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Regional Headlines for Friday, November 1, 2013


KS Judge Rejects Challenge to Anti-Abortion Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has refused to quickly strike down a sweeping anti-abortion law enacted this year by the Legislature. Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty this week rejected arguments that lawmakers violated a provision in the Kansas Constitution requiring most legislation to address only one subject. Crotty's ruling did not resolve other issues in the lawsuit filed in June by Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser. Their lawyer, Rene Netherton, said Friday that challenges to individual provisions in the law will move forward. The state and the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life saw the ruling as a victory. The law blocks tax breaks for abortion providers and prohibits them from furnishing instructors or materials for public school courses on sexuality.


Shawnee County DA Exploring Run for US Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas prosecutor says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year as a Democrat. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor confirmed Friday to The Associated Press that he plans to form a committee to explore a bid for the seat held by veteran Republican Pat Roberts. WIBW-AM in Topeka reported earlier Friday that sources close to Taylor had said he would form the committee. Taylor plans to make a formal announcement on his 40th birthday Monday. He declined to discuss details until then, except to say the announcement stops short of declaring his candidacy. Taylor is the first Democrat to publicly announce an interest in the race. He was elected district attorney in 2008 and re-elected without opposition in 2012. Roberts has held the Senate seat since 1997. He faces opposition in the August 2014 GOP primary from Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf.


KS Appeals Court: Air Rifle Not a Firearm

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled that an air rifle is not a firearm as defined by the state's criminal laws. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the court ruled Friday in the 2011 case of a man accused of pointing an air rifle at two people and threatening to shoot them. Lawrence resident Timothy Craddick was convicted of two counts of attempted aggravated assault. A Douglas County judge found that Craddick had committed the crime with a firearm, which meant a presumptive prison term. The judge ordered him to serve 11 months. But the appeals court ruled Craddick's pellet rifle was not a firearm under Kansas law because it shoots bullets by air or gas instead of an explosion or combustion. Craddick will be resentenced.


Kansas Revenues Short $18M in October

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Revenue says the state collected nearly $18 million less in taxes than anticipated in October. Figures released Thursday also show tax collections have been $27 million short of expectations since the fiscal year began in July. The biggest reason is a shortfall in individual income tax collections. For the month, Kansas collected $445 million in taxes, but officials had expected $463 million. Kansas has collected $1.81 billion in revenue for the fiscal year to date, instead of the $1.84 billion expected. The state anticipated $220 million in individual income collections in October but instead took in $187 million, missing the mark by 15 percent. Kansas enacted massive income tax cuts in 2012 that have contributed to the revenue declines.

KS Consumer Advocacy Group Opposes KCC Meetings Policies 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A consumer advocacy agency's top attorney says he'll petition the Kansas Corporation Commission to rethink new policies that would let it continue holding some discussions in private. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that David Springe of the Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board says the new KCC policies wouldn't comply with the Kansas Open Meetings Act. CURB is a state agency that represents small businesses and residential customers before the KCC, which regulates utilities. KCC officials declined to respond to Springe's criticism. Springe objects to the new policies because the commission still could have private discussions, although any official action would have to take place in public. The commission rewrote its policies after scrutiny of a practice in which members meet individually to approve rate increases without holding a public hearing.


Washburn Makes Progress on New KBI Laboratory

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas Bureau of Investigation laboratory on the Washburn University campus is a step closer to construction. Washburn's Board of Regents on Thursday approved a plan to partner with the Topeka Public Building Commission to construct the laboratory. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the main obstacle to constructing the $40 million building was funding. The building commission has agreed to borrow the money to finance the construction, which the Legislature would pay back through appropriations. Washburn will eventually own the laboratory and sublease it to the KBI. University administrators hope KBI scientists will eventually teach Washburn classes and faculty members could work as consultants for the agency.

KUMed Prof Sues, Alleging Misuse of Grant Funds

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine has sued the school, claiming it retaliated against him for complaining about misappropriation of research grants. Curtis Klaassen contends in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Kansas that the school stripped him of his position as principal investigator on research projects and placed him on administrative leave. The suit contends the school also fired most of his research assistants and killed important laboratory animals. Klaassen said Friday that the university ruined his reputation and interfered with the education of his students. In addition to the University of Kansas, the lawsuit also names the Kansas Board of Regents and several university officials. Board of Regents and university officials did not immediately respond to phone and email messages.

KS School Bus Topples into Creek

DOUGLASS, Kan. (AP) — Ten children and a school bus driver have been rescued after the bus they were in toppled into a southern Kansas creek swollen by heavy rain. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet says the children climbed through a roof hatch to await rescue Thursday afternoon as the bus lay on its side, half-submerged. County 911 director Chris Davis said the Douglass School District bus apparently went off a bridge about 4 pm Thursday. Herzet said the oldest children were 13 and helped the younger ones through the hatch. Rescuers used a line to help them to safety. The driver was taken to a hospital to be checked for hypothermia. One child was seen being put inside an ambulance, but the sheriff says all 10 were turned over to their parents.

1 Arrested After Shooting Death in Eureka

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) — Greenwood County officials say a person is dead and another is in custody after an overnight shooting in Eureka. Sheriff's deputies responded to a call about a shooting early Friday. They found 25-year-old Michael L. Mefford dead at a Eureka home. A suspect was taken into custody a short time later. No other details have been released.


Federal Prison Inmate Charged in Kansas Slaying

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal prison inmate has been charged with killing a Kansas man whose partial remains were found by a mushroom hunter south of Topeka. WIBW-TV reports the Osage and Shawnee county prosecutors announced the first-degree murder charge Thursday against James P. Harris. Harris is accused of killing 50-year-old James Gerety, who was reported missing in March 2011 by a law firm that handled his personal affairs. One year later, a woman hunting mushrooms discovered remains near Carbondale in Osage County. DNA tests recently confirmed the remains as those of Gerety. Details about Harris and the killing were not disclosed Thursday. Harris is being held in a federal prison in Texas on an unrelated crime and will be brought to Kansas in December.

Workshops in KS Teach Grain Dust Safety

EFFINGHAM, Kan. (AP) — Safety workshops were held this week in Kansas for people who work around combustible grain dust. The workshops in Effingham were sponsored by the Kansas City chapter of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society. More than 60 grain industry employees from the region attended the sessions. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the classes were conducted around the second anniversary of an explosion at a Bartlett Grain facility that killed six people. A moment of silence was held in honor of the victims. Kingsly Ambrose, assistant professor in milling/grain processing at Kansas State university, said the workshops are intended to increase awareness of grain dust and its explosiveness. He says it takes the dispersal of billions of fine dust particles to create the devastating explosions.

Cats, Dogs Seized from Kansas City No-Kill Shelter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City and state officials seized 68 dogs and cats from a northern Kansas City no-kill animal shelter. City spokesman Chris Hernandez says the animals were taken Wednesday from Forever Friends Animal League after a member of the Humane Society investigated reports of sick animals being put up for adoption. The Kansas City Star reports that rescuers found the animals were being kept in dirty conditions. The animals, 37 dogs and 31 cats, were taken to the KC Pet Project, the city's shelter. That group's executive director says most of the animals were in fair condition but several had upper respiratory infections. The animals aren't currently up for adoption. Hernandez says the operators of Forever Friends have been cited for numerous animal control and municipal violations in the past.

Lyons Cancels Longtime Veterans Day Parade

LYONS, Kan. (AP) — The traditional Veterans Day parade won't happen this year in Lyons. The Hutchinson News reports that the parade scheduled for November 9 was canceled because of a lack of participation or people to coordinate the event. The parade was held in the central Kansas town for years, and was once even covered live by a radio station. After a few years off, the parade was revived in 2000 and had been held on the Saturday before November 11. Organizers say the military presence in the parade had diminished and fewer spectators attended the event in recent years. They hope to organize an indoor event to mark the day next year.

Elderly KS Man Killed in Farming Accident

MARION, Kan. (AP) — An 82-year-old man died after an apparent farming accident this week in east-central Kansas. Marion County authorities say Eldon Andres was working on a tractor Tuesday near Peabody when it moved forward, knocked him to the ground and stopped on top of him. KAKE-TV reports Marion County authorities had received a report that Andres was missing. While on their way to the scene, deputies learned the man's body had been found.


KC Man Charged in Deaths of 2 People Found in Van

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged in the September deaths of a man and woman whose burned bodies were found in Kansas in an abandoned van. Twenty-nine-year-old Christopher A. Canagan was charged Friday in Jackson County with two counts of first-degree murder and other charges. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Canagan is accused of shooting 24-year-old Dennis Smith as he sat in the driver's seat. Williams and another person jumped out of the van, but Canagan is accused of forcing 22-year-old Linda Williams back into the vehicle and driving away. Court records say Canagan told police that he had sex with Williams before shooting her. Canagan then is accused of setting the van on fire in Kansas City, Kansas.


Fan Injured by Hotdog Promotion Suing KC Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether a legal standard that protects sports teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by in-game events should also apply to those caused by mascots or other team personnel. The court's ruling on John Coomer's lawsuit against the Kansas City Royals could affect how major sports teams engage their fans during games. Coomer says he was hit in the eye by a foil-wrapped hotdog thrown by the Royals' mascot four years ago. The Kansas man says he's had to endure two eye surgeries and that his vision was permanently damaged. The team argues that it should be protected by the so-called "baseball rule." That legal standard holds that fans assume the risk of being struck by foul balls or stray pucks at games.


Expert: Shutdown Hurt Midwest Business Conditions

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A business conditions index for nine Midwest and Plains states has dropped after rising the previous two months. The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index plunged to a growth neutral 50.0 in October from 54.8 in September. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the partial government shutdown and slower business activity for firms tied to agriculture pushed overall economic conditions lower for the month. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

KS National Guard to Add 3 to Hall of Fame

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three retired members of the Kansas National Guard will be inducted into its hall of fame at a ceremony Sunday in Topeka. The honorees are Lieutenant Colonel Robert K. Webb, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cornelius Vandermotten and Command Sergeant Major Jana L. Harrison. Webb served 31 years in the military in active duty and with the Guard, retiring in 1987. Vandermotten is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and spent more than 40 years in uniform, including two decades in the Kansas National Guard. Harrison was the Kansas National Guard's first female command sergeant major. She is retired but serves on a training team that prepares soldiers for overseas deployments.


Kiowa County Veterans Memorial to Be Dedicated

MULLINVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A new memorial commemorating Kiowa County's military veterans dating back to the Civil War is scheduled to be dedicated this weekend. Crews have placed six large engraved granite markers containing the names of about 1,800 military veterans from the county on the new memorial in Mullinville, a town of about 250 residents located about 120 miles west of Wichita. The Hutchinson News reports that the memorial will be dedicated Saturday. A group consisting of residents of Mullinville and two other area towns started The Kiowa County Veterans' Memorial Foundation a few years ago and raised more than $60,000 for the project.


Fort Larned Civil War Exhibit Has Midwestern Focus

FORT LARNED, Kan. (AP) — A temporary Civil War exhibit highlighting the contributions of soldiers from the Midwest is now on display at Fort Larned Historic Site in Kansas. The three-part exhibit highlights the importance of the region's resources and waterways to both sides during the war. It also explores the impact of the guerrilla war between the Jayhawkers in Kansas and the Bushwhackers in Missouri. After January 1, the exhibit will move to William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati. It is part of a National Park Service commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Fort Larned National Historic Site is six miles west of Larned in central Kansas. Admission is free.

General Aviation Aircraft Shipments, Billings Increase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The industry group for the nation's general aviation manufacturers says airplane shipments and billings rose worldwide in the first nine months of the year. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association on Thursday reported total airplane shipments rose 6.6 percent over the same period last year with 1,513 planes shipped. The group said total billings for general aviation planes reached $15.4 billion, an increase of 24.5 percent. But GAMA President Pete Bunce says in a news release that the industry still faces significant challenges, especially in the markets for small and mid-size jets. The association is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to clear the backlog of deliveries that developed during the government shutdown.


AR Woman Charged in Death of KS Pedestrian


FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A woman from Fort Smith, Arkansas has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of a Kansas man who was struck by the woman's pickup truck. Authorities say 51-year-old Vicki Lee Fielding was making a left-hand turn in the pickup shortly before 1 am Sunday when she struck and killed 20-year-old Nathanael DeJarnett of Wellington, Kansas in the center left-turn lane of a Fort Smith street. Fielding said she did not see DeJarnett until he walked into the path of her truck. The Times Record newspaper reports that the negligent homicide charge was filed Thursday after a preliminary autopsy report listed DeJarnett's cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries.


KC-Based Hallmark Faces Backlash over Christmas Carol Lyric Edit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Greeting card giant Hallmark says it shouldn't have changed the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" on a new holiday ornament that's stirring customer backlash online. The company took heat Thursday after it began selling a miniaturized version of a tacky holiday sweater. The ornament alters the carol's lyrics by removing the word "gay" and emblazoning the sweater with: "Don we now our FUN apparel!" Critics took to social media, accusing Hallmark of making a political statement. The Kansas City, Missouri-based company says it was surprised by the reaction and now realizes it shouldn't have changed the wording.



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