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Regional Headlines for Friday, November 16, 2012




Democrat Mah Loses Kansas House Race by 21 Votes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Local election officials say a Democratic legislator who's a vocal critic of Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach has lost her race for re-election by only 21 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast in her district. State Representative Ann Mah could ask for a recount in her race in the 54th Kansas House District against Republican challenger Ken Corbet. Both candidates are from Topeka, but the district covers parts of Shawnee, Douglas and Osage counties. Shawnee County officials finished their review of ballots late Thursday. At one point, Corbet led by 44 votes. A political action committee formed by Kobach supported Corbet. Kobach waged an unsuccessful legal battle to block the candidates from picking up new votes by contacting voters who cast provisional ballots to help them correct problems.


Court Staffer Suspended over Tweets from Kline Hearing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A research attorney for a Kansas Court of Appeals judge has been temporarily suspended from her job pending an internal investigation about tweets she posted during a court hearing in former Attorney General Phill Kline's ethics case. Sarah Peterson Herr works for Judge Christel Marquardt. Judicial branch spokesman Ron Keefover says Herr was suspended Friday. Herr's tweets were posted Thursday during a Kansas Supreme Court hearing deciding whether Kline's law license should be indefinitely suspended for his conduct during investigations of abortion providers. Herr issued a statement saying she apologized for how the tweets reflected on the court system. Kline's attorney Tom Condit says he's calling for an independent investigation of research attorneys and clerks to determine the extent of what he feels is bias against Kline among judicial staff.


Hostess to Shutter Emporia Plant; 350 to Lose Jobs

The Dolly Madison Bakery in Emporia will be closing, putting some 350 employees out of work. Hostess Brands, Incorporated...the maker of Twinkies and Wonder seeking court permission to go out of business. The Texas-based company says it will close plants and lay off around 18,500 workers. That includes those employed at the Emporia bakery. Union members affiliated with Bakery, Confectionery, and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International have been on strike since last week. Several hundred union workers in Emporia took part in the strike, picketing across the street from the Emporia facility. Company officials had been seeking wage and benefit cuts from the union, but union officials said workers had already made enough concessions.  Hostesss had given employees a deadline for returning to work yesterday (THUR), but the union helf firm. Union officials blame mismanagement for the company's financial problems. 

**story prepared by KPR staff via the Emporia Gazette and Reuters Newswire


Hawker Beechcraft Seeks to Renege on Warranties

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft has asked a bankruptcy court to allow it to back out of warranties and other support obligations for its discontinued Hawker 4000 and Premier I and IA aircraft. The Wichita-based plane maker argued in a court filing Thursday that this was a critical step toward long-term profitability and growth after it emerges from bankruptcy. The company says the cost of warranty and maintenance-support obligations for those aircraft could amount to tens of millions of dollars over the next five years. The attorney for the committee of affected aircraft owners did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A hearing has been set for November 29.

Governor Says Kansas Higher Ed May See Targeted Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says the Kansas higher education system might get additional funds next year for specific initiatives, but he's advising officials not to push for general budget increases. Brownback told the state Board of Regents in brief remarks Thursday that he doubts legislators will approve increases in base operating funds for public universities, community colleges and technical colleges. Brownback did not drop any hints about the budget he'll present to lawmakers for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He said he hasn't started putting together his recommendations. But the state must close a $328 million gap between expected revenues and current spending commitments for the new fiscal year after this year's massive cuts in income taxes.

Kansas AG Appeals Reversals in Sheriff's Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has appealed the state Supreme Court's order granting a new trial for a man who admitted killing a sheriff. Schmidt said Thursday he has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if Scott Cheever's rights were violated at his trial for the 2005 shooting death of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. Cheever was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for the killing. Cheever contended he was high on meth and incapable of premeditation when he shot Samuels at a southeastern Kansas home where illegal drugs were made. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in August that Cheever's rights were violated during his trial. The court said a psychiatrist should not have been allowed to testify about Cheever's psychological records without his consent.


Judge: Kansas Doctor Targeted in Abortion Case Won't Need to Post Bond

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor won't have to post a bond while appealing the revocation of her medical license over referrals of young patients to the late Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions. The State Board of Healing Arts wanted to require Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus to post a bond of nearly $93,000 as she pursues a lawsuit in hopes of regaining her license. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis on Friday rejected the board's request. The $93,000 represents the board's costs in pursuing a complaint against Neuhaus over allegations of providing inadequate mental health exams on 11 patients before referring them to Tiller in 2003. The board revoked her license in June. Theis is requiring only that Neuhaus sign a statement that she'll pay any legal judgment.

Fort Riley to Honor WWII POWs

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Delegations from Italy and Germany will take part in a remembrance of World War II prisoners of war who died in the U.S. and are buried at Fort Riley. Friday's event is an annual ceremony at the post cemetery. German and Italian officers and enlisted personnel currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth will travel to Fort Riley. Joining them will be Col. William Clark, garrison commander of Fort Riley. As many as 4,500 POWs from Germany, Italy and Japan were held at Fort Riley between 1943 and 1946. They earned about 80 cents a day working on Fort Riley's roads and laundry, as well as performing building maintenance. There are 63 German soldiers and 11 Italian soldiers buried at the cemetery.

Oil Industry Group Pushes For Pipeline Approval

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The fight over a proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries is picking up again as groups urge President Barack Obama to either approve or reject the pipeline. The American Petroleum Institute held a conference call with reporters Thursday to emphasize the virtues of the Keystone XL pipeline that TransCanada wants to build. The pipeline's proposed route would pass through South Dakota and Kansas en route to Oklahoma's pipeline hub at Cushing and the Gulf of Mexico. API is the oil and gas industry's main lobbying group, and spokesman Marty Durbin says President Obama should approve the pipeline as soon as possible to boost the economy. But environmental groups plan a protest outside the White House on Sunday. They want Obama to reject the pipeline because they worry that it could contaminate water supplies, increase air pollution around refineries and harm wildlife.

Kansas Food Bank Receives $50K Anonymous Gift

McPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas food bank's campaign to add space to serve more clients is $50,000 closer to its goal. The McPherson Sentinel reports an anonymous donor contributed that amount this week to the McPherson County Food Bank's fundraising effort. Officials are trying to raise $200,000 to add onto the building on Business U.S. Highway 81 in McPherson. The $50,000 gift brings the amount raised so far to $160,000. The food bank needs more room for storage and for the growing numbers of people who stop by on distribution days. Officials say the number of families served rose by 31 percent from 2010 to 2011, and has continued to rise this year.


Lane County Approves Sales of Liquor-by-the-Drink

DIGHTON, Kan. (AP) — Residents of Lane County no longer have to be members of private clubs to buy mixed drinks in public.Lane County residents voted 476-401 last week to allow liquor-by-the-drink sales in public places without the requirement that an establishment makes a certain amount of its money from food sales.The Hutchinson News reports that before the vote, mixed drinks were allowed only in members-only clubs.Before the vote, Lane County was one of 18 Kansas counties that did not allow liquor-by-the-drink sales. The Kansas Department of Revenue says 25 other counties allow liquor-by-the-drink without the requirement that some portion of a business's gross receipts be from food sales.


2 Kansas Health Care Centers Join Colorado Group

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two western Kansas health care facilities plan to become part of Colorado's largest health care organization. St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City and St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center in Great Bend will join Centura Health Initiatives, a Denver-based health care group. Centura is jointly operated by Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health System, a mission of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The Hutchinson News reports that St. Catherine and St. Rose currently belong to CHI. The change will integrate all of CHI's facilities in Colorado and Kansas into one regional group. Directors of the Kansas organizations say the public likely won't notice any major changes in services. They say it will allow the two facilities access to more specialized care, and provide a more solid financial foundation.

3 Dead, 1 Injured in Independence, MO Shooting

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police say three people are dead and one is in critical condition after a shooting in a Kansas City suburb. Police were called to the home in Independence early Friday on a report of a home invasion. Captain John Cato says a motive has not been established but the crime is not believed to be a random crime. The victims were identified as 48-year-old Maria Hernandez; her boyfriend, Thomas Madrigal; and Hernandez's 20-year-old son, Antonio. The fourth person was not identified. Cato says police are looking for two suspects.


Missouri Man Convicted of Robbing Kansas Banks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man has been convicted of robbing three banks in northeastern Kansas and trying to hold up one of them a second time. The U.S. Attorney's office says 55-year-old Charles Shaw, of Kansas City, Missouri, was found guilty Friday following a jury trial in Topeka. He faces sentencing in February. Shaw was convicted in the armed robbery of the Main Street Credit Union in Leavenworth on November 24, 2010, and a holdup at Citizens National Bank, also in Leavenworth, on February 14, 2011. He was also found guilty of committing armed robbery at the Educational Credit Union in Topeka on December 30, 2011, and of trying to rob the same institution six weeks later. Shaw was acquitted of robbing another Topeka bank in October 2010.


Group Aims to Bolster Novice Farmers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition is inviting aspiring farmers and ranchers to attend its inaugural meeting. The session will be held in conjunction with the Kansas Farmers Union annual convention November 30 and December 1 in Topeka. Kansas Farmers Union membership specialist Mary Howell says the group wants to give beginning farmers a way to make their choice to pursue farming easier and less painful than figuring it out alone. The coalition aims to provide education and advocate for beginning farmers in the state. As a fledgling organization, it plans to use this first meeting to find out what services it can provide to those people interested in pursuing an agricultural career.


K-State Researchers Help Map Pig Genome

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas State University researchers were part of a successful international effort to map the complete genome of the domestic pig. The university says in a news release that knowing the complete list of DNA and genes for domestic pigs could eventually help improve the pigs' health. It also could provide insight into human health, because pigs and humans share similar physiologies. The Kansas State researchers involved were Yongming Sang, a research assistant professor of anatomy and physiology, and Frank Blecha, associate dean for the College of Veterinary Medicine.


Eisenhower Memorial Approval Delayed into 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Plans to build a national memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower will be delayed into next year as the World War II general's family continues to object to a design by architect Frank Gehry. A review of the memorial design was left off the December agenda for the National Capital Planning Commission, which must approve the project. That means the commission won't consider the project until sometime in 2013. According to letters obtained by The Associated Press, Eisenhower's son, John S.D. Eisenhower, and his family continue to object to the design as "too extravagant" and because it "attempts to do too much." Gehry has proposed a memorial park with statues of the president and World War II hero framed by large metal tapestries depicting Eisenhower's boyhood home in Kansas.


Corps of Engineers Action Could Reduce Mississippi Water Level by 3 Feet

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A top Corps of Engineers official has ordered the release of water from an upper Mississippi River reservoir in an effort to avoid closure of the river at St. Louis. Corps Major General John Peabody says the release from a reservoir in Minnesota will eventually add 3-6 inches of depth at St. Louis. However, that will fall well short of offsetting the projected drop of up to 3 feet when the corps reduces the flow of the Missouri River starting next week. The drought has left both the Missouri and Mississippi dangerously low. Barge traffic at St. Louis could come to a halt starting next month. Businesses that work and ship on the Mississippi are seeking a presidential declaration to stop the corps from cutting the Missouri River flow.


Champion Horse Dies After Winning Event at American Royal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — American Royal officials say a horse collapsed and died moments after winning a competition in Kansas City. American Royal officials say the horse, CH The Attache Orchid, collapsed and died Thursday after taking a victory lap for winning the Three-Gaited Pony Class. The competition's horse show veterinarian, Kerby Weaver, says the horse suffered a ruptured aorta. Royal officials say the mare, which was about 16 years old, belonged to Steven Chancellor of Evansville, Indiana. It had been shown Thursday by his 17-year-old daughter, Hunter. She was not hurt. The Kansas City Star reports the horse's remains will be transported to Indiana for burial on the family's farm. The horse was a seven-time winner at the American Royal-United Professional Horsemen's Association National Championship show in Kansas City.

Kansas Mayor Fines Himself for Parking Violation

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City mayor has fined himself after parking in a handicapped space and getting called out by a former City Council member. Shawnee Mayor Jeff Meyers was late to a council meeting Tuesday so he parked in the closest spot to City Hall he could find. It was a handicapped parking space, and former Councilman Kevin Straub took a photo of the parked vehicle and told the Shawnee police chief about it. Police wrote Meyers a warning ticket Wednesday. On Thursday, Meyers donated $135 — equivalent to the cost of a citation — to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund. Meyers says he decided to park in the handicapped spot and accept whatever consequences occurred. He promised to not do it again.


Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Using Girl in Child Porn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man has pleaded guilty to using a 9-year-old girl to produce child pornography after an investigation that began earlier this year in Australia. The U.S. Attorney's office says 50-year-old Philip Grigsby, of Marquette, pleaded guilty Thursday to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He also pleaded guilty to one count each of possessing child porn and unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon. An Australian investigation led to Grigsby after child pornography found on an Australian man's computer was traced back to Kansas. Prosecutors say more than 400 images and five movies showing the exploitation of a minor victim were found on Grigsby's computer. Grigsby will be sentenced February 4. He could get up to 30 years on each exploitation charge.

Honor Among Thieves: Robber Gives Ex-Con a Pass

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 51-year-old Wichita man has his wallet back after a would-be robber recognized him as a former fellow inmate. Wichita police say the man was walking home from work late Wednesday when he was approached by two young men, including one with a gun. The gunman demanded the victim's wallet and cellphone. As the older man handed over his wallet, the second suspect realized they had spent time together in prison. Police say the suspects then stopped the robbery, returned the wallet and apologized before leaving the scene. No arrests had been made Thursday. The victim told police he didn't think he could identify the robbers.

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