal Stabbing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old Lawrence woman has been charged with second-degree murder in a stabbing death. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Marci Deshayna Cully was charged Thursday in the death of Wayne Francisco, who was stabbed to death early Wednesday. Douglas County District Court Judge James George appointed Courtney Henderson to represent Cully, who's being held on $150,000 bond. Henderson didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Friday. Cully's preliminary hearing is set for December 31.


Lawrence Police Increase Oread Avenue Patrols

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police have recently increased their presence on a street where there'd been several alcohol-related problems. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that from December 5 through December 8, police arrested five men along a particular block of Oread Avenue where there are bars and nightclubs. The spate of offenses included unlawful use of a driver's license, public alcohol consumption, consumption by a minor and criminal trespassing. That activity drew complaints from neighbors. But Sergeant Trent McKinley, a Lawrence police spokesman, says when police see an increase in activity they put resources in that area. The recent boost in police presence there also appears to have helped quell the alcohol-related problems.


Beechcraft to Be Bought by Cessna Parent Company

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The parent company of Cessna Aircraft says it has reached an agreement to buy Beechcraft Corporation for approximately $1.4 billion. The purchase was announced Thursday night by Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron Incorporated and would bring two mainstays of Wichita's general aviation industry under a single corporate leadership. Textron chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly said in a statement that the Beechcraft acquisition is a "tremendous opportunity" for the diversified corporation to expand its general aviation business. Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture had said in recent months he expected the company would sell at least its idled business jet assets by the end of 2013. Donnelly said Beechcraft's King Air line of aircraft complements Cessna's Caravan and Citation jet lineup.


Textron: Too Soon to Say if Beechcraft Faces Cuts

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The CEO of Textron Incorporated says his aviation company's $1.4 billion purchase of Beechcraft Corporation will require "restructuring and optimization of costs." But whether that means job cuts at Beechcraft's home base in Kansas, or elsewhere, hasn't been decided. Textron is Cessna Aircraft's parent company. It announced Thursday that it was purchasing Wichita-based Beechcraft in a merger of big players in aviation. Textron CEO Scott C. Donnelly acknowledged Friday that Beechcraft employees have been through a lot over the past few years and that the company's bankruptcy created uncertainty for customers. But he says the merger provides great new brands to Textron's portfolio. The move caps a turbulent year for Beechcraft, which emerged from bankruptcy in February. Textron's purchase is expected to close around the middle of 2014.


Wichita Leaders Hopeful About Merger

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Civic leaders in Wichita are expressing optimism following the sale of one of the community's linchpin aviation companies to a competitor. Textron Incorporated announced late Thursday that it will pay $1.4 billion to purchase Wichita-based Beechcraft Corporation. The deal is expected to close around the middle of 2014. What the deal will mean for Beechcraft's 5,400 employees, including about 3,300 in Wichita, isn't yet clear. Textron officials say a transition team hasn't yet formed so it's too early to speculate about things like job cuts. Wichita State University economist Jeremy Hill says both companies are already lean, so he doesn't expect a lot of job cuts. In a statement, Wichita's mayor and city council say they expect the merger will have a positive impact on the businesses and the community.


Salina Officials Investigating 2 Arson Fires

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating two suspected arson fires at two apartment buildings. The Salina Journal reports one of the fires was Monday, and the other was Wednesday. No injuries were reported. Salina Fire Department investigator Troy Long says it appears an accelerant was used to set both fires. Samples have been sent to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation laboratory for analysis. The first fire caused about $3,000 in structural damage. The second fire damaged the carpet on the stairway landing.

Boy Awakens Family During House Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 6-year-old Kansas City, Kansas boy alerted his family to a fire at their home, giving the family enough time to escape the blaze. Firefighters responded to the alarm early Thursday to find heavy fire at the one-story residence. The Kansas City Star reports fire crews had the blaze under control within 30 minutes. The adults told investigators the boy woke them, alerting them to the fire. Four other children had spent the night with relatives elsewhere. The house was destroyed. Fire investigators estimated the loss at $65,000.


2 Children Badly Injured in KC House Fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City say two children were home alone when their house caught fire, leaving both badly injured. KSHB-TV reports that a 14-year-old girl called 911 just before midnight Thursday saying she was having trouble breathing, but didn't mention the fire. Firefighters only learned about the fire when they arrived. Fire Chief Paul Berardi says firefighters heard faint screaming and found the 14-year-old lying protectively on top of her 5-year-old sister. Firefighters later said the fact the girls were on the floor might have helped save their lives. Both girls were unresponsive, but first responders revived them on the way to a hospital where both remained in critical condition Friday afternoon. Investigators traced the fire's origin to the kitchen, where food had been left on a stove.


Woman Suspected of Charging $15K on Stolen Cards

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police in northeastern Kansas are seeking a woman suspected of charging at least $15,000 on stolen credit cards. KCTV reports the latest theft took place in the Overland Park area. The victim left her purse in a shopping cart at a department store and discovered her wallet missing when she tried to make her purchases. The victim's bank told her that three of her credit cards had quickly been used to buy more than $6,000 worth of gift cards at another store. Police say it's not the first such theft by the suspect. In all, she has charged more than $15,000 on stolen credit credits in the Kansas City area.


WWI Christmas Truce Remembered in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National World War I Museum in Kansas City has commemorated the 99th anniversary of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914. During World War I, soldiers from the warring sides set down their arms for a short time to play soccer, swap gifts and sing. It's said the Germans won by a single goal before all sides returned to warfare. The Kansas City Star reports that on Thursday, 99 years later in Kansas City, Sporting Kansas City and the museum put on a three-on-three soccer tournament — 24 teams in two divisions facing off in 43 games to commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1914. The gathering was among the early events in a year of activity as the museum gears up for the centennial of the war.


KS Wind Farm Developer Donates 2 School Buses to Oklahoma District

SHIDLER, Okla. (AP) — The developers of a new wind farm in Osage County have donated two new school buses to a rural Oklahoma district. TradeWind Energy delivered the new buses last week to Shidler Public Schools. The idea came about after a TradeWind official attended a Shidler school board meeting to share details of the planned Mustang Run wind project in Osage County. But once there, the employee heard about the district's aging bus fleet and the costliness of maintaining the vehicles. TradeWind spokeswoman Laurie Roberts tells The Examiner-Enterprise that the company has committed to paying all costs associated with the lease of two buses to the Shidler district for three years. Kansas-based TradeWind is in the process of developing a 136-megawatt wind project in central Osage County, near Burbank.


KS Man Severs Fingertip Trying to Retrieve Wallet

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man lost a fingertip when he tried to reach into a car to get his stolen wallet back. Police told The Wichita Eagle that the wallet was taken from the victim's unlocked car early Friday. When the man reached into the car driven by the thief, police said, the thief rolled up the window and drove off. The victim was treated at a Wichita hospital. Police say he lost the tip of his left index finger.


Northwest MO Man Dies of Exposure in Trash Bin


BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in northwest Missouri say the body of a 51-year-old man has been found in a trash bin. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that employees with a waste disposal company in Burlington Junction found the body of Jeff Carter on Thursday. Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White says Carter was last seen December 22 after he ran from a residence following a domestic disturbance in Burlington Junction, which is about 60 miles north of St. Joseph. White says Carter fled the house before officers arrived, and authorities spent several hours searching for him. White says it appears Carter climbed into the trash bin to get warm and froze to death. Foul play isn't suspected. Authorities suspect alcohol was involved in the original disturbance and may have contributed to Carter's death.


KS Farmer Scores New Internet Hit with Cyrus Parody

PEABODY, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas farmer whose video parody "What Does the Farmer Say" went viral last month has a new hit with his take on a Miley Cyrus song that features twerking cows. Derek Klingenberg's spoof of "What Does the Fox Say?" got more than 4 million views online. The Peabody resident's new video dubbed "Feeding Cattle in the USA" — a parody of the Cyrus hit, "Party in the USA" — also is gaining traction, with nearly 11,000 views by Friday morning. The Kansas City Star reports the video features the overall-wearing farmer singing into an ear of corn and doing light tricks with his iPhone. It also includes cows doing their own version of the provocative dance move called "twerking." Klingenberg majored in agriculture at Kansas State University.


Powerball Ticket Worth $71.5M Sold in Kansas City

PLATTE WOODS, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Lottery says a Powerball ticket worth $71.5 million was sold at a Kansas City-area convenience store. Lottery officials said Friday a ticket sold at the Autobahn BP store in Platte Woods matched all six numbers drawn Christmas night. The store will get a $50,000 bonus for selling the prize. And the winner can either collect the full jackpot in 30 annuity payments, or take the one-lump payment of $39.8 million before taxes. Lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde says the winner will be announced in the next few days through a news release or news conference. The winning numbers are 23, 28, 38, 39, 56 and the Powerball number is 32.


Drive Underway for Endowed UMKC Faculty Position

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A drive is underway to raise $5 million to honor the late founder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine with an endowed faculty position. Cardiologist E. Grey Dimond died in November at the age of 94. The university says that graduates of the school and longtime friends of Dimond are leading the fundraising effort. They've received a $500,000 gift from Jerald and Patricia Burton to kick off the drive. The committee hopes to raise the rest of the money by December 8, 2014, which would have been Dimond's 96th birthday.


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