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Regional Headlines for Friday, February 7, 2014


KS House Panel Delays Vote on Gun Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has delayed a vote on gun-rights legislation so members have more time to consider changes that include provisions punishing possession of a firearm under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee reviewed proposed changes Friday and plans to take the bill up again next week. The bill would void existing local gun ordinances throughout Kansas. It would ensure that the open carrying of firearms is allowed statewide and bar cities and counties from regulating gun and ammunition sales. Republican State Representative Jim Howell of Derby proposed additional language designed to clarify that it's illegal to possess a firearm while drunk or under the influence of drugs. But supporters of the bill also wanted to protect a person's right to self-defense.


KS Senate Panel Weighs Deadlines for Courts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals judge says the judicial branch is doing its best to produce timely rulings and legislation to create deadlines is unnecessary. Judge Patrick McAnany on Friday told the Senate Judiciary Committee that judges and justices were aware of concerns about timeliness of decisions and were trying to prompt each other to pick up the pace. The committee is considering a bill that would create soft deadlines for the district courts, Court of Appeals and Kansas Supreme Court. The courts could miss the deadlines if proper notice was given to parties in the cases. Senate Vice President Jeff King says six states have similar laws on time limits, which can withhold pay from judges who are tardy in their rulings.


KS House Speaker Names New Leaders for 2 Panels

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has new chairmen for its Rules and Insurance committees who replace a former member who held both leadership spots. Speaker Ray Merrick announced Thursday that Olathe Republican Lance Kinzer will serve as the Rules Committee's leader. The panel settles disputes about the rules when they arise during House debate. Merrick also appointed another Olathe Republican, Scott Schwab, to head the Insurance Committee. Both jobs previously were held by McPherson Republican Clark Shultz. But he recently resigned from the House to take a Kansas Senate seat after Lindsborg Republican Jay Emler left the upper chamber to join the utility-regulating Kansas Corporation Commission. Kinzer and Schwab will see double duty as committee chairmen. Kinzer already heads the Judiciary Committee, and Schwab leads the Elections Committee.


Judge Shields Evidence in Kansas Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has issued an order shielding disclosure of government's evidence against a man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Kansas airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Friday granted the prosecution's request in the case of Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician facing terror-related charges for the alleged plan to attack Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita. The order covers unclassified materials and information declassified in order to prosecute the case. It allows Loewen to have access only in the presence of his attorney, who must retain possession of evidence. It also prohibits the government or defense from disseminating evidence to the media, and forbids disclosure of undercover agents' identities. Belot further ordered the return of government materials and destruction of defense notes once the case ends.


KS Lawmakers Look at Helping Home Beer Brewers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House is considering legislation to lessen restrictions on people who brew beer, wine and cider at home so that they can legally enter competitions. House members gave the bill first-round approval Friday on a voice vote, setting up a final vote Monday. Kansas law permits home brewing if the product is consumed only by the brewer or the brewer's family. Otherwise, a brewer must obtain a manufacturer's license that can cost up to $5,000, plus a distributor's license that can cost another $2,000. The bill would allow home brewers to provide their products to judges and guests at a competition, provided that the brewer isn't paid. State Representative and Palco Republican Travis Couture-Lovelady said the bill would encourage the development of craft breweries in Kansas.


Pompeo Plans Talk on Kansas Airport Bombing Plot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo is planning to discuss the case of an alleged suicide bomb plot at Wichita's main airport when he visits the city. The Republican lawmaker is scheduled to speak Friday at the Wichita Pachyderm Club's monthly luncheon. Pompeo's office says he plans to talk about the case of an avionics technician accused of planning a suicide bombing at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The 58-year-old man was arrested December 13 after a months-long government sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van carrying inert explosives onto the airport tarmac. Pompeo also plans to speak Friday afternoon at McConnell Air Force Base, during an event marking the 20th anniversary of the 22nd Aerial Refueling Wing.


KS Universities Could Join Regional Online Group

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill before the Kansas Legislature would allow the state's universities to streamline efforts to offer online courses to out-of-state students. University officials testified in support of the bill Thursday in the Kansas House. It would allow Kansas to join a regional group of states that would establish standards for online courses and authorize the member states to provide online courses in each state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that current regulations require each school must get approval from each state where it enrolls students. The bill would allow the Kansas Board of Regents to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA. State public universities estimate participating in the group would save $529,000 each year.


Gunshots Prompt Evacuation of Students from KC-Area Elementary School

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) — Elementary students in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone have been evacuated several hours after gunshots fired from a nearby home prompted a lockdown at their school. Gladstone Police Captain Ken Buck says the shooting didn't involve the school, but it was locked down as a precaution after shots were reported around 1 p.m. The pupils were seen leaving the building hand-in-hand around 4:30 p.m. Buck says they were taken by bus to a different school where they could be picked up. Buck says the shots that were fired were not aimed at the school. Dozens of law enforcement officers from several jurisdictions surrounded the house. Buck says negotiations were underway to get the resident to come outside.


2 Horses Found Shot to Death in Douglas County

STULL, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County sheriff's deputies are investigating after two older horses that got loose were found shot to death. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the horses apparently had been wandering south of Stull for several days before being found dead this week. Darrel Harden says he owned one horse and was keeping the other for an acquaintance. He doesn't live on the 400-acre property near Lawrence and was unaware the horses were loose until being called when they were found dead less than a quarter mile from his land. Harden said each horse appeared to have been shot once in the chest area, probably at close range. He says the horses were in good health but were considered pets because of their ages.

KDHE Says Treece Land Auction Set

TREECE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says an auction is planned for land in a former southeast Kansas town contaminated by mining. KDHE says in a release the Treece Relocation Assistance project has entered its final phase. The TRA Trust and KDHE worked since 2010 to relocate Treece residents after the town was deemed unsafe because of decades of residual lead and zinc waste. The buyouts were completed last year. The TRA Trust's auction is scheduled for Saturday in nearby Picher, Oklahoma, and will involve selling 10 plots of land in the Treece area. Each plot will have restrictions prohibiting the land from being used for human occupancy and building. KDHE says acceptable uses include wildlife habitat and livestock grazing. Treece was removed from the Kansas map last year.

Burroughs Estate Donates Final Journals to KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The final personal journals of novelist William S. Burroughs have been donated to the University of Kansas. Burroughs lived in Lawrence from 1982 until his death in 1997. Besides the journals, the donation to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library includes typescripts and editing materials. The materials were the source for "Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs," published in 2000. Estate executor James Grauerholz said in a university news release that the school was a fitting recipient because Burroughs wrote his last books, painted his first and last paintings and jotted down his last words in Lawrence. Burroughs, novelist Jack Kerouac and others became known in the 1950s and 1960s as the Beat Generation of writers who railed against the mainstream.

KS Teen Braves Storm to Free 53 Cars from Snow

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas teenager who braved this week's winter storm to pull dozens of cars out of the snow has been recognized for his good deeds. KSHB-TV reports 19-year-old Andrew Flood headed out from his Lenexa home in a pickup truck Tuesday night amid snow blanketing the Kansas City metro region. One by one, he hooked up his truck to stranded cars and pulled them free — for free. By sunrise Wednesday, Flood had towed 53 cars. Flood didn't ask for money, but an executive of LongHorn Steakhouse heard about his work and gave him a $200 gift card Thursday. Flood, who's training to be a paramedic, said he likes to help people and knows that not all drivers have money for a tow.


Southeast KS Shooting Apparently Murder-Suicide

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a double shooting in the southeast Kansas town of Augusta is believed to be a murder-suicide. Two people were found dead in a home Thursday evening after a 12-year-old boy called police to report shots fired in the house. Tyler Brewer, director of public safety in Augusta, says the boy had locked himself in a bedroom when he heard his mother scream. A dispatcher talked the boy into crawling out a bedroom window to safety. Brewer identified the dead as 45-year-old Gary Weaver and 31-year-old Erin Weaver. He says the couple had no previous history of domestic violence. The boy was placed with his father, who does not live in Butler County.


Fire at Sterling College Gym Cancels Game

STERLING, Kan. (AP) — A basketball game between Sterling and Tabor colleges was postponed until Monday after a fire broke out at Sterling's gym. The college says about 300 to 400 people were evacuated from the gym when the fire began Thursday evening at the Gleason Center gymnasium. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. A damage estimate was not determined. School President Scott Rich said he was pleased by how well the evacuation went and thanked everyone involved for following evacuation plans.

Cargill Adds 'Textured Beef' Wording to Labels

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Cargill has added wording to its ground beef package labels to say whether they include the product that's been called "pink slime." The Lincoln Journal Star says the company announced in November that it would be adding the labeling. Cargill says bulk packages and some ground beef chubs bear labels that say, "Contains Finely Textured Beef." Another company that makes the product, Beef Products Incorporated, sued ABC news in September 2012 after ABC aired a story that used the phrase "pink slime." The company says ABC's story misled consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. The company says it lost business and had to close plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa. It kept open a Nebraska plant. Beef Products Incorporated is based in South Dakota.

KC Man Sentenced for 2011 Stabbing Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the death of a man who was stabbed 40 times. Thirty-five-year-old David Saulmon was sentenced Thursday for the February 2011 death of 19-year-old Brent Humphreys in north Kansas City. Saulmon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in November. The Kansas City Star reports that Saulmon and Humphreys were staying one of Saulmon's relative and her husband. The couple told police Saulmon walked into their bedroom one night covered with blood and said he had "saved the family" before fleeing. The couple found Humphreys in another room. Saulmon was arrested several hours later in Kirksville.


Law Firm Moves Service Center to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A San Francisco law firm will move its shared services center to downtown Kansas City. The move is expected to bring 100 new jobs to the city in the next five years. Missouri officials announced Friday that Sedgwick LLP will move its service center from San Francisco. The center is expected to begin operating in June. Sedgwick employs 370 attorneys in offices around the country and in London and Bermuda. The shared service center will include the firm's finance department, information technology, litigation support, human resources, marketing and research. The firm is close to completing a lease on a building for the center. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in a statement that the firm would invest $4.6 million in its Kansas City operation.


YMCA at Tennessee Plane Crash Site Reopens

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The YMCA in West Nashville, Tennessee that was the site of a small plane crash on Monday night has reopened. Police said Friday afternoon that specially trained dogs assisted in a final inspection of the area around the crash and that additional material was discovered and collected. The Bellevue YMCA said the facility had reopened. The crash killed a feedlot owner from Pawnee Rock, Kansas, along with his wife and the couple's daughter and granddaughter. The four had been traveling to Nashville for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Trade Show. The flight missed its first approach at the airport and was preparing for a second one when it crashed. The owners of 16 vehicles in the debris area from the crash have been retrieving their vehicles since Wednesday.


Maine Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Burning Son

BELFAST, Maine (AP) — Authorities say a Maine mother charged with deliberately burning her 6-year-old son's hand on a wood stove as punishment has retained custody of all three of her children because there's nowhere else for them to go. Michelle Dunworth, of Thorndike, has pleaded not guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of a child and domestic violence assault. Police say the boy had accidentally pushed his 7-year-old sister against the stove while they were playing last month, prompting the punishment. Dunworth says both burns were accidental. Prosecutors tell the Morning Sentinel newspaper that the 30-year-old Dunworth was allowed to keep custody of her children because the family had just moved to Maine from Kansas and there were no family members or friends who could take them. Dunworth has no criminal record.


Wichita State Museum Acquires Gordon Parks Photos

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University has acquired 125 photographs by Kansas native Gordon Parks. The Wichita Eagle reports that the museum already has an extensive collection of Parks's papers, letters, personal photos and manuscripts. The acquisition was made possible by a donation from the Gordon Parks Foundation, a $150,000 challenge grant from Barry and Paula Downing and matching funds. The collection includes several photos of Parks's hometown of Fort Scott, images of Malcolm X, and "Harlem Gang Leader," his first photographic essay for Life magazine. He was born in Fort Scott on November 20, 1912, and died in New York City on March 7, 2006. He was also an activist, musician, writer and film director best known for his photographic essays for Life magazine.


Wichita Robber Hides Face with Boxer Shorts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say an armed robber made a strong impression with his choice of a mask: a pair of gray boxer shorts pulled over his face. The holdup occurred around 8:30 pm Thursday at a Family Dollar store in the eastern part of Wichita while two people were inside. Police said the robber pointed a revolver at the clerk, threatened to shoot and demanded money. He left with a small amount of cash. Besides the underwear on his head, the robber wore dark shoes, a hooded sweatshirt, black jacket and blue jeans.


Good Samaritans Stop Domestic Attack on KC Highway

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are praising three Good Samaritans who stopped a domestic assault along a busy Kansas City highway. Police and court documents say a man was beating his wife near an exit from Interstate 70 at U.S. 40 when the three people stopped. They say the helpful motorists possibly saved the woman's life. The Kansas City Star reports that the 31-year-old victim suffered a broken nose, broken facial bones, cuts and bruises in the beating January 30. She told police her husband threatened to kill her and then himself. The man jumped in his car and escaped when the other drivers stopped but he was later arrested. The suspect, 38-year-old Robert Tyus, was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault and felonious restraint. Court records do not indicate if he has an attorney.


Royals Add Former Player Sweeney to Front Office

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals have added former first baseman Mike Sweeney to their front office, giving him the title of special assistant to baseball operations. Sweeney was a five-time All-Star for the Royals, and arguably their most popular player from 1995-2007. He was a career .297 hitter who finished with 215 homers and 909 RBIs, even though he dealt with persistent back trouble that caused him to miss long stretches of time. It wasn't immediately clear what Sweeney's duties will be, though general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement that he will work closely with the baseball operations department. Sweeney said Friday that he hopes to help Kansas City return to the playoffs, something he was unable to accomplish as a player.


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