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Regional Headlines for Friday, March 22, 2013



Heavy Snow Forecast for Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Another strong storm with heavy snow and high winds is bearing down on much of Kansas. The National Weather Service says up to 10 inches of snow is expected in central Kansas, with other western sections getting up to 6 inches of snow from Friday night into Sunday. The weather service in Goodland has issued a winter storm warning in effect through Sunday evening, predicting heavy snow, ice and sleet, with winds up to 35 miles per hour Saturday, particularly along the Interstate 70 corridor. Kansas has been assessing the costs for snow removal and debris cleanup from two other major storms in February that left more than 2 feet of snow in some areas of the state and contributed to six deaths.


5 Kansas Airport Towers to Shut Down Due to FAA Budget Cuts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five small Kansas airports are among those that will have their towers shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration because of federal budget cuts. Airport towers slated to stop operations in Kansas include Hutchinson Municipal Airport, New Century in Olathe, Manhattan Regional Airport, Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe and Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka.The closures will not force the shutdown of any of the airports. But pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out. The plan has raised concerns over the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as economic engines for attracting business.

Kansas Senate Panel Advances Major Anti-Abortion Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has approved legislation to block tax breaks for abortion providers and bar public schools from using sex education instruction from abortion providers. The Public Health and Welfare Committee approved the bill Friday after a brief hearing. Legislators made no changes to the bill, which cleared the House earlier this week. It's the most sweeping anti-abortion bill being pursued in Kansas this year. The measure bars groups providing abortions from receiving tax exemptions or credits that go to other nonprofit groups or health care providers. It would also prohibit women who claim income tax deductions for medical expenses from including the cost of abortion services. The legislation also prohibits abortion providers from furnishing materials or instructors for sex education classes in public schools.


More Study Sought on Possible Changes to Kansas Corporate Farming Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have decided they need more information before making changes to the state's laws that restrict corporate farming. A House committee decided Friday to have a judicial council review the corporate farming statute. A Senate committee, meanwhile, called for an interim committee to review the law before the 2014 legislative session. Governor Sam Brownback's administration has been pushing to roll back the state's decades-old limits on corporate involvement in farming. Some of the state's biggest agricultural interests, including the Kansas Farm Bureau, are supporting the effort. Proponents contend removing barriers to investment in large crop and livestock businesses would add fuel to the Kansas economy. But concerns also have been raised about allowing out-of-state ownership of corporate farms and eliminating the ability of counties to block corporate swine and dairy operations.


Kansas Senate Approves Budget Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given final approval to a $14 billion budget for the next fiscal year that starts July 1st. Thursday's 24-16 vote sends the measure to the House, which had already approved its own budget bill. Negotiators from the two chambers are expected to begin meeting next week to work out a final version. Both bills generally follow spending recommendations laid out by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Each would spend some $6 billion in general state revenues and $8 billion from federal funds and other sources. Budget committee leaders hope to finish work on a reconciled spending bill before legislators take a one-month break starting in early April.

Work Stops on Bill to Change School Bargaining Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have dropped their pursuit of a proposal to narrow the topics permitted in contract negotiations between teachers and school districts. House Commerce Committee Chairman Marvin Kleeb confirmed Thursday his committee won't vote this year on a bill on teacher bargaining rights. The measure would reduce the issues that teachers' groups could negotiate with local school boards. Teachers could still bargain on matters like pay and sick leave, but no longer on how they are evaluated. Kleeb, an Overland Park Republican, said groups representing teachers, administrators and school boards will try to work out a compromise for legislators to consider next year. Their state associations issued a joint statement saying they hope to draft a new proposal by December.


EPA: KCK Agrees to Address Untreated Raw Sewage

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas has reached an agreement to address the overflow of untreated raw sewage and stormwater pollution levels. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that the settlement was filed Thursday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. It requires the Unified Government to improve its operation and maintenance programs and take initial steps to address sewer overflows. By September 2016, the Unified Government also must develop a long-term approach for controlling overflow. The EPA says that about one-third of the Unified Government's sewer system is served by combined sewers that carry stormwater and wastewater. Since 2004, the Unified Government has reported more than 450 illegal sewer overflows. Those overflows have discharged raw sewage into the Missouri and Kansas rivers and their tributaries.


Kansas Court: DUI on Tribal Land Not a State Matter

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered state revenue officials to reinstate the driver's license of a man arrested for drunken driving on an Indian reservation. The court ruled Friday that the Kansas law allowing the Department of Revenue to suspend the licenses of drivers with certain blood-alcohol levels only applies to arrests made by officers of the state on roadways "in the state." The ruling came in the case of an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation arrested for DUI by a tribal officer on the northeast Kansas reservation. Normally, the state would not have learned of the arrest, but the tribal officer for some reason sent a report to the Revenue Department. The Supreme Court ruled the Revenue Department had no role in the case because the reservation is sovereign land.


U.S. Senate Endorses Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has endorsed construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that is to carry oil from Canada to Texas oil refineries. Senators voted 62-37 on Friday for the nonbinding measure. Seventeen Democrats and all 45 Republicans voted yes. For four years, environmentalists and others have tried to derail the project, saying extracting the oil from Alberta tar sands would increase global warming. President Barack Obama has thwarted it twice, and Nebraska officials objected initially that the route would jeopardize ecologically sensitive lands. But the Nebraska route has been changed, and project supporters have won more backing by arguing it would create thousands of jobs. A recent State Department report raised no major objections to the project. North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven sponsored the measure.

Plan for $1.5B in Kansas Pension Bonds Advances

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has voted to authorize $1.5 billion in bonds to bolster the state pension system for teachers and state government workers. But the Pensions and Benefits Committee vote Thursday was 7-6, reflecting a split over whether the legislation does enough to address a long-term funding gap facing the pension system. The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System projects a $9.3 billion gap between anticipated revenues and benefits promised to public employees through 2033. The system's assets would cover about 53 percent of its obligations. KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy has said putting the proceeds from the bonds into the pension system would bump up the funding ratio more quickly than it would rise otherwise. The bill goes next to the full House for debate.


Another Suspect Convicted in Topeka Homicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The last of four defendants in a shooting death near a Topeka high school has entered a plea. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 23-year-old Coty Newman, of Topeka, pleaded guilty Friday to felony first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Twenty-year-old Matthew Mitchell was killed in October 2010 near Topeka West High School. A 17-year-old friend of Mitchell's survived after being shot five times during a botched drug sale. Prosecutors said Newman and another suspect opened fire. As part of the plea, several drug charges were dismissed. Felony first-degree murder carries a life sentence with parole eligibility after 20 years. The prosecution and defense agreed to recommend that Newman receive a sentence of four years and 11 months for the attempted murder conviction. Newman is to be sentenced July 19.


Kansas Man Gets 24 Years for Trying to Kill Kids

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas man has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for trying to kill his three children by slitting their throats. The Hutchinson News reports that 30-year-old Irineo Garcia was sentenced Friday in Seward County for three counts of attempted second-degree murder. The Liberal man initially was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder for trying to kill his children, ages 5, 6 and 7, on October 18, 2010, at his home. Prosecutors say he also tried to kill himself. The children and Garcia were found injured at their home after his estranged wife notified police. Seward County Attorney Don Scott says the three children spoke during the sentencing hearing. They said that although they were mad at their father, they still loved him.

Kansas Agency Awards $1.2M for Vision Programs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Five grants totaling $1.2 million have been awarded by the Kansas Department for Children and Families to support programs for visually impaired older residents. The grants were announced Thursday through the agency's Independent Living Services Program for Older Individuals who are Blind. The funds go to nonprofit groups whose services help residents stay in their homes though individual living skills training and technology. The recipients are Alphapointe Association for the Blind, in the Kansas City area; Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center in Wichita; Prairie Independent Living Resource Center in Hutchinson; Resource Center for Independent Living in Topeka; and Southeast Kansas Independent Living Resource Center in Parsons. The grants run through June 2016 and are 90 percent funded through federal resources.

Police: Youth Lucky He Wasn't Shot by Officer

MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) — Police say an eastern Kansas teenager is lucky he didn't get shot after pointing a toy assault rifle at an officer he thought was a member of an opposing Airsoft team. The Kansas City Star reports that Merriam police responded at 8:20 am Thursday after someone saw three people in camouflage and carrying rifles jump out of a van and run behind a house. Armed officers rounded the corner of the house and were confronted by two people with guns. One of the youths pointed his gun in the direction of police, but an officer noticed orange paint on the barrel indicating it was a toy. Police say the 15-year-old won't be charged. The teens said they were practicing tactics to get ready for a game later Thursday.

4 Shot, 1 Dead, in Brookside Home Invasion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who was shot and killed in a Kansas City home where gunmen also wounded three other people has been identified as a music student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Police and university officials Friday identified the victim as 23-year-old Aaron Markarian, of Warrensburg, Missouri. The shootings happened around 11:30 pm Thursday when gunmen entered a home south of the Country Club Plaza occupied mainly by several people, mostly students from the nearby university. Police said the intruders robbed eight people and shot four. Two women suffered non-life-threatening wounds, and police said a second man was in intensive care Friday following surgery. The Kansas City Star reports that Markarian lived in the home, where the occupants had invited several people to a party Thursday night.


Kansas Clinic Owners Plead Guilty to Health Care Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas couple who ran a medical clinic in Kansas City, Missouri have pleaded guilty to health care fraud and filing false tax returns. The U.S. Attorney's office says that 76-year-old Carol Ann Ryser and 68-year-old Michael Earl Ryser, of Mission Hills, Kansas entered the pleas Friday. Carol Ryser was a physician and the owner of Health Centers of America-Kansas City, which specialized in autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Her husband was the CEO and chief administrator. The Rysers admitted falsifying claims to insurance companies. They also admitted understating their $10 million income from 2006 through 2008 by roughly $2.5 million. Carol Ryser has surrendered her medical license and faces three years' probation. Michael Ryser agreed to a sentence of 24 to 30 months in federal prison.

Jury Finds Topeka Man Guilty in Home Invasion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been found guilty of multiple charges for a November 2011 home invasion in which he burned a woman twice with a heated knife blade. The Topeka Capital Journal reports a jury took about 90 minutes Thursday to find Monroe Lockhart III guilty of aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. The 40-year-old is to be sentenced April 30. Kansas sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of about eight years. That's more than twice as long as the three years and nine months he would have received under a plea deal he reached with prosecutors earlier in the trial. The judge rejected the plea when Lockhart said he was taking the deal only because he didn't like his attorney.

Missouri S&T to Remember Student from Kansas

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri University of Science and Technology is making plans to remember a student from Kansas found dead in her dorm. The Rolla school says it will hold an April 3 memorial service for 19-year-old Kaitlin M. Brown, of Mission, Kan. The evening event at the Southwestern Bell Cultural Center will be followed by a candlelight vigil on campus. Authorities continue investigating the cause of Brown's death. She was found dead March 16 in Farrar Hall. The university says Brown was a sophomore studying business and information technology.

Police: Missouri Bridge Jumpers Likely Father, Daughter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a father and daughter are presumed dead after they jumped, holding hands, from a highway bridge into the frigid Missouri River. The Kansas City Star  reports that witnesses told police two people got out of a truck around 11:35 am Thursday, climbed over the railing on the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, and jumped into the water 120 feet below. Police say the woman was holding something in a blanket that initially was thought to be a baby but more likely was the family's Chihuahua. The victims are believed to be a father in his 50s and daughter in her 30s who lived in a mobile home in a rural area south of Kansas City. The bodies have not been recovered.

Kansas Sheriff Looking for Possible Impersonator

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Reno County Sheriff's Department is looking for a red Chevrolet Impala that apparently tried to pull a motorist over using red and yellow lights mounted on the dashboard. The Hutchinson News reports that a motorist called 911 at 4:02 pm Thursday to say an older, bald man wearing a brown jacket tried to make a traffic stop, but the motorist didn't think he was a real officer and kept driving. Sheriff's spokesman Captain Wayne Baughman says neither his department nor any other local law enforcement agencies use red Impalas. Baughman urges anyone who thinks they are being pulled over by someone impersonating an officer to call 911.


K-State Ousted from NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  Number 13 seed La Salle survived after blowing an 18-point halftime lead to beat fourth-seeded Kansas State 63-61 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Jarrell Wright scored a game-high 21 points for the Explorers (22-9), making two free throws to give La Salle a 62-61 lead. Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez missed in the paint at the other end, and Wright made the first of two more free throws with 9.6 seconds to go. The Wildcats (27-8) raced down court, but point guard Angel Rodriguez got hung up in the corner by the Kansas State bench, and his off-balance shot over the corner of the backboard missed everything as the final buzzer sounded and the Explorers leaped off their bench to celebrate the upset. Henriquez and Shane Southwell scored 17 points each for Kansas State.

Salina Cab Driver Stabbed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina cab driver who thought working in this central Kansas community would be a breeze compared to his previous stint in Atlanta has been stabbed, two weeks into his new job. The Salina Journal reports that the driver was stabbed numerous times Thursday night and left a trail of blood nearly 100 yards from his car to where he collapsed. The driver was taken to Salina Regional Health Center, where he was conscious and talking with police. Police spokesman Lieutenant Allen Salzman says investigators have only a vague description of the suspects, one white man and one black man, both wearing dark hooded sweatshirts. Sunflower Cab owner Bryan Serocki says it's stupid to rob cabs because most people pay with credit cards and there's very little cash in the vehicles.

Embattled Franklin County Sheriff to Resign April 1

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas sheriff who is facing criminal charges says he will resign after the end of the month. Franklin County Sheriff Jeffry Curry announced Thursday through his attorney that he will be leaving office effective April 1st. That prompted the county prosecutor's office to announce a petition to remove Curry from office will be dismissed April 2nd. Curry and deputy Jerrod Fredricks are charged with one felony count of interference with law enforcement for allegedly providing false information to investigators. Curry also is facing a misdemeanor official misconduct charge accusing him of using confidential information to benefit himself or someone else. Curry has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1994 and was appointed in sheriff in 2012 before being elected last year.

Beechcraft Sues Over Lost US Air Force Contract

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Beechcraft is contesting the U.S. Air Force's decision to award a contract for a light air support plane to Sierra Nevada Corporation. The Wichita-based aircraft maker announced Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. The contract for 20 planes for use in Afghanistan is worth more than $427 million. It could be worth as much as $1 billion, depending on future orders. Beechcraft says its plane is cheaper and better. The Air Force defended its decision last week, saying it restarted the competition for the contract last May with a new evaluation team as well as internal and external advisers. The statement says the Air Force is confident its decision is well supported and the proposals were fairly evaluated.

Wichita Firm Keeps NCAA Watch Party In-House

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — On a day when many Wichita State fans tuned out of work, one company went with the flow and decided to keep Shocker madness in-house. KWCH-TV reports the company — A Box 4 U — held its own watch party as Wichita State played Pittsburgh in the second round of the NCAA tournament Thursday afternoon. The company makes blast-resistant modular buildings. Employee Bobbi Santana says a lot of her co-workers are Wichita State grads and sports fans, so it made sense to put the game on TV and order pizza. Santana says it was business as usual, except while the game was under way. The ninth-seeded Shockers ousted eighth-seeded Pittsburgh 73-55. Wichita State moves on to play Gonzaga — the top seed in the West Regional — on Saturday.

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