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Regional Headlines for Friday, March 9th, 2012




Santorum Tells Supporters: Not Establishment's Candidate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is telling supporters in Kansas that he's not the establishment candidate as he tries to lock down a victory in the state's GOP caucuses. The former Pennsylvania senator spoke to about 250 people at a former railroad depot in Topeka. He then headed to Wichita for an airport rally, causing some grumbling among tea party activists who were holding a rally of their own. He told the crowd in Topeka that he'd be back in Kansas on Saturday when caucus voting occurs at 96 sites across the state. Forty Republican National Convention delegates are at stake. Santorum suggested he's at odds with political elites and scoffed at front-runner Mitt Romney's recent comments that it will be nearly impossible for Santorum to overcome him.


Ron Paul Seeks Kansas Delegates: 'The More the Merrier' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is calling Kansas "a fertile field" as he pitches his libertarian views the day before state caucuses for delegates to the party's national convention. The Texas congressman told about 500 people at a downtown Topeka rally on Friday that he doesn't have a particular number of delegates in mind but, in his words, "the more the merrier." Kansas has 40 delegates up for grabs in Saturday's caucuses, which will be held at 96 locations around the state. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback met with Paul before the rally and then joined former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at another Topeka event. Brownback endorsed the bid of Texas Governor  Rick Perry before he suspended his campaign in January.


Kansas Tea Party Rally Draws Large Crowd

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of people have turned out for a Tea Party rally in Wichita on the eve of Republican presidential caucuses in Kansas. Friday's rally was organized by Kansans for Liberty. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was scheduled to attend, and his supporters swelled the ranks of those on hand. Among them was 52-year-old contractor Greg Rose, who says he won't vote in the presidential election if Paul is not the Republican nominee. Another die-hard Paul supporter is Mark Bosanco. The 60-year-old retired Army officer says he will vote for Paul for president — even if he has to do so as a write-in candidate in the general election. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum was also holding a rally Friday in Wichita.


Senate GOP Leaders Offer Kansas Jobs Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Senate Republican leaders are rolling out a proposal to create job growth in Kansas in manufacturing and bioscience industries. The plan announced Friday includes targeted incentives for companies to build plants, produce goods and ship them out of Kansas. Companies would pay income taxes only on the portion of their sales that would occur inside Kansas. The other portion would allow bioscience companies relocating to Kansas to be exempt from paying income taxes. It builds on the state's efforts to create jobs through investments by the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Seventeen GOP senators have signed on to the proposal, including Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton, Vice President John Vratil of Leawood and Majority Leader Jay Emler of Lindsborg. Hearings on the proposal are scheduled in the Senate tax committee.

Kansas House Finishing Work on Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A key Kansas House committee is nearing the end of its work on a draft of the state budget. The House Appropriations Committee is meeting most of Friday to complete work on the bill. Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, says it closely follows the budget submitted by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Rhoades says the measure will retain Brownback's goal of having a projected ending balance of $465 million as of June 30, 2013. That would satisfy a law requiring Kansas to have a reserve account equal to 7.5 percent of state general fund expenditures. The House committee was expected to consider a variety of amendments to add funding for education and social services. The Senate continues to work on a version of the budget as well. 


Kansas Senate Panel to Review Voter Citizenship Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas Senate committee is preparing to review a proposal to require some potential voters to prove their citizenship starting in June, ahead of this year's presidential election. The Ethics and Elections Committee has scheduled a review next Thursday of a bill containing the proposal from Secretary of State Kris Kobach. A law passed last year requires people registering to vote in Kansas for the first time to prove their U.S. citizenship, beginning in January 2013. Kobach wants to move the effective date up to June 15. He argues the rule will deter election fraud and should be in place as soon as possible. Critics say the rule will suppress voter turnout.


Kansas Tornado Debris Lands 40 Miles Away

PERRY, Kan. (AP) _ A northeastern Kansas woman says a tornado that struck a town 40 miles away hit home for her when some of the debris turned up by her house. The small Wabaunsee County town of Harveyville was hit the night of February 28th by an EF2 tornado packing winds of up to 130 miles per hour. The twister led to one death and damaged or destroyed numerous buildings, including the United Methodist Church. Georgie Stebbins lives in Perry, about 40 miles northeast of Harveyville. Stebbins says she was out checking her mail six days after the tornado when she spotted what looked like a piece of trash. But it wasn't litter _ it was a program from the Harveyville church. Stebbins says it's a reminder how easily important papers can be lost.


Kansas Agricultural Exports Post Record Year in 2011

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Newly released figures show Kansas agricultural exports grew by 35 percent last year to set a record high. The U.S. Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service reports more than $3.68 billion in farm exports from Kansas in 2011. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says the previous state record of $3.06 billion was set in 2008. Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman says in a news release Thursday that the numbers show just how important agriculture is to the state. Total exports in Kansas grew 17 percent to $11.68 billion. Agriculture accounted for nearly 32 percent of the state's total exports. 


Police Seeking Missing Teen Find Homicide Victim 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police looking for a missing teenager say they've found a man dead inside a Kansas City home the girl may have visited. The Kansas City Star reports that 15-year-old Sierra Myers was reported missing Thursday from her home in Independence. Her parents asked Kansas City police to look for the girl at a house in the city's Marlborough neighborhood. Officers didn't find Sierra, but they did come across a man's body in the home Friday afternoon. The cause of death has not been released, but it's being investigated as a homicide. Police say they're concerned for the safety of Sierra Myers and released her name hoping the public can help find her.

KU Coach Throws Support Behind Lawrence Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A proposal to build a new fieldhouse and recreation center in Lawrence is getting a boost from University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self. The city announced Thursday that Bill and Cindy Self's Assists Foundation supports building the center in northwest Lawrence. The city also said the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics are considering locating some university facilities at the center. City Manager David Corliss said city commissioners have not committed to the project but interest is high. He said city officials would spend the next several weeks discussing the project with a city advisory board, landowners and other stakeholders. The Lawrence Journal-World reports supporters envision a center that would include such things as basketball courts, a large arena, a health and wellness center, a fitness facility and walking trails.
Garden City Group to Drop Immunization Program

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A decline in demand is prompting a United Methodist ministry in Garden City to stop providing childhood immunizations. The United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries' decided to drop the program effective March 21. The Garden City Telegram reports that those needing immunizations will be directed to the Finney County Health Department, which runs a similar program. The ministry administered almost 1,400 immunizations in 2011, compared with nearly 3,700 in 2009. The ministry would have had to raise prices for the shots from $2 to $10 or more to make it financially feasible, and that's close to what the county charges. Finney County Health Department Administrator Ashley Goss says she doesn't expect the influx of new clients to cause any serious problems for her office.


Pittsburg State Receives $5 Million Gift 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) _ Pittsburg State University officials say a $5 million gift will help efforts to build a Fine and Performing Arts Center. University officials announced Thursday the gift in honor of Pittsburg State alumnus and former Wal-Mart President H. Lee Scott, who is also the brother of university president Steve Scott. The gift was made through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation with support from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports the gift is the second largest in the university's history. The university has raised close to $20 million of the estimated $30 million cost of the center. University students also are considering a referendum to increase student fees to fund several projects. If approved, it would raise another $7 million for the arts center.


2 Plead Not Guilty in Killing of Kansas Mother

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Two men accused of what authorities believe was the mistaken-identity killing of a Kansas woman will receive separate trials. A Reno County judge entered a not guilty plea Friday on behalf of 49-year-old Billy Joe Craig, then scheduled his trial for July 17. Craig is charged with first-degree murder and other offenses. The Hutchinson News reports that 32-year-old Charles Christopher Logsdon pleaded not guilty before a different judge Friday. He'll return to court next month to have his trial scheduled. Craig and Logsdon are accused of shooting Jennifer Heckel in the back and head last June in her Hutchinson home. Heckel's 5-year-old son was home at the time and alerted neighbors. Authorities have said they believe the suspects planned to rob someone else and went to the wrong house.


Wichita Officer Sentenced to Probation for Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita police officer who admitting committing sex crimes against two citizens while he was on duty will not be sent to jail. Joseph Taylor McGill was sentenced Friday to three years of probation for aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery. Prosecutors say he inappropriately touched two residents while he was on duty and in uniform. He pleaded guilty earlier this year. McGill also must register as a sex offender and will be jailed if he violates his probation. McGill was a police officer for three years but resigned shortly after the charges were filed.


Wichita Woman Dies, Man Injured in Stabbing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita police say a woman was killed and her boyfriend was injured in a stabbing at a K-Mart parking lot in south Wichita. Wichita Police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says the 35-year-old woman and her 39-year-old boyfriend both were stabbed Thursday night. The Wichita Eagle reports that witnesses told police the two appeared to be arguing before the stabbing. Ojile says police are not looking for any other suspects. The couple was evicted from a hotel next to the K-Mart before the stabbing. The man was from Wichita, and the woman had moved to the city last summer. 

U.S. Senate Blocks Bid to Speed Keystone XL Pipeline Construction

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected a Republican bid to speed approval of an oil pipeline that would pass through Kansas. The 56-42 vote Thursday was the latest in a series of Washington skirmishes over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Sixty votes were needed for approval. President Barack Obama rejected the proposed $7 billion pipeline in January, citing uncertainty over a yet-to-be-settled route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska. Obama said there was not enough time for a fair review before a deadline forced on him by Republicans. Pipeline supporters call it an important job creator. Opponents say it would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy and water to produce.



Anti-Abortion Leader in Kansas Endorses Paul 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. Troy Newman's endorsement was released yesterday (THU) by Paul's campaign, two days ahead of voting in the Kansas GOP presidential caucuses. Operation Rescue has its headquarters in Wichita. Many abortion opponents, including leaders of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, are supporting former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the presidential race. But in a recorded message distributed by the  Paul campaign, Newman said Paul will fight to ban abortion and is the only candidate truly committed to defending the U.S. Constitution. Paul has planned appearances today (FRI) in Topeka, Wichita and Lawrence.



Musician Chely Wright to Open LGBT Center in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ When country musician Chely Wright was growing up in Kansas, she had no place she felt she could go for support as she struggled with her sexuality. Now Wright is opening such a place in Kansas City. The 41-year-old, whose hits include "Single White Female" and "Shut Up and Drive," will be there this weekend for the opening of a community center where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families and friends can meet up. The location was chosen, in part, because Wright grew up 40 miles away, in Wellsville, Kansas. A series of events is planned around the center's grand opening, including a benefit screening Friday of a documentary called "Wish Me Away" about Wright's coming out experience and an open house and benefit concert Saturday at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Others slated to perform or attend the concert are lesbian Christian musician Jennifer Knapp, gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, and Tracy Ryerson and Stamie Karakasidis, a couple who appeared on the first season of Showtime's lesbian-focused reality show "The Real L Word."


Cameras to Document "A Day in the Life of Hutchinson"

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ If you're in Hutchinson today (FRI) you could find yourself on candid camera. The Reno County Museum and the Hutchinson Landmarks Commission have asked residents to carry cameras Friday to document "A Day in the Life of Hutchinson" for posterity. Residents are asked to photograph scenes at home, work or school, relaxing, exercising or wherever else they might find themselves on a Friday in early March. A selection of the photos will go into a time capsule and sealed in the cornerstone of Hutchinson's Memorial Hall on April 27th, as the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the building's grand opening.


Santorum Schedules 2 Kansas Events to Boost Caucus Push

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans two rallies in Kansas ahead of GOP caucuses that he sees as important to his chances of winning the nomination. But the former Pennsylvania senator faced some grumbling Friday from tea party members because his rally in Wichita is at an airport and not a large rally they scheduled in a downtown arena. Santorum figures to do well in Saturday's voting at 96 sites across the state, with strong support from abortion opponents, including leaders of Kansans for Life. He's said he sees winning Kansas as important to overcoming front-runner Mitt Romney. His first event Friday afternoon will be in Topeka, followed by the Wichita rally. State coordinator Greg Cromer says Santorum's schedule didn't permit a stop at the tea party event.


Gingrich: I Won't Quit Race

ELLISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Newt Gingrich says he'll stay in the race for the Republican presidential nomination even if he loses key primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday. Gingrich commented in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, reversing a top aide's earlier assertion that the former House speaker needs to win both states to justify staying in the race. Gingrich told the AP: "We'll clearly do well enough to move on and I think there's a fair chance we'll win. But I just want to set this to rest once and for all, we're going to Tampa." He was referring to the Republican National Convention in August in Florida. Gingrich has only won two contests — in South Carolina and Georgia, his home state.



GOP Hopeful Ron Paul Stumps in Kansas Ahead of Caucus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says he has no numeric goal in mind as he chases delegates in Saturday's Kansas Republican Party caucuses.  The 12-term Texas congressman said after a Topeka rally with about 500 supporters Friday that he just needs delegates in his bid for the GOP nomination. Kansas has 40 delegates up for grabs in Saturday's caucuses, which will be held at 96 sites across the state. Paul has also scheduled stops later today (FRI) in Wichita and Lawrence. He also planned to visit caucus sites in the northeastern Kansas GOP stronghold of Johnson County. Governor Sam Brownback met with Paul before the rally and stayed a few minutes before joinng former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at another Topeka event. Brownback had endorsed Rick Perry for president before the Texas governor suspended his campaign. 


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