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Regional Headlines for Friday, July 19, 2013


UPDATE: Topeka Nursing Home Sues over License Revocation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka nursing home has filed a federal lawsuit amid efforts to revoke its license for failing to comply with state and federal health and safety regulations. The Topeka Community Healthcare Center sued Thursday in U.S. District Court seeking an emergency injunction blocking federal and state officials from cutting off its funding. It also seeks to prohibit relocation of its residents. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services' revocation of the license will require its 55 residents to find new homes by September. Spokeswoman Angela de Rocha says it's the first time since September 2011 the state has shut down a nursing home. She declined comment on the pending litigation. Attorney Meredith Duncan says the center disagrees with the agency's decision, but is cooperating.


Kansas Corrections Secretary Says Prisons at Capacity

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas secretary of corrections says the state's prison system is at capacity and expected to add about 2,100 more inmates in the next decade. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said Friday that get-tough-on-crime laws have had a lot to do with the rising prison population. Roberts was the featured speaker Friday at the Wichita Pachyderm Club. He said Kansas will have to come up with innovative programs to avoid having to pay millions of dollars on more prison beds to keep up with the growing inmate population. Roberts also said about 66 percent of the state's inmates are drug abusers, and 38 percent are mentally ill. He says it's important that they have access to drug programs and mental health treatment.


KCC Orders Troubled Utility to Improve Quality

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state regulatory agency is requiring a Salina water utility to make some improvements. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Corporation Commission voted Thursday to require Howison Heights to buy a new computer to monitor water pressure in its lines and to install new equipment to keep chlorination at the right level. The improvements are required in the next 60 days. Howison Heights serves about 60 customers in suburban Salina. More than a third of its customers submitted comments opposing a more than 100 percent rate hike the utility requested in April. Some of those customers complained about insufficient water pressure, water discoloration and a strong chlorine smell in the water. The rate increase was approved, but later was suspended and isn't currently in force.


Arrest Made in Theft from Builders Association

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested an executive of the Flint Hills Area Builders Association after the association discovered more than $25,000 missing. The Riley County Police Department announced Friday that the builders association contacted police Tuesday after discovering the missing money. A 44-year-old man from Wamego was arrested on Wednesday and his home was searched. The Riley County Attorney's office said Friday no charges have been filed yet in the case.


Kansas Court Remands Case of Gun Shop Liability

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court have reversed lower court rulings in a lawsuit seeking to hold a southeast Kansas gun shop liable for selling a firearm later used by a convicted felon to kill his son. The justices held Friday that firearms dealers must use the highest degree of care in preventing the sale of guns to a felon. The case now goes back to district court for further proceedings. The case involves the 2003 murder-suicide of Russell Graham of Baxter Springs, who used a shotgun bought by his grandmother to shoot himself and his son. Graham was initially denied the sale of the gun by the shop owners. Elizabeth Shirley, wife of Russell Graham, filed the liability lawsuit against the owners of Baxter Springs Gun and Pawn Shop.


Man Gets 18 Years for Burglary That Led to Murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The man who planned a burglary that led to the murder of a Topeka woman and the wounding of her partner has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Bayate Rayshawn Covington was sentenced Thursday in the July 2011 death of Natalie Gibson and the wounding of Lori Allison at their home. Covington pleaded no contest in July to reckless second-degree murder, aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. Chief Judge Nancy Parrish said Covington played a major role in planning and coordinating the nine defendants who planned to burglarize the victims' home. The women were shot when they arrived home while the crime was in progress. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Covington has testified against his co-defendants during a preliminary hearing and in three jury trials so far.


Charges Filed in Attack on KC Bus Driver 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has been charged in a knife attack on a Kansas City bus driver after the suspect's mother convinced her son to surrender. The Jackson County prosecutor's office said Friday that 20-year-old Lewis W. Perkins is charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the attack Saturday night on the 52-year-old driver. Police say two people punched and stabbed the driver after he tried to get them off the bus for refusing to pay. The driver was treated at a hospital for stab wounds and has returned home. The prosecutor says Perkins's mother saw video that police released of the assault and then identified her son and a second suspect, who's a juvenile. She had them turn themselves in. It's unclear if Perkins has a lawyer.


Nigerian Man Sentenced in Kansas for Threat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Nigerian man who was convicted on a federal weapons charge in Wichita has drawn an additional five-year sentence for threatening a federal agent's family. The U.S. attorney's office for Kansas said in a release Friday that 22-year-old Osayuwame Bazuaye was charged in 2012 with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition after he fired a handgun from the balcony of his Wichita apartment. While he was in custody on that charge, he was also convicted of threatening to sexually assault the wife and daughter of a deportation officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The prosecutor's office says he was sentenced Friday to five years on the threat charge. The five-year sentence will run consecutively to the two-year sentence he's serving in the firearms arms case.


Fort Riley Changes Garrison Leadership

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A new garrison commander and garrison command sergeant major have assumed their leadership duties at Fort Riley. Colonel Andrew Cole Jr., took command Thursday from Colonel William Clark, while Command Sergeant Major Terry Gardner took over duties from Command Sergeant Major Colvin Bennett. Both Clark and Bennett retired from Army duty during the ceremony. Cole comes from Fort Leavenworth where he was an operations duty chief. He previously served with the 1st Infantry Division as commander of the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion where he led the unit during deployment to Iraq. The garrison commander oversees operations at the Army post, including services to support soldier and family programs. Fort Riley is home to the 1st Infantry Division and nearly 18,000 soldiers and their families.


Kansas City Area Company Moving to Different MO Suburb

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City area company is getting state aid to relocate its headquarters to a bigger building in a different suburb. The Missouri Department of Economic Development says it has authorized about $500,000 of incentives for the expansion project by Holland 1916. The company is relocating its headquarters and three of its five manufacturing subsidiaries from North Kansas City to Liberty. The state says the move includes a nearly $13 million capital investment and 62 new jobs. Holland 1916 is the parent company for firms that make identification products for branding, operating and safety information.


Celebrities to Gamble in KC for a Good Cause

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Actors Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis are playing cards in Kansas City for a good cause. They'll be attending this weekend's 4th Annual Big Slick Celebrity Poker Tournament and Party to benefit the Cancer Center at Children's Mercy Hospital. Last year's event raised more than $500,000. The actors also will get some time Friday morning with a small group of Children's Mercy patients. Other celebrities scheduled to attend this year include Wilmer Valderrama of "That 70's Show"; Angela Kinsey of "The Office"; Damon Wayans, Jr. of "Happy Endings"; Sarah Chalke of "Scrubs"; Kevin Pollack of "A Few Good Men" and Olivia Wilde of "House, M.D." Tickets for the event start at $75.


Kansas Pilot Lands Small Plane in Southern Nebraska 

HOLDREGE, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say a pilot has made an emergency landing of a small plane in southern Nebraska. The Phelps County (Nebraska) Sheriff's Office says the Piper Turbo Arrow landed Friday afternoon on a dirt road north of the town of Holdrege. No injuries were reported. KRVN reports that pilot Mark Budde, of Leoti, Kansas told authorities he took off from the Holdrege airport at noon. He says the plane lost power shortly after take-off, and he determined he didn't have enough power to return to the airport. Budde landed on a dirt road. The plane's right wing caught nearby corn, spinning it into a field. 


Kansas Man, 82, Dies After Hay Bales Catch Fire

WALDO, Kan. (AP) — A north-central Kansas man has died from injuries suffered in a large hay bale fire. KAYS reports that 82-year-old Lowell Lund of rural Waldo died Friday from severe burns at a Wichita hospital. Osborne County Sheriff Curt Miner says Lund and his son had been hauling bales when the fire ignited Thursday. Natoma Fire Chief Keith Koelling said many of the 300 bales were already fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived Thursday evening. The fire continued burning into early Friday morning. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Man Found Not Guilty in Garden City Shooting

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Garden City man has been found not guilty of attempted murder and other charges in a shooting after a confrontation between people in two vehicles. A jury deliberated into Friday morning before finding Miguel Herrera not guilty in the June 2012 shooting of Frankie Garcia of Garden City. Western Kansas Broadcast reports Herrera was charged with attempted murder, aggravated use of a weapon by a convicted felon and causing intentional bodily harm with a dangerous weapon. Garcia was riding in a car when the altercation began. Someone in that car threw a beer can at a pickup truck Herrera was driving. Prosecutors said Herrera and a passenger went to his home and got a gun, then tracked down the other car and opened fire.

Court Hearing Set for Airborne Photographer

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A first court appearance is scheduled for a well-known freelance photographer who was charged with misdemeanor trespassing after he flew a paraglider over a Kansas feedlot while shooting pictures. George Steinmetz, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and his assistant, Wei Zhang, of Beijing, China, are set for a first appearance hearing August 29 in Finney County. Steinmetz was on assignment for National Geographic magazine when he flew above Brookover Feed Yard last June 28. The feedlot owners say he did not seek permission for the flight. A National Geographic spokeswoman says the magazine hired a Garden City attorney to represent the men. The Hutchinson News reports that it's not clear if the men will appear in court. State law allows misdemeanor defendants to appear through their attorneys, if a judge agrees.

Jury Finds Kansas Veteran Guilty in Explosives Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal jury has found a Kansas veteran guilty of unlawfully having explosive materials. The U.S. attorney's office said Thursday that Alfred Dutton of Eureka was convicted on one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device. The 67-year-old veteran of both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines is accused of having grenades and other parts to make destructive devices. Prosecutors told jurors at his trial in Wichita that Dutton added chemicals to gunpowder to increase the explosive power of the grenades he was making. His defense attorney portrayed his client as a tinkerer who was experimenting with making fireworks and was working on creating a mock grenade that he planned to sell on eBay. Sentencing will take place at a later date.


Kansas Man's Hepatitis C Lawsuit Dismissed

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center of negligence for failing to report a former employee's theft of narcotics. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday that a Kansas man had alleged that he contracted hepatitis C in that state because former UMPC employee David Kwiatkowski infected him there. The lawsuit by Thomas Walters claimed that UPMC was negligent for not reporting Kwiatkowski's earlier theft of narcotics in Pittsburgh. Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. found that UPMC and another health care company are not liable to third persons whom they never treated. Kwiatkowski is facing federal charges in New Hampshire. Prosecutors say he stole drugs and infected patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes at numerous hospitals. Kwiatkowski has pleaded not guilty.


125-Year-Old Building Demolished in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a central Kansas town are watching with sadness as a 125-year-old building is demolished. Workers on Thursday began demolishing the former Parker House Hotel in Minneapolis. The building partially collapsed last month, forcing the evacuation of the downtown area. The building's owners had said they wanted to save it but the Minneapolis City Council voted to pay $76,800 to demolish the structure because of concerns that it could collapse. The Salina Journal reports the building was erected in 1888 as the Corn State Bank and became the Parker House in 1899. For years it was one of the most popular destinations in the city. It had been vacant for several years. The hotel was added to the Register of Historic Kansas Places in 2009.


Month in Jail for Mom Whose Baby Wounded by Ferret

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City area woman whose 4-month-old baby lost seven fingers to a pet ferret has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. The Kansas City Star reports that Carrie Waldo, formerly of Grain Valley, last month pleaded guilty to second-degree child endangerment. Waldo and her husband, Ryan Waldo, were accused of leaving the baby unsupervised with the ferret in 2011. Ryan Waldo pleaded guilty to second-degree child endangerment and was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service and take parenting classes. Carrie Waldo was ordered to complete a 30-day inpatient drug program. But her lawyer told the judge Friday that Waldo had not been able to find an inpatient program. After 30 days in jail, Waldo will get another chance to find an inpatient program.


Kansas To Appeal Sex Offender Registry Decision

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas authorities say they'll appeal a state district court's decision ordering them to remove a child molester's name from the offender registry. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Thursday he will fight for the integrity of the state's offender registry law. He says his office will also appeal a ruling that allowed the plaintiff anonymity. Schmidt says the registry is designed to protect the public, particularly children. Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks ruled Tuesday that Kansas law ostracizes offenders and requires them to remain registered longer than necessary. But his ruling applied only to the man who sued the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Johnson County sheriff's office over ending his registering requirement. Nearly 11,600 people are now on the state registry for crimes involving sex, drugs or violence.

EPA Grant Will Fund Cleanups in KCMO, KCK

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Both sides of Kansas City's state line are sharing a $600,000 federal grant for cleaning up polluted sites. Sly James, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri and Mark Holland, mayor of Kansas City, Kansas on Thursday announced the start of the One-KC Brownfields Coalition, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The $600,000 grant is intended to help the two cities assess environmental contamination on so-called brownfield properties, which are contaminated industrial sites. The mayors said in a release that the two-state project aims to improve about 25 brownfield industrial properties and neighboring areas, transforming some into community gardens or new businesses. The program is expected to continue for three years.

Participation in Kansas Rural Residency Program Grows

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More Kansas counties are signing up to participate in a 2011 state program aimed at luring new residents to rural counties with declining populations. Grant and Gray counties in southwest Kansas have recently voted to participate in a student loan program where new graduates can receive assistance in retiring college debt. The two counties were among 23 counties added to the state's Rural Opportunity Zone program created by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The program offers student loan repayment and an income tax credit for new residents moving to participating counties that have lost at least 10 percent of their population over the past decade. Chris Harris, director of the program in the Kansas Department of Commerce, says Kansas averages one new application for the student loan program each day.



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