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Regional Headlines for Friday, June 28, 2013


UPDATE: Judge Puts Parts of New Kansas Abortion Restrictions on Hold

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has temporarily blocked parts of a sweeping state anti-abortion law set to take effect next week. Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty issued her ruling Friday. She blocked a provision that would change the definition of what constitutes a medical emergency. She also blocked a requirement that abortion providers post a statement on their websites saying the state's materials on abortion are accurate. Two doctors contended the law would narrow the definition of medical emergency so much that a woman could never avoid restrictions, such as a 24-hour waiting period, even if her life were in imminent danger. Abortion opponents say that's not the case. The judge allowed other parts of the law to take effect Monday as scheduled. That includes a ban on sex-selection abortions.


Wichita Area Cleaning Up Damage from Severe Storms

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Thousands of residents in south central Kansas remain without power (FRI) after storms swept through the region, downing trees and power lines. Most of the damage from Thursday's storms was reported in Sedgwick County, where about 16,000 customers remained without power at noon Friday, down from a peak of about 21,000. The utility said it hoped to have power restored by Saturday morning. Power outages also were reported in Harvey, McPherson and Reno counties. The National Weather Service says winds topped 70 mph, knocking limbs onto cars and homes and bringing down power poles. Winds also damaged some fireworks stands set up for the upcoming holiday. The Kansas Highway Patrol says winds blew over a semi-trailer truck on the Kansas Turnpike Thursday evening. The driver was hospitalized with critical injuries.


USDA: Wet Spring Won't Affect Predicted Corn Crop

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers will come through with the predicted corn crop despite the Midwest's wet spring that delayed planting. Kansas is down about 100,000 acres and Minnesota and Wisconsin are down, too. But some states — including Michigan, Nebraska and Texas — planted more corn than expected, which will make up for the loss in Iowa, the nation's leading corn producer. Friday's annual acreage report is based on farmer surveys, and surprised farmers, analysts and commodities traders. Many expected the number of corn acres planted to fall by about 2 million acres. The report says farmers planted 97.4 million acres and will harvest 89.1 million acres. Earlier predictions were 97.3 million acres planted and 89.5 million acres harvested. Corn prices fell rapidly as the report was released, because it indicated more corn than expected would be available on the market.


Report: Kansas Farmers Planted Fewer Acres of Corn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas farmers planted fewer acres of corn and soybeans and more acres of sorghum this spring than in 2012. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that corn growers planted 4.5 million acres this spring, down 4 percent from last year. Genetically engineered varieties were used on 91 percent of the acreage, up a percentage point from last year. Soybean plantings in Kansas were down 1 percent to 3.95 million acres with biotech varieties used on 93 percent of it. Sorghum growers planted 12 percent more this year with 2.8 million acres. Wheat seeded last fall totaled 9.4 million acres, but so many of those drought-stricken acres have been abandoned that just 8.2 million acres are expected to be harvested.


Butler National Considering Layoffs to Cut Costs

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Officials with Butler National Corporation say they are considering layoffs after the Olathe-based company reported its first sustained losses in more than a decade. Two of the company's top executives — Clark Stewart, president and chief executive, and chairman Warren Wagoner — have taken 40 percent pay cuts. Officials say others also might have their pay reduced. Stewart said the company would rather reduce pay than lay off employees. He said the financial problems had eased recently when some employees left voluntarily. Butler employs about 100 people who modify, repair, maintain and overhaul aircraft in Newton, Olathe and Tempe, Arizona. The Kansas City Star reports that Butler recorded a $755,000 loss in its first quarter, which led to the first nine-month loss at the company since 2001.


Founder of Kansas-Based Brooke Corporation Pleads Guilty

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The founder of the failed Kansas-based insurance franchising business Brooke Corporation has pleaded guilty to providing misleading information in a federal securities filing. The U.S. Attorney's office says 59-year-old Robert D. Orr of Denver entered the plea Thursday. He admitted that while he was chairman, the company submitted a 2007 annual report that made its finances appear stronger than they actually were. Prosecutors say Orr knew the report didn't include the specific number of failed Brooke Capital franchise locations or the amount of money being spent to prop up struggling franchises. Brooke was founded in the northwest Kansas town of Phillipsburg in 1986. It set out to provide insurance services for small-town banks to sell to their customers. Eventually, it moved to Overland Park, and went public in 2003.

New Kansas Law Will Require Registration for Roofers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law taking effect Monday will require roofing contractors to register annually with the attorney general's office before they can be paid for their work. The new law was enacted this year by legislators and is designed to protect consumers. It had the support of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, AARP and the roofing industry itself. The law says that roofing contractors must obtain an annual certificate from the attorney general's office to solicit business or collect fees for residential or commercial jobs. Roofers must be at least 18 years old, and they or their companies must show that they carry $500,000 in liability insurance. The attorney general's office expects to charge a $250 annual registration fee.

Auction of Late State Representative's Antiques Saturday

ALDEN, Kan. (AP) — The late state Representative Bob Bethell had a passion for finding antiques and built a large collection during his lifetime. Bethell accumulated so many antiques that he built a large garage near his home in Alden and planned an adjoining room to hold more. But Bethell died in a car accident in May 2012 before the project was done. His wife, Lorene, has decided to part with some of his beloved antique cars and some other items during an auction Saturday. The Hutchinson News reports that seven cars will be sold, along with Volkswagen bodies for parts. Other items up for auction include several tractors, a Pepsi machine, a traffic light and several fire hydrants. The auction starts at 10 am Saturday in Alden.

Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest Reaches Nebraska Border

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas wheat harvest has now reached the Nebraska border. The industry group Kansas Wheat reported Thursday that combines are running from Norton to Marshall counties along the Nebraska border. Ag Valley Co-op in Norton says just a few thousand bushels of wheat have been brought in so far. Early test weights have been running 55 to 56 pounds per bushel. Many fields still have a green cast to them, but harvest is expected to pick up by early next week. Harvest is about halfway complete around Hoisington in central Kansas. The United Ag Service elevator in Hoisington says yields have been ranging from 20 to 50 bushels an acre there. Test weights have been coming at 56 to 62 pounds per bushel.


NE Kansas Man Sentenced in Son's Beating Death

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man has been given the maximum sentence for the beating death of his 4-year-old son. KNZA-FM reports that 27-year-old Lee Davis IV, of Hiawatha, was sentenced Friday to nearly 20 years in prison. Davis was initially charged with first-degree murder but pleaded no contest in April to second-degree murder and felony child abuse. The son, who has been identified only by a set of initials, died March 5 at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. The sentence imposed by Brown County District Judge Jim Patton requires Davis to register as a violent offender for 15 years after completing his prison term. A woman who lived with Davis at the time of the killing faces a September hearing on multiple charges, including aiding and abetting second-degree murder.


Kansas Court Orders New Trial in Day Care Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a former Wichita home day care provider in the 2008 strangulation death of a 13-month-old girl. The court on Friday threw out the involuntary manslaughter conviction against Jessica Cummings. The court said it is firmly convinced that if the jury had been properly instructed, it would have reached a different verdict. At issue in the appeal was the jury instruction about the standard of proof prosecutors needed for a conviction of endangering a child. The court said it was convinced jurors had applied a potential civil liability standard. Evidence at Cummings's 2009 trial indicated the toddler slid down in the car seat where she was placed to sleep and was strangled by a strap.


Jury Rules for KC Officer in Fatal Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Jackson County jury has ruled in favor of a Kansas City police officer who shot and killed a man after a chase in May 2008. The Kansas City Star reports that the jury on Friday rejected the claims in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of 26-year-old Terry Davis. The mother, Angela Davis, argued that Officer Robert Vivona had no reason to shoot her son. The lawsuit contended that Terry Davis had dropped a handgun and raised his hands to surrender before Vivona shot him. But Vivona testified during the three-day trial that he fired only after Davis turned around during a foot chase and pointed a gun at him. Davis had jumped out of a stolen vehicle whose driver took off as police approached.


2 Plead Guilty to Voter Fraud in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Gladstone couple has pleaded guilty in Jackson County (Missouri) to voter fraud. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says in a release that 60-year-old John Moretina and 61-year-old Clara Moretina pleaded guilty Friday to voter fraud. They each admitted they tried to cast an improper ballot in the August 3, 2010, Missouri House primary in the 40th district. The Kansas City Star reports  that both Moretinas will pay a fine and forfeit their voting rights. State Representative J.J. Rizzo, a Democrat, is a nephew to the Moretinas. Rizzo won the August 3, 2010 primary by one vote. Kansas City police investigated the Moretinas' votes after John Moretina pleaded guilty earlier to voter fraud in federal court. Clara Moretina was not charged in the federal case.

Judge to Rule on Celebrity Hunter Case by End of July

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas says he will rule by the end of July on whether to revoke probation for a professional Tennessee hunter accused of violating his plea deal. William "Spook" Spann was sentenced in February to three years' probation for transporting antlers from an illegally taken deer in Kansas to his home in 2007. As part of his sentence, Spann was ordered not to hunt in the U.S. for six months or break wildlife laws. Prosecutors want the 50-year-old to spend three months in jail for violating those terms after Tennessee wildlife agents claimed he hunted and illegally spread bait on his property. Spann says he didn't carry a gun or shoot anything when accompanying other hunters on his land, so he doesn't consider that hunting.


Retirement Perks for Missouri, Kansas University Leaders Attract Notice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — University presidents in Kansas and Missouri have been retiring with substantial financial packages. When University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton retires this fall he'll direct the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development on the university's Columbia campus. He will be paid $200,000. According to the Kansas City Star, that kind of exit deal was uncommon a decade ago for leaders of public colleges. Kansas State University President Jon Wefald was paid $255,000 a year for two years after he retired in 2009. Since 2011, Kansas State has continued to pay Wefald about $158,000 a year as part of a five-year plan. Robert Hemenway, who retired from the University of Kansas in 2009, received about $340,000 for two years after he retired in 2009.

Home Where Kansas Woman Was Murdered Demolished

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — The house in Kingman that burned after a woman was killed has been demolished. The two-story home of Vashti Forrest-Seacat was demolished Thursday, to the relief of neighbors. It had sat damaged and unusable since Seacat was killed in April 2011. Her husband, Brett Seacat, was found guilty earlier this month of killing his wife and setting the house on fire before escaping with the couple's two young sons. He is scheduled to be sentenced August 5. No plans for the lot have been announced. Neighbor Peggy Culver told KAKE-TV that nearby residents hope the land will become a park to honor Vashti Seacat and the two boys.

Family Adopts Puppy Trapped in Car for Weeks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A puppy that survived after apparently being trapped inside a car at a Kansas City tow lot for several weeks has a new home. The foster family who was has been taking care of the dog, named Kia, since she was rescued in early May decided to keep her. Tori Fugate, spokeswoman for the Kansas City Pet Project, says the adoption became final Wednesday. Kia, a terrier-schnauzer mix, is with a couple who have a young daughter. The Kansas City Star reports that the shelter will not release more information about the family. Police and tow lot employees say she apparently was in a car at the lot from April 8 until she was discovered May 6. She apparently survived by eating leftover fast food and old cigars.

K-State University Researchers Help Combat Wheat Rust

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A scientific breakthrough could help fight a deadly wheat pathogen that's causing significant crop losses. Researchers from Kansas State University and the University of California-Davis have identified a gene that gives wheat plants resistance to one of the most deadly strains of the wheat stem rust pathogen. The rust strain first was identified in Uganda in 1999 and is spreading from Africa to the breadbaskets of Asia. Kansas State said in a news release that the hope is scientists will use the research to develop new wheat varieties. The findings from the Kansas and California researchers have been published in the journal Science alongside a study from an Australian group that identified another promising gene.

KU's Ben McLemore Selected in First Round of NBA Draft

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings selected University of Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore with the seventh pick in the NBA draft, the first major move under the new ownership and basketball operations team. Fans inside Sacramento's arena cheered when the Kings chose McLemore on Thursday night. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard gives Sacramento an elite shooter and one of the most gifted natural athletes in the draft. The second-team All-American broke Danny Manning's freshman scoring record at KU. McLemore averaged nearly 16 points on a team that went 31-6 and won a share of its ninth straight Big 12 title. It's the second straight year Sacramento used its first-round pick on a KU player. The Kings took Thomas Robinson fifth last June. Robinson struggled from the start and was traded to Houston in February.

Driver in Fatal Missouri Crash Sentenced to 6 Years

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who was speeding and driving erratically before a crash that left one woman dead was sentenced to six years in prison. Jeffrey T. Jackson was sentenced Thursday for first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault in the February 2012 accident that killed 33-year-old Ashlie Limbaugh of Oak Grove. Prosecutors say Jackson was driving erratically and going more than 100 mph when he left Interstate 70 in Blue Springs and hit four vehicles. Limbaugh was the driver of one of the vehicles stopped at a traffic light when Jackson hit them. The Kansas City Star reports that Jackson told investigators that he had smoked marijuana before the accident, and a blood sample found drugs in his system.


Man Suspected in Colorado Rogaine Thefts Arrested

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — A man suspected of stealing almost $10,000 in teeth-whitening strips, weight-loss pills, condoms, Rogaine and other products from Walgreen stores in Colorado has been arrested in Idaho. Sheriff's officials in Jefferson County, Colorado said Friday that 27-year-old Curtis M. Williams also is suspected in similar thefts in Utah, Minnesota, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Puerto Rico. Authorities say a neatly groomed man wearing a sweater, tie and slacks would hide stolen goods in his coat, then buy a DVD before leaving the store as a cover for activating the door alarm. Sheriff's spokesman Mark Techmeyer says clerks at Walgreen stores nationwide were alerted to the suspect, and a Minnesota clerk who recognized him noted the license plate on his rental car. The suspect was arrested after arriving in Idaho. He remains jailed Friday and it isn't known if he has a lawyer.

Missouri Man Sentenced for Hitting Hayride

OAK GROVE, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri man who ran into a hayride filled with people while driving drunk was sentenced to seven years in prison. Several people were knocked off the ride and two were seriously hurt when 29-nine-year-old Kaylon J. Childers of Oak Grove ran into the hayride on Missouri Route H near Oak Grove in October 2011. Childers was sentenced Thursday to seven years on each of four counts of second-degree assault and to 100 days for driving with a revoked license. The sentences will run concurrently. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Childers's blood-alcohol content was .205 percent at the time of the accident. The Kansas City Star reports that Childers had previously been convicted of drunken driving and of driving with a revoked license.

Missouri Agency Updates Guidance for Student Transfers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri education officials have updated their guidance for local schools dealing with the transfer of students from unaccredited districts. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says school districts should post on their websites a student transfer application, details about the admissions process and the current number of available slots in each grade level. That applies only for schools in the same or neighboring county as an unaccredited district. Missouri currently has three unaccredited school districts — Kansas City and the suburban St. Louis districts of Normandy and Riverview Gardens. Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a 1993 state law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay for students to attend other nearby schools.

Ex-Kansas Airman Convicted of $55K Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas Air Guard National member has been convicted of fraudulently receiving nearly $55,000 in benefits by claiming she was commuting to a Wichita base from Arizona. The U.S. Attorney's office says a jury on Thursday found 28-year-old Wichita resident Eledria Bradley guilty of one count of wire fraud. Bradley was a senior airman assigned to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. Prosecutors said she used an online system for service members to change her address from Wichita to Chandler, Arizona which put her outside the commuting distance from McConnell. Prosecutors said the phony address allowed Bradley to collect nearly $55,000 in lodging and per diem benefits from April 2009 until April 2011. A sentencing date has not been set.

Judge Sets August Trial for Former Insurance Agent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas insurance agent accused of stealing nearly $2 million from policyholders faces a late summer trial. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Thursday set an August 27th trial for 41-year-old Jason Pennington of Bel Aire. A 51-count indictment accuses Pennington of defrauding policyholders and lying to beneficiaries to cover the thefts. He is charged with wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, money laundering, attempted bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution. He has been released on a $25,000 bond pending trial. His 65-year-old father, James Pennington of Wichita, is charged with four counts of filing false tax returns. He is out on a $10,000 bond. The younger Pennington was a State Farm Insurance agent from June 2000 until June 2010.




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